The Fold X is a value-for-money foldable e-bike with a step-through design that makes it very easy to hop on and hop off. With eight gears and five levels of power assist, it has the flexibility to pootle through tight roads or quickly get up to speed on dedicated cycleways. A comfortable ride and lots of practical features only add to its appeal.
The inherent foibles of folding bikes still apply here – the Fold X’s handling isn’t as nimble and surefooted as a non-folding bike, and the folding components plus the traditional eight-speed running gear add to its considerable weight. But adjusting to the folding way of life doesn’t take long, and once you’re in tune with its characteristics it makes for a comfortable, easy-to-live-with machine. [Review by Phill Tromans and Richard Beech.]
- Urban commuters
- Shorter journeys
- Flat terrain
- Very easy to get on and off
- Mudguards, rack and bungees all included
- Clear colour display
- Plenty of power assistance at higher levels
- Easily changeable battery
- Very heavy
- Difficult to fold
- Short battery range
- Mechanical brakes lack feel
- Lower levels of assistance don’t feel enough
The Alba Fold X has its drawbacks. It’s heavy, cumbersome to fold and not the most agile of bicycles. But it’s very practical for city life; easy to get on and off, comfortable and with plenty of features included at a very reasonable price.
Its weight means the battery range isn’t huge and we wouldn’t recommend it for very hilly commutes, but when you look at what you get for the money, it’s an attractive option for short, flat around-town rides.
|Components + build quality|
|Safety + security|
|Performance & handling|
|Comfort + practicality|
|Overall star ratings|
Alba Fold X in detail
The Alba Fold X gets its power from a 250W motor by Bafang, mounted in the rear wheel hub. It’s driven by a traditional eight-speed, single chainring drivetrain, with a Shimano Altus derailleur and Shimano thumb shifter on the handlebar. The 356Wh battery is mounted on the aluminium frame, and is easily swappable using a key to release it.
Five levels of assistance are available, controlled through buttons integrated into a clear, colour display on the left handlebar. This display also turns the included lights on or off and shows an odometer, trip meter, current speed and current power assist, as well as the battery charge status.
The well-proven Shimano gears are simple to use and the assistance simply lends a helping hand. If you’re new to e-bikes it might take a bit of time to figure out when to change gear and when to click up the assistance level. That said, because the Fold X is heavy – 23kg with the battery – you’ll likely want to use the top couple of levels of power most of the time. Trying to ride without any assistance at all is a real workout, even on flat terrain. Riding up hills in a low gear with maximum assistance means you’re working fairly hard, and it will have a big impact on the battery range, so the Fold X is better suited to flatter journeys.
Despite the decent-sized battery, the heft of the Fold X means it has a relatively short real-world range. Alba quotes up to 43 miles but if you’re using lots of oomph (and we suspect you will be) then half that seems more realistic. That makes things tight for longer out-and-back commutes, but if you're able to charge the bike at work then it’ll top things off in around two hours. Alternatively, you could keep an extra battery at work and swap out for the return journey.
Comfort and Handling
The Fold X is a folding bike, which by its nature affects its structural stiffness. On our test bike we found a few wobbles in the steering tube, which has several adjustable or foldable elements. After a while it wasn’t an issue and didn’t make any meaningful impact on everyday bike handling, but other folding bikes feel more solid.
On the move, the Fold X gives you a comfortable, cushioned ride even on bumpy surfaces. The big Kenda K924 tyres are wrapped around 20-inch wheels with a lot of spokes, all of which makes for relaxed progress. To call the Fold X nimble would be overstating things a bit, but it’s stable and easy to weave through urban obstacles. The step-through design means getting on and off is super easy in just about any outfit, with no need to throw a leg over the saddle.
When it comes to practicality, the Alba is generously equipped. Front and rear battery-powered lights are included, as is a rear rack with a sprung clip and cords. Mudguards are standard, too, all of which makes it a useful tool for commutes in just about all weather.
Folding the Fold X is, based on our test at least, something of an effort. Fold up the Wellgo pedals and make sure you have the cranks in an appropriate place to not get caught up. The big central frame hinge is held in place by a large clip that you’ll need to unfasten, and then haul the two halves of the bike apart. We found we needed to put a foot on the inside of the bike and heave; perhaps it would loosen up with more regular use. The two halves fold together with the wheels side-by-side, then the steerer tube folds down next to the wheel and the seat drops down using a quick-release lever. There’s a handle on the back of the saddle to carry it.
The result is a relatively compact package – 88x44x73cm – which is useful if you really need it as small as possible when storing it. Don’t expect to be easily able to lug it onto a train or around the shops, though. The 23kg weight is considerable, and it’s awkward to carry even just a few steps.
The Fold X comes fitted with Tektro mechanical disc brakes, which definitely help slow the heavy bike better than you’d find with traditional calliper brakes, although a hydraulic setup would make for extra feel and the ability to carefully modulate them when going downhill. Still, they do the job well enough.
|Battery||Frame Integrated 36V 9.6Ah (346 Wh)|
|Charger voltage||36V 2A Intelligent Li-Ion Charger|
|Motor||Bafang Brushless Geared Hub Motor, 250W, 32Nm Torque, Rear Motor, Maintenance Free|
|Max Speed||15.5 mph|
|Electric power range||30-50km|
|Folded size||880 x 440 x 730 mm|
|Tyres||20" x 2.35 Kenda K924 E-Bike Tyre|
|Braking system||Front-Rear Mechanic Disc|
|Display screen||ALBA OEM Key-Disp KD218 Colored TFT Display|
|Function||Battery level, pedal assistance level, lighting|