Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sinclair A-Bike review (don't buy - it's broken and unusable)

I'm writing this review to inform potential a-bike clients to warn them about what they're going to get into.

TL;DR: A-Bike may seem an acceptable bike for people doing very small trips. This is not the case; due to a defective design, after some usage, even for very small trips, the bike will break. The problem is that the company ignores clients, so you will end up with an unusable bike.

I've had several folding bikes in the past, and I used them with different patterns. Currently I live in a big city with an extended metro system, and almost no hills. I currently use the bike to do the "last mile", and to go to shops close to my building.

For the first few months, the abike is adequate for this purpose. The upsides are:

  • it's super light
  • it folds quite easily
  • it's not such a big deal to have such small wheels, if one cycles on cycleways
The downsides are:
  • pedaling is hard (very inefficient)
  • the brakes work, but they're not very good
After a few months though, the chain started to skip, more and more, until the bike became completely unusable.

Bear in mind that I used the bike for short distances, less than 2 km every day, in flat roads.

I've done some research, and I've found that this is due to the fact that the inner gears are put under heavy strain, so they slowly wear down.

Bringing them to a bike shop is useless, since the parts are custom. So I wrote the support. They ignored the email. After a couple of weeks, I call. The woman on support says to open the bike, and send them a picture. I have a look at the bike, but the operation requires lots of screws to be unscrewed, so I send them a video instead. The ignore the email again. So I call again, and the woman says some circumstantial lie, then says a technical will call me shortly. Nobody calls.

So now I have a piece of crap that the company refuses to fix, and that shops can't fix, either.

So, to recap: if you want to buy an A-Bike thinking you can do small trips (I've seen other people with it), expect it to break quite quickly, and to have a unusuable piece of crap that the company refuses to repair.

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