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On to business. I have a bit of experience with e-bikes.
A couple years back, I funded a controversial Indiegogo campaign and purchased a Sondors fat-tire e-bike for the then-unheard-of price of $500. I'm happy to say it's still chugging along, though my son has totally claimed it as his own. (Rotten kid.)
Since then, the e-bike market has exploded, bringing e-bikes in new shapes and sizes (and much lower prices) to the US. Indeed, while you'll still find models selling for $1,500 and up, there are plenty priced closer to $500.
Case in point: For a limited time, you can get the Ancheer Power Plus folding electric bike for $554.39 shipped when you apply promo code 5FAFX3UQ. Regular price: $629.
Full disclosure: When Ancheer approached me about offering this deal to Cheapskate readers, I asked to test the bike first. I felt it was important to get some hands-on time with the product before recommending it in this space. The company sent me one, which -- after the evaluation that follows -- is imminently en route to a local charity.
So do I, in fact, recommend this bike? Read on.
Given that the aforementioned Sondors cost nearly $200 to ship, I was glad to see the Power Plus available with free shipping. That's despite weighing a little over 40 pounds.
It arrived partially assembled, which is good because the accompanying photocopied instruction manual was of little use. There's a how-to video that helped me with a couple areas, like installing the front fender and headlight. Someone who knows bikes reasonably well could get this put together in about 30 minutes. Novices might want to enlist a local bike shop just to make sure everything is done correctly.
My only real issue was with the front brake: The pads wouldn't release properly once I squeezed the brake lever. That's a problem I don't know how to fix, and Ancheer's only technical-support option is an email address. That said, I think if you're buying any bike by mail, you're going to need a local shop for help, repairs and so on.
The bike itself feels very solid, with a steel frame, various aluminum-alloy parts and a comfy seat. There's nothing here that suggests "cheap" except for the price.
The Power Plus is a very different animal than the Sondors, and not just because it has smaller, thinner tires. For starters, it has seven gears to the Sondors' one, meaning this is much easier to ride without any electric assistance.
With it, the bike has three pedal-assist speeds (again to the Sondors' one). After you pedal for a few seconds, the motor kicks in and, zoom, suddenly you're going faster. The idea is to help you get up hills more easily and move more quickly than you could on pedal-power alone: The Power Plus can hit speeds of up to 15 mph.
However, I didn't care for this bike's zero-to-60 method of pedal assistance, which frequently made me feel like I was going faster than I wanted to. Even if I stopped pedaling once I felt the motor kick in, the bike kept accelerating for a few seconds -- a potentially dangerous system. On the Sondors, the motor quits the moment you stop pedaling, allowing you to achieve a more consistent speed.
Ultimately, you have to learn to juggle the gears against the motor. For example, if you're in "granny gear" when pedal-assist kicks in, you'll quickly need to shift into a higher gear to keep up.
Of course, you also have the option of ditching pedal-assist altogether and just using the handlebar throttle, which makes the Power Plus feel more like a scooter. Again, this isn't a variable-speed transmission. The motor is either engaged or not engaged. But this is where the bike becomes really fun to ride.
Time didn't permit me to test things like range of the battery, but Ancheer says you should get a minimum of 15 miles on a charge. (Range is always difficult to gauge on an e-bike because of the pedal factor.)
Deal or no deal?
Arguably the most amazing thing about the Power Plus is its ability to fold in half. That means you can transport it in a car, no bike rack required, or just haul it up to the office in the elevator after riding to work. A carrying handle molded into the frame makes it easy to carry -- though keep in mind the bike weighs about 40 pounds, so it's still quite heavy.
Here's the thing: When I ride the Sondors, it fills me with glee. Maybe it's the fat tires lending a motorcycle-like feel, or maybe it's the smoother pedal-assist system. Whatever the case, I don't feel that way atop the Power Plus. It's a very nice bike; solid, practical and affordable. It's wholly utilitarian and I think any city dweller would like it a lot, especially for commuting to work.
If you're in the market, though, I'd take a look at some of the other options out there, as the Power Plus isn't alone at this price point. Heck, you can still get the Sondors Original for $500, though it won't arrive until September at the earliest, and shipping will still run you a staggering $150.
Bonus deal: Can a pen be high-tech? It can if it doubles as a phone/tablet stylus and triples as a stand for them. One of my all-time favorite products is on sale for the lowest price to date: Get a six-pack of Ace Teah 3-in-1 stylus pens for $4.99.
I know, it seems crazy to get excited about a pen, but I find these so useful -- and I've actually given them away to people who ask about them and find them as cool as I do). I don't use the stylus end much, but the stand is invaluable, and they're actually really comfortable pens!
Bonus deal 2: Amazon isn't the only place in town to look for deals today: Best Buy and Newegg both have the Oculus Rift VR bundle (including two Touch controllers) for $399 shipped. That's $200 less than the regular price and by far the best Rift deal I've seen.
Which store should you choose? Best Buy's bundle includes the game Eve Valkyrie (a $40 value), but you're less likely to get hit up for sales tax at Newegg, and there's a 2-percent cashback option available for the latter via Ebates.
Keep in mind, of course, you'll need a pretty powerful PC to run the Rift. Readto learn more.
Bonus deal 3: Of course, Amazon is awfully hard to beat for some things. Like this: For a limited time, you can get the Cheapskate reader-favorite VicTsing MM057 wireless mouse for $5.99 with promo code OHPWTRLU at checkout. I've shared this product before; it was immensely popular at $7.99. So how can you go wrong at $2 less?
Updated July 14 to clarify the status of the review sample.