Electric bikes are, for all intents and purposes, bicycles. These small, compact bicycles differ from mopeds due to a key design feature – they can all be powered manually, simply by pedaling. However, each one incorporates a powerful rechargeable motor that can do the work for you when you need it to – such as on large hills, or if you’re tired after a long day – and be switched off when necessary.


In 1941, during the Second World War, the British War Office called for a machine that weighed less than 23 lb (this was not achieved - the final weight was about 32 pounds) and would withstand being dropped by parachute. In response, the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) developed a folding bicycle small enough to be taken in small gliders or on parachute jumps from aircraft.
Brompton - sometimes referred to as the "Jaguar" of folding bicycles, this British import folds smaller than any other model into a package that locks together and keeps the chain away from your clothes. It also can coast about in its folded state on suitcase-style casters (with optional rollerblade wheels for really covering distance). There is also an optional cover and saddle bag combo that turns this bike into a nondescript rolling black canvas object that cannot be identified as a bike (suitable for all "stealth" infiltrations of bike-unfriendly buildings). With its rear suspension, the Brompton is also known for its exceptional ride for a folding bike with 16" wheels. Price: about $700 for the simplest model, $1300 for a fully accessorized version with lights, fenders, a carrier, more gears, a cover, and a framed bag that attaches to the front of the bike. Its dimensions, when folded, are 22" X 22" X 10" and it ranges in weight from 24-28 pounds, depending on accessories. The Brompton folds in about 15 seconds. To see a demonstration of the folding process of the Brompton in animated .gif format, click here. Visit one of NYC's Brompton retailers at nycewheels.com.
The environmental credentials of e-bikes, and electric / human powered hybrids generally, have led some municipal authorities to use them, such as Little Rock, Arkansas with their Wavecrest electric power-assisted bicycles or Cloverdale, California police with Zap e-bikes. China’s e-bike manufacturers, such as Xinri, are now partnering with universities in a bid to improve their technology in line with international environmental standards, backed by the Chinese government who is keen to improve the export potential of the Chinese manufactured e-bikes.[67]
The real purpose of folding a bike is to increase its portability. This is so that it may be more easily transported and stored, and thus allow greater flexibility in getting from A to B.[13] Many public transportation systems ban or restrict unfolded bicycles, but allow folded bikes all or some of the time. For example, Transport for London allows folding bikes at all times on the Underground, but on buses it is down to the driver's discretion.[14] Some transport operators only allow folding bicycles if they are enclosed in a bag or cover. Airline baggage regulations often permit folding bikes as ordinary luggage, without extra cost.[15] Singapore has also implemented new laws to allow folding bicycles in its rail and bus transportation system, with certain size and time limitations.[16]

The 1970s saw increased interest in the folding bike, and the popular Raleigh Twenty and Bickerton Portable have become the iconic folders of their decade. It was, however, the early 1980s that can be said to have marked the birth of the modern, compact folding bicycle, with competing tiny-footprint models from Brompton and Dahon.[7] Founded in 1982, by inventor and physicist Dr. David Hon and his brother Henry Hon, Dahon has grown to become the world's largest manufacturer of folding bikes,[8] with a two-thirds marketshare in 2006.[9]
Traditionally folding bikes are made with small wheels to make their foldability easy. Of course, models with small wheels tend to be lighter and gives you more portability. However, they may lack the ability to speed up. Foldable bikes with conventional size tires are much faster with rolling but their heavy load will give you a tough time while traveling through public transport.
A big selling point of the attractive Citizen Bike Seoul, sold direct from the company’s website, is that it comes straight out of the box ready to ride—on our test unit, even the tires were inflated. Unfortunately, we didn’t find the ride and gearing as smooth as those of bikes costing just $100 more. Though the folding and unfolding were easy, the magnets simply wouldn’t hold when the bike was folded, and it kept flopping open (especially problematic when I was carrying it down subway stairs); the company told me that an update on that was coming. Plus, the Seoul’s folded footprint was so large it wouldn’t fit through the subway turnstiles.
Unfortunately, not even this great bike is perfect. The otherwise great performance is somewhat let down by the weak disc brakes. Stopping time could be improved with an upgrade. The relatively high weight of 59 lbs is also a disadvantage, and lots of the weight is on the rear wheel, making the GB5 500 prone to accidental wheelies if you accelerate too hard in throttle mode.
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.
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.
"[My Bike Friday] represents the pinnacle of 31 years of cycling for me. It is incredibly well designed and features excellent, predictable road manners consistent with high end road bikes. Steering response is very quick due to the lack of gyroscopic force in the front end. Low wheel mass makes for excellent acceleration and climbing. A delight to ride and own."
Tern has been in business since only 2011, but it has an interesting pedigree: It was formed by the son and wife of David Hon, none other than Dahon’s founder. This development has proven to be a boon for folding-bike buyers, with Tern quickly turning out folding models of excellent quality. The Link D8, Tern’s best seller, is feature-packed, with just enough upgrades to merit the current $150 premium over the Dahon Mariner D8—if those upgrades matter to 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.
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.
E-bikes are classed according to the power that their electric motor can deliver and the control system, i.e., when and how the power from the motor is applied. Also the classification of e-bikes is complicated as much of the definition is due to legal reasons of what constitutes a bicycle and what constitutes a moped or motorcycle. As such, the classification of these e-bikes varies greatly across countries and local jurisdictions.
A 2008 market survey showed that the average distance traveled in the Netherlands by commuters on a standard bicycle is 6.3 kilometres (3.9 mi) while with an e-bike this distance increases to 9.8 kilometres (6.1 mi).[79] This survey also showed that e-bike ownership is particularly popular among people aged 65 and over, but limited among commuters. The e-bike is used in particular for recreational bicycle trips, shopping and errands.[79]
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.
Founded in 1962 by Alex Moulton, a key member of the Mini design team, Moulton has been honing its pylon-style “spaceframe” since 1977. Fast forward to 2018 and its stiff, strong frame and handsome geometry still looks utterly unique. Disclaimer: this bike doesn’t actually fold, but Moultons can be dismantled into two stowable pieces within a minute, thanks to a central “kingpin”, making it suitable for car boots and train journeys. Alfine 11-speed internal hub gearing, narrow 20in tyres, a rear disc brake, Brooks titanium saddle and Deda Speciale classic drop handlebars further boost its urban credentials. And if you really want to stand out from the crowd, there’s also the ultra-specced Moulton Speed Unique: only 30 models have been produced – but with a price tag of £14,995, it costs the same as a family car.

The Mariner D8 comes with fenders and a rear rack that has a nicely designed clip-on bungee cord so you don’t have to buy or hunt for something else to use; for my eight-block ride home, it held a 4-pound bag of dog food securely in place. If you plan to use panniers with the Mariner D8’s rear rack, Dahon recommends using front panniers, which are usually smaller, to avoid heel strike when you’re pedaling; if you want to try using larger panniers on the rack, we recommend taking the bike with you while shopping, or at least taking careful measurements. The D8 also has bolt holes for a front carrier attachment, should you prefer to outfit it with a so-designed front bag or basket.
Unfortunately, not even this great bike is perfect. The otherwise great performance is somewhat let down by the weak disc brakes. Stopping time could be improved with an upgrade. The relatively high weight of 59 lbs is also a disadvantage, and lots of the weight is on the rear wheel, making the GB5 500 prone to accidental wheelies if you accelerate too hard in throttle mode.

Designed specifically for travel, the Breakaway is a full-sized road bike frame that splits in two for easy packing. Ritchey uses high-quality butted cromoly steel for the frameset, which features an efficient road riding geometry and carbon fork. A locking compression system ensures the joints won’t come apart while you’re riding, and only adds 100 grams. The Breakaway weighs 5.2 pounds and is available in five sizes. Ritchey also includes a travel-ready packing case. Build it up to suit your traveling road cycling dreams. Price: $1600.
Common to almost all models is that the handling is more responsive than on a full-size bike, and that can take some getting used to. It is not advised that you ride a folding bike with no hands or try any cute stunts. Gears on small-wheeled folding bikes are higher to compensate, but limited gearing on some models may slow you down. If that is a major concern for you, you might want to look more toward higher end "performance" folding bikes. If you plan to take a lot of trips that utilize transit, a bike that folds quickly and compactly may be best for you. If you are a tall rider, you may want to check out how each type of folding bike can adjust to fit you.
There are two types of people in this world: those who like fat-tire bikes and those who don’t. I’m very much of the fat tire persuasion, which is why I just had to test the new Mate X electric folding bike. There’s something about those big knobby wheels that speaks to my desire to forge a new path, to take the road less traveled. To explore strange new worlds and go where no one has gone before, even if that’s just to the corner store.
E-bikes can also provide a source of exercise for individuals who have trouble exercising for an extended time (due to injury or excessive weight, for example) as the bike can allow the rider to take short breaks from pedaling and also provide confidence to the rider that they'll be able to complete the selected path without becoming too fatigued[58] or without having forced their knee joints too hard (people who need to use their knee joints without wearing them out unnecessarily may in some electric bikes adjust the level of motor assistance according to the terrain). A University of Tennessee study provides evidence that energy expenditure (EE) and oxygen consumption (VO2) for e-bikes are 24% lower than that for conventional bicycles, and 64% lower than for walking. Further, the study notes that the difference between e-bikes and bicycles are most pronounced on the uphill segments.[59] Reaching VO2 Max, can really help your body as a whole[60]. Professor Janet Lord of Birmingham University in the UK published a study that looked at older cyclists, ““The study looked at muscle mass, blood cholesterol, their VO2 Max, lung function, and in many of those measures we found they didn’t age! No loss of muscle, their bones were a little thin (but nothing like the general population), their blood pressure didn’t go up.[61]
China's experience, as the leading e-bike world market, has raised concerns about road traffic safety and several cities have considered banning them from bicycle lanes.[2] As the number of e-bikes increased and more powerful motors are used, capable of reaching up to 30 miles per hour (48 km/h), the number of traffic accidents have risen significantly in China. E-bike riders are more likely than a car driver to be killed or injured in a collision, and because e-bikers use conventional bicycle lanes they mix with slower-moving bicycles and pedestrians, increasing the risk of traffic collisions.[2]
Lightweight folding bikes: Of course, if you intend to be hoisting the bike on and off trains, then it’s understandable that you want it to be light. This can be achieved though using a lighter frame material. Brompton have recently introduced titanium to their range and there are brands making carbon folders. Higher quality components will also reduce the weight, as will opting for fewer gears – such as a singlespeed version – but this will only really suit someone who doesn’t intend to come across many hills in their use of the bike.

Lightweight folding bikes: Of course, if you intend to be hoisting the bike on and off trains, then it’s understandable that you want it to be light. This can be achieved though using a lighter frame material. Brompton have recently introduced titanium to their range and there are brands making carbon folders. Higher quality components will also reduce the weight, as will opting for fewer gears – such as a singlespeed version – but this will only really suit someone who doesn’t intend to come across many hills in their use of the bike.


E-bikes mostly use motors and battery options from a few major suppliers: Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, and Brose. A few other brands exist, but are less reliable or powerful. Some, like the Yamaha system, have more torque and others are quieter. But generally all four make good options. Look for motor output (in watts) which will give you an idea of total power. But watt hours (Wh) is perhaps a better figure to use—it takes into account battery output and life to give a truer reflection of power.
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.
Electric trikes have also been produced that conform to the e-bike legislation. These have the benefit of additional low speed stability and are often favored by people with disabilities. Cargo carrying tricycles are also gaining acceptance, with a small but growing number of couriers using them for package deliveries in city centres.[51][52] Latest designs of these trikes resemble a cross-between a pedal cycle and a small van.[53][54]
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