Fortis Urban Speeder: Not the Ideal starting point to your first E-Bike.

[REVISION]:
So there are somethings that you buy and a lot of things you leave alone.
This bike seems to be one of them. My first bike ended up having issues with the speed controller so I returned it to Kogan, with them hesitantly taking the product back.
After electing for a substitute bike, I had the new unit in 10 days (including return period, as it didn’t take long for them to realise the fault it seems after not even a day with the old bike).
On collection of the new bike, I had to ride into the city that same night, so I finished assembly, charged the battery and caught my train.
Halfway down the ride to the city the chain set came loose and rotated. I ended up having to loose the ability of my left side pedal and unable to repair it. 
After a continuous back and forth with Kogan, 5 weeks after sending the bike back, they issued a refund – albeit reluctantly.

New Experience:
1.5 out of 5:
Pros:
– Still cheap for a short range E-Bike

Cons:
– Assembly is cheap.
– Warranty is restrictive on returns, refunded under Australian Consumer Law
– Bike’s restrictive speed is not for all.


(The old review has been left up for literary purposes)

[Old Review Below]:
So if you have been interested at all in the Vlogs of Casey Neistat, Sam Sheffer (Former Verge and Mashable Social Media guy) or a handleful of other vloggers, reviewers or youtubers; you may come across the Electric [Insert Item here] phenomenon.
Super quick electric skateboards, Mopeds with complete Electric motors, Electric Motorbikes and even Electric Push bikes (called E-Bikes), have all gained popularity over the years thanks to a cost reduction in the tech that powers them and advancements in Battery tech (plus… well, thanks Tesla for making Electric cars cooler than the Nissan Leaf).

There are two types of E-Bike. The standard E-Bike built from the ground up that has the motor of a certain wattage inside the front or rear wheel, the speed controller build into the frame and the battery being either built into the bike or located under the seat stem.
The most commonly available and frankly alot less hassle is the formerly mentioned traditional build. These bikes are capable of varying levels of speed and comes in different shapes, sizes and can serve different functions even as well (not just being on the road).
The downside of these bikes are that they generally start around $1300 AUD for a decent bike and can go all the way up to over $3500 for something that is extremely well built and has long range.

Enter, the Fortis Urban Speeder. A Bike built off a $149 Folding commuter bike frame, but repurposed as a functional E-Bike; available for $549 (excluding postage) from Kogan.com.

The Bike – From Assembly to 1st Ride

First impressions of the bike are fairly good. The model I purchased was the only one available, being block with the white Fortis branding on the left side of the bike. The bike is built off their other folding Urban Traveller design, which is $299.
The bike is built on a sturdy 3 piece folding aluminium frame. Designed to be folded up, stored easily in smaller apartments, car boots, or as some people have written on the reviews of the bike, even boats.
Assembly is super easy and you dont need an engineering degree to figure out whats what. The bike comes prefolded and with the battery, a set of tools, charger, pedals and seat post seperated. I assembled it within 20 minutes on my Lunch break and had it all ready to go, threw the battery on charge for 3 hours and by the time I had finished work, had a bike ready to go!

Initial User Experience & Specs

Once the unit is assembled, you can fold out the pedals and then get to riding. This is where the experience really does differ depending on where you are riding it.
Firstly, I tested the bike in my local area around Outer Western Sydney near Rouse Hill. Mostly flat roads, slight inclines, solid footpaths and a severe lack of bike paths. The bike has 20″ tyres with fairly solid grip so cornering and imperfections in the road are handled fairly well with ease and the seat also has springs in it to act as a sudo form of suspension, which does work in the most part, but on the heavier bumps, you will feel the jolt as the bike itself doesnt have any form of suspension on the front or rear sections of the frame.
As a bike, the unit is easy to pedal on flats, but can feel heavy on inclines. That is where the assisted motor can really shine.

What makes this bike electric, is a 250W unnamed Motor in the rear tyre, a 36.8 volt Samsung Battery and a speed controller that limits the bike’s speed to a maximum asssisted delivery of 25Km/Hr. (This is mainly due to the laws in Australia, but we will get to that later.)
Anything more, will require the user to pedal harder to exceed that pre-set speed. I should also note the battery provided is expected to last you 30 to 40kms (18-24 miles) on a single charge depending on the terrain and how aggressively pedal.

The motor helps acceleration massvively, and take off does take some getting used to. Once you have mastered it, it feels like you are 6 years old again on a bike with training wheels and having Mum & Dad push you whilst you pedal. This performance helps tackle most inclines, flat roads and even ride alongside most traffic.
My second test I took the bike to my Gym, which where I live and to where it is in Norwest Boulevard, the ride goes for an estimated time of 1hour 5 minutes according to Google Maps. I believe in my naivity and being fairly new to the technology I expected to be able to get the gym and ride home and only be out for around 3.5 to 4 hours (the way home is downhill).
Sorry to say, that didnt work out how I wanted. The ride to the gym did take around an hour and ten minutes (probably due to my fitness level and having not rode a bike since I was 20), but by the time I had gotten there the battery was at 40%. Most of the way I took was uphill with the motor on and the battery was off a fresh charge, so the aggressive pedalling I took to get me up most of 8kms of Schofields Road drained a significant chunk of the battery. I ended up having to call my girlfriend and get a lift home the rest of the way as the bike died with about 10kms left on my trip and last part of the route I diverted to was all uphill.

Once going, the bike makes getting around stupidly easy. Even without pannier bags, you can improvise solutions quite quickly

My third test, I took the bike to Redfern to work at a co-working space and road it around a more CBD styled area on a Saturday. More cyclists, pedestrians and alot more commuter friendly road.
Safe to say here, the bike shone expedentially outpacing most other road cyclists, pedestrians, runners and even some cars on the road. Dodging and weaving through traffic like a motorcylist, yet you are not even exerting most of your energy and are able to, what feels like, glide amongst the other cars & bikes on the road and just be amongst the traffic with a nice little kick in the acceleration when you need it most.

With regards to overall features, the bike offers a simple red on/off button, three lights on a controller on the right side handlebar to signify the battery level, V Brakes on the front and rear tyres (no diskbrakes sadly for the price), and a rear pannier tray mounted behind the rider for mounting bags.
I used the pannier to stow my gym bag on the second long haul ride and if you can find straps to tie the bag down, it functions admirably.
There are little cons with the bike, only that there is a 4 Pin battery reciever system on the bike itself to accept the Samsung battery in the custom casing, and that Kogan does not provide a means to purchase extra batteries, and maintains that any issues with the bike would be assessed through warranty claims (Speaking of which, there is a 1 year warranty by default, with an option for a 3 or 5 year extended care).
The battery also charges within 3 hours from zero to 100%, and provides an LED indicator of its own to represent it’s own charge.

Overall Experience – Should you Buy it?

I have test rode two other bikes, from Volt bikes and a friend’s bike in Parramatta, and yes; there are more powerful bikes out there that are also capable of going a minimum of 60kms in Range, but they also cost the same as a MacBook and most are set to the same level of power output as the one I have purchased.
Why is that? Well there is very little regulation over E-Bikes in Australia, unlike our Amercian Counterparts. The bikes seem to fall in a grey area under deeming 2 stroke powered push bikes illegal and anything capable of going more than 30kms an hour like scooters or motorbikes deeming a license a mandatory requirement and to be rode on the Road.
Under current laws, E-Bikes are limited to 250W motors and a maximum speed limit of 25Kms/hr.

Overall, the Urban Speeder is definately a bike that you should consider if you want a faster and less sweaty way to commute or get a round with very little effort involved.
For the price tag, this is definately something to consider to enhance our way of getting around. There are some flaws and the fact you cannot get any replacement batteries without dealing through Kogan and sending everything back within the warranty period, you may be tempted to explore DIY solutions and jerryrig another bike’s battery to compliement your one battery (Do this at your own Risk! But some batteries to consider from my own research are this one, this one or this one.
However, if you want a cheap entry point into Electric Bikes for a casual rider or you want something to start with and then upgrade later on, this is the bike to consider.
If you missed the link above, you can pick the bike up here

Verdict

4 out of 5 non-sweaty cyclists. For the money, this is worth most of your pennies.
Pros:
–> Attractive Price
–> Smooth Ride
–> Great size for those with little space, but good size for most riders

Cons:
–> 1 year warranty is poor and most companies provide atleast 2 & supplementary batteries, however this is to be expected in the price
–> Jerryrigging seems to be the only way to wire up a second battery (Youtube will be your best friend here)
–> Range is poor under heavier riding conditions

Sam Toohey Written by:

Sam is a self taught Developer, focusing on Web Technologies and E-Commerce. He is also an avid writer, blogger and gamer. You can commonly see Sam toying around with web technologies or working on his Podcast, Markup.

2 Comments

  1. Ranson
    November 29, 2018
    Reply

    Is the battery detacheadble?

    • Sam Toohey
      November 29, 2018
      Reply

      It is! Im in the process of revising the review. It seems the quality is massively varied in production stock. I had to return one for a replacement, then got a refund on the second as it also broke. Be careful if you buy one

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