BIKE TEST: OYAMA CX E8D
Inexpensive but high-quality folder
Oyama is a brand carried by Foldaway Solutions, purveyor of foldable bikes for commuters and those who want the portability of a bike that takes up little space for storage and transport. They have everything from traditional folding bikes to full-size folding bikes to their first folding electric bike, the CX E8D.
The Oyama CX E8D is a relatively simple folding bike. There’s nothing earth-shatteringly different when you look at it. It’s a 20-inch folding bike with fenders and a rack.
The seatpost is very long and can extend below the frame for storage or to fit shorter people, but can extend very high for really tall riders as well. It is marked across its length with measured marks to allow it to be unfolded and set to the precise preferred height every time. A similar setup is used with the steer tube where it telescopes up and has marks to make it easy to properly set every time the bike is unfolded.
Both of those adjustments are made without tools using quick-release clamps. A third quick-release clamp allows the handlebars to rotate for ideal placement of brake levers. Throttle control is through a twist grip, so it works at any rotation.
The controls are very basic. There’s no LCD, just a small controller panel with four lights to indicate battery charge level, three to show current power level and a couple of buttons to turn on the system and change the power level. There’s no speed or distance information. For that you may need a phone mount and the appropriate app.
There are plenty of cables emanating from the handlebars—controller cable, brake cables and cutoff cables. They’re neatly wrapped, and some are routed to a channel underneath the top tube up to the point of the frame hinge, then go external from there. Black cabling matches black graphics, so it all blends in nicely.
There are height marks on the seatpost and steer tube to allow riders to consistently reposition them when unfolding the bike, and all these adjustments can be made without tools; everything has a quick-release lever, including the handlebars, so you can twist them to the angle you like the brake levers and other controls to sit.
The top tube has a gusset that equates to a downtube that comes out of the top tube behind the frame hinge, providing stiffness and a secure place to put a bike lock through when locking it up.
The battery is integrated into the frame, so you don’t see it or have to worry about hitting it like you do with many other folding bikes. It can be removed via the frame when it’s folded, and it locks in with a key to deter theft. There’s a portal on the top tube, near the head tube, that opens to reveal the system’s on/off switch, charge port and a handy USB port to charge your phone.
The motor is a minuscule, 250-watt, geared rear hub motor, and an ample front sprocket drives it via an eight-speed cassette. It doesn’t look like an electric bike unless you walk right up to it and notice the hub.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR?
This bike is aimed at commuters, apartment dwellers, boat owners and anyone who has limited storage space. If you need to get quickly to the train, onto a bus or even a few miles to work, this is a great solution. You can fold it up and store it next to your desk—no bike rack needed—and you won’t be tripping over it or having to squeeze around it.
To test the compatibility on size range, we had a test rider who was under 5 feet tall. She could ride with relative ease, but said the seat-to-handlebar distance was a little long, regardless of height settings for seat and handlebars. That’s an extreme example; anyone over 5 feet tall and up to about 6-foot-5 or so should be able to comfortably fit the bike.
When you first start pedaling, there’s no power. After almost a second, the power comes in with a whoosh and scoots you forward. The bike has a cadence sensor and no torque sensor, so it relies on your pedal cadence to know when to add power and when to cut off. Once it starts, there’s plenty of it. You feel the extra torque that comes from having small wheels.
Because it’s a cadence sensor, once power starts, all you have to do is keep the pedals moving, even if you aren’t actually providing power to the drivetrain, and the motor will keep moving you along. In a way, it’s almost like having a throttle if you want to let the bike do almost all of the work. The power keeps going for 1–2 seconds after you completely stop pedaling, which can be a little disconcerting if you are coming to a stop, but applying the brakes will cut the power more immediately and all will be well.
Many folding bikes have a flexing problem, but the build quality on this bike shows no sign of that. The Oyama feels solid and very predictable, something that’s useful on a tall bike with small wheels. Despite the 20-inch wheel size, steering is not twitchy, and with the nice Kenda 2.3-inch-wide tires, there’s a very planted feeling on all types of surfaces. Those tires are also your only real suspension. The ride is fairly smooth, but big bumps can be jarring. The saddle is comfortable enough for the battery’s range, though we found it was a little slippery, and that wasn’t just the factory coating that would wear off. It stays a little slick.
“After almost a second, the power comes in with
a whoosh and scoots you forward.”
The large front sprocket is fantastic; we never found ourselves out of gears, even going fast on flat ground. The assist drops off at about 15–16 mph, which is the same as European-spec counterparts. This isn’t the type of bike you want for high-speed riding, anyway, so 15 mph was plenty. Climbing steep hills will be best using the highest level of assist. Shifting with the twist-grip SIS shifter is easy, intuitive and well-marked with which gear you are currently in. The ergonomic grips have a softer top layer for great grip and are very comfortable.
We spent quite a few days riding this e-bike on all kinds of terrain and all kinds of errands. It was a perfect way to go two miles to the train station, easy to use for a quick trip to the market and fairly fun to ride just to go for a short ride. The cargo rack on the back is solid, with great attachment points for tie-downs and capacity for plenty of groceries, panniers, etc.
In addition to the small space it takes up when storing, we also found it very easy to store safely in the trunk of a car for rack-less transportation for those who want a secure place to keep a bike to ride any time it strikes their fancy.
We’ve ridden much more expensive folding bikes that have similar features, quality and performance. It’s a great little commuter bike with a handy rack to carry stuff, a gusset/downtube that serves as a great locking point and decent range for commuting. The USB charge port is very useful, and it’s easy to store in a small space. All of these features and build quality add up to a great value for the money.
SPECS: OYAMA CX E8D
Motor: Aikema 100SX 36V/250W
Charge time: 4 hours
Top speed: 15 mph
Range: 15–25 miles (tested)
Drive: Shimano derailleurs and SunRace cassette, KMC chain
Brakes: Tektro mechanical disc
Controls: LS LSW-684
Frame: 6061 Alloy folding frame
Tires: Kenda E Type, 20×2.3”
Weight: 37 lb.
Color choices: Metallic Silver
Sizes: One size