An electric folding bike is a good option for those who want to bike-commute but lack the physical fitness and/or storage space needed with regular bicycles. At this point in time, there are a variety of choices in the market, so how does the Nakto Flex set itself apart?
At first glance, the Flex looks more like a traditional folding bike apart from the huge battery behind the seat tube. You won’t be carrying this 22kg e-bike upstairs unless absolutely necessary, but there are minor touches that improve the quality of life with this bicycle.
Unlike full-size bikes, folding bikes can’t be shoulder-carried, which is why I appreciate the integrated handle on the top tube. Looking down at the crank, there’s a chain guard to protect your clothes from getting stained or tangled.
In some folding bikes, the seat post needs to be lowered so the bike can stand when folded. However, the Flex has a stand below to support it. Also, a kickstand is nicely placed at the rear so the pedals don’t hit it.
A rear rack is included straight out of the box, so cargo can be loaded on the e-bike. Fenders help protect the rider from splashes, while a reflector on the rear fender and a light above the front fender improve visibility.
Interestingly, the handlebar post is adjustable, unlike other electric folding bikes. However, the seat post is too short for my height of 5’7″.
The 20-inch by 1.95-inch Kenda tires provide enough traction and cushioning for city streets. There’s also a suspension fork, but its effect was negligible in my experience, and the same could be said for the springs on the saddle.
Speaking of the saddle, it has a hinge so the user can slide out the battery, which is unlocked via a key. Thankfully, there’s no need to remove the battery for charging as the port is easily accessible.
A full charge takes around 4-6 hours for a range of up to 40km (full throttle) or 80km (pedal assist). Take note that mileage can significantly vary with the rider’s weight, the road condition, and other factors.
The heart of any electric bike is the motor, and this Nakto flexes a 350W rear-hub motor powered by a 48V, 10Ah battery for a top speed of up to 30km/h.
With the European Union limiting e-bikes to 250W motors and a top speed of 25km/h, the Flex is more powerful than the average electric bicycle.
To deploy the electric power, the user first sets the assist level ranging from zero to five to adjust the maximum motor speed, with zero providing no assist at all. Once the rider pedals or presses the throttle, the motor will kick in.
The Flex only uses a cadence sensor so the amount of effort exerted by the rider has no effect on the motor power, which is why he or she needs to be familiar with the different assist levels. Using the thumb throttle allows for some modulation, but it’s not a high-precision controller.
Having a powerful 350W motor along with a basic sensor means users can easily cause sudden unintended acceleration if they’re not careful. It doesn’t help that the thumb throttle works from a standing start.
However, the Flex defaults at assist level one at startup so not all of the electric power is unleashed immediately.
In my experience, pedal assist is good for casual cycling, but when riding at the motor’s maximum speed, the crank becomes a hamster wheel with the gearing of the six-speed Shimano Tourney, so pressing down the throttle will be a lot easier.
With great power comes great stopping power as the Flex is equipped with Zoom Xtech HB100 hybrid brakes. These are cable-actuated, but the calipers are hydraulic so there’s a small reservoir for the hydraulic fluid on the brakes.
Folding the Flex is done at two hinges with one on the frame and the other on the handlebar post. Once folded, it can be stowed in the trunk of a car or brought indoors. But as mentioned earlier, you won’t have a good time carrying this.
The Nakto Flex is available from Exion Cycles at an SRP of P43,000, placing it at the midrange similar to the Himo Z20.
It flexes a more powerful motor with additional minor touches that make living with this e-bike much easier. However, users will need to understand its controls and assist levels to ride it properly and safely.
It is still no match for a full-size bike, so enthusiasts will have to look elsewhere. But if you just need something to get you from A to B—and are willing to live with the weight—then the Flex will be of good use.