Even so, our picks have some limitations. For starters, most folding bikes simply can’t accommodate riders who are very short (typically under 4-foot-8) or very tall (typically over 6-foot-3), and most can’t carry riders who weigh more than about 220 pounds (or, at least, their manufacturers don’t recommend that). And unless you really need your bike to fold for any of the aforementioned reasons, such bicycles might be more trouble than they are worth—a bike with additional mechanical hinges and latches may require more maintenance—and none really ride quite as smoothly or comfortably as a good full-size bike.

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.


If an electric bike can get you to work without sweating through your shirt, and a folding bike can fit in a car and get stored under a desk, why not...an electric folding bike? Jetson’s Metro electric folding bike fits a 250-watt CZJB motor cleverly hidden in the bike’s crossbar. At $800, it's much more affordable than, say, a $3500 Tern Vektron or even a $1700 RadWagon RadMini.
You see, I’m not really a cyclist. It’s not that I’m lazy or out of shape. I run between 3 to 5 miles a day and could pedal if I wanted to. It’s just that I generally think of electric bicycles more like little electric motorcycles that don’t require me to get a motorcycle license or pay for insurance or registration. They’re for getting around quickly and effortlessly.
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Folding bikes have long been popular among commuters who need to store their bicycle in a small space at home or in the office. Thanks to their small folded size, they are easy to get onto trains and buses, or even a taxi. With the rise in popularity of electric bikes in recent years, it is no surprise that folding electric bikes have come onto the market as well.
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.
While the monetary savings of an electric or folding bike are a definite perk in this economic climate, it's potential to get people out of their cars will help reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. As electric and folding bikes continue to grow in popularity, people will get out of the "car only" mind-set and into the cycling state of mind. Not only will you feel good about helping the environment but you will get exercise and have a blast doing it!

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!!


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!
But in the moment, the Oyama didn’t seem to care what it was supposed to be designed for, it only cared about moving forward. And forward it went. Over the dirt, over the stumps, up the hills and through the gravel. It overcame nearly every obstacle and terrain I could find until I finally had to help lift it over a fallen log blocking the trail and under a vine waiting to clothesline me. Perhaps I could have hopped the log if I had really tried, but by that point I figured the Oyama had made its point.
Many folding bikes feature internal hub gears – this means that the shifting system is entirely sealed, cutting down on maintenance dramatically. Shifting on hub gears is often easier for beginners, as there is no chain tension to worry about. In addition, there’s no chance of the system being bent or damaged –  a risk when left unattended on a busy train. If you want multiple chainrings and a wide spread of gears, you will need to opt for a derailleur system.
Its fold really is innovative. The rear wheel rotates under, the front wheel tucks into the side, and the handlebars fall sideways and lock into place—the typical fold-in-half frames of our other picks look clunky and huge by comparison. (The larger wheels don’t help, of course.) The folded Brompton stands 3.4 inches shorter, and measures 2 inches narrower and 8.1 inches shorter front to back, than the Mariner—and the differences are even more dramatic when you compare the Brompton with the larger Tern models. If you want to tuck your bike under your desk or bring it into stores with narrow aisles, smaller is, of course, definitely better.
German designers Heiko Müller and Markus Riese began working on the Birdy in 1992 for their university thesis – the first model comprised of parts of two old bicycles welded together. Fast forward 26 years and the Weiterstadt-based company have mastered the art of folding bikes. With 18-inch wheels for a more stable ride than the Brompton, the Birdy City offers impressive stability and comfort, and its aggressive, sporty geometry means it’s faster than many of its competitors. At 12.8kg, it’s not the lightest model around, but if you’re happy to take that hit in favour of a superior ride it won’t let you down. Eight-speed hub gear, front suspension/rear shocks, disc brakes adjustable-height handlebars and optional rear rollers all tick the right boxes, and although it’s not the smallest fold, it only takes 20 seconds or so to pack it down for the train or trunk.
It absorbs shocks well and the tire quality makes the ride smooth and easy. It has 8-speed gears that allow you to pedal accordingly. This e-bike is not just electric but can fit into different places like a motorbike. It does not take up much space and can be parked easily. Its speed lets you travel faster than a car. This may result in a great collection as you won’t be late and will also help you lose some calories.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries, electric motors and some form of control. Battery systems in use include sealed lead-acid (SLA), nickel-cadmium (NiCad), nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion polymer (Li-ion). Batteries vary according to the voltage, total charge capacity (amp hours), weight, the number of charging cycles before performance degrades, and ability to handle over-voltage charging conditions. The energy costs of operating e-bikes are small, but there can be considerable battery replacement costs. The lifespan of a battery pack varies depending on the type of usage. Shallow discharge/recharge cycles will help extend the overall battery life.
Moulton - this rugged British bike with a full suspension appears to be designed to compete with full-size bikes and win - the Moulton holds the world speed record for bicycles of conventional riding position at 51 MPH. The Moulton's unconventional cruciform "separable, not folding" frame is made of a lattice of small diameter tubes that make the bike light yet stiff and efficient. Its small high-pressure tires actually perform better than full-size tires in a variety of ways. The newest versions also offer a fully adjustable handlebar that allows the bike to adapt to urban, touring, and racing uses. The more you learn about this bike, the more it seems to be designed not so much to travel compactly (which it is) but actually to be superior in design, performance, and versatility to a standard frame bike. A typical Moulton weighs about 22 pounds and separates to take up about as much space as other small folding bikes, although folding time/size is not touted for this brand. Prices range from under $1500 up to $8000. www.moultonbicycles.co.uk.
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.
Bike Friday - this high-end brand offers many types of folding bikes for those most concerned with performance. All Bike Fridays use 20" wheels and are built to fit into a suitcase for travel. Many also quick-fold and fit into a travel bag for use in commuting. A typical "stock" model (most Bike Fridays are custom made) quick-folds in 30 seconds to 27" X 27" X10" and weighs in at 24 pounds. Bike Fridays range in price from about $730 for a stock model to about $3400 for their best custom-made bikes. To ask questions about the Bike Friday, subscribe to the Bike Friday discussion list at www.bikefriday.com/community/the_yak. www.bikefriday.com, 1-800-777-0258.
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!
The Moterra is Cannondale’s biggest and baddest e-mtb and just looking at this thing you can see that it’s built to withstand some wicked downhills and big drops. With 130mm of front and rear travel, paired up with 27.5-inch wheels and trail-grabbing 2.8-inch tires, along with a KS LEV Integra Dropper Post make this pedal-assist mountain bike a great option if you want to climb farther to shred longer, but don’t want to lug your bike uphill for ages. The 250w motor, placed slightly farther forward than most other bikes to optimize weight distribution and handling, will give you a nice boost so you can enjoy the ride up and not be too gassed when you get to the top. After all, it’s all about the ride down, right?
Depending on local laws, many e-bikes (e.g., pedelecs) are legally classified as bicycles rather than mopeds or motorcycles. This exempts them from the more stringent laws regarding the certification and operation of more powerful two-wheelers which are often classed as electric motorcycles. E-bikes can also be defined separately and treated under distinct Electric bicycle laws.
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