The rack and fenders make the Navigator a solid choice for daily commuting or light touring. The Octagon stem is also adjustable without tools, so it’s easy to dial in a comfortable fit. At 29-pounds, the Navigator is a bit less portable than some other folding options, but the full-sized wheels make it a great choice for longer rides and commutes. Price: $959.
Pedelecs are much like conventional bicycles in use and function — the electric motor only provides assistance, for example, when the rider is climbing or struggling against a headwind. Pedelecs are therefore especially useful for people in hilly areas where riding a bike would prove too strenuous for many to consider taking up cycling as a daily means of transport. They are also useful for riders who more generally need some assistance, e.g. for people with heart, leg muscle or knee joint issues.
Tough tyres with a good level of puncture protection are often high on the agenda for commuters who want to limit the time they spend fixing flats. Check what rubber is fitted to the rims of your would-be bike if that’s you. Schwalbe and Kenda are popular manufacturers of small diameter tyres for folding bikes, and most will be 1.75-2 inches wide – offering plenty of grip thanks to a wide volume and thus increased contact patch with the tarmac when compared to traditional road tyres.
The Mate X I rode is not a quiet bike. It sounds the way it looks: loud. On flat pavement, the drone of the 750W motor was louder than the 250W bikes I’m accustomed to riding on the streets of Europe (750W requires a license here, but not in the US) and the knobby treads only added to the din (you can opt for quieter street tires). Off road, the tires go quiet, but the sound is replaced with chain slaps and some creaking from the (optional) rear fender. While the knobby tire and motor noise isn’t likely to change, the company assures me that the final bike will ship with a tighter chain and silent rear fender.
After evaluating the seven-speed Tern Link B7, I had to double-check that it in fact retailed for just $400. For starters, it rode great, an opinion that all nine of our cyclist testers shared—one tester, suspecting it was one of the pricier bikes of the group, said that even if it cost $500, he would buy it that day. (I don’t think he actually did buy it, but he was pretty pumped when I told him it came in under his estimated sticker price.) Bike expert Strub confirmed that “it’s a lot of bike” for the money, praising its “clean frame design” and pointing out that it had the same Shimano derailleurs and shifters and similar 20-inch Kenda tires as the Mariner D7, which usually retails for nearly $200 more; the updated Mariner D8, however, improves on the derailleur and shifter for the same D7 sticker price. I found the fold, which is like the Mariner’s, to be a cinch, and the magnet snapped tight every time. The Link B7 also has ergonomic handlebar grips similar to the ones we like on the Link D8.
The Liv Amiti-E+2 is a low-priced but highly versatile e-bike. It’s just as much at home on the pavement as it is on bike paths and rail trails. But don't feel constrained to groomed paths. Front suspension and 42mm-wide tires mean you can take on off-road detour on your way home from work. Speaking of work, this e-bike makes a great commuter thanks to rack and fender mounts and integrated lights for riding after dark. Internal cable routing and a nicely integrated battery make for clean lines and 9-speed shifters give you plenty of gearing options for whichever type of terrain you decide to tackle. This do-everything bike is great option if you’re riding includes a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
And indeed, the company’s best seller, the Mariner, ranked as the first choice after our testing thanks to its features, as it ticks all the boxes on the list of what most commuter riders want in a folding bike. First and foremost, we found it smooth to ride and to shift—with the newest model, the D8, rigged with a Shimano trigger shifter, an upgrade to the twist shifters seen on the previous D7 and many other folders—and appropriately geared for pedaling up hills. (I rode up the Queensboro Bridge to Manhattan comfortably on the fourth-easiest of its eight gears.) It folds down quickly, in about a five-step process, and locks together with a magnet between the 20-inch wheels.
Swift Folder - here's another folding bike option for those who want a good, fast folding bike at a reasonable price. Swift Folders are manufactured in Brooklyn with the New York City rider in mind. All Swift Folders are made to order, but models can range from 22-30 pounds and a typical Swift Folder costs around $750. It quick-folds in 10 seconds to a size that will get you onto most elevators. It folds down to 32" X 22" X 11" in about a minute, making it possible to put it into a duffle bag that you can use to tote it around in an inconspicuous manner (hint: we know of no elevators in which duffle bags are prohibited!). Swift Folders are available at various New York City area shops including the Hub, Bikeworks, and Recycle-a-Bicycle, where less expensive versions are featured (made with some used parts). www.swiftfolder.com, 1-800-884-5541.
Dahon - a full 60% of all folding bikes sold in the U.S. are made by Dahon. A quick survey of NYC bike shops shows that just about everyone is selling them. One particular model seems to stand out: the aluminum-framed Presto that weighs in at just 20 pounds, making it the lightest production folding bike in the world. Its folded dimensions are 28" X 20" X 11" (with 16" wheels). The Piccolo (based on the Dahon Classic, a very popular older model) has similar dimensions but a steel frame that makes it weigh in at 26 pounds. In addition to other 16" models, Dahon also offers many other attractive models of folding bikes with 20" and 26" wheels that fold into larger packages and offer better performance and ride. Prices range from $200 for a simple 20" wheeled model to $900 for a full-size mountain bike. Dahons fold in about 15 seconds. www.dahon.com (Bikes can be ordered through many local bike shops or from B-Fold, www.bfold.com, 212 529-7247).
Torque sensors and power controls were developed in the late 1990s. For example, Takada Yutky of Japan filed a patent in 1997 for such a device. In 1992 Vector Services Limited offered and sold an e-bike dubbed Zike. The bicycle included NiCd batteries that were built into a frame member and included an 850 g permanent-magnet motor. Despite the Zike, in 1992 hardly any commercial e-bikes were available.