- A smooth and comfortable ride, especially for a folder
- Fully equipped for riding in all conditions
- High quality manufacture
- Perhaps a little pricey considering the spec of motor system used
Eovolt is a French-based firm. It produces only electric folders and compacts and has its own assembly plant in Lyon. The 2022 range consists of three models: the Morning, Afternoon and Evening, with rear hub-motored 16", 20" and 24" wheels respectively. (The Evening is a compact rather than a folder). The 2022 range now has a number of improvements not seen on previous years' models (but more of that later...)
All models employ a relatively unusual seatpost battery design with the battery cells housed in the seatpost itself. Whilst a similar frame design and seatpost battery is used by other brands, with its own assembly plant in France, Eovolt can choose a much better spec than lower-priced brands using a similar frame - and on the evidence of this review, that's what it does. Also, whilst cut-price competitors are often direct to consumer, Eovolt has a presence in well-respected retailers, such as JE James and Pure Electric, a UK distribution office and a well set out 2 year warranty, which again also distinguishes it from at least some of the lower-priced competition.
This test looks at the 20"-wheeled model with front suspension, the Afternoon. It's described as a 'do it all' folder and comes fully equipped with Spanninga lights (new and higher quality for 2022), metal mudguards, 25kg rated pannier rack, high volume CST 2.4" wide semi-slick tyres, chainguard and kickstand. It's clearly designed for daily commuting, but with a 504Wh battery it could tackle longer leisure rides too and those tyres would help sooth out canal towpaths, forestry roads and the like.
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Additionally, Eovolt have gone for budget components, but ones aimed at giving good performance in the form of hydraulic disc brakes (ones I'd not heard of before, branded as Nutt), 7-speed Shimano Tourney derailleur gears and aero styled rims. The wheels are apparently built up in the Lyon factory as part of the process that is seeing Eovolt progressively bring more and more elements of the manufacturing process under their own control.
There are some nicely finessed features too, many of which are new for 2022. Welds are super smooth and there is a choice of pastel paint colours unique to Eovolt. Brake and gear cables are internally routed through the frame forward of the main hinge for a nice clean look and the seatpost battery connection into the frame is secured with a clip fitting that is easily thumb-pressed to remove it - the kind of detail that really makes a difference in daily use.
The Afternoon uses a conventional 'fold in half' frame with drop-down handlebars very similar to the likes of Tern. This results in a folded package of 87cm (l) x 72.5cm (h) x 44cm (w). That's about par for the course for a 20" wheeler. Perhaps more importantly, the folded package stays together pretty well, with a nice large magnet system clunking the two halves satisfyingly together. This kind of design tends to unfold itself as the forks twist when the folded package is moved, but the Afternoon doesn't suffer too badly from this - though some care in handling is still required. It's very stable when folded too, with three points of contact on the ground - two wide tyres and the metal end of the seatpost battery.
Clearly it's not in the Brompton league of folded compactness, but 20" wheelers are not meant to be. Stability and riding utility are more important attributes for them. At 23.66kg it's obviously fairly heavy for a folder and you won't want to be lifting it above waist height too much. But it rolls very smoothly along the ground as a folded package and I would be very happy using it as a train commuter as long as I didn't have to lift it onto a luggage rack and was able to keep it stored at ground level.
If you want an even lighter folded package of course you can remove the battery which weighs 3.57kg, leaving a more manageable folded bike of 20.09kg - though you are now resting the bike on the plastic chainguard of the chainwheel, which is less solid and stable. The battery seatpost itself can be locked in place with a small key that locks the seatpost clamp, meaning you can park the bike knowing someone isn't going to wander off with your valuable battery. Yet another nice little practical touch.
The Afternoon gives a smooth and comfortable ride. The forks have lockout and compression adjustment. At first they felt a bit stiff but soon got a lot smoother (maybe the grease working its way around the spring?) and this helped to take the edge off the biggest road bumps at least. It also confirmed my belief that budget forks like this are a more valuable addition to small wheelers rather than large ones, as small wheelers really feel big bumps more. The solid frame and handlepost hinge joints had virtually no flex whilst riding and the 2.35" wide tyres also help ensure a plush-feeling ride.
Perhaps best of all though is the range potential of the 504Wh seatpost battery with its Samsung cells (one of the most trusted names when it comes to e-bike battery cells). After completing a 24-mile return commute into Leeds city centre, I estimated I could have got around 40 miles out of the battery. This was admittedly over flattish terrain but with plenty of stop-start riding and on a bitterly cold, windy winter day - both of which would have put a dampener on range. On a much hillier 16-mile rural leisure ride in sunny but very cold weather, and with a 10kg pannier load, around 30 miles seemed a better estimate. For comparative purposes, I weigh 68kg and always use a power level just enough to give me a mild workout.
The cadence sensing system was pretty good and kicked in fairly soon after I started pedalling and the hill climbing ability of the geared rear hub motor was pretty respectable too. The bike doesn't have any pretensions to high performance to rival mid drives like Bosch, but it still managed three minutes flat up our extended hill climb which is bang in the middle of times posted by other bikes, so it's no slouch. Power in the lower levels continues at higher speed which is a good economy feature too, so overall it's one of the better cadence-sensing, Bafang-powered bikes we have tried.
On our ultra-steep mini-climb it was, predictably, quite a lot slower than mid-drive machines and some of the more powerful hub drives but it still managed to complete a climb which has defeated some of our hub-motored test bikes over the years.
Other aspects of the ride were equally pleasing. The Nutt hydraulic disc brakes were sharp yet progressive, the seat comfortable and the handling stable. All in all it would make a very serviceable commuter and leisure bike. There is also plenty of height adjustment in seatpost and handlebars to suit a wide range of rider heights.
The only real negative I would list is that the connection lead in the bottom of the battery seatpost collects crud very easily as it's right in the line of fire of spray from the front wheel. Granted it's a not a bike designed for venturing off road in muddy conditions, but it is more than capable of tackling good quality towpaths and the like, and even on wettish roads I found the connector attracted muck and water. In practical terms, it may not be a big issue as the connection is a good, positive one with the security of a click fitting, but if you regularly take the battery seatpost out you may find yourself cleaning the outside of the connection quite often to stop dirt getting dragged into the frame's seattube. Eovolt might want to look at some kind of weather protection in front of the connector on future bikes.
The Raleigh Stow-E-way is one of the Afternoon's nearest competitors in terms of design. Whilst the current retail price of £1,595 significantly undercuts the Afternoon, it has a battery around half the capacity of the Eovolt and less powerful and more maintenance heavy V-brakes. You can see our review of the Stow-E-Way here.
Giving the Afternoon a closer run for its money is the Dallingridge Oxford. Whilst the spec may not be quite up to the Afternoon and it may lack its smooth good looks, it does have a 504Wh battery option for only £1,199 (though the make of cells is not actually listed). The Dallingridge fold doesn't look half as compact and easy as the Afternoon's though. Decathlon and Halfords, as you might expect, also have a range of similarly priced e-folders but none quite come up to the spec of the Afternoon.
If you want a practical and thoughtfully designed electric folder and don't have the deep pockets to go for a much lighter offering (all of which have their own attendant compromises) then the Eovolt Afternoon should be near the top of your shortlist.
I bought its predecessor called the Confort and its absolutely brilliant.
Interesting to see the improvements on its replacement , like the idea of the suspension fork as I do go down canal tow paths on my commute to work. Must say the colours look much nicer on this version and generally looks more refined.
So the question is do I upgrade ?