Flyer™ by Radio Flyer® Folding Cargo E-bike Review Overview
You’re in the majority if you’re thinking, “How good can an e-bike possibly be when it’s made by a wagon company? What do they know about e-bikes?”
We thought the same upon taking delivery of the Flyer™ folding cargo bike. But when you stop to consider how synonymous the word “wagon” is with Radio Flyer®, you have to believe they know how to make a good product. They’ve been doing something right for the last 100 years, and it’s fair to assume they would carry over their high-quality design and craftsmanship to the electric bike industry.
You may also be furrowing your brow at the thought of a folding cargo bike with twenty-inch wheels, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. The 860 folding cargo e-bike may be more versatile than you thought, with an integrated rear rack that can hold up to 80 lbs and can be outfitted with a basket or with a bench seat and handlebars for kids, effectively converting it from a pack mule to a portable family truckster perfect for summer road trips.
Who is this bike for?
While an electric cargo bike can be used by anybody for just about anything, in our eyes, this folding cargo bike is perfect for somebody who is tight on storage space but wants an e-bike that can still haul all of their gear. The 860 Folding Cargo folds down to 35.5″ X 22″ X 31.5″, making it easy to store in an apartment or small garage, and it has an integrated rear rack with a capacity of 80 lbs. It can be picked up by one end and wheeled into elevators, subway cars, or onto a bus.
Cargo bikes are becoming very popular lately for their versatility. There are many bike companies selling child seats that mount easily to their racks, which we think is a great way to get the whole family into cycling. The downside to these cargo e-bikes is that their frame length can be very long, making it challenging to fit onto a standard car bike rack or store in the garage. Flyer™ by Radio Flyer® solves this with their folding cargo e-bike, which provides numerous child seat options that mount directly to the rear rack. You can add these to your order and conveniently convert it into a compact family hauler.
Take the 860 camping with you and use it as a get-around vehicle for your family. Pop into town to get the essentials, or go for a scenic tour around the campground with the kiddos.
Assembling the Foldable Cargo Flyer™ was a breeze because it’s designed to be folded after all. Once you free the frame from the padding and cardboard, you simply latch the frame and headset into place using the latches, insert and secure the seat post, attach the kickstand with the tools provided, screw in the pedals, tighten down the handlebar, and you’re off and riding.
If you’re not confident in your wrenching skills, Flyer™ has manuals for all their e-bikes online. Not a big reader? Radio Flyer® has you covered on that, with several online assembly videos, showing you exactly how to put the bike together.
They have also partnered with VeloFix Direct, a white-glove bike delivery and assembly service, which allows you to have your bike assembled by a trusted professional at an extra cost. You can add this additional service during checkout when purchasing any e-bike from Flyer™ by Radio Flyer®. This is a great option to checkout with because it guarantees your bike is put together and tuned properly.
We chose to assemble and tune this bike ourselves, and in doing so, we noticed that the back brake needed a little tightening. A couple of turns of an allen wrench later and the disc brakes had us stopping on a dime. Assembling this bike is about as easy as it gets.
The most noticeable feature of the Folding Cargo Flyer™ by Radio Flyer® is its aluminum frame with its sturdy hinge at the mid-point of the crossbar. The welds on the frame are very clean and solid, something to be concerned about when purchasing a bike that folds itself in half. There’s always a concern about how reliable a frame can be when it splits in half and is held together by a fastener, but not with this bike.
The hinge in the middle of the frame has a latch that firmly snaps into place and is only released by pressing a safety knob forward with your thumb and then pulling back on the latch. The frame has a solid connection when latched and operates like any ordinary solid bike frame.
The headset also features a latch that allows the rider to fold the handlebars down into the frame adjacent to the front wheel, effectively creating a bike pretzel. The Folding Cargo Flyer™ comes in four colors, black, red, white, and army green. We chose the army green colorway because it reminded us of a Ford GPW army jeep, and who doesn’t love the look of those?
Sizing and Fit
Another strength of the Folding Cargo Flyer is the telescoping stem and seatpost, which allows for a height range of riders from 4’ 11” to 6’4”. This means that just about any adult in the family can pilot this e-bike, and it also makes the 860 a great option for young adults because it will grow with them, and you won’t have to buy a new bike every time they hit a growth spurt.
The Folding Cargo’s smaller wheels and low crossbar provide a low standover height, allowing vertically challenged riders to mount and dismount easily. And the seat post’s height ranges from 27 inches up to 37 inches providing riders with 10 inches of height variance, making it easily adjusted to fit most riders.
Racks and Baskets
What electric cargo bike would be complete without racks and maybe a basket or two? Radio Flyer® has you covered there with a wide range of racks and accessories like a waterproof front storage case & basket, a rear waterproof case and basket, waterproof pannier bags, and even cargo straps and nets to secure your cargo.
There are even three different child seats that bolt right onto the rear rack, suitable for children of all ages up to 80 lbs. Our favorite accessory by far is the Kid & Cargo™ Carrier – 1 Kid. With 1.3 cu ft. of storage, you can easily haul small bags, groceries, and personal items. And if you’re riding with your little one, simply unzip the fabric sides for Kid Mode. The carrier also features foot pegs for added stability and side panels to protect feet from wheel spokes. Plus, the padded foam seat and sturdy frame ensure a safe and comfortable ride for kids ages 5-10.
It goes to show you the thought that the product designers put into this e-bike when you look at the rear fender of the Folding Cargo Flyer™. It is a hooded fender, which wraps down around the side of the rear tire, preventing kids’ feet and fingers from getting caught in the spokes. That’s a safety detail that is often overlooked. When we saw that rear fender, we collectively nodded in approval.
Drivetrain and Motor
At 200 lbs., our e-bike tester is almost at the 220 lb. rider capacity of the Folding Cargo Flyer™. Still, we found that the 350 W brushless rear-hub motor provides enough oomph to scoot heavier riders along with ease. You could suggest that a bigger motor would be better here, but remember that this e-bike is about portability and storage, not about climbing the Alps with 300 lbs of gear.
There is no cassette on the Folding Cargo Flyer™, which reduces some maintenance requirements and some of the climbing ability you might get out of an e-bike with gears in the back. Don’t let that deter you from purchasing this e-bike, though, because the five levels of pedal assist and the thumb throttle give you all the help you need to conquer moderate hills.
The motor is powered by a 48V 480 WH lithium-ion battery tucked ever so conveniently low on the frame beneath the rider, giving the bike a lower center of gravity and, thus more stability and maneuverability. The lightweight battery is removable only by key and has a handy carrying handle (pun intended), making the battery feel like a little briefcase.
A standout feature of the 860 Folding Cargo is a circular cutout located below the battery, designed to hold an AirTag or other circular GPS tracking device securely. The location of this socket is prime because once you lock the battery into place, would-be bike thieves cannot remove the battery or the GPS tracking device. We heartily give a tip of the cap to the Radio Flyer® product designers for this small but effective anti-theft feature.
One of the most important features of any bike is the brakes. They are even more critical on an e-bike, and the 860 Folding Cargo Flyer™ comes equipped with some pretty solid mechanical Tektro Aries disc brakes. Because they are a name brand, owners of the Flyer™ by Radio Flyer® Folding Cargo e-bike can rest assured that they can find replacement pads and parts and that their local bike mechanic can service them comfortably.
The 180 mm brake rotors mean plenty of surface area for the brake pads to grab, allowing a fully loaded electric cargo bike to come to a complete stop safely. You can rest assured that your bike will stop when you want it to.
An added safety measure is the brake light that turns on when braking, making your intentions known to the cars on the street and the possible riders behind you. Let’s face it, as much as we wish it was different, not everybody knows what hand signals mean or when to use them.
One of our favorite features of the Folding Cargo’s brake system is the bell integrated into the left brake lever. Not only is it located perfectly so that it doesn’t take up any room on the handlebars, but it also has a trigger that aligns perfectly with the rider’s hands. It offers a very audible but polite “ring ring” with each pull from the rider’s index finger (as well as a satisfying haptic response as it clicks back and forth). We found ourselves ringing the bell for absolutely no reason besides “it just feels good.”
Handlebars and Cockpit
As we mentioned before, the single-piece stem telescopes directly into the headset of the frame providing riders with plenty of height range to find a comfortable riding position. You can take some pressure off your hands by raising the handlebars higher or get into a more aggressive position by lowering the stem and leaning into the handlebars.
The cockpit on the 860 is relatively clean in appearance, largely thanks to a cable wrap that keeps all of the brake cables and wires neatly collected. This also helps keep the wires from getting pinched when collapsing the handlebar stem down for storage. As we mentioned before, there is no cassette on the back wheel, so there is no shifter up front to take up space, and the throttle is located right where it’s convenient for your thumb to access it.
At 600mm wide, the handlebars are wide enough to give the rider precision steering but not so wide that you feel like you’re driving an eighteen-wheeler, like some of the modern eMTBs.
Even in bright sunlight, the 860 Folding Cargo’s LCD controller is easy to read and use. The pedal assist level buttons are conveniently located within reach of the rider’s left thumb or index finger, and there’s also a handy speedometer display.
Also, in the controller of this e-bike is something you don’t see that often, a USB charge port that can charge your phone, power an extra headlight, or in our case charge camera batteries. We read online that you can connect your phone to the controller as well via Bluetooth, which is pretty snazzy, letting you connect with apps like Komoot and Strava.
Performance of the Folding Cargo E-Bike
What kind of performance can you expect from an e-bike made by a company known for little red wagons? Well, you’ll be surprised! Now this isn’t a high-end performance electric road bike or a $10,000 eMTB, so if you compare it to those, you’re comparing apples to oranges.
The 860 Folding Cargo Flyer™ is a machine that will haul all your gear on city streets, groomed dirt roads, and gravel paths, then fold up into a tiny space for easy storage or portability. It will easily climb hills when you’re in pedal assist levels 3-5 and offers power on demand with the throttle.
|Hill Climb Attempt
On the hill climb test, we found it tough to make it up the hill at level 0 PAS without standing up and throwing the bike around to grind it to the top. Pedal assists 1-2 provided a little bit of relief, but it wasn’t until level 3 that a noticeable push was felt on the climb. Even though there was no cassette in the rear to help with climbing, the pedal assist was plenty to get us up to the top.
It’s a well-known fact that bikes need good brakes. It’s probably the most important thing to look for when buying a bike or an e-bike. Electric bikes especially need a good set of brakes, and the folding cargo e-bike comes standard with Tektro Aries mechanical disc brakes, a good mid-range set of brakes.
When performing the brake test, we got the Flyer™ up to its top speed of 20 mph and then hit the brakes to come to a safe, complete stop. The average stopping distance was ~18.5 ft, which when you think about it, is pretty good for that speed. On the last attempt of the brake test, we hit the brake levers hard and came to a skidding stop at ~15ft.
|Brake Test Attempt
Reasons to Buy the Flyer™ by Radio Flyer® 860 E-Bike
The Flyer™ Folding Cargo electric bike is a remarkable blend of convenience and versatility, perfect for urban dwellers and adventure seekers alike. As we mentioned, one of its standout features is the robust collapsible frame, which not only ensures durability but also allows for unparalleled portability, making it perfect for those on the move. The bike’s design caters to a broad spectrum of riders, accommodating heights from 4’11” to an impressive 6’4″, ensuring a comfortable ride for almost everyone.
Families will particularly appreciate the thoughtful addition of child seat accessories and racks, allowing them to integrate cycling into their routine seamlessly. Moreover, for those wary of the assembly process, Flyer™ offers dedicated assembly support, ensuring that setting up your bike is hassle-free and straightforward. Investing in the Flyer™ Folding Cargo electric bike is not just about purchasing a means of transport; it’s about opting for a lifestyle of ease, flexibility, and sustainable mobility.
Things to Consider
Something to consider before purchasing the Radio Flyer® Folding Cargo E-Bike is that if you live in a city with steep hills like San Francisco, or even Seattle, this may not be the best fit. There is no cassette (gears) in the back, so you can’t shift into an easier gear on climbs. The need for that is mostly negated by the 350 W motor and light frame allowing you to cruise up moderate inclines, but you may find it hard to get up some of the steeper hills on this e-bike.
All in all, the Folding Cargo Flyer™ from Radio Flyer® packs a lot into a small sturdy folding frame. With quality brand-name components, and a wide variety of cargo accessories like baskets, racks, elastic straps, and child seats, this folding cargo e-bike is a versatile utility e-bike in an easily portable package. And the lack of rear gears means low maintenance and more fun. This bike is at home in the city or in the back of your camper van.