E-bikes in general are great, they’re changing how people get from A to B, and they can help you get or stay healthy in the process (if you at least stay off the gas pedal). But often their design doesn’t quite match the excitement of riding them. Engwe’s L20 and M20 e-bikes avoid this trap, so whether you’re a 16-year-old like my son or [redacted]-year old like my wife, you can drive something that feels great and it looks great.
The two electric bikes are essentially the same, although they look completely different. The L20, a step-up commuter bike with massive tires, and the M20, which is a bike in name only. They are both great at what they do and my family adores them.
Although I’ve spent a lot of time testing electric bikes (and many other products), my wife rarely gets involved. We both have full-time jobs and several full-time children, so our work rarely overlaps. However, when the L20 from Engwe arrived, she was underwhelmed. We intended to ride together and unfortunately most of the bikes I test are too big for her. For example, one of the bikes I test is 4 feet, 6 inches from the floor to the handlebars, so her 5-foot-5 self doesn’t get on it. The L20 is said to have been custom made for her, so she was excited to try it out.
I do not like
Both the M20 and L20 have the same 20-by-4-inch thick tires that work great in rain, mud, grass and road, and the same Shimano 7-speed gear system. Using none of the features of an e-bike, the L20 is a much nicer bike to ride as it is significantly lighter than the larger M20. The stepped design of the L20 also makes it a good choice for a baby seat as it is much easier to fit. The L20 also comes with front and rear baskets, making it a real workhorse, especially with its reach.
The M20 has two 13-amp-hour batteries with a claimed range of up to 47 miles each; Engwe claims the L20 has a maximum range of 90 miles with a single 13 amp hour battery. Of course, these numbers vary greatly depending on how much you weigh and how much you use the pedal assist (PAS) or throttle to propel you. I’m 280 pounds, and in my tests the L20’s range averaged about 70 miles on fairly flat terrain using its PAS at level two with occasional use of the throttle when I got a little tired. My wife does about the same mileage, but she also rides with our 5 year old on the back and a backpack in the front.
A style to love
Styling wise, both bikes look great for different reasons. It’s clear to me that the M20 is styled after a military motorcycle from the 1940s. Even the placement of the batteries makes them look like gas tanks, and its big chunky headlights add to that aesthetic. It’s a great looking bike that draws attention everywhere I go.
The bright pink stepped L20 also catches the eye, mainly because it’s a dazzling pink, but its shape is much more efficient than the M20. Being able to pass through an e-bike is useful, especially when it has a basket on the back. No e-bike is light, so it’s much easier to balance if you don’t have to swing your leg on it.
Engwe L20 vs Engwe M20
|750 watt brushless
|750 watts (1000 watts peak)
|50 newton meters
|55 newton meters
|Factory maximum mileage
|Up to 90 miles PAS
|Up to 92 miles PAS
|The application is activated
As I said, the M20 looks a lot like a motorcycle and looks like it wants to be ridden. The PAS works pretty well, but with a seat that doesn’t adjust, it’s hard to pedal comfortably, or at least it is for my 6-foot, 1-inch frame. My 16 year old son is 5’6″ and finds it much more comfortable.
We recently reviewed a similar-looking machine, the Super 73-R Adventure Series, and didn’t find it particularly comfortable to ride as a bike. The M20 has a similar problem – you can’t adjust the seat height – but it wins over the Super 73 in many ways, not least price; that’s nearly $2,000 cheaper. While Russell Holley, our local long-distance cyclist, found the Super 73 to be a difficult bike to use, the M20 works great for average people when pedaling, and even better for anyone holding the throttle.
What I found surprising about the M20 was its throttle-only range. If I set the power level to two, I can use the throttle and get almost 40 miles (about 38 average) on one battery. The factory spec for the M20 is 47 miles on battery, so getting nearly that on gas alone is impressive.
The motors on both bikes are in the hub of the rear wheel and you can feel this as you pedal, being pushed instead of the motors actually helping you pedal. Using the throttle is also the easiest way to force yourself to stop. The torque on the L20 and M20 is good (50N.m and 55N.m respectively), so the power is immediately there when you turn the handle, although the acceleration of the L20 is noticeably less than the M20. Maybe the M20’s extra 5N.m makes the difference, or maybe it’s the way you sit, but when you crank the power up to level 5 and go full throttle, the M20 almost bounces. It really feels like an electric motorcycle. That’s pretty exciting.
My only real gripe with Engwe’s L20 and M20 is the bike computer user interface. Although it explains everything you need to know like speed, mileage, total mileage and miles per hour, it doesn’t go far enough for me. A bluetooth connection to a phone with an app to view my ride in more detail would be greatly appreciated.
Oddly enough, Engwe added a USB-A port to the M20 batteries for phone charging, but omitted it from the L20. It takes 3 Ah from the bike’s battery to fully charge the iPhone 14 – or about 10 miles of range – but as an emergency measure, you can easily charge your phone to 20% and still have enough power to get you home. It’s a shame the L20 doesn’t have the same feature and I’d like to see this in other e-bikes moving forward.
Engwe L20 and M20: past and future collide
Although these samples will soon be heading back to the manufacturer, the Engwe L20 and M20 changed the way my family spent their free time during the review period. Now, instead of me going on a test bike ride solo, my wife and I strap our toddler into the bike seat, my son uses one of our other bikes, and we all ride around together. We stop every now and then to sightsee, but mostly we ride around enjoying each other’s company. The M20 and L20 have the range to keep us riding for hours and look good while doing it.