electrical mountain bike FREY Bike tour – See how excessive efficiency electrical bicycles are constructed
China is the uncontested e-bike capital of the world. And whereas the nation is dwelling to plenty of cheap $200 e-bikes, you could be stunned to be taught in regards to the premium-level electric bicycles which are designed and constructed for worldwide export. And also you’ll be much more stunned by the costs, which may are available in at lower than half of European-made e-bikes of comparable quality and spec-sheets.
I used to be lucky sufficient to be invited to participate in a week-long tour of FREY Bike’s manufacturing facility in Jinhua, China.
There I bought the prospect to find out how these high-end e-bikes are designed and constructed. After which I bought an opportunity to journey a number of completely different FREY e-bikes all over the place from metropolis streets to carved out mountainside trails and even in a well-known downhill e-bike park sometimes called China’s Whistler.
However let’s not get forward of ourselves. Earlier than you possibly can have a blast on a well-made e-bike, it’s important to begin with the suitable design.
And design is one thing that FREY prides itself on.
FREY video tour
Take a look at my video under to see your entire course of of manufacturing a FREY e-bike. Then learn on for all the small print.
The Jinhua-based firm isn’t very previous, having been based simply three years in the past by husband and spouse workforce Xing Xiong Xing and Ivy Wang.
Xing is the design whiz, whereas Ivy brings the enterprise chops to the workforce along with her previous expertise working in electrical bicycle firms.
Certainly one of FREY’s key differentiators is their suspension design, upon which they maintain a number of patents. Entrance suspension is straightforward, you simply slap a suspension fork on a motorbike. However correct rear suspension is difficult. Small modifications within the geometry and linkage have large results on the dynamics of the suspension efficiency. How a lot does it squat? How shortly? How do the pressure and displacement change over time?
All of those questions and extra have to be thought of on the design stage, which one of many causes that the efficiency of well-designed e-bikes is so drastically completely different from low-cost copies. And FREY prides itself on its originality.
Now take into account right here that FREY isn’t a big firm by Chinese language e-bike business requirements. The corporate produces between 1,000 to 1,500 e-bikes per 12 months or solely about 30 bikes per week. The corporate is rising shortly and has sufficient capability in its manufacturing facility to supply as much as round 5,000 e-bikes per 12 months. However they by no means meant to turn out to be a large, cookie-cutter e-bike firm. As an alternative, they’ve centered on constructing high-performance e-bikes with top-shelf components.
Till the corporate can develop a bit larger although, step one of precise manufacturing takes place outdoors of the manufacturing facility. The body and swingarms of the corporate’s half a dozen or so e-bike fashions are produced offsite by a bigger firm, although FREY performs intensive high quality checks to make sure the body is produced to their excessive requirements. From there, every thing else occurs in FREY’s manufacturing facility.
I had the pleasure of watching FREY’s workforce constructing bikes on the manufacturing facility. I name them a workforce as an alternative of simply manufacturing facility employees as a result of that’s what they’re. These aren’t simply shift employees. They’re precise mountain bike lovers. And so they don’t simply construct the bikes – they journey them too.
They have been our tour guides as we bombed hills, blazed trails, and climbed stairs on FREY’s complete mannequin line of e-bikes all through the week. However alas, I’m getting forward of myself once more.
These guys hand assemble the bikes three or 4 at a time. A lot of the firm’s bikes are primarily based across the large 1,500 W peak Bafang Ultra mid-drive motor, although the corporate additionally builds e-bikes with the marginally extra cheap M600 mid-drive motor, which places out nearer to 1,000 W of peak energy. However if you need the most effective of the most effective, go for the Extremely motor. FREY doesn’t actually publish high speeds for his or her bikes, however I’ll allow you to in on a bit of secret: I hit 59 km/h (36.7 mph) on flat floor on certainly one of their Bafang Extremely-powered e-bikes.
After the motors go in, the bikes get the remainder of their part load-out. From right here, it’s all high-end elements. We’re speaking RockShox suspension, Magura MT5 hydraulic disc brakes with 203 mm rotors, Neco headsets, Italian saddles, Maxxis tires, Shimano SL groupset… the checklist goes on. Principally, these are all high-end mountain bike elements that FREY places on its electrical bikes.
FREY’s line of e-bikes largely fall within the vary of $3,000 to $3,800, relying simply how loopy you need to along with your part selection or battery depend. And these bikes can compete with the most effective of the European electrical mountain bikes that value over twice as a lot.
I do know this as a result of I rode them on some loopy terrain throughout China. We hit the slopes at Courageous Peak Bike Park (typically referred to as “China’s Whistler”). Whereas I used to be completely satisfied getting inches of air, I watched a few of my using companions getting ft of air. It was like watching ballet as they soared by the air, making the heavy e-bikes look weightless. Over the subsequent few days, we then continued on to trails all through Jinhua, China.
We rode previous temples carved into mountainsides the place the monks smiled and waved as we glided by. We rode by locations the place the paths appeared to finish and we wound up simply using by dusty village alleys and down previous, stone-carved stairs and easily traversed something that bought between us and the cardinal path we have been headed.
We didn’t simply journey down stairs, Kevin demonstrates using again up them too!
We rode highways, and we rode switchbacks, and we rode overlooks.
Principally we rode every thing.
We even by chance popped out of a forest close to a Chinese language navy base on a mountain high and spent a tense couple of minutes deleting GoPro footage on the path of a soldier on patrol (don’t fear, we nonetheless had tons extra as you possibly can see within the video on the high of this text).
Principally, we rode all over the place and did every thing – issues I by no means would have thought I might do on an e-bike. One of many issues that amazed me essentially the most was how effectively I might journey up and down stairs. I’d by no means ridden stairs earlier than in my life. I had all the time thought that was one thing higher left to the skilled stunt riders. Because it seems all it takes is 2 issues. A motorcycle with high-quality suspension and a little bit of confidence. And happily for me, the previous was conducive to the latter. I began small with units of three steps. Then immediately I used to be doing 5 steps. An hour later I used to be using down units of 20 steps carved right into a mountainside. I couldn’t consider it! I used to be performing feats on a bicycle that I couldn’t have dreamed of only a week prior.
However alas, almost as shortly because it had began, my week-long go to to FREY had ended. I stated my unhappy goodbyes, each to the chums I had made and to the bikes I had ridden. And ever since coming dwelling, I’ve had an itch for a motorbike just like the FREY fashions I rode. I’ve been on some really fun e-bikes since, however nothing has fairly touched that have. Not but.
In actual fact, I’m critically contemplating getting my very own FREY bike to fill the full-suspension top quality electrical bike-shaped void I now have in my life. Which brings me to the final fascinating twist on this saga. Small firms like FREY have discovered it considerably tough to succeed in a global viewers, irrespective of how superior their e-bikes are.
FREY truly has a number of country-specific sellers within the UK and Switzerland, in addition to others probably coming aboard (with each to this point being a cheerful FREY buyer that in the end noticed an opportunity to assist unfold these bikes into their dwelling nation). However by and enormous, FREY has been utilizing Alibaba to promote their bikes internationally, which is the place FREY’s website will direct you in case you determine to order. Whereas Alibaba is a staple of life within the East, it’s not a quite common buying platform within the West. And it additionally implies that transport generally is a bit pricy when sending a single bike by airmail to an tackle midway around the globe.
To assist remedy this, FREY is shortly working to develop its native sellers in addition to organizing group buys. For instance, the corporate currently has a group buy open for the US, the place People can order bikes that may all be despatched as a gaggle in a sea container. From there the bikes can be forwarded to every US buyer’s tackle. It takes longer because of the sea transport however can lower an $800 delivery fee right down to round $300, which seems to be round a 15% low cost on your entire order.
As FREY expands, look forward to finding extra native choices. Till then, you’ll be part of a rising neighborhood of followers eagerly awaiting their very own FREY field to reach at their door.
If you wish to be taught extra about a number of of FREY’s particular fashions, keep tuned to Electrek. I’ll be again with a number of extra movies displaying extra in-depth critiques of particular fashions.
And lastly, an enormous because of FREY Bike for inviting me out to China, displaying me your manufacturing facility, and letting me spend per week attempting to interrupt your bikes and my physique. Someway I managed to interrupt neither.
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