The ADO Air 20 is a folding e-bike designed to give you lots of spec for a relatively low price. Its features include a single-speed belt-drive for low maintenance and five levels of electric assistance from its 250 motor. Impressively at this price point it also features a torque sensor and hydraulic brakes, and folds down to very compact dimensions. With its battery cleverly concealed in its seat tube, it’s designed to be a stylish and very practical urban commuter bike. Read on to find out whether it succeeds in its ambitious aims.
- City commuters
- General faff-free urban riding
- Single-speed belt drive means zero maintenance
- Hydraulic brakes feel brilliant
- Removable seat-post battery is very convenient
- Torque sensor makes for easy riding Plenty of electric assistance
- Ride is a bit firm
- Need to pay extra for rack and mudguards
- Not really suitable for hilly terrain
- Expert Verdict
|Components + build quality||
|Safety + security|
|Performance + handling|
|Comfort + practicality|
We loved reviewing this bike - in fact, the ADO Air 20 is one of our favourite folding e-bikes because it ticks just about every box.
It’s great to ride (the torque sensor is a brilliant feature at this price point), impressively affordable and can be specced in different ways to maximise practicality. A minor point but for commuters in busy cities, we found it easy to squeeze through stopped traffic due to its smaller width handlebars.
It folds down quickly to a compact size, and its single-speed belt drive means there’s just about no maintenance needed. This is a folding e-bike that we can heartily recommend.
|Sizing||One size, suitable for adults between 150cm/4'9" and 200cm/6'6|
|Max Rider Weight||120kg|
|Folded Dimensions||85cm x 45cm x 70cm|
|Wheel Size||20 inches|
|Weight||16-18kg (claimed - we've weighed it at 17.8kg)|
|Gears||Single speed Carbon belt drive|
|Brakes||Hydraulic disc brakes front & rear|
|Range||Up to 100km/62 miles|
|Motor||250 Watt rear-wheel hub|
|Battery||Samsung 9.6Ah 36V, integrated in seatpost|
|Charging||4-6 hours. Charger included|
|Speed||15.5mph (UK e-bike speed limit)|
|Power Modes||Five power assist modes|
|Lights||Front & rear|
Components and build quality
Look at the spec sheet of the ADO Air 20 and you could easily believe it’s at least £500 more expensive than it actually is. Included as standard are hydraulic disc brakes, a bright and clear IPS display and a good-sized battery that gives an impressively long range; ADO claims 100km/62 miles from a single charge, although we’d take that with a pinch of salt in the real world. Still, there’s no doubt that there are rivals that offer a smaller battery at a higher purchase price.
One of the Air 20’s key selling points is its maintenance-free single speed drivetrain. While there are other folding e-bikes that are single-speed, most use a chain, which still needs to be cleaned and lubricated regularly for the best performance. ADO has used a belt drive instead, which doesn’t need lubricating at all – just give it a quick wipe if it gets dirty. The manufacturers claim it’ll do up to 30,000km (around 18,500 miles) before it needs any kind of maintenance.
The downside to single-speed setups is that no gears mean no adjustment if you hit hilly terrain. To try and save your legs in this situation, the Air 20 has a 250W rear-hub motor with up to five levels of assistance and a torque sensor, which isn’t often seen at this price point. The advantage of a torque sensor over a cadence sensor is that it detects foot pressure and gives power assistance immediately, rather than waiting for the pedals to start turning.
The only obvious omissions from the Air 20, in its role as a commuting bike, are decent mudguards and a rack, but you can specify them when ordering for a relatively small amount – just £99.
On the move, everything feels rock solid, and there are commendably few creaks when riding, which isn’t true of some of the Air 20’s rivals.
Safety and security
The design of the Air 20’s battery, which is integrated into the seatpost, means it’s easy to remove either to charge or to act as a deterrent if you have to leave the bike parked up. Just unplug it at the back, undo a clasp and remove it, saddle and all.
Of course, being able to fold it up to a small size quickly and easily means it’s easy to just take the whole bike indoors, away from low-life attention.
When it comes to visibility on the road, integrated front and rear lights are included, controlled via the display panel on the handlebars, and there are reflectors on each wheel.
Performance and handling
Much of the literature about the ADO Air 20 says its 250W, rear-hub motor has three levels of assistance, but it can actually give you up to five – you can fiddle with the settings in the ADO ebike app and set it up as you’d like. This gives you a good level of flexibility to counter the downside of a single-speed drivetrain, which is that you can’t drop down a gear to make pedalling easier. Luckily during our testing we’ve found it’s really not much of a problem, at least around our London stomping ground.
The motor is built by ADO itself and it packs plenty of punch. Combined with the torque sensor activating assistance almost immediately, it means there’s no issue at all getting away from the lights even on level one. Level three takes the sting out of gentle-to-middling hills – in London we didn’t find anywhere that gave us problems, although if you live somewhere with serious terrain, a geared e-bike may be a better option as it’ll give you more flexibility. Impressively at this price point, the Air 20 comes with a torque sensor rather than the more common cadence sensor. This means the bike will detect as soon as you put pressure on the pedal and deliver near-immediate assistance, rather than having to wait for the pedals to turn. This really makes a difference when moving away from standstill, especially on a slope.
Some folding bikes can feel a bit creaky on the move, as stiffness can be lost through the various joins that make up the folding mechanism. But the ADO is brilliant in this respect, feeling rock solid on the move. It’s nimble when threading through tight spaces in the city and stable when cruising at higher speeds. The hydraulic disc brakes – another welcome feature at this price point – are great, and make it easy to modulate your braking if you have to scrub off speed quickly.
ADO claims that the ADO will manage up to 62 miles on a single charge. Our tests have found that to be rather optimistic, however. My colleague Eilis, who tested the bike over a long period of time, managed to get around 37 miles out of a single charge. More should be achievable if you’re light and keep the assistance levels low, but heavier riders or those that use extra assistance more often will find the range lower still. Nevertheless, that’s still not a bad range, and better than a lot of more expensive folding e-bikes.
Comfort and practicality
The ADO Air 20 rides on 20-inch wheels, which in theory gives a more comfortable ride than some rivals that sport little 16-inch wheels. However, the ride can be a touch firm; the fat Chao Yang tyres and a squishy saddle take the worst sting out of it, but you’ll certainly know if you ride over a bad section of tarmac or cobbles.
However, ADO does make a version of this bike with a front suspension fork, called the Air A20S. If your rides are likely to be on the bumpier side, this upgrade seems like a no-brainer, particularly as it’s only around £65 more expensive.
Folding the ADO Air 20 is quick and easy. Unclip the middle of the frame, swing it round, collapse the steering tube and you’re done. If you want to remove the battery/seatpost, just disconnect it at the back and pull it out. Incidentally, having the connection between battery and bike under the saddle rather than at the base of the seat tube is a great move. The swinging cable might not be so discreet as on some rivals, but not having to get your fingers mucky when fiddling under the frame is a godsend on a wet day.
The folded size is compact enough to fit in the boot of a car or under a desk at work. As standard, you don’t get a rack or mudguards with the ADO Air 20, but you can add them on for an extra £99. Some might moan that they should be included, but not everyone includes them, and such is the low price of the Air 20 anyway, it’s still a bargain.
A woman rider's view
Eilis Barrettt: "We are well aware that bikes are not gender specific, but there’s been a common theme of priorities that women have shared and what I personally like to see when picking an ebike. Key themes are being lightweight, easy to carry and easily foldable for storage.
"The ADO Air 20 ticks pretty much ALL of these boxes. Weighing in at 18kg, I personally don’t find it too heavy and is in fact on the lighter end of folding electric bikes I've reviewed.
"It is very easy to carry thanks to the in-built handle in the frame, centre of the bike so the weight is evenly distributed as you lift, making it feel much lighter than 18kg.
"The folding mechanism is quick, simple and folds the 20 down to a compact size which makes it a great multi-modal commuter to throw onto buses and trains. And once you arrive at your destination its small dimensions when folded make it a great bike to store wherever you end up.
"All in all, it’s one of my favourite folders in the office. It’s quick, responsive and adaptable for all your urban commuting needs."
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Phill Tromans has been a journalist and reviewer since 2001. As both a keen road cyclist and car aficionado, he’s fully embraced the concept of e-mobility, and while he still loves pure pedal power, he also likes not being a sweaty mess at the end of every bike ride.