“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.”
The interesting part of the pedal assist system in the Oyama is that it can really sense when it is needed. The hardest part of pedaling is starting from a dead stop, and that’s precisely when the pedal assist was providing the most power. I could feel it start to taper off as I passed through 10 mph (16 km/h) or so, but by that point I had sufficient momentum that I only needed a gentle boost from the motor to help maintain higher speeds.
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.
Not only will you struggle to get the B.O.B to the top of steep hills, it does not have safe braking power for the way down and is not stable at higher speeds. The B.O.B comes complete with fenders, a chain guard, and a kickstand, making it ready for you to commute in any weather. Where it really shines is the ease that it can be folded, as well as the light weight.
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.
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.
Frame Ultralight 6061 T6 Aluminum Pedals Priority Alloy Platform, Sealed Fork Ultralight 6061 T6 Aluminum Front Light Priority fixed, 700lm, 3x CREE R4 led, wired to bike battery Rims WTB ST TCS 2.0 27.5"/650b - Tubeless Ready Rear Light Priority fixed, wired to bike battery Front Hub Priority 15mm Through Axle, Quick Release Seatpost 31.6 Alloy Micro-adjust, 300mm (17"), 350mm (19"/21") Rear Hub enviolo Trekking Group (n380) Belt Gates Carbon Drive with Centertrack CDX 122T Spokes Stainless Steel, Black, 14g front, 13g rear Saddle WTB Pure or Selle Royale Gel Shifter enviolo Trekking (c8) Handlebar Stem Alloy, 6 degree 80mm17", 90mm 17" and 19" OR 70mm, 35 degree Brakes Tektro HD-M285 Hydraulic Disc Dual Piston Handlebar Alloy, 31.8 clamp, 6 degree rise, 630mm Grips Velo, ergonomic dual density comfort Headset Alloy Sealed Crankset Priority Electric, 170mm (17"), 175mm (19"/21") Tires WTB Horizon 650B PLUS 47M/M Tubeless Ready Front Sprocket 50t Gates CDX Fenders Aluminum+Plastic Rear Cog 24t Gates CDX Kickstand Alloy Rear Mounted Kickstand Included! Motor Bosch Active Line Plus Color Gloss White or Gloss Charcoal Battery Bosch PowerPack 400 Sizes 17", 19" and 21" Display Bosch Purion Weight Approx. 45lbs
This British WWII Airborne BSA folding bicycle was rigged so that, when parachuted, the handlebars and seat were the first parts to hit the ground (as bent wheels would disable the bike). BSA abandoned the traditional diamond bicycle design as too weak for the shock and instead made an elliptical frame of twin parallel tubes, one forming the top tube and seat stays, and the other the chainstay and down tube. The hinges were in front of the bottom bracket and in the corresponding position in front of the saddle, fastened by wing nuts. The peg pedals could be pushed in to avoid snagging and further reduce the space occupied during transit.
Out of the box, the Schwinn Adapt 1 needed a lot of adjustment; the handlebars were loose in the frame, which was a serious safety concern, so I paid my bike expert to be sure it was set up safely for me. I enjoyed the ride just fine, but for $420 or so, you’re better off with a Tern and its brand-name components. Also, the Adapt 1 has no mechanism to hold the bike closed when it’s folded; you’re supposed to pack it into the included bag for storage, which is a lot of work and annoying if you need to use your bike regularly, as a commuter would.
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.
If you are like a lot of New Yorkers, you may have trouble finding a safe and dry place to put your bike at home. Your tiny apartment refuses to budge another inch, and the street seems to be the place bikes get left to find new owners. You may also want to ride to work, but parking is hard to find. If you try to take your bike into your building, the concierge looks at your bike as if it was a giant wheeled rat and refuses to let you onto the elevator. You may also long to take your bike along on a trip that requires transit, but cannot because of rush hour restrictions or outright bans on bicycles on trains or buses. The solution you are looking for might be a folding bike.
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.
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.
I wanted to love the Bike Friday Pakit, which is available for order with a custom-made frame. It has a unique fold (a sort of cross between those of the Brompton and the Birdy, with the rear tire rotating under), and with the front tire and the handlebar mast removed, you can pack it into an oversized backpack and bring it almost anywhere, even on a plane. It’s also the only bike we tested that can accommodate more petite riders (kids or little people) from 4-foot-5. But although it’s made in Oregon of good components—a Shimano Claris derailleur, Schwalbe tires—our testers thought it somehow felt less secure on the road, and the fenders I ordered kept rubbing on the front tire and getting caught on curbs. (If you go with the Pakit, don’t get the fenders.)
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.
Birdy - this German-engineered performance folding bike offers a full front and rear suspension and a light aluminum frame with options for 7 or 21 gears. It weighs in at a light 22 to 24 pounds and folds down to 34" X 22" X 11" in about 15 seconds. To see a demonstration of Birdy folding process, click here. The Birdy costs from $750-$1000 and can be checked out and purchased locally at Bicycle Habitat, Larry and Jeff's [1400 Third Avenue | 1690 Second Avenue].
The Ancheer folding electric mountain bike does have a few weird quirks. The first is the handlebar mounted battery. It saves space for the folding mechanism, but looks odd. Fortunately it has very little effect on handling because it is mounted so close the head tube’s pivot point. It does raise the center of gravity of the bike a bit, but the difference is small compared to how much you raise the bike’s center of gravity.