There are many folding electric bikes on the market, and it can be overwhelming choosing the right one. If you’re looking for a truly portable electric bike, the choices start getting fewer.
Today, I’m reviewing the Discovery X5 from Jupiter Bike, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s one of the more truly portable and affordable ebikes available today. Another comparable bike in this class is the Swagtron EB7 I reviewed earlier this year. The two bikes have a lot in common, but there are important differences.
First, let’s take a look at the specs of the X5:
Frame: Molded magnesium (no welds)
Motor: 350 Watt rear hub motor
Battery: 36 V 5.2 Ah (removable and replaceable)
Range: Realistically around 12-18 miles, advertised max of 30 miles
Max Speed: 16 mph
Brakes: Mechanical disc, front and rear
Bike Weight: 40 pounds
Payload Capacity: 265 pounds
Stepover Height: 19″
Lights: Front LED integrated; rear light built into seat uses separate battery
Display: Backlit LCD
Pedal Assist: Yes; 3 levels
Throttle: Yes; Twist throttle on right grip
Suspension: Rear suspension
Accessories: Front/Rear mudguards, kickstand, horn included, charger; a rear rack is available
Colors Available: White, Orange, or Black
I wasn’t sure what to expect from a bike with 16″ wheels, but it handles nicely. It’s not the same riding experience as standard full-size wheels, but it doesn’t take long to get used to the different feel. One of the best aspects of a bike this small is that it’s very nimble and easy to navigate around pedestrians or objects.
This is a bike that I would feel okay riding on a busy boardwalk or in a crowded park because it’s so easy to maneuver, and it’s not a jackrabbit with quick lurches and unexpected behavior. Of course, you still have to be careful, but it’s one of the milder, more approachable bikes I’ve reviewed.
In contrast, is the Swagtron EB7+ is programmed to be punchier. The Discovery X5, on the other hand, feels more refined and domesticated. The Swagtron is a little more wild!
That’s not to say the X5 is boring or lacks speed. It’s a fun bike to zip around on and does pretty good on hills, especially if you pedal along with the motor.
What I appreciate the most about the Discovery X5 is that the gear ratio and programming were dialed in to offer a surprisingly good riding experience for a bike with 16″ wheels. They work well together to produce a normal feeling cadence. That’s not the case with all ebikes, even many that are full-size.
If you live in a very hilly area, you’d probably want to choose a bike with more power. While the X5 can get you up quite a few hills, it doesn’t have the battery capacity to last very long doing so. You’d want to look at a 48 volt system for more power and an amp hour rating of about 14 or higher. There’s many ebikes that fit this bill.
The X5 is a comfortable bike to ride, especially if you’re a shorter rider. Suggested rider heights aren’t listed, but I would guess that the bike is best for those 5’8″-ish and under. The handlebar height isn’t adjustable for taller riders and the short wheelbase would make the bike uncomfortable for those with a longer reach, but for us shorties it’s great!
The plush seat and rear shock make for a comfortable ride. Since the tires don’t have a lot of air volume and tend to fall into more potholes the ride won’t be like floating on air, but it certainly doesn’t produce a harsh ride.
While there isn’t any front suspension, it doesn’t affect riding comfort much since most of the rider’s weight is on the rear of the bike.
The grips are a little stiff for me. I’d recommend wearing biking gloves for added comfort. Overall, I’m please with the ride quality and comfort of the X5.
Range will vary depending upon several variables including rider weight, tire pressure, wind speed and direction, terrain, hills, temperature, what level of pedal assist you use most frequently, and how much the throttle is used.
When on flat stretches I ride the X5 in pedal assist levels 1 or 2 primarily and use level 3 for hills. I mostly use the throttle for takeoffs or when I just want a break from pedaling, but for the most part I enjoy pedaling along using pedal assist since I like the exercise.
I haven’t drained the battery all the way down (and that’s not a good idea with a lithium-ion battery) but a range of 12-18 miles is probably realistic. If you’re a lighter rider, you’ll get better range. Good excuse to lose some weight.
Folding the X5 is easy with some practice. I especially appreciate the magnets that hold the two halves of the bike together when folded. I’d recommend have bungee cords too for even better stability. There’s also a small wheel at the middle of the bike beneath the frame which enables it to be rolled when in a folded position.
Picking up the bike and placing it in the back of my Subaru Forester is relatively pain-free. It is 40 pounds though, so it takes a little muscle. Removing the battery from the frame would decrease the weight, but I’m able to lift it by myself just fine.
If you live in an apartment building and need to carry the bike up and down stairs it is doable, though it wouldn’t be very enjoyable, unless you’re the muscular type. It is easier to carry and lift when it’s not folded, so I wouldn’t bother folding it if you’re going to be carrying it up and down stairs.
Overall, I’m really satisfied with the Discovery X5. It’s exceeded my expectations. Admittedly, my expectations weren’t sky-high being that it’s such a small bike, but it still surprised me. It’s really quite good for what it is.
It’s comfortable to ride, pedaling the bike is enjoyable, the motor is quiet especially at lower levels of pedal assistance, it’s nimble, it’s surprisingly strong (no frame flex), and it’s just a joy to ride.
I also appreciate the integrated headlight, super comfy seat, and I really dig the electronic horn! My neighbors might not though. :)
The Discovery X5 would be great for RV’ers, college students wanting a practical and portable bike for campus, or just as a portable commuter for the city.
Things I’d like to see improved would be adjustable handlebar height, and it would be great if the range was a little longer to reduce range anxiety. I find myself cutting trips short for fear of running out of juice miles from home. The bike can be pedaled without the motor, but it would be a chore, especially on hills.
Of course, you can always purchase a spare battery. This is an important feature for electric bikes in this class.
If you’re looking for a portable bike or maybe just a beginner ebike to test the waters, the Discovery X5 is a good one to choose. Yes, there are faster and fancier electric bikes out there, but sometimes you don’t need all that.
Mostly, if you’re looking for an electric bike in the portable and affordable ebike category, I feel confident in recommending the X5.