What to look for in a folding electric bike
Easy to store, small enough to fit on a car or train and most of importantly, good fun to ride, we do love an e-folder (suggestions on other nicknames welcome!) at Velorution and we think you will too. If you want to take the plunge and buy an electric folding bike, but you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for, this buyer’s guide should, like a sheepdog, round you up and point you in the right direction.
We won't cover the exact ins and outs of electric bikes in this journal so it would be remiss of us not to point you in the direction of another of our guides. Take two steps back with our introduction to electric bikes, read and move one step forward!
Why buy an electric folding bike
Before we get stuck into the what, let’s look at why electric folding bikes might appeal.
- Enjoy helping hand on your daily commute: Having a battery and motor fitted to your bike means you can commute without fear of overdoing it a climb or arriving at the office hot and bothered.
- Hop on a train, hail a cab – it’s easy with an electric folding bike: Packed commuter trains or the boot of an Uber – not places you’re going to fit a full-sized electric bike easily. An electric folding bike adapts to your day, going everywhere you go.
- Remove the threat of theft: Unfortunately, bike theft is a blight on UK cities and with safe locking spaces often at a premium it can be a worry leaving your pride and joy out in the open. An electric bike, with all its gizmos and high price tag, is an attractive option for light-fingered ne'er do wells. Folding electric bikes, irrespective of how compact they fold, are far easier to take with you – slot one under the table at the pub, in your friend’s hall or just inside the door at your local convenience store.
- If you’re short of space on the train, at home or work: There’s no getting away from it, electric bicycles can be cumbersome things! When the cupboard under the stairs or even your spare bedroom doesn’t have enough room for a bike, an electric folding bike really comes into its own. They’re ideal for workspaces too, less likely to bother colleagues if they’re stored under your desk than propped up against Jonathan and Andy's favourite place for their Monday morning sales meeting.
Electric folding bike differences
Ready to weigh up some options? Here are some folding electric bike attributes you should consider before making a purchase. Oh and at this point, it's worth mentioning that all folding e-bikes we've ever come across are sold in one frame size. Just make sure you fit within the suggested height range listed by the manufacturer.
- Foldability. Perhaps the most crucial attribute of an electric folding bike is its fold. Make a note of how compact your chosen model folds and how that compares to the space or spaces you’re going to store it in. Most manufacturers list bike's folded dimensions. Most models will fold at the handlebar, at the main frame and the best e-folders will come with folding pedals to further reduce their bulk. Some folding mechanisms can be more user-friendly than others, so we’d recommend seeing one in the flesh to get familiar with the process. At the very least head over to YouTube to see it demoed by someone else. Remember you could be doing this in a hurry as you try and catch the 07:05 to Kings Cross.
- Wheel Size. Most folding e-bikes are designed around a 20” wheel. Smaller than full-size wheels, they are lighter and more compact when folded, but they won’t gather much momentum on the road when you get up to speed. Do bear in mind that larger, faster-rolling wheels will come at the price of overall bike foldability.
- Weight. Now we’re getting to the nub of the matter - an electric folding bike’s weight could be a deal-breaker. If you can’t lift it onto a train, let alone up your office or apartment stairs, the bike might not be for you. Some models like the Gocycle G4 make use of their wheels, helping the rider wheel the bike along when folded, whilst other bikes, like the Brompton Electric, are specced with a removable battery, great if you want a temporary reduction in overall weight.
- Electric System, Battery and Range. The most expensive part of an electric folding bike is it's motor and battery. The majority of electric folding bikes use a motor in the hub of a wheel rather than a motor at the bike's crank - this way it doesn't affect the bike's ability to fold. To understand more about this, read our electric bike motors explained journal. Bigger batteries offer a larger riding range but to the detriment of overall bike weight. We’d suggest calculating the distance of your typical bike ride and see whether your chosen e-bike’s range is enough to cover that between charges.
- Accessories. Some bikes are sold as a complete package, a rack, mudguards, front and rear lights, kickstand – the lot! If you want to make an electric folding bike part of your everyday life - come day or night, rain or shine - then it’s a sensible idea to purchase a fully-equipped model.
Best Electric Folding Bikes 2022
Easily the smallest bike in our list when folded, the Brompton C Line electric is based on the British brand's 'known-the-world-over' traditional folding bike. Available to purchase in a variety of build options (colour, gears and handlebar type are the main variables) the bike features a removable battery pack mounted to the bike's headtube.
RRP: From £2995
The Gocycle G4 is easily folded in a matter of moments making it a breeze to carry upstairs, wheel into a lift or slot next to an office plug for a charge. When folded the bike measures in at a paltry 88cm long, 39cm wide and 61cm high. And if you don't fancy folding the bike, an integrated kickstand will keep the GX rubber side down! Available in three frame colours, the G4 keeps things clean and maintenance-free by enclosing its drivetrain.
A recent addition to our e-bike selection at Velorution, Carbo are, as the name suggests, are a range of carbon-framed electric bikes. Incredibly lightweight, they're an excellent choice if folded portability is your number one buying criteria. The Model X featured here is a single speed bike which uses a clean belt drive - just the thing for riding across flat urban landscapes. A traditional geared option with a chain, the Model S, is also available for cyclists who live in hillier areas. We've written about Carbo folding electric bikes in greater detail.
The feather in the Vektron's cap is its Bosch Performance Line Motor, placed at the bike's crank, rather than in a hub of a wheel like the other bikes listed above. With its standard 400Wh battery, the bike is capable of being ridden 100km before a re-charge - no range anxiety here thank you - and that motor placement means it should feel normal to ride. The bike is loaded with extras too - pannier rack, mudguards, kickstand, front and rear lights, they're all present and correct.
Here endeth our guide to folding electric bikes. Did we miss something, ask away in the comments below.