Electric Powered Cycle Origami
I recently booked a bikepacking trip away for my wife, two kids and I this summer. The plan was to bike away from the house for three days, get to a train station, and then jump on the train back home.
Well, actually it wasn’t so simple.
Where I live, the train companies all encourage you to take your bikes on their trains. That’s great. They don’t charge you anything to take your bike either. Even better!
The slight sticking point is that they only allow a maximum of three bikes per train.
Now, let’s imagine getting on a train in the summertime, in a popular touristy area. What are the chances do you suppose of there being at least three people on a train filled with maybe 600 people, all wanting to take their bike on with them?
Quite high, I would’ve thought.
(We’ve got an even bigger problem here. Four bikes for our family and only a maximum of three available spaces. Hmm. Need to re-think our vacation plans)
As much as a pain as this is for my family and I, I can’t even begin to imagine what the situation is like on a commuter train.
My work commute is entirely by bike, home door to office door. So, it’s not something I experience. But a quick search online, shows me that commuter train capacity is around 200-300 passengers. The same bike rules apply, which works out at maximum of 1% of passengers being allowed to get their bike onboard.
This is a challenge given the rise of commuters who are either:
- Cycling from home to the train station and then wanting to take their bike with them, rather than abandon it at the station for whoever wants to slash the tires or steal the saddle
- Wanting to take their bike on the train with them, so that they can cycle the “last mile”** from the destination station to their office.
**I couldn’t find any stats online for the actual distance of a “last mile”, but I strongly suspect that this varies from anywhere between “a mile” and “quite a few miles”.
What’s the answer?
Well, as it turns out, the perfect commuter steed for this type of journey is the folding bike.
As a child, I was forever fascinated by origami and the magic involved in turning a flat sheet of paper into a sleek airplane, or a crane with real flapping wings, or a water bomb that could soak my younger sisters.
Folding bikes, for me, are the origami of bicycles. Fold them up, carry them on board the train with you. At your destination, unfold, jump on, and pedal off into the sunrise (or, more likely, your cubicle).
A recent development in the world of bikes has made bikes in general, and folding bikes in particular, even more magical for me.
Add electricity to folding bikes and what do you get? Don’t worry, it’s not a trick question.
Electric folding bikes are, in my humble opinion, the ultimate weapon in the commuter’s arsenal:
- Light enough to carry with you
- Compact enough to take on board (and later, stash under your desk or in the closet)
- Zippy enough with the electric motor to whizz you past all the nose-to-tail downtown traffic on that “last mile”
So, this article is about folding ebikes.
Here’s the quick answer: ANCHEER Folding Electric Bike
There are a number of key areas to consider when you’re looking at this type of ebike. I’ve listed these for you below and I’ll then give some more detail on each. You should then have a good understanding of what you need to think about when choosing your new bike.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time on your behalf researching the best available folding electric bikes, so I’ll also give you the lowdown of my top recommended bikes and then briefly discuss the highlights of each.
Ready to make a start? Then let’s go.
My Top Recommended Folding eBikes
This has the classic looks of a commuter folding bike. Small (14”) wheels. Low frame. Tall handlebar stem and seat post.
Have a closer inspection though and you’ll see a range of useful features to the SwagCycle EB-5.
First up, the EB-5 folds down to a very compact 26” x 24” x 16”. It also weighs 37 Lbs / 17 Kg, making it relatively easy to stash in a train luggage compartment or under your office desk.
There’s a good range of adjustment on both the seat post and handlebars, accommodating for riders of a wide variety of heights. It can also carry riders of up to 264 Lbs, which is great news.
No assembly needed with this bike when it arrives in the mail. Which is one of the advantages of all types of folding bikes over traditional non-folding ones – they pack up small!
A couple of disadvantages worth mentioning:
Firstly, the battery isn’t removable from the bike for charging. So you will need to take the whole bike to the charging point, rather than just the battery. But, given that the bike folds up, hopefully this won’t be an issue.
Secondly? Unfortunately you have to cycle the bike like that guy in picture #2 on the Amazon listing. 😉
The Ancheer has a slightly more robust look to it than the EB-5. This gives both advantages and a disadvantage.
First up, it can ‘feel’ more like a ‘proper bike’. This can be a benefit if this is your first folding bike and you’re looking for a bike that feels normal and yet can pack up small.
The wheels are bigger, so roll along easier than the EB-5 (20” vs 14”) and it comes with plenty of useful extras. There are powerful brakes to keep you safely away from that car driver in front that keeps jumping on their brakes. Fitted front LED light. Easy carrying handle, rear luggage rack for the laptop and front and rear fenders to stop your smart office suit getting splattered with mud.
It also packs up nice and small to 56cm/22” by 82cm/32”, slightly larger than the EB-5.
One great feature is the removable battery, so you can take it out for easy charging.
The disadvantage of the Ancheer though is the weight – 23 Kg / 51 Lbs. This is not particularly heavy in terms of many ebikes, but it is a factor if you have to carry it a long distance.
However, if you just need a bike that packs up small for easy storage and aren’t concerned about the weight, then the Ancheer is a great option.
Even further along on the ‘proper bike’ scale, the Aceshin is described as a Mountain Bike. Now, I think this is a fantastic commuter bike, but I’m not sure I would be throwing myself down hills on it.
That being said, it is a great folding ebike.
It has 26” tires, so even bigger than the above two bikes. And it just looks and feels like a ‘normal’ bike.
The tires are knobbly for good grip on a range of surfaces. The front and rear fenders are very useful in not-so-good weather and the headlight is good for the dark. The front and rear suspension is a welcome addition that your butt will thank you for. And the battery is removable for easy charging.
If there’s a disadvantage to this bike it’s that it doesn’t pack up too small. That ‘normal’ bike feel means that the packed-up size of the Aceshin is 92cm/36” by 88cm/34”, the biggest of this list.
Is that an issue? Well, it depends again on what you need the bike to do for you. If you need your ebike to feel solid and rugged, and capable of handling the odd gravel track, but also fold up a bit smaller for storage… then this could be the droid you’re looking for.
Key Areas To Consider When Choosing A Folding Electric Bike
- Terrain – rough or smooth?
- Folded bike size – big or small?
- Weight – heavy or light?
- Folding mechanism – fast or slow?
Let’s have a look at each of these in a bit more detail:
1. Terrain – rough or smooth?
Have a think about the type(s) of terrain that you’ll be pedaling along on your folding ebike.
If your bike journey involves a couple of miles of smooth flat bike path, then any of the bikes below will suit your needs. However, if you’ve got some rough hilly tracks to negotiate, and maybe more than a few miles to cover, then you’ll need to direct your attention towards the more rugged ‘mountain bike’ style ebikes.
Also, remember that bigger diameter wheels will roll over rough tracks more easily and smoothly than will smaller diameter wheels. Knobbly tires will also help get grip on rough ground.
2. Folded bike size – big or small?
One of the key questions for folding bikes – how small do they pack up?
Some folding bikes just have one hinge mechanism in the middle of the bike, so that it folds in half lengthways. This might be fine if you just need it to pack up a little bit for storage. Although bear in mind that the larger the folded bike is, the more unwieldy it may be to carry for long distances.
Other folding bikes pack up real small. If you have a small space to stow your bike in, or if you need to carry the bike for a long time, then it would be best to consider one of these.
3. Weight – heavy or light?
Probably the next most important question for folding bikes.
If you’re going to need to carry your bike for any length of time, then you will want it to be as light as practical, without losing any robustness or important features. You may also need to stow your bike on a high luggage shelf on a train, or the top shelf of your closet. Both are situations where you’ll need to factor in the weight of the bike.
4. Folding mechanism – fast or slow?
This can be an important consideration if your journey involves folding and unfolding the bike multiple times for example. If the bike is fiddly and time-consuming to fold, then it will start to get frustrating.
Always running late for your train? Hmm. Well, then it might be worth looking at a folding bike that you can pack up in a hurry and run with.
Final word on Folding eBikes
Like I said at the top of the page, I think folding bikes are awesome. The origami of the bike world.
And, if folding bikes are awesome, then a folding ebike is a work of genius.
Decide what the most important features are for you. Then use this specification to choose your new compact electrically-powered commuter steed.
There’s a lot of choice out there, in both folding bikes and electric bikes. Hopefully this article and my research have gone some way to making your decision a slightly easier one.
Choose it. Buy it. Have fun with it.