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Let’s face it: electric bikes can look a little pedestrian in their design, with many focused on function over form. Not all: the Urtopia Carbon One stands out as a bike designed with form over function. But while that’s to its detriment, Engwe has taken a similar approach with its M20 model, which has definite motorbike vibes. The question is, can its performance match the aesthetics?
Features & Design
Attractive cafe-racer design
Single, fixed-height seat
If you’re considering an Engwe M20, then I hope you live somewhere that has a lot of space. The box it arrives in is enormous, and you could be confused into thinking you’d ordered a dinner table from eBay while drunk.
The reason for the size is straightforward, as the M20 is a big bike and comes mostly assembled. The frame and back wheel are in place, with the handlebars attached via its cabling and just needing to be screwed into place. Then there’s the front wheel, pedals, mudguard and kickstand to put on.
While this sounds quite straightforward, it still took me an hour or so, as the instruction manual is truly awful. Rather than pictures, you get computer renders of the steps, several of which bear little resemblance to what’s required or are too small to read. The tool kit is also a bit basic and the kickstand was missing the two nuts required to hold it in place.
Thankfully I found the right size ones in my shed. Oh, and there’s an abundance of zip-ties. It’s great the bike is well protected, but I have to cut through 30 of them, which felt a bit excessive.
In terms of styling, the M20 is along the lines of the cafe racers, and you might even say it’s simply a clone of the popular Super73-RX Mojave. Either way, the M20 is yours for about half the cost of the Super73.
When ordering you have a choice of either one battery or two. The model on review is the latter, with the second battery positioned along the crossbar, giving it a petrol-tank appearance that only increases the motorbike feel.
It doesn’t help with weight, though. At 38kg/84lbs this is not a lightweight bike that you’ll happily pick up and run up the stairs. It’s chunky and requires a lot of strength to lift. Oh, and did I mention that’s just the bike itself?
Add one battery and the weight jumps to around 43kg/94lbs, while the dual-battery version is a hefty 47kg/104lbs. This makes it the heaviest e-bike we’ve reviewed on Tech Advisor by a long way.
The aluminum-alloy frame is sturdy and comes in black, green or white. It looks like a cargo bike, but you won’t be taking any passengers as the single seat doesn’t leave much room for backies. There’s no luggage rack either.
The saddle height is around 31.5 inches/80cm from the ground and can’t be adjusted, Engwe says that the M20 is suitable for people ranging in height from 5ft to 6ft 8in, with a maximum load capacity of 264lbs/120kg, but at 5ft 9in and with short legs, I found the seat too low for comfortable pedalling, and couldn’t straighten my legs fully. I’d be surprised if anyone over 6ft could comfortably pedal the M20 along.
There’s dual suspension to deal with any bumps in the road you’ll encounter.
The 20 in the name refers to the size of the wheels, which are 20 inches. The tyres (tires for those in the US) are 4 inches fat and continue the all-terrain theme that the M20 embraces.
Again, it’s a real shame there’s no luggage rack because Engwe claims that with both batteries on board you could potentially travel for up to 150km (around 94 miles) on a single charge. You can’t adjust the handlebar angle or height, which is set at 44.8in/114cm from the ground but that’s not unusual at this end of the e-bike market, and to be fair they are comfortably positioned when you’re cycling.
7-speed Shimano gears help when you need to go faster or assist up a hill, while front and rear disc brakes are there to slow you down again. You also get a couple of motorbike-style headlamps just to complete the visage.
e-bike or Moped?
Exceeds UK and EU e-bike regulations
Class 3 e-bike in the US
Getting onto the motor side of things presents something of a problem, at least for those in the UK and much of mainland Europe. Engwe fits the M20 with a 750w brushless gear motor that kicks out a maximum torque of 55Nm and can reach speeds of around 45kmh or 28mph.
Under current UK law, an e-bike ‘must have a maximum power output of 250 watts and should not be able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph’. It also has a twist throttle, another thing that’s illegal in the UK for e-bikes, if you want to use it on public roads. It’s fine for use on private land.
If you want to ride it on UK roads, it’s classified as a moped and requires registration, plus road tax and insurance to be legal. Similar restrictions exist in the EU, although it complies with class 3 e-bike laws in North America. If you’re going to buy this, make sure you check local regulations to see if you’ll actually be able to ride it anywhere other than private land.
28mph/45kmh top speed
Throttle a little too smooth
Struggles on big hills
As I live in the UK, I wasn’t able to take the M20 out on the public roads, but I am fortunate enough to have the use of some farmland in Cornwall, so I could open up that throttle and see what the M20 was made of.
It’s comfortable to sit on, with the suspension doing its job admirably when going across rough terrain, no doubt aided by those fat tires. It does become immediately apparent though that this isn’t really intended to be a bike that you pedal all that much. The riding position and low saddle height mentioned before made it difficult to generate much power, which turned out to be a problem with such a heavy bike. The gears did help, but once you use the throttle and rely on the motor, the M20 makes a lot more sense.
There are 5 power modes on offer, from minimal to the full 750W. These are controlled via the LCD screen attached to the handlebars. This also tells you your current speed, distance travelled and battery life remaining. It’s a monochrome display, but works well in sunlight, making it easy to keep an eye on the stats. There’s also a harder-to-find extra mode for when walking with the M20, this is enabled by pressing and holding the ‘-’ buttons on the panel, which keeps the motor rolling at a steady 6kmh until you release it.
I spent most of my time using the throttle, and not bothering to try and assist the motor by pedalling. The M20 pulls away nicely, as the power comes in smoothly to avoid any sudden jolts, so long as you’re in the lower power modes.
The throttle has very little resistance, so it’s quite easy to press it by accident as you’re riding. Then you have a sudden burst of acceleration which you didn’t expect. One problem is that the motor doesn’t cut out as soon as you’re off the throttle, leading to the bike accelerating for a couple of seconds after. This can be disconcerting, especially at higher speeds, but it was something I learned to compensate for after a while, which made it just a quirk rather than a serious issue.
It’s worth knowing that the motor does cut out if you apply the brakes, so you don’t have to worry too much about hurtling into the cow that’s just wandered into the field, or pedestrians if you’re don’t happen to be cycling on a farm.
Engwe states that the M20 can reach 45kmh/28mph, but my rather limited test track didn’t allow for such speeds. I did comfortably take the bike up to around 30kmh and it felt solid and well balanced at that velocity.
Hills are something of a problem though. Engwe says inclines of up to 10 degrees are fine. In Cornwall, that’s nothing. There are huge, steep hills everywhere and the heavy M20 struggled with the hills around me: the motor basically failed to help much when I got to the 18° hill near my house. At that point, you’re pedalling a really weighty bike up a steep slope, which isn’t something you’d want to do for very long.
To be fair, on 10 degree-or-under hills it happily whizzed up without a care.
The dual 160mm disc brakes didn’t inspire confidence at the start. They squeaked noisily, and the front ones were a bit grabby, making the front wheel lock at times, while the rear was more spongy. Discs need some time to bed in and, being the mechanical, cable-operated variety, can be adjusted. Also, they’re stopping a lot of weight and potentially from high speeds, but I didn’t have any instances where I couldn’t stop the bike.
Engwe claims that a single battery charge will deliver a range of up to 75km (around 47 miles) when pedal assisted in the low power mode. This is also presumably on a flat, smooth road with a reasonably lightweight rider. As you won’t really want to pedal much on the M20, you’ll instead most likely be using the higher power modes which will curtail those distances. I found around 30 miles per battery charge seems to be normal, so the dual battery version could most likely take you 50-60 miles before needing to be plugged in once more, depending on terrain. That’s not a bad range at all. You’ll want to arrive at your destination with time to spare though, as each 13Ah battery takes around five hours to refuel with the provided charger.
Price & Availability
The Engwe M20 is surprisingly affordable, costing $1,299.99/£1,199.99 for the single-battery version or $1,599.99/£1,499.99 for the double, which is more than reasonable in this class.
One reason for the low price is the short warranty which lasts just one year. And some parts, such as tyres, are covered for a paltry month. In any case, you’ll be responsible for fitting any defective parts, since labour isn’t covered.
If you’re looking for off-road alternatives, then the Carrera Vengeance is a good option in the UK and for around £1000, or for those who prefer the fat tire approach, there’s the Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 2 that costs a similar amount to the M20 and is built to take cargo.
You’ll find a bigger selection in our roundup of the best electric bikes to see what other options are currently available.
The M20 is great fun to ride, looks fantastic, and in the great scheme of things is relatively affordable. If you’re in North America, then it should be worth serious consideration as it’s fast, has decent range and can scratch that cafe-racer itch very well. It’s a different story in the UK and EU though, as while all those things remain true you simply can’t ride it on the road, at least not legally.
You do get what you pay for, too, which is why budget components such as the brakes and gears are used. Pay more elsewhere and you should get better quality hydraulic disc brakes, for one.
The twist throttle is too easy to accidentally trigger and you need to pull a brake lever if you want the motor to cut out straight away. The manual is awful, the weight heavy and there’s no room for a passenger or provision for carrying any luggage. But, if those things don’t bother you too much, the M20 is a fun bike to ride.
Aluminum Alloy frame
750W Brushless Motor (55Nm torque)
20in x 4in Fat Tires
48V 13Ah Lithium-Ion battery (optional second battery)
28mph/45kmh maximum speed
Five power modes
34.17 Miles (55KM) maximum distance at Electric Mode 1 and 46.6 Miles (75KM) at PAS mode 1
Martyn has been involved with tech ever since the arrival of his ZX Spectrum back in the early 80s. He covers iOS, Android, Windows and macOS, writing tutorials, buying guides and reviews for Macworld and its sister site Tech Advisor.