Folding commuter bikes have never been more popular with workers keen on keeping fit and avoiding urban public transport. Where just a few years ago the choices were confined to a few heavy models that swung around a clunky hinge, there are now a range of appealing versions for many needs: full-sized, tiny, electric, sporty, cruisers... the choices are near endless.
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.
This may not be the prettiest, the most compact and certainly not the lightest folding bike out there, but the Volt Metro makes perfect sense once you’re in the saddle. Its hefty 21.7-kilogram (including battery) bulk takes it out of the everyday commuting equation – this is more for packing in the car and cruising around. And riding it is a treat, thanks to a rear-hubbed 250W SpinTech motor that gives electrical assistance up to 25kph with a claimed battery life of 96km. Suntour forks, Velo Sport comfort saddle, wide Kenda tyres and sit-up-and-beg geometry further enhance the riding experience that’s more Sunday driver than urban bus-dodger. If you’re looking to turn heads or ride at pace (without electricity) then look elsewhere, but this Volvo-like bike/wagon is not without its charms.
Another Kickstarter creation, the A-bike features an innovative design that sees it sporting quite possibly the smallest wheels you’ve ever seen on a bike. The makers claim that normal efficiency is maintained thanks to a dual chain drive and brushless motor that’s been optimised so that rate of pedalling matches the speed at which the wheels turn.
Not all e-bikes take the form of conventional push-bikes with an incorporated motor, such as the Cytronex bicycles which use a small battery disguised as a water bottle. Some are designed to take the appearance of low capacity motorcycles, but smaller in size and consisting of an electric motor rather than a petrol engine. For example, the Sakura e-bike incorporates a 200 W motor found on standard e-bikes, but also includes plastic cladding, front and rear lights, and a speedometer. It is styled as a modern moped, and is often mistaken for one.
Your most viable option may be a folding bike. Only now you have to figure out which model to choose. Assuming that you shop online, you can use each folding bike's description - and accompanying images - to determine not only how compact that bike will be, but also how much it weighs, how long it takes to pair down, and what, if any, tools might be required to make any adjustments or repairs.
In 2012, two e-bike advocates completed the first 4,000-mile (6,400 km) transcontinental e-bike tour from New York to San Francisco to advocate for e-bikes in major cities across the U.S. Pedego Electric Bikes is the best selling brand in the U.S. Many e-bikes in the United States are standard bicycles converted using a kit. In general, the kits include the motor (the majority of which are hub motors built into the front or rear wheel), a speed controller, throttle (usually twist-grip or thumb throttle), necessary wiring and connectors, and a battery. Several U.S. companies offer conversion kits which also offer advanced lithium battery packs. Major manufacturers also offer complete e-bikes. Trek offers a line of e-bikes using the Bionx system in which the rider programs the controller to determine how much effort the motor will give in response to rider effort, from 25% up to 200% of the rider's power. This system ensures a minimum level of rider participation and is also used to comply with many European laws mandating partial human effort before the motor engages.
Because the power is applied through the chain and sprocket, power is typically limited to around 250–500 watts to protect against fast wear on the drivetrain. An electric mid-drive combined with an internal gear hub at the back hub may require care due to the lack of a clutch mechanism to soften the shock to the gears at the moment of re-engagement. A continuously variable transmission or a fully automatic internal gear hub may reduce the shocks due to the viscosity of oils used for liquid coupling instead of the mechanical couplings of the conventional internal gear hubs.
This is actually the number one thing stopping many people from riding bicycles to work – if it’s hot outside, nobody wants to be sweaty when they get to the office, especially if they have no place to shower. folding electric bikes allow you to minimize the work done on the bike when you need to in hot weather, and keep you feeling fresh and cool even during the hottest commutes.
Somehow, despite my original aversion to pedaling, I soon realized I was actually having fun using my legs. I even started dropping the assist level down from 8, the highest level, to a more reasonable 5 or 6. I could feel that I was making an honest effort, but it was just enough to get those endorphins going without being so much that I was sweating and tired.
Folding bikes generally come with a wider range of adjustments for accommodating various riders than do conventional bikes, because folding bike frames are usually only made in one size. However, seatposts and handlebar stems on folders extend as much as four times higher than conventional bikes, and still longer after-market posts and stems provide an even greater range of adjustment.
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.
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.