The Mystery of Why Folding E-Bikes Are Better With SuspensionOctober 26, 2022
You’ve probably seen suspension on mountain bikes and hybrid road bikes, but did you know that suspension can also be found on folding e-bikes and what might surprise you further is that suspension is one of the primary ways in which folding bicycle designers compensate for using small wheels. Now don’t take me wrong, small wheels are actually far superior to normal bicycle wheels in many ways, but they do perform a bit differently than larger wheels. So why is it better to have suspension on folding e-bikes?
Suspending disbelief, can a folding e-bike really ride like a normal bike?
Folding bikes typically use small wheels between 16 and 20 inches in diameter. If nothing is done to compensate for their size, these smaller wheels can cause a folding e-bike to shake as the wheels are deflected by bumps in the road. This is caused by a natural tendency for smaller wheels to be more susceptible to vibration than larger wheels.
In order to counteract this jittery tendency folding bikes either employ lower tire pressures, larger wheels, or more commonly, suspension. The problem with the first two options is that each solves one problem while adding another. Lower air-pressure tires may absorb some of the shock of the road, but they slow the bike down significantly. Think of the difference between a mountain bikes fat tires and a road bikes thin hard tires. Folding bikes are generally ridden more on pavement than loose dirt and gravel, so fat tires are out – they slow the bike down and add weight and that is the last thing you need on an e-bike!
Folding bikes with larger wheels
Increasing wheel size does smooth out the ride, but it also seems to work against the fundamental goal of folding bikes, compactness. A folding bicycle can never fold smaller than its wheel diameter, so larger wheels greatly increase the folded size. This solution is good for people who don’t need a very compact folding e-bike.
Folding bikes with suspension
Although there are several folding e-bikes with suspension available you really need to be careful what sort it has and what you plan to do with that said folding e-bike. But if you don’t plan to do much off-road/gravel travelling there isn’t too much need to make sure your bike has it.
Folding bikes may have started out with nick names like “wobbly wonder” but for many of today’s folding e-bikes this name couldn’t be more off the mark. Thanks to the use of suspension, folding e-bikes are easy to ride on a daily basis and feel very similar to a regular e-bike.