Ammaco folding bicycle review

Here’s a little unexpected review.  I wouldn’t normally find myself riding this kind of bike but as we were staying in Spain, courtesy of some friends and this was in their apartment, I couldn’t resist a quick spin.

What is it?

Ammaco 20″ wheel folding bicycle.  Good, in my view, for occasional use where having an inexpensive folding bike available.  It does not pretend to be an up-market sophisticated machine.

First impressions

With small 20″ wheels this is a bike suitable for almost anyone to ride fairly easily.  When I say anyone, I guess a typical 10 year old could manage to handle it, right up to adults.

As a keen cyclist, it is very easy to be a bit snooty about this kind of bike and point out its limitations and short comings compared to the kind of thing your typical MAMIL would aspire to.  And yet it seems unpretentious and serves it’s purpose quite well.  Here’s a few more details:

The frame

It has a frame which folds in the middle and so effectively halves the size.  The hinge is fairly substantial and it needs to be!  Nevertheless I am not sure how well it would handle being ridden by an over weight person in a spirited manner and over a longer period of time.  It may, or may not ever be an issue.  If it is, just remember this is not an expensive bike and all folding bikes will have certain limitations.  You wouldn’t treat a Citroen 2CV as if it was a Landrover, would you?  The handlebar stem has a quick release leaver to bring the handlebars down and almost halving the overall height of the bike.  Likewise, the saddle also has a quick release lever to allow easy adjustment.   Using the quick release mechanism is a bit fiddly.

Again, hard use may be best avoided.  On the subject of the bike’s ability to fold, the pedals also fold down to reduce some storage capacity.  Doing this was a little stiff but I’m sure this was partly because of the relative newness.

Components

As for the saddle, I can imagine this “arm chair” style might be attractive to people unaccustomed to cycling but I wouldn’t appreciate it for a long ride.  It’s too wide, too squishy and probably a bit sweaty after a while.

There is a quick release lever for altering the height of the saddle.  This works fine and allows the seat to rise so an average height adult can stretch out their legs while pedalling along.  Care needs to be taken not to avoid the maximum mark – otherwise some serious damage could occur to both the bike and the rider (in an unmentionable way!).  It really is hard to see where the mark is on the seat post – so take care with this!

The gears are a welcome sight!  These are the rather old Sturmey Archer AW hub gears.  While these are not trendy at all, in fact the chances are your grandmother has these on her bike from the 1960s but they have proved the test of time.  The most noticeable update is the slightly naff twist grip that controls the gears but actually it couldn’t be any easier.  You just have to remember to either stop pedalling, pedal backwards or ease completely off any pedal pressure to change gear.  The ratios are fairly wide for a 3 speed and will be of good use in most day-to-day riding.

In terms of stopping the bike is concerned, it uses some anonymous V brakes which are very effective and coupled to some ergonomic levers that have the right “pull” to pull the cable by the correct amount.  They are easy to use and control: certainly powerful enough and mated to some Weinmann alloy rims so wet braking should still be satisfactory.

Riding the Ammaco

We took it turns to try this bike – here’s Becky, my 14 year old daughter enjoying it

We all found it very easy to manoeuvre because of the small 20″ wheels.  It’s low centre of gravity makes it very controllable and easy to use.  Naturally I was keen to put it through it’s paces but helpfully reminded myself this was not a bike to push hard.  So I held back from really “going for it” by stopping hard on the pedals and heavy the handlebars.  It would have been unfair on this little bike, it’s just not made for this kind of use.  Weighing in at 12Kg it is an acceptable if not exactly lightweight!

By way of conclusion….

For what it is, this bike is fine.  Ideal for occasional holiday or recreational use over an undemanding terrain.  Easy to live with and easily adapted for cyclists of different sizes.  The components are fine, if perhaps a tad basic and lacking in some finesse.  The gears, however, will probably outlast the bike.

The main advantage of this bike, is of course, its ability to fold up and be stored in a cupboard, caravan etc.  You’d still need a fairly large car to store one in the boot.  Bearing in mind the seat can be lowered, the handlebar stem hinges down, the frame hinges in half and the pedal fold inward it is fairly compact but still bulky if compared to a Brompton (but never mind comparing the price though – £ouch!).

So.  So what do I think?  This is a nice little folding bikcycle,  It is not pretentious in any way; easy to live with and ride.  Not the slickest or lightest but still not bad at all.  For what this bike has been purchased for (and indeed as a “his and hers pair) these are fine.  The only reservation is that they might become quite heavy for our friends to carry them up the stairs to the third floor but at 12Kg each you could do a lot worse!

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13 Responses to Ammaco folding bicycle review

  1. bradbfb says:

    I like folding bikes! Once you have one, you never come back to non-folding bikes. They’re just so convenient! I have a Montague folding bike and I can enjoy the riding every day!
    http://www.montaguebikes.com

    • doug says:

      My apologies for not replying sooner. Really sorry.

      I have just taken a look at the Montague website and it looks a very interesting design and very attractive. You’re right – they are very convenient! Also it is helpful, as shown in the video clip, how easily it folds to fit so easily into the back of an ordinary car. That saves fiddling around with exterior bike racks and avoids wind noise and increased fuel consumption by keeping a bike inside the car.

  2. Derek Redding says:

    Great to find a well balanced review on this from someone who knows a thing or two about bikes but understands not all bikes are built for the same purpose. My wife wants to join me and our kids for occasional easy jaunts but has restricted hip movement so finds it impossible to step over standard ‘ladies’ frames or even a Brompton etc., this looks just the ticket for her and your review has given me confidence to buy. So another bike for the stable, long live the “N+1” rule!

    • doug says:

      Derek,

      Many thanks for your very nice comment and I’m glad the review was helpful to you. Here’s hoping your wife finds it to her liking and it proves a success for her – and for all of you being able to cycle together.

      And as you say, long live the N+1 rule!

  3. D Jones says:

    Thank you for your review – I am thinking about buying a folding bicycle to use in Spain so this was very helpful.

  4. Mikki says:

    saw one of these in a shop today at £190..which seems expensive for a used folder even if only ridden 3 times ……but feels nice …looks odd but good and unusual….I did not buy….nice size for me as an oldie…but can’t get used to the “near the floor ” look…I could do with a low step like this..but not folding..need for local use and shopping…..thought your review was very good…and very fair..thanks ..Mikki

  5. Hatty says:

    good review, I bought one yesterday 7shammo gears refurbished from eBay,ideal for disabled people the low step through is really low

  6. eileen says:

    do you know the rider weight capacity? how many of these 7 shammo gear models or the others were made? As they seem hard to come across

    • doug says:

      Many thanks for visiting my blog!
      Sorry I don’t know if there is a maximum rider weight, I did ‘Google’ this but nothing obvious, although it’s possible another reader may be able to advise you.
      In the meantime, if it’s being used by a slightly heavier cyclist, the hinged joint is the spot to keep an eye on. Make sure it’s always done up really securely and listen out for any creaky noises which might indicate excessive strain. Make sure the tyres are inflated correctly, as you would with any bicycle.
      Well done for getting one with the Shimano hub. I guess this might be the Alfine hub and these are said to be pretty good.
      Hope this helps.

  7. Sarah says:

    This has to be the most polite and mutually helpful exchange I’ve ever read online! Refreshing to say the least. I am looking at this sort of bike for a specific purpose and the information is helpful. Knowing little about bikes I am confused when at 5ft5 but with short legs), weighing under 8st, being told that what is advertised as an adult bike can be too small for me. This was the ammaco pakka lite 16″ wheel. On reflection I believe the sales assistant was simply trying to sell me a more expensive bike altogether. He didn’t even enquire as to how it was to be used. Thank you all

    • doug says:

      Hi Sarah
      Sorry not to have replied sooner. Glad you liked the post and previous comments.
      Getting good service from bike shops (and other shops too) is sometimes a bit of a lottery.
      Some shops sadly have their own interests in mind when they are trying to sell you something.
      What happened in the end? Here’s hoping you got what you needed.

  8. juliana says:

    great information i am about to purchase a folding one

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