SWFT Fleet - Key Specs
Size range: Best for 5’7” to 6’2”
Motor: 500W rear hub
Top speed (motorized): 20mph
Power: 468Wh lithium battery
Control: Twist throttle and cadence-sensor pedal assist
E-bike classification: Class 2
Frame material: Steel
Fork material: Steel
Wheel size: 26” x 2.125”
Weight: 50.7 pounds
Weight limit: 265 pounds
Range: 37.2 max, 28 avg. miles
The SWFT Fleet electric bike provides an appealing value for the cyclist that wants a hefty motor available to do a lot of the work. This $999 (roughly £745 / AU$1375) ebike is on the more affordable side without falling into budget-bin territory, and it’s putting much of that budget into powerful electronics to ensure a capable and comfortable e-bike for casual riders. This is a bike for suburban meanderings and calm trail riding, but look elsewhere for sportier rides and city commuters.
SWFT Fleet ebike review: design and features
The SWFT Fleet is a rad retro cruiser. With a curving steel frame and swept back handlebars, it plainly indicates its nature as a bike ready for a leisurely ride.
SWFT has ensured that this bike offers that leisurely ride, too. The Fleet comes kitted with a 500-watt rear hub motor and a 468Wh battery pack, giving you plenty of muscle to access and the charge to back it up for longer rides.
Since this bike is geared more for casual riding than it is for a break-neck pace or an exercise, it’s built for comfort. It features wide, beefy tires that subdue bumps, and it has a big, cushy seat and ergonomic hand grips. SWFT also kitted it out with a half-twist throttle, letting you get the bike’s max speed without even needing to pedal yourself.
A few other convenience features round out this bike. It has a chain guard, a kickstand, and a built-in headlight that runs off the bike’s battery. The headlight isn’t terribly bright though, and it doesn’t help light up the road much on account of its placement just slightly above the front tire. On the left handlebar, SWFT has fitted an LCD screen to show the bike’s data, like speed, trip distance or odometer data, assist level and battery gauge. The display unit also has the controls for the bike. Some of the controls aren’t obvious, like the headlight requiring a long-press of the up button.
This is a single-speed bike, which keeps some of the design and maintenance simpler. The basic V-brakes are a tad disappointing at the price, though, as they’re almost identical to the V-brakes on a cheap Schwinn I got for a little over $100 several years back. The frame may not have accommodated disc brakes, but something beyond the basics would have been nice given the price of the bike, not to mention the speeds it’s capable of. On the other hand, V-brakes are a little bit simpler to get set up, and this bike required considerable setup and assembly out of the box.
The handlebars go a long way to making this bike stand out. They stretch way back toward the rider and can be hard to get through doorways. This is a bike meant to live in the garage, especially because its 50.7-pound weight makes it an effort to haul around the house or up and downstairs. The fleet attaches that handlebar with a quill stem that has a single bolt clamping down on the handlebar. It’s a sore point for the design, as even getting that bolt feeling fairly tight saw it come loose enough while riding for the handlebars to wiggle up and down thanks to the extra torque I can get on them because of their length.
The Fleet’s battery is housed in a Reention shark-style case that locks onto a slot bolted securely to the seat tube It stays in place while riding and doesn’t wiggle or rattle while on the move. One downside of the big battery is that it can take up to six hours to charge fully.
SWFT Fleet ebike review: performance
The SWFT Fleet has a lot going for it power-wise. The 500-watt motor makes it easy to get up to speed. The throttle won’t work from a stand-still (a safety feature if ever there was one), but after just a little bit of pedaling, the pedal assist can kick in or the throttle can engage to do all the work for you.
The bike makes going about 15mph feel relatively casual, as the motor will continue to assist this level while I pedal at a steady, relaxed cadence. Going much faster by pedaling isn’t too easy, as the bike’s gear ratio isn’t suited to it, and the frame isn’t well shaped for aggressive pedaling.
That said, when it’s time to go fast, the twist throttle is a handy tool. The bike promptly gets up to its 20mph top speed without so much torque that it’s likely to throw a rider. Holding that throttle keeps the bike cruising right along, and I’ve even spent a few rides almost entirely letting the bike do the work. It can make for a nice way to get around town without needing to put in the effort of riding a bike while not having to use a car or find parking.
Though the design is fairly flexible for a variety of riders, the handlebar setup won’t feel welcoming for those used to road and hybrid bikes. The Fleet offers an upright and relaxed riding position that doesn’t put much weight into the arms — a good thing, too, because the angle of the handlebars requires considerable flexion of the wrists — but that leaves it feeling insecure compared the more locked-in feel of road and hybrid bikes.
Without being able to put weight into the handlebars, sudden stops and quick maneuvers are out of the question. Though the brakes do an effective job of slowing the bike down gracefully, this is not the bike to try weaving through traffic or cruising along in the car-door zone with.
In decent bike lanes, it’s comfortable cruising though, and the steel frame combined with the exceptionally cushioned seat and thick tires smooth out the feel of the road considerably. Rougher, smaller bumps just vanish. I took the bike over some craggy patches of road that usually have me on guard, and the Fleet rolled right over it like it was any old road. Though, large and sudden bumps should be avoided as they’re more liable to lift you out of the saddle, leaving you with just the light grip on the handlebars to stay upright.
The battery performance also holds up well. I took the Fleet on a number of rides relying largely on the throttle to keep me going about 20mph, and I was able to get 25 miles of range before the battery started to struggle. The last two miles of charge saw the acceleration really drop off and the bike struggled to get past 15mph, eventually the assist even started going in and out as I hit the 27-mile mark. SWFT lists and average range of 28 miles and max range of 37.2, which both feel reasonable given the battery achieved 27 miles with me putting maximum demand (heavy payload, on it in less-than-ideal weather).
SWFT Fleet ebike review: verdict
The SWFT Fleet delivers a comfortable and effortless ride that can go the distance. Its pedal assist makes for a relaxed ride at a modest pace while the throttle offers a 20mph top speed that you can rely on to cut down travel times. Simple parts make for simple maintenance, but it would be nice to see better gear at the $999 price. Unfortunately, the unusual riding position limits this bike's viable use cases, and it doesn’t manage to outclass the similarly priced Ride1Up Core-5.