Folding bikes are particularly efficient when used in conjunction with public transit. Unlike regular bikes, they can be taken easily on buses, trains or ferries. In fact, some transit systems will only allow folding bikes to be taken on board. I recently reviewed the Best Folding Bikes of 2008. An efficient addition to these bikes is an electric motor. For a little extra weight, you get the benefit of going up hills easily, and this is often very important to commuters who do not work up a sweat before getting into work. Let’s take a look at one of the better folding electric bikes out there: a Dahon Mu P3 custom-fitted with a BionX electric assist motor.
This bike is called Dahon Conversion and it’s sold by NYCEWheels for $1899 (see photos above and below).
The Dahon Conversion weighs just 42 pounds. It can be folded in less than 20 seconds into a size roughly 13″ x 25″ x 30″.
The folding of the bicycle requires the loosening of 4 clasps and the bicycle collapses to its folded size without removing any of the wheels or adjusting any of the gears. The wires are out of the way and do not obstruct the folding and require no special attention in the folding process.
The bike has a range of 20-30 miles. This version of the bike uses a 250 watt motor and NiMH batteries. If you spend more, you can get a 350 watt motor (add $230) or lithium-ion batteries (add $300).
The BionX standard system includes a control console, a battery and a motor. The control console includes a multi-functional odometer, four assistance levels, four generative settings as well as a battery charge indicator.
You can also create your own folding electric bike. For example, to recreate the Dahon Conversion you could get the Dahon Mu P3 (about $590) and install the BionX motor system yourself (kits start at $1100). Of course you can also use other folding bikes and electric assist kits. Some kits are available for less than $500, however I can’t vouch for their quality. There’s also DVD that will tell you how to fit your bike with an electric motor — its a bit hokey but it shows the basic method of installation.
Another folding electric bike is the iZip EZgo. This inexpensive bike by Currie Technologies, will help you pedal for 18 to 25 miles with speeds up to 18 mph. The bike weighs 53 pounds, including the motor. The EZgo has a simple twist throttle with a battery gauge. The wheels are 16″ heavy duty alloy with stainless steel spokes. The bike also features an integrated rear carrier to take some items on the go with you.
Biontague is a folding electric mountain bike, created by Electric Cyclery. It’s a Montague Swiss Bike LX folding mountain bike fitted with a Bionx PL350 electric conversion kit. The Biontague bike offers speeds in the 20 MPH range, great hill climbing assistance, and a range of up to 60 miles on a 3-hour charge.
The Montague Swiss is a mountain bike that folds for easy transport and the whole thing weighs only 43.2 lbs. A 36-volt lithium-ion battery pack is mounted down low on the frame.
The price is $2425 from Electric Cyclery, plus $100 shipping in continental USA.