If you live in a city, it’s quite possible that folding electric bikes are the ultimate commuting machine. The huge number of convenience factors provided by a folding electric bike make it the smartest choice for use when traveling around the city daily. You have the versatility of a bicycle – the ability to switch to sidewalks, go around traffic, and ride in tight spaces – with the convenience of a powered form of transportation.
“I am a big mountain biker and over the past couple years have taken a couple of electric folding bikes with me on various trips around the Southwest. I ride hard on the mountain bikes, then use the eFolders to get out and see the nooks and crannies of the town we are staying in … Mammoth Mountain, Big Bear Resort, Sedona, Springdale near Zion National Park, etc. I leave my truck in the parking lot and explore on the eFolder … after a hard day of riding the electric aspect is great … don’t have to worry about hills! Also the folding nature allows the bikes to transport easily, and store easily in the hotel or condo.”
Specializing in the sales of electric bikes and folding bikes since 1996. Offering a wide range of brands and models and a dedicated service department. We are here to help you find the right bike for your needs and to support you with confidence and competence. Come in for free test rides and experience all that electric bikes and folding bikes can do for you!
Once I’d done my part, I invited eight cyclist friends over for test rides, asking them to rate the ride quality and the ease of folding and unfolding, as well as to provide commentary and suggest a price, as a way to gauge their perception of value. (Note: The Mariner model they tested was the D7, but we’re confident they would have similar opinions on the upgraded D8). Finally, I asked bike expert Damon Strub to peruse the spec sheets and highlight any pros or cons of each model.
More powerful pedelecs which are not legally classed as bicycles are dubbed S-Pedelecs (short for Schnell-Pedelecs, i.e. Speedy-Pedelecs) in Germany. These have a motor more powerful than 250 watts and less limited, or unlimited, pedal-assist, i.e. the motor does not stop assisting the rider once 25 km/h has been reached. S-Pedelec class e-bikes are therefore usually classified as mopeds or motorcycles rather than as bicycles and therefore may (depending on the jurisdiction) need to be registered and insured, the rider may need some sort of driver's license (either car or motorcycle) and motorcycle helmets may have to be worn. In the United States, many states have adopted S-Pedelecs into the Class 3 category. Class 3 ebikes are limited to <=750 watts of power and 28 mph.
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.
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.
With our “most people” rider in mind, we started by zeroing in on the brands and models that had good reputations and good reviews from other outlets, such as BikeRadar, Folding Bike Guy, and Momentum Mag. I discussed at length the merits of a variety of options with experts Lam, Cuomo, and Berk, as well as the specs to use as limiting factors to narrow the field. We settled on bikes with:
Controllers for brushless motors: E-bikes require high initial torque and therefore models that use brushless motors typically have Hall sensor commutation for speed and angle measurement. An electronic controller provides assistance as a function of the sensor inputs, the vehicle speed and the required force. The controllers generally allow input by means of potentiometer or Hall Effect twist grip (or thumb-operated lever throttle), closed-loop speed control for precise speed regulation, protection logic for over-voltage, over-current and thermal protection. Bikes with a pedal assist function typically have a disc on the crank shaft featuring a ring of magnets coupled with a Hall sensor giving rise to a series of pulses, the frequency of which is proportional to pedaling speed. The controller uses pulse width modulation to regulate the power to the motor. Sometimes support is provided for regenerative braking but infrequent braking and the low mass of bicycles limits recovered energy. An implementation is described in an application note for a 200 W, 24 V Brushless DC (BLDC) motor.
It’s easy to figure out how to fold and unfold it. I put a stopwatch on myself and discovered that it usually takes under twenty seconds for me to take it apart or put it together. Of course, that’s not including the times when I couldn't align the crossbar properly, or when it took extra grunt to close the clamp. I thought about loosening the nut to make it easier to clamp the crossbar together, but loosening parts on a bike that can go 16 mph didn't seem like a great idea.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries and the lighter ones can travel up to 25 to 32 km/h (16 to 20 mph), depending on local laws, while the more high-powered varieties can often do in excess of 45 km/h (28 mph). In some markets, such as Germany as of 2013, they are gaining in popularity and taking some market share away from conventional bicycles, while in others, such as China as of 2010, they are replacing fossil fuel-powered mopeds and small motorcycles.