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Engwe M20 review

Sep 08, 2023

Affordable thrills from this urban run-around

This competition is now closed

By Warren Rossiter

Published: August 31, 2023 at 12:00 pm

The Engwe M20 is different from other electric bikes.

It combines small wheels (20 inches), massive 4-inch wide tyres and a bench seat bolted to the one-size-fits-all frame.

Although this is certainly not an urban electric bike with lots of practicality, it’s great fun to ride about town and will almost certainly put a smile on your face.

The Engwe M20 takes its styling cues from Honda’s classic 1960s Z series (commonly called the ‘monkey bike’).

The M20 is well-finished, with a brown leatherette bench seat sitting atop the metallic jade green aluminium frame. It has an all-black finishing kit and wide knobbly tyres wrapped around five-spoke mag-alloy cast wheels.

Finish this off with powerful dual headlights and a carbon-effect top box that mimics a petrol tank, and it’s a fun, striking ebike – albeit, perhaps not the most practical.

The frame has suspension with a 100mm-travel rear air shock enabling the back end to move underneath you. Up-front a big dual-crown suspension fork offers the same amount of bump-eating smoothness.

Suspension is arguably a moot point when you’re dealing with such chunky tyres. That said, the M20 is best enjoyed as a relaxed round-town commuter bike rather than a ‘performance’ road bike, so the focus on comfort has its place here.

The big bench seat enabled me to stretch out my 6ft 2in frame and pedal reasonably comfortably, but those who are smaller will be able to adopt a much more natural ride position.

However, look a little closer and you’ll see a few budget compromises.

Up-front, the dual lamps’ wiring loom has a few gaps, so the wrap doesn’t quite cover some of the junctions. It’s easy to cure with a roll of electrical tape, but I’d have preferred not to see fragile wires exposed to the elements.

The budget Prowheel crankset seems a little low-budget too, but it does have a decent chainguard to protect your trouser cuffs from oily smears.

At the back, a Shimano 7-speed Tourney derailleur moves smoothly across the gear range, and it’s protected from accidental knocks by a bolt-on protector.

The M20 is a heavy ebike at over 34kg, but its powerful rear-wheel motor means it doesn’t feel so heavy to ride.

When locking the bike up, you have plenty of frame tubes to wrap a lock through. Because the wheels are bolted into place, I had little concern that someone would steal them.

The Engwe M20’s motor system impresses, but isn’t the most refined experience. The mono screen is bright and easy to read, and the power modes are switched via buttons on the base of the screen. The controller also incorporates an on/off light switch and a horn.

In the top power mode, the M20 delivers an almost ridiculous amount of grunt, to the point where the pedal assistance can hardly keep pace with the motor input.

More than once, it felt as if the bike was running independently of my pedal input. A dab of the brakes, which are linked to the motor, disengages the system, but it’s a behaviour I needed to get accustomed to.

The M20 deals with inclines well enough, but despite the power, the weight of the bike can overwhelm it a little. I tried a couple of local steep ramps in testing, and discovered on anything above a 10 per cent gradient the motor started to struggle.

Engwe claims a range of up to 75km for the M20, but that’s using the powerful 55Nm electric bike motor in the lowest of its five levels.

I found riding the M20 frugally meant sacrificing its fun factor. It was far better instead to put it in the middle mode (3 out of 5) and then use the two more powerful modes for any sort of incline or to woosh away from standing starts at traffic lights or junctions.

The start is also enhanced by including a legally allowed throttle (which is more like a start assist) on the right side of the bars, giving the M20 startling levels of acceleration, up to around 10mph before normal assistance takes over.

The weighty M20 needs this, especially at the foot of any incline and to get you away from traffic around you at lights.

Those living outside the confines of EU laws get the M20 set up with more throttle functionality.

The maximum range I achieved with a single battery was 28.04 miles (45km) with 1,069.5ft (326m) of ascent.

You can add another battery to double the capacity from 624Wh to a huge 1,248Wh (which raises the price to £1,449/$1,599).

Charge times aren’t nearly as fast as the motor, at 5 hours 35 minutes to refill from empty.

The charger indicator isn’t the easiest to work out. A red light to show it’s charging doesn’t always switch to green to confirm it’s fully charged.

I had to switch it quickly on and off after five hours, after which it switched to green.

The battery locks into place, but can be removed to make charging easier, which doubles as a good security measure when locking the bike up unattended.

The M20’s ride position is extremely comfortable, and the steering is composed and very well-balanced.

This is thanks to the big tyres, tall handlebar and relaxed fork angle that come into play once the bike’s suspension is compressed when seated.

It’s a bike that flows through corners. The big knobbly tyres have plenty of grip and you can lean into corners with the confidence that it won’t slip or drift wide.

My test riding included plenty of towpaths and unsurfaced byways, and I even the M20 to my local BMX track for some out-of-context riding to test its limits.

It rolled through banked bermed corners and over jumps with squashy stability – in a word, it was fun.

The cable disc brakes have enough power to stop, but I needed to use the full extent of the lever travel to stop the bike when travelling at speed.

Hydraulic disc brakes are a known improvement on cable disc brakes, and would certainly improve the overall experience.

My lingering thought about the M20 is wondering whether it’s just a ‘toy’ – the bike is undoubtedly fun to ride, but it isn’t very practical compared to other urban ebikes.

I also think you could feel somewhat self-conscious rolling around on this outlandish-looking bike.

That said, it has the potential to make you smile. If that’s what matters most to you, it’s a very enticing proposition.

Senior technical editor

Warren Rossiter is BikeRadar and Cycling Plus magazine’s senior technical editor for road and gravel. Having been testing bikes for more than 20 years, Warren has an encyclopedic knowledge of road cycling and has been the mastermind behind our Road Bike of the Year test for more than a decade. He’s also a regular presenter on the BikeRadar Podcast and on BikeRadar’s YouTube channel. In his time as a cycling journalist, Warren has written for Mountain Biking UK, What Mountain Bike, Urban Cyclist, Procycling, Cyclingnews, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike and T3. Over the years, Warren has written about thousands of bikes and tested more than 2,500 – from budget road bikes to five-figure superbikes. He has covered all the major innovations in cycling this century, and reported from launches, trade shows and industry events in Europe, Asia, Australia, North American and Africa. While Warren loves fast road bikes and the latest gravel bikes, he also believes electric bikes are the future of transport. You’ll regularly find him commuting on an ebike and he longs for the day when everyone else follows suit. You will find snaps of Warren’s daily rides on the Instagram account of our sister publication, Cycling Plus (@cyclingplus).