Folding bikes are set apart from other machines on the market by one defining characteristic: they fold. The collapsable nature of these bikes means that they’re ideal for anyone who wants to cycle to a train station, and take their bike with them for the journey into the unknown on the other side (or the standard 2 mile radius from London Bridge).
Crowdfunding is a chaotic field by nature: companies looking for funding tend to make big promises. According to a study run by Kickstarter in 2015, roughly 1 in 10 “successful” products that reach their funding goals fail to actually deliver rewards. Of the ones that do deliver, delays, missed deadlines, or overpromised ideas mean that there’s often disappointment in store for those products that do get done.
As with any bicycle, you should buy a folding bike in person, at a local bike shop—first, so that you can test-ride it, and second, so that you can have a knowledgeable person set it up and make sure it’s safely street-ready. If the model you want isn’t in the store, the shop owner can typically order it for you. If you do end up ordering online, unless you’re very knowledgeable about bicycle mechanics, please take your bike to a local shop to have a pro set it up (and be sure to take the fee for that service into account when you’re weighing any online discount you’ve found). Remember: You will be entrusting your life to this bike, and the last thing you want is for the handlebars to come loose or who knows what else happening when you’re riding in traffic.
I had a spare mechanical disk brake caliper available, with slightly bigger brake pads and disk, so I installed it in place of the original front brake setup. I did it because my original front brake was not operating smoothly (with a pulsing feel, which could lead to an easier wheel lock-up on sand or slippery surfaces). The new brake is smooth. The original rear brake is smooth too. I suspect the original front disk was not of uniform thickness, causing the pulsation (it was true and straight).
This is one of the most favorite electric folding bikes on the market because it’s well-made and packed with quality features. It’s made of 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum alloy and glows in the dark. It’s powered by rear direct drive 350W motor, with brushless front and rear 160mm hydraulic disc brakes. The bike features a display that shows on/off status, throttle and pedal assist control, USB phone charger, speed and battery life.
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.
With our “most people” rider in mind, we started by zeroing in on the brands and models that had good reputations and good reviews from other outlets, such as BikeRadar, Folding Bike Guy, and Momentum Mag. I discussed at length the merits of a variety of options with experts Lam, Cuomo, and Berk, as well as the specs to use as limiting factors to narrow the field. We settled on bikes with:
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.
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. Latest designs of these trikes resemble a cross-between a pedal cycle and a small van.
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.
The rack and fenders make the Navigator a solid choice for daily commuting or light touring. The Octagon stem is also adjustable without tools, so it’s easy to dial in a comfortable fit. At 29-pounds, the Navigator is a bit less portable than some other folding options, but the full-sized wheels make it a great choice for longer rides and commutes. Price: $959.
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.
An electric bicycle, also known as an e-bike, powerbike or booster bike, is a bicycle with an integrated electric motor which can be used for propulsion. Many kinds of e-bikes are available worldwide, from e-bikes that only have a small motor to assist the rider's pedal-power (i.e., pedelecs) to somewhat more powerful e-bikes which tend closer to moped-style functionality: all, however, retain the ability to be pedalled by the rider and are therefore not electric motorcycles.