• 2018 E-JOE EPIK SE Sport Edition Electric Folding Bike 500-700W/48V – under $1500
  • 50lb foldable bike with enormous range and power, 2x competitors or more
  • Includes premium components: oversized 180mm disc brakes, lights, rack
  • Downsides: soft front suspension, sticky throttle, too much speed

Folding bikes are a curiosity for most. They imply that they need to be packed up whether on a plane, train or automobile (or boat, RV etc.). They are great for commuters in their last miles and if you live far from a rideable habitat, they are great companions. A foldable bike allows you to forego that air resistant bike rack on the back or top of the car. But they do have their downsides. They aren’t great for long distances, their often small wheels and multiple piece frames aren’t great for long trips and they are more heavy and complex than equivalent traditional bikes. Also, you often ride higher and less aerodynamically because of the different geometry.

Electrified folding bikes are no different. While the battery and motor add significant weight to the equation, they also obviously add propulsion that helps get you to speed on hills and from a stop. There are a ton of these which have 200 or so watt motors and about 10 miles of range. Usually they start at around $1000.

The 2018 E-JOE EPIK SE takes this idea and nukes it with a 48V 500W or 700W burst rear brushless geared hub motor and 500Wh battery, both of which are at least double the standard you see on typical foldable ebikes. Even better, it looks and feels like a mild-mannered foldable bike that no one would suspect hides a moped level turbo boost. Let’s dive into this…

Unboxing

When you get the 2018 E-JOE EPIK Sports Edition, it comes in a box about the size of the bike, folded up. That makes for easy “assembly”, which is basically taking the bike out of the box, removing the packaging material, screwing on the pedals and unfolding the bike/attaching handle bars. The whole process took me about 10 minutes and required no instructions, something that I take immense pleasure from.  The box is 35 x 27 x 18 inches and the bike when folded is: 35 x 24 x 17 inches.

Unfolding the bike is quite easy with a locking clamp on the main bar and another below the handle bars. You then connect 3 wires which shut off the motor when you brake.  I find the main hinge is all I need to fold when commuting on Metro North to New York City or putting it in the back of my Tesla Model 3. That means folding and unfolding the E-Joe takes less than 10 seconds. At 50lbs, it isn’t too tough to get in and out of the trunk.

Ride

Folding bikes don’t ride anything like normal bikes because of the looser frame, smaller tires and the different geometry. The center of gravity is low but overall it feels a little less solid than a typical road bike because the smaller wheels have less centripetal stabilizing force.  However, with the right components and gearing, you can get used to it very quickly. This bike has 7-speed Shimano Tourney TX-55 gears and a very large front 52 tooth sprocket with a plastic protector.

The Kenda puncture-resistant tires on this bike are 20-inchers with 1.75-inches of width and a low rolling resistance tread. That means this is a hybrid at best and realistically mostly a road bike.  The front suspension/shocks I felt were soft for a 200+pounder and made the ride feel a little less solid than I would have hoped. These feel tuned for a 100 pound person even though the bike is rated all the way up to a 300 pound rider. I even bottomed out the suspension a few times, though this can easily be adjusted. On the other hand, the shocks, as loose as they were, really helped on those NYC potholes especially at speed.

Acceleration and Speed

There are 5 speeds of pedal assistance and throttle options on the handle bars. As you might expect with the huge motor and battery, the throttle is exciting. On flat land, my 200+lb. body goes from 0-20 on throttle alone in close to 5 seconds. My son who is under 100 lbs hits 20 mph almost immediately.

Pedal assist is even quicker on level 5. It feels like you are almost going 20 mph as soon as you start pedaling and wait that second for the assistance to kick in.

20mph is about when pedaling red-lined my legs. That’s the major disadvantage of these small wheels and gearing. The motor however has another 5-8 miles making 20-30mph a strange zone where only throttle makes any sense.

I found myself using throttle level 3 most of the time which made it easy to hit 20mph with some pedaling. On back roads, I love hitting throttle level 5 but overall is a little bit more power than I’m comfortable with, especially on crowded streets. Also, you don’t get much exercise with 500-700W of help.

I will note here that my throttle was a little sticky meaning it would stay engaged even after I let go.  I could turn it off by hitting the brakes, so it wasn’t a safety issue, but E-Joe tells me I might need some lubricant or to loosen the connector a little bit.

Components

Below is a list of components, impressive for a $1500 bike.

  • Motor: 500W Rated with 700W Peak Rear Brushless Geared Hub Motor
  • Battery: 48V 10.4Ah LG 18650-Cells Lithium-Ion
  • Range: up to 30 miles (depending on terrain and rider’s weight)
  • Recharging Time: about 4 hours (at low battery)
  • LCD Display: ON/OFF Power, Speedometer, Tripmeter, Battery Indicator, Pedal Assist Level
  • Pedal Assist System: 5 Level Pedal Assist, Thumb Throttle Control
  • Frame: 6061 Aluminum Alloy Frame Foldable Design
  • Tires: 20” x 1.75” Kenda Puncture-Resistant Tire
  • Seat: Selle Royal Hertz Trekking Saddle
  • Brakes: Front/Rear: TEKTRO 180 mm Rotor Disc Brakes
  • Gearing: 7-speed Shimano Tourney TX-55
  • Accessories: Front/Rear Fenders, Rear Rack, Magnet Clip, Front/Rear Lights
  • Weight (with battery): 50 lbs.
  • Dimensions when unfolded: 65 x 27 x 46 inches
  • Dimensions when folded: 35 x 24 x 17 inches
  • Load Capacity: 300 lbs.
  • Colors: Frosty White, Black Matte, Sky Blue and Tangerine

Conclusion

Folding ebikes aren’t for everyone and 700W+ rocket-powered folding bikes are probably for even fewer people. But if you commute to a city, need to put your bike in the trunk of your car or need a last (20-30) mile option that doesn’t skimp on safety, components or adrenaline, give the sub $1500 E-JOE EPIK SE a try. It is a blast. Amazon or direct.

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