Review: Powering through commutes on the funtastic Fiido X folding ebike
In July of last year, e-mobility company Fiido launched an Indiegogo crowdfunder for a funky folding ebike. The campaign was successful but the global pandemic extended original shipping estimates. Backers are now riding out on the Fiido X though and we were sent one to try out.
At a glance
- Fast-folding ebike with 250-W hub motor and novel seat-post battery
- Three pedal-assist levels and claimed range of 130 km
- Keypad activation, integrated headlight and tail-light
Update April 13: After investigating reports of a serious frame fault, Fiido has issued a recall notice to all existing owners. Full details at the end of this review.
Shenzhen's Fiido first dipped its toes into crowdfunding waters in 2020 with the D11 folding ebike, which featured an eye-catching mid-step frame, a seat-post battery with a 100 km (62 miles) of per-charge range and a 250-W rear-hub motor for pedal assist up to 25 km/h (15.5 mph).
The company seemed to have landed on a winning formula, attracting pledge money from more than a thousand backers and raising over HKD 8 million. COVID-19 extended original delivery estimates into the following year, but by April all backers had been shipped their new rides.
Meanwhile, the project team had listened to feedback and tweaked the design for a new improved model called the Fiido X, which launched on Indiegogo in July 2021.
The new electric folder rocked a similar shape to the D11 but came with smoother lines, a new folding mechanism, reworked seat-post battery and a novel keypad smart lock for security.
Yet again Fiido struck crowdfunding gold, attracting nearly 1,500 backers and over HKD 12 million. And also again, COVID-19 wreaked supply-chain havoc on original delivery estimates, with US ebikes all being sent out by February this year but shipping still underway for backers in other regions.
On yer bike, mister
And that pretty much brings us up to speed. Our EU model review ebike arrived virtually fully assembled, with only the seat-post battery to pop down the enlarged seat-post tube of the frame and the handlebar to lock into position.
The chunky seat-post battery is not connected to the ebike's electronics via a cable like with the D11, but rocks nifty power rails that run the length of the battery for a stealthier look. As before though, the battery module does protrude from the bottom of the frame for riders short or tall.
This had us wondering about potential impact damage for low riders (such as from sidewalk curbs or uneven terrain for those heading off the beaten track), but Fiido told us that the metal outer housing should offer sufficient protection and we didn't have any impact issues during our review.
It's recommended that the battery is fully charged before heading out for the first time, and it can be juiced up in the bike or pulled out and charged indoors while the X rests up in the garage or office storeroom. Removing the battery involves typing a passcode into the keypad – so you have to remember a numerical password rather than use a physical key – and then selecting unlock.
But I initially had a problem here, the battery taunted me with the prospect of full release, but the seat-post tube then stubbornly refused to let go. There was no mention of such things in the user manual, but happily a helpful Indiegogo backer had also experienced the same problem and shared the solution on the discussion section of the crowdfunding page – which was to power on the X's seat-post battery and leave it to trickle some juice into the keypad's own small battery for a few hours.
Fold and roll
The ebike features a sweet folding mechanism that hides much of the workings inside the magnesium alloy frame, and collapses down in four steps to 794 x 350 x 803 mm (31.2 x 13.7 x 31.6 in) – first the handlebar, then seat-post battery, pedals and frame – and takes just a few seconds.
Small metal plates at the axle of each wheel are magnetically attracted to each other, though a guiding hand on the frame helps the ebike keep it together in a push, using the seat as a handle. The X tips the scales at 19.8 kg (43.6 lb), which isn't the lightest folding ebike available but shouldn't present too many problems for the quick heft into the trunk of the car or up onto the train from the platform.
When unfolded to 1,490 x 580 x 1,020 mm (58.6 x 22.8 x 40.1 in), the ebike supports rider heights between 1.55 to 2 m (5 - 6.5 ft) – handlebar height is not adjustable, but seat height is – and has a maximum hauling capacity of 120 kg (264.5 lb).
The chain-drive Fiido X can serve as a regular old folding bike when not powered on, rocking a Shimano MF-TZ500 7-speed derailleur with S-Ride handlebar shifter, Radius hydraulic disc brakes with a 160-mm rotor to the front and 140 mm at the back, 20-inch wheels wrapped in CST 20x1.95-inch tires, a dinky little mechanical bell and the option to install the included fenders or leave 'em off for a sportier look.
But why struggle when the Fiido X offers up a 250-W brushless geared hub motor with a reported peak output of 270 W (a 350-W motor is installed on the US version of the ebike), a 417.6-Wh battery and torque sensor to help out?
On the road
European versions of the Fiido X have a top pedal-assist speed of 25 km/h, while US riders get help from the motor up to 32 km/h (19.2 mph). After powering on the seat-post battery, the same password is used to activate the ebike's electrical system that's used for unlocking the battery from the frame.
A bright, daylight-readable handlebar display shows battery charge level, speed, motor assist level and an icon appears if the integrated front and rear LED lights are on. A button on the left powers off the ebike or the lights, while another sequentially moves through the three available pedal-assist levels. There's also a USB charging port for topping up a mobile device using the ebike's battery.
As mentioned above, it's possible to power off the pedal assist and related systems via this display, to try and extend battery life by using the X as a regular folding bike for example, but you'll need to dismount, enter the passcode and push the appropriate button on the keypad to power the ebike back on – which can be somewhat inconvenient.
When on the road, the Fiido X will beep when the pedal-assist speed reaches 15 km/h (9.3 mph), which the company opted to make a default setting as this is a legal requirement in some of the countries that the ebike is shipped to. This can be disabled easily if it proves annoying, and it probably will. Another regulatory oddity sees the display only showing speeds up to 25 km/h by default, and not above.
For folks in countries using Imperial units, you'll have to do some mental conversions while riding as there's currently no way to change the display from the km/h default, though Fiido told us that such a feature will be included for the next generation of the display module, along with an odometer.
Riders will still need to put in some effort
That this is a folding ebike means commuters can ride it to the transport hub, collapse it down and step aboard the train or bus and then unfold it and pedal the last mile to work, and not necessarily arrive as a steaming wreck in need of an invigorating shower.
In the lowest pedal-assist setting and with fairly flat terrain, riders could theoretically get up to 130 km (80 miles) of range per charge. During our time on the road we managed somewhere between 60 and 90 km (37 - 55 miles) of mixed power level riding on flats and inclines before needing leave the battery on charge overnight, which should be more than enough for most daily commutes.
The highest assist level will help flatten inclines of up to 25 percent, after which you'll need to ride in a low mechanical gear and pump your legs. The area in the UK where I live has lots and lots of hills, so the assist on some of the more moderate climbs was most welcome but I was left abandoned by the motor and out of breath on the numerous more demanding slopes.
I had a number of interesting conversations about ebiking in general and the Fiido X in particular as I rode around and parked up for photo ops, with almost everyone commenting positively on its cool, clean, no-fuss vibe and clever tech.
A few cyclists did bring up the old "it's cheating" chestnut, but I can confirm that after an hour or two of motor-assisted riding I felt that my heart and lungs had been treated to a decent enough workout and my legs were certainly telling me that they'd not been idling by. The assistance certainly made for an easier ride, and one where the fun factor was dialed up a notch or two, but I was also staying on the road for longer so can see why the science suggests that ebikes might be just as good as regular bikes for keeping fit.
If you remain seated for the whole of your ebiking journey though, you will feel every bump and every pot-hole shake your bones as there is no suspension here, but that's true of many regular folding bikes.
The ebike benefits from IP54 waterproofing, which should be good for riding to work in light rain but is not fully protected from dust particles – with Fiido confirming "we don’t suggest you ride it in a heavy rainy day or in the swimming pool." It also comes with integrated front and rear LED lighting, but these will only shine when in powered mode. If you want to ride after dark or be more visible in daytime traffic while using the X as a standard bike, you'll can't (unless you add your own hardware).
The bottom line
I had a lot of fun riding the Fiido X. Sure, the ebike comes with a few niggles and oddities, but the build quality feels like it will last a good long while and there's also a bunch of clever tech included that engages the inner nerd while also being practically useful.
I did find myself being quite envious of US riders who benefit from more powerful motors to roll with (not to mention those who can throttle along without any leg effort at all), but the combination of seven mechanical gears and the 250-W Aikema hub motor on our EU review model was still most welcome. And bonus points for the inclusion of a torque sensor rather than a cadence sensor, with the ebike responding instantly to my input at the pedals.
It's not the lightest ebike on the market, but the new folding mechanism works well and you can roll it along on its two wheels when collapsed down.
Though very subjective, I also found the X to be a good looking ride and I certainly wasn't alone here. The ebike proved to be quite a talking point while out and about, and something of a head-turner (I don't think folks were looking at boring old me).
The Fiido X is now available via the company's online store, and is an easy recommend for last-mile commutes. It's priced in US dollars, with real-time currency conversion in play for EU buyers and beyond. The list price for either the EU or US model is US$1,799, though the company is currently running a promotion that knocks $200 off. That makes this folding ebike a good deal cheaper than a GoCycle or Helix but more expensive than the RadExpand 5 from Rad Power Bikes.
Update April 13: Fiido received a report of a serious frame fault on April 3, and subsequently tested and confirmed the fault in the lab. The company stopped selling new models and advised existing owners to stop riding their Fiido X ebikes immediately.
Now a product recall notice has been issued, where existing owners are contacted by email and given the option to wait a short while for new improved frames to be manufactured and replacement Fiido X ebikes sent out, or choose to replace their ride with another Fiido model of the same value.
Those who decide to wait for the V2 version of the Fiido X will also benefit from a number of upgrades to the product, some of which address minor niggles mentioned in this review – including introducing a no assist level for the pedal assist system (which could help extend battery life while also allowing for integrated lighting to be activated while using the ebike as a normal unpowered bike), the display will now have the option to show speed in mph or km/h, the keypad has been updated, and the ebike gains a full Shimano transmission.
The first Fiido X V2 models are expected to ship from the end of June.
"Although this recall will let Fiido face an unprecedented financial crisis, responsibility and credibility are more important to us," the company told us. "Fortunately, our missteps haven't caused anything more serious. Fiido hopes to regain everyone's faith with our honesty and responsible attitude."
Product page: Fiido X