Electric folding bikes are sprouting up on city streets, trains and busses, in office buildings and campgrounds for a good reason. It is hard to beat the convenience of a bike that origamis down to fit under your desk or into a tight space. Plus, they can make your commute or grocery run faster and less taxing. More and more bike brands are creating the ultimate mini-commuter machines.
Here is what to look for when you want a compact folding e-bike for multimodal travel days, storing in an apartment, or packing into the RV.
The Best Folding Electric Bikes
What’s Hot: Max Power
Whether speeding over the worst hill on your commute or keeping pace with city traffic, e-bike riders often believe that power rules and absolute power rules absolutely. Higher torque ratings and bigger batteries are filtering into more affordable bikes. This is not due to reduced battery cost but to new-generation, more affordable controller boards. Coupled with second-generation hub motors, these bikes can run cooler and stronger.
What You Need to Know About Motors
Most folding e-bikes use hub motors. Hub motors have three main advantages on folding e-bikes compared to mid-drive motor setups (usually used on traditional, non-folders). One of the hub motor's primary advantages is size; they are small and don’t take up any additional real estate on the bike. Hub motors offer bike designers flexibility, as they can in the front or rear wheel. Keep in mind that front hub motors may affect a bike’s handling characteristics. Lastly, hub motors cost less than mid-drive systems
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 feels more powerful and accelerates more quickly than a motor with less torque. But the more powerful a motor is, the more energy it uses.
Regardless of torque and watts, most folding e-bikes cut off pedaling assistance at 20mph, which puts them into the Class 1 category. Generally, that limit is in place for safety on bike paths, and because some places restrict what’s street-legal without special registrations or permits. Class 3 e-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 cut-off, 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 wheel size because it 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, meaning they can pack down to a fairly compact size and will fit into a car trunk or can be carried onto 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 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 Folding Electric Bikes
Every bike on this list has been thoroughly evaluated and vetted by our team of gear editors. We’ve tested and reviewed many of them ourselves, and for the ones we haven’t personally tried, we relied on user reviews and our years of experience with other similar models. We evaluated them on features, folded size, range, power, value, and aesthetics to select models that best serve every kind of cyclist.
The RadExpand 5 is nearly 5 pounds lighter than its predecessor, uses a 750-watt continuous-power motor, and has improved geometry (including an adjustable riser bar that can be moved forward and back). This electric, fat tire folded sits on 20-inch wheels and 4-inch tires that can go farther (up to 45 miles) and faster on terrain other e-bikes can’t reach. Plus, it also folds up small enough to fit in your office, RV, or the trunk of your car. You get four levels of pedal assist and a 7-speed drivetrain, integrated LED front and rear lights, a rear rack with a 55-pound carrying capacity and extra mounts, and the option to add a front basket.
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 68 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. The Sinch comes in a standard frame, as well, in a Cloud Grey color.
The Swagcycle, at $480, is among the cheapest folding e-bikes we’ve 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 sub-$500 e-bike? What a time to be alive. This 5-speed bike rolls on 14-inch wheels, folds to a tidy size, and weighs about 37 pounds. The 281Wh battery powers the 250W motor up to 15 mph with a claimed 15-mile range (double with the optional spare battery).
Marketed to private pilots with a jump seat’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. At times like these, the old Colin Chapman motto, “Simplify and add lightness,” comes into its own.
The Lectric XP 3.0 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 with 55Nm of torque. This gives the XP 3.0 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 50mm travel suspension fork, as well as a large 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.
Aventon’s Abound is a highly capable and competitively priced mid-tail cargo-hauling e-bike. While not a full folder, the handlebar and stem collapse to allow for easier storage in tight spaces. The Abound has the features, power, and options to carry needed for carrying almost anything by bike. The bike’s 750-watt read hub motor with torque controller provides a zippy ride feel, Tektro hydraulic brakes with 180mm rotors provide strong stopping power, and other features like the dropper post help the bike outperform similarly priced competition. The bike’s internal battery provides up to a 50-mile range (though we experienced about 25 miles using the highest power setting and the throttle). The reinforced rear rack accommodates passengers up to 143 lb., with a total bike capacity of 440 lb.
The plucky, smart, and wholly British Brompton Electric feels slick. Like any other Brompton, it folds in three places and quickly becomes very small—we got it down to 3.6 cubic feet in 30 unhurried seconds. The new Electric P Line is the lightweight counterpart to Brompton's existing Electric C Line model, a steel model with various gearing options that utilize the same 250W front hub motor and 300Wh head tube-affixed battery pack. Like the non-motorized P Line, the electric model features a titanium rear triangle and fork to shed weight. Where the C Line has 6-speed and 2-speed options, the P Line is only available with four speeds on an external rear freehub. The Electric P Line also forgoes the sporty, flat handlebar option with the choice of either mid- or high-rise cruiser bars.
You don’t have to be a gear head to appreciate the polish that Gocycle has achieved with its latest model. Gocycle designed the G4 to appeal to a broad audience and the new lower price reinforces that goal in offering one of the most intuitive enthusiast e-bike experiences in a terrifically smart package. The G4 weighs less than its peers, thanks to the carbon midframe, so you really get the most out of the bike. The motor also feels massively powerful, yet it folds up almost as small as a Brompton.
Though it doesn't fold down as small as some bikes, Tern's HSD P9 remains unrivaled when hauling stuff. This Bosch mid-drive motor-equipped bike is purpose-built for running errands, carrying groceries, or ferrying your youngster or pupper (click for Corgi pic!) around town. The HSD's Bosch Power Pack battery provides up to a 69-mile range and the bike's reinforced frame accommodates riders up to 265 lb., with a total load capacity of 375 lb.
Thanks to a 500-watt electric motor located in the rear hub, and folding mechanisms in the downtube and stem, the Vika+ goes fast, folds fast, and stows well. Its 614Wh battery delivers up to 45 miles of range, and a throttle provides on-demand blasts of oomph. It comes with a 7-speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain, a rear rack, integrated LED lights with brake indicator, a bell cleverly integrated into the left brake lever, front and rear fenders, ergonomic grips, and 2.2-inch tires. And unlike the previous model, which lacked disc brakes, this one has Tektro mechanical disc brakes. Best of all, at $1,800, the Vika+ is an affordable way to mix up your commute—and keep some bus fare in your pocket.
As Deputy Editor, Tara Seplavy leads Bicycling’s product test team; after having previously led product development and sourcing for multiple bike brands, run World Championship winning mountain bike teams, wrenched at renowned bicycle shops in Brooklyn, raced everything from criteriums to downhill, and ridden bikes on six different continents (landing herself in hospital emergency rooms in four countries and counting). Based in Easton, Pennsylvania, Tara spends tons of time on the road and trail testing products. A familiar face at cyclocross races, crits, and bike parks in the Mid Atlantic and New England, on weekends she can often be found racing for the New York City-based CRCA/KruisCX team. When not riding a bike, or talking about them, Tara listens to a lot of ska, punk, and emo music, and consumes too much social media.