Best electric folding bikes 2023
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The best electric folding bikes will take you from A to B with ease but also pack up small for transport or storage.
The growth in popularity of electric folding bikes probably hasn’t escaped your notice. After all, our towns and cities are the ideal playground for a commuter-focussed product that combines the attributes of the best folding bikes. notably portability. with those of the best electric bikes, namely making your journey faster and less physically taxing.
The best electric folding bikes are ideally suited for carrying on trains and buses as well as folding up small enough to make storage both at work and a home a breeze. Likewise their manageable size also makes them a good choice for taking on holiday.
Like any commuter bike, there are plenty of options when it comes to electric folding bikes. Which is right for you will depend on your individual needs. How far do you plan on riding? Is your route into work flat or does it take in a few hills? And, as with any considered purchase, how much do you wish to spend?
We’ll dive into some of these details later, in the guide at the bottom of this page, as well providing some general information on e-bikes. But before that let’s look at our picks of some of the best electric folding bikes on the market.
Best electric folding bikes
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Reasons to avoid
With the option to add many accessories. such as fenders (mudguards), a front and rear pannier rack, integrated lights, lock holster and a travel case. the G4i is a solid choice for a commuter.
The clever folding design means that you can push it on its wheels rather than needing to carrying it, or you can fully fold it into a compact package. There’s built-in rear suspension, concealed cabling and a fully enclosed drivetrain.
Owners can charge their phone (or other small devices) from the bike’s battery when not in use, through a discreetly integrated USB port on the handlebars. That said, we didn’t find that the integrated phone mount quite matched the quality of the rest of the bike itself. The same goes for the LED display, which we found to be rather basic. although the information it provides is useful.
With a completely enclosed drivetrain, it makes sense for year-round commuting and should stay pretty low-maintenance. The G4i utilizes a Shimano Nexus 3 speed internally geared hub.
With 2.35″ wide tyres and 1” of elastomer suspension, the Gocycle G4i is one of the more comfortable small wheelers. And should you puncture one of those 20″ tyres, the single-sided wheel attachment means that you don’t even have to remove the wheel.
The 500W (250W in the UK/EU) G4 electric motor and 375Wh Lithium-ion battery is claimed to provide a range of up to 80km (50mi), but the most we managed to get out of it was just 44km (27mi). To be fair, that was in one of the more ‘assisted’ modes and I always had the daytime running lights on. plus the city of Bath is well known for its brutally steep hills.
The bike is available from 17.6kg / 38.8lbs. However, as the weight is centred low on the frame, this at least makes the ride more stable. The folding mechanism has been improved since previous versions and can be quickly collapsed into a small package. Gocycle says this can be done in as little as ten seconds; we found it was closer to 20.
Reasons to avoid
This London based brand has been going for over 45-years and has applied its expertise in manufacturing folding bikes to produce this electric version.
With six hub based gears, mudguards and built-in lights, the Electric C Line hits many of the points of a good commuter. The handlebar-mounted bag which holds the battery has extra capacity for carrying other items, and there is even a 5V 1.5A USB port you can use for charging your devices directly from the bike’s battery.
The 250W motor and 300Wh battery give a respectable maximum range of 40 miles and take four hours to charge from empty, although a faster charger can be bought separately.
With 16” wheels and weighing 14.5kg / 32lbs, this is a compelling option for maximum portability. It benefits from Brompton’s tried-and-tested 3-part fold, which results in a compact folded size of 645mm (H) x 565mm (W) x 270mm (D) (25.3” x 23” x 10.6”).
Reasons to avoid
A more unconventional offering from Tern, this bike favours other aspects than minimising volume. If you often find yourself needing to transport large loads by bike, then this electric folding cargo model should have plenty of appeal.
The rack can handle 100kg / 220lbs, while the frame can take a gross weight of 200kg / 440lbs. The battery is beefed up to match, coming with 400Wh as standard and delivering. ‘up to’. 195km (121 miles) of range
This ruggedness means the bike weighs in at a hefty 33kg / 74lbs. So while this certainly isn’t a bike for lugging on and off the train, for example, it does make sense for anyone needing to carry plenty of cargo.
By folding only at the handlebars, it does collapse to a similar height to other folding bikes, however the Tern remains considerably longer. But due to its cargo bike credentials and burly build it’s unlikely to be a choice for those overly concerned with space.
Reasons to avoid
Rolling on 20in wheels and wide 2.4″ tyres, the Blix Vika Flex has a quality folding mechanism at the downtube and stem, which origamis the bike down plenty small enough to fit under your desk. the folded size of the bike measures 36x21x28.5 inches.
The Californian brand claims the 614Wh battery and the 500-watt rear hub-based motor will give you 45 miles of range and charge in six hours from empty. There’s also a handy throttle that can be used at any assist level. All of these are legal in the US where the Vika Flex is currently sold.
It’s worth noting here that in the UK, e-bikes are classed and treated as normal pedal bikes providing that: the maximum power output is under 250w, it will only be propelled when pedalling (no throttle) and the motor cuts out over 15.5mph. Otherwise it must either be type approved or registered and taxed.
The Vika has a 7-speed Shimano Acera drivetrain, disc brakes, a rear rack, integrated front and rear lights and fenders (mudguards). Blix also produces a range of accessories, such as additional racks, baskets and bags, which can be attached to the frame’s ‘Smart mounting points’.
Other noteworthy features include a bar mounted display that doubles as a USB charger and a power auto cut-off function that cuts power when the brakes are engaged to avoid unwanted forward motion when braking.
Reasons to avoid
Raleigh’s offering balances cost and performance, aiming for a middle ground in both.
The 8-speed derailleur gears mean maintenance is easier, but more frequent. Coming with a rack, mudguards (fenders), kickstand and integrated lights, it is a versatile bike that’s well set up for the daily commute. there’s even a handy walk assist feature that helps you push the bike along, which Raleigh says is designed for navigating busy pavements and sidewalks. The wheels are 20” and shod with 2” tyres.
The maximum range comes to around 31 miles due to the smaller 250Wh battery. However, if you thought that would translate into a significant weight saving, you would be wrong, with the whole bike coming in at 20kg / 44lbs.
That said, considering the Evo folds in just two places, the space it takes up is impressively small, making this an electric folding bike you could comfortably stash by your work desk or in the back of your car.
Reasons to avoid
UK brand Hummingbird is known for producing some of the lightest folding bikes around. So it’s no surprise that its foray into electric folding bikes has produced the same results. in fact it claims that at just 10.3kg it is the world’s lightest folding e-bike.
It’s an astonishing figure, making the Hummingbird half the weight of some of the other bikes in this list. To achieve this it uses the brand’s patented carbon frame as well as carbon bars and seatpost. You’ve also got mechanical rim brakes here, which will again help to keep the weight down.
The bike does lack some of the commuter-friendly options of the best electric folding bikes. There are no racks, front or rear, and the only mudguards available are clip-on and will need to be purchased separately.
As for the motor and battery, it’s a clever all-in-one design delivered in a lightweight package, weighing just 3.5kg combined. The Italian made rear hub 250w motor/battery should be good for around 30 miles on a full charge and includes regenerative braking to recharge the battery when you’re going downhill.
Hummingbird says that the Gen 2.0 motor has 50% more torque while it also has a Bluetooth 5.1 remote control to change power modes and activate the sprint assist to power up hills. The Bitride smartphone app also allows you to benefit from an active electronic locking system. which is certainly needed given the bike’s hefty price tag.
Anatomy of an electric folding bike—what you should be aware of
As a bike with the core purpose of portability, weight is a major factor to consider. Although an e-folding bike will never be as light as a bike without a motor and battery strapped to the frame, some are significantly heavier than others. Being able to comfortably carry the bike plays an important part in how many folding bikes are used.
The size of the battery and motor have a large effect on the overall weight of an e-bike. Although a more powerful motor will give more ‘oomph’ and a bigger battery will increase the range, these aspects need to be balanced against the intended use of the bike. Typically a folding e-bike will have a smaller battery and less range than a non-folding electric bike.
If you are taking the bike on public transportation, these will likely be sacrificed in favour of a lighter build. Whereas, if you want a bike that just takes up a little less space than a full-sized one, there is no need to hold back.
For commuters, it’s worth remembering you can bring a cable to charge the bike while you’re at work. This way it’s possible to go for a smaller and lighter battery, whilst keeping an acceptable total range.
It is worth testing out the bike in person, to gain a clearer understanding of what weight and power is the correct balance for you.
As with conventional folding bikes, wheel size is a trade-off between speed and comfort against compact size. Most range between 16” and 24”, however extremes such as 10” and 26” are possible. Which wheel size you go for will be a personal choice depending on what your priorities are.
Degree of folding
Some electric folding bikes can tuck themselves away to an impressively small volume, with Brompton among the leaders in this department.
However, the more folding points a bike has, the longer it will take to pack away and the fiddlier it is to do so. A bike with fewer folding points will be faster and easier, although not as compact. Every bike will sit somewhere along this spectrum of pros and cons, and there is no right answer on how compact to go—the choice depends on your circumstances.
Again, it is very much worth testing the bike in person to get a feel for what size and how easily the bike folds. That said, collapsing the bike will become second nature over time.
Although some electric folding bikes are bought to simply be flexible and convenient bikes for storing and transporting to pleasant cycling locations, many will see use in the rush hour. As such, there are certain points that make a bike more practical for commuting. For example, mudguards, pannier racks and built-in lights all become important considerations.
Do you have to pedal an electric folding bike?
The short answer is yes, e-bikes work through pedal assistance; there is no throttle (unless you’re in the US where this can feature on some models). The e-bike will deliver power proportional to how much you are putting in yourself.
However this is only up to a point. In the UK, e-bikes are limited to providing pedal assistance up to 25 kph (15.5 mph); above that speed you will be propelling the e-bike under your own steam.
In the US, it’s a bit more complicated, as the laws vary from state to state. The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association has sought to clear up the murky legislation with a three-class system — each limited to 750-watt motors.
- Class 1: the motor is strictly pedal assist and is limited to 20mph
- Class 2: can provide assistance whether or not the rider is pedalling, and is limited to 20mph
- Class 3: the motor provides pedal assist, is limited to 28mph, and must be equipped with a speedometer.
Our friends over at People for Bikes have complied a complete guide that breaks down the rules state by state.
How far do the best electric folding bikes go?
To aid comparisons between bikes, it is helpful to note that batteries are measured in Watt Hours (Wh). The greater this value, the further you will be able to travel on a single charge (all other things being equal).
As a general guide a folding e-bike’s battery capacity will be between 250Wh-400Wh. This should equate to a riding range of anywhere between 25 and 75 miles of run time when fully charged.
It’s worth remembering however that the more assistance the bike provides, the more power it will draw from the battery. To help conserve battery life it makes sense to only use the higher levels of assistance when you most need them, such as going uphill.
Like any battery, an e-bike battery won’t last forever. Typically you should expect to get around 800 charge cycles from a high-quality electric bike lithium-ion battery before it will need replacing.
Best Folding Electric Bikes 2023
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So far, 2023 brought us new innovations, a barrage of new electric bike companies, and plenty of fresh e-bikes for consumers to choose from.
But which are the best electric bikes of the bunch?
The team at Electric Bike Report put our heads together and chose 14 e-bikes we’ve deemed the Best Electric Bikes of 2023. Some of these bikes are new for this year, but some are old standbys that are tried, tested and still hold true as the best in their class.
As with every list of best e-bikes, ours has some nuance as to why a specific bike was picked — ranging from value, componentry to overall ride feel. We’ve also leaned heavily on e-bikes we’ve tested in-house, though there are a few bikes here that were picked based on merit and reputation alone.
Whether you’re looking for the best e-bike for older riders, the best commuter e-bike or the best electric beach cruiser, this list will point you towards what we think are the best in each category.
How we picked the best electric bikes
In a fast-growing sea of products, how did we make our picks for the best e-bikes? The answer to this question varies depending on the bike and category. But in every case, these e-bikes were picked through consensus among our team of expert e-bike testers.
Some bikes, such as the Aventon Aventure electric fat bike, leapt out as obvious frontrunners during testing. While others, like the Rad Power Bikes RadWagon and Diamondback Union 2, were sleeper contenders chosen for very specific reasons. But in all cases, we evaluated the bikes based on a few key criteria, mainly:
- Value: How much e-bike are you getting for your dollar? The e-bike market has grown flush with overpriced and under-spec’d electric bikes that don’t offer much value. Every bike on this list we’d call fairly priced.
- Components and extras: What else comes with the e-bike? Does it come with racks, bags, lights and fenders, and do those accessories make sense? Is there anything else that should be included but isn’t?
- Does it offer something unique?: In a market chock-full of options, what’s unique about this bike that sets it apart from the competition? There are many categories of e-bike — particularly at the more affordable end of the spectrum — that are flush with copycat brands and e-bikes that just aren’t that special. We’re looking for the ones that are.
- What does the manufacturer say it was built for?: What was this bike designed to do, and how well does it execute that purpose? Of course you can choose to use your bike however you’d like, but we want to make sure the e-bikes on this list function as advertised.
- How does it actually ride?: Last but not least, the most important question: Does the e-bike ride well? Most of these e-bikes we know intimately through rigorous testing.
Rad Power Bikes RadExpand 5
Best Class II Folding Electric Bike, 2023
Rad Power Bikes’ Rad Expand 5 is our choice for best Class 2 [20 mph limit] folding e-bike in 2023. When choosing a folding e-bike, product longevity is important to consider. Rad began building folding e-bikes in 2015, and the Expand 5 is their fifth iteration of this model, so they have a lot of experience in designing, building and selling folding e-bikes.
Power is delivered from the proof-tested 750-watt [750w] motor that dishes out predictable doses of acceleration that never surprises you, nor makes you feel like the bike is out of control. The 14 amp-hour/672 watt-hour battery [14Ah/672Wh], provides enough energy to power the motor for up to 40 miles between charges.
Part of the allure of having a folding e-bike, is the ability to take this bike almost anywhere to explore. The Expand 5 enables you to explore dirt roads as well as pavement and gravel, with its 20” x 4” fat tires – a key feature not always found on other folding electric e-bikes. Smooth, reliable shifting is delivered to the 14-tooth to 34-tooth rear cassette [14-34T] gearing and MicroShift 7-speed mechanical shift unit.
One of the new changes we welcome are the wider 660 mm handlebars and 6.9” rise now featured on the Expand 5. This provides better control and creates more stable handling. The power comes from Rad’s historically reliable rear hub motor, which safely accelerates at predictable levels. And the LED display is easy to use and easy to see in the sunlight. There’s even an LCD display upgrade available.
Here at EBR, we prefer hydraulic disc brakes for stopping power, but the mechanical brakes on the Expand 5 performed better than the average. The benefits of having mechanical brakes include easy maintenance and lower costs for repairs and replacement parts. The rigid suspension makes off-roading a bit more rough compared to folding e-bikes with suspension, but it’s sturdy and reliable.
Considering Rad’s reputation with customer service, and the Expand 5’s simple construction, sturdy build and history of performance and reliability, you get a lot of value here from a bike that’s priced in what we consider the affordable tier – making it worthy of our list of best folding e-bikes. You can buy this e-bike online and have it shipped directly to your door.
- Reliable and powerful 750w motor.
- New 680mm handlebar improves control over narrower bars from before.
- Easy to fold and store for camping, traveling or just putting in the trunk of your car.
- Great stopping power from the mechanical brakes.
- 14-amp controller distributes the motor power evenly – and safely – at each PAS level.
- LED display is easy to use and easy to read when riding.
- Rad has a lot of engineering know-how, going back to their first e-bikes in 2011.
- Rad’s customer service has a good reputation.
- The velcro strap for securing the folded bike should be replaced with something stronger and harder to lose.
- Some riders will be sad to see the suspension fork of the precious model is no longer offered, although the fat tires still make it mostly a comfy ride.
Lectric XP 3.0
Best Do-It-All Folding Electric Bike, 2023
Earning our vote as the best Do-it-All Folding E-Bike is Lectric’s XP 3.0 model, Building on the success of the earlier XP 2.0 model, Lectric now offers a more powerful 500w motor that boosts the peak 1000w, and 55nm. The power output really showed in our performance tests compared to the earlier model XP 2.0. The controller manages a five-level PAS, and this marvel of an e-bike also has a throttle for quick acceleration, or for when you’re tired of pedaling. The 10.4Ah battery offers a range of between 25 to 50 miles, and the charger will get you back up and running in six hours.
Using a Shimano Tourney 7-speed for gearing, Lectric decided to switch to a 11-28T cassette. This eliminates the ghost pedaling issue of the past, while increasing the top speed for effective pedaling from 18 to 20 mph. Providing positive handling and control are 50 mm travel coil spring suspension forks and 20” x 3” tires to keep you safely rolling. When testing on gravel roads, we found these tires hold their own and still offer a fun ride.
Lectric still installs mechanical brakes on this e-bike, but they switched from 160mm rotors to 180mm rotors, and our brake test revealed greater stopping power than the XP 2.0. Rear rack capacity increased from 75 lbs to 150 lbs, enabling you to carry a heavier passenger. But parents beware, the heavier weight doesn’t mean you should try carrying more than one passenger. Max capacity increased to 330 lbs. The e-bikes Passenger Mode adjusts the motor performance to accommodate your passenger, while also keeping the bike at a safe maximum speed of 10 mph.
At 65 lbs, the XP 3.0 is heavy as a folding bike, but the solid construction, off-road potential and overall reliability are fair trade-offs for this e-bikes weight. If the bike’s weight is not an issue for you, and you want to extend the bike’s range another 15-20 miles, you can fit it with the 14 amp-hour battery, for an additional pound and a half of weight.
Lectric is no newcomer to the e-bike world. Their engineering design team has a lot of experience in creating solid and reliable e-bikes that perform well and leave a lot of riders with smiles on their face. Residing in the 1000 range, this e-bike gives you a lot of value for your money – arguably the most value of any bike on this list of best electric folding bikes.
You can buy this e-bike online and have it shipped directly to your door, and since it folds down neatly, you just unfold it and it’s fully assembled and ready to ride!
- Better acceleration from the powerful new 500w motor (1000w peak) and 55 Nm of torque.
- Higher speed ghost pedaling from the previous model is eliminated by the new 11-28T gearing.
- Better at hill climbing thanks to the new motor and gearing.
- Larger 180mm rotors provide greater stopping power.
- 50mm travel on new fork give smoother ride, better handling.
- New 150 lb rear rack enables you to transport a heavier passenger than before.
- Standard 10.4Ah battery provides power to go up to 50 miles on a single charge.
- Would like to see a change where riders can remove the battery key when riding,
- Would like to see better grips for improved control and a more enjoyable ride (easily swapped though).
Aventon Sinch Step-Thru
Best Class III Folding Electric Bike, 2023
Aventon Sinch earned our nod for the Best Class 3 [28 mph limit] folding e-bike. Granted, it comes as class 2, but we enjoyed the ride feel when going a little faster into speeds in the low 20s.
Redesigning the frame, and lowering the bottom tube, this e-bike is more conducive to riders who have physical limitations. They also re-designed the clamp and hinge for folding the bike, making it stronger and easier to lock in place. The new design also eliminates the flexing problem we encountered on the previous model, as there was no more sideways flexing by the bike when we did our test rides.
This bike features a peppy 500w motor that offered great acceleration at each of the five PAS levels we tested it on. It also includes a thumb throttle for when you need quick bursts, or when you need to maintain the same speed while taking a break from pedaling. When doing the throttle-only portion of the hill climb test, this bike posted the second-fastest time of all the Aventons we had tested to that point.
The Sinch’s clean and stylish look hides the fact that this is a folding e-bike. Giving the rider a range of up to 40 miles on a single charge, the frame-integrated 48v 14 Ah battery recharges in under six hours.
Transferring the motor’s power to the wheels using a Shimano Altus 7-speed, with a 11-32T steel cassette, and 170 mm 52T crankset, this bike rides nice at any speed, and it never felt like it was trying to excuse the rider from pedaling. Stopping power was superb thanks to the Tektro mechanical disc brakes and 180 mm rotors. Softening the rough roads with its 45mm travel RST Guide front forks, the improved suspension was noticeable, especially when compared to the rigid frame folding e-bikes we rode.
The controller still uses a cadence and speed sensor for managing the motor engagement in the PAS modes, but it worked well for most riding conditions. Weighing in at 68 lbs, which was about average compared to similar e-bikes, the Sinch can carry a rider weighing up to 300 lbs, and can carry up to 55 lbs of cargo on the rear rack.
All in all, this bike can do a lot and offers a lot, especially when you consider it’s priced well around 1500.
- Stronger hinge and clamp to fold and lock frame for storage after riding.
- 500-watt motor has greater climbing ability than the previous version.
- 14 Ah battery holds enough juice to take you up to 60 miles.
- 45 mm travel RST forks help absorb the bumps and provide smoother travel.
- Better than average stopping power from the Tektro mechanical disc brakes.
- Color LCD display is great for riding on bright days and dark evenings.
- 300 lbs rider limit, and 55 lbs for cargo, enable this bike to meet many needs.
- We would like to see a mechanism on-board for keeping the bike folded.
- Slight delay in motor engagement after starting pedaling after braking.
Blix Vika Flex
Best Modular Folding Electric Bike, 2023
Some e-bikes are better than others when it comes to customizing them to suit specific tastes or meet specific needs. Blix’s Vika Flex features a slew of options earning its spot as the best modular folding e-bike for 2023.
Depending on your riding needs the Vika Flex is able to carry up to 110 lbs of cargo, and offers a unique customizable modular racking system. You have over 30 options to choose from, including different types and sizes of racks, boards, bags, posts, and more to make your Blix unique and able to accommodate your specific needs.
This e-bike gets around quite well with its 500w rear hub motor. Our test bike had no problem taking our 180 lb rider around at all of the PAS levels. The throttle had no trouble getting us up to 20 mph without pedaling.And when it came to climbing hills, this Blix was able to reach the top of our famed Hell Hole Trail on throttle alone, something similar e-bikes couldn’t do.
The 48v 12.8 Ah battery feeds the motor enough power to ride 45 miles on one charge, and can be recharged in 6 hours. Blix replaced the earlier mechanical brakes with Tektro’s 160mm rotor hydraulic brakes. With the help of the bike’s light frame, these brakes performed remarkably well in our brake test. Confidence in control came courtesy of the CST BMX 20” x 2.4” CST tires. The stiffer sidewall and road tread offered great handling.
Because of its compact design, this bike might seem a little small for larger riders. Also, when folding and unfolding the bike we found the hardware to be tight and somewhat difficult for folding, unfolding, and locking into place. But it’s light 55 lb. weight makes it easier to maneuver and zip around tight spots, and we appreciate the magnets that help it stay folded toether. The light weight is also good for lifting into a car trunk or SUV, or carrying upstairs or rolling onto public transport.
When considering all the features this e-bike offers, we find the Blix Vika Flex is a good deal for for the money. For more information on how to get your hands on a Blix Vika Flex, please click the red button below.
- 500w rear hub motor offers great speed at all PAS levels; throttles up to 20 mph.
- 48v 12.8 Ah battery provides enough to ride up to 45 miles on one charge.
- Great handling from its short wheel base and CST 20” x 4” road tread tires.
- Easily folds and is very compact for carrying and storing.
- 55 lbs weight makes it light enough to carry upstairs or roll onto public transport.
- Great stopping ability from Tektro’s 160mm rotor hydraulic brakes.
- Better than average hill climbing ability.
- The cockpit is a little cramped for taller riders.
- Folding bracket’s hinge and pin are tight making it difficult to fold, unfold lock the frame.
Lectric XP Lite
Best Ultra Affordable Folding Electric Bike, 2023
Here at EBR we’ve been telling people that 1000 is the entry point for buying a decent quality e-bike, then came Lectric XP Lite. Listed at around 800, this little sister to the popular XP 2.0 not only lowered the bar on price, but they did it by being a well-established company offering a quality e-bike for less than 1000.
Before you get too excited and think this is all you’ll ever need, you need to consider the trade-off in what this ebike doesn’t feature, like suspension, gearing, and a big battery. But at 46 lbs, this single-speed is easy to fold up, throw in your car trunk and take it almost anywhere for a good ride.
Part of what makes this bike less expensive and lighter rests with its 350w motor [750w peak]. It feels underpowered when using PAS 1 and 2 but comes to life at PAS 3. When riding this e-bike at PAS 5, we got close to topping out at 20 mph, which is the limit for being a Class 2 e-bike.
The battery is smaller than most, at 7.8 Ah [374 Wh], but with the smaller motor and lighter frame, it still has energy to take you up to 40 miles when pedaling. The small but mighty 350W motor makes efficient use of the battery. We reached 16 miles in our max PAS range test and still got 35 miles out of a range test don at PAS 3. The key here is pedaling – the XP Lite will do more for you if you do more for it.
Another benefit of the compact design is the ease in which you can maneuver this bike around town, and around obstacles. The XP Lite’s nimble handling makes it easier to scoot around pedestrians and slow bikes on the path. Helping you keep control are the 20” x 2.6” tires that provide positive traction.
Using 160mm rotors, front and back, the small wheels didn’t take away the braking system’s ability to safely stop us during our brake test.
Before we rode the XP Lite, we didn’t realistically believe decent folding e-bikes could be sold for under 1000, but the folks at Lectric surprised us again. If you want fat tires for off-roading, a powerful motor to race past your friends, and ride over 50 miles on a single charge, then you’re not going to get that with the XP Lite and you’d be better stepping up to the XP 3.0. But if you want a good quality, affordable folding e-bike that won’t empty your bank account, then you should consider Lectric’s XP Lite as it’s the most affordable bike found on our list of the best folding e-bikes.
- Cost – this is the best folding e-bike you will find, and the only e-bike we recommend in the 800 range.
- Weight – at just 46 lbs it’s easy to carry and easy to ride.
- Handling – the compact design paired with the 20” wheels provide great control.
- 275-lb. payload capacity is awesome for a sub-50 lb. e-bike.
- Easy maintenance – thanks to its simple design and no-frills components.
- Great starter e-bike for just about anyone.
- While the motor punches above it’s weightclass, the smaller motor and lack of gearing will be somewhat limiting on the steepest hills.
Best Premium Folding Electric Bike, 2023
Electric bike options have literally exploded onto the market in recent years, including folding e-bike frame selections. There are e-bikes you can fold, and there are folding e-bikes. GoCycle’s G4 not only resides in the latter of the two, but is by far the easiest e-bike to fold of all the folding e-bikes we’ve tested.
Add this to its super light 38 lb weight and you get one of the easiest e-bikes to fold, carry and store. Packing a powerful 500w motor that even climbs hills, mag wheels and a drivetrain that’s years ahead of the competition, and at a price under 4000 and you have an e-bike that earns our nod as the Best Premium Folding Electric Bike.
Combining the aluminum front frame to the carbon composite rear frame, GoCycle give’s you a very light bike that’s easy to carry but still built strong. Rolling atop a set 20” x 2.25” wheels, this smartly designed bike makes handling and controlling the G4 a breeze, and the adjustable frame and bars can provide a home to riders ranging in height from 5’4” to 6’2”.
The G4 features GoCycle’s unique proprietary Cleandrive enclosed drive system, to keep your hands clean from the greasy chain and sprocket, and a motor that delivers up to 800w of peak power and cruises comfortably at 15 mph. The futuristic looking single-sided fork and rear swingarm make changing tires and fixing flats easier than you’ve ever imagined. Adding to the list of conveniences includes no chain, sprocket or greasy mess, as well as the optional mudguards, lights, integrated lock holster, panniers, and travel and storage systems.
The only thing we thought could be better on this bike was the LED display. On its own you can’t do much with it. That’s because it is most effective when coordinated with the rider’s smartphone, adding lots of images and data to help enhance the overall riding experience. If you’re a rider who likes to ignore your phone when riding, you’ll be a little disappointed about that.
But overall, the GoCycle G4 leads the pack in it’s design and construction, and it has a lot of innovative features that other e-bike companies will likely imitate in a few years. GoCycle also offers a service plan, featuring bike mechanics who are specifically trained to fix GoCycle e-bikes. So if you want a folding e-bike that features leading innovation to enhance your riding experience, then you should consider the GoCycle G4.
- Easiest e-bike we’ve ever folded.
- 500w motor delivers, making hill climbing easier.
- Weight – super light 38 lbs, feels more like a regular bike.
- Small frame also fits taller riders.
- Easy gearing via a uniquely designed swingarm, housing a Shimano Nexus 3-speed internal gear hub.
- Single-sided fork and rear swingarm simplify fixing flat tires.
- Spot-on handling provides comfortable and predictable agility.
Best Folding Electric Bike For Cargo, 2023
With its patented folding frame design, demonstrated strength, ease at folding and unfolding, and range of options for carrying cargo, Tern’s Vektron earns its place as the 2023 best folding electric bike for Cargo.
At 39 lbs, this bike is one of the easiest to fold, unfold and carry around for the commuter and/or traveler. It’s powered by a high performance Bosch 250w motor, generating 65 Nm of torque, and an energy management system [EMS] that efficiently distributes energy from the battery to the motor, thus maximizing the bike’s range.
Rolling atop 20” road tires, the rear hub channels the bike’s speed using the Shimano Deore 10-speed gearing, a step up in quality compared to most e-bikes. Riders ranging in height from 4’10” to 6’5 can easily adjust the bike’s tool-free stem and quick release seat post. Brakes are handled by a hydraulic disc system and 160mm rotors.
The rear rack is integrated into the frame, and allows for various child seats to me mounted so you can take your little one with you.
Since we only had a chance to check out this e-bike at a recent expo we weren’t able to do our normal slew of performance and safety tests, nor were we able to ride the usual 100 to 175 miles we normally ride on test bikes. But honestly, we were enamored with the bike’s ride quality, and the reputation it carries as an innovation leader make it a simple choice as one of the years best electric folding bikes.
- Patented design folding frame is only 39 lbs, stiff, strong, easy-to-carry, serviceable.
- 250w, 65Nm Bosch high performance mid-drive motor efficiently delivers power.
- Bosch energy management system [EMS] uses battery energy efficiently.
- Tool-free adjustable stem and quick release seat post quickly fits riders between 4’10” to 6’5”.
- High performance sifting gearing with the Shimano Deore 10-speed.
- Bicycle child seat can be mounted on the frame-integrated rear rack.
- Brakes are hydraulic discs and 160mm rotors.
- 20″ wheels and a rigid work make the handling great, but if you travel over bump roads on the regular you’ll feel it a bit more on this bike than others.
Another Great Class 3 Folding Electric Bike, 2023
Okay, so we ran out of awards on this one as we’re rolling with “Another great Class 3 Folding Electric Bike,” but hey, this bike impressed in the tests and we’d be remiss to not have included it amongst the list of the best folding bikes.
Inspired by the portable folding Welbike motorcycle used by the British Army during World War II, the folks at Mod designed their City in the same spirit: it easily folds into a portable 65 lb unit; durable; and offers a respectable range of up to 50 miles on a single charge. Fortunately, MOD made this folding e-bike for fun, not for war.
Power is distributed from the surprisingly powerful 500w rear hub motor. In our Circuit Test, this bike easily cruised at 24 mph, and completed our hill climb test with better-than-expected results. Mounted to at the rear of the seat tube, the Samsung 48v 12.8 Ah, 614 Wh battery, provided enough energy for us to ride 25 miles using PAS 5 the whole time, and 50 miles casually pedaling at PAS 2.
Bike gear shifting is through the Shimano Altus 7-speed, with a 11-32T cassette and 52T chainring. This worked great with the motor output because we had no “ghost pedaling” issues (something more common with rear hub motors), and pedaling uphill in 1st gear was easy-peasy. This bike has great stopping power, thanks to the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, featuring dual-piston calipers, 160mm rotors and a motor shut off to keep the motor from pushing you forward when you really mean to stop.
This bike provided one of the more comfortable sitting experiences, with its wide Selle Royal gel saddle cushioning our behinds. Adding to the soft ride are the Moo coil spring suspension fork, with 50mm travel, and the EXAForm suspension seatpost. Improved traction and handling are offered by the Kenda 20”x3” tires, which enabled us to do some light off-roading as well. Protecting us from splattered mud and puddles are the stock wheel fenders.
The City folds neatly to a mere dimension of 42” x 15” x 26.5”, making it convenient to store. However, chances are Mod wasn’t planning to have the City pushed out of an airplane with paratroopers. That’s because the one thing this bike misses is having a good strap or clamp to lock the bike in place when it’s folded. Our City e-bike unfolded easily – and unexpectedly – on its own after we folded it for storage. We used bungee cords to solve that. So, there’s something for the MOD team to work on improving.
With a riding capacity of 265 lbs, 65 lbs for carrying cargo on the rear, this folding e-bike is made for almost anyone to ride. MOD even offers a child seat, with a backrest, and a seat tube-mounted handlebar so your little one can feel more connected to the ride. So, all in all, if you’re looking for Class 3 folding e-bike, the MOD City might be just what you’re looking for.
- Excellent Tektro Auriga hydraulic disc brakes, 180mm rotors.
- It’s available in a high step and low step
- 500w 60nm rear hub motor delivers ample power.
- Easily cruises at 24 mph and better-than-average at climbing hills.
- Wide Selle Royal gel saddle is one of the more comfortable ones for longer rides.
- The 12Ah/576Wh battery delivers respectable range that should get you anywhere you need to go.
- Moo suspension fork 50mm travel
- EXA Form suspension seatpost
- Folding this e-bike can be cumbersome.
- Need a bracket, clamp or strap to keep bike folded when storing – opens up easy.
Best Dual Battery Folding Electric Bike, 2023
The Lectric XPremium is the “Big Kahuna” in the folding e-bike world: it can do a lot because it has a lot. Holding two batteries instead of one, the XPremium will likely take you further than any of the other folding e-bikes available. Lectric claims this bike will take you up to 100 miles, yet we managed to take our model seven miles beyond that before the batteries quit for the day.
Many of the folding e-bikes we rode are also better suited for pavement. The XPremium felt at home everywhere we rode it: paved streets, bike paths, gravel roads and dirt trails. The torque sensor worked great with the controller in getting the motor to engage with our pedaling. For most of our test rides, its 500w mid-drive motor felt like it had the same power as a 750w rear hub motor. The XPremium did not leave us clamoring for more power.
Lectric designed the frame from scratch, instead of trying to incorporate their new ideas on an existing frame. The XPremium’s wheelbase is the longest of all the folding e-bikes we’ve tested, and was most noticeable in tight turns and dips. Softening the ride is the combination suspension forks, with 80mm of wheel travel, suspension seat post, and comfy gel saddle.
Rolling on a set of Kenda 20” x 4” fat tires, the XPremium had great traction on all surfaces. Even with the longer wheelbase than its cousin, the XP 3.0, this bike still provided a fun time on the off-road course. An unexpected reward was the XPremium’s stopping ability. Using Zoom hydraulic disc brakes, with dual-piston calipers, this bike’s brake test results were better than what we were expecting from 160mm rotors and the bike’s above-average weight of 79 lbs.
Chances are, when riding a longer range e-bike, like the XPremium with its 330 lbs weight limit, you’re not going to start and stop as often as you would on smaller e-bikes. And with the heavier weight, you also get a heavy duty hinge and lock for safely folding the bike for storage, and unfolding the bike to ride. You can fit a host of accessories to customize your ride, including installing a seat on the rear rack so you can transport your child when you ride.
So, if you’re looking for a folding e-bike that can take you 100 miles, carry cargo, and rides comfortably on all surfaces, then the Lectric XPremium could be right up your alley. For more information on the Lectric XPremium, and where to get it, please click the “Check Best Price” button below.
- Efficient power output from the 500-watt mid-drive motor.
- Up to 100-mile range from dual batteries.
- Better motor engagement through the torque sensor.
- Strong stopping power from Zoom hydraulic disc brakes 160mm rotors.
- Good traction and control from the 20” x 4” fat tires
- Smooth ride 80mm wheel travel through the hydraulic forks.
- Comfortable ride thanks to the suspension seat post and gel saddle.
- 330 lbs capacity gives you more hauling ability.
- High torque mid-drive motors tend to wear out chains and cassettes more quickly.
- 79 lb weight makes this heavier than most folding e-bikes.
Best Mid-Tier Folding Electric Bike, 2023
The saying, “Have your cake and eat it, too,” comes to mind when thinking about the Eveloo Dash folding e-bike. The design and components on the Dash make it look like it’s more expensive than its price tag says. Selling for a price between 2000 and 3000, The Evelo Dash gets our nod as the Best Mid-Tier Folding Electric Bike.
The more you look at this e-bike, the more you will see things that are normally found on more expensive e-bikes. We applaud the engineering and design team at Evelo for really thinking outside the box with the Dash. This e-bike does a lot, and with less. Looking at its unique, European-like features, it’s hard to say which one we like best: belt drive, mid-drive motor, internal gear hub, and lightweight frame.
Evelo’s choice of putting a belt drive and internal gear hub was not only a great way to eliminate greasy messes when handling this bike, but it’s also the most efficient way to transmit power to the rear wheel, and increase the possible range this bike can travel. Folding and unfolding the bike was very easy, the hardware locked into place firmly, and the bike rides like its frame is one piece, not two. Rating this as a folding e-bike, the Evelo Dash checks the most important boxes on the list.
Three hundred fifty watts might not seem like a lot on an e-bike, but when you consider it’s a mid-drive motor on a bike weighing less than 50 lbs, then you understand how this bike is designed to have a full time pedaling commitment from its rider. This e-bike is ideal for the rider who needs to transport the bike on a bus or commuter train to complete the final leg to and from work; or for the traveler who needs an alternative to walking, public transit and rental cars. The more you consider how and where to use this folding e-bike, and compare that to other folding e-bikes, the Dash’s benefits become more clear.
An important note about this e-bike’s limitations: since it’s designed to be easy to fold and transport, it has a smaller battery, which means a range of 40 miles, or less if you’re using the higher PAS levels and not pedaling as much. Also, suspension would increase the weight (and cost), so you’ll want to limit your off-roading to flat dirt roads. And finally, the internal gear hub shifts differently than derailleurs – you will need to briefly pause pedaling when you downshift and only change one gear at a time.
So, if you’re looking for lightweight folding e-bike that’s easy to fold, unfold, lift, carry and transport, and will give you more when you put more effort into the ride, and features unique bike technology, then the Evelo Dash might be the bike for you. To learn more about and places to get yourself a Dash, please click the “Check Best Price” button below.
- Unique lightweight folding frame design increases options for transporting, storing and where to take it.
- Clean, low maintenance internal gear hub and belt drive.
- Smooth, efficient power from the mid-drive motor and torque sensor.
- Up to 40-mile range with plenty of assistance.
- Throttle assistance provides quick acceleration when you need it.
- 4-year warranty – customer service will be there to help with any issues.
- One size frame limits shorter and taller riders from using.
- Shifting on the Sturmeny-Archer internal gear hub might confuse new riders.
Bottom line: Your folding e-bike should make sense and match your needs
It’s not always obvious why someone is attracted to the idea of a bike that folds. Some people want them because they save space; others want them because they make great commuters; and some people just like them because of the novelty and unique look.
Whatever your reason for buying a folding bike, make sure you think long and hard about what you want to do with it, because not all folders are created equal. Just like other realms of the cycling world, there are subsets of bikes inside the folding e-bike category that are designed for different uses. A lightweight commuter folding e-bike won’t perform well off-road, and a heavy all-terrain folder would be tough to carry up a set of stairs. So make sure you’re getting the right bike for you. Also, think hard about whether a folding bike is the right choice for your needs. Folding bikes often ride much differently than their full-sized counterparts, so keep in mind you might be trading ride quality for compactness. But, after all that thinking, if you’re still looking for an e-bike that packs down small but is still capable, you’ve come to the right place.
If you want to explore other categories of e-bikes, we’ve got some great e-bike reviews that look in-depth at virtually any type of e-bike you can think of. Or, if you’re new to the world of e-bikes, we’ve got a handy e-bike buyers’ guide that’ll help you get started.
Best folding electric bikes of 2023: Get a boost on your commute
The best folding electric bikes are a new take on the best folding bikes, which have been a staple of the urban commuter for years.
The electric motor gives you a boost on your ride, so you can get to the station or to work quicker, while the ability to fold the bike means that you’re not barred from taking your machine on peak-time public transport.
But the allure of the best folding electric bikes extends beyond the 9 to 5; they’re a great option for leisure rides too. You can fold them up easily to travel with in your car or camper without taking up too much space, giving you an active transport option when you reach your destination.
A folding electric bike is also great if you’ve got limited storage space either at home or at work and its portability makes it a lot easier to get around with than even the best electric bikes that don’t fold down.
Below are our picks of the best folding electric bikes and, at the bottom of the page, our buyer’s guide to what to look for in a folding electric bike.
Best folding electric bikes: our picks
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Reasons to avoid
To many, Brompton is the market-leading folding bike brand. Its tried and tested folding bike platform has remained largely unchanged since its inception and still remains one of the best available today.
Converting the Brompton folding bike package to pedal assistance is a 250-watt front hub motor, powered by a detachable battery pouch that lives in a handlebar bag. This system is supplied by Swytch. makers of one of the best electric bike conversion kits.
There are plenty of things that put the Brompton Electric among the best folding electric bikes, such as its excellent array of luggage options, powerful brakes, crisp shifting and impressive Brompton ride quality, but it’s still not perfect. The mode controls are positioned on the battery, which is an awkward reach when riding, and the brake levers need to be positioned slightly awkwardly so they aren’t in the way when folded, and they don’t cut the motor when pulled so you can be caught out in traffic, as explained in more detail in our Brompton Electric review.
Alongside the original Brompton Electric C Line, there’s now an Electric P Line bike, which has fewer gears and uses lighter materials to cut the bike’s claimed weight from 17.4kg to 15.6kg.
Reasons to avoid
If you want a lightweight folding e-bike, this is a great option. The Hummingbird features carbon fibre components, which might seem superfluous on an e-bike, but it does help reduce overall mass.
Why is a lightweight folding electric bike important? When you need to carry it upstairs or lift it into stowage compartments on a train, you’ll come to appreciate the reduction in weight.
The trussed rear end looks like a stylish application of industrial design and helps keep overall mass down. So, how much does it weigh? Only 10.3kg.
Drawing energy from a 158Wh battery, the Hummingbird folding e-bike uses a 250W rear hub motor, which is paired with a large 48T front chainring. It only spins a single 12T cog at the rear, so you might be slightly over-geared if your commute includes steep gradients.
Reasons to avoid
A thoroughly futuristic design, the Gocycle G4 looks unlike any other folding electric bike. Named for its position as the fourth generation of Gocycle’s design, the G4’s designer is a former McLaren employee, and that shows in the choice of materials and shapes. There’s a carbon fork, magnesium alloy rear frame and, instead of Chromoly, it has an injected-moulded composite centre. if you upgrade to the G4i you’ll see carbon fibre in this portion of the frame instead.
Rolling on larger-than-most 20in wheels, the Gocycle rides better and smoothes out the jarring influence of road surface imperfections, but it does mean the overall folded size is larger.
Its drive front hub drive unit was upgraded in 2021, with a more potent 500W motor option for specific markets. This should give you all the urge to conquer any sequence of steep streets in an urban environment, even with the drivetrain only having three speeds, courtesy of Shimano’s Nexus hub and Microshift grip shifting. The drivetrain is neatly housed within GoCycle’s CleanDrive. effectively keeping it hermetically sealed from dirt and water ingress.
Disc brakes ensure secure stopping, even if your active commute is in the rain. The Gocycle G4’s LED status display also warrants mention, being integrated into the handlebar. If there is one model that shows where folding e-bikes could be in 2030, this is it.
Reasons to avoid
The Vektron S10 might not be a superlight folding e-bike, but it does have a broad reach of appeal. Tern has attempted to combine many ‘big bike’ features into the folding frame concept with this Vektron S10. The result is a heavy package, at 22.1kg, but you get a large capacity battery pack, boosting range.
The Vektron S10’s ten-speed drivetrain ensures that you can work with its battery assistance most efficiently. Commuters can see a theoretical range of up to 106km, and with Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, you’ll feel entirely safe using the Vektron S10’s pedal assistance in wet conditions.
Frequency of use can make life tough for a folding e-bike, so to combat this, a corrosion coating has been applied to the Vektron S10’s chain to help delay its wear rate. By configuring the Vektron S10 with a mid-drive motor, Tern’s designers have optimised weight distribution, giving this folding e-bike fantastically balanced agility.
Reasons to avoid
Although most folding electric bikes are targeted at a distinctly urban audience rolling on quality commuting infrastructure, what about a mixed terrain option?
If you are going to cross some gravel, or have to negotiate crumbling roads and unpredictable shortcuts in your active commute, tiny wheels and skinny tyres aren’t ideal. The solution is something with a much larger tyre casing and grippier tread pattern.
This is where the Lectric XP comes into its own. It might be a very heavy folding e-bike, at 28kg, but you get a potent 500W motor and large 20x3in tyres.
With those big tyres, you’ll never have an issue taking the ‘alternative’ route anywhere. Road surface imperfections are of no consequence to the Lectric XP’s ride quality.
If you are a keen camper, or want a folding e-bike to use at that vacation venue, where the clubhouse and other amenities are just too far for a convenient walk, the Lectric XP’s robustness will appeal. With a standard battery,
Lectric says that you can expect up to 45 miles range, but there’s a long range battery option that increases that to a claimed 65 miles. It’s a US class 1, 2 and 3 design, so you can ride throttle-only if you want.
Reasons to avoid
The Raleigh folding e-bike blends classic commuter styling, with the stability of 20in wheels and an appropriate battery specification.
Bigger wheels bring more directional stability to the folding e-bike platform, although they do slightly reduce the bike’s overall compactness when folded. With its 20in wheels, the Raleigh should do a fair job of calming some road surface buzz.
The frame is alloy but there is a steel fork up front, and despite the now-old-fashioned vertically mounted battery pack, Raleigh has done well with the bike’s overall design, as well as including an integrated rear cargo rack, which will be of use to active commuters.
Not outrageously heavy for a 20in wheeled folding electric bike, at 20kg, this is a very neatly integrated bike that should offer up to 50km of assistance. Its seven-speed drivetrain offers a good spread of ratios to conserve battery life and power you up steep urban inclines without bother.
How to choose the best folding electric bike for you
Any bike is invariably a big purchase and worthy of much deliberation. Given folding electric bikes are a niche genre that can be expensive, you’ve probably got some questions. In our eternal bid to help you buy the right product, we’ve attempted to answer as many of those questions as possible below.
Are folding electric bikes light?
As with any broad question the answer is, to some degree, ‘it varies’. They will however be noticeably heavier than those without a battery and motor.
Weight won’t make a great deal of difference while you’re riding and is compensated for by the motor, but for getting a bike on and off public transport and up flights of stairs a weighty bike can soon become tiring.
If you get to your desk with a dead arm and are unable to even lift a coffee to your lips from lugging your new bike upstairs you’re going to quickly look for an alternative.
How do I charge my electric folding bike?
Charging an electric bike means that you’re going to need to get your battery close enough to a power outlet to plug in your charger. Often, but not always, the battery is removable from an electric bike, so that you can carry it somewhere where you can plug it in easily.
A folding electric bike has a distinct advantage here, as you can potentially fold up your bike and charge it up somewhere convenient rather than needing to lock it and lug the battery around. Most chargers are quite heavy, so ideally you don’t want to have to carry one around with you when riding.
How fast can I go on a folding electric bike?
That depends on where you live.
In most countries support is limited to 25kph or below, with the motor cutting out above that speed. You can still pedal to go faster. In the US it’s more complicated, so it’s worth reading our piece on how fast is an electric bike to understand the options better.
In general, a folding electric bike will be slower to ride than the best electric bikes that don’t fold, but even then it can be faster than even the best road bikes that are pedal powered if there’s an incline.
Does my folding electric bike have to have small wheels?
Almost all folding bikes will be using a 16″ or 20″ wheel size, primarily as it drastically reduces the overall length of the bike when unfolded, and allows it to fold up into a much more compact size than would be possible with full size wheels.
An added benefit of such small wheels is increased manoeuvrability, which comes in handy when dodging potholes or someone stepping into the road while browsing Instagram on their phone. It does take a little bit of getting used to, and some riders can feel a little unsteady to begin with, but with a bit of practice you’ll soon adapt to the new handling.
The common nature of the wheel sizes also means tyres are also readily available, so don’t let that concern you, with eBike specific options available too, to cope with the higher speeds.
One downside to smaller wheels, however, is that they don’t roll over bumps so easily, so may be a little more jarring over rougher roads. If comfort is a concern then pay attention to the maximum tyre width.
How easy is it to fold a folding electric bike?
Like the best folding bikes without a motor, the best folding electric bikes have been engineered to make folding and unfolding quick and simple. The motor and battery are usually integral to the design and don’t get in the way.
In some cases, like the Brompton Electric, the battery pack may be clipped onto the bike and can be carried separately, which reduces the weight and size of the bike that needs to be carried around, but means that there’s another step needed to disconnect it when folding and reconnect it before riding.
It’s often possible to half-fold an electric folding bike and push or pull it around, usually using the extended seatpost, which avoids carrying it. The wheels are usually designed so that they line up to make it easy to manoeuvre.
How many gears do folding eBikes have?
None of the bikes in this list are designed to crest alpine peaks; urban mobility usually calls for a reduction in gear range to add durability. Some will have a hub gear, others a more traditional setup or even a single speed. In each case your ability to get up inclines will be drastically improved by the addition of a motor (providing you remember to charge it).
Unless you live somewhere hugely hilly the gear range will likely be ample on any of these options, but for those getting to work in San Francisco then it might be a factor to give a little more attention to, to avoid overworking the motor and components.
Do I need disc brakes?
Electric bikes tend to operate at a higher speed than their non-e siblings, and as such stopping power is important. The lighter models are served by rim brakes, but heavier models rightly opt for discs.
If you commute in the dry then a rim brake with decent pads should be perfectly adequate, but for urban riding where the ability to stop on a dime is a key factor and if you commute in the wet, then perhaps you’d be better served with some discs instead.
Are folding electric bikes worth it?
This really depends on how much you’re going to use it. Be honest about how many car or train journeys it’ll replace, and add some slippage for maintenance and factor in the cost of charging to give you a reasonable idea of how much money you’ll save on an annual basis.
Multiply this by how long you’re likely to use the bike for in years and you’ll have something approaching a total cost offset. This is very broad brush though, and doesn’t take into account non-financial considerations like the joy you may get from riding, the value you place on not being crowded into urban public transport or gridlocked in your car, or the fact you just really want one.
These Gearbox Folding Bikes Will Blow Your Mind (Custom Bromptons)
Brompton is a folding bike company that builds around 80,000 bikes per year out of their factory in London.
These are some of the smallest folding bikes available, and their ingenious design allows them to fold down in just a handful of seconds. The bikes are somewhat light, very durable and quite comfortable to ride – plus, you can push them around very easily in their folded state. They are a great bike to combine with public transport, store in an apartment, hide under your desk, or take with you overseas.
But these folding bikes are far from perfect, and there is a large aftermarket industry that aims to make your Brompton better.
Let’s start with the wheel diameter.
Brompton bikes use 16″ wheels with 35mm (1.35″) wide tyres. This wheel size is key for providing the famous small fold, but it also compromises the performance of the bike in some situations.
Studies conducted by Schwalbe tyres have shown that rolling resistance losses are inversely proportional to the tyre radius (approximately). This means that larger diameter wheels have a lower rolling resistance than smaller diameter wheels (using the same tyres).
Some quick maths suggests that switching from 16″ wheels to 20″ wheels could increase a rider’s speed by one kilometre per hour – lopping about three minutes off an hour-long ride.
In addition, larger diameter wheels have a smaller ‘angle of attack’ over bumps and depressions in the road surface, allowing a rider to maintain higher speeds if the surface is less than ideal.
Brompton tyres are often just 35mm/1.35″ wide, which is a touch wider than you’ll find on modern road bikes. These tyres are great on smooth surfaces, but on less than ideal surfaces, higher volume tyres can float over bumps much better – with only a minor increase to the rolling resistance.
Ultimately, folding bikes trade between folded size and performance. Based on the aftermarket options available, it seems lots of people are seeking a more versatile Brompton.
Let’s take a look at the aftermarket wheel options.
There are two common wheel diameter upgrades for Bromptons – 18″ (355) and 20″ (406).
In order to complete a wheel and tyre upgrade, you’ll also need a new fork and rear triangle to match. Kinetics in Scotland manufactures steel forks and stainless steel rear triangles that will suit 18″ x 2.0″ tyres or 20″ x 1.3″ tyres.
The number one reason to use 18″ wheels is to fit tyres with significantly more air volume. 2.0″ wide tyres deform more over cobblestones and dirt paths, which improves both your comfort and speed on these surfaces. This wheel upgrade is likely the perfect balance between folded size and mixed surface bike capability. There are some great 18″ tyre options too, as Birdy folding bikes are built around this spec.
If you want to achieve the highest average speeds on the road, the 20″ option is about as fast as it gets for a small folding bike. You can even get Schwalbe’s top-of-the-line road bike tyres in the 20″ size, which literally halve the rolling resistance of a typical Brompton tyre.
Even with big wheels, the Eerder Metaal Xplorer still folds up quite small. Image: Eerder Metaal
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Vincent at Eerder Metaal in the Netherlands goes a step further and offers custom Brompton builds with 20″ wheels in a 2.6″ width. To make these large wheels work, Vincent uses a custom fork and rear triangle, and he even shaves down the headtube of the frame.
The Xplorer is the ultimate dirt road Brompton – Vincent has tested his bike on lots of mountain bike trails and has found that it’s surprisingly capable. He has built up Xplorers with both derailleur gears and internal gear hubs.
The folded size is 14cm longer, 4.5cm taller and 8cm wider than a regular Brompton, which is still a very manageable size for an apartment or public transport use.
Another interesting aftermarket wheel dimension is 16″ x 3.0″.
This is actually a smaller rim diameter than what is found on stock Bromptons but it allows for the super wide tyres to fold into a very small package. The advantage of this width is that you can run especially low tyre pressures to float over sand, mud or cobblestones.
Brompton Gearbox Drivetrains
Brompton bikes have a few different drivetrain options. You can use opt for no gears (singlespeed), two or four-speed derailleur gears, a three-speed internal gear hub, or a combination between a derailleur and the three-speed hub providing six gears.
The gear range that Brompton offers on these drivetrains is between 133% and 302%. This simply means that the biggest gear ratio is 1.33x times bigger than the smallest ratio on the two-speed bike, and it’s 3.02x bigger on the six-speed bike.
With bigger gear ranges, we can pedal our bikes across a broader range of speeds, which is especially handy for hill climbing or pedalling downhill.
In comparison to other bikes, the Brompton gear ranges are quite small. Road bikes typically have more than 400% range and mountain bikes more than 500%.
To increase the capability of a Brompton, the aftermarket is producing custom rear triangles that fit all of the best internal gear hubs. Rohloff and Kindernay are considered top of the crop and offer 14 gears that are spread across a 500% range. Alfine 8 and 11-speed hubs are popular too thanks to their lower cost, and I’ve seen a few bikes with Enviolo CVT hubs too.
Faltradritter in Germany even customised a Brompton frame to house a Pinion gearbox! This gearbox has an incredible gear range of 636% and 18 individual gears, which gives this Brompton owner the ability to ride up the steepest hills and still have gears for the strongest tailwinds.
Belt Drive Bromptons
When you add a gearbox drivetrain to a bike, you can also switch to a belt drivetrain.
Belts are a particularly good fit for Bromptons because they’re ultra-long lasting, aren’t greasy and require almost zero maintenance. For these reasons, I would not be surprised if we saw a belt drive Brompton rolling out of the factory soon.
Disc Brake Brompton Bikes
With the aftermarket providing new forks and rear ends to house bigger wheels, gearboxes and belt drive, this gives them the opportunity to add disc brakes too.
Disc brakes aren’t an essential component by any means, although they are nice in wet conditions and are generally very reliable given that grit cannot work its way into the hydraulic lines. But with fatter tyre bikes, the regular Brompton rim brakes do not offer enough clearance for wide tyres, so in most cases, disc brakes are a necessity.
Bromptons For Tall Cyclists
Brompton frames come in only one size whether you’re 150cm/4ft11 or 200cm/6ft6 tall.
While you can get them to fit a taller rider by swapping a few components, best practice bike fitting requires frames to get longer as they get taller. This is not the case with a Brompton, as the distance from the saddle-to-handlebars remains almost the same, no matter the height of a rider.
I might be a bit biased here as a two-metre (6ft6) tall cyclist, but I would love to see a new Brompton that’s scaled up for tall cyclists. Frame modifiers such as Junik-HPV have successfully extended the length of Brompton frames to appropriately accommodate tall customers.
There is no reason why Brompton couldn’t offer an XL frame size. Sure, it’d fold a bit bigger, but you can bet that tall cyclists would take a bigger fold over a cramped riding position.
Brompton is in a unique position where they can draw experience and design from the extensive knowledge of the Brompton aftermarket. Perhaps, the ultralight titanium Bromptons today would not exist if the product wasn’t created by the aftermarket first?
There is clearly demand for Brompton models that sacrifice folded size for slightly larger wheels. The 20 x 1.1″ wheel spec would be a great option for mile munchers, and the 18 x 2.0″ size would be perfect for those who want to take their bikes on bumpier roads. The frameset to accommodate these wheel sizes could even be the same.
It’d be great to see premium-level internal gear hubs as an option on Bromptons. These drivetrains are reliable and long-lasting and are already available on other folding bikes such as Bike Friday, Tern and Birdy. If Brompton wanted to be a bit different to the rest, the 6, 9, 12 and 18-speed Pinion gearboxes are very much an option they could pursue.
And belt drive would be the perfect drive option for any of these gearboxes.
Do you think Brompton will expand its bike range in the future?
Alee is a bike and travel addict who has cycled through 100 countries and doesn’t really have any plans of stopping. Along the way, he creates technical resources, in-depth reviews, inspirational videos, how-to guides and more. If you’ve learned something from him, you can support his mission to create the best bike travel content HERE.