When I first saw the Wing Freedom X, I wondered if it was going to be a cheaper take on the Dutch VanMoof S3. I was walking to meet a friend and happened to pass by Wing’s showroom, and I did a backward-walking double-take to peer in the window. Both electric bikes look very similar, and by that I mean they have tall, straight top tubes that overhang their tires for mounting a headlight and taillight. Both also have swept-back handlebars.
But appearances are really only skin deep. The Freedom X is a very different bike, at a price that’s more palatable for most people.
It’s brisk. That’s thanks to the Bafang rear hub motor that measures 350-watt continuous output and 550-watt peak output.
You get five levels of pedal assist, but I usually kept it on level two, the second weakest. With the seven-speed mechanical gearing, I rarely needed more power. A few rotations of the pedals on level two assist, even from a standstill, shot me to 17 mph. It didn’t take much more effort to top out at 20 mph, the ebike’s official top speed.
Through the display—there’s no companion smartphone app—you can unlock the bike to reach 24 mph. It’s one of the Freedom’s coolest features, but it does technically make it illegal for use on most multi-use paths and trails. I’d just stick to the default if you’re in a city. If you buy the optional throttle for $80 extra, the Freedom X goes from a Class 1 ebike to a Class 2 because the throttle works even if you’re not pedaling.
Honestly, I didn’t like the throttle. It’s scalable, meaning that rather than being an on/off button it’s a lever that lets you select power along a continuum. Even when pinning it to its maximum, there was a lengthy delay before the bike would move. It was frustrating at stoplights, so I rarely used the throttle at all. It also didn’t add much oomph to the bike when it was moving. Flinging it to 100 percent throttle didn’t do anything the pedal assist wasn’t already doing, so it’s not like a boost button that’ll pour on extra power. Not all throttle are boost buttons, but it’s worth pointing out.
Stopping is more of an issue. The cable-actuated disc brakes feel weak, even on a relatively light 39-pound bike (that’s lightweight for an ebike). New York City puts the panic in panic-braking, and I often deal with my fair share of hard stops thanks to impatient drivers, oblivious pedestrians and, once, a man playing cards in the bike lane.
The Freedom X’s brakes always stopped me before certain doom, but I often felt that I was using every last bit of braking power to come to a halt in those situations. Hydraulic brakes offer better stopping power, though they’re not common at this price. Cable brakes aren’t necessarily bad, but I’d have liked to see stronger ones here.
They also squeal like two pigs with a bellyache. I chalked it up to my particular bike until I read review after review of Freedom owners reporting the same, so it seems like Wing’s choice of brake pad might be to blame. You may have to swap out the stock brake pads for your sanity. It doesn’t cost much and it’s not hard, and it’s not a reason to avoid the Freedom X.
The X Factor
I tested the Freedom X ($1,449), but there’s another very similar model Wing offers called the Freedom 2 ($1,299). The X’s upgrades are a torque sensor for the pedals instead of a cadence sensor and a display nicely integrated into the top tube, which shows information such as speed and battery level.
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