Folding bicycles are good for short trips, but cyclists may find them lacking for longer commutes around the city, and this is where the BESV JF1 comes in.
Being a hybrid bike, it isn’t as fast as a road bike nor is it as rugged as a mountain bike. However, it manages to strike the right balance, making it a sporty urban cruiser that you can bring on the occasional weekend ride.
Aside from the JF1’s stylish looks, the other thing that stands out is the thick down tube, and that’s because it houses a 36V, 7Ah battery powering a 250W motor at the rear hub.
Three pedal-assist modes are available, selected by the controller on the handlebar. Eco prioritizes battery life where the motor runs with negligible effect.
To really feel the push, you’ll want to switch to Smart. The torque sensor at the crank adjusts the motor output for smooth pedaling.
Power is supposed to give maximum assistance all the time, but in my experience, it doesn’t feel any different from Smart, which is already pretty aggressive.
Shifting is done via a 10-speed Shimano Deore, a mid-level groupset for mountain bikes. The gear range is wide enough for inclines and flats in the city, while the 1x drivetrain, where the front has a single gear, keeps the setup simple and easy to maintain.
The 700c x 35mm road bike tires are comfortable for the streets, but won’t provide any cushioning with bumps and potholes. The absence of knobs also means this hybrid e-bike won’t be going anywhere off-road.
The interface consists of a controller and a display, both mounted on the handlebars.
The display is mounted in the middle, and shows different information such as speed, trip distance, battery level, and range. This is toggled via the controller on the left side, which is also responsible for changing pedal-assist modes.
Switching modes is easy as the controller is conveniently accessible, and the color of the display and the power button changes depending on the mode.
But putting accessories on the handlebar like a front light or stem bag is difficult since the handlebar tapers, and the display takes up space in the middle.
BESV designed the JF1 with commuting in mind, so the e-bike has accessories specifically made for that. The rear rack allows panniers and bags to be attached to the bike, while the fenders help protect the rider from splashes.
In spite of these, the limited attachment points make it unsuitable for “bikepacking.” The battery placement means accessories can’t be mounted on the down tube, and strangely the seat tube also lacks bolts.
Weighing 16.1kg (XS) and 16.3kg (M), the JF1 is relatively light for an e-bike (and that’s coming from a user of a steel gravel bike like the Marin Nicasio). Compared to its folding sibling (the PSF1), the JF1 has better weight distribution being a full-size bike.
The JF1 is a decent bike on its own, although somewhat heavy to pedal. The motor can easily accelerate it, yet cuts out at 25km/h for safety purposes.
Building momentum beyond that is difficult with the weight, and the thin road tires don’t feel reassuring on bumpy roads at high speeds. However, this also reminds me that vehicles shouldn’t be going any faster on urban streets.
Based on the JF1’s odometer, I managed to clock in around 25km from a full charge using only Smart mode. Take note that this was done fully loaded with frequent inclines, and no attempt at battery preservation.
This could be extended by coasting or turning off the motor when it’s not needed. Also, maintaining a steady pace slightly above the motor’s top speed will prevent it from abruptly turning off and on.
The BESV JF1 is an okay bicycle and a great e-bike, but its SRP of P135,000 asks for too much. It doesn’t help that the rear rack and the fenders come separately at P2,600 and P3,700, respectively.
For those who have the budget, the JF1 is suitable for city commuting, but not for prolonged out-of-town trips or trail riding. With its distributor Exion Cycles considering a subscription service similar to Dance, would you lease it?