As a counterbalance to the cute utilitarian bikes above, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp is a big, bad, and burly mountain bike. With 27.5-inch wheels, massive 2.8-inch tires, 150mm of travel in the front and 135mm of travel in the rear this bike is made to shred. The Specialized 1.3 Rx Trail-Tuned motor is designed specifically for off-road riding and features a double freehweel design that disengages the gear box at top speed to reduce friction while ripping downhill. The low center of gravity and stout parts make this one a relatively nimble handler that is ready for the rowdiest downhills.
Folding bikes are set apart from other machines on the market by one defining characteristic: they fold. The collapsable nature of these bikes means that they’re ideal for anyone who wants to cycle to a train station, and take their bike with them for the journey into the unknown on the other side (or the standard 2 mile radius from London Bridge).
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.
The Riese & Müller Load Touring HS is billed as “the ultimate minivan of e-bikes,” and it holds up to that claim. With a low center of gravity (aided by the 20-inch front and 26-inch rear wheels) the Load is easy to handle. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes add control, and front and rear suspension provide comfort. The Bosch motor offers an assist up to 275 percent of your effort until you hit 28mph, when it cuts out. The massive cargo space (with side walls) can carry and the two 500Wh batteries give you 12 hours or more of range at full power. It’s capable of toting up to 220 pounds of pets, people, and less-animate cargo. R&M also sells a double child seat for kids up to age 6 and a child-seat fastener for your youngest passengers.
At the time of this writing, Dahon had just completed a Kickstarter campaign for its 35th Anniversary Curl, a high-end folding bike that operates similarly to the Brompton (though the company is very sensitive about that comparison). The campaign claims that the bike will be “not just a refinement of what has come before – it represents an almost total overhaul that completely changes the riding experience of folding bicycles.” We’re eagerly awaiting its production so we can test one.
On the day I rode the Brompton S6L to work, an acquaintance mentioned that she and her husband were both folding-bike owners. For hers, she really wanted a full-size bike feel and so went with a Dahon that had 20-inch tires (closer to the 26 inches or more on a regular bike—larger wheels generally provide a smoother ride), versus the Brompton’s 16-inchers. Her husband’s top criterion: He wanted to be able to bring his bike into bars. With its exceptionally smart, compact fold, the Brompton was his pick, and it’s also ours for anyone looking for that go-anywhere capability.
This relative newcomer from the Banbury-based Hummingbird team pairs a streamlined, glossy carbon-fibre frame with a fast fold. The USP here is its weight: at just 6.9 kilograms, it can comfortably claim the title of lightest folding bike on the market. It’s a delight to ride, too: on the road it offers a stable, highly responsive ride, although the lack of suspension rattles the teeth over craggier terrain. Its innovative Swinglock folding system enables the anodized aluminium swingarm to pivot neatly around the bottom bracket, keeping total fold time down to around 15 seconds. One drawback: at 117cm, its folded length exceeds the size of some rail networks’ luggage compartments, so research is advised before committing to this beautiful but pricey model.
One of the biggest advantages of a folding electric bicycle is that they are operable completely manually – if you run out of power, you can just ride your bike as you would normally until you get a chance to charge up. This makes them extraordinarily versatile and allows you to take extended trips on your bike with no fear of being stranded when out of power.
The size, when folded, lands in the middle of the field, narrow enough to fit through subway turnstiles and compact enough to avoid getting too many annoyed looks on an elevator. Its 28-pound weight is average (news flash: none of these bikes are really very light), and this model is rated for riders up to 230 pounds. The handlebars both pivot and telescope to accommodate riders of different heights (from 4-foot-9 to 6-foot-3) or riders who simply prefer a more upright position.
I also know people. To research this guide, I consulted with David Lam, owner of Bfold, a folding-bike shop in Manhattan that carries Bike Friday, Birdy, Brompton, Dahon, and Tern, among other brands; Steven Huang, a consultant for Birdy and Brompton and the owner of Foldie Foodie Brommie Yummie riding food tours, also based in New York City; Stephen Cuomo, a folding-bike industry consultant in Connecticut and founder of Biketube; general bike expert Damon Strub, owner of the Astoria, New York-based Nomad Cycle (which carries Dahon), who answered all my annoying technical questions about derailleurs and hubs; and our very own Mike Berk, executive editor of The Wirecutter and a longtime folding-bike enthusiast. I also recruited eight cyclists—ranging from recreational to competitive, and including males and females of various heights—to test-ride the bikes and provide their thoughtful feedback.
The range of your electric folding bike is an important consideration, especially if you plan to use it for leisure. Although you can still pedal an electric bike without the motor assisting you, this may not be ideal when you are out of juice and miles from home. Likewise, how long does it take to recharge the battery? If you can charge it fully while getting work done in the office then great!
Mate Bikes is a small brother-and-sister company based in Copenhagen that has raised over $12 million on Indiegogo since 2016. First they collected $6.8 million for the skinny original. Now they’ve raised close to $6 million more for the beefier Mate X, a laughable 11,785 percent beyond its funding goal with five days still to go in the Indiegogo campaign. Mate Bikes has no outside investors although that’s likely to change soon, the company tells me.
There’s a reason the chunky, quirky Brompton is ubiquitous on today’s urban roads: it does the job remarkably well. Tough, easy to carry (the M6L weighs in at 11.7 kilograms) and well constructed, the London company’s bikes have barely changed since the early 1980s. Once you’ve mastered the tricksy folding process, the Brompton can be stowed into the smallest of nooks within 20 seconds. Its folded dimensions are an impressive 53cm x 59cm x 29cm – but being the tiniest folder also means tiny components – 16-inch wheels and narrow handlebars take some getting used to. Steering is super sensitive and you have to be on alert for potholes. But for those with space issues in their lives, a short-to-medium distance to cover and an appreciation of solid, reliable engineering, this remains the leader of the pack. We’ve chosen the raw, smokey 2018 Black Edition for its handsome industrial sheen, but Brompton offers a wide range of colourways and collabs, not to mention its impressive 2017-released Electric model, to suit all tastes.
If you expect to be cycling in your office clothes, and want to ensure that you don’t bear a maker of your mode of transport on your attire, then chainguards and mudguards would be a useful addition. Provision for luggage, a frame mounted pump and integrated lights are all ‘nice to have’ accessories which you can feel justified in expecting on higher end models.
after recently reviewing the price of its bolt mini electric bike jetson, the affordable electric vehicle company, is giving black friday shoppers a little extra discount. already on sale for $399, between november 25th – 29th you can grab it for just $319. alternatively, a larger model like the jetson metro folding electric bike priced at $799, will be on sale for $639.