A few weeks ago, Snapcycle sent me a pretty unique e-bike to test (full disclosure: the company let me keep it, and I gave it to my brother for further testing). Not only is it a folder, but it has a dual suspension system to handle everything from harsh terrain to urban curbs with ease. In this article, I’m going to cover some of the ups and downs we found for the Snapcycle Eagle for testing.
Snapcycle Eagle Specifications & Features
Before I get into riding impressions, I want to give readers an idea of what this bike’s specs are so they can compare it to other bikes. You can find full details here at the website, but I’ll go over the important stuff.
Power-wise, it’s equipped with a 750 watt rear hub motor, but keep in mind that we’re only looking at the continuous power rating. For short bursts (peak power), the bike can put out over 1,000 watts, making for slightly better acceleration than many motors that only do 750 maximum. This is fed by a 48V 15Ah (720 Wh) Samsung lithium battery, which Snapcycle says will give you up to 30 miles on throttle or 45 miles if you put in some of your own effort through the pedals.
A heavy e-bike (68 lb) with that kind of power and speed needs to stop, so Snapcycle included not just disc brakes, but hydraulic disk brakes. And, after the ride, you’ll need to charge it up again, and an included 3 amp quick charger can charge the battery while in the bike or detached from it.
The aluminum folding frame is part of what sets this bike apart, but it’s also got another off-road trick up its sleeve: a rear suspension. So, both of the bike’s 4″ fat tires (which can give you a pretty cushy ride on their own if you don’t inflate them too much) have some suspension between you and them.
This is a pretty decent set of specs for $1,699, but as of this writing, it’s on sale for $1299, which makes it a real steal.
But How Does It Perform?
If riding were all about numbers, we could stop the article right here, but an important part of getting your money’s worth is how the bike rides. So, I’ll give you that qualitative information, too.
First, let’s talk assembly. There’s pretty much no assembly compared to most e-bikes, because the bike is folded up and packed instead of shipped with a lot of work left. Get the bike out, take off the packing materials, insert the battery, attach the fenders/mud guards (if desired), and get to riding. Easy-peasy. Personally, I’d take the additional step of adding Slime sealant to the tubes, but that’s one of the harder things you’ll do to get it ready (because the rest is pretty easy).
While dual suspension bikes sound hardcore and rigged for serious and extreme adventure, the bike is clearly not built for rugged abuse. No bike in the sub-$2,000 price range is going to handle much torture on trails, especially if it weighs as much as an e-bike typically does. So, don’t go thrash this on the worst mountain bike trails out there like a racer and get mad when it needs work.
So, I started off with something easy and rode it around in a subdivision for a few minutes (which is what many people do with fat-tire bikes in reality). The Eagle did a great job doing everything from smooth pavement to xeriscaping in your yard to jumping curbs. The dual suspension setup made for a very comfortable ride, even when dropping off a curb and letting it slam. So, if that’s what you had in mind for dual suspension, this bike will do that job very well.
Next, I sent my brother off with the bike to go test it on some intermediate mountain biking trails and Jeep roads so we could see whether real off-road use is too much for the bike. We did find that the bike has some limits, but nothing broke.
First off, on trails above the beginner level, having only 20″ wheels is limiting. My brother said they got a bit “squirrely” on harsher bumps and washboards if any turning is involved. He didn’t crash it, but it was definitely less comfortable and stable than a 26″ fat bike on the same trails (which is really 27.5-29″ with all of that rubber). So, if you’re looking to do some more serious off-road exploring, keep that limitation in mind as you shop, because you might want a full-size bike.
Another limitation with the bike is that longer steep climbs are not something you can expect to conquer on throttle power alone. Once the peak power runs out and the bike has to back off to its rated 750 watts, you need to give the bike some help with your own muscles to make it to the top. This isn’t a problem if you’re out there trying to get exercise, but you can’t always treat it like a miniature dirt bike. So, if you get this bike, you’ll still want to shift to a low gear in advance and be ready to help the bike make the climb.
But, other than those two limitations, the Eagle does a decent job off pavement and even in some semi-challenging terrain with small drops, rocks, etc.
The Off-Road Role That This Bike Shines In
After my own testing and talking it over with my brother, I’d have to say that I think this bike is ideal for someone who’s more interested in exploring than racing or making great time on Strava (which would be cheating, right?).
For example, if you’re out exploring in a vehicle that can handle dirt roads but not serious off-roading, it’s an ideal “shuttlecraft” of sorts. When you reach the limits of what your crossover or 2WD pickup can do, the bike’s ability to fold into a small size makes it ideal for riding in the back without taking up a bunch of cargo space. You can even fit the thing in some sedan trunks. At that point, you get the Eagle out, unfold it, turn it on, and keep going to reach your backcountry destinations without too much trouble.
If you get to the point where even the Eagle can’t handle the terrain, it’s a lot lighter than a dirt bike, so you can walk it through excessive challenges or even pick the bike up and carry it a few feet as needed to get to rideable trail or road again. Washouts, ravines, and other obstacles that would stop you on a dirt bike or 2WD vehicle aren’t an impassible obstacle with your Eagle.
So, if that’s the kind of riding you have in mind, the Eagle should probably land in your driveway.
Images by Cody Sensiba (used with permission).
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