REVIEW – Electric Bikes, more informally known as e-bikes are continually showing up on bike paths, trails, and even roads throughout the country. They provide an easy way to enjoy the fresh air and scenery of the outdoors without taxing our bodies too hard in the process. With the heybike Mars, you can just hop on and go without even pedaling if that is your vibe, and of course, if you are looking for some exercise, you can do that as well. Let’s get to know this clever modern transportation vehicle.
What is it?
The heybike Mars is a rather sharp-looking, 20-inch wheel, 4-inch fat tire foldable, 7-speed, 500 Watt hub motor class 2 (has throttle, less than 20 MPH) e-bike. How is that for a mouth full?
What’s in the box?
- heybike Mars e-bike
- Battery charger
- Assembly tools
e-bike Class: Class 2
Range: 48 Miles（Pedal assist）
Hub Motor: 500W Brushless gear motor
Tires: 20″ x 4″ Fat Tires
Battery: 48V 12.5Ah Lithium battery
Charging Time: 6-7 hours
MAX Payload Capacity: 300~330LBS
MAX Load for Rear Rack: 100LBS
Bell/Horn: Electric Horn
IP level: IPX4
Rear Rack Size 40.5×14.5(cm)
Folded Dimensions 94×38×74(cm)
Weight: 80.5 lbs (36.5kg)
E-bike Weight: 66 lbs (30kg)
Battery weight: 9.35 lbs (4.24kg)
heybike Mars folding e-bike assembly timelapse video
Design and features
Before I get too far in this write-up I need to mention that this electric bike ships almost completely assembled. That said, Julie did the unboxing and complete assembly before handing the bike off to me to review. The included timelapse video is of her unboxing and assembling the bike. So a shout out to her for her expert assembly of this e-bike.
The heybike Mars e-bike is powered by a 500-Watt rear hub motor fueled by a 600-Watt hour battery. This is a standard power setup for e-bikes in this category. The other power the bike harnesses is the power of the rider, which is aided by a 7-speed Shimano derailer system which is controlled by the Shimano Tourney thumb shifter which not only includes a visual display to show what gear the bike is currently in, but also an upshift button which shifts one gear up, and a downshift button which allows for multiple gear down shifting with a single elongated push. This downshift feature is useful when coming to a stop from a powered speed so the rider can return the bike’s gears to the lowest setting with minimal effort.
The Mars e-bike is built on a similar frame as many other electric rear hub-drive folding step through bikes. It features 20-inch wheels, outfitted with 4-inch flat tires. This gives the bike a short look, however, is outfitted with an adjustable seat and handlebars. Overall, the bike is sized well for most people. It is advertised to fit people from 5’3” to 6’3”. Personally, I am 6’6” so I am a little tall for it but did not have any real issues riding it. The bike is rated to hold a rider in the 300–330-pound range. I am not that heavy, but weigh-in close to 250 pounds. Keep that in mind when I address the actual range I observed.
This style of e-bike is easy to break down and return to its riding position. That said the bike is heavy, and the bike in the folded state is awkward, and based on the bike’s hefty weight, it is still cumbersome to move in and out of confined areas. That said, it almost fits perfectly in my VW Beetle convertible back seat (top down) when I picked it up for this review.
Speaking of folding, the e-bike breaks down in three separate areas. The main frame breaks down in half, with the front tire folding towards the back tire. The handlebars can be broken down in half to make the resulting folded bike shorter, and finally, the pedals can be folded inward to reduce the overall width of the bike when folded.
The heybike Mars has an advertised range of 48 miles with pedal assist, and 37 miles using pure electric (throttle only). I did not observe anything close to that. I got 31.8 miles pedaling just enough to keep the motor running and 28.2 miles using just the throttle. Some of that I am sure is due to my size. I am sure the 48 miles number is based on a PAS setting of 1 (default 10 MPH) where the rider is doing a good deal of the work to keep the bike at that speed.
The heybike Mars is very easy to operate. I really like the fact that the battery key, not only secures the battery to the bike frame, but also is used to provide power to the bike, outside of the on/off button on the display.
While this will not prevent someone from stealing the bike since they can just pedal off, it will at least prevent them from riding off under power. These bikes are not the fastest bikes if not under power.
The other side of the battery contains the charge port. This allows for both the battery to be charged while on the bike, or the battery can be removed, using the key, to charge the battery inside. The AC charger charged the battery in just under 7 hours in my tests.
Setup / Operation
Once the assembly is finished, the setup is very straightforward. Assuming the battery has some charge and is installed on the bike with the key switched to the on position, one just holds down the on/off key (middle button) on the display (lefthand side of the handlebar) for a couple of seconds until the display wakes up.
This button also serves as the control to sequence thru the various screens. Once the display is powered up you are presented with a display that shows in the upper 80% of the screen the current speed, 0 MPH (or KPH), the selected PAS level (number inside the box), and battery level indicator. The bottom 20% of the display shows the total miles on this initial screen. In addition, the display is capable of cycling thru the various lifetime and trip screens. There is the standard odometer screen (the first screen), as well as an odometer screen that has max speed (not very useful), and one that displays the average speed. In all of those screens, the total miles ridden is shown in that lower 20% of the display. In the Trip screens, you can see the same information in the top 80% with the bottom 20% of the screen containing the mileage for the current trip, and the number of minutes that have elapsed. An additional screen displays the hub motor’s current output (in Watts) in the bottom 20% of the screen. The 500 Watt rating is an average value as I have seen values in excess of 800 on occasion.
The top and bottom buttons are used to set the Pedal Assist Setting (PAS). The Mars comes shipped with four PAS settings, numbered from 0-3, with 0 being no PAS, and 3 is associated with the highest 20 MPH (32.2 KPH) setting. More on PAS settings a little later on.
The handlebar layout is as follows: On the left-hand side is a push button switch for the front and back lights, which is persistently maintained between key on/off cycles. An electronic buzzer, the control panel, and display as well as the front brake lever. On the right-hand side is the rear brake lever, the Shimano 7-speed gear shifter, and a throttle lever. The brakes are mechanical disc brakes and provide ample stopping force. One more thing of note is that engaging either brake lever will deactivate the motor regardless of pedal or throttle state.
It is also worth mentioning that even though this is an e-bike, there is no regenerative braking. This is not a knock on the Mars as most do not have this feature which is common on hybrid and electric cars.
There are two ways to activate the 500 Watt rear hub motor. For any PAS greater than 0, the hub motor is activated whenever the system detects the rider pedaling, or if you push down on the throttle lever. While the Mars ships with only 4 PAS settings, it turns out that there are a couple of different configurations that are hidden inside the unit’s control system. There is little included documentation on how to access this and what to do once accessed. That said I have stumbled on a YouTube video that describes all these settings in sufficient detail.
One reason to modify the default PAS settings is the lowest setting i.e., PAS level 1, sets the lowest speed to 10 MPH as soon as the bike detects the rider is pedaling, which can result in a speed that can be too fast in certain circumstances. The bike is not a Tesla, but it does jump abruptly towards the associated PAS setting speed rather quickly from a standstill. It is also worth mentioning at this time that the throttle’s top speed is also controlled by the PAS settings. Any setting corresponding to non-zero values corresponds to the current percent of 100% battery value (not top speed, which is 20 MPH). So the default PAS values are 1-50%, 2-75%, 2-100%, which corresponds to 10, 15 & 20 MPH with a full battery. I modified the PAS levels from 0-3 to 0-7, using the technique described in the link above, and have set the respective values as follows: 1-30%, 2-40%, 3-50%, 4-60%, 5-75%, 6-85%, 7-100%, which corresponds to 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 17, and 20 MPH, again on a full battery. The low setting of 6 MPH does not provide nearly the jerk on startup that 10 MPH does. In addition, the extra PAS levels allow the rider to dial in the speed that the bike operates at in the myriad of situations that exist when riding a bike in congested and tight areas. With those large fat tires and the weight of the bike, the bike does not roll as easily as you might be used to in a typical multi-speed bike. With that in mind, I use the lower PAS levels to slow down when approaching any kind of obstacle.
One thing I noticed is that when pedaling to initiate the PAS if the bike is moving there is about a 1-2 second delay before the motor reengages. You will notice this mostly at the higher PAS settings (bike speeds) because of the bike’s propensity to slow down when power is removed due to the bike’s weight, and the increased friction from those 4″ fat tires. So if you stop pedaling for a second, and then start pedaling again, you will notice that the motor does not instantly reengage, but hesitates briefly.
Another thing of note at the top speed of the bike is that the highest gear is just not high enough to add much people power to the bike. It feels like it does when you are traveling fast in any multi-geared bike and down to one of the lowest gears. When the bike is at top speed, it would be pretty hard to dive the bike to a faster speed with the bike’s current gearing. The pedals kind of are just spinning without adding any noticeable torque to the back wheel.
Riding comfort is achieved by the bike’s front suspension forks, which can be locked out, and a suspension seat post. Couple that with the 4” fat tires, which can be softly inflated allow for a pretty cushy ride if that is the rider’s desire.
That said, I found the seat to be a little uncomfortable for my butt build. This can however be easily replaced with a seat that is more customized to your own personal needs. To be fair, my length and girth, probably better said height and weight might be more the factor for the seat comfort than the design of the seat which really is soft to the touch and should have performed better than it did for me.
What I like
- Keyed Battery Operation
- Fat tires can handle almost any terrain
What I’d change
- The seat was not super comfortable for me (but can be easily swapped out)
- I would like to see the PAS setting map to % of speed, vs % of battery value.
- The highest gear needs to be higher.
Overall, I think the heybike Mars is a solid entry into the folding e-bike market. It appears very well built (solid), and very sharp looking in this review’s opinion. This type of E-bike is really focused on the kind of bike rider who really does not want to do too much work but enjoys the freedom of riding a bike. Compared to some other styles of E-bikes, it is modestly priced and should provide hours of enjoyable riding without breaking the bank. The ability to compactly fold up the bike allows the bike to be taken to just about anywhere with considerable ease compared to other bikes. The bike’s suspension and fat tires allow the bike to be used on just about any terrain.
In the video above as I approach I am going about 17 MPH in PAS level 6. The slow pedaling I am doing is to keep the motor engaged. It is not helping drive the e-bike in any noticeable way. You may notice that the brake light strobes as I apply the brakes to slow down and turn around. I can cross the grass median and climb that little hill under the power of the motor by just pedaling. The bike would have stopped had I not had the aid of the motor.