A folding electric bike is a great choice for commuters, travelers, RV owners, or anyone who wants an easy to store, easy to move transportation option. Imagine you are a commuter in the San Francisco Bay Area. Let’s say you start your day with a 15-minute drive to the El Cerrito Del Norte Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station on Cutting Boulevard. You pull your folding bike out of the trunk, flip it together, and roll it onto the 7:16 AM train toward San Francisco. Some 32 minutes later you arrive at the Embarcadero station on Market Street. You head down Market and take a left on Beale Street. It’s one way and the traffic can be heavy. Your office is just past Philz Coffee near Folsom Street. You roll your bike in the side door, take the elevator to your floor, and push it right up to your desk. Your folded electric bike fits nice and secure in the corner of your cubicle until it is time to head home. This is just one possible scenario. If you live in a small apartment or a tiny house; or if you own an RV or a boat you can think of plenty of times when a folding electric bike would make exploring or getting around a lot easier. If you think you want an folding ebike, the next question to ask is which one. As you look over all of the specifications and compare prices there are probably ten features you should be most concerned about.

Top 10 Features for a Folding Electric Bike

  1. Motor
  2. Throttle
  3. Folding
  4. Range
  5. Drivetrain
  6. Braking System
  7. Electronics
  8. Stem Height
  9. Tires
  10. Service and Warranty


The fundamental difference between an electric bike — folding or not — and a conventional bicycle is a motor. It is the defining characteristic, and for that reason, it is the most important feature to consider. A folding electric bike motor should provide the proper combination of power and value. It should help you climb hills, pedal through a national park, or commute to work without breaking a serious sweat. And it should achieve these goals without busting your budget since the motor can also be one of the most expensive components. Look for motors between 250 watts and 350 watts for folding electric bikes. This power range provides enough force to help you pedal in most situations. It also represents the most commonly available motors for folding electric bikes. You also want to look for motors that are a good value. For example, the 350-watt Bafang Max Drive motor is a “super quiet, mid-drive that measures pedal cadence as well as torque. It’s very smooth. It is one of my favorite sort of like value mid-drive motors,” said Court Rye, the author of, “A Practical Guide to Electric Bikes (Discovering Electric Bikes),” in a video review of the EVELO Quest Max folding electric bike. “There are out there. You know Bosch and Brose, Yahama, Shimano, but this Bafang motor is pretty great in my opinion. You know it is balancing price against functionality,” Rye said. Motor placement is also important. Folding electric bikes may have a hub motor positioned in either the front or rear wheel or a mid-drive motor situated near the pedals (crankset). Hub motors may be less expensive, but provide relatively less force at the wheel than a mid-drive motor with similar wattage. “By directly powering the bike’s cranks, mid-drive motors work in tight coordination with the bike’s already existing gears, amplifying the mechanical advantage they provide. This becomes particularly helpful when it comes to climbing steep hills or navigating extended inclines,” wrote the authors of EVELO’s “The Complete Electric Bike Buyers Guide.”


While almost all folding electric bikes assist you as you pedal, fewer offer a throttle that will power the bike without pedaling. This feature is extremely helpful for climbing hills or for covering relatively long distances. Look for a folding electric bike that gives you the opportunity to pedal when you want or just power through a hill or other challenging terrain.


A good folding electric bike should store easily and securely. That is after all the point. In fact, some of the main reasons to choose a folding electric bike include:
  • Living in a small home or apartment without the room to store a full-sized bicycle.
  • A mixed commute that combines cycling with a train ride, bus ride, or even a short drive.
  • Vacation travel since folding electric bikes easily fit in a typical RV or the trunk of a car.
An electric folding bike should be easy to fold and secure when it is folded. As an example, check out Pete Prebus’ demonstration of folding an electric bike in his review of the EVELO Quest Max. Weight also plays a role in how well a folding electric bike, well, folds. Compared to conventional folding bicycles, a folding ebike is going to be heavy. The addition of the motor, battery, electronics, and related components adds weight quickly. So don’t be surprised if a good folding electric bike weighs in at 40 or 50 pounds.


How far a folding electric bike can travel on a single charge depends on at least four factors, including battery size, battery efficiency, how much you pedal, and terrain. Put another way, “the range of the battery you need depends on the type of riding you plan on doing. If you plan to use more motor power than pedal power, then you’ll be using your battery’s charge quicker and will, therefore, need a larger range. If you plan to pedal a lot and use the motor assistance only periodically, you can probably use a battery with a smaller range,” according to chapter eight of the “The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.” Court Rye, gives a nice demonstration of how pedal assistance impacts range in one of his Electric Bike Review reports. In that example, a folding electric bike with relatively little pedal assistance has a range of more than 40 miles while the same bike with more pedal assistance has a range closer to 25 miles. Also consider that an electric bike runs on a relatively large rechargeable battery, and if you ride your folding electric bike often charging is going to be the habit you cannot forget. It is common for an ebike battery to take about four hours to charge fully. If possible choose a bike with an easy to remove battery and store the battery at room temperature when not in use. For your folding electric bike look for batteries with around 9 or 10 amp hours. Often these batteries can conservatively provide around a 40-mile range without adding significant weight or cost.


A traditional bicycle drivetrain can consist of several moving parts, including a crankset, cassette, chain, derailleurs, and shifters. Collectively, these components work to drive a bike forward. They also determine the relationship between how fast a rider pedals (cadence) and how rapidly the drive wheel turns. A bicycle in a relatively high gear could take more effort to pedal but would result in more drive-wheel rotation with each stroke. A conventional drivetrain, even in its most basic form (single speed, single gear ratio), can be effective for a folding electric bike. So don’t be concerned if an otherwise high-tech electric bike uses a conventional bicycle drivetrain. If the bike meets your needs and your budget, it can still be a very good option. If you want more, you could upgrade your folding electric bike’s drivetrain in at least two ways, adding a belt drive system and an internally-geared hub.
The upgraded EVELO Quest Max folding electric bike is a good example of what your drivetrain could be. Here you have the Gates Cardon Drive and the NuVinci CVT.
As an example, several EVELO electric bicycles — including the Quest Max folding ebike — use the Gates Carbon Drive belt system instead of a chain. This system provides a much smoother and quieter ride than a conventional chain drive. The Gates Carbon Drive is also clean since you won’t need to grease it. Finally, it is much more reliable, lasting much longer than a chain. The second upgrade is to add an internally-geared hub like the NuVinci continuously variable transmission. With this transmission, you don’t have specific gear steps, think first gear, second gear, etc. Rather, you have a nearly infinite number of “gears” between the low and high. The transmission always applies the best “gear” for the current riding condition. This is particularly helpful for an electric, mid-drive electric bike which can generate relatively more power and torque at the hub.

Braking System

Powerful folding electric bikes need equally powerful braking systems that automatically disengage the electric motor when you brake. When you choose a folding electric bike look for manual or hydraulic disc brakes, similar to the disc brakes available on several EVELO models. These heavy-duty brakes have the force needed to slow an ebike. You will also want motor inhibitors. These systems disengage the motor when you pull the brake handle so that you don’t have to fight against the powerful ebike motor.


Good quality folding electric bikes will typically include an electronic instrument panel. This panel is the information hub for your ride. It should include information about speed and distance. Allow you to control the level of pedal assistance the bike’s motor is providing, and estimate the battery level and current range. (See an excellent example.)


This feature is for tall riders. Many folding electric bikes are lower to the ground than a standard bicycle or a standard electric bicycle. While this is important for many reasons, including a relatively lower stand-over height and a more compact outline when folded, it can also make a folding ebike feel pretty small — think clown bike in a Shriner’s parade small. To resolve this issue, look for folding electric bikes with long, adjustable or replaceable stems that bring the handlebars up to a comfortable height.


Folding bicycles don’t often include suspension or other forms of shock absorption. Thus, the ride can be somewhat less comfortable than a big, cushy cruiser. But tires can help. A relatively larger and more inflated tire can make for a comfortable riding folding electric bike. You can, of course, upgrade tires on your own too, but it is a really nice feature when your ebike had great tires from the start.

Service and Warranty

It may seem odd to include service as a top feature for a folding electric bike, but when you purchase an ebike you are starting a relationship. In the past, you probably had a favorite local bike shop. You could bring your bike in for a tune up, pick up a new chain, and even browse the latest models. Because of changes in retail economics, this may no longer be the case. There simply are fewer bike shops. Thus, most electric bikes are purchased online, direct from the bike maker. With this in mind choose a bike with an outstanding warranty and customer service.
When we think about technologies that have changed the world, and how we function and exist in it, there are certain ones that come to mind. The automobile, the computer, and most recently, the smartphone.    There is, however, another technology that is quietly flourishing and spreading around us without getting nearly as much attention. One that has the world changing potential - the Electric Bicycle.   In fact, the technology is so popular that in Asia, the world's largest e-bike market, there are two hundred million of them in use. They account for over a quarter of all the bicycles in the country. In the United States, the numbers are smaller for now.  Yet, more and more people are becoming aware of them, and adoption rates are increasing. 20 years from now, as we reflect back on our search for the personal mobility solution, we are likely not going to remember the world before ebikes just as it is becoming harder to remember it before the smartphones came along. The Back Story Electric vehicles have been in existence for over a hundred years. They predate the gasoline-driven versions by several decades. In fact, if someone in the year 1900 had to bet on the future of cars, they'd have put their money on electricity.   Although the first patents for something resembling today’s bicycles date to the 1890s, the modern electric bike is only about 20 years old with most popularity gained in the past few years. The early modern ebike suffered from the same issue it’s vintage counterpart did - both used heavy, short-lived and expensive batteries – like lead-acid technology making them heavy, unreliable and impractical. One of the side effects of the technological revolution of the recent past is finally shaking things up. Thanks to the rapid scaling of laptop, cell phone and other mobile electronic device production, a much lighter and durable battery became affordable – lithium ion.  Battery packs that used to weigh 20 lbs and provide only a few miles of range now weigh  less than 10 lbs and provide up to 60+ miles of range. Today, most electric bicycles use these cells. Finally after a century of being little more than a fringe idea, ebikes are starting to boom and come into the mainstream.  The technology is maturing, and we are atarting to consider e-bikes as reliable daily transportation and recreation for the masses. This led people to wonder what separates an electric bike from a regular bike.

Why people choose to get an electric bike.

Once they find out about electric bikes, many people wonder why someone would buy one instead of a regular bike.  These doubts resolve around:
  • what's the technical difference between the two?
  • what are the advantages of an electric bike?
  • isn’t the point of riding a bike to get exercise?  
  • why are they much more expensive than regular bikes?
These are all compelling and valid questions that we often find ourselves answering to customers.  After all, there is a lot of misunderstanding around them. As they are whole new type of transportation, people aren't that familiar with them yet. But don't worry. By the end of this post, you'll know the difference between an electric bike and a regular bike. And what is more important, you'll know if an electric bike is for you.

What are the technical differences between a regular bike and an electric one?

So, now we come to the question: How are they different, technically? It’s simple!   An electric bike is a regular bike with the addition of an electrical drive system. This consists of a battery, a motor, a way to integrate the motor’s power into the drivetrain, and a way to control that power.   Image of an EVELO electric bike. In the image above you can spot the 4 components:
  • Our mid-drive motor is at the center, below the frame.
  • The battery that powers the motor is in the rear rack.
  • The drivetrain that integrates the power is in the rear wheel. In this case, it's the NuVinci N360.
  • Finally, the throttle, which controls that power, is in the handlebar.
In essence, that’s it! Yes, we know. They look like a regular bike but let's do a deeper dive.   Let's start with the electric mid-drive motor. This is the main component and is what makes the bike ride effortlessly. This type of motor has higher performance and torque when compared to a traditional hub motor. As it drives the crank and not the wheel, it multiplies its power and takes better advantage of the bike’s existing gears. Also, it's positioned close to the center of gravity and low to the ground. This helps improve the handling of your electric bike, as it distributes the weight better throughout the bike. Now, the battery. This is usually the most expensive and heavy component of the bike. A typical electric bike battery (as an example, 36V10Ah) can provide you with up to 40 miles of riding, depending on a few factors. You can remove it with ease to take to your home or office to charge. Third, the bike's drivetrain. This is what delivers power to the driving wheels and convert speed and torque via gears. In this case, the NuVinci N360. Instead of having only a few gears to switch through as you encounter a change in terrain, you have an unlimited range controlled by the turn of a dial. A big hill? Turn up the “volume” and the NuVinci N360 will adjust. Finally, the throttle. This is the mechanism that allows you to control the motor. For example, our bikes use a half twist throttle integrated into the handlebar. Twist it with your right hand, and you'll experience the motor kick in. Apart from those 4, electric bikes share the same components than regular bikes. A frame, two wheels, disc brakes, suspension, a comfortable seat, handlebars, and pedals. What it's important to remember is that there will always be differences. What I described above is the typical EVELO electric bike. But since e-bikes are a new technology, there are many different approaches to it.  For instance, some people prefer a hub motor over a mid-drive. There isn’t one electric bike that is perfect for everyone. You just need to find which one is perfect for you. But now, on to the next big question!

How does it affect the actual riding experience

We've talked about the technical difference between both worlds. But I'm sure that's not why you came here. You want to know what's the difference for you. There is a clear answer: e-bikes take some of the disadvantages of a regular bike and throw them out the window. A regular bike is a fantastic method of transportation and recreation. People have been riding bikes since the 1800s and they still do today. It gives you freedom and fun   Entire cities, like Amsterdam, run on bikes.
Many of Amsterdam's residents commute on bikes. Photo by Sabina Fratila.
  The problem is when things like hills, fitness levels, health or even the simple inconvenience of arriving to work sweaty gets in the way of enjoying the ride. The electric motor solves that. It shortens the time and distance and flattens out the hills. It makes riding convenient, easy and effortless when otherwise it wouldn't have been. Big hills on your route? You live on a super windy area? No problem! Use that electric boost and swift through the hills. You'll be able to conquer them in no time. Is your destination 20 miles away and you don’t have 2 hours to get there?  Use the electric motor to travel at 20 mph without breaking a sweat. This will save you time. Are your knees or hips (or heart or leg muscles) not what they were when you were 20 years old?  Again, no problem! As we age, in general, we have less capacity to put out power. Our knees start to ache more, and we feel discouraged. We stop exercising, gain weight and put even more load on those poor knees. An e-bike will get you out of there - it makes it super easy to start exercising again! Are you afraid your recreational ride will end in terror? Maybe in the past, you could ride 20 or more miles with no problems, but now it’s not so easy.  We know the feeling. When you have an electric bike, you don’t need to worry about getting halfway through a ride and finding yourself far from home, exhausted. The motor is your friend, and we'll get you home without a pinch. Any bike gives you freedom. Freedom from having to drive everywhere and sit in traffic. Freedom to go where you need, when you need, and not have to worry about the price of gas. Freedom to have fun. An e-bike just adds to this freedom by making biking easier and more fun, or just accessible in the first place. That's the real difference.

Isn't an Electric Bike Cheating?

Electric bikes makes riding convenient, easy and effortless. And this might keep you wondering: "Isn’t the point of riding a bike to get exercise?  Isn’t an ebike cheating?”. That's a legitimate question a lot of people have. And the answer is no. It can be counterintuitive at first, but bare with me. First of all, that fantastic electric motor is there to help you, but you don’t have to use it all the time. The pedal assist makes riding super easy, but you can just pedal or use the motor only. Plus, electric bikes make exercising accessible, whether you are fit or not. In fact, most e-bike riders get more exercise as they ride more often, and for longer distances. I’m a dedicated bicyclist who loves being out there on the road, turning the pedals and feeling the wind.  I can’t even remember not being able to ride, and not loving it, too. And despite that, when I faced the 30-40 mile round-trip commute to work, I usually reached for the car keys. Why? I didn’t have the time or energy to do that every day.  My route was usually hilly, and riding to work just wasn’t a viable, everyday option. And I’d go back to the car. The same happens with errands. You still need to go to the store, right? An e-bike lets you do that with greater ease. This means you’ll be more likely to leave those car keys on the table by the door and grab your helmet instead.   For most people, the difference between an electric bike and a regular bike is riding or not riding. Riding a regular bike is fun, but exhausting. Electric bikes are easy, convenient and accessible, so you'll be more inclined to ride and exercise.    Pedal a lot, or a little, or not at all.  Unlike a regular bike, you have a choice!

The Conclusion

Riding any bike at all gives you so many things. Freedom, stress-reduction, better health, more free time, more enjoyment. And we shouldn’t dismiss other benefits, such as reduced car traffic and a better environment. The difference relies in the fact that e-bikes make it possible for more people to ride and ride farther.   No longer do you need to worry that you won’t be strong enough, or have enough endurance to complete a ride.  Starting any new endeavor takes confidence and determination. By giving you those, an electric bike gets you out on the road, having fun. Electric bikes will never completely replace the regular bicycle or the car. But by eliminating the barriers that stop so many people from riding, such as their health, hills or distance, more people will ride.   If concerns like these have kept you off a bike, then an electric bike might be just the thing you need to get back out there. Do your research, read owner reviews, and find a good, high quality e-bike from a company that will give you many years of enjoyment! You won't regret it!  
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