Now that everyone is making e-bikes, prospective buyers have a stunning array of options from which to choose. So, how to choose? Assessing your needs and your budget is a good way to start, but that only knocks a few chips off the block. When you move to the desire stage, that’s where the magic happens. With that, let’s take a ride on this sharp-looking folding e-bike from Blaupunkt.
A Sharp-Looking Folding E-Bike From Blaupunkt
Any e-bike that stands out in traffic gets a big thumbs-up from me. Blaupunkt introduced three versions of its 20″ standard-tire folding e-bike to the US last year, and they all fit the bill. They come in a base color of black with three contrasting color schemes that shoot a solid, eye-catching zigzag streak along the length of the bike.
The bright orange Fiene streak provides the best visibility. For cyclists preferring less flash, the Fiete comes with a deep blue streak, and the Henri sports a light gray one.
The color choices echo the roots of the Blaupunkt brand, which began as a German manufacturer of stylish, souped-up desktop radios in the early 20th century. The company also gained a reputation for top quality headphones and car radios as the decades rolled on.
Blaupunkt’s record of innovation in the car radio field is especially distinctive. In the last quarter of the 20th century, Blaupunkt introduced a traffic information and route guidance system, and a first-of-its-kind traffic navigation system for mass production.
The company crossed into the 21st century with the introduction of a web-linked navigation system in 2002, but trouble was brewing. A change of ownership and a bankruptcy in 2016 seemed to put an end to the famous Blaupunkt blue dot, but then a reboot occurred and here they are with 15 or so models offered in Europe, including fat tire and cargo bikes.
What I Like About The Blaupunkt E-Bike Before I Rode It
CleanTechnica missed the Blaupunkt news when it launched the three standard-tire e-bikes in the US last year, so before we get to my ride, let’s catch up with the basics.
“Both peddle [sic] and throttle assist the Blaupunkt 20-inch e-folding bike is at the highest level,” the company says. “Durable, single die cast foldable magnesium frame, makes for a sleek design. No ugly soldering joints here! Ultra-portable weighing only 21 kg (47 lb) and a range up to 70 km (44 miles) range [depending on conditions].”
That’s just for starters. I liked this bike before I even took it out for a ride. For those of you who order a bike for delivery and don’t want to pay someone to set it up, the Blaupunkt e-bike is a cinch.
Your first clue is the tool kit. I’ve put together some e-bikes that come with a full set of tools. The Blaupunkt came with one skinny little hex key, aka an Allen wrench. I poked around the box to see if I missed anything. I came up with something that looked like a soft-cover tool case but it was actually a Blaupnkt travel bag that zips up cleverly into its own case.
So, I was a bit doubtful. To pass the time, I unfolded the bike. It did not want to unfold at first, but that was only because a magnetic catch keeps it from unfolding when you want to keep it folded up. That’s a clever touch, which eliminates the need to fuss with a bungee cord or belt. A little knee pressure released the magnet.
Then I pushed out the pedals. I’ve tried some bikes that make it hard, but Blaupunkt put some thought into that detail and they slid smoothly into place.
Locking the frame into place was just one point shy of intuitive, but I figured it out. Same for the handlebar post. The seat post comes with markings so you don’t have to guess where to position it the next time.
When I finally got around to the assembly stage, I realized that the hex key was only needed to attach the handlebars. I’ve struggled with this step on other bikes, because it can be difficult to keep the handlebars in position while tightening the clamp. Not so with the Blaupunkt e-bike. The space for the clamp was clearly marked with hashes, which also helped prevent the clamp from slipping while the hex key went to work. I got it done on the first try.
Otherwise there was nothing else to do, unless I wanted to attach the fenders, which I did not bother to do. The bike comes folded, so no need to attach the front wheel or complete with any electrical connections. The pedals also come attached.
What Else I Liked
Some of the e-bikes I’ve tested make it difficult to get the battery in and out. Blaupunkt took care of that detail, too. A flexible cover protects the top of the battery from the elements, and a fold-out handle makes it easy to slide it in and out.
The bike also passed the Hyundai Accent trunk test, which has been a stumbling block for some of the other folding bikes I’ve tried.
Another nice touch is the mini-wheel that sticks out when the bike is folded up. That makes it easy to roll the bike around instead of carrying it.
As for weight, Blaupunkt claims 47 pounds. It didn’t feel like 47 pounds. I’m a small person and I found it fairly easy to haul the bike up and down a flight of stairs. The compact size and a handy center of gravity probably helped.
Let’s Take A Ride On The Blaupunkt E-Bike
I was in such a hurry to hop on this bike that I didn’t notice the number of power modes (three) and gears (six) until I took it to a parking lot across the street to test the brakes. That made me wonder if this e-bike could pass the Hill of Doom test, because my regular ride has five power modes and seven gears.
The Hill of Doom is a thoroughfare that starts down the block and launches straight up the side of a mountain. It’s a small mountain, but it’s still a mountain, and traffic is heavy so there are no opportunities for traversing.
Those three power modes gave me all the juice I needed, and then some. The Blaupunkt e-bike shot up the Hill of Doom effortlessly. I enjoyed a quick ride along some of the more gentle slopes that loop around the top of the mountain, mainly with the power mode off. You can get a lot of action out of just six gears on that bike.
I was sad to send the bike back to Blaupunkt before I put it through the full gamut of activities around here. The company pitches it as a stylish, sporty recreational bike and that is so. It can also perform on the utilitarian side, as a commuter bike and for running errands around town. Canvassing on an electric bicycle is another experience that matches up (note: here are more e-bike rides from me, and here is CleanTechnica’s complete coverage).
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Photo by Tina Casey
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