The OYAMA CX E8D Series II folding e-bike is a sturdy little pedal-assisted fun machine. It’s been perfect for my multi-modal commute into the city during the week, and brawny enough to pull a trailer full of gear to the beach on the weekends. Oyama has been making bikes in Taiwan for over 50 years, but mostly for other brands, so you may not have heard of them. The E8D II is evidence of the company’s long history with making folders. It’s well thought out, and well made, and costs a bit less than comparable bikes from more recognized brand names.

The $1,999 350 watt E8D II tested is the suped-up version of the original 250 watt E8D, which is still available. The frame design is similar to other 20” folders with an over-sized main tube and large quick release pivot. Incorporating the battery in the frame is nice feature, keeping it protected and out of sight. And a built in lock ensures the costly battery doesn’t walk away from a bike stand. With its additionally stealthy Aikema rear hub motor, other cyclists might not notice you’re on an electric bike, until you leave them in the dust when the light goes green. The downside to a speedy and rock solid e-bike is the 47lb total weight. Lift with you knees, and avoid stairs.

47 lbs for a tiny bike seemed crazy heavy to me at first, but I was underestimating battery and motor weight. On closer look, the alloy frame and parts spec are on par with other pricier folding e-bikes. It’s a well made workhorse of a frame with good components. E-bikes are just heavy. That’s the trade-off to going fast without sweating.

Parts wise, the Shimano Revoshift 8 speed drivetrain provided good shifting, but I would have liked a slightly bigger ring up front. The Prowheel front ring and guide is fine if you’re going to let the motor do all the work, but it tops out if you want to pedal beyond the 20 mph cut-off on the motor.  The Tektro 160mm hydraulic disc brakes were a smart spec, providing welcomed power and good feel. The brakes are also wired with sensors to cut the motor. The super long alloy seat post is beefy but not overly heavy, and has markings so you remember your preferred saddle height. The Oyama patented folding stem is also solid with a nice clamping mechanism, and it somehow didn’t flex noticeably despite its length. Saddle, pedals, and bars all played well and provided comfortable contact points, and the sturdy fenders have nice rubber sections at the end so when folded you can roll the bike tilted back, pushing with the seatpost extended.

The rear rack is bolted to the frame adding to the e-bike’s overall sturdy theme. Attaching a trailer hitch to the rack is likely a good way to void warranties, but with the low center of gravity it rode really well, even fully loaded. Long term I’d swap out the plastic folding pedals for grippier metal flats, and look for a bigger front ring, but those are my preferences, and in general it’s a good parts spec.

The design of this folder is similar to many others, with a big main-tube pivot, telescoping seatpost, and folding gigunda stem. The main hinge point is big and has a rock-solid locking mechanism and safety latch. I have no doubt this adjustable main hinge will remain free of play for many years. The E8DII easily folds down to a nice compact package, but does lack a clever way to hold things together once folded. Folders from other companies often use magnets or straps to hold the fold, but I found that a short bungy worked just as well, so no big deal. It’s a great bike, even if it lacks a few of the bells and whistles I’ve seen on other folders. It does come with an actual bell though, and built-in front light which saved me a couple times when I stayed out longer than intended. Once folded, the bike rolls along OK, which given the weight is necessary. I generally left the seatpost up, folded the bike, and rolled it onto trains or into buildings. As mentioned, at nearly 50lbs, stairs are e-bike kryptonite. I rigged a shoulder strap that helped, but mostly just tried to avoid carrying the bike.

Despite the weight, I set new speed records for my daily bike-train-bike commute into the city. There is no question, e-bikes are faster and less work, especially on stop and go city streets. With 20in wheels, depending on the road conditions, I could be either annoyed or relieved by the 20mph auto-cutoff of the motor. This is a legally required cutoff, and on smooth roads, the kid in me wanted more speed. But as an adult with sufficient scars and a family to feed, I appreciated the cutoff. The proven frame design was stable and intuitive, and provided total confidence on smooth, dry pavement. But that confidence could quickly turn into abject terror if the road got rough or slippery. The disc brakes helped though, as did the wide 2.1 Kenda tires. A smarter rider can turn the adjustable power output down to match the road conditions. I kept it pinned at 8 out of 8 all the time and made sure I was ready to kick a leg out if I needed it.

Overall the 20 mph mandated cutoff is reasonable for small wheels. With a bit of effort I cruised the flats at 17-20 mph, and hills at 10-14 mph. On hot or lazy days, speeds were 4-5 mph slower. The pedal-assist was smooth and quiet, and nerds can get deep into the controller settings options and adjust the torque sensor and output, but I couldn’t figure out how to jailbreak the 20mph cutoff (again, probably for the best). From a stop the 350W motor did kick in noticeably hard, but that can be regulated by dialing back the power a bit. I liked the Battlestar Galactica starts though. Pro tip, don’t try to wheelie off a stop light in busy downtown traffic, the bike will flip up from under you remarkably quickly and leave you standing there (if your lucky) looking stupid.

The controller has a nice, large LCD display which when the bike is moving, changes format to highlight your speed and power output. While the odometer shows more prominently when stopped. The 36V/10.05A battery voltage and charge level is also displayed, which is nice, but with a ~50 mile range I rarely ran low on juice. The controller was smart and easy to use, but mostly I left the power level on high and just turned the power on and off. I’ll knit pick the required 3 second hold “feature” on the power button. Late for a meeting, 3 seconds is a frustratingly long time.

The frame has an access port so you can charge the bike without removing the battery, or to charge your phone on the fly with the USB port. The rear hub motor is quiet and snappy, and isn’t very noticeable behind the disc rotor and cassette, so along with the stealthy frame-held battery, the casual observer won’t notice it’s an e-bike. There is absolutely no reason to ride with the power completely off, but it’s nice to know you can always ride the old fashioned way if you do somehow drain the battery all the way.

I’ve never liked 20” folders, because small wheels and often flexy stems could add up to a slow bike with poor traction and sketchy handling. However, the ED8 II with its integrated motor, beefy hinges, and disc brakes, is bad-ass and super fun. Circus music doesn’t play in my head on this hotrod.  Out of saddle riding, hopping curbs, and pissing off drivers stuck in traffic is kinda punk.

I expected this e-bike to be a fast and fun commuter, and zipping around Boston and NYC was a blast, and relatively safe with the 20mph cutoff. The surprise for me was its ability for suburban adventures. On a hot day, I could tow a trailer full wetsuits and gear the 4 miles to and from the beach without breaking a sweat. One night a “quick” fishing trip turned into a “hey, where’s dad?” ride, when the 2 mile trip to the creek became a 15 mile search of the river, then the bay, then the other river. Eventually fish were caught, a nice sunset viewed, and the built-in headlight lit my way home to the doghouse I would be sleeping in.

If you’re looking for a sturdy and fast folding e-bike check out Oyama. The E8D II is great for darting through busy city streets or cruising long country rides. I’ve been riding this e-bike hard for several months, hopping curbs and towing gear, with no significant issues. It’s great for commuting without needing to shower and change at the office, and it stows nicely in a closet. Keep in mind the weight if you will need to heft it into a car trunk or up stairs, but otherwise you’ll be all smiles. I love letting people ride it. They always take off voicing their surprise and return with a big devilish grin. I still feel the same way every ride.