The Allen Sports Urban X was a lot of fun to ride; I was able to get up some decent speed. It was lighter than many other models we tested, despite its larger wheel size (451 mm)—likely because it lacked fenders and a rack (a surprising omission, considering that Allen Sports is known for its bike racks for cars). It also had a nice secure wheel lock when folded, and a very easy fold and unfold process. However, its no-name Chinese components gave our bike expert pause, and I quickly noticed that the plastic chain guard was breaking. Furthermore, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to stay balanced upright when folded, and it took up a lot of space—it also wouldn’t fit through the subway turnstiles. Since our testing, Allen Sports has discontinued its folding-bike line and some of its other models have been recalled. We’re confident you’d be better off with one of our picks.
The 20” wheels run on puncture resistant Kenda tires. Keeping you comfortable when riding is a suspension fork, a rear shock, and a seat shock. With the huge range on offer, you may want to take the GB5 500 on some big rides, so this added comfort will be welcome. Even if you just use it for commuting, the smooth ride from the pothole-eating suspension will keep you smiling.
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 Tern Link B7 rides great, folds and unfolds quickly (in the same manner as our top pick, the Dahon Mariner D8), and has a forged aluminum crank and a decent-quality seven-speed Shimano rear derailleur and shifters, all for a price that’s on a par with that of cheaper bikes built with no-name components. What’s missing are a rear rack and fenders (available for purchase separately from Tern). This model also has a slightly larger all-around footprint than the Mariner D8.
Range is a key consideration with e-bikes, and is affected by factors such as motor efficiency, battery capacity, efficiency of the driving electronics, aerodynamics, hills and weight of the bike and rider. Some manufacturers, such as the Canadian BionX or American Vintage Electric Bikes, have the option of using regenerative braking, the motor acts as a generator to slow the bike down prior to the brake pads engaging. This is useful for extending the range and the life of brake pads and wheel rims. There are also experiments using fuel cells. e.g. the PHB. Some experiments have also been undertaken with super capacitors to supplement or replace batteries for cars and some SUVS. E-bikes developed in Switzerland in the late 1980s for the Tour de Sol solar vehicle race came with solar charging stations but these were later fixed on roofs and connected so as to feed into the electric mains. The bicycles were then charged from the mains, as is common today. While ebike batteries were produced mainly by bigger companies in past, many small to medium companies have started using innovative new methods for creating more durable batteries. State of the art, custom built automated precision CNC spot welding machines created 18650 battery packs are commonly used among Do-it-yourself ebike makers.
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.
Swift Folder - here's another folding bike option for those who want a good, fast folding bike at a reasonable price. Swift Folders are manufactured in Brooklyn with the New York City rider in mind. All Swift Folders are made to order, but models can range from 22-30 pounds and a typical Swift Folder costs around $750. It quick-folds in 10 seconds to a size that will get you onto most elevators. It folds down to 32" X 22" X 11" in about a minute, making it possible to put it into a duffle bag that you can use to tote it around in an inconspicuous manner (hint: we know of no elevators in which duffle bags are prohibited!). Swift Folders are available at various New York City area shops including the Hub, Bikeworks, and Recycle-a-Bicycle, where less expensive versions are featured (made with some used parts). www.swiftfolder.com, 1-800-884-5541.
Finally, Brompton bikes are customizable, which means you can choose the frame material (steel or a superlight combination of steel and titanium); the handlebar shape (four options); the number of gears (one, two, three, or six) and the gear ratios (three choices); the suspension type; the tire type; the saddle type and height; accessories such as the fenders, rack, front bags, and lights; and the paint color. A single-speed Brompton starts at about $1,200; the one we tested, the S6L, came outfitted with sport-style straight handlebars, six speeds ($220 more), fenders ($80 more), a front carrier block for attaching a bag and a front flap bag ($185 for both, bag not shown), and rechargeable battery-powered lights ($110, not shown), totaling about $1,795.
the perception of e-bikes has transformed in recent years as standard bikes undergo a tech transformation. where once they were deemed uncool battery-assisted cheatmobiles, now they are prized for their tech-packed design quality. more and more people want one, perhaps only put off by the price but as black friday and cyber monday approach, this could be the time to finally get your hands on one. here’s a round-up of some of the best deals on electric bikes found worldwide. (please check deals as some black friday deals may only apply to US and in europe some might only start on monday).