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This article was published on June 21, 2021

Review: The Tenways ebike is a lightweight, stealthy steal for under $1500

Extremely smooth power delivery in a svelte package

Review: The Tenways ebike is a lightweight, stealthy steal for under $1500
Napier Lopez
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Napier Lopez

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Napier Lopez is a writer based in New York City. He's interested in all things tech, science, and photography related, and likes to yo-yo in Napier Lopez is a writer based in New York City. He's interested in all things tech, science, and photography related, and likes to yo-yo in his free time. Follow him on Twitter.

We have a rule about crowdfunding campaigns here at TNW: with rare exceptions, we don’t cover crowdfunded products unless they’re from an already established company with a proven track record or we get to demo a fully functional prototype.

With the Tenways C-Go 600 ebike, it was the latter case. And I’m really glad I did get to try it because this ebike is fantastic — no gimmicks necessary.

At $1,000-1,500 (Tenways has not settled on a final price yet), the bike offers a Gates Carbon belt drive, a stealthy appearance that doesn’t betray its electric nature, a weight of 15 kg (33 lbs), and one of the smoothest pedaling experiences of any ebike I’ve ridden. I’ve tested a lot of ebikes here at TNW, and those are three qualities you normally find on far more expensive bikes.

To be clear, Hong Kong-based Tenways hasn’t actually launched its Indiegogo campaign yet. The company plans to start crowdfunding in July, but it wanted to get the bike out to reviewers early to prove it has a real product. And unlike the majority of crowdfunded ebikes, the bike will actually already be in mass production while the campaign is live.

Crowdfunded products are always a risk, but Tenways appears to be using Indiegogo more as a way to market the bike rather than relying solely on backer funds to bring it to fruition. Other than a non-final design and an upcoming app, what I tested was a fully realized product

The final units (available in 5 colors) should look more like what’s on Tenways’ website:

Here’s what you’re getting for your hard-earned money:

  • A Mivice 250W rear hub motor with 40 Nm of torque
  • A Gates Carbon Belt drive, known for being far more durable than the typical chain (although it appears Tenways will also offer a single-speed chain model too)
  • A torque sensor that measures how hard you’re pedaling; most ebikes use cadence sensors which only measure if you’re pedaling.
  • ‘X-spark’ Hydraulic disk brakes
  • An integrated 252 Wh (36V, 7Ah) battery
  • A claimed 70-130 km (43.5 to 80.8 miles) of range (more on this later)
  • 700C tires
  • An integrated headlight and included rechargeable tail light
  • 15kg (33 lb) weight
  • 32 km/h (20 mph) max speed
  • Two frame sizes covering riders from 165-200cm (5′ 5″ – 6′”)
  • Bluetooth app integration (which I’ve not tested yet)
  • A minimal display unit with 3 levels of pedal assistance

Let’s get this out of the way: this isn’t an ebike for people who are looking for ridiculous amounts of power or a moped-like experience. There’s no throttle onboard, so you will always have to pedal.

But if, like me, you value rideability over sheer power, the C-GO 600 could be a fantastic value. It mostly feels like riding a normal single-speed bike, except your legs just got super strength. The motor isn’t crazy powerful, but there’s enough power on top to get me up any hill I crossed, despite the lack of gears.

Every part of the electric drivetrain appears to have been chosen to prioritize smooth, quiet power delivery. The torque sensor and acceleration curve are among the most natural and responsive I’ve used. It is fully comparable to the $3000+ Specialized Turbo Vado SL and Priority Current — the two smoothest ebikes I’ve ridden — and is flat-out better than my own $4,000 Brompton Electric or any other hub-drive bike I’ve ridden.

The gates carbon drive and smooth motor make for a really fun ride.
The gates carbon drive and smooth motor make for a really fun ride.

In this regard the bike has an advantage over the $1,045 Ride1Up Roadster, another stealthy single-speed bike that I’ve really enjoyed riding. Although the Roadster has a more powerful motor, the torque sensor on the Tenways allows the motor to kick in much more quickly and naturally. This is particularly noticeable when starting from a dead stop on a hill; you’ll have to grind the pedals to get a full rotation on many cadence-sensor ebikes like the Roadster, but the Tenways motor kicks in instantly.

It doesn’t hurt that the motor is almost completely silent as well; even at full power, it only makes a faint whirr that’s barely audible over road noise. The Gates Carbon Drive is already known for being smooth and virtually silent too, so on the whole, the bike is generally even quieter and smoother than an ‘acoustic’ bike.

As for the range, it’s unlikely you’re going to get 130 km/81 mi out of a 252 Wh battery, but the torque sensor and light-duty motor do make the bike more efficient than I expected. I didn’t try to fully drain the battery, but I estimate the bike could go about 50 miles in assist level one and about 25 miles in assist level 3.

Even if you did run out of battery, the C-GO 600 makes for a pretty nice single-speed bike. There is no resistance in the rear wheel whatsoever when the motor is not engaged, so the bike is fully pedal-able without the assist, although you obviously won’t want to tackle hills without gears.

The Tenways ebike from the front

The bike has a slightly aggressive geometry that I found comfortable, but riders interested in a more upright position might want to change the stem or handlebars. I do wish Tenways provided a step-through model for shorter riders or those with accessibility needs though.

I appreciate that no one’s going to notice it’s an ebike unless they’re looking closely either. The motor is small enough to pass for an internal gear hub, and the downtube barely betrays there’s a battery hidden in there. When I took the bike to a shop to fix a spoke, the mechanic didn’t notice it was electric until he started working on the wheel. On more than one occasion, riders stopped to ask me what bike I was riding, without noticing it was electric.

And while it’s obviously heavier than most analog road bikes, at 33 lbs, it’s still lighter than many non-electric bikes (for reference, that’s still about 10 pounds lighter than NYC’s ubiquitous Citibikes). I appreciated the (lack of) weight when lugging the bike up and down the stairs to my basement, and it means you could hang the bike on a wall, mount it on a car rack, or bring it on a train without much of struggle.

It’s a nice-looking bike too, even in my unit’s unfinished form, and I quite like Tenways’ 5 color options. Aesthetics aside, the aluminum frame feels sturdy and comes with smooth welds that don’t betray its price, and it comes with a variety of mounting points for racks, fenders, and a chainstay-mounted kickstand (but really, it should come with the kickstand).

Lighting is crucial for safety, and the integrated headlight is pretty decent; bright enough to both see and be seen. And while I really wish the tail-light were integrated into the bike’s electronics as well, it is at least quite bright.

An alternate color for the Tenways ebike

 

Really, it’s hard to find much to complain about the bike. The ‘X-Spark’ hydraulic disk brakes feel a notch less powerful than the Tektro or Shimano brakes you’ll find on many ebikes, but they’re still much better than typical rim brakes. And because the battery is not easily removable, I hope Tenways considers offering some kind of range extender battery down the road for people who like to take longer rides.

The bigger question mark is long-term support. Good hub motors can last forever and the carbon belt is known for its durability, but potential buyers should obviously exercise some caution given Tenways is a new company. At this stage, there’s simply no way to be sure what kind of after-sales support it will provide if something goes wrong.

Of course, you could say this about any new company, but while it builds up a reputation, I’d suggest Tenways instead make it easy for users to make their own repairs. For example, folding bike company Fiido only entered the US market last year, yet the company sells practically every single replacement component — both electric and mechanical — on its webstore. It inspires a lot of confidence, and I hope Tenways follows suit.

That said, I do appreciate that Tenways is offering a 2-year warranty, when most of the competition in this price range only covers defects for one year.

The Tenways ebike

If the company can deliver on its crowdfunding promises and provides proper after-support sales. the Tenways C-GO 600 gets my fullest recommendation. It’s light, it’s affordable, it’s smooth, it looks good, and it has enough power for the majority of riders.

Tenways provides a polished ride experience that took me by surprise for a new company making an affordable, lightweight ebike. Slap a big-name logo on it, and it could’ve easily sold for $3,000. At under $1,500, it’s an absolute steal.

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