For some shoppers, the number-one criterion is how small a bike can get. The Brompton S6L elegantly transforms into a package that shaves 3 inches off the height, 2 inches off the width, and 8 inches off the length of the folded Mariner (and even more off the dimensions of the Tern models), making for an easier carry. Even so, it manages an “I’m almost riding a full-size bike” experience on the road. The handlebars, gearing, frame type, accessories, cargo options, and paint job are all customizable—for a price. (Our six-speed test bike, as it came to us, retailed for about $1,800 at the time of our review.)
Lastly, the headlight is always on when the e-bike is on. Perhaps there’s an option in the display somewhere to turn it off, but I couldn’t find it. It probably only draws a couple watts of power so I’m not really worried about the battery, but I hate blinding people as I roll by during the day, especially when maneuvering the bike around inside my building. And since the power button takes so long to turn the bike off, sometimes I’m blinding people in the elevator for 5 seconds straight while awkwardly smiling and gesturing towards the buttons on the display.
The eight-speed Tern Link D8, the company’s most popular model, provides a few upgrades over the Mariner D8 that may suit taller riders or those willing to pay more for some higher-end components. Our test riders raved about the proprietary handlebar stem, which allows both height and angle adjustment via two easy quick-release levers. One bike expert praised the design of the rear derailleur and front brake, both of which sit close to the frame to reduce snagging, as well as the “top-shelf” puncture-resistant tires. Still, our testers’ reviews were mixed regarding the fold, which positions the handlebars outside the folded package—some testers found this setup easy to manage, others preferred the tighter package (and lighter weight) of the Dahon model.
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.
Finally, Brompton bikes are customizable, which means you can choose the frame material (steel or a superlight combination of steel and titanium); the handlebar shape (four options); the number of gears (one, two, three, or six) and the gear ratios (three choices); the suspension type; the tire type; the saddle type and height; accessories such as the fenders, rack, front bags, and lights; and the paint color. A single-speed Brompton starts at about $1,200; the one we tested, the S6L, came outfitted with sport-style straight handlebars, six speeds ($220 more), fenders ($80 more), a front carrier block for attaching a bag and a front flap bag ($185 for both, bag not shown), and rechargeable battery-powered lights ($110, not shown), totaling about $1,795.
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.
Dahon builds the Boardwalk S1 with a single-speed drivetrain and 20-inch wheels to keep things simple. The Boardwalk S1 includes both a coaster brake and linear-pull front brake for easy stopping. Despite its sturdy steel frame, the whole package weighs in at just 27.6 pounds (about the same as a mountain bike). Stash it at your beach house or slide it into your apartment’s front closet for quick escapes. Price not available.
DAHON bikes unfold the world around you, with two wheels and all kinds of ingenious technology. Suddenly ‘too far’ or ‘too big’ is not the issue, and the question becomes ‘where to next?’ Go the extra mile, your way. Folding bikes come in all variations to fit right on into your lifestyle, be it the urban commute, where you fold right on up into the office, or a weekend away with bikes for the family all stashed in your trunk. We’ve got you covered. Filter and find your ride over on the Bikes page.
The 20-inch Schwinn Loop, Amazon’s best-selling folding bike at around $200 currently, isn’t really designed for commuting (despite the Amazon verbiage). It has a bulky step-through frame, and in our tests it offered a heavy, sluggish ride—Citi Bikes (those blue three-speed bike-share behemoths) often passed me on the bridge, and I had no hope of fitting it through the subway turnstiles. If you plan to use your folding bike regularly, do yourself a favor and spend more.
We've partnered with an expert manufacturer with over 30 years of experience that will help us manufacture our titanium frames. We're making Helix in a dedicated facility created for the sole purpose of manufacturing one bike – Helix. Unlike overseas manufacturing, we won't be competing with other bicycle companies for engineering and floor time. This alone should ensure we can confidently predict and meet our deadlines.
The two most common types of hub motors used in electric bicycles are brushed and brushless. Many configurations are available, varying in cost and complexity; direct-drive and geared motor units are both used. An electric power-assist system may be added to almost any pedal cycle using chain drive, belt drive, hub motors or friction drive. BLDC hub motors are a common modern design. The motor is built into the wheel hub itself, and the stator fixed solidly to the axle, and the magnets attached to and rotating with the wheel. The bicycle wheel hub is the motor. The power levels of motors used are influenced by available legal categories and are often, but not always limited to under 750 watts.
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As you might imagine, with a category like folding bikes, selecting a pick that’s truly one-size-fits-all is pretty much impossible. After all, not only are people different sizes physically but they ride for a variety of reasons, too. With folding bikes, we homed in on the commuter segment, the riders who want to get to and from work at least a few days a week, who may have a bus, subway, or car ride within that equation, who want to bring their bike inside during the day to avoid risking theft, and who may want to carry some stuff on their bike rather than on their back. This category also covers recreational riders who want a good-quality kicking-around-town bike that they can stow in an apartment or easily tote in a car.
The average speed of a folding e-bike is 25 mph. Even though the speed of 20 mph is only allowed in America, it is easier to pedal which can allow you to speed up. This average speed can take you up to 50 miles. With an electric bike, the battery is all that keeps it going so if your battery is fully charged and working then this speed can be reached in no time. It will help you ride from home to your work without stopping.
I also had long discussions with my editors about price versus value. A number of companies sell very inexpensive folding bikes on Amazon and at big-box stores such as Target and Walmart. However, because a rider’s life could quite literally be at stake should their bike suffer a mechanical failure mid-ride, we suspected that most people would prefer to spend a little more for a known brand with a reputation to maintain. We did call in Amazon’s best seller, a $200 Schwinn, as well as a couple of other mass-market bikes that had good reviews from other editorial outlets. On the other end, we considered a few pricier picks for more serious riders who are willing to shell out for higher quality or extra features. Finally, with the established producers (Dahon, Schwinn, and Tern), we looked at both an entry-level model and an upgrade version. Our final list:
Cheap folding bikes: The saying ‘you get what you pay for’ mostly rings true here. You can pick up a folding bike for under £200, and you can also spend well in excess of £2000. A cheap folding bike will do the job for you – but you can expect it to be heavier than more premium offerings thanks to lower end components and a more hefty frame. Finding the right option for you comes down to choosing which side of compromise to sit on.
My husband and I purchased a Vika + each. We have hip problems and I can't walk for any distance. But I CAN ride my new bike. I LOVE it. My husband had a hip replacement and wasn't riding very much anymore because of the hills. Now he has no problems with them and is really enjoying getting out riding again. I get around 34 miles to a charge and he gets double the mileage I get. When we ride I always have a smile on my face!!
I had a spare mechanical disk brake caliper available, with slightly bigger brake pads and disk, so I installed it in place of the original front brake setup. I did it because my original front brake was not operating smoothly (with a pulsing feel, which could lead to an easier wheel lock-up on sand or slippery surfaces). The new brake is smooth. The original rear brake is smooth too. I suspect the original front disk was not of uniform thickness, causing the pulsation (it was true and straight).
In a parallel hybrid motorized bicycle, such as the aforementioned 1897 invention by Hosea W. Libbey, human and motor inputs are mechanically coupled either in the bottom bracket, the rear wheel, or the front wheel, whereas in a (mechanical) series hybrid cycle, the human and motor inputs are coupled through differential gearing. In an (electronic) series hybrid cycle, human power is converted into electricity and is fed directly into the motor and mostly additional electricity is supplied from a battery.