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Engwe M20 e-bike review: moped looks, cruiser comfort

Engwe M20 e-bike front left side three-quarter view.
Engwe M20
MSRP $1,500.00
“It’s tough to find a more stylish, capable e-bike for the price of an Engwe M20.”
  • Dual batteries for extended range
  • Dual suspension for a smoother ride
  • Smooth acceleration
  • Wide range of accessories
  • Excellent value
  • Minimum-spec brakes
  • Moderately uncomfortable seat
  • Pedaling geometry is awkward
Engwe M20 e-bike left rear three quarter view parked on a lawn next to a steep driveway.
Bruce Brown / Digital Trends

“That is a fine-looking e-bike.”

My friends and family had the same first reaction to the Engwe M20 that I did. But appearance is subjective, and the M20 is a value-leader based on objective measures. At full list price, it’s a bargain for a dual-suspension e-bike with dual batteries, and with Engwe’s frequent discounts, it can be a steal.

The M20 isn’t the fastest e-bike you can buy, and at 104 pounds with two batteries installed, it’s certainly not the lightest. However, if you’re looking for excellent value in an e-bike that’s easy to ride with a better-than-average range, put the M20 on your list.

Engwe M20 e-bike rear suspension shock and lower section of installed optional rear rack.
The Engwe M20 rear suspension shock is under the seat, shown with an optional rear rack. Image used with permission by copyright holder

The power you need

The M20 has a 48V brushless rear hub motor with 750 watts of continuous power and 1,000 watts of peak output. Maximum torque of 55 Nm is sufficient for typical riding but not great on steep inclines.

Engwe ships the M20 configured in Class II mode, limiting the power-assisted speed to 20 miles per hour with either pedal power assistance or throttle control with the right handgrip’s full-twist throttle.

Even though it looks roughly like a small motorcycle, the M20 isn’t a torquey, high-performance e-bike.

I used Engwe’s display screen control buttons to change the e-bike to Class III mode, which increases the power cut-off level to 28 mph. I never saw 28 mph on the M20’s display, but it was consistently easy to maintain 24 to 26 mph riding on pavement.

You could theoretically exceed these speed limits by pedaling faster, but I doubt many people will do that. Engwe rates the M20 for riders from 5 feet 2 inches to 6 feet 2 inches tall. I’m 5 feet 8 inches tall, right in the middle of the suggested height range, but I found pedaling awkward and uncomfortable because my knees rose too high. A motorcycle-style seat means there’s no adjustment. The Engwe has a basic Shimano 7-speed gear set, but I didn’t use it because I didn’t feel like pedaling this bike.

Engwe M20 e-bike has dual vertical headlamps and knobby fat tires.
Bruce Brown / Digital Trends

Road-ready with dual suspension and two headlights, too

The M20 has adjustable front forks and a single rear air shock mounted under the seat in a configuration Harley-Davidson would call a soft tail. I set the front forks to the softest riding position. They soak up more than the rear shock, but you’ll appreciate even a little give when you hit a speed bump or curb compared to a fully rigid rear setup.

Deflating the 20-inch diameter, 4-inch-wide fat tires below their maximum inflation helped improve the ride by taking advantage of tire sidewall flexing. The camel-colored seat is attractive but surprisingly hard and didn’t add to riding comfort. The seat angles toward the front, which can put you in contact with the back of the battery casing, especially during hard stops.

The M20’s front and rear disc brakes worked fine in moderate and emergency stops, but they’re mechanical rather than hydraulic. The 160 mm disc rotors are really the bare minimum you’d want for a bike that hits 28 mph — 180 mm rotors and hydraulic actuation would be a big improvement.

The M20’s vertically mounted dual LED headlights are unique in my experience: one is a daytime running light, and one is a full-brightness headlamp. Each light can be adjusted separately, and a handlebar switch flicks between the two when darkness falls. The rear taillight glows brighter when you brake, just like a car. It’s a safety feature we appreciate, but we wish it also had turn signals and a stronger horn.

Engwe M20 e-bike front left side three-quarter view.
Bruce Brown / Digital Trends

E-bike riding impressions

It may look like a small motorcycle, but the Engwe M20 is more of a comfortable, casual cruiser than a high-performance e-bike like the Ariel Grizzly. When I had a choice, I’d often pick the M20 for short trips or running errands. The handlebars are high enough, and the three-point geometry of the seat, pedals, and handlebars was just right for me to ride comfortably in an upright position.

With many e-bikes, if you twist the throttle or move the pedals a little, you get the full torque in an all-or-nothing, binary power delivery. The Engwe is more relaxed, with a short lag when you twist the throttle. The lag is longer with pedal assistance, which could be annoying if you otherwise assume that pushing hard on the pedals will help you move out quickly from an intersection.

Mounted on 20-inch mag wheels, the 4-inch-wide fat tires have a slightly knobby tread that is reasonably smooth on pavement and riding on grass or hard-packed dirt roads and paths.

I requested the dual-battery configuration for this review, but the Engwe M20 is also available with a single 48V 13Ah lithium-ion battery at a $300 savings. Engwe claims each battery is good for up to 47 miles of range, which may be if you use the lowest pedal assist mode and don’t ride faster than 10 to 15 mph.

In real life, however, with frequent throttle use, the batteries likely provide 50% to 60% of the rated range. With all-purpose e-bikes such as the M20, the range is more important than acceleration or the top speed, so choosing the dual battery configuration is not just desirable; it’s more prudent than having a single battery. A single 2 amp charger comes with the bike, so it will take about 6.5 hours to charge each battery to full from empty. If you ride the M20 regularly, buying a second charger from Engwe’s website will be a good idea.

Engwe M20 e-bike with optional mirrors, phone mount, rear rack, and rack bag with panniers.
Bruce Brown / Digital Trends

Engwe M20 options and accessories

Engwe offers a range of options and accessories for the M20. The photo above shows the M20 with optional dual mirrors and a smartphone holder mounted on the handlebar. I also installed an optional rear rack with a handy rack bag that opens with water-resistant pannier bags on each side and a rain cover. The panniers aren’t large enough for a week’s worth of groceries, but you could pack a few days’ worth of supplies or a change of clothes and other essentials for a short trip.

Engwe M20 e-bike left side view on a private paved road.
Bruce Brown / Digital Trends

Cost-effective comfort

The Engwe M20 with dual batteries is an attractive e-bike with power, range, and essential components for comfortable casual cruising or fun rides. As I mentioned in the introduction, even at its $1,500 list price, the M20 is a bargain, especially with the convenience of two batteries and the relative comfort of its dual-suspension setup.

This isn’t the right choice for mountain trail riding, off-road bashing, or competing with the fastest e-bikes in town, but if you want a moped-style e-bike for solo or group rides, the M20 is an excellent choice. You might consider the Juiced Bike Scorpion X2 as another casual riding candidate or the Lectric XP 30 for even greater value for your money. Still, neither of those bikes has the Engwe M20’s cool cruiser styling, dual batteries, or full suspension.

Editors' Recommendations

Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Commerce teams. Bruce uses smart devices…
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