When it comes to travelling to work, the best folding electric bikes can completely transform your commute, and there are countless reasons why integrating e-bike technology into a folding bike platform is right for you.
It could be that your commute integrates a train journey and you need to fold the bike in order to take it with you, it might be that your office is at the top of a skyrise building and there's no bike park on the ground floor, or it could simply be that you live in an apartment and don't want a full-sized bike to block the hallway every day. No matter the reasons, the best folding electric bikes take the recent influx of e-bike innovation and apply them to clever folding bike platforms.
However, the best folding electric bikes aren't just destined for a life of riding to the office and back. With their small wheels, easy acceleration and sharp manoeuvrability are a given, making them great for getting about in traffic, narrow bike paths and more, no matter the destination. And then when you do arrive, chances are you'll be able to bring it inside, rather than lock it to a fence and leave it out of sight.
It's no coincidence that e-bikes have seen an explosion in popularity over recent years, technological advancements of the best electric bikes have transformed them into bikes that are easy to use and exciting to ride, and made cycling accessible to more people than ever. Nor is it a coincidence that the best folding bikes are popular among commuters, for their small form factor and thus, their convenience. The best folding electric bikes simply combine the best of both into a single package.
Jump ahead to find out how to choose the best folding electric bike for you
Best folding e-bikes
Classic design with external power pack
Motor: 250W | Battery : 300Wh | Wheel size: 16in
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. It's no surprise, then, that the Brompton Electric is one of the best folding electric bikes we've tested.
Converting the Brompton folding bike package to pedal assistance is a 250-watt front hub motor, powered by a detachable battery pouch. This system is supplied by Swytch, which has helped Brompton to avoid having to source an integrated power source for its folding electric bikes.
The Brompton rolls 16-inch wheels and is conveniently small when folded. Its e-bike hardware has not compromised the inherent Brompton industrial design or practicality.
You have a choice of two price points and drivetrain configuration with the Brompton folding electric bike. The slightly more affordable version has a two-speed drivetrain, while the full price will get you the six-speed version.
Hummingbird Electric 2.0
The best lightweight folding electric bike
Motor: 250W | Battery: 158Wh | Wheel size : 16in
If you want a lightweight folding e-bike, this is a great option. The Hummmingbird 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 triggered by a large 48t front chainring. It only spins a single 12T cog at the rear, so you might be slightly over-geared if your active commute includes steep gradients.
The possible future of folding e-bikes
Motor: 250W (EU) | Battery: 300Wh | Wheel size: 20in
A thoroughly futuristic design, the Gocycle G4 looks unlike any other folding electric bike.
Its designer is a former McLaren employee, and that shows in the G4’s uncompromised choice of materials and shapes. Instead of Chromoly, it blends aluminium frame structure around a carbon fibre centre.
Rolling larger 20in wheels, the Gocycle rolls better and smoothes out the jarring influence of manhole covers and road surface imperfections. Its larger contact batch also enhances deceleration and gives an e-bike commuter more confidence.
The Gocycle G4’s drive front hub drive unit has been upgraded for 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.
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 2025, this is it.
Tern Vektron Q9
A great e-bike evolution of the folding bicycle formula
Motor: 250W | Battery: 400Wh | Wheel size : 20in
The Vektron Q9 might not be a superlight folding e-bike, but it does have a broad reach of appeal.
Tern has attempted to combine as many ‘big bike’ features into the folding frame concept with this Vektron Q9. The result is a heavy package, at 21.9kg, but you get a large capacity battery pack, boosting range.
The Vektron Q9’s nine-speed drivetrain ensures that you can work with its battery assistance most efficiently. Commuters can see a theoretical range of up to 130km, and with Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, you’ll feel entirely safe using the Vektron Q9’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 Q9’s chain to help delay its wear rate.
By configuring the Vektron Q9 with a mid-drive motor, Tern’s designers have optimised weight distribution, giving this folding e-bike fantastically balanced agility.
Go anywhere, with little effort
Motor: 500W | Battery: 500Wh | Wheel size : 20in
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 20x4in 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.
Classic lines and capability
Motor : 250W | Battery : 250Wh | Wheel size : 20in
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 debit 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 50km of assistance. Its eight-speed drivetrain offers a good spread of ratios to conserve battery life and power you up steep urban inclines without bother.
How to choose the best folding electric bike for you
Not every e-bike commuting route is on a perfectly surfaced bicycle lane from start to finish. The reality is that you will encounter edges, ridges and general road infrastructure decay on your route, and a larger wheel has superior ability to roll over these obstacles, which reduces the jarring effect of those road surface imperfections.
Most folding bicycles have traditionally used the 16in wheel size. Smaller wheels are a win for folding bikes, as they help to keep the overall dimensions compact – especially when folded. The smaller wheel is also more agile, delivering quicker steering responses, which can be handy when trying to avoid errant pedestrians or other surprises.
Your choice in the folding e-bike market is essentially between agile 16in wheels and larger 20s, which will deliver better ride comfort.
Folding e-bikes might roll small wheels, but with pedal assistance, you are capable of higher average speeds. Add the potentially risky pedestrianisation and traffic encountered on an e-bike commute, and brakes become a real issue – especially in wet conditions.
Whereas the folding bicycle has traditionally been adequately served by V-brakes, there is no arguing with the potential all-weather decelerating confidence of disc brakes.
Folding e-bikes might look small, but they aren’t that light. With the benefit of those drive motors and batteries, the weight of your folding electric bike is not really an issue when riding, but it does become one when you have to fold and carry it.
If you are going to be lugging the folding e-bike up awkwardly steep stairs or having to stow it in an uncomfortably confined area at work or home, weight matters. Each time you have to lift your folding e-bike, you’ll either be grateful or annoyed, depending on how acutely weight awareness was factored into your purchasing decision.
Given their typical city-centre riding environment, folding bicycles don’t usually require a huge gear range, especially with the addition of a motor. However, if you live in an area where the terrain is undulating, both your legs and your bike's motor will benefit from easing the load with a better spread of gears.
Lance Branquinho is a Namibian born media professional, with 15-years of experience in technology and engineering journalism covering anything with wheels. Being from Namibia, he knows a good gravel road when he sees one, and he has raced some of Africa’s best-known mountain bike stage races, such as Wines2Wales and Berg&Bush.
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