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The Fiido X at the dawn of a new day.

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The Fiido X folding e-bike: what a difference a year makes

An impressive follow-up to the Fiido D11

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The Fiido X folding electric bike is Fiido’s Indiegogo follow-up to last year’s Fiido D11 e-bike, a budget-priced e-bike that proved once again that you get what you pay for.

The direct-to-consumer Chinese company founded in 2016 thinks the Fiido X greatly improves upon the D11. “All the cons on D11 are disappeared,” is how the e-bike was pitched to me, even as the price was boosted to $1,298. That’s about $300 more than the D11 which, at first glance, seems justified: generic parts used on budget e-bikes are currently in short supply globally, and the Fiido X has a very long list of improvements.

Namely, the Fiido X has a lighter, more visually striking magnesium frame that lacks the thick ugly welds found on the D11. The X also features a better folding mechanism, new torque sensor that promises more intuitive and efficient power delivery, an integrated keyless lock to prevent the saddle and battery from getting stolen, and numerous other improvements both big and small.

So let me start by saying, wow, what a difference a year makes.

The Fiido X folds down nice and compactly.

Fiido claims to have sold more than 300,000 e-bikes globally. But it’s easy to sell a crap-load of e-bikes when support is a distant concern (more on that later).

The Fiido X is available in three models:

  • The 17kg (37.5 pounds) Fiido X with hydraulic brakes, 417.6Wh battery, and 250W motor for $1,298.
  • The 16.7kg (36.8 pounds) Fiido X Lite with disc brakes, smaller 208.8Wh battery, and 250W motor that’s $1,098.
  • The 17.5kg (38.6 pounds) Fiido X (US) with hydraulic brakes, 417.6Wh battery, and beefier 350W motor also for $1,298.

The Fiido X and X Lite have top speeds of 25km/h (16mph) while the Fiido X (US) model has a top speed of 32km/h (20mph). None of the e-bikes have a throttle — they are pedal-assist only — but Fiido says it will sell a mod kit later for owners wanting to add a throttle.

The Fiido D11, like many of the company’s e-bikes, can be “unlocked” for even more speed, and the Fiido X is likely no different. The Indiegogo FAQ even notes that the Fiido X is a bike capable of “more than 40km/h” but has been capped to meet safety regulations for each region.

I was sent the Fiido X model to my home in Amsterdam to test. But what I received is a late-stage prototype, so it’ll be slightly different from what Indiegogo backers receive (I’ll note these differences along the way). So, this isn’t a review, but it is a check on the company’s claims before you send Fiido’s Indiegogo campaign more than $1,000 of your hard-earned cash.

First impressions say a lot, and the improvements made by Fiido were obvious as soon as I opened the box. It was shipped with noticeably less packing material in the box than last year’s D11, yet it still made its way around the world unscathed. After a bare minimum of assembly (unfold, attach pedals, insert battery, and give all the screws a tighten), I was up and riding within about 10 minutes.

The Fiido X, like the D11, smartly integrates its large (for a foldable) 417.6Wh battery into the seat post. The Fiido X improves upon the design greatly by eliminating the unsightly pigtail cable. The entire seat and battery assembly can also now be locked into place to prevent them from being stolen. But instead of a key which can be lost, the Fiido X features a number pad installed directly onto the frame just below the integrated rear light. The number pad has the brute-force aesthetic of a Soviet missile silo but gets the job done regardless.

The seat and battery assembly locks into place as soon as it’s inserted. It can be unlocked by entering the passcode only you know, allowing the battery to be taken inside to charge. The seat height can be adjusted via a new clamping mechanism that also serves to replace the pigtail cable to electrically couple the battery to the motor.

Turning on the Fiido X also requires a passcode now, as well as a separate button on the battery, for some reason. It won’t prevent bike thieves from riding away under their own leg strength, but at least they won’t benefit from the pedal-assist.

The battery integrated into the seat tube continues to be an impact risk for riders under about 6 feet tall.

The seat-post battery on my Fiido X prototype, however, is still an impact risk for shorter riders, just like it was on the D11. The battery can be shoved so far down that it extends well beyond the frame and crankset. I’m 183cm (six feet) tall, which means the seat (and battery) are high enough to still be protected by the frame, but only just. Fiido says the X supports riders from 155cm (five feet) to 200cm (six feet, five inches). But anyone under six feet tall will need to be comfortable having that battery jutting out the bottom of the frame if they want their toes to touch the ground. Fiido tells me that the battery on production Fiido X bikes will not extend beyond the protective crankset (but still outside of the frame).

The new hinge on the folding magnesium frame is another welcome improvement. It opens easily, allowing the bike to fold in half without the excessive resistance felt on the D11 e-bike I reviewed. The handlebar also folds down quickly allowing the bike to be broken down into a very compact package suitable for hoisting onto a train or into the trunk of a car. Unfortunately, none of the folded components lock into place like more expensive Brompton or GoCycle foldables making the 17kg (37.5 pounds) Fiido X a bit unwieldy to carry or trolly along on one wheel.

The Fiido X easily fits inside one of VW’s smallest cars.

After charging my battery to full, it was ready to ride. Steering is responsive but lives right on the edge of twitchy. The torque sensor makes the Fiido X much more intuitive to ride than the D11’s cheaper cadence sensor. Press down on a pedal from a standstill and the assist is felt almost immediately. On flat surfaces I was able to easily cruise along in the lowest power setting (one of three). The Fiido X is fitted with seven gears, which is about four too many for riding an e-bike on the eternally flat roads of the Netherlands. In the rolling dunes by the North Sea, I was more comfortable riding in the second power setting.

The 250W Aikema rear-hub motor is much quieter than its predecessor but also provides more power on hills, allowing me to easily climb the steepest incline I could find in the third power setting. Although that hill would be small by San Francisco standards, the D11 struggled with that same incline just a year earlier.

One oddity I noticed is the speed limit on the display maxes out at 25km/h (about 15.5mph), despite going much faster than that while riding downhill in top gear (my GPS watch said I was riding at 29.5km/h or roughly 18mph). Fiido says this will be fixed with the production units. The D11 speedometer also failed to register the correct speed, so we’ll see.

The Fiido X has a claimed range of up to 130km (80 miles). I didn’t conduct a full range test on the prototype, but that type of range is certainly possible on a throttle-less pedal-assisted bike ridden on flat terrain on the lowest power setting — though it’s unlikely in day-to-day usage. For reference, Fiido claimed the D11 could go up to 100km before a recharge and I managed 49km (30 miles) during my range test over mostly flat bike paths using the throttle about 90 percent of the time.

Some other observations:

  • Fiido says the Fiido X should not be ridden in “heavy rain” as its IP54 rating leaves the bike’s electronics susceptible to anything more aggressive than splashing water.
  • Weight has been reduced by almost 3kg (6.6 pounds), which makes the Fiido X the same weight as the Brompton e-bike, even though the Fiido X rolls on larger 20-inch tires.
  • The new leather saddle is a bit more comfortable, but the Fiido graphics rubbed off after a few days of use.
  • Same hard grips as D11.
  • My test e-bike lacked fenders, but those will come standard with the production e-bike.
  • Display visibility washes out in direct sunlight, but it’s not something you need to reference frequently, or at all.
  • Cables are better managed and the front and rear lights are now part of the frame assembly for a cleaner overall look.
  • The seven-hour charge time is very slow compared to similar capacity batteries from more expensive e-bike makers.
  • Kickstand has been moved from the center to the rear.
The Fiido X has integrated front and rear lighting.

Support is always going to be an issue with these direct-to-consumer e-bikes. The relatively low purchase price is certainly attractive, but what happens when something goes wrong and you need to make a warranty claim against China-based Fiido? It helps that Fiido uses off-the-shelf parts that can be purchased from the company’s online store and replaced by any bike shop. That’s assuming the parts are in stock at a time when generic bicycle components are in incredibly short supply.

Fiido tells me that it’s preparing to open maintenance centers in the EU, US, and other regions “in the near future.” The company says it currently has four after-sales service centers based in the UK, Ireland, Spain, and Italy. By 2022, Fiido says that it wants to build at least five service centers in the USA and Canada, and at least two in countries like the UK, Ireland, Spain, Italy, France, and Germany — other EU countries would have one. Those are laudable goals, but you should never buy a product today based on a promise for tomorrow.

The Fiido X is an impressive follow-up to the D11 that addresses most but not all of its shortcomings. And at $1,298, the Fiido X is far less expensive than any folding electric bike offered by GoCycle, Brompton, or Hummingbird. They won’t service your bike at your home or office like RadPower will, and it can’t be tracked down and returned if stolen like a VanMoof, but not everyone needs premium features that come at a premium price.

Photography by Thomas Ricker / The Verge

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