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.
Folding bike wheel size: Traditionally, folders are small bicycles – but there are versions designed around full sized rims. Models with smaller wheels will be lighter and more compact when folded, but won’t gather as much momentum on the road. A folding bike with larger wheels will be much faster rolling once the wheels are up to speed – but will likely weigh more and will be little more cumbersome to load onto public transport.
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.
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.
My husband and I purchased a Vika + each. We have hip problems and I can't walk for any distance. But I CAN ride my new bike. I LOVE it. My husband had a hip replacement and wasn't riding very much anymore because of the hills. Now he has no problems with them and is really enjoying getting out riding again. I get around 34 miles to a charge and he gets double the mileage I get. When we ride I always have a smile on my face!!
I am 6'1" and weigh about 240. I got a bit over 6 plus continuous miles on a full charge on rolling hills. If you are using them as a form of transportation around towns as we are, I would do some experimenting on how much distance you get per charge in the type of terrain you are riding. Based on the load and terrain it is in line with what I expected. With a bit of planning they do the job. Maybe at some point they will add a conversion kit to ... full review
A 24V Lithium Ion battery with Samsung cells powers a 250W motor on this entry level folder. The battery will take you about 30 miles, with a max speed of 15mph. There are 4 levels of assistance, all displayed on an LED screen. You get Shimano Tourney 7 speed shifting, and the whole bike folds – including the pedals which will be a handy feature for those commuting by train. The drawback? It does weigh in at 22kg so you do pay for the bargain with your carrying arm.
The E-mazing Innovations e-bike goes about 15 miles per hour and has both throttle and pedal assist modes. It features instant fold option that allows you to fold the bike into a compact size in just a few seconds. Because it’s lightweight, you can easily bring it upstairs, in your car trunk, or wherever you need. With its unusual design, you’ll attract attention anywhere you go. The bike is one of the most stable models on the market, and it’s because of its tires and maximum speed. If the bike were to go faster, it probably wouldn’t be as stable. The motor and battery that power the bike are the 8Fun front-mounted geared hub motor, and a 9ah, 324wh Samsung 36V lithium-ion battery. You can go about 30 miles once you fully charge the battery for which you’ll need 5 hours. This folding electric bike features an LCD that shows battery life, a kickstand, and fenders to keep your pants clean and dry. Keep in mind, though, that the bike features some unusual parts that are much different than those you find in standard models. This isn’t a deal breaker, but keep in mind that for this reason, some parts may be hard to replace if need be. All in all, it’s attractive, modern and well-made to last you a long time.
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.
The Pacific Cycles Birdy Standard 9 Speed has a cool backstory: The bike was designed by a pair of German engineering students in the 1990s and is now manufactured by a Taiwanese firm. This model, a reintroduction of the original design, has no break in the frame. Instead, you fold it by rotating both tires underneath. This means that when it’s locked into the riding position, it has the structural integrity to handle heavier riders (up to 240 pounds). In our tests it offered a comfortable ride thanks to its integrated rear suspension, but given the bike’s limited distribution, its larger footprint when folded, and its high price—comparable with that of the Brompton—we chose the Brompton as our upgrade pick. Still, the Birdy could be a good option for larger riders.