Group test: Electric folding bikes

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

Many boat owners have already discovered the joys of carrying a folding bicycle on board. It allows you to explore further afield than the immediate confines of whatever marina you happen to be visiting and makes that boring but necessary trip to the supermarket that much less of a chore.

But even the best folding bikes can prove a bit of a slog, especially in warmer climes – after all, the only way is uphill from most marinas.

Now, however, the latest generation of electric folding bikes promises to take you further and faster than ever before, whatever your age or fitness level.

Designed from the ground up as electric bikes rather than hastily converted pedal cycles, they feature powerful electric motors, long-range lithium ion batteries and neat folding mechanisms that often conceal the batteries and cables within the frame. The result is a lighter, neater, more compact solution that is both fun to ride and easy to store on board.

With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

Coyote Connect

RRP: £499

Coyote Connect
The least expensive bike on test turned in a very solid performance, even if its packaging isn’t quite as neat as some

Build quality 3/5
The Coyote Connect’s 20in wheels feel sure-footed under way while the sturdy aluminium frame gives a secure, stable ride. It’s not the most stylish of packages but its utilitarian appearance won’t offend anyone either.

Performance 3/5
The six Shimano Tourney gears are slick and easy to use, rotating on your right handlebar. When you decide it’s time for a shot of electric power from the front-wheel motor, just use your left thumb to turn it on and choose the level of assistance you need from the three available.

The 24V lithium ion battery doesn’t have quite the same urge as some of its 36V rivals but it will still reach the 15.5mph restricted top speed and its 9Ah capacity delivers an impressive range.

Rider comfort 4/5
A wide range of seat and handlebar height adjustment with pedals in the natural place meant all our testers found it easy to find
a comfortable riding position. The broad saddle also met with approval from our heavier testers.

The front V-brakes and rear hub brake aren’t as powerful as some but are progressive and easy to use. The battery is stowed under the rear luggage rack rather than mounted in the frame but the extra carrying capacity is a welcome bonus.

Portability 3/5
It’s a little heavy to lug about but as you won’t be carrying it further than a few metres from the back of your boat to the pontoon, that shouldn’t be a major problem.

The Coyote folds and unfolds quickly and logically, although its slightly untidy shape and size (60x86x45) when folded may
not make it the easiest to stow on board.

Value 5/5
It may be the cheapest of our group at £499 but it doesn’t feel that way when you ride it. Our news editor Steve bought one for himself over a year ago and swears by it. It’s backed by a three-year frame and a one-year battery and component warranty.

It may be the cheapest of our group at £499 but it doesn’t feel that way when you ride it. Our news editor Steve bought one for himself over a year ago and swears by it. It’s backed by a three-year frame and a one-year battery and component warranty.

Verdict 3/5
Available exclusively at Halfords, the low price, sturdy build and comfortable ride make this a surprisingly good budget E-bike package. Spend an extra £30 on a bag suitable for any folding bike with wheels up to 20in and you’re ready to roll.

Kudos Secret

RRP: £765

Kudos Secret
This cleverly designed and surprisingly affordable E-bike is unlikely to stay secret for long after this test

Build quality 3/5
The extruded aluminium frame is neatly welded with a modern rectangular design that  houses the battery inside. Twenty-inch wheels and Kenda tyres with front and rear V-brakes and six-speed Shimano gears give confidence under pedal and electric power.

Performance 5/5
The Secret’s 36V 8Ah LiMnO4 battery is more powerful than the Coyote’s and hidden inside the aluminium frame –hence the ‘Secret’ name.

There is so much acceleration on tap that you really need to go carefully at first until you get used to the right-hand twist-
grip throttle controls. The LED unit on the handlebar displays three assist levels and tells you how much battery you’ve got left.

You can use the throttle to set off and start pedalling until the power automatically kicks in at the level you set on the handlebar display. Take care using the power to start without pedalling; the eager motor can cause your front wheel to rear up if you overdo it.

A gentle squeeze of the very efficient brake levers cuts out the motor when you need to slow down.

Rider comfort 4/5
Taller riders will need a longer alloy seat post than standard (400mm) to ride comfortably and Kudos can supply a 500mm one for a nominal extra charge. This aside, it’s a pleasant bike to ride, although the pedals can clip the ground if you lean over too far into corners.

Portability 4/5
The Secret folds quickly down to a compact size and stands on its own without wobbling over.

A Velcro strap holds it all neatly in place while you lift it into your boat’s lazerette. Its 19kg weight is par for the class, although sadly they no longer supply a storage bag to protect the bike from salt water and knocks.

Value 5/5
At £765, we felt that the Secret represented excellent value for money, offering the style and features of the more expensive bikes without the hefty premium.

Verdict 4/5
This is the bike which most of our testers said they would buy for themselves. It performed well under both pedal and electric power, folded easily and its combination of style, quality and price was spot on.

Freego Folding Light

RRP: £1,249

Freego Folding Light
Stylish looks and an impressive array of equipment help justify this bike’s premium pricing

Build quality 4/5
Similar in style to the Kudos Secret, the rectangular section alloy tubing conceals the battery within the folding frame. A slightly more curvaceous shape and higher-spec equipment helps justify the extra cost.

Performance 4/5
Three-speed Shimano Nexus internal hub gears don’t give you quite the same range of pedalling options as the six-speed derailleur alternatives but they are blissfully easy to use and less prone to the chain falling off.

The electric motor is mounted on the front wheel with five different power modes giving strong performance uphill and on the flat. The disc brakes are so effective, they take a bit of getting used to.

Rider comfort 5/5
The frame is sturdy and strong with plenty of adjustment to suit all sizes and very comfortable handlebars. Like many of the bikes, the pedals are set quite low but the 20in wheels give a safe, secure ride.

Portability 4/5
Although Light in name, this model is almost identical in weight to the Coyote Connect and the Kudos Secret. During folding and unfolding, the black plastic locking band is a bit of a hindrance while you’re pulling levers on the handlebar stem but the whole bike does go down very neatly, including the pedals folding flat.

Value 3/5
Available in ‘sugar apple green’ and ‘pewter grey’, the Freego comes in at £1,249.

A two-year warranty reflects Freego’s confidence in the life of its 36V 8Ah battery – lithium batteries deteriorate over time so Freego uses only Grade A cells. And its frames are covered for five years!

Verdict 4/5
The Freego Folding Light is marginally better than the Kudos Secret due to its superior LCD display, it has better brakes and additional features, but it’s not quite enough to warrant the substantial extra price.

Next page


Latest videos