First, I want a good, fast, folding, solid bike that's stiff and fun to ride, preferably with an Alfine or similar hub. Then I want to put an electric motor on it, all for less than $2K. The packages I've seen (bike and usually a BionX conversion are too expensive). I've spent the past weeks looking at as many options and here is what I've found.
For a rear mounted motor, the choices are many (Xootr Swift, Bike Fridays, the 26" wheel Dahons, etc.) but you have to use a derailleur system. Fairly reliable, lots of gears, if you want them, but messy. This bike will spend a lot of time in the trunk of my car.
For a front mounted motor -- necessary if I stick with the hub shifter -- Danny at Amped Bikes says that the common aluminum fork is an accident waiting to happen. If so, you need a steel fork, but I can't find a good folder that comes with one.
So, here's the questions: if I stick with the hub idea, can I easily swap out the stock aluminum fork for a steel one? Is Danny being overly cautious? One bike shop owner who sells electric bikes (BikeFold in Laguna Beach, CA) says that virtually no shops are installing front mount motors; too many problems with stress on the fork, regardless of what they're made of. This advice nudges me back toward the derailleur option.
I would welcome any thoughts on this conundrum.