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The Folding Electric Bike Segment is Getting Heavier and Lighter!

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Let's Focus on These Lighter Electric Folding Bikes!

A folded orange e-bike placed within an artistic setting.
Folding E-Bikes (medium by JC)

Everyone knows about the struggles at the gas pump as of late. For this reason, demand for alternative transportation has increased exponentially over the last few years. It is one of the reasons a growing amount of the population, and I have decided to seek out a portable, folding e-bike option. I wrote about finally making an e-bike purchase that met most of my needs.

One such feature I seemed to ignore at the time was the weight factor. I can attest that a good deal of e-bikes are heavy. Any time you introduce a high-powered battery, not to mention a motor, you will be adding weight. My purchased bike was based mainly on price and foldability. In the future, I will add weight to my list of e-bike needs, given this particular bike weighs around 70 lbs. I find that 70 lbs feels more like a 100 with the awkwardness of a folded bike. Just my thoughts on the subject!

Since my purchase back in December, there has been a relentless amount of bikes introduced to the market. I wanted to see what was currently available and focus on lighter folding electric bikes. I was a little surprised to find there were a few bikes claiming to be the “lightest” on the market.

I am starting with this particular bike by Carbo, which has a claim of not weighing more than 13kg (roughly 29 lbs). Great for folding up and taking on the go as a general commuter bike.

The lighter the bike, the smaller the battery. The Carbo bike has a Samsung 260 wh battery, and it is conveniently tucked away in the seat post. Not as much power as quite a few folding bikes on the market, but enough to control the on-board Bafang 250w motor. Expect to find hydraulic brakes as standard equipment on this particular bike. The starting price of this super-light e-bike is 2500 dollars. You are paying a premium for the loftiness of this bike and the fact it is belt-driven, although they do have a nine-speed chain drive unit available. Added Note: The frame is carbon fiber, attributing to the name CARBO.

Imagine my surprise finding another folding electric bike to claim the “Lightest” moniker. United City Bikes markets a bike called “The One,” weighing only 12.5 kg (roughly 27.6 lbs). Starting at $1800, this bike is also equipped with a 250w motor, although the battery is a bit less than the Carbo offering. You can increase battery size once you enter the $2100 price range. Keeping it simple, The One is a single-speed transmission.

Once you jump up to the $2100 model, you go from disc brakes to hydraulic. Added Note: They used a high-grade magnesium alloy to keep the frame solid yet durable.

While not as light as the preceding two bikes, the Brompton bike has 14.5 kg (35 lbs). It is essential to note Brompton only advertises it as being lightweight. In any case, it weighs half of what my TurboAnt S1 does. With that comes the heftiest price tag yet exceeding $4000. What do you get for this small fortune?

Brompton markets the bike as being the most compact in the industry. It is the original 3-part folding bike, AKA “The Brompton Fold.” Expect a 300wh battery to go with the 250w motor, keeping in line with the previous Carbo and The One models. One substantial difference between this bike and the other models is the separate battery bag. Once the unit is folded, you have to carry the battery bag separately.

Added Note: Expect a little heavier ride given it has a hand-brazed cold-formed micro-alloy steel tubing frame.

I saved this bike for last because the specifications indeed classify this as the lightest folding e-bike today (At least it was the lightest I could find). The Hummingbird is another offering to market lightweight at 22.7 lbs and can fold. Starting at the hefty price tag of $4100, it also touts an all-in-one 250w motor and battery combination. The battery is a little on the low side at 158 wh, but it is the price to pay for the lightest bike.

It was interesting to find this unit is also equipped with a regenerative brake function to charge the onboard battery while riding. It is the only folding e-bike on this list to offer this feature.

Conclusion: What I have learned with looking for a low-weight bike, or sub 40 lb segment, is you will pay the price. The starting price for these “lighter bikes will start at $2000 and can go up exponentially based on features and “prestige.”

It is essential to point out that these bikes are strictly commuter bikes and not recommended for off-road activities. You are buying these for portability and the ability to get you from point a to point b sacrificing a little bit of comfort along the way. It will be interesting to see how this segment improves over the next 365 days.

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