Tenways has just launched a new belt drive e-bike known as the CGO 600. We got a chance to test one out pre-launch to determine whether the nascent brand’s urban electric bicycle was worth a look.
Spoiler alert: It’s worth much more than a look.
Right off the bat, you should know that Tenways is launching its CGO 600 electric bike via a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.
When it comes to crowdfunding campaigns for new e-bikes or other rideables, our general rule is that we won’t cover them unless the company has a proven track record of making deliveries, or we can test the product in advance if it’s a brand new company.
In this case Tenways gave us the chance to score some in-depth testing over several weeks so we could really get a good sense of the quality and performance of the bike.
You can check out my video review of the e-bike below, but don’t forget to keep reading for even more details and opinions from my testing.
Tenways CGO 600 e-bike video review
Tenways CGO 600 tech specs
- Motor: 250W rear hub motor
- Top speed: 20 mph (32 km/h) in US, 15.5 mph (25 km/h) in Europe
- Range: Claimed up to 80 miles (130 km)
- Battery: 36V 7Ah (252Wh) with Samsung cells
- Weight: 33 lb (15 kg)
- Load Capacity: 264 lb (120 kg)
- Frame: Aluminum alloy 6061
- Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes
- Extras: Belt drive, minimalist LCD display including speedometer, battery gauge and PAS level indicator, two frame sizes, interesting color options (more than just this gray scheme)
An urban bike for a city rider
The Tenways electric bike is absolutely an urban-optimized e-bike, there’s no doubt about that.
It’s got classic bike messenger styling and hides away almost all traces of electric assist. The rear motor is the only real giveaway, and even that could be mistaken for an internally geared hub from a cursory glance. It is positively tiny, dwarfed by the rotor for the hydraulic disc brakes.
Of course the motor isn’t really an internally geared hub – and thus there aren’t any gears at all on this e-bike. But the trade-off for not being able to shift is that you’re gifted this awesome Gates carbon drive system. It replaces a conventional bicycle chain and makes for a smoother, quieter, and maintenance-free ride. These last for tens of thousands of miles – way longer than chains – and never need oiling or adjusting.
That low-maintenance drive system is combined nicely with the hydraulic disc brakes that remove nearly all brake maintenance other than once-in-a-while brake pad changes. For an everyday urban commuter, having less to worry about is highly appreciated. I just want to grab my bike and go, knowing that it’s in good shape, and I’m not going to suddenly find a clicking derailleur or brakes that need the cable adjusted partway through my ride to work.
The rest of the bicycle-only side of things are also quite agreeable to me: The grips feel fine even if they’re basic, the bike is comfortable to ride (despite it adopting more of that tucked ride position than I normally opt for), and the lightweight 33 lb (15 kg) design makes it a breeze to pick up and carry up a flight of stairs.
But the electrical side of the bike is where I really want to dig in, because Tenways did a great job there.
First of all, the bike sports a true torque sensor, meaning that pedal assist comes on fast and smooth.
That’s important when you don’t have a throttle to help get rolling – especially on a single speed electric bike. You really want that pedal assist to engage quickly, but not abruptly, so that you start rolling with assist. On flat ground it’s more of a luxury, but for starting at the bottom of a hill, I consider that a necessity.
The torque sensor is easily one of the areas where the Tenways e-bike has an advantage over similar belt-driven competition like the Ride1Up Roadster V2. The Tenways is priced a decent bit higher at $1,299 compared to the Roadster V2’s $1,045 price, but it also gets that nicer torque sensor and hydraulic disc brakes.
The 250W motor isn’t overly powerful, but this isn’t a motorbike – it’s a pedal assist electric bicycle. I see the Tenways e-bike as appealing to someone who would already be comfortable on a single-speed or messenger-style bike, but wants a bit of boost for getting over the bridge or traveling at higher speeds without breaking a sweat.
You do get three power levels to choose from, so you can crank it up to max power if you need it. But even on the medium power level, I felt like I had a reasonable amount of assist to keep me from working too hard. On the lowest assist level, I was definitely still getting a workout and I wouldn’t call it a sweat-free ride.
Tenways claims a hilariously lofty range of 80 miles (130 km) per charge, which of course they’ll say is possible under “ideal conditions” in the lowest assist level. With a 252 Wh battery, even the efficient pedal assist is going to make it hard to achieve that range in the real world. Max assist level will likely net you 20-30 miles if you’re cruising at 20 mph in the US, and 50 miles is probably achievable in the lowest assist level since you’re doing the lion’s share of the work. The European version of the bike will be more efficient in max assist level because the speed is limited to 25 km/h or 15.5 mph.
That small battery is a tradeoff – you get a slick looking e-bike but at the expense of not having a huge battery pack. Plus there’s the fact that you can’t easily remove the battery for charging, which is another good reason that the bike’s low weight of 33 lb becomes important in case you need to carry the bike somewhere to charge.
So there are certainly trade-offs here. And if you can’t see yourself on a thin tire, low-power electric bike, then this likely isn’t your jam. But for urban riders that just need a minimalist yet quality e-bike that won’t stretch a paycheck too far, Tenways surprised me with how much they brought to the table here. It’s a good-looking e-bike that performs well and could easily pay for itself compared to a year of bus rides (or a month of parking fees, in some places!).
The biggest downside here isn’t the bike – it’s the sales method. Many people will still be afraid to trust a crowdfunding sales method, despite it becoming one of the most common strategies for launching new personal electric vehicles like e-bikes and e-scooters. While I can vouch for the quality of the bike, it still takes a small leap of faith to plunk down a pre-order. Tenways claims they’ll be shipping as soon as September and already has photos on the campaign page showing its production running, so at least riders won’t have to wait too long to get on their new bikes.
What do you think of the Tenways CGO 600 e-bike? Let us know in the comments section below!
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