We have already reviewed Tenways first e-bike, the CGO600 and liked it very much. Their recently launched CGO800S continues with the same small and near-silent Mivice rear hub motor and single-speed Gates belt drive.
This is a step-through city bike though, in contrast to the sportier, flat bar road bike geometry of its predecessor. The CGO800 also has a larger, removable battery, rear rack, mudguards, front and rear hardwired lights and kickstand as standard. It's also added a few kilograms in weight (we weighed it at 22.70kg vs the 16.11kg of the CGO600) - almost inevitable when you add a bigger battery and more equipment of course.
So what's new?
In terms of the electric drive system, the larger and now-removable 374Wh battery is the main upgrade, in non-electric terms there are also all the city biking 'extras' mentioned above. It also features brake lights and rear indicator lights and it's encouraging to see these included on a city bike meant to deal with busy traffic, even if they weren't totally convincing in the testing.
The new step-through frame is a pretty beefy affair. It has to be, given that it houses a removable battery and must retain strength once the battery is removed. Comfort is emphasised by the addition of a budget, steel sprung front suspension fork from SR Suntour and larger volume CST Zeppelin 50×622 (28” x 2”) tyres with puncture protection.
There's also a new look at the front, with riser bars for comfortable upright riding and a new central display which can be bluetoothed to the Tenways app. It's a one-size frame for riders between 155cm and 190cm (5’1”-6’2”) - that sounds about right as it fitted the 5ft 8in test rider nicely and there is plenty of seat height adjustment.
The rear rack is nicely integrated into the metal rear mudguard for both a sleek look and to act as a union of the rack with the frame. The overall effect is to produce a very elegant looking e-bike - and it rides elegantly too, as we'll come to below.
The rear light cluster has orange indicator lights at its edges and these are controlled by push buttons from the handlebars. It also has a rear light and brake light.
All in all the Tenways CGO800S looks like a very practical, well-thought-through city and commuting e-bike, ideal for coping with all the UK's less than perfect city cycling conditions could throw at it.
On the road
As with its sportier predecessor, the CGO600, the CGO800S features super smooth and very bike-like torque sensing power, delivered through a single gear belt drive. This is e-biking at its simplest; just switch on, select one of five power levels and off you go.
The Mivice M070 rear hub motor is one of the smallest motors we have seen on an e-bike. It still packs a reasonable punch, but does so extremely quietly. It's easy to forget you are riding an e-bike so smooth, intuitive and virtually silent is the motor. (Turn the power off though and you'll soon realise how much assistance it really was giving you).
There's more than enough power for moderate hills and most headwinds but hit a very steep hill and it's clear there is a limit to how much you can coax out of such a small motor and a single speed drivetrain. As the gradient steepens the motor starts to slow and eventually runs out of steam at around 10% grade slopes. If you don't encounter many hills this steep, the CGO800S will be a joy to ride and the single gear belt drive is as simple to use as it is superbly low maintenance and long lasting.
Our 0.8 mile long constant road test climb with plenty of 5% grade sections and a couple of much steeper sections bore this out. The CGO800S’s time of 3-minutes and 10-seconds was respectable, though it lagged behind all the mid-drives we’ve tested and also some of the more effective hub motor models. But this is, of course, a single speed bike with a small motor so you wouldn’t necessarily expect stellar hill climbing.
The bike climbed well on the majority of the climb and only slowed from the max assisted speed of 16mph to around 10mph on the two steeper sections of around 10% grade.
Leaving the CGO800S in its top power setting, it managed 28.4 miles over our standard moderately-hilly, all-on-tarmac test course for city bikes. The city bike test course featured 2,398 feet of climbing. Over the same course but switching between power modes the range was 43.2 miles, with much of the time spent in the lower power levels for easier sections, the bike managing 3,217 feet of climbing.
The CGO800S is a fine city e-bike with its lovely upright, comfortable riding position, swept-back riser handlebars, wide comfortable seat and 28” wheels with 2” wide tyres on them. It gives a reassuringly safe and easy ride, even on busy roads. Cornering was predictable and easy and the forks did a reasonable job of soaking up humps and bumps given their budget credentials. The Tektro hydraulic disc brakes were smooth and powerful and, again, confidence inspiring.
Indicators are a great idea in principle and the rear ones on the CGO800S are easily controlled by handlebar buttons. However, they are simply not bright enough to ensure they are seen by following traffic - and without accompanying front indicators, what's the point? If these could be upgraded on a future model they would be a very useful addition in busy traffic.
All in all this would be a great e-bike for someone wanting to get out and about for the first time or perhaps a long-lapsed returning cyclist. The large volume tyres and suspension also mean it can cope with light off-road conditions such as canal towpaths.
Value for money
The CGO600 was initially offered direct to consumer only, but just as this review was being written Tenways had begun to roll out their dealer network programme which will provide the reassurance of ‘local’ backup. Given that, and that e-bike prices are on the rise like much else, the current £1,899 price for such a sophisticated machine is comparatively good value.
You could always opt for much cheaper city e-bikes from the likes of Decathlon or Halfords but you won't get that lovely smooth, efficient power delivery, the components probably won't match up to the CGO800S and the bikes will also likely be a little heavier.
Arguably the nearest thing to the CGO800S is the Cowboy 4ST which is equally smooth and came with all the pros and cons of a belt drive single speed (and which we were quite impressed with). The Cowboy has a better app and GPS, but costs several hundred pounds more. The Tenways app is OK in its current state - adding the ability to change power profiles in the various power levels and also being able to import your own GPX routes would certainly add to its usefulness. As far as it goes, it works well (especially the route planning and turn by turn navigation) but it feels a little incomplete. We haven't yet tried the new Ampler range, of which the Juna looks to be the closest competitor to the CGO800S. Again though it's a big wodge of cash more.
In short, like the CGO600 before it, the Tenways CGO800S has carved its own niche amongst the wide variety of city e-bikes out there - a comfortable, practical and well-priced one.