Electric folding bicycles are sprouting up on city streets, on trains and busses, and in office buildings and apartment hallways for a good reason. It’s hard to beat the convenience of a bike that origamis down to fit under your desk—but can also make your commute faster and less taxing. More and more companies are hustling to create the ultimate mini-commuter machine. Here’s what to look for when you want a compact bike for multimodal travel days or storing in an apartment—and also have a long commute.
What’s Hot: Max Power
Whether it’s speeding over the worst hill on your commute or keeping pace with city traffic, e-bike riders are increasingly of the opinion that power rules and absolute power rules absolutely. Look for higher torque ratings and bigger batteries to filter down into more affordable bikes this year; in this case, it’s not due to a reduction in battery cost but rather in new-generation, more affordable controller boards, coupled with second-generation hub motors which can run cool and strong.
What You Need to Know About Motors
Most folding e-bikes use a hub motor. Hub motors have a few advantages compared to the increasingly popular mid-drive motors appearing on other types of e-bikes. One of the biggest reasons they’re often used on folding e-bikes is hub motors are small and don’t take up any additional real estate on the bike. Hub motors may be in the front or rear wheel; front hub motors may slightly affect a bike’s handling.
Most of the bikes on this list are powered by 250- and 350-watt motors, though most of the motors also have a higher peak wattage rating they can hit for a brief period. But watts alone don’t tell a motor’s story. Torque is also critical, as it tells you how much “oomph” a motor provides. A motor with higher torque will feel more powerful and accelerate more quickly than a motor with less torque. And the more powerful a motor is, the more energy it uses.
Regardless of torque and watts, most folding e-bikes cut off assistance at about 20mph, which puts them into the Class 1 category in the USA. Generally, that limit is in place for safety on bike paths, and because some countries (particularly in Europe) restrict what’s street-legal without special registrations or permits. Class 3 e-bikes, aka “Speed Bikes,” cut off assistance at about 28mph.
For the most part, you’ll likely be happy with a 20mph cutoff on a folding e-bike. To hit a 28mph cutoff, the bike would need a more powerful motor and larger battery, which add weight and make the bike more cumbersome.
For the battery, the stat you want to pay attention to is watt-hours (Wh). This one is easy: the bigger the number, the more juice the battery holds, and the farther you can go between charges.
A significant consideration when shopping for an electric folding bike is the wheel size because that dictates how small the bike can fold down—or for what kind of terrain it’s built to conquer.
Most folding e-bikes use a 20-inch wheel, which means they can pack down to a fairly compact size that will fit into your trunk or on a train. If you want an even smaller folded package, look for a bike with 16-inch wheels.
Some folding e-bikes use full-size, 700c road wheels. This provides a smoother ride, and the larger wheels will more easily roll over bumps and holes in the road. With bigger wheels, a folding bike will not have the compactness of a traditional folding bike, but it does deliver more of that standard bike feel.
How We Selected These Bikes
Every bike on this list has been thoroughly evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We’ve tested and reviewed some of them ourselves, and for the ones we haven’t personally tried, we’ve relied on user reviews and reviews from established outlets such as Wired and ElectricBikeReview.com. We evaluated them on features, folded size, range, power, value, and aesthetics to come up with the models that best serve every kind of cyclist.
—BEST FOR RV'ERS—
With a front suspension fork and 4-inch-wide tires, Aventon’s Sinch folding e-bike broadens the types of terrain on which you can ride your folding e-bike. A 500-watt motor gives you the power and torque you need to climb hills, and a throttle gives you the option of not pedaling at all. Its off-road stature means the Sinch isn’t the most portable folder on this list; it’s 66 pounds and takes up nearly 17 cubic feet while folded (compare that to about 3 cubic feet for the Brompton). That means the Sinch is better for people buying a folding e-bike to take up minimal space in an RV or apartment, not those needing to carry their bike regularly.
—BRING A FRIEND—
Tern GSD S10 Folding E-Bike
Tern's GSD S10 folding e-bike boasts an extensive capacity, nimble handling—even fully loaded, thanks to a short wheelbase and 20-inch wheels—and enduring range in a package not much bigger than most non-cargo e-bikes. The stout frame holds a 250-watt Bosch motor that gives up to 275 percent of your power back to the pedals and reaches 20 mph. The GSD has room for two battery packs, extending the batteries’ combined range to a claimed 150 miles and making the Tern one of the longest-lasting e-bikes on the market. A laundry list of accessories and a (claimed) 396-pound carrying capacity round out the GSD’s status as an epic day-tripper.
Rad Power RadMini
This RadMini hits the trifecta of weird but lovable bike niches: It’s an electric folding fat bike. On 20-inch by 4-inch tires, it can go farther and faster on terrain other e-bikes can’t get to, but it also folds up small enough to fit in your trunk or office when not in use. Powered by a 750W (peak) Bafang geared hub motor, in addition to your pedaling with a 7-speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain, the bike has about a 25- to 45-mile range and a max speed of 20mph. A front suspension fork with 60mm of travel smooths out dirt roads and other rough terrain and Tektro mechanical disc brakes lend confident stopping power. The bike weighs 64 pounds, so you probably don’t want to ride it too far without one of the five levels of pedal-assist. But considering the bike comes with a sturdy rear rack that can hold up to 40 pounds with the option of adding a front rack, this bike could be an incredible asset for anyone looking to replace their car commute with a bicycle—especially down country gravel roads.
—REAL MAG WHEELS—
e-Joe Epik Carbon
Though the e-Joe Epik has carbon in its name, there’s no carbon fiber in this bike. It does, however, have mag(nesium) wheels, which are cool as long as they don’t get too close to an open flame. This 20-inch-wheel folder has a 500-watt Bafang hub motor with a 528 watt-hour battery tucked into the frame. The hidden battery and minimal accessories—no racks, fenders, or lights—give the Epik sleeker lines. A suspension fork provides a smoother ride, and a throttle lets you take a break and keep zipping along.
Murtisol 3-Speed Folding Bike
We present the Murtisol: a sub $600 e-bike—among the cheapest we’ve ever seen. This seems like an excellent time to mention that we haven’t tested this particular bike, so we can’t comment on its performance or longevity. But still—a $600 e-bike? What a time to be alive. This3-speed circus bike rolls on 14-inch wheels and has a maximum speed of around 15 mph, with a claimed range of 15 miles if you're cruising on throttle only.
Lectric XP 2.0
The Lectric XP 2.0 is a striking e-folder with 3-inch-wide tires on 20-inch wheels and an industrial styled forged-aluminum frame. The battery is integrated into the frame, which powers a 500-watt hub motor. This gives the XP up to 45 miles of range (claimed). A seven-speed drivetrain provides gearing for varied terrain, and there’s a throttle to let you zip along pedal-free. It includes a suspension fork, as well as a very large and legible LCD screen. The bike ships as a Class 2 e-bike but can be upgraded to a Class 3 increasing its max speed to 28mph from 20mph.
Marketed to private pilots with a jumpseat’s worth of room in their Cessna, the Volador is a 350W back-to-basics take on the e-bike—with 20-inch wheels, 7-speed gearing, and quick-release levers for fast size adjustments after unfolding. The selling point here is weight: 36 pounds for a full-function folder. Riders who are looking for faster and higher-featured bikes may want to look elsewhere—unless, that is, they find themselves taking ground-bound modes of transportation like subways, where a walk back up the stairs is an unavoidable part of the flight plan. It’s at times like these that the old Colin Chapman motto, “Simplify and add lightness,” comes into its own.
At $4,000, the Gocycle GS nevertheless makes it easy to see where the money was spent: single-side mounting for the front and rear wheels, 25mm of rear suspension travel, and a 40-mile-range battery tucked inside a monocoque frame. Three-speed Nexus hub gearing means you won’t be climbing mountains, but get this: The Gocycle is front-wheel-drive, putting 500 watts through the avant side of the bike with traction control as a bonus. As you’d expect from a bike in this price range, the disc brakes are hydraulic. It’s a first-rate ride at a price to match.
Tern Vektron D8
Tern is solely devoted to small bikes, so it makes sense that it would design one of the best electric models. Powered by a Bafang M400 mid-drive motor, the Tern Vektron D8 can go up to 20mph and has a battery range of25 to 56 miles, depending on which of the four assisted modes you’re in. The bike has 8-speed Shimano Claris shifting that’s been smoothly integrated with the e-assist, as well as Shimano hydraulic disc brakes for strong stopping power. At 49.6 pounds and with 20-inch wheels, it’s not the smallest or lightest bike in this roundup, but it’s still compact enough to fit easily on buses, subways, and in taxi trunks when folded.
Thanks to a 350-watt electric motor located in the rear hub, and folding mechanisms in the down tube and stem, the Vika+ goes, folds, and stows well. Its 11 amp-hour battery delivers up to 35 miles of range, and a throttle provides on-demand blasts of oomph. It comes with a 7-speed Shimano Acera drivetrain, a rear rack, integrated head- and taillights, SKS front and rear fenders, leather grips, and 1.75-inch tires. It doesn’t have disc brakes, but our tester never missed them. Best of all, at $1,599, the Vika+ is an affordable way to mix up your multi-modal commute—and keep some bus fare in your pocket.
The plucky, smart, and wholly British Brompton Electric feels slick, like it came out of Q’s spy shop in a Bond film. Like any other Brompton, it folds in three places and becomes very small very quickly—we got it down to 3 cubic feet of brazed steel and rubber in 30 unhurried seconds. But unlike other Bromptons, this one has a 250-watt hub motor that propels it up to 16 mph.
With the battery off, the bike weighs just 5 pounds more than a regular Brompton and folds to the same size, so the battery hasn’t ruined its capability as a folding bike. It also costs $3,639 ($3,499 for the two-speed model—just spend the extra $140; the gears are worth it), but you won’t find a bike more portable that’s this good to ride.
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