Best folding electric bikes of 2023: Get a boost on your commute
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Best folding electric bikes of 2023: Get a boost on your commute

Aug 02, 2023

The best folding electric bikes let you take public transport at any time and are also great for leisure use

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.

You can trust Cyclingnews Our experts spend countless hours testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

Our expert review:

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.

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.

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.

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..

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Will joined the Cyclingnews team as a reviews writer in 2022, having previously written for Cyclist, BikeRadar and Advntr. There are very few types of cycling he's not dabbled in, and he has a particular affection for older bikes and long lasting components. Road riding was his first love, before graduating to racing CX in Yorkshire. He's been touring on a vintage tandem all the way through to fixed gear gravel riding and MTB too. When he's not out riding one of his many bikes he can usually be found in the garage making his own frames and components as a part time framebuilder, restoring old mountain bikes, or walking his collie in the Lake District.

Height: 182cm

Weight: 72Kg

Rides: Custom Zetland Audax, Bowman Palace:R, Peugeot Grand Tourisme Tandem, 1988 Specialized Rockhopper, Stooge Mk4, Falcon Explorer Tracklocross

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