The two most common types of hub motors used in electric bicycles are brushed and brushless. Many configurations are available, varying in cost and complexity; direct-drive and geared motor units are both used. An electric power-assist system may be added to almost any pedal cycle using chain drive, belt drive, hub motors or friction drive. BLDC hub motors are a common modern design. The motor is built into the wheel hub itself, and the stator fixed solidly to the axle, and the magnets attached to and rotating with the wheel. The bicycle wheel hub is the motor. The power levels of motors used are influenced by available legal categories and are often, but not always limited to under 750 watts.
The Mate X I rode is not a quiet bike. It sounds the way it looks: loud. On flat pavement, the drone of the 750W motor was louder than the 250W bikes I’m accustomed to riding on the streets of Europe (750W requires a license here, but not in the US) and the knobby treads only added to the din (you can opt for quieter street tires). Off road, the tires go quiet, but the sound is replaced with chain slaps and some creaking from the (optional) rear fender. While the knobby tire and motor noise isn’t likely to change, the company assures me that the final bike will ship with a tighter chain and silent rear fender.
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:
Due to the added weight of a motor and battery, electric bikes are heavier than normal bikes. Folding bikes in general tend to be quite weighty because of the folding mechanism. An electric folding bike therefore can be on the heavy side. Consider the weight of the model you are looking at. Are you happy lifting that weight? Will you still be happy lifting that weight at the end of a long day?
Choose from a variety of builds and five colors or upgrade to the Elite Custom build and choose from 20 colors. Bike Friday’s size range should accommodate riders from 4’5” to 6’3” tall. Bike Friday also offers three belt-drive options for the PakIt, which are easy to maintain and great for keeping the grease off your pant legs. Add a electric-assist motor for easy climbing. Builds start at $1019.