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Engwe X26 E-Bike Review: A Good E-Bike if It Could Only Choose What It Wants to Be

Too heavy for its own good, the off-road-friendly X26 looks nice but doesn't have the oomph to make the ride enjoyable.

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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 X26
6.8/10 CNET Score
$1,750 at Engwe

I firmly believe that e-bikes are the future of personal transport. Somewhere between motorbikes and pedal bikes, they offer fast and easy transportation, with the option to get some exercise along the way. The Engwe X26 is the third Engwe e-bike I've reviewed, and though it isn't a bad bike, it takes everything I liked about the other two and somehow makes it worse. 

6.8/ 10
SCORE

Engwe X26

$1,750 at Engwe

Pros

  • It looks like the future
  • Stable even on rough terrain
  • Good bike computer

Cons

  • Insanely heavy
  • No adjustable seat
  • Awkward handle layout

It's very clear Engwe wants this bike to be a fun off-road bike that can be folded up, thrown in the back of an SUV, taken to some dirt track somewhere and ridden around at high speed. That's fine, and the X26 can be used like that if you want, though the "throwing it in the back" part is problematic. The X26 does split in two, allowing it to fold into an almost manageable size, but not quite. I found it extremely cumbersome and awkward to fit into my SUV.

The version Engwe sent me weighs a backbreaking 112 pounds with its two batteries -- heavier than any e-bike I've ever used.  Even split in half it's difficult to lift it high enough to get it into the trunk of a car or onto the back of a truck. At first, I thought the split was so you could use it as a commuter bike -- maybe you could fold it and put it on a train? But no, there's no way to lug a 112-pound machine around a train station, unless you're completely jacked. It just doesn't work. The fold does cut down on storage space if your garage is small or nonexistent. 

Engwe X26 specifications

Tire size 26x4 inches
Motor 1,000-watt hub motor
Torque 70 Newton meters
Battery size 19 amp hour and 10 amp hour
Max speed 31mph
Factory max mileage 93 miles (pedal assist)
Gear type 8-gear Shimano
App-enabled No
USB-A out No
Brakes Hydraulic disc

Thankfully, the X26 has a massive 1,000-watt hub motor that does a good job of moving all that weight. It sometimes felt a little sluggish when my 270-pound frame was on it, though my 160-pound kid zipped around much more comfortably. The top speed is supposed to be 31 mph, and I managed to get it up to that, but the most comfortable riding speed is about 26 mph. If you just use the thumb throttle, the batteries tend to last around 50 miles, rather than the 60-plus that's advertised. Using pedal assist pushed that number up to around 70 miles. 

Riding without pedal assist isn't something I'd recommend. Even the eight-gear Shimano setup struggles under all that weight. The most fun with the X26 comes from the throttle anyway, though I wish the thumb throttle was on the right side rather than the left. Having it pushed up against the bike computer controls makes it awkward to use. You have to stop accelerating to turn the lights on, for instance. It's just poor placement. 

A small blue screen on the handlebars

The bike's computer is brighter than most.

James Bricknell/CNET

The bike computer itself is helpful (though I wish it had a Bluetooth connection to my phone), and the information it gives you, like speed and mileage, is laid out in a helpful way. It's bright too, something e-bikes tend to overlook, and I was able to track the battery level as I rode. 

The X26 has two batteries: one in the metal frame, which you access by splitting the body, and one in the seat riser. The main one is 19 amp hours, and the second is smaller at only 10Ah. The second one feels more like an emergency battery -- it works only after you turn it on -- rather than one of two batteries working in tandem. Also, the power button for the second battery is located directly under the seat, making it incredibly awkward to turn on while riding if you need it.

A grey bike with a black handle to fold it

Though the folding mechanism is strong, I wouldn't use it very often.

James Bricknell/CNET

Riding on the roads and cycle paths of Virginia on the X26 was just OK -- not the worst ride nor the best. Because Engwe chose to put the spare battery in the seat stem, there's no room for an adjustable post. This means you can't adjust it for a high-riding style, something you need for comfort over long distances. It also has a large bolt that sits in the center of the seat groove, which makes me worry about sitting down the wrong way.

Off-road the ride is significantly better because the three-point suspension system is robust. It feels smooth and safe on even the roughest terrain. The downside of off-roading on it though is the weight (it all comes back to the weight). It doesn't feel agile out in the brush. If you're downhill riding, or even just cruising over hills or dunes, you need to feel that the bike is responding to you immediately. Though the power was certainly there, the weight made the bike feel sluggish and slow to adjust to the trail ahead.

A gray ebike with red suspension

The suspension is good on the X26, and it needs to be with all that mass.

James Bricknell/CNET

After my review of the M20 and L20 from Engwe I had high hopes for the X26, and from a purely aesthetic point of view, it's a winner. It feeds the part of me that wants the future to be big, shiny and angular like a Transformer. Unfortunately, all that cool-looking bike also comes with a weight I just can't get over, and compromises that make it far less appealing. The lack of a seat post, a powerful motor that doesn't feel as powerful, and a foldable frame that's barely worth folding make the X26 a hard bike to use or recommend.

There's a saying: neither fish, nor fowl, nor good red herring. The X26 feels like that. It's OK as a road bike. It's OK as an off-road bike. But it isn't great at either of those things. If you want a bike that is great at all those things, though, Engwe already makes it. It's called the M20 -- or the L20 for the step-through version -- and it's excellent