Testing lightweight commuter electric bikes

The best lightweight folding electric bikes for commuters

October 09, 2023Richard Beech

If you commute by bike, a folding electric bike that's lightweight could be just the ticket, especially if you have to carry it onto a train or up stairs.

That’s why we’ve pulled together this list of our favourites bikes that are easy to carry. These are all folding electric bikes that we’ve tried and tested and weigh under 20kg. Our overall guide to best folding electric bikes is less focused on weight and commuting - this guide leaves out the heavier folders and also includes a light, cheap option.

There are different types of bike to consider at different price points, and all the bikes listed here have their own unique strengths. We’ll highlight those strengths, touch on their weaknesses and explain what kind of bike would suit you the best.

Cheap lightweight folding commuter ebikes

Five-star lightweight folding bikes


Best lightweight
folding models
Price Weight
Windgoo B20 £579 17.5kg
Estarli E20 £1,330 17.5kg
Estarli E16 £1,260 14.5kg
Mirider One GB3 £2,499 19.4kg
Axon Rides Pro £1,495 15kg
Axon Rides Pro Lite £1,299 15kg
Air20 £1,238 18kg

Estarli E16.7, £1,260: Best for hills and convenience at a low price

See the full review of the etarli e167 plus all the ratings and specs info

Estarli E16 – side view

It’s no coincidence that there are two Estarli bikes on this list; the Berkhamsted-based company makes a whole range of affordable but great-quality machines and their earlier models were some of the first we reviewed.

This is the new entry-level model, available in a couple of different specs. There’s a single-speed model called the E16.1 if you never need to worry about hills, but for those with undulating terrain to cover, this E16.7 model, with seven gears, might be better.

It’s fairly compact, with 16-inch wheels and folded dimensions of 45 x 66 x 84cm. But most of all when it comes to portability, it’s very light at just 14.5kg. With the seven-speed Shimano setup we found it very flexible on hills, especially with five levels of assistance; you shouldn't ever feel like you’re short of oomph. You can also disable power assistance completely, which makes it essentially a regular folding bike, and one that’s easy to ride on the flat. Estarli promises a range of up to 36 miles from the battery, which is integrated into the seat tube and which we found easy to remove.

We also love that it comes with bottle cage mounts, so that you can easily carry a drink with you – not something that many of its rivals can offer. Just about the only thing we’d consider changing would be the saddle, as a couple of our testers found it a little bit firm. But that’s an easily fixable issue, and when you’ve spent so little on the bike in the first place, it’s an extra cost worth paying to personalise the bike to you. If you’re after mudguards, a rear rack and lights, you can have them bundled in with the Pro version which is only a small amount extra.

Buy the Estarli E16.7

Estarli E20, £1,330.99: Best for urban commutes, flat or hilly

See the full review of the estarli e20 plus all the ratings and spec info.  

Estarli E20 – side view 

This British-built folding bike is one of our top picks because we found it ticks just about every box for the urban commuter. The Estarli E20 is light at 17.5kg, meaning it’s a cinch to pick up and carry up steps or onto a train or bus. It also has lots of oomph from its motor, which combined with the proven Shimano seven-speed gearset means it always gave us all the assistance we needed, whether we were navigating tight streets, cruising the cycle superhighways or tackling steep hills.

There are five levels of power assistance, which means you can tune your ride to minimise effort or maximise battery life (Estarli quotes a range of 50km/31 miles per charge). Unlike many rivals, there’s also a zero-assistance mode, which means the Estarli E20 becomes just a regular folding bike – perfect for saving battery when cruising with the wind behind you. The battery, by the way, is integrated into the seat tube, and we foudn it easy to remove for charging (and to make the bike less attractive to thieves when locked up). It’s quick and easy to fold - we can do it in under 10 seconds.

Spec-wise, the Estarli E20 has a cadence sensor and we found it quick to respond so it's easy to pull away even on steep hills. It also features mechanical disc brakes and 20-inch wheels with fat tyres that really help take the sting out of our rides on bumpy surfaces (hello potholes). Opt for the Pro model and you’ll get a rack, mud guards and integrated lights added for not much more money. You can also spec it with uprated puncture-resistant Schwalbe tyres. Overall, it’s a cracking all-rounder.

Buy the Estarli E20.7

MiRider One GB3, £2,499: Best for Hills and bumpier terrain

Read our full review of the Mirider One GB3

MiRider One GB3

 

The MiRider One GB3 is packed with features. Its magnesium frame is super-light, so even with its full rear-suspension setup it still weighs less than 20kg, making it easy to hoik up steps (although it's the heaviest bike on this list). It has a three-speed, belt-driven drivetrain, with gears shifted via a twister on the left handlebar. The belt drive means little-to-no maintenance, unlike a chain-driven bike, but the gears give you the option to vary things up for different terrain. Many belt-driven e-bikes are single speed, so this is a welcome addition.

And, of course, there’s electric assistance, and there’s lots of it. When riding on the flat, we found there was almost too much assistance, as such is the effortless progress you can make that it almost feels like you’re spinning the pedals, even in the highest gear. But if your commute offers formidable hills then this could be the bike for you, with five levels of assistance to choose from. Combined with the gears, that should get you over just about anything. MiRider quotes 45 miles of range per battery charge.

Other features include hydraulic brakes, which were great for feel and modulation when you’re coming down the other side of a steep hill, and the huge display screen looks great (although if you want to add a phone holder, you may find it takes up too much real estate on the handlebars). It's really comfy. The rear suspension adds further to the already comfortable riding experience, with a squishy Selle Royal saddle keeping your backside happy.

Impressively, it folds down to really small proportions (77 x 43 x 68cm), meaning you can pop it under your desk and plug it in to charge. Win.

Buy the MiRider One GB3

Axon Rides Pro, £1,495.99: best for compact folding at a reasonable price

Read the full Axon Rides Pro review plus full specs and ratings

Axon Rides Pro – side view

 

It’s hard to look past Brompton when it comes to ease of folding and compact folded dimensions. But it gets much easier to look past Brompton when you consider the price. The Axon Rides Pro, for example, is less than half the price of an electric Brompton and yet folds to fit a space of just 25 x 64 x 76.5cm.

Weighing in at 15kg, it’s at the lighter end of the spectrum when it comes to folding e-bikes, making it a very solid option for commuters. On top of that, it’s well specced for the money, with hydraulic disc brakes, a lightweight magnesium alloy frame and and a single-speed drivetrain that means minimal maintenance. As with several of the bikes in this list, the battery is integrated into the seatpost, which not only looks great but is easy to remove for charging and to make the bike less attractive to would-be thieves.

The range isn’t brilliant – up to 25 miles – but for most commuters that should be enough to get them to the office and, in a lot of cases, back again. That removable battery means you could just take it to your desk to charge it for the trip home. Or just take the whole bike, but be wary of jealous glances from your colleagues.

    Buy the Axon Pro

    Axon Rides Pro Lite, £1,299: Best for portability and affordable commuting

    If the Axon Pro is slightly out of your price range then try its little brother, the Axon Pro Lite.

    The most affordable Axon model has the same clever feature as its big brother, where the motor is also a magnet, meaning it holds together well when folded. Generally though, it has cheaper components than the Axon Pro, such as having mechanical disc brakes instead of hydraulic disc brakes.

    Our tests show it’s ideal for city commuting - it handled our journey across the city and back, and it folds down to a compact form that you can carry on trains and buses. City commuting is certainly the intended use case for this bike, given its battery range of 25 miles.

    The standout feature of the Pro Lite is its weight, at just 15kg - this makes it easy to carry onto a bus, or put in the boot of your car.

    We found the pedal sensor takes a few rotations before the assist kicks in (we are told by Axon that this is a safety feature to avoid accidentally triggering the motor if you accidentally leave the bike switched on whilst folding it) - but you can change this in the settings for a quicker activation.

    Buy the Axon Pro Lite

    ADO Air 20, £1,238.99: best for faff-free, value-for-money commuting

    Read our full review of the Ado Air 20

    ADO Air 20 side view

     

    The ADO Air 20 packs some brilliant features into a virtually maintenance-free package. It’s one of the favourite bikes in our office for commuting in cities and comes at a scarcely believable price considering the specification.

    With a 250-Watt motor in the rear hub and up to five levels of assistance it’s got plenty of oomph, combined with a single-speed belt drive that means no maintenance and no need to change gears. You’ll never need to worry about your gears getting knocked out of alignment and there’s no chain to lube.

    The downside with a single-speed arrangement is that it can lack flexibility on hilly terrain, as you don’t have the ability to knock the bike into an easier gear. But ADO has addressed this by using a torque sensor instead of a cadence sensor. This means it adds electric assistance as soon as you press the pedals, rather than waiting for them to start turning, and we found this works beautifully.

    Those tackling very steep hills might prefer a geared bike, but for many commuters the Air 20 has all the performance you’ll need. Mix that with a light weight (18kg), a 100km/62-mile claimed range from the removable battery, which is integrated into the seat post, and chuck in hydraulic disc brakes that feel great to use, and you’ve got a lot of bike for a great price. It folds down quickly and easily and rides really well through tight turns or at a cruise

      Buy the ADO Air 20

      Windgoo B20 Pro, £579.99: best for cheap and cheerful commuting

      Windgoo B20 tested

      The Windgoo B20 Pro is a compact folding electric bike that is built with affordability in mind. With 16 inch wheels and a small frame, it folds into a very compact form, making it a good option for people who want to store their bike in a cupboard or hallway.

      In our test rides of the Windgoo B20 we found that this bike is really only suitable for people under the height of 5’10”.

      Anybody above this height may struggle to ride the bike without their knees hitting the handle bars.

      But if you are 5’10” or under, and you are looking for a cheap and cheerful folding electric bike then the B20 Pro is a solid solution.

      With a range of 20 miles, it’s suitable for most city commutes. And we found it  surprisingly comfortable on our test rides thanks to the spring-cushioning underneath the saddle - protecting your derriere from bumps in the road.

      Unlike some of the other bikes on this list, the B20 doesn’t have an LED display, it simply has a toggle switch for swapping between the three power assist levels.

      But that doesn’t mean it’s without its cool features - the bike has a companion app that allows you to turn the lights on and off, and tweak the bike’s settings.

      All in all, this is a good little bike for the price.

        How we test

        Our expert testers ride all the bikes we get in to review, and we assess them against a range of criteria on road, off-road and in our testing rooms. For this guide, we particularly focused on carrying - ease of handling as well as how heavy they are. Reviews by Phill Tromans and Richard Beech.

        Testing lightweight bikes

        See our full list of best adult electric bikes, all adult electric bikes, and all the folding ebikes we sell. You can also see all our electric folding bike reviews.

        Lightweight bike on the trainReviewing lightweight folders

         

        Riding on-road for testing of comfort and ride quality 

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