We put six of the best electric folding bikes to the test to find out which one is the most useful for those using them on a boat
Three more bikes
With its 16in wheels and quirky, fun looks, this bike lives up to its name – the Woosh part, anyway
Build quality 3/5
This is by far the smallest of the bikes with 16in wheels instead of the usual 20in ones and a much more compact aluminium frame with a flip-over Brompton-style back wheel.
The 36V 7.5Ah lithium polymer battery is concealed inside the frame and some of the details like the leather saddle and chrome handlebar ends add a touch of style.
The Woosh runs its 250W front-wheel motor via a twist-grip throttle with truly startling effect. The small wheels and rather precarious top-heavy riding position exaggerate the feeling of acceleration to the point that it verges on the alarming even if the top speed is limited to the usual 15.5mph.
The three-speed gear shifter is easy to use but the low-set pedals, small wheels and compact frame size don’t feel suitable for prolonged journeys under pedal power alone.
Rider comfort 2/5
The Gallego is fine for short journeys around the marina but if you’re over 6ft tall or the wrong side of 12 stone, you’re unlikely to feel very comfortable or secure on longer rides. The pedals are prone to clipping the ground if you lean into the bends and our larger testers looked and felt out of proportion to the frame.
This is where those small wheels and frame size come into their own. It’s 1kg lighter than all the others in the test (apart from
the Gocycle G3 (see below)) and can fit into a tighter space.
The flip-over back wheel acts as a stand and gives it a basic form of rear-wheel suspension. The only downside is that you have to remove the seat post to fold it fully.
At roughly the same price as the Kudos Secret, the Gallego represents decent value for money and goes at a cracking pace, but it doesn’t feel as sturdy as some, and the one-year warranty is rather limited.
This is the bike to get if you have very limited space on board and only intend to use it on short trips around the marina. Those smaller 16in wheels are the limiting factor for anything more challenging, although it’s possible that younger teenagers and women might cope better with the smaller frame size.
Racecar engineering and a futuristic design put this high-tech bike on pole position, albeit at a price to match its punchy performance
Build quality 5/5
Designed by former McLaren Cars employee Richard Thorpe, this futuristic E-bike is a league ahead of its more functional rivals.
The ultra lightweight magnesium frame and wheels are made using a process called Thixomolding, which gives them the look
and feel of carbon-fibre mouldings, while the swingarm rear suspension and fully enclosed chain are as elegant as they are practical.
Quick-detach PitstopWheels clip on to the single-sided forks with a simple twist-and-lock design. A row of LEDs in the handlebars show what mode you’re in as well as battery power remaining. There’s also a built-in front light and electronic three-speed gear selector.
A 250W motor powers the front wheel while you pedal the rear. The motor is controlled by a torque sensor in the pedals, which can
be tuned to give varying levels of assistance via the smartphone app.
This also makes it possible to override the sensor and speed limiter (where legal) and drive it on the throttle alone. Gocycle claims the motor has more than twice the power-to-weight ratio of conventional E-bikes and it felt like that to us.
The low centre of gravity ensures excellent handling while the hydraulic disc brakes are super effective.
Rider comfort 5/5
The frame is designed to replicate all the key touch points of a full-size bike. You can even adjust the angle of the handlebars as well
as the height. The slightly fatter wheels, rigid frame and proper rear suspension give a very secure and comfortable ride.
The Gocycle doesn’t fold in the conventional sense but the wheels come off, the saddle post lifts out and the whole lot stows neatly into a wheeled carry bag. It takes longer to do than the other bikes but the end result is extremely neat and easily stowed on board.
At £3,299 it’s a lot of money, but it’s not hard to see where the money’s gone.
This is the clear winner in terms of style, build quality, performance and rider comfort but that punchy price and complex folding procedure may put some people off.
Wisper 806 Torque
This hardy, dependable bike will last a long time and go all day, but is it worth the hefty weight and price tag?
Build quality 4/5
The Wisper 806 Torque has a hand-built alloy frame with an impressive ten-year warranty. Its step-through design makes it the easiest to mount and its restrained but classy looks will appeal to more conservative types. The battery is perched over the rear wheel rather than integrated into the frame.
The brushless front-wheel drive 250W motor is so quiet that you can only tell it’s on by the boost in speed you get as soon as you engage the throttle and begin to pedal. Tektro V-brakes keep you in complete control and there is a choice of battery allowing you to increase your range to 50 miles with the optional Samsung mega-range 575Wh version. The standard long-range 375Wh battery carries you 30 miles.
The centrally mounted and generously sized LED display shows speed in mph and tells you how much battery power you have left. A Remote Control Service System deep sleep mode protects the battery when the bike’s not moving.
Rider comfort 5/5
Everything about the Wisper speaks of dependability. The folding mechanisms are well engineered and reassuringly strong.
The cabling runs through the frame and even when exposed is well insulated against damp sea air. The HZ saddle features a 3D skin gel that moulds to your backside and the oversized tyres help to soak up bumps. Not the raciest of rides but a comfortable one with plenty of range and a reassuringly solid feel.
The downside of that big battery is weight. At 22kg, this is by some margin the heaviest of the bikes on test and you feel it when lifting it into or out of a lazarette. However, the folding mechanism works well and the end result is impressively compact.
At £1,599-£1,799 (depending on battery size) the Wisper 806 Torque costs twice as much money as the Kudos Secret but it does feel like a quality product backed up by that impressive warranty.
A very respectable ride and clearly a quality product but the weight is likely to be a problem for some boat owners and the
price looks a little on the high side compared to some of its rivals.