- A comfortable, highly adjustable, value-priced folding electric bike that's a third generation build with lots of little improvements and refinements like a more durable battery connection point
- Color-matched suspension fork and swept-back handlebar with adjustable height improves comfort, integrated plastic fenders, a built in rack, and front and rear independent lights improve utility and safety
- Removable battery pack with on/off switch and integrated USB charging port for portable electronics, magnetic clasp system keeps it folded but might not be super solid, four fun color options
- Powerful 500 watt motor and 48 volt battery combination with more capacity than ever before and smooth power delivery, updated compact display with comfortable trigger throttle built-in, larger chainring for natural pedaling
I have reviewed the e-Joe Epik SE a couple of times before, I believe the one that I looked at in this review is a third or forth generation. In the early days, there weren’t as many folding electric bikes to choose from and this one struck me as a great value because it had fenders, a rear rack, and lights. That is still the case, it even has a suspension fork to help smooth out the ride and the cadence sensor, chainring size, and different levels of assist have really been dialed in. In the years since those first reviews I conducted, e-Joe has refined the product with a nicer LCD display panel and gentle throttle design, a neat integrated motor inhibitor to kill power whenever you pull the brakes, battery connector that is less vulnerable when folding, and new color choices that are both professional (black or white) but also include bright fun options like the metallic sparkly orange shown here or a bright blue. In all this time and with all of these improvements and upgrades, they have still maintained a reasonable $1,600 price point and continue to offer a year long warranty. I have heard from some visitors, in the comments, that they felt that the fenders on earlier versions rattled, or that some of the components were cheap… and that is certainly the case with the drivetrain here. You get a seven speed Shimano Tourney which is the entry level hardware in the Shimano line. However, in my experience, what you get is pretty reasonable and still a step up from the cheapest online offerings. This is an electric bike that is great for zipping around town, either in pedal assist or throttle mode, and I love that it is sold through shops so you can take a test ride and make sure it fits because the frame is highly adjustable. Between the telescoping stem, long adjustable seat post, and the mid-step frame, I find it to be approachable and comfortable. Also, the shop will deal with anything that might have been bent or messed up in shipping and they can act as a go-between for you when dealing with the company. Anyway, I love how hidden and protected the battery pack is and that the geared motor has been upgraded to something a little stronger now. You get a mechanical advantage from the smaller wheel diameter, and that makes the motor more efficient. There are now cheaper electric bikes being sold on Amazon and even Walmart, but you usually have to do some assembly and the warranty may be very limited. e-Joe offers a one year comprehensive warranty and should be able to provide parts and battery replacements to keep this thing going.
A few hardware highlights worth pointing out include the magnetic clasp mechanism that keeps the bike in a folded position. I don’t have a lot of experience traveling with this particular electric bike, but many others have no magnets or rubber bands so I usually recommend purchasing an adjustable bungee cable like these. Apparently, the magnets can rattle a bit more and maybe come loose, so the bungees are a great backup to reduce noise and scratching. I like the aluminum bar below the chainring that the bike rests on when folded (and that also protects the chainring). And, I also like the new swept-back handlebar. This provides a more comfortable upright body position for me and handles in a way that feels steady vs. a short twitchy bar. The only drawback is that the bike is wider when unfolded (in case you have to fit through a tight entrance or between cars) and even in the folded position it adds to the dimension of the bike so it’s just not as compact. Keep in mind, this electric bike may look small, but it still weighs about 51.5 lbs. That’s because the motor and battery add to the weight and the frame has to be reinforced to handle the folding design and increased forces of use under power. Sure, it can fit into a closet more easily, maybe the trunk of a car or RV, perhaps a boat or even private plane. For me, the added comfort of the suspension and many ways to use the bike, not even having to pedal, make it enjoyable compared to some cheaper offerings. And I especially like being able to test ride it and buy in person knowing that it was built by a trained mechanic who I can go back to for help. Also, I like that the lights they chose are from a well known company, Spanninga, and are probably more reliable, larger, and more reflective than cheaper alternatives. Finally, I love the 180 mm mechanical disc brakes in use here! Stopping is important, and while hydraulic brakes with adjustable levers would be even better… these provide great power and should stay cleaner than rim brakes and work better in wet riding conditions.
I want to elaborate on a discussion we had in the video review above. Sam made an interesting point about being able to lower the seat a lot, for petite riders who want to put their feet on the ground while seated, but the longer 170 mm crank arms that are directly below the seat tube end up putting their feet up high near where they are sitting (and their keens in their chest) vs. 165 or shorter crank arms or a feet-forward position where the bottom bracket is mounted forward, the trade-off is that for larger riders the 170 mm cranks will feel more natural and this bike is trying to be compact so moving the pedals forward would increase the frame weight and completely change the design, it’s just a side point about being able to test ride and fit yourself to an ebike like this and maybe raising that saddle even if you are a bit shorter. Big thanks to e-Joe for partnering with me on this review and to Sam at the Electric Bicycle Center in Fullerton California for inviting me to his shop and going on camera to film this review and provide broader feedback.
I wanted to share a couple of quick tips about the display. It only has two buttons which makes it pretty easy to use (press the + button to power it on). I like that the throttle overrides assist 1-5 and that it is disabled in level zero for safety. Because the trigger throttle is so large and so easy to press, just be careful that you have either clicked the – button to go to level zero or completely turned off the bike before mounting/dismounting and folding. You can hold the minus key to switch from an odometer to a trip meter and it might also turn on backlighting. The display isn’t quite as large and fancy as some of the full sized bikes, but it does have a disconnect point for easy repair/replacement and is going to stay out of the way more when the bike is folded. It’s just a monochrome design and the readouts could be small for some people with vision issues, but I’d call it above average for folding products. I love that the stem can be raised and lowered but on the point of cables, just don’t raise it so high that the cables get pulled apart or stretched when turning. I mention this in the video around 23:54 timestamp.
- The 500 watt internally geared hub motor offers increased power and torque compared to older e-Joe Epic electric bike models, it should climb better and gets a mechanical advantage from the smaller wheel size here, 20″ diameter
- e-Joe has improved the drivetrain by using a larger 52 tooth chainring that offsets the smaller wheels, which spin faster, in short, it pedals more naturally at higher speeds up to the supported 20 mph
- The display panel is compact but simple to use and easy to read, I like the new trigger throttle because it’s so easy to press and is built into the display so the cockpit isn’t as cluttered, this seems like a throttle that would be easy to use even if you have short fingers or sensitive arthritis pain types of situations
- The bike comes with all of the accessories you really need, and the work pretty well, from the fenders to the rack and even the lights, it’s ready to go and “feature complete” without you having to install anything extra
- It’s neat to see full sized, almost overkill, 180 mm disc brakes on a folding electric bike, these will help you stop at higher speeds and with added weight
- I think it’s neat that the battery pack has a USB type A charging port built in because you could run some accessories while riding or use it for backup power with the batter off the bike… the on/off switch on the battery keeps this from phantom power draw which makes sense, if you do try to plug something into the battery while it’s on the bike, I recommend considering a right angle USB adapter like this to keep the cord out of your way when pedaling
- This is the first time I have seen an inline motor inhibitor system, so when you pull the brakes it sends a signal to stop power for safety and faster response, the inline system is much less cluttered than the extra wires of traditional inhibitors I have seen and probably also less prone to damage and confusion that people have had with the older style at times
- I appreciate the plastic chain guide that keeps the chain on track (when riding or when folding), it’s not as tough as an alloy guide but probably less expensive and definitely lighter weight
- e-Joe has adopted the new sealed cadence sensor design which is much smaller and probably more durable than the older ones (which were plastic discs with visible magnets), this seems less wasteful in terms of materials used and it worked great during my test rides, once the sensor is activated by your pedaling, you don’t have to push hard for it to keep going because it’s based only on motion, it can however feel more abrupt than a torque sensor
- A really big upgrade for the 2017/2018 model seems to be that the battery pack makes an electrical connection at the end of the tube vs. the part that folds open, this keeps the pins more protected from getting bent
- Even though most folding electric bikes do not route the cables internally like their full sized companions, this one does a great job of retaining those cables with metal clasps and a plastic channel below the main tube, they really stay out of the way
- I’m not always a huge fan of the plastic folding pedals because they can flex more and just seem cheap sometimes… and they can also be difficult to fold, but these ones had a nice folding mechanism where you pull with your fingers on a little release lever inside the pedal and they were just easy to work with
- Power deliver feels smooth and the lower levels of assist aren’t so overwhelming even though the motor is very capable if you press the throttle or arrow up to higher levels of assist
- I love the integrated bell on the left brake lever, I see this bell design frequently with the Tektro levers but it’s just a nice highlight, very friendly but also loud to signal to other riders or pedestrians
- I like the grip shifter mechanism because it has a window to easily show which gear you are in and can be used intuitively vs. the alternative cheap SIS Index thumb shifter that Shimano offers, this just looks clean and works well
- Both folding points (on the stem and the middle of the frame) have a plastic locking mechanism for safety, so you don’t have to worry so much about it when riding
- Priced at $1,599 this is no longer one of the most affordable folding e-bikes around, but that’s due in part to the high powered motor and battery upgrade to 48 volts
- Even though this thing looks compact, it still weighs over 51 lbs, most folding electric bikes are heavier than they look so at least the battery is removable for ~5 lb weight savings if you want and the front wheel has quick release so that could reduce another couple of pounds
- Minor gripe here but the charger isn’t especially compact, lightweight, or fast, I would call it very average… and now with the larger battery capacity it can take longer to completely charge the bike if it is completely used
- As much as I like the Spanninga lights, I do wish they were integrated and could take power from that main rechargeable battery pack because as it stands, you have to turn them on independently which takes time and they could be left on accidentally vs. all being on the same system
- The suspension fork doesn’t have lockout so it could bob up and down as you pedal and dive forward if you stop hard, I’d rather have this than a rigid fork, it’s just not all that fancy or versatile and adjustable… at least they color matched it to the frame though!
- As much as I love having a kickstand, it can be a little annoying at times because it’s mounted at the bottom bracket and will get in the way of the left crank arm if you back the bike up without stowing it first, at least it’s adjustable length
- As cool as it is to have the throttle and display all combined (for reduced clutter on the handlebar) there is the drawback of having to replace the entire thing if say, just the throttle gets damaged, it sounds like the replacement cost is ~$65
- As with most internally geared hub motors, you can hear this thing a bit as you accelerate in the higher assist levels or use the trigger throttle at full power