I have herd a lot of debate these days about folding vs non folding electric bikes. Now usually in life you can present the facts of both sides of an argument and come to a logical decision based on the positive or negative aspects of the facts presented, but when the discussion turns to folding e mountain bikes VS their original non folding predecessors the waters get kinda muddy.
It used to be when ever someone rode by on a folding e bike they looked… well silly! The wheels were tiny and the frame was thin and weak looking. Well all that has changed in the past couple years. Better access to stronger newer materials and some creative engineering have led to some impressive results.
Lets compare the Rubicon trail and the Baja folding trail models from the X-Treme electric mountain bike line up featured on emountainbikecompany.com. When you pull up the specs sheets of both e mtb (electric mountain bike) models side by side there is virtually no difference. The same can’t be said however for the pictures (see what I’m talking about here and here). You immediately notice that the Baja only has one large perpendicular bar connecting the two half’s of the bike rather than the traditional two bar triangle. Now Style aside my instant reaction was how can one bar be as strong as two, well this is where things get interesting.
The one large perpendicular bar on the Baja folding e mtb houses the battery as well as the heavy duty hinge that allows the bike to fold. With all that hardware present and it being one of the most structurally integral parts of the bike it seems the solution X-treme e bikes has taken, is to over engineer the crap out of it. This bar literally does the work of two. Along with advanced aluminium welding this bike is as strong if not stronger than the comparable regular electric bikes.
With all this information in hand the only conclusion I am able to come to is that e bikes and bikes in general are still being made in the original design because thats what retailers, bikers and e bikers are used to seeing and that is what sells best. At the end of the day, in my opinion, your decision should go as follows; do you want to look like every other e biker on the trail / street and pay a little less, because well… it can’t fold, but not have to deal with on lookers. Or pay a little more to have the luxury of easier storage / transport but have heads turn and have to lots of “Oh my! Thats different!” conversations.