Electric Folding Bikes Buyers Guide

Folding electric bikes are an innovation that can transform your commute and make road riding a pleasure.

Zip to the train station, nip to a nearby meeting, bundle it into the car for a weekend away or simply pound the pedals and commute to work - folding bikes really are the swiss army knife of the cycling world. Add an electric motor and you’ve got it all in one small but perfectly formed package.

If you’re looking for information on folding e-bikes, you’re in the right place. In our electric folding bikes buyers guide our experts explain how electric folding bikes work, the features you should look out for and just why an e-bike could be right for you.

Why should I buy an electric folding bike?

Enjoy helping hand on your daily commute: The pedalling support you can receive from your e-bike motor means you’ll never arrive at your office or meeting hot and bothered. Your colleagues and friends will than you, trust us.

Hop on a train, hail a cab

Enjoy helping hand on your daily commute: The pedalling support you can receive from your e-bike motor means you’ll never arrive at your office or meeting hot and bothered. Your colleagues and friends will than you, trust us.

Theft-proof

OK, so they’re not 100% theft-proof, but folding bikes can be safely stored inside your building, nestled close to your desk, workstation or even your seat in the pub. You’ll no longer need to leave your bike in a rack or locked up alone outside in the rain.

Super-storage

If you’re struggling for space in your home or garage, a folding bike is a perfect choice. Under the stairs, in a cupboard or nestled in your kitchen, a folding bike can be safely stored inside.

What is an electric folding bike?

An electric folding bike is simply a regular folding bike which has been fitted with an electric motor.

All folding electric bikes are capable of being reduced from a rideable bike to something much more compact in a matter of minutes (or seconds if you practice!).

Electric folding bikes, like all road-legal electric bikes, are fitted with a motor and a rechargeable battery that provides assistance as you pedal. The motor will help propel you to a speed of 15.5mph – the UK limit. Travel faster than that, and your legs will be doing all the work.

Bike designers have invested a massive amount of time in designing folding bikes that can safely accommodate the battery pack and motor. They’re no bigger than traditional folding bikes but are a little heavier – courtesy of the motor and battery.

If you’re interested in purchasing an electric folding bike, here are some of the things you should consider while narrowing down your options:

Different levels of fold

Perhaps the most crucial attribute of an electric folding bike is its fold. Make a note of how compact your chosen model folds down to and how that compares to the space you’re going to store it in. Most models will fold at the handlebar and at the mainframe. Some are sold with folding pedals to further reduce their size when folded.

Some folding mechanisms are more friendly than others, so we’d recommend using one before you buy if it’s possible. At first, folding mechanisms may appear confusing, but in time you’ll perfect it and will be able to assemble and collapse your bike in seconds giving you just enough time to make the early train.

Battery power and range

The most expensive and essential part of an electric folding bike is its motor and battery. Bigger batteries will power you for longer distances, but they can be bulkier and will certainly be heavier too.

When weighing up options, one useful exercise is to compare your commuting distance with the bike’s range. There’s no use in buying a bike with a 30-mile battery range when your daily round-trip commute is 40 miles, for example.

Also, consider that the range figures are best-case estimates, and there are lots of factors that can affect how many miles you will get out of a full charge. Weight, conditions and the level of assistance will all affect how long your battery will last, so treat the estimates as just that and be conservative.

Weight

We’re not going to lie, electric folding bikes can be heavier than traditional bikes. For some, this could be a deal-breaker. You will find details of the weight of each bike on their listing so you can compare models.

Some models like the Gocycle GX make use of their wheels, helping the rider wheel the bike along when folded. You can buy accessories such as carry handles that make moving a bulky bike a little easier. Other folding bikes have removable batteries which can be great if you want a temporary reduction in overall weight.

If you can’t lift it onto a train, let alone up your office or apartment stairs, the bike might not be for you. Like everything bike-related, if you can try it before you buy it, then do.

Wheel size

Most folding e-bikes come with 20” wheels. That’s much smaller than full-size wheels which means they are lighter and more compact when folded. They also improve handling, which can come in useful when nipping in and out of traffic. The pay-off is that you won’t gather as much momentum on the road when you get up to speed, which means you may need to put in a little more effort while pedalling.

Gearing

Even folding bikes need gears, so you’ll need to choose what’s right for you and your commute. Most folding e-bikes come fitted with a single chainring at the front and an 8-speed rear sprocket. That gives you a choice of 8 gears and a ratio of 1:8.

For most riders and commutes, this should be enough. If your route to work is flat, then a stripped-down 3-speed setup could do the job.

Racks, mudguards, lights and a kickstand

If you’re commuting, then accessories such as mudguards, racks and kickstands are essential. Some bikes are sold as a complete commuters and come fitted with a rack, mudguards, front and rear lights, kickstand. Others may come with only some of these accessories, so keep that in mind when comparing packages.

It can be cheaper to purchase a fully-specced bike than adding your own choice of accessories.

Brakes

Folding bikes come fitted with a couple of different braking options. Models at the lower end of the price spectrum are more likely to run V-brakes, where the stopping force is applied against the rim of the bike’s wheel. More expensive models use disc brakes, which offer greater stopping power. One of the benefits of disc brakes is they require less maintenance and can be more reliable.

A closer look at electric folding bike batteries and motors

Folding electric bikes are powered by a motor, which takes its energy from a rechargeable battery that’s fitted to the frame.

At the cheaper end of the market, the motor is placed in the hub of the rear wheel. On more expensive electric folding bikes the motor is placed at the crank of the bike, where your feet meet the pedals.

Both types of electric motor will provide powerful pedal assistance to the rider. More expensive electric bikes with motors fitted in the cranks feature a torque sensor which measures how much power you’re putting through the pedals. This information is used by the bike’s computer to intelligently deliver power when it’s needed. This can make riding with an electric motor feel more natural.

When riding an electric folding bike, you can choose from a selection of modes. These modes will provide varying levels of rider assistance, from a gentle push to a surge. Some even have a walk mode too, helpful when you’re off the bike and wheeling the bike along.

The motor is managed through an interface which is fitted to the handlebars. More advanced models come fitted with displays that provide information, such as speed, distance covered and battery power remaining.

To help deal with varying terrain or low battery situations, electric folding bikes feature a control unit that will make decisions about how power is delivered. It can choose to increase or decrease the power that’s delivered by the motor.

Choosing the right electric folding bike

An electric folding bike is a big investment, so we recommend you spend some time weighing up the options and comparing models. Our guide contains a lot of the information you need, but if it’s possible, we recommend you getting up close and personal with a few models before you make your choice.

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