The Epik SE (Sport Edition) is one of my favorite folding electric bikes… not because it’s the fanciest, most refined model around but because it’s feature rich, functional and affordable. It’s hard not to appreciate the fenders, rear rack, lights, integrated battery, disc brakes, seven speeds and ~$1,699 price point. With a maximum weight capacity of 300 lbs, the upgraded motor and battery for 2015 are even more capable than before for tackling hills, windy days and longer rides. For me, the best part about this ebike is that it offers a seven speed cassette along with three models of pedal assist so you can actually enjoy pedaling vs. a single-speed ebike which is how many folding electric bikes come. With those ebikes you have to rely more on the throttle and that changes the experience. Of course, I also love the basic suspension fork. There’s no lockout or fancy adjustments but it definitely takes the edge off of bumpy terrain or gravel paths.
Driving this bike in electric mode is very satisfying thanks to a 350 watt geared rear hub motor. The previous generation only used a 250 watt motor and that was still impressive to me because you actually get more power from hub motors when they’re mounted in smaller wheels thanks to mechanical advantage. The 350 watt hub isn’t too much larger or heavier and it rides fairly quietly as shown in the video review above. While the rear wheel does not offer quick release, the motor does offer a disconnect point so you or your shop can easily service the rear cassette, wheel, tire and tube as long as you have a wrench or two. The seven speed cassette uses a basic Shimano Tourney TX derailleur which keeps costs down but still offers a good range of gears. Shifting is activated through a grip twist mechanism on the right bar and the trigger throttle to activate the motor is on the left bar.
Powering the motor is a 36 volt 9 amp hour Lithium-ion battery that uses quality Samsung cells. I can’t say enough about this thing… not only is it larger in capacity than the previous Epik SE (meaning you’ll go further) it remained the same size and still fits right inside the downtube! It’s completely hidden, protected from impacts, dust and water and locks to the frame for security. The keyhole is a bit hidden, located directly under the downtube, but you don’t have to leave your keys in when riding and since the battery can be charged on or off the bike you might not ever take it out. There are times where the removability would come in handy however, such as lifting the bike (removing the battery reduces the overall weight by ~5 lbs) or if you’re planning to leave the bike in storage. To care for this or any Lithium battery pack I recommend storing at neutral temperatures (avoid extreme hot and cold) and always charge after you’ve depleted the battery after a ride. Even if you haven’t been for a ride, it’s good to top the battery off every few months and avoid completely discharging it on long rides.
Knowing when to charge with this bike is a bit more difficult because the display panel uses a basic LED readout instead of a digital LCD. You can see a voltage indicator for the battery with four dots along with three dots for pedal assist (low, medium, high) and a dot for pedal assist on/off. It works well enough, is easy to reach from the left grip and again… keeps the cost of the Epik SE down. One thing I like about the control system is that you can use the trigger throttle to override pedal assist at any time. This means that pedaling in low level assist (for a workout or to extend range) won’t leave you struggling on a hill because you can just activate the throttle. The cockpit on the e-Joe Epik Lite is similar to their other models, it’s relatively clean with semi-ergonomic rubber grips and no-name brake levers that cut power to the motor when activated. The brakes on this bike are actually another highlight, using mechanical disc brakes with 160 mm rotors. Rim brakes would probably be fine most of the time but for any kind of off-road riding on dirt trails or in wet conditions discs tend to stay cleaner and this is the “sport” after all.
At the end of the day, this is an ebike that balances price and features very well. E-Joe has been around for several years and honors their comprehensive one year warranty pretty well from what I’ve heard. The issues with their 2014 model mostly had to do with plastic pedals breaking or misuse by customers (don’t submerge the bike, always top off the battery). Many folding bikes just aren’t comfortable for me whether it’s the limited pedaling speed or overly stiff frame. The Epik SE speaks to me because it’s comfortable and well balanced. If you’ve got an RV, boat or just limited space this could be an excellent choice.
- One of the most affordable folding electric bikes available, the price did rise ~$50 from 2014 but the battery and motor are larger and more powerful respectively
- Battery pack is mounted low and center inside the frame (very well protected) and is also lockable to deter theft – can be charged on or off the bike
- Front and rear fenders, standard-gauge carry rack and front and rear LED lights add utility and all work pretty well
- The saddle has a built in handle on the back which makes lifting and folding the bike easier, the frame also has a loop of tubing that doubles as a handle but is really meant to reinforce the seat tube
- Geared 350 watt rear hub motor is an upgrade from the 2014 250 watt which will make climbing and carrying heavy loads easier, the motor has a mechanical advantage due to the smaller 20″ wheel size
- While the front suspension fork is kind of basic (not very adjustable, no lockout) it does smooth out the ride considerably, the fatter tires also reduce the feeling of bumps and cracks
- Mechanical disc brakes on the front and rear stay cleaner than V-Brakes would if you actually do take this “sport folding bike” on gravel or light trails – they provide excellent stopping power
- Partial length “sport” fenders don’t protect you from water and mud quite as well as full length close-hugging ones might
- The rear rack always looks a bit crooked which sort of bugs me but may be adjustable, the top storage area of the rack might also be limited by the handle that protrudes from the back of the saddle
- The plastic folding pedals aren’t quite as stiff as metal ones and can be broken more easily if you hit a curb or the bike tips when folded
- The LED display panel is very basic so you can’t measure how fast you’re going, how far you’ve traveled or get the same insight into remaining battery capacity as an LCD might offer