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Engwe M20, L20 E-Bikes Review: My Family's Free Time Has Changed Forever

Both of these bikes from Engwe are enjoyable to ride, even if one is more of a motorcycle than an e-bike.

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Written by 
James Bricknell
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James Bricknell Senior Editor
James has been writing about technology for years but has loved it since the early 90s. While his main areas of expertise are maker tools -- 3D printers, vinyl cutters, paper printers, and laser cutters -- he also loves to play board games and tabletop RPGs.
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Engwe M20 (dual battery version)
8.3/10 CNET Score
$1,600 at Engwe

E-bikes are great, on the whole, changing how many people get from A to B, and they can help you get or stay healthy in the process (if you stay away from the throttle, at least). But oftentimes their designs don't quite match up with the exhilaration of riding them. Engwe's L20 and M20 e-bikes avoid that pitfall, so whether you're a 16-year-old like my son or a [redacted]-year-old like my wife, you can ride something that feels great and looks awesome. 

The two e-bikes are essentially the same, though they look completely different. The L20, a step-through commuter bike with chunky tires, and the M20, which is a motorbike in all but name. Both are great at what they do, and my family loves them.

8.3/ 10
SCORE

Engwe M20 (dual battery version)

Pros

  • Looks like a 1940s motorbike
  • Dual battery gives huge range
  • Love those chonky lights
  • USB-A outlets

Cons

  • No adjustable seat
  • Needs more info on the bike computer

While I've spent a lot of time testing e-bikes (and a lot of other products), my wife rarely gets involved. We both have full-time jobs and several full-time children, so our work rarely overlaps. When the L20 from Engwe arrived though, she was smitten. We've been meaning to go out on rides together, but most of the bikes I test are too big for her. For example, one of the bikes I'm testing is 4 feet, 6 inches from the floor to the handlebar, so her 5-foot-5-inch self isn't getting on it. The L20 feels custom-made for her, so she was excited to try it.

8.4/ 10
SCORE

Engwe L20

Pros

  • Exceedingly good looking
  • Great range
  • Front and rear paniers included

Cons

  • Slow acceleration
  • Bare bones bike computer

Both the M20 and the L20 have the same 20-by-4-inch fat tires that work great in the rain, mud, grass and road, and the same Shimano 7-speed gear system. Without using any of the e-bike features the L20 is a much nicer bike to ride as it's significantly lighter than the bigger M20. The step-through design of the L20 also makes it a good choice for the baby seat as it is much easier to mount. The L20 also comes with front and rear baskets, making it a real workhorse, especially with its range. 

The M20 has two 13-amp-hour batteries with a supposed range of up to 47 miles each; Engwe claims the L20 has a max range of 90 miles on its single 13-amp-hour battery. These figures vary wildly of course depending on how much you weigh and how much you use the pedal-assist or throttle to get you around. I'm 280 pounds, and in my testing, the L20's range averaged around 70 miles on fairly flat terrain using its PAS at level two with the occasional throttle use when I got a little tired. My wife gets about the same mileage, but she also rides with our 5-year-old on the back and a backpack on the front. 

A style to love

Front view of the M20 e-bike with 2 giant headlamps
James Bricknell/CNET

In terms of style, both these bikes look great for different reasons. It's clear to me the M20 is styled after a 1940s military motorbike. Even the placement of the batteries makes them look like gas tanks, and its big chonky headlamps add to that aesthetic. It's a gorgeous-looking bike and one that turns heads everywhere I go.

The bright pink step-through L20 also turns heads, mainly because it's blindingly pink, but its form is much more efficient than the M20. Being able to step through an e-bike is helpful, especially when it has a basket on the back. Neither e-bike is lightweight, so it's much easier to balance if you don't have to swing your leg over it.

Engwe L20 vs. Engwe M20

Engwe L20Engwe M20
Tire size 20x4-inch20x4-inch
Motor 750-watt brushless750-watt (1,000-watt peak)
Torque 50 Newton meters55 Newton meters
Battery size 13Ah13Ah (x2)
Max speed 25 mph28 mph
Factory max mileage Up to 90 miles PASUp to 92 miles PAS
Gear type 7-gear Shimano7-gear Shimano
App enabled NoNo
USB-A out NoYes

As I said, the M20 looks a lot like a motorbike, and that's how it seems to want to ride, too. The PAS works quite well, but with a seat that isn't adjustable, it's hard to pedal comfortably, or at least it is for my 6-foot-1-inch frame. My 16-year-old son is 5 feet, 6 inches, and he finds it much more comfortable. 

We recently reviewed a similar-looking machine, the Super 73-R Adventure Series, and we didn't find it a particularly comfortable ride as a bike. The M20 has a similar issue -- you can't adjust the seat height -- but it wins out over the Super 73 in many ways, not least the price; it's nearly $2,000 cheaper. While Russell Holly, our resident long-distance cyclist, found the Super 73 difficult to use as a bike, the M20 works great for average-height people when pedaling, and even better for everyone on the throttle.

What I found surprising about the M20 was its range on throttle alone. If I set the power level to 2, I could use the throttle and get almost 40 miles (about 38 on average) on a single battery. The factory spec for the M20 is 47 miles per battery, so getting nearly that just on the throttle is impressive.

The motors on both bikes are in the hub of the rear wheel, and you can feel that as you pedal, being pushed along, rather than the motors actually helping you. Using the throttle is also the easiest way to get yourself going from stopped. The torque on the L20 and the M20 is good (50N.m and 55N.m respectively) so the power is immediately there when you twist the grip, though the acceleration on the L20 is noticeably less than the M20. Maybe the extra 5N.m on the M20 makes the difference, or maybe it's the way you are seated, but when you crank up the power to level 5 and go full throttle, the M20 almost leaps away. It really does feel like an electric motorbike. It's quite thrilling.

A small trip computer on the handlebars of a pink bike
James Bricknell/CNET

My only real gripe with the L20 and M20 from Engwe is the UI on the bike computer. While it does explain everything you need to know, like speed, trip mileage, total mileage and miles per hour, it doesn't go far enough for me. A Bluetooth connection to a phone with an app for a more detailed overview of my journey would be much appreciated. 

Oddly enough, Engwe added a USB-A port on the M20 batteries for charging a phone, but omitted that from the L20. To charge an iPhone 14 fully takes 3 Ah off the bike's battery -- or around 10 miles of range -- but as an emergency measure, you could easily give your phone 20% charge and still have plenty of power to get you home. It's a shame the L20 doesn't have the same feature, and I would love to see this in other e-bikes moving forward.

Engwe L20 and M20: Past and future collide

While these samples will soon be on their way back to the manufacturer, the Engwe L20 and M20 changed how my family spends its free time during the review period. Now, instead of me going on solo bike rides for testing, my wife and I strap our little one in the bike seat, my son uses one of our other bikes, and we all go riding around together. We stop every now and then to see the sights, but mostly we ride around enjoying each other's company. The M20 and L20 have the range to keep us riding for hours, and they look good doing it, too.