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Electric bikes: folding and compact


  Electric bikes: The ultimate guide

Guide contents


Folding v compact electric bikes

Folding electric bikes are designed to fit in smaller spaces, initially targeted at city commuters for carrying onto trains. This sounds like a great feature, allowing you to stash the bike in a motorhome with limited storage, but it adds weight and cost, so think carefully before choosing this option.

Weight is the real Achilles’ heel of many folding e-bikes – it may sound attractive if a bike has a reasonably compact fold, but unless it is light enough for you to comfortably lift, how useful is that fold? The lightest of these weigh 13-15kg and even then, this might be a hefty awkward bit of kit to manoeuvre into the space available.

Compact electric bikes are just that, slightly smaller versions of a normal bike. These often have many of the benefits of a full-sized bike but can be light and ideal if your underbed storage space just is not quite big enough to take a full-size bike. Why a ‘compact’ design rather than a folder? Well, if you don’t need the fold, a compact design will be slightly lighter and cost less than a same-spec equivalent e-folder. And compacts are still designed to be small for tucking into a corner of your home or motorhome.     

Guide prices

The best models range from around £1,100 to over £3,000. 

  • More hill-climbing ability from a pricier mid-drive motor. Hub motors can be powerful and effective, but models with something like Bosch's mid-drive motor will make more use of its greater power over a wider gear range and, if you want to tackle really steep hills with a heavy load, a high quality mid-drive is simply unbeatable.
  • Cheaper models have pedal-movement-activated motor power, whilst torque-sensing power delivery systems are smoother and more in proportion to the power you apply to the pedals.
  • Gearing and brakes; more basic models have a single gear but, moving up the spectrum, eletrcic bikes with more gears make steep hill-climbing so much easier. More expensive models may also feature the smoother, easier to control braking power of hydraulics, whilst at the lower price brackets your brakes are cable operated - though perfectly adequate, it’s simply not as responsive as hydraulics.      

Wheel sizes

Although smaller wheel sizes may be available we'd recommend a miminum of 16in wheels. 20in wheels give a bit smoother ride over humps and bumps (though tyre size and pressure is equally important) and the larger size wheels give slightly more stable handling. 16in wheels can boast a smaller overall bike size and help reduce weight and give very agile handling for weaving through traffic, but may struggle more with off-road tracks and things like unpaved paths along old railway lines.     

Battery and range

The extremely approximate rule of thumb is that every 100Wh of capacity give 10 miles in range. However, you must also factor in how light and efficient the e-bike in question is.

For example, a test of a three-speed Cytronex Brompton model achieved around 25 fairly hilly miles from 180Wh. By contrast, tests of the heavier, wide-tyred, single-speed bikes have actually achieved the same range (admittedly on full power setting) and, even with more careful power use, a 30-50 mile range shows that the above formula certainly doesn’t apply to power-hungry e-bikes like the Rad Runner.    



Electric bike reviews

There is now more choice than ever of folding and compact e-bikes that easily fit into your motorhome. We have looked at some of the huge range available on the market today to show you what you could get on a budget, at mid range and at the luxury end of the market.

E-Go Lite electric bike
E-go Lite

The original E-go was not designed with citygoers in mind, it was actually primarily focused at boat owners, creating something lightweight to be lifted on and off a floating home. Hence the suitability for motorhomes. The Lite is one of the smaller models in the range

Price guide: ~ £889

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Cytronex electric bike conversion kit
Cytronex conversion kit

The Cytronex is a kit consisting of a small front hub motor and a battery/control electronics ‘bottle’ that mounts on the frame. There are kits to suit all manner of bikes, including the one reviewed here for the most iconic of folding bikes, the Brompton.

Price guide: ~ £999

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Rad Power RadRunner electric bike
Rad Power RadRunner

Rad Power is a successful US firm that now sells its excellent-value e-bikes direct to UK customers. This compact electric bike is unusual in that it is a step-through cargo bike with 20in wheels and that rear rack can carry up to 54kg (with optional seat for a small passenger).

Price guide: ~ £1,199

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Evolt folding electric bike
Eovolt folding bikes

Eovolt are French-made, clever and practical electric folding bikes. Here, we review the lighter City model with 16in wheels...

Prices from: ~ £1,300

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MiRider folding electric bike
MiRider – 2021 model

A very small single-geared folder but surprisingly capable, the 2021 version is 1kg lighter than previous models.

Price guide: ~ £1,395

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Raleigh Stow-E-Way electric bike
Raleigh Stow-E-Way / Evo

Raleigh’s Stow-E-Way does pretty well in all categories. It's dependable and reliable and, if you don’t need a particularly compact fold and light weight, or mid-drive hill-climbing power, then it might well suit.

Price guide: ~ £1,395

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FLIT-16 electric bike

This is a UK design that puts light weight and portability at its heart. At around 15kg (including a 230Wh battery and integrated lights) it’s certainly one of the lighter e-bikes out there, folding or non-folding.

Price guide: ~ £1,395

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Cube Compact Hybrid electric bike
Cube Compact Hybrid

Cube makes one of the best and best-value compact designs out there.

Price guide: ~ £2,299

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Gocycle G4 electric bike
Gocycle G4

Gocycle has been dubbed ‘the iPhone of e-bikes’ and the G4 (previously known as the GX) is its folding model.

Price guide: ~ £3,199

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Tern Vektron electric bike
Tern Vektron

A super-powerful electric bike with a mighty mileage range, but that comes at a weight cost (22kg-plus).

Price guide: ~ £3,400

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Want more electric bike advice?

If you have finished reading this review, return to our 'Electric bike ultimate guide' for more electric bike advice.

  Electric bikes: The ultimate guide

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08/03/2021 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

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