The FREY AM1000 electric mountain bike is something of an enigma. You might not know it by looking at it, but the unassuming electric mountain bike is packing more power than almost any other e-bike and has the suspension required to elegantly navigate even the most technical terrain.
If the AM1000 was an olympic athlete, it’d be both a powerlifter and a figure skater. And it’d medal in both.
I had the chance to ride one over several days last fall when I was hosted by FREY as part of an exchange trip to Jinhua, China and the surrounding area.
We visited the factory to see how their bikes are hand built, and then spent the rest of the time riding trails, mountain roads, staircases, and everything else that could fit two tires.
By the time I was finished, I got the point. FREY’s e-bikes aren’t just powerful, they’re also packing some of the best mountain bike components in the industry, meaning they can compete against the priciest $6-8k Euro EMTBs despite FREY’s models costing less than half as much.
FREY AM1000 electric mountain bike video review
FREY AM1000 tech specs
- Motor: 1 kW continuous, 1.5 kW peak-rated Bafang Ultra mid-drive motor
- Torque: 160 Nm
- Top speed (tested): 59 km/h (36 mph)
- Battery: 48V 21Ah (1,008 Wh)
- Range: Varies considerably by ride style/terrain, but 30-100 km (20-60 miles) is the ballpark
- Frame: 6061 aluminum
- Front suspension: RockShox YARI RC Boost 110×15 mm, 160 mm travel
- Rear Suspension: RockShox Deluxe 205x65mm, 160 mm travel
- Transmission: Shimano Deore XT M8000
- Brakes: Magura MT5-e hydraulic disc brakes with 203 mm rotors
- Extras: 3 frame sizes (M, L, XL), color LCD display, side stand, Maxxis 27.5*2.8″ REKON+ TLR tires
Riding the dragon
Despite offering up to 1.5kW of peak power, the AM1000 isn’t hard to ride. That Bafang Ultra mid-drive motor is well known for its power. It can be a bit surprising at first for new riders, but is quickly tamed as riders adjust to the power.
And while I was guilty of using high power often, especially while climbing mountain trails, riders with more self-control than me can drop the power level down. You don’t always need to ride it in dirt bike mode – you can also treat it like a simple electric mountain bike.
I did most of my riding on trails, but did occasionally hit the streets as well. There I clocked a top speed on flat ground of 59 km/h (37 mph), though I was on a partially depleted battery. E-bike speeds are voltage-dependent (when not software limited), and so a full battery will result in a higher top speed. Others have hit faster speeds than me, but 59 km/h is what I can personally vouch for.
Keep in mind that your local laws might not permit such speeds on public streets, and you’ll want to take that into account. The bike can be easily limited in both speed and power, which may help in the matter.
What is all of that power for?
Look, I’ll be the first to say it. No one needs a 1.5kW motor. But dang, it sure is fun!
The area where I enjoyed it most was on tough hill climbs. A lot of the riding I did was on a downhill track, which means you have to pedal back uphill if there’s no chair lift. With 1.5kW of power, I could either throttle or pedal-assist myself back up these massive mountains without tiring myself out too much for the intense downhill run I would experience next.
Other tricks become possible too, such as climbing flights of stairs. Again, is it necessary? Of course not. But is it fun? Hell yea!
What makes the FREY AM1000 different?
It’s not like this is my first rodeo. I’ve had the pleasure of riding a number of really nice, really expensive electric mountain bikes in the past.
The things that drive up the price of these bikes are usually high-quality construction and high-quality components. That’s why it’s not unheard of for premium electric mountain bikes to exceed $6,000.
But the FREY AM1000 benefits from a small, dedicated team that builds around 5-10 bikes a day, spends almost nothing on marketing, has low labor costs, and has local access to the biggest market for premium e-bike components in the world. They’ve also designed their own patented suspension system, meaning they don’t have to pay a license to anyone else to use it.
All of that means that you can get a premium quality electric mountain bike with ridiculously large 1.5kW motor and 1kWh battery for just $3,120. There are options to upgrade some components, like moving from a great RockShox YARI fork to an insane RockShox Lyric fork (a fork that by itself costs more than two of the last three e-bikes we have reviewed). But the bike already comes with premium level parts, the best brakes money can buy, and performance specs that would make a Haibike blush.
So what’s the catch?
Here’s the rub. FREY isn’t quite a mom-and-pop company, but they’re close. And being China-based, they don’t have any US distributors. They’re working on it, but worldwide they only have a Swiss and UK dealer so far.
That means that ordering is very old fashioned, where you contact the company via the website and go back and forth with emails until you have the bike designed the way you like. Or you can also order via Alibaba, though many Westerners find that process to be unfamiliar and thus uncomfortable.
Then there’s shipping, which is killer. Like, “I hope you’re sitting down for this” kind of killer. If you want your bike quickly, shipping costs around $800 for air freight. If you can wait a couple of months for the slow boat, sea shipping is around $500. FREY has also launched a free-shipping option, though it uses the ultra-slow boat and can take around 6 months – more than most people want to wait.
So if you’re an instant-gratification kind of person, waiting on a FREY bike is going to be tough. But then again, at half the cost of its competitors, the wait might just be worth it.
I’ve covered a lot of e-bikes in my time, and I’ve rarely seen bikes with this much value on the premium end of the spectrum. Obviously, most riders aren’t going to start out with a premium electric mountain bike, but for those that are ready to invest in a higher quality and more rugged bike, the AM1000 shocked me with its value.
There’s almost nothing I can complain about, besides the snail-paced ordering and shipping process. I’d love to see a dropper post on the saddle, that’s one thing its missing. But other than that, it’s just a crazy fast, powerful, and high-quality machine that brought a smile to my face whether I was flying up or down the mountain.
Quick note about responsible riding
Obviously e-bikes of this power level are not “normal” by any stretch of the word.
Some would even say they are dangerous. I’d tend to agree, depending on how the bike is used.
Riding at high speeds like this on crowded trails or in bike lanes isn’t just frowned upon – it shouldn’t be done. Period.
With great (e-bike) power comes great (e-bike) responsibility.
Please ride bikes like these in areas where they are a) legal, b) not a danger to others, and c) not a danger to yourself.
That means checking your local regulations and trail policies, checking that you’re riding in an area where you aren’t a hazard to others, and also not riding past your abilities.
Let’s keep e-bikes fun and recreational by riding responsibly.
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.
Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.