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How to Choose a Foldable Electric Bike in 2019?
What class of folding electric bike should I get?
Folding e bike models are classified in three categories based on their power design:
- Class 1 (Pedal Assist/Pedelec) – This class of electric bicycles represents the majority of e-bikes today. It’s designed to be pedaled as you ride. The motor provides extra power to the rear wheel. That additional power makes pedaling easier, even in higher gears or on inclines. Due to lower speeds, these e-bikes can be ridden in most places without a license.
- Class 2 (Throttle) – The throttle foldable electric bike is powered by a motor and does not require pedaling. This limited e-bike selection caters to the Chinese and American markets.
- Class 3 (Speed Pedelec) – An e-bike in this class is similar to the Class 1 pedelec. The difference is the greater speeds they produce. The faster speeds of these electric bicycles will require licensing.
What material is used for a folding electric bicycle’s frame?
A folding electric bicycle for sale will have a frame made from one or more of these common alloys:
- Aluminum alloys used in bicycle frames are either 6061 or 7005 grade aluminum. These lightweight materials are far less dense than other alloys but require thicker walls for integrity.
- Carbon Fiber or CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced polymer) are a more recent development in bicycle frames. Manufacturers use carbon fiber sheets infused with resins to provide a strong but lightweight alloy. The anisotropic nature of CFRPs makes the tubing flexible.
- Steel frames will employ 4130 chromoly. Steel is easy to work with, cutting production costs. It is heavier and prone to rust if neglected.
- Titanium frames are made from 3Al-2.5V or 6Al-4V variants. It is difficult to produce and weld, resulting in higher costs. This medium-weight alloy can provide a frame that will last a lifetime.
Which Motor is used in a Folding Electric Bike?
Before you buy electric folding bike, you should consider the differences provided by a hub motor compared to a mid-drive motor.
The location of the motor will affect how folding electric bikes work and what they are capable of.
A Front Hub Motor is used on the Class 2 models due to drivetrain considerations. While they provide a simpler design, they offer less traction and are more difficult to steer when cornering. Because of this, front hub motors are rarely used except in conversion kits.
The Rear Hub Motor is easy to manufacture, making them cheaper to produce. Being located at the rear of the e-bike allows them to be used on motorized or pedalec models. This design can be harder to handle due to the weight of bike and rider being concentrated on the back.
A Mid-Drive Motor is integrated with the crank and is activated with pedaling. This pedalec-only design provides more torque and distributes weight more evenly. Since it drives the e-bike’s crank, it works more effectively with the offered gear range.
What Type of Gear on a Folding e bike? What is the Max Speed?
The best foldable electric bike designs make use of seven gears to power the rear wheel and are controlled by a lever-type switch located on the handlebars. This lever controls a derailer that moves the chain to different sized rings. Keep in mind that:
- Lower gears use larger rings. They are easier to pedal and provide more torque.
- Higher gears use smaller rings. They are harder to pedal and offer less torque.
While the top speed of the best electric models is limited only by the incline and the rider, there is a limit to the speed the throttle will generate in pedal assist mode.
Most Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes will top out at 20 mph, while the more powerful Class 3 bikes can reach speeds that are 10 mph higher.
Remember that the top speeds available to you may be limited by state and local regulations as well.
Battery Capacity of a Folding Electric Bike
From Cyclamtic to Shimano, the best folding e bike models use nickel and lithium batteries.
- Lead-acid (SLA) are cheap and recycle easily. They are less durable and limited in power. Their weight and short range limit their popularity.
- Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) are a step up from SLAs. They provide greater capacity and longevity. NiCd are hard to recycle and cost more. This type of battery is becoming obsolete in 2019.
- Nickel-metal Hydride (NiMH) is more efficient than NiCd but offers little improvement at higher costs. However, they last longer and are easily recycled easily.
- Lithium-ion (Li-ion) are the most common e-bike batteries. A lithium ion battery can generate more power longer, but requires additional electronic control for safety.
- Lithium-ion Polymer (Li-pol) gives a minimal improvement over lithium-ions but they don’t use water. They can be molded in different shapes and are more stable.
- Lithium Cobalt (LCO) is a newer design, making a verdict on performance difficult. Proponents claim they provide greater power due to a higher energy density.
- Lithium Manganese (LiMg204) is based on technology used in hybrid cars. Manufacturers claim it provides greater power and longevity.
How Long does a Folding e-bike Charge?
While the best folding electric bicycle will provide limited charging when moving down hills, batteries require charging once they are depleted. Lithium-ion needs on average between 3.5 and 6 hours to charge.
E-bike batteries reach a 90-percent charge within 2.5 hours, with the last 10-percent used to top-off the battery.
Partially charged batteries will take less time than those discussed above, of course.
What is the Distance of Folding e-bike?
The best e-bikes on the market today have a range of approximately 20 to 30-miles per charge. There are many factors that can affect this range, even on the lightest electric folding bike designs. A few things that can alter the distance per battery charge include:
- Rider’s weight
- The e-bike’s class rating
- The terrain
- The speed maintained
- How much pedaling is done
- Temperature and wind
- The age and type of battery
- The size of the motor
What Type of Brakes does a Folding Electric Bike Have?
Any folding electric bike for sale today will use either a mechanical or a hydraulic disc brake system. These brakes are different from the caliper brakes traditionally used on bicycles. These brakes employ rotors that are located on the hubs of your wheels.
When the brake lever is depressed it engages the brake pads against the rotor with acable or hydraulic pressure. The pads have a red dial that must be adjusted manually on mechanical disk brakes or automatically on hydraulic brakes. Just like the suspension and motor components, the brake system will require routine maintenance.