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The Best Folding Electric Bikes

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.

Watt’s Enough?

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.
Wheel SizeA 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.

700c wheels (left) roll smoother while 16-inch wheels (right) provide a smaller footprint when folded.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.

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.

This hotebike 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  drivetrain, the bike has about a 35- 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  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.

With a front suspension fork and 4-inch-wide tires, hotebike 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.
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