Electric bikes: folding and compact
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 and 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.
The best models range from around £1,100 to over £3,000.
- More hillclimbing 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 a 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, eletrci bikes with more gears make steep hillclimbing 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.
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 thing like unpaved paths along old railway lines.
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.
The original E-Go was not designed with city-goers in mind, it was actually primarily focussed 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
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
Rad Power RadRunner
Rad Power are a successful US firm that now sell their 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 that means a small passenger).
Price Guide: ~ £1,199
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
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
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
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
Cube Compact Hybrid
Cube make one of the best and best value compact designs out there.
Price Guide: ~ £2,299
Gocycle has been dubbed ‘the iPhone of e-bikes’ and the G4 (previously known as the GX) is their folding model.
Price Guide: ~ £3,199
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.