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.
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:
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.
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 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!