Folding bike adjustability: Most folding bikes will be ‘one size fits all’, with a great deal of adjustability – meaning that it’s easy to share the bike across members of your household. However, if you know this is an important consideration, it’s worth ensuring that the model you buy offers a wide range of adjustment that’s easy to use. Brompton bikes, for example, have a long seatpost that is adjusted via a simple quick release lever, making it easy to swap between riders.
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.
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.
Also, the power button was a pet peeve for me. You only need to hold it for a second or so to turn it on, but you have to hold it down for probably 5 full seconds to shut the bike off. If you don’t hold it down long enough, the bike doesn’t shut down all the way and just goes into “standby” mode. When I would hop off and park the bike, I found myself just standing there awkwardly while holding the button and waiting for it to turn off before I could lock it and walk away.
This is list of the best performing, best value electric bikes for 2017 / 2018. For each category I list two models, the first recommendation is based on performance and the second is based on affordability. As you explore the list and get to know EBR, check out the ebike community forum for more personalized feedback. Share your height, weight, budget and intended use (along with bikes you like) to get advice from actual owners and moderators.
Helix has all the qualities of a performance commuter bicycle, it can be ridden hard and fast. It can handle mixed terrain; everything from city streets to gravel paths. Whether you are commuting, touring, training or just taking it easy, Helix performs the way a real bike should. Remarkably, it can transform, in seconds, to an incredibly small size.
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.
On the right grip, you will find a button to honk the horn (Wheee!) and a twist throttle. A horn or bell is crucial for city riding, where cars and pedestrians aren’t always keeping an eye out for bikers. I liked the throttle for passing people on narrow bike lanes, but I did learn that I have to be a little careful. One time, I wheeled the Metro down a driveway when it leaped out of my hands and onto the sidewalk—I’d twisted the throttle without even realizing it!
Batteries are the core part of a folding electric bike and if chosen poorly can turn your expensive e-bike into a waste. There are many batteries with different properties. But the most recommended battery for your folding e-bike is the lithium manganese battery. They are the best and are used even more than the lithium-ion ones. They generate high power and do not require a lot of maintenance.
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.
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.
All around the world, the way we get from A to B is changing. With the world on the verge of auto-mobility, driverless cars, ride-sharing, and the mainstream arrival of electric vehicles, it’s an exciting moment for transportation. To help drive this force of change, we developed a small collection of electric bikes that take hills, headwinds, traffic, and bike thieves out of commuting. Explore below.
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.)
"[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."
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Throttle only, or 9 levels of cadence-sensing pedal assist are available and everything is shown on the LCD display. And we mean everything: Speed, average speed, pedal assist level, power, time, clock, odometer, range, battery voltage or percentage, and a battery infographic. There is also a USB port on the display to run another light, charge a GPS device, or your phone.
Dahon - a full 60% of all folding bikes sold in the U.S. are made by Dahon. A quick survey of NYC bike shops shows that just about everyone is selling them. One particular model seems to stand out: the aluminum-framed Presto that weighs in at just 20 pounds, making it the lightest production folding bike in the world. Its folded dimensions are 28" X 20" X 11" (with 16" wheels). The Piccolo (based on the Dahon Classic, a very popular older model) has similar dimensions but a steel frame that makes it weigh in at 26 pounds. In addition to other 16" models, Dahon also offers many other attractive models of folding bikes with 20" and 26" wheels that fold into larger packages and offer better performance and ride. Prices range from $200 for a simple 20" wheeled model to $900 for a full-size mountain bike. Dahons fold in about 15 seconds. www.dahon.com (Bikes can be ordered through many local bike shops or from B-Fold, www.bfold.com, 212 529-7247).
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!
Unlike many electric pedal-assist bikes, Mate bicycles are relatively affordable. The Mate X funding tiers on Indiegogo start at $799, plus $200 more for delivery anywhere on the planet. The maxed-out Mate X prototype I tested brought the price closer to $1,500, delivered, with the “Big Daddy” all-terrain tires, and optional items like a 48V 17Ah (816Wh) battery ($99), a more powerful 750W motor ($200), hydraulic brakes ($129), thumb throttle ($49), and rear mud guard ($49). Expensive, yes, but dirt cheap relative to many e-bikes, the best of which start at around $2,500 and are half as much fun.
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Want to read about more folding bikes? A buyer's guide to a wider selection of folding bikes appeared in A2B Magazine and is available here. Another more detailed buyer's guide is published by the Folding Society and is available here. The Folding Society is probably the single most detailed Web site on the subject of folding bikes and should be able to give you the answer to almost any question. Also take a look at
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.
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.