fbpx

Should I Buy an Electric Folding Bike?

Should I Buy an Electric Folding Bike Featured Image

Riding a bike is a fun and active way of getting around town to get various errands done. Whether it be commuting, shopping, or even a trip to the hairdressers/barbers. The risk of theft when you’re leaving your bike outside your destination though, may be a major concern if you’re riding around town. This may be even if you’ve locked your bike. Riding a folding bike can be a great solution though. You can usually fold the bike small enough to take with you into your destination. This therefore reduces the chance of theft. You can even get electric folding bikes, for those of you who could do with the extra boost.

You may be someone who could do with the space saving benefits that folding bikes provide. This could be for various reasons. These could include if you live in an apartment/flat and have limited storage space, or if you wish to regularly take your bike in your car trunk for cycling trips. You may also be someone who could do with an extra boost while cycling. This could be if you need extra help up steep hills, or if you’re currently lacking fitness, among other reasons. If this is the case, then an electric folding bike could be for you. 

Here in this article, I talk further about electric folding bikes. This is to help you determine if one of these would be the bike for you.  

Why an Electric Folding Bike?

There are many reasons why you would opt for an electric folding bike rather than a regular folding bike. These can include the below.

  • They can get you to your destination quicker than a regular bike. This is due to the fact that you can maintain a fast speed with less effort, which is handy if you’re starting to tire. You can also find this handy if you don’t want to start to tire in the first place. This is why electric bikes are great if you’ve got a lot of places to get to, or a lot of errands to run. So you can get these errands done/to these places quicker, which is handy if you’re pressed for time. This makes electric folding bikes a great utility/city bike. Many people prioritize the utility element of cycling over the fitness element. You’re still getting some fitness though, due to that you are still exerting some effort. Some effort is better than no effort, fitness wise.
  • Electric bikes allow you to get to your destination without sweating. This is why many people use electric bikes for commuting, as they can arrive at work without being in a sweat. You may find it handy to get to other destinations not in a sweat as well. For example, to the hairdressers/barbers, or even to quickly get some groceries before cooking dinner. This is particularly handy if you have people coming round for dinner. All this ties in with the above, as you can get to your destination without working up a sweat and quicker than a regular bike. This is particularly if you’re riding on a high pedal assist setting.

Electric Folding Bike parked up

  • Electric bikes are a great way to get people cycling who have a reduced ability to cycle. These people can include riders of advancing years, or people with injuries, illness or ailments like arthritis. Also, this can be people who are currently overweight and/or unfit. This is where electric bikes can get people fitter than regular bikes. All due to the fact that they often help people to cycle who wouldn’t cycle otherwise. Remember that you still get exercise on electric bikes. Unless you’re using a throttle, you still have to pedal and therefore exert an effort. The electric boost just amplifies whatever effort you put in. 
  • Electric bikes give you a boost up hills. This, for many riders, is the only reason why they get an electric bike. Steep hills can be off-putting for many otherwise cyclists. So, having an electric bike can help you to get up these hills easily. This again may be the difference between getting a bike at all and not getting one.
  • Electric bikes are fun. The thrill of riding around with an electric boost really is a thrill. It is all the reason enough to get an electric bike for many people. Again, your personal reason for cycling may be for utility rather than for fitness. In which case, why not do it with the thrill of an electric boost?

Electric Folding Bikes Provide Easier Storage        

The great thing about folding bikes is they are far easier to store than regular bikes. This is especially useful if you live in a flat or apartment and don’t have a garage or garden to store your bike. Once folded, you can store the bike indoors in all sorts of various places that you can’t store a regular bike. These can include under the stairs, to the side of a wardrobe or chest of drawers, or tucked beside a shoe rack. So this helps make a folding bike very suitable for getting around in town centers. Particularly as people who live in town centers often live in flats/apartments with limited space.

Woman folding bike in her apartment

Electric Folding Bike Folding Capability

Some folding bikes are easier to fold than others. As a general rule of thumb though, you can typically fold and unfold a folding bike within 30 seconds. Many people can fold and unfold folding bikes in as little as around 15 seconds. There’s even competitions on how quick folding bikes can be folded down. The world record is currently 5.19 seconds as shown in this videoOpens in a new tab.. The more practice you get through, the quicker you’ll get at folding and unfolding your bike. You’ll soon get a knack, especially if it’s your own bike that you’re using all the time. A great thing about folding bikes is they don’t need any tools to fold and unfold.

By the way, Brompton folding bikes are widely considered as the quickest and easiest folding bikes to fold and unfold.

Bifold Vs Trifold

You will tend to find 2 different folding mechanisms on folding bikes. These are Bifold and Trifold. The differences between these 2 types of mechanisms are as below.

Bifold folding bikes – The frame folds at one point, which folds the bike in half. The seat post can also be pushed down and also the handlebar stem can fall down. This allows for the size of the bike to be compacted down.

Trifold folding bikes – Both the wheels can be folded inwards. Again, the seat post can be pushed down and the handlebar stem can fall down. Trifold folding bikes fold down more compactly than bifold folding bikes.

With both bifold and trifold folding bikes, you can typically expect to also be able to fold in the pedals.

Due to the fact that trifold folding bikes fold up more compactly than bifold folding bikes, it means they are better for transporting. This especially compact folded size of trifold bikes means they are easier to take on other forms of transport. These include trains, tubes/subways and buses, for example. There may be instances where a bifold folding bike may be too big to take with you on a train. This can be if the train is particularly crowded. Trifold bikes can often fold small enough to fit in shopping carts for when you’re grocery shopping. This will reduce the chance of theft, due to that you can avoid locking your bike outside of the supermarket.

Bifold folding bikes are still great for storage though. Like for storing indoors or under/beside your work desk. Generally speaking, you should still expect a bifold folding bike to fit in any car trunk. Although, if you’re transporting other items in your car trunk as well as the bike, then a trifold can help with space saving here. Especially if it’s a small trunk.

Brompton are well known for their trifold mechanism on their folding bikes. This videoOpens in a new tab. shows how this trifold mechanism works on a Brompton. 3sixty also makes a good range of trifold folding bikes. 

Woman unfolding a folding bike

You Might Not Always Need to Fully Fold the Bike

For certain situations, you might not need to fold your electric folding bike down completely. For example, to make your folding bike fit in a narrow space (that a regular bike can’t) you may only need to fold in the pedals and fold down the handlebar stem. You can do this on most folding bikes. Similarly, you can just only push down the seat post and fold down the handlebar stem to make the bike fit in a low down space. This could be underneath a flight of stairs for example. So there are various ways you can fold a folding bike to make it fit in different spaces.

How Secure is an Electric Folding Bike When Folded?

An important consideration when buying an electric folding bike is how well the bike remains folded when you’re transporting it. There’s some electric folding bikes on the market that don’t stay folded very well when moved around. For example, certain models may have magnets that are there to hold the 2 folded halves of the bike together. However, they may not always do a good job of holding the 2 folded halves together securely. Everything can get very loose and move apart when you pick up the bike whilst it’s folded.

So this is something to look out for when you’re looking to buy an electric folding bike. You can do research though, by checking forums and reviews to get an idea of how secure any prospective purchases are when folded. 

Man carrying folding bike

Transporting the Electric Folding Bike Whilst Folded        

As well as allowing for easier storage, folding bikes are far easier to transport than regular bikes. If you wish to transport your bike in your car trunk then you should always be able to do this easily with a folding bike. This is even if you have very limited trunk space, like if you have a hatchback where it may not be easy to fit a regular bike. Many cyclists have to remove a wheel (or both wheels even) on their bike to make it fit in their car trunk. This is something you won’t have to do with a folding bike. Folding and unfolding a folding bike is generally less of a faff than removing and re-attaching a wheel.

Being easily able to transport a folding bike in your car trunk means you don’t need to spend money on a rack. By the way, rack types can be a roof rack, a tow ball rack or a rear rack. Not needing a roof rack to transport your bike by car is particularly handy if you have a folding electric bike. This is due to the fact that electric bikes are especially heavy because of the electric components. These electric components include the battery, motor and controller. In which case, lifting the electric bike onto and off the roof rack could be quite an effort for you. So just placing a folding electric bike in your car trunk will save you all this effort. 

Woman loading folding bike into car trunk

Furthermore, if you’re thinking of opting for a rear rack to transport your electric bike by car, you need to make sure it is sturdy enough to withstand the weight of an electric bike. Again, if you’re transporting a folding electric bike in your car trunk then you won’t have this concern. Also, storing an electric folding bike in your car trunk protects it from rain and other elements. The more you can protect an electric bike from the rain the better. This is due to the fact that it will minimize any likelihood of possible damage to the electric components. My article “Can I Ride My Electric Bike in the Rain” talks about this further.

Folding bikes allow for multimodal transport. This means they lend themselves for journeys where you’re using more than one mode of transport. For example, if you’re using the train as well as cycling. You may be commuting by train, but live a distance from the train station. In which case, you can cycle to the train station using a folding bike. You can then fold the bike so you can take it with you on the train and then cycle from the arrival train station to your workplace. You won’t need to worry about possible theft if you’re not locking your bike at the train station. Additionally, you can even keep your folding bike underneath, or beside your desk so you can always keep an eye on it.

Man taking folding bike onto train

You can even usually take your electric folding bike on the bus and on the tube/subway, for getting around in the city. I say usually, due to that this is providing the bus, or tube/subway is not overcrowded. So this may not always be advisable during rush hour. As mentioned further above, it’s easier to take a folding bike with you on a bus or tube/subway if it’s a trifold. The folding capability can even come in handy for unforeseen circumstances. For example, if your chain was to snap mid ride, you could order a taxi and keep the bike folded in the taxi’s trunk.

Wheeling the Electric Folding Bike About Whilst Folded

A useful feature that some electric folding bikes have are easy wheels. These are mini wheels (not the main bike wheels themselves) located at the back of the bike. They allow you to easily pull the bike along when it’s folded. This can come in very handy for certain situations where you can’t ride the bike. For example, like if you’re passing through a train station. In this situation, you can pull the bike along whilst holding the saddle whilst the seat post is still pulled up. These easy wheels allow you to pull the folded electric bike along in a nice easy, smooth motion. 

You can still usually pull an electric folding bike along whilst it’s folded, by wheeling it along on the main bike wheels. So you don’t necessarily always need these easy wheels. However, the easy wheels allow you to wheel the bike backwards for if you ever need to. You can’t usually do this with a folding bike that doesn’t have these easy wheels. This is because if you’re wheeling the folded bike backwards on the bike wheel/wheels then the pedal will move backwards. This will then get stuck.

Brompton and 3sixty are brands that have easy wheels on some of their models. You can even add easy wheels as an accessory to a folding bike that doesn’t come with them already. This is as long as they are compatible with your particular model of folding bike.

Bike Safety Whilst Riding/When Bike is Unfolded

You may have concerns about how secure the foldable parts are whilst you’re cycling. This could be that you may be wondering if the bike collapses so easily when you’re folding it, could that happen whilst you’re riding it? The answer is that folding bikes have plenty of safety mechanisms to prevent this from happening. This means you can ride an electric folding bike with confidence in this respect.

Am I Too Tall to Ride an Electric Folding Bike?

When you first look at any folding bike you will notice that they’re small compared to regular bikes. As you may gather, this is due to the need for them to fold down to a compact size. So you may well be thinking they can’t accommodate taller riders. However, looks can be deceiving. Folding bikes typically have an adjustable seat post and an adjustable handlebar stem. So you can therefore adjust the height of these to accommodate your height. They usually have a quick release to allow you to do this easily.

Remember though, that you may often be adjusting the seat post back in position, when unfolding the bike. So some folding bike manufacturers, like Birdy, have an engraved scale on the seat post. This allows you to easily find the right position when unfolding. For seat posts that don’t have this, you could make a mark on the seat post yourself of the correct position. You may be able to do this with a marker pen of engraving yourself.

If you are a taller rider, the reach from the saddle to the handlebar may still be different from a regular bike. This can even be after appropriately adjusting the seat post and handlebar stem. So many folding bikes like Brompton and Dahon have an adjustable handlebar position. This allows you to adjust the handlebar position to a comfortable riding position whatever your height is. Other folding bike manufacturers like Birdy, offer a horizontal stem extension for riders who need a longer reach.

Ultimately, folding bikes are adjustable. So you can still ride one even if you are a tall rider that’s say over 6 foot. You may well find that some will accommodate you better/be more comfy than others though. So you may need to do a little research to find a good fit. This YouTube videoOpens in a new tab. provides some guidance on how to adjust a folding bike to suit your height. Generally, a rider would want the handlebar to be higher than the saddle for a more upright and comfy position. Alternatively, a rider may want the handlebar lower than the saddle for a more aerodynamic, higher speed based performance. However, you may not be concerned with having an aerodynamic riding position if you have an electric folding bike. This is due to the fact that the electric boost will help provide more speed. 

Folding electric bike

The bigger the wheel size on a folding bike, the more likely it will fit you better if you’re a tall rider. However, the bigger the wheel size, the less compact the bike will be when folded. Remember again though that you can adjust folding bikes. So you can usually expect to still be OK with a folding bike with a smaller wheel size, if you’re a tall rider. I talk more about folding bike wheel sizes further below. Generally, the smallest folding bike wheel size is 16 inches and the biggest is 24 inches.

Brompton Electric Folding Bikes for Taller Riders

Brompton folding bikes work a bit different than a lot of other folding bikes in terms of accommodating taller riders. You can still adjust the seat post height, but not the handlebar stem height. Instead, Brompton offers 4 different handlebar types. The idea is that when buying a Brompton folding bike, you select the handlebar type of your choice. So ideally the one that best accommodates your height. These 4 Brompton handlebar types are H bar, S bar, M bar and P bar.

The H bar has been designed with taller riders in mind. It rises 57cm above the bike’s frame. This allows for an upright and comfy riding position. This makes the H bar suitable for longer distance rides and casual riding around town. The upright position also allows for increased safety. This is because it gives the rider more visibility of the environment around them. There is a slight reach adjustment available on the H bar. However, it’s limited by cable length as it may compromise the folding capabilities if moved more than 1 cm.

Man riding brompton folding bike

The S handlebar type allows for a lower/more aerodynamic riding position, for faster cycling. Although, as mentioned before, having a faster riding position may not be as necessary if you have an electric folding bike. This is due to the electric boost allowing you to cycle faster. The M handlebar offers a more mid-upright riding position. It’s suitable for riders over 5 foot tall (average height riders) and allows for comfortable riding. So it’s suitable for casual touring cycling. You also have the P handle bar which is a hybrid of the M and S handlebar types. So it offers 2 riding positions. One being the upright position. The other being the low down, more aerodynamic position.

You can swap out the handlebar type after the initial bike purchase. Be aware though, that this is easier to do if you’re swapping out a higher handlebar type for a shorter type, rather than a shorter one for a higher one. This is due to the fact that the cables may not be able to stretch far enough, if you’re swapping out a shorter handlebar for a higher handlebar.

Brompton Seat Post Adjustment

There’s 3 different seat post length options provided by Brompton. This is even though you can adjust the seat post height on a Brompton folding bike. These 3 options are below.

Brompton

Brompton Seat Post Options

Standard – Inside-leg measurement (inseam) up to 83cm/33inches.

Extended – Inside-leg measurement (inseam) up to 89cm/35 inches.

Telescopic – Inside-leg measurement (inseam) up to 99cm/39 inches

Ultimately, Brompton seat posts can accommodate a rider’s height anywhere between 140cm/4.7 inches to 203cm/6.8 inches in height.

You can also buy the optional Brompton saddle height insert. This allows you to easily adjust the seat post to the right height for you every time you unfold your bike.

If the fully extended seat post is still a little too short, you can rotate the pentaclip upside down. You then reattach the saddle to the higher saddle position. This will provide an extra 2.5cm. The seat will of course be higher by the same 2.5cm when the bike’s folded though. This video shows you how to adjust a Brompton pentaclipOpens in a new tab. and saddle. 

Electric Folding Bikes Reduces the Chance of Theft

Because electric folding bikes fold so compactly, they can allow you to take them with you into your destination. This means you don’t need to lock your bike outside where there’s always a chance of theft. Below shows some destinations that you may be able to take your electric folding bike inside with you, so you can keep an eye on it.

Places you can take an electric folding bike into

Electric Folding Bike Utility

Folding electric bikes offer lots of utility. This further makes them ideal for city cycling. Many of them have features that you would expect on many other types of bikes. These include fenders/mudguards, fat tires, pannier racks for carrying cargo and bike lights for safety. With many folding electric bikes, the bike lights run off the electric bikes battery. So keeping an eye on the battery charge on the LCD display helps you to make sure the lights won’t cut out. This is of course if you have bike lights. 

If your electric folding bike has a pannier rack, then this can allow you to carry shopping, or work items if you’re commuting. Work items could be a laptop, a change of clothes, or a Thermos flask etc. Brompton folding bikes have their own exclusive luggage bags. These attach to the front of the bike. All this helps enhance folding bikes utility and their ability for errands around town.

Electric Folding Bike Wheel Size

It is important to consider the wheel size when buying an electric folding bike. Folding bikes have smaller wheels than regular bikes. The wheel size determines comfort and handling and also how compact the folding bike is once it’s folded. The smaller the wheel the more compact the folding bike will be when folded. However, the bigger the wheel, the more stable and comfortable the bike will be in general.

The wheel sizes on electric folding bikes tend to mostly come in the below 3 sizes.

16 inches – 20 inches – 24 inches

I talk further below about the differences between these 3 different wheel sizes. This is with regard to how they affect an electric folding bike.

16 Inch Wheels

This is the smallest adult wheel size you’ll find on an electric folding bike. Therefore, this size wheel allows for a very compact folded size. This makes having this size wheel ideal if you prioritize your folding bike to be as compact as possible. So having 16 inch wheels helps with multimodal transport. They allow you to easily take the folding bike with you on trains, tubes/subways and buses.

Due to the nature of the small wheel size, having 16 inch wheels can give a twitchy riding feel. However, the more you ride the bike, the more you’ll get used to it. The small wheel size allows for sensitive/nimble handling. This makes it easier to dodge and navigate your way around obstacles, including pedestrians. So this establishes electric folding bikes with this wheel size further, as being suitable for commuting and city center cycling.

Electric Folding Bike Graphic Image

The smaller wheel size also means a smaller bike frame. This makes the electric folding bike lighter. Again, making it even easier to carry the bike about, like when taking it with you indoors or on a train. The weight saving you get from the smaller wheels and smaller frame is likely to be especially welcome for an electric folding bike. This is due to the increased weight that you have with electric bikes. Again, due to the electric components that you have on electric bikes.

Be aware though, that it can be harder to find a replacement 16 inch tire, compared to a bigger sized tire. This is due to these being rarer. However, because of the internet, you should always be able to find a replacement 16 inch tire online. Additionally, the small wheel size will mean that you’ll likely feel the bumps (like potholes) more. Having some, or all of the below, will help negate this though. 

Ways of reducing impact of bumps when riding with small wheels infographic

Bear in mind though, that having fat tires and especially, having full suspension will add more weight and cost to the bike. Again, this may be more of an issue for an electric folding bike than a regular folding bike, due to the extra weight that electric folding bikes carry already. This is as well as the extra cost of an electric bike in the first place.

20 Inch Wheels

These are obviously bigger than 16 inch wheels. This means that bikes with these size wheels will have a bigger frame. So an electric folding bike with 20 inch wheels will be heavier and have a less compact folding size than one with 16 inch wheels.

Folding bikes with 20 inch wheels typically have a sturdier, less twitchy and more comfy and stable riding feel than ones with 16 inch wheels. Also, when compared against folding bikes with 16 inch wheels, folding bikes with 20 inch wheels tend to accommodate taller riders better. This is even though you can adjust the seat post height and usually adjust the handlebar height on folding bikes.

Folding electric bike

20 inch wheels mean slower acceleration from a stop position than 16 inch wheels. This is due to the extra effort needed to get the bike started (because of the extra weight). However, 20 inch wheels are faster once you’re already cycling. This may well not be an issue though, if you have an electric folding bike, due to the electric boost you get anyway.

Ultimately, electric folding bikes with 20 inch wheels can be a suitable compromise between having a compact folding size and a stable bike with a sturdy, comfortable riding feel.

24 Inch Wheels

This is the biggest wheel size that you’ll find on electric folding bikes. You will find this wheel size to usually be the most comfy for taller riders. This wheel size will generally allow for a sturdier bike that will be more comfortable on longer rides and bumpier terrain. As you may gather, the fold size will be less compact than for folding bikes with smaller wheel sizes. In turn, folding bikes with 24 inch wheels will be heavier. So they’ll be trickier to carry around than folding bikes with smaller wheels. This is emphasized even more for an electric folding bike. Remembering that electric bikes are already heavier than regular bikes due to the battery and motor.

24 inch wheels are a good option if you find they make the bike comfier for you and if the less compact folding size is not so much of an issue. This may be because you’re not intending to transport the bike folded. You may instead be planning to have the bike folded when you’re storing it in your home. The less compact folding size may be less of an issue for storage use compared to transportation use. Bear in mind a folding bike with 24 inch wheels may possibly still be too big, to be allowed on some buses and trains.

Folding Bike

Additionally, you may only be planning to transport your electric folding bike in your car trunk. In which case, an electric folding bike with 24 inch wheels should usually still fold small enough to fit in your car trunk. Also, you may appreciate the stability, sturdiness and comfort that 24 inch wheels provide if you regularly go on long distance cycles.

Furthermore, 24 inch wheels are faster than the other smaller sizes whilst cycling, but slower to get started from a stop position. However, again, this may not make that much difference if you have an electric folding bike. Again, due to the electric boost you get anyway.

Conclusion

Folding bikes are a great choice if you want a bike mainly for utility use. They’re not going to have the all action ruggedness of mountain bikes, for off-road use. Nor are they built for higher speed performance like many road bikes. However, as a useful way of getting around for general errands and commuting, they come into their own. This is for the below reasons.

  • The small wheels make it easier to maneuver around obstacles, including pedestrians.
  • Easy to take with you on other modes of transport, like trains, buses and subways/tubes, or even in the trunk of a taxi.
  • Easy to store indoors if you have limited storage space and/or you don’t have a garage, or garden.
  • You can take them with you inside your destination to minimize the chance of theft.

If you have an electric folding bike then this enhances the utility even further. This is due to the fact that they allow you to get to your destinations quicker and in less of a sweat. Not to mention that you’ll get extra help up those steep hills. Ultimately, an electric folding bike can be a perfect companion for a hectic urban lifestyle. That’s not to say though, that you won’t still benefit from an electric folding bike if you don’t live in an urban environment. Such is their general appeal and versatility. 

 

 

 

 

Recent Posts