"The Eelo represents good value but could really do with some refinement"
- Highs: Impressively light, easy and fast to fold/unfold, well equipped
- Lows: Puncture-prone tyres with annoying inner tube, inconvenient rear axle arrangement, singlespeed transmission means 15mph is about as fast as you’ll ever go, minute rear triangle requires taller riders to take care, nervous handling
- Buy if: You’re small or medium sized and you want assistance but are not looking to go far or fast
If you’re looking for assisted transport but need the convenience of a folding electric bike then your options are fairly limited — that is unless you have a lot of money to spend on the likes of an electric Brompton or Tern. But for the same price as an unassisted Brompton you can have this, the dinky 1885 from Eelo. The alloy frame of the Eelo hides a 36V, 7.8Ah LG lithium battery, which feeds power to a 250w motor at the rear wheel via a singlespeed transmission.
At a smidge under 15kgs / 33lbs, the Eelo is considerably lighter than most of its competition, which is particularly impressive when you consider this bike arrives with accessories such as mudguards and a front light already fitted.
The Eelo folds quickly and easily to an impressively small size
Eelo 1885 geometry
Those familiar with folding bikes will not find anything unusual about the hinged central fold of the Eelo. Quick-release clamps and folding pedals make it a doddle to do. The Eelo’s wheelbase looks stunted and that’s because it is. In fact, it measures a full 7.5in shorter than a Brompton folder and this leads to some unique handling characteristics.
Eelo's 1885 folding electric bike features an unusually short wheelbase with 14in wheels. This sizing compromise is something that works a lot better for shorter riders than taller ones, because the relatively slack seat angle and lofty seatpost place a tall rider almost inline with the bike’s rear axle.
This results in strange weight distribution that leads to the front end of the bike becoming uncomfortably light on steep inclines. That’s really not ideal, especially when you consider the Eelo already has what I would describe as a naturally nervous feel from its steering.
This overall twitchy ride feel is something that was noted by all testers who tried the bike. It’s something that I feel most competent riders will quickly adjust to, but inexperienced riders may find it intimidating.
That short rear end can lead to iffy handling, and the hardware can make maintenance unnecessarily time consuming
Eelo 1885 drivetrain and motor
The unusual combination of a singlespeed drivetrain and electric motor make for a unique feel through the pedals. The gear combination requires a fair bit of leg power to get started, then the pedals ease as the motor takes away the strain.
The motor doesn’t offer the finesse of mid-drive options, but considering its price, the power delivery is relatively smooth and well controlled. A neat handlebar display keeps you informed of the bike’s battery, speed and trip functions. The singlespeed drivetrain of the Eelo does restrict speed at the upper limit and I found that once I reached the 25 km/h mark, at which the motor cuts, my legs would be frantically spinning.
Eelo claims a range of up to 49 miles / 79km on a single charge. That may be possible for a lighter rider on a less hilly route, but I found that I was getting more like half of that distance on my commute. Still, this is a respectable range, and a full charge takes anywhere between four to six hours.
The battery is cleverly concealed within the frame
Fixing a puncture
Despite being inflated to the correct pressure, my test bike’s rear tyre did prove troublesome and attracted a number of punctures in quick succession. This wouldn’t have been a huge issue had the rear axle of the bike not been such a pain to work on.
Removing the horizontal dropouts and associated hardware is pretty time consuming and requires a couple of spanners, and the frame’s tiny yet impressively stiff rear triangle had to be prised apart to get the whole assembly to fit back in place.
Adding further complication is the fact that the 14in inner tube at the rear wheel uses a kinked valve. Fit a normal valve and you won’t be able to get a pump attached, at least without an adaptor. Learn from my mistake on that one.
In fairness, I did test a second Eelo 1885, which didn't suffer repeated punctures at the rear, so perhaps the fault was to do with the rim tape or tyres fitted to this particular bike.
The handlebar display is simple, clear and easy to use
In better news, the Eelo’s v-brakes are fine and provide adequate stopping power and feel, and the integrated front light is enough to get you home. Its tiny mudguards work well too, keeping rider and bike impressively clean and dry in wet weather.
Eelo 1885 overall
Steep slopes are not this bike’s friend. At 86kg / 190lbs my weight was enough to almost have things grind to a halt on the steepest of climbs, and yet the bike is still rated for those weighing up to 100kg / 220lbs.
Despite its nervous ride and irritating rear axle arrangement, the Eelo is still decent value. Its fast and convenient fold is impressive and you'll struggle to find anything with a motor that's lighter — particularly at this price.
The biggest problem here is that this bike's geometry really doesn't work well for taller and heavier riders, so if you're in either or both of those camps then I suggest you look elsewhere.