A perfect “light quaxing“, carry in the car, campervan or boat ebike suitable for the whole family. One size fits all.
You would be forgiven for not having heard the brand before – Chris Hoff-Nielsen is based on Waiheke Island and this is their only branded bike. They have been pioneers in doing conversions for some years now and still do. Indeed, the first ebike I actually enjoyed riding was a converted Breezer from Bikes and Barbers, their Newmarket store.
We have an Onya in the family now because a lightweight folding ebike is useful, you will know this if you have tried to put any other ebike in a car or on a rack. This also happens to be one of the cheapest (quality) production ebikes available at $2350. But for us to buy, it had to be good to ride, and the Onya F-19 (sounds like a stealth fighter jet eh?) is a good ride – apparently based on the very popular Dahon folding bike. I have happily exceeded 40kph downhill and felt secure without chatter or wobble despite the little 20″ wheels, and knowing that the Tektro mechanical disk brakes can stop me in a hurry. I wasn’t quite able to ride no-hands but what else would you expect with 20″ gyros? Because the battery is integrated into the ‘downtube’ (really an ‘along’ tube), the weight is kept low which contributes to stability.
Talking of batteries, it is shaped like an AK-47 magazine so that it slides neatly into the bent tube. Good Onya! The charging port, USB outlet and on-off switch are accessible through a porthole near the front that is covered by a weatherproof rubber flap. On our bike the USB port doesn’t work. Chris says it is an easy fix so we’ll see how that goes.
Many competing folding bikes have rim brakes and a rack mounted battery. The disks and ‘AK-47’ battery set the Onya F-19 apart. I don’t know about ride quality because my experience with folders is limited.
The Onya has a 250W Shengyi geared rear hub motor and a nice KT-LCD3 screen. It has a cadence sensor with 8 points of measurement. Both brakes have motor arrestors. The motor is small and light (2.2kg) – so small in fact that you can barely see it behind the gear cluster. Up-and-down assist controls are on a separate remote and there is a throttle built in to the left grip. Ergonomically it all works well. The display is large and informative. This isn’t a rocketship in any way, expect a cruising speed of around 28-30kph. The gearing tops out around there anyway. Making a 20″ wheel bike go any faster would require a huge front chainring, and frankly speed is not its purpose. With its relatively low gearing, it will grind up just about any hill as long as you are willing to help out a bit by pedalling. The speedo does overread about 10% compared to GPS but I used the GPS (real) speeds for the notes above.
Speaking of gears, they are 7 speed Shimano Altus gears operated with a Shimano twist shift. Very intuitive, and less bits poking out that might break in transit. The throttle is also a twister and on a cadence sensor bike is very useful to get smooth takeoffs. It goes almost as fast under throttle as pedaling.
Other nice features include full mudguards and integrated front and rear lights. If only they had spec’d the Tektro integrated bell like the Smartmotion eCity, I’d be a happy man. The integrated rear rack is a bit low to the ground for most panniers, so a trunk bag will work. Or as I do, a backpack bungeed on. Although I have seen people use smallish panniers on this bike.
A throttle bike tends to involve a massive number of wires and cables up front. The designers have added a nice zip-up ‘wetsuit’ that keeps them all together and protects them especially when folding the bike, as the handlebars fold down. All the cable routing is neat and doesn’t look like it will get broken or snagged.
I weighed the Onya including battery at 21kg (most ebikes weigh in at 24-28kg). I don’t normally worry too much about weight as long as it is balanced. For a folding bike you are likely to be lugging it around possibly in its folded form, so it matters. I’ve carried more weight in a backpack for several days so 21kg is not bad at all. It is manageable lifting into the boot of a car.
The battery is suprisingly light for an ebike at 1.8kg – it locks inside the frame but it would also be practical enough to take it with you. I was surprised to learn that the battery is 11Ah (400Wh). It is so light and small. Range prediction is 40-60km! ElectricMeg rode hers from our house to Devonport and back (38km) fairly fast and it still had around 20% of the battery remaining.
The saddle has a long range of adjustment and so does the handlebar (up and down only).
There are however some little details that stop this from being perfect:
- When the bike is folded there is nothing preventing the front bits from scratching the back bits. You’d need to do something yourself to keep it looking nice.
- There is nothing stopping the bike from unfolding again. You’d need to use a bungy.
- The folded bike is a bit awkward to carry (eg onto your boat, up the stairs) with no obvious handle. It’s much easier to carry when unfolded (there is a tube that acts as a handle in front of the seat tube where the natural balance point is)
- It would be nice to be able to remove or rotate the display to avoid damaging it. Apparently a new one is only $35 though. (Longer term use note: this hasn’t been a problem)
- C’mon guys, can we just have a nice bell please?
Stand-out features for me were:
- The styling (although this is a bit subjective), and if you didn’t already know, you couldn’t tell that this is an electric bike when it zapped past you on a hill
- Ride quality and comfort
- Overall build and component quality (except for the bell dammit!)
- Adjustability – one size fits all (it has to as it only comes in one size)
- A wide range of colours are available (though it has to be said that most of them are not to my taste)
- It can fold up!
[The current version of this bike (v5) has received minor updates. Review version is v4. Some components have been improved and the electronics are better too (smoother, quieter, 1km/h faster up a moderate hill). The display is simpler and the remote control is integrated.]