It was meant to be the Corvette of bicycles. Instead, it split in half.
This bike gave us the ride of our lives.
The Smacircle S1 claims to be the world’s most compact and lightweight e-bike with a total weight of just 15 pounds. It’s got some cool features — it folds and collapses onto itself, and can be stowed away in a backpack to be carried anywhere — but it costs $1,499 and its top speed is just 12 miles per hour.
Still, if it could ease my commute, I was game to try it — so I took the prototype for a test drive around New York’s Central Park. The results were, well, interesting.
On the plus side, assembly was easy and took just a few minutes — even for a novice like me. And I was surprised at how manageable it was to fold up and carry in my backpack — not light as a feather, but not a major burden either.
But the actual riding of the bike was different story. It looks like a wacky child’s toy, so there I was, helmet strapped on and saddled on my tiny bike, fielding laughter and spontaneous cell phone cam pics from dozens of people in the park. I couldn’t work out if fellow park goers were impressed or amused — but either way, the attention was palpable.
The bike also felt wobbly — and after riding it for about 10 minutes, I found out why: A bolt came loose and the bike split almost in half. Thankfully I didn’t fall because I felt the breakage happening and stopped the bike. But if this taken place in a high-speed situation on the side of a busy road, I could see things ending up very differently. When I examined the bike, I saw that the front and back remained held together by a single black cord — and it was unrideable, despite having assembled and ridden it properly.
In a statement to Moneyish addressing some of our concerns, a Smacircle representative said: “Please remember that this is only a prototype. The final version that will be available in November…will be void of these issues.” But even if this hadn’t happened, the S1 will require significant modifications to make it more stable and durable — and its appearance to look a little less childlike — all without sacrificing portability.
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