What Should I Look For in a Folding Electric Bike?

The answer to the question ‘what should I look for in a folding electric bike’ is not a straight forward one!

Everyone who is thinking of buying a folding electric bike will have their own idea about what they should be looking for. It will, to a large extent, depend on how you intend to use the bike and where you are likely to be riding it!

You may be looking for a folding electric bike to ride to the office each morning. You may be an older person looking for an ebike that can be stored easily. On the other hand you might want a folding electric bike for off road riding at the weekends.

There are however a number of factors that everyone should take into account when choosing a folding ebike.

Obviously you need to buy an e-bike that will meet your needs. You do however also need to consider how much you want to spend on your electric bike. At the end of the day you want to buy the best value folding electric bike you can find.

What Exactly is a Folding Electric Bike?

folding electric bike

The concept of a folding electric bike is exactly what you might expect it to be. A folding ebike has the basic characteristics of a conventional folding bike. It does however have the advantage of also having an electric battery driven motor.

All styles of folding electric bikes are designed to be extremely portable. They can also be stored away into confined spaces or easily transported in the boot of a family car.

A folding electric bike operates in exactly the same way as any other form of ebike once it has been unfolded ready for riding. The folding and unfolding method will vary a little from model to model.

What Should I Look For in a Folding Electric Bike in Terms of Weight?

The weight of your e-bike could be an important factor when deciding which model to buy. Are going to have to carry the bike for any amount of distance? Do you need to be able to get it easily onto, and off, public transport?

There are two main factors that affect the weight of an electric bike. These are the material used for the frame of the bike, the motor and the type of battery used.

The weight of an ebike can range anywhere from 7-12 kilos up to as much as 30 kilos.

What Should I Look for in a Folding Electric Bike with Regards to Battery life?

Batteries in ebikes have a reasonable long life expectancy, typically between two and four years, depending on use and how well they are maintained. If you intend to keep your ebike for any length of time you will at some point need to replace the battery, and new batteries are not cheap.

It is a good idea to make enquiries with regard to the life expectancy of the battery in the ebike you are considering buying. Most manufacturers do offer guarantees with the ebikes they supply and this will generally include the battery. The guarantee period is usually around about twelve months. There is however often an extended warranty available at an additional cost.

What is the Cost of a Replacement Battery for an Electric Bike?

replacement battery for electric bike

Batteries in ebikes have a reasonable long life expectancy, typically between two and four years, depending on use and how well they are maintained. If you intend to keep your ebike for any length of time you will at some point need to replace the battery, and new batteries are not cheap.

The price of replacement batteries do vary considerably from bike to bike! At the time of writing the cost of manufacturers replacement batteries start at around about £260 ($350). None genuine batteries, on sites such as ebay, start at approximately £150 ($200) or thereabouts.

Batteries for some of the top end ebikes can however cost well in excess of £1000.00 ($1350) to replace.

It is well worth making enquiries about the likely cost of a replacement battery for the ebike you are considering before making your purchase if you feel it may be an issue at a later date.

Is The Ebike I am Considering Buying Classed as an Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle?

Most people who buy ebikes for commuting tend to favour the ‘electrically assisted pedal cycle’ (EAPC for short). An ebike that meets the criteria to be classed as an EAPC is generally regarded in the same way as a normal pedal cycle. Ebikes that do not fall in this category are treated somewhat differently from a legal perspective.

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What Should I Look For in a Folding ebike when it Comes to Quality?

Buying a folding e-bike represents a fairly high financial investment. Make sure that you are happy that the ebike you are purchasing is of a good build quality and fit for the purpose you intend to put it to.

If you are purchasing online and are unable to look at the bike before purchasing read any reviews that are available to see what other people think about it.

What About the Battery Charge Time of Folding Electric Bikes?

Some batteries will charge much quicker than others. If you are going to have a limited amount of time to charge the battery make sure you get an ebike with a battery that can be charged in a relatively short period of time.

Most batteries will take somewhere between 3.5 and 6 hours to fully charge from flat. A lithium battery can however be ‘topped up’ before it is completely depleted. It is however worth clarifying how long the battery will take to charge for the model of ebike you are considering buying.

What Sort of Range Should I Look For in a Folding Electric Bike?

what is the range of an electric bike

The distance that you can travel on a single charge is something that you should consider carefully. If you are using your folding electric bike to commute backwards and forwards to the office each day you need to know that your bike is capable of covering the whole distance.

There are a number of factors that will affect the range of your bike.

The first thing to consider is the capacity of the battery itself. The second thing that has a major impact on the amount of distance you can travel is the terrain you are covering. You will get far more distance travelling on flat ground than you will if you have to negotiate a lot of hills. The third thing to consider is your own weight. Someone who weighs 120 pounds, for example, is likely to get more distance from one charge of the battery than someone who weighs 200 pounds.

In general terms you should be able to get anywhere from about 22 miles to 50 miles from a single charge.

What are The Main Advantages of Electric Folding Bikes?

Folding ebikes (or indeed any ebike) require far less physical effort to ride them than traditional bikes. Generally speaking the speed of a folding ebike will be greater than the speed you would normally travel on a conventional cycle. The top speed of most ebikes tends to be around about 15 to 20 miles per hour (24-32 kph). There are of course some ebikes available that can exceed these speeds. If you have an electrically assisted pedal cycle you will still be pedalling to some degree so there are physical and health benefits to be gained from riding the bike.

Electric bikes are emmission free and energy efficient. This means that riding an e bike to work is far better for the environment than driving a petrol or diesel vehicle to the office.

The battery of an electric folding bike is inexpensive to charge up and maintain.

What are the Disadvantages of Electric Bikes?

The price of a folding electric ebike is considerably more than a standard bicycle. This can however be expected as there are considerably higher manufacturing costs involved in producing an electric bike.

The battery of the ebike will need to be replaced at some point. This does involve a certain amount of cost. The batteries used in ebikes will most likely contain either lithium or lead (older batteries) These could cause damage to the environment when they are disposed of.

The weight of an electric folding bike is heavier than a conventional bike of a similar style.

The range of an ebike may not be sufficient to meet everyone’s needs.

Are Folding Electric Bikes Good for Long Rides?

There is no reason why you should not use your folding e bike for long journeys. Folding electric bikes offer the same riding experience as a normal folding bicycle.

If you are comfortable riding a standard folding bike then there is no reason why you should not be just as comfortable on an electric folding bike.

Generally speaking folding electric bikes have small wheels. There are exceptions but they are few and far between. Bikes with smaller wheels tend to be more responsive which makes them ideal for threading your way through rush hour traffic. Having smaller wheels also means that the bike takes up less space when it is folded.

If you are intending to use your ebike primarily for long journeys then a more standard ebike, with larger wheels, would probably suit you better. Of course you would then be sacrificing the ability to fold the bike for storage.

Are Folding E-Bikes More Difficult to Ride?

riding a folding electric bike is easy

Riding any type of electric bike is almost identical to riding a normal pedal cycle. If you can ride a normal bike then you will be able to ride an ebike.

As stated above electric bikes that are foldable have smaller wheels than a standard road bike. They are however identical to their pedal powered counterparts.

The motor on folding ebike operate exactly the same as they do on any other type of ebike. The battery driven motor is simply there to give assistance as, and when, required.

The only additional controls that you are likely to have on any ebike are those required to operate the ‘electric assist’.

On some entry level bikes could be as simple as just operating a switch to engage the electirc motor (either on or off). More sophisticated e-bikes may have a selector whereby you can select up to three levels of electric assist. Top of the range machines may even have up to five levels of electric assist to choose from.

There are even some ebikes that have a throttle control (similar to a motorcycle) that controls the amount of assistance that the motor will provide. The choice that you make regarding the amount of electric assistance you engage is determined by the speed you are travelling and terrain.

It does not generally take a new rider much time to become proficient in operating an ebikes controls.

Are Electric Bikes Faster than Normal Bikes?

Normal ebikes, including those that are foldable, are not designed for speed. They are designed to be a direct alternative to your normal cycle.

ebike for older people speedometer

An electrically assisted pedal cycle will allow you to travel at your normal cycling speed, up to around about 15mph, but will allow you to pedal less to achieve, and maintain, that speed. A speed in excess of 15mph can be reached if the motor is engaged and you also pedal hard.

A genuine EAPC does not work in the same way as a motor cycle. You do not simply turn the throttle and pick up speed. You have to pedal to get the ebike into motion. The motor simply takes some of the strain when you want it to do so.

Having said that there are some pedal assist ebikes that do have throttles that control the speed of the motor. Simply having a throttle does not however mean that you will be able to travel at a greater speed.

In certain cases ebikes that have throttle controls will in fact allow the bike to be put into motion without pedalling at all. This does, to my mind, somewhat defeat the object of riding an ebike and begs the question why you simply don’t go out a buy a scooter or moped instead!

One benefit of having a full throttle function on an ebike is that you can still make it home again on battery power alone if you are simply too tired to pedal.

There are some ebikes that do not have pedals at all and rely on the power of the motor exclusively. Although these are described as ebikes in most cases classifying them as scooters would seem to be a better description.

It is also worth noting that an ebike that does not have pedals is likely to fall into a different category from a legal viewpoint. This will mean, in some regions at least, that you may not be able to ride these machines without a driving licence and insurance etc.

Can Folding Ebikes be Ridden Off Road?

A folding ebike can be ridden anywhere that you would be able to ride a conventional folding bike.

If you are looking to ride in rough terrain however you will probably find that your folding ebike will almost certainly handle the job better than its conventional counterpart. The fact that you have an electric assist on your folding ebike will make the going far easier.

Most folding electric bikes have 16” wheels. These are certainly not the best option for handling rough terrain. You would not expect to get the same kind of performance from these as you would from a mountain bike with a wheel size of 26” or above.

If you are looking to take up off road ebiking at a serious level then a folding ebike might not be your first choice. If, on the other hand, you simply want to do some off road ebiking occassionally, and you are looking for something that is easy to transport, then your folding electric bike will fit the bill.

There are a number of ‘ fat tyre folding electric bikes ’ on the market that are designed specifically for rough terrain riding. You should however still be able to use the folding e bike you use for city riding for off road riding if you wish to do so. It will not cope with the conditions as well as machines designed for off roading but will cope sufficiently well for you to have a bit of fun.

If you are using your commuter folding ebike off road you might give some consideration to the type of tyres you have fitted to the bike.


When deciding what to look for in a folding electric bike you need to carefully consider what the bike will be used for primarily.

Will you be using your electric bike for commuting to work? If so will you be making the whole journey on the bike. Possibly some of the journey may be made on public transport or in your own car. If this is the case the weight and fold down size will be extremely important to you.

Are you simply looking for an electric bike for recreational purposes? If this is the case then the type of terrain that you intend to ride on will influence your decision.

Hopefully some of the points covered in this article will help you to make your decision. Ultimately however only you can decide which of the folding ebikes that are available will be best for you!

Read What Wikipedia has to say about electric bikes!

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