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PVY Z20 Plus review: An inexpensive and powerful e-bike with great features bar one major flaw

Powerful fully-equipped off-road bike. The Z20 Plus is PVY's new foldable bike which is also supposed to be suitable for off-road use. We observed: The model is comfortable to ride, but it could run into some legal issues depending on where you are based. Update: Do not purchase PVY bicycles. They are not EN 15194-compliant and thus not legal to ride in the EU. Returning one will be difficult to do, too.

A folding mechanism more often than not makes it much easier to take your bike with you onto public transportation. Generally, these sorts of bike are designed for use within cities. The Z20 Plus is PVY's new folding e-bike which can also be taken off-road. The e-bike also comes with a wide range of features. Its equipment means it shouldn't shy away even from more expensive e-bikes.

March 23, 2024 update: It appears that PVY's EN 15194 compliance certificate is not valid, making the Z20 Plus illegal to ride in the EU. We suggest you stay away from PVY bicycles for the time being. Please also note that returning your PVY bicycle based on this issue alone might prove to be an uphill battle, with the company asking its customers to pay for shipping to Ireland and to provide the original packaging.

Easy to assemble

The same as with the PVY Z20 Pro, assembling the bike is comparatively easy. Although, in comparison to the manufacturer's first foldable bike - which we already tested - it's actually a lot harder. Not only do the front wheel and front mudguard have to be attached - instead, the display and control unit have to be installed as well using three screws in total.

The handlebars have to be fixed using an Allen key and the saddel uses a quick-release lever, like the Z20 Pro. The supplied instruction manual doesn't go into detail on each individual step, but you can find a detailed construction video on YouTube.

The scope of delivery includes all the required tools - this includes a double-sided wench and a very basic multifunctional tool. Furthermore, PVY has included a phone mount as well as a high-vis vest.

Easy assembly thanks to a YouTube video
Easy assembly thanks to a YouTube video
PVY Z20 Plus features
Gears derailleur system, Shimano, 7 gears
Brakes hydraulic disc brakes
Battery 792 Wh
Motor Rear wheel hub motor
Max. torque 100 nm
Performance 250 watts (according to manufacturer)
Total weight (with pedals) 29 kg
Maximum load 150 kg
Suspension Suspension fork and shock absorber

Decent build

The build quality of the PVY Z20 Plus is decent. From our experience, the paintwork holds up really well. In total, the e-bike makes a really impressive impression - the battery is housed within the down tube, which explains its thickness. The saddle height, the height of the handlebars and also the inclination of the handlebars are adjusted by quick-release levers, which allows for a quick adjustment. Fortunately, these connections proved reliable during the test rides. Moreover, both the folding construction on the handlebars as well as the frame are stable - an accidental opening of these would be fatal.

The solid bike...
The solid bike...
... can be folded together easily
... can be folded together easily

The electrics are up to scratch - with one restriction

The PVY Z20 Plus 1000 we are using is equipped with an electric motor with a rated continuous power of 250 watts and a torque of 100 Nm. The motor is mounted in the rear wheel hub. The PVY Z20 Plus 1000 comes with quite a generous 792 Wh battery which can be charged both internally and externally.

Compared to the PVY Z20 Pro, the display unit has been revised. It is now a color display with a brightness that can be adjusted within three levels. The readability is good apart from in very strong, direct sunlight. Various parameters are displayed, and a USB port for charging a smartphone or other devices is installed. You can control the display via a control unit which has a total of three buttons. Not only can you set the support level, but the e-bike can also be configured extensively - but more about that later. An app is currently not available.

The battery not only powers the motor, but also the lights and the loud horn. The front lighting supposedly has a power of 1,200 lumens and is indeed very bright. The rear lighting also acts as a brake light and even a turn signal. These functions can be adjusted via a control unit on the left side of the handlebars. On the opposite side is the throttle grip.

As with the PVY Z20 Pro, a significantly stronger rear hub motor is installed.
As with the PVY Z20 Pro, a significantly stronger rear hub motor is installed.
In general, the color display can be read from easily
In general, the color display can be read from easily

High-quality components

PVY also uses a derailleur from Shimano with 7 gears on the Z20 Plus. Its operation is convenient via a thumb switch which includes a gear indicator. The gears were adjusted well in the bike's delivered state. The gears themselves are inconspicuous in the best sense.

As with the motor, there are differences in the brakes between the PVY Z20 Plus 1000 and the PVY Z20 Plus 500, both of which we have tested and are currently around US$200 more expensive. Our test model comes with hydraulic disc brakes, while the Plus 500 uses mechanical brakes instead.

The gearshift works well
The gearshift works well
Installed are grippy hydraulic disc brakes
Installed are grippy hydraulic disc brakes

We generally have nothing to criticize about the e-bike's hydraulic disc brakes in terms of braking efficiency - they decelerate the e-bike reliably and fiercely if necessary. However, this isn't a brake system from an established manufacturer, which in our opinion is rather critical when it comes to buying spare parts and especially for maintenance. Bleeding the brake system, a normally trivial procedure, requires the brake to be disassembled in the absence of a bleed nipple, because the brake lever and the actual brake must be brought to one height. Overall, PVY does not use standard parts, for example, in terms of electrics, which can lead to problems (see VanMoff). Repairs by PVY are likely to be logistically costly.

PVY also claims that the PVY Z20 Plus is suitable for off-road use. To do so, the bike is equipped with a suspension fork, shock absorber and also a suspension saddle. In addition, 4-inch tires are mounted, meaning it should do quite a good job of damping uneven ground.

Compared to the PVY Z20 Pro, the suspension fork is tuned much better and now actually contributes to a higher ride comfort. The suspension fork also has a lockout function. Switching off the suspension can be useful when using well-developed roads. The damper also works as expected. Mounted are grippy, non-folding pedals. The carrier can also withstand heavy loads, but the tubes are too thick for standard panniers. 

Riding experiences

If the PVY Z20 Plus is intended to be used as an e-bike, then the key for the battery must first be inserted and turned even further - while doing so, it must remain inserted during the ride. When riding the PVY Z20 Plus, one thing becomes immediately noticeable even without electric assistance: The e-bike is extremely comfortable. The upright seating position is pleasant - at least on shorter to medium-length routes.

The combination of the thick tires, the shock absorber and the suspension fork means that bumps of any size are dampened effectively. Thus, the PVY Z20 Plus is almost completely unfazed by cobblestones - even larger roots are no problem.

During our test rides in light terrain, another advantage of the wide tires was clearly confirmed: The bike can be used more or less independently of the type of ground. In the off-road test, it was also possible to ride on sand without any problems; the width of the tires reliably prevents sinking. The tires' high traction is also beneficial when braking, so the PVY Z20 Plus decelerates reliably even on demanding surfaces.

Turn signal and brake light are present
Turn signal and brake light are present
Uneven surfaces are strongly damped
Uneven surfaces are strongly damped
The PVY Z20 Plus is also fit for off-road use
The PVY Z20 Plus is also fit for off-road use

However, potential buyers should be aware of the rather unconventional feel of a fatbike - the PVY Z20 Plus, which weighs just under 30 kilograms, can't be ridden particularly directly. The distance between the two pedals is larger than on conventional bikes due to its design.

The e-bike can be used without an electric motor, but the resistance you feel is quite high. Nevertheless, it is still possible to cycle this way - using the electric motor becomes more and more necessary the longer you cycle or the higher the incline becomes.

As with the Z20 Pro, PVY uses a hub motor situated within the rear wheel, which is controlled via a pedal sensor. This means there is a slight delay in the support - moreover, the strength of the support is controlled via the step and not through your own force, as with a torque sensor. The motor switches off when braking, which can reduce the braking distance. The electric motor's performance is high - but more on that later. Its maximum range is stated at 120 kilometers. In practical use, we managed to reach 80 kilometers - and with strong support.

The integrated push-assist pushes powerfully, which can be an advantage in difficult terrain, for example. The screen is usually easy to read, and a smartphone can be charged via the USB port.

Problematic legal situation

Forest paths do not pose a challenge for the PVY Z20 Plus
Forest paths do not pose a challenge for the PVY Z20 Plus

The PVY Z20 Plus is not legal for use as an e-bike on public roads in its delivered state - at least in Germany, where we have conducted this review. After setting up, the accelerator is activated, which allows the e-bike to be accelerated well over 25 km/h (the legal limit). The maximum speed and the motorcycle function can be disabled directly on the e-bike via its menu settings, but these settings are apparently not permanent.

Interestingly enough, the manufacturer advertises the e-bike as conforming to the corresponding EN standard - in the document in question, the bike's cut-off speed is stated as 24.1 km/h, which in our experience does not correspond to reality. Potential buyers should be aware of the potentially significant legal consequences when using the e-bike in local traffic and we would recommend looking into your local laws regarding e-bikes before buying. Furthermore, neither turn signals nor a horn are legally permissible in Germany.

Verdict: Good features, decent price, one problem

The manufacturer does a lot right with the PVY Z20 Plus. A comfortable cycling experience, off-road capability, adequate equipment - and a thoroughly attractive price to go with it. Compared to the PVY Z20 Pro, the equipment has been improved quite considerably at times - without the price having increased disproportionately. The fatbike version allows comfortable cycling at any time - as long as the motor is active. However, the e-bike's questionable legality stands in the way of us being able to recommend purchasing this bike.

The Z20 Plus is powerful and practical - but due to its legal issues we can't recommend it

We would highly advise PVY to release a version of this bike that conforms to local e-bike laws. An alternative could definitely be the PVY Z20 Pro from the same manufacturer - it's cheaper, but can't offer the same off-road capabilities.

Price and availability

The PVY Z20 Plus is available to purchase directly from the manufacturer. Currently, they are charging around US$1,200 (£949) for the Plus 500 version and around US$1,330 (£1,049) for the Plus 1000 version, which is the one we tested.


The present review sample was given to the author by the manufacturer free of charge for the purposes of review. There was no third-party influence on this review, nor did the manufacturer receive a copy of this review before publication. There was no obligation to publish this review.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > Reviews > PVY Z20 Plus review: An inexpensive and powerful e-bike with great features bar one major flaw
Silvio Werner, 2023-08- 9 (Update: 2024-03-23)