Suggestions for a folding, electric-assist "guest" bike?
I own quite a few bikes at this point, but I have a problem - when people come to visit in the summer I'd like to be able to head out biking, but they don't usually bring their own bikes. I don't really have the room to store several different sizes of guest bikes, either - I live in an apartment and already own 4 bikes of my own! I'm already strained for space, and I need a bike for people ranging in height from 5"0 to 6"2.
Maybe that's asking to much, but I was thinking that perhaps a folding bike might work well. My reasoning is that since a folding bike is designed to radically change it's handlebar and seat height, it could fit a very wide variety of riders.
And while I'm living in a fantasy world, another problem I have is that a lot of times I have a certain route I like, or a certain destination in mind that's a certain distance away, and my guests are not in good of biking shape as I am. Add in a less efficient folding bike (assumably) and their comfortable cruising speed is going to be way less than mine. At a certain speed differential (I like 19mph but could come down, they like 8mph) it's not nearly as much fun. I also periodically ride with another group of biking friends - they're not "serious roadies" by any means, but they bike regularly, and it would be cool if my guests could come as well.
So in my ideal, fantasy world, I thought "Hey! Maybe a folding, electric assist bike would cover all this!".
However, they seem to seem to exist from doing someonline research, but it's difficult to find anything locally, or from any manufacturers I'm familiar with.
So I'm looking for suggestions and (hopefully) experience - does anyone own an electric assist folding bike that they would recommend? Anyone have any other experience or recommendations? Thanks.
We don't have too many folks with electric assist posting in this sub-forum. That said, there are a number of electric assist folding bikes on the market (as you now know from your research). There are also electric assist kits that you can add onto a bike. One thing to keep in mind is that electric assist systems will add a lot of weight to the bike. For electric assist specific questions, you might try the electric bike sub-forum on this site.
As for folding bikes... first question is... what's your budget?
As for budget, I realized it's not going to be cheap. I'm looking for the cheapest thing that still fits my purpose and is reliable, but I would expect that with electric assist, that would be in the $1,000 to $2,000 range? Does that sound realistic?
I debated about whether to post in the electric or folding forum. I figured whichever one I posted in, someone would tell me to try to the other forum, lol. This forum had 32 viewing, while the electric had 8, so I figured I would try the forum with the most people in it first.
I realize the electric system will add significant weight. Not really a problem for my intended use though, I would think.
Challenging but possible. You might contact this gentleman about availability.
I concur. I would give them a call to see if/when these will be available. Bear in mind that it might be a while as based on that post... they're still testing.
If you're handy... you can buy a used folder off craigslist (search for the brands mentioned here) and add an aftermarket kit like the one noted above by Thor. Or you can buy a kit from China... though for that you'll definitely want to browse the electric bikes forum for help.
Base of the Rocky Mountains, Canada. Wonderous things!
2010 Cannondale Hooligan 3
I'll chime in, I provided Power In Motion with assistance and feedback on the project, and had a fun run with the bike. Its a very good little bike, I liked the end result quite a bit. The electric system does not interfere with the folding in any way, the bike was very quick and responsive. The price on that one would be slightly over your $2,000 budget, I believe.
That Tikit in particular is using a Crystalyte motor, but not the typical 405 / 408s you see on most bikes. It ended up being quite a bit lighter than the 40X series of Crystalyte motor, that Tikit is still very reasonably light - comparable to a BionX.
For an electric motor at a lower price point, I recommend Crystalyte. They are fairly basic, operated just by a thumb throttle, with no special features or frills. But, their functionality is very good, they are very reliable, and extremely customizable. You can buy any kind of battery, controller, throttle, many accessories, easy to get parts and supplies for. Although there is no automatic pedal assist, the rider can still pedal along and get assist using the throttle quite easily.
Normal Crystalyte setups are 7-8lbs heavier than a BionX overall, due to the motor being heavier. But for a simple "guest bike", you could quite easily purchase a Dahon or other decent, affordable folder and pair it with a Crystalyte for a reasonably priced but very good little bike.
If you are interested in Crystalyte kits, they are obtainable starting at around $475, and then a battery is on top of that in cost. For a 20" wheel, the Crystalyte 405 is what you would want, or possibly the smaller, lighter 24v Crystalyte motor seen on the e-tikit . And on a Dahon, you would want a rear wheel kit, as the front wheel kit would not fit in the dropouts.
Batteries are where lots of weight can come into play. Lithium batteries are certainly top of the line, very light options with good power and range are available these days. Their economy is becoming pretty good, with long service lives. The only downside is the entry cost into this battery type, but these are the key to having lighter e-bikes.
And, regarding the BionX system mentioned by ThorUSA, it is also a very good option. They are lighter than the standard Crystalyte 40X series by 7-8lbs, and come with more features and perks. They have a command console that displays speed, distance, time, and remaining battery, a very organic and precise feeling pedal assist system, e-brakes, and some other small perks.
I recommend this system if you are looking for the rolls royce of the e-bikes. The biggest downside to the BionX though, is that the system is closed and proprietary - a Crystalyte or other e-bike user can purchase 3rd party batteries, accessories, and change their systems design as needed, whereas a BionX user is more locked in to the design. And their replacement batteries are particularly pricey. Its a great system as long as you are happy with what you get out of the box, and don't mind paying more for batteries down the road. Very class e-bike design.