Electric folding bikes offer numerous benefits. They’re compact, making them great for storing if you are short on space, and they’re great for nipping around town. Some, like the Estarli e20 Play even come with utility-focused accessories like rear racks (on the Pro model), so you can use them as commuters or errand running bikes.
But the e20.8 Play isn’t like other urban focused e-folders. With wide, grippy tyres and BMX inspired style, it’s an ideal bike for getting out and about on a bit further away from home. As such, we thought we'd put it through its paces on a ride through West Yorkshire.
Beginning four miles north-west of Bradford, the route’s first stop was six and a half miles away – Bingley train station. Catching a morning train from Bingley to Skipton was quite simple and an empty train meant there was no problem bringing a bike on – although the train's bike rack was quite difficult to use. British trains often leave much to be desired when travelling with a bike, and it seems that it’s pot luck which type of storage system you’ll get.
The beauty of the e20.8 Play, however, is that it folds. It’s not as compact as the very smallest folders aimed purely at commuters, but if you get a nice train guard, I bet they won’t bring out the tape measure to suggest it’s too big to be considered ‘folding’.
Arriving in Skipton, my route was pretty clear – head over the road and turn right onto the Leeds to Liverpool canal. Then ride along there for roughly 14 miles before heading back home from Bingley. The difference a few hedges and a bit of water makes to the scenery is incredible. Skipton isn’t the quietest town in Yorkshire, but stepping onto the canal is bliss: it’s quiet, with only the rumble of boats and the quacks of ducks to listen to.
The canal towpath around here is varied. It goes from smooth tarmac to gravel to cobbles within minutes. The e20.8 Play handled it all with style, even allowing me to feel confident enough to overtake a couple of riders on mountain bikes.
As I headed away from Skipton and into the countryside, the houses lining the canal borders made way for stunning views of hills and fields of cows. Swans and their cygnets swam alongside me – I gave them a wide berth because didn’t you know, a swan can break your arm quite easily?
About five or six miles in, the towpath turned into what I can only describe as rooty singletrack. Again, it was no match for the e20.8 Play, as the wide tyres inspired confidence and the responsive hub motor helped me power over anything a bit tricky.
I aimed to keep the motor usage to a minimum though, as I knew the majority of the ride was flat until arriving at Bingley where the road to home was largely uphill. Even without assistance, the e20.8 Play was easy to ride offering minimum resistance. It comes with an 8-speed drivetrain, and for the purpose of my ride it felt well matched to the terrain.
I continued on along the towpath, enjoying the shade from the trees and the quiet whir of the hub motor beneath me. As I eventually made it back to Bingley, I rode down the infamous 5 Rise Locks, and watched as riders struggled with the gradient. The hydraulic disc brakes held up well here, with controlled speed a necessity given the volume of pedestrians.
I rejoined the carriageaway after some blissful traffic-free miles, and began my ascent home. At this point the bike had one to two bars of battery left, so I whacked it into levels three to five to help me home. Roughly 80% of the overall climbing came within the last few miles, off the canal, so I’d saved my battery knowing what lay in store.
Even 10-15% inclines were manageable with the e20 Play, and a route that would normally fill me with dread, instead filled me with joy as I watched the cows and their calves enjoying a lie down in the heat.
Luckily, the empty battery signal only made itself known as I was pulling into my street. Perfectly timed: a 20 mile(ish) ride for the e20.8 Play.
The e20.8 Play is the new, updated sibling to the popular e20.7. Its frame has been strengthened and slightly redesigned to provide better stability and comfort, while the wider off-road centric tyres provide confidence to take it to more places. This isn’t a bike that’s just destined for the city streets. As I think my ride has proven, it’s capable whether you’re pointing it up a 15% incline, or trundling along a gravelly canal towpath.