best folding e bikes under 1000

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Hot on the heels of the popular C20 model, the Xiaomi Himo brand has released the Z20 fully folding electric bike. One of the biggest criticisms of the C20 was that it only partially folded. Well, now there is a bike that shares an almost identical specification but can be fully folded for ease of transport. In this review, I will take a closer look at the Himo Z20 to see if there have been any major compromises.

the new xiaomi himo z20 can be easily folded


Folding electric bikes are continuing to be incredibly popular and at the moment there is more choice than ever. There are so many choices it can be difficult to know exactly which bike to choose.

 Check out the latest Himo ZB20 Max Folding Fat Tyre Electric Bike

I’m a big fan of the Xiaomi Himo brand as their range of compact and folding e-bikes always comes across as being well-built and generally reliable. Himo electric bikes are also incredibly good value for money.

Another big plus point is availability – in 2020 the whole COVID situation has caused a massive spike in e-bike popularity and as a consequence a lot of the big online bike retailers have run out of stock quickly. E-commerce platforms like Geekbuying have always had plenty of stock in their European warehouses.

My first impression of the Himo Z20 is it’s identical in size to the C20 with the only obvious difference being the ability to fully fold the bike for ease of transportation.  All of the components are the same including the motor and battery.

Himo Z20 vs Himo C20

himo z20 vs c20 folding electric bike

So where does this leave the Himo C20? Well, if you don’t need a fully folding e-bike then it’s just fine. When you compare the Z20 vs C20 side by side there isn’t anything in it. The bike components, motor, and battery are all identical. I would say if you don’t have a lot of space to store a bike where you live, and you frequent public transport then the Himo Z20 would be the obvious choice. Also if you want to be able to take your bike into your place of work, it will be a lot easier with the folding version.  Below I will quickly run through the specifications of the Z20.

Read the Xiaomi Himo C20 review here

Electric components

As I’ve mentioned above, there doesn’t appear to be any major in the electric components used between the Z20 and C20. Both bikes use the same 250w rear hub motor and the same capacity battery. The battery design on the Z20 is different as it fits inside the frame and can be removed when the bike is folded. The battery on the C20 is externally integrated into the main beam of the frame.

Check out the best folding electric bikes for under £1000


The 250w brushless geared rear hub motor will provide solid assistance on all but the steepest of hills. There are 3 different levels of assistance to choose from – ‘0’ means no assist whatsoever, ‘1’ is pedal assist and will provide 30-70% of the total power available, and ‘3’ is full power mode and will only work using the throttle control. In this mode, the pedal assist ceases to function but the throttle will provide 100% of the available power on demand. This means you can cruise on the flat without having to pedal at all, or you can choose to pedal and use the throttle to add assist as and when you need it.

Himo Z20 250w rear hub motor

The pedal assist is provided via a cadence sensor, which measures pedal rotation, meaning that if you are in level ‘1’ then as soon as you start pedalling the e-assist will kick in and stop when you stop pedalling – it should be noted that there is always a short ‘overrun’ when pedalling stops.


The 36v 10Ah (360Wh) battery is neatly concealed inside the frame and can be easily removed for charging when the bike is folded. The claimed range of 50 miles is in my opinion a little optimistic, although if a combination of level ‘1’ and ‘0’ assist are used it would be possible to achieve this. When used in full-power mode (level ‘3’) battery range would be reduced to under 30 miles, especially if there is no pedalling input from the rider.

himo z20 removable battery


The clear LCD has the same functionality as the C20 and displays battery range, assist mode and has a trip function.

himo z20 display

Best place to buy the Himo Z20

The Himo Z20 is widely available and can be purchased from Himo direct or at numerous eBay locales around the globe. The Z20 is also available from popular Chinese e-commerce companies like Geekbuying and Banggood – both of these companies ship direct from the EU, UK and USA.

Bike components

Again, the Himo Z20 shares its components with the C20, from the wheels and tyres through to the Shimano gearing and mechanical disc brakes.


The Shimano 6-speed derailleur gear system is typical on a folding e-bike at this price range and gives the rider a reasonable gear range for moderately hilly terrain. Unfortunately due to the large front chainring and the 14-28t freewheel the gear range is not going to be suitable for climbing very steep hills, unless you are willing to put in a fair amount of effort to help the motor out.

The Tourney rear derailleur and thumb shifter work well enough and gear changes are precise and easy to adjust once the cable stretches a little.


Unbranded mechanical disc brakes are okay, but not great.  I’ve always felt it’s better to have good rim brakes over cheap cable disc brakes. They do the job, but feel vague and can be prone to squealing if not properly adjusted.  I would be tempted to fit higher-quality brake callipers if you have to negotiate a lot of steep descents.

Himo Z20 mechanical disc brakes

Wheels and tyres

Wheels are 20″ double-walled alloy rims are 32h (front) and 36h (rear) – the tyres used are CST 20″ x 2″ and provide a reasonable level of puncture protection, although I would personally swap them out for a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres – I’ve been using these on my bike and have not had a single puncture in 6000 miles!

himo z20 tyres

Frame and finishing kit

The frame and general finish of the Himo Z20 are very good considering the budget price. It’s constructed from lightweight alloy and seems to be very sturdy. All of the finishing kits are of the same good standard.



As with the C20, the Z20 comes with an integrated tyre pump which is neatly concealed within the seatpost. The plastic clip-on mudguards which are provided are a bit of an afterthought and tend to flap around a bit. The front headlight will provide adequate lighting for urban rides, although I wouldn’t want to ride down a dark, unlit country lane with them.

himo z20 integrated tyre pump

Full Specification

GeneralBrand: HIMO
Type: Electric bike
Model: Z20
Colour: Grey / White / Rose Gold
SpecificationMax Rang(pedal assist mode): ≤80KM
Max Rang(pure electric mode): ≤50KM
Max Load: 100KG
Battery: 10Ah 36V (360Wh)
Motor: 250W DC Motor
Motor Rated Speed: 326 rpm
Rated Voltage: 36V
Charging Time: About 5 hours
Weight & SizeProduct Weight: 21.6 kg
Package Weight: 27.5 kg
Product Size(L x W x H):  1470 x 550 x 1090mm(unfolded); 860 x 740 x 400mm(folded)
Package Size(L x W x H):  900 x 440 x 700mm
Package Contents1 x HIMO Z20 E-Bike
1 x Wrench
2 x Foot pedal
1 x Metal Front Fender
1 x Metal Rear Fender
1 x Plastic Front Fender
1 x Plastic Rear Fender
1 x EU Charger
1 x User Manual

Who is the Himo Z20 aimed at?

The Xiaomi Himo Z20 is aimed squarely at the commuter and urban rider, although I can see it being very popular with leisure riders – particularly those who have motor homes and are looking for a fun and easy way to explore the local area.

I have tried one of these out on multiple terrains including Moorland gravel tracks and it copes surprisingly well. It’s especially suitable for urban riding where quite often there are canal towpaths or potholed back roads to negotiate.

One thing potential buyers should be aware of is the weight – most folding electric bikes at this price are quite heavy and the Z20 is no exception. If you are going to be regularly carrying this up flights of stairs, it comes in at nearly 22kg.


I like the practicality of the Himo Z20,  it has the same dimensions as the C20 with the benefit of being fully folding. Riding it is easy and it’s adaptable to riders of all sizes. I’m just over 6ft and I found it comfortable for short journeys of around 10-15 miles.

the himo z20 can be used on or off road

My only real complaints would be the lack of gear range, brakes and weight – I live in a hilly rural area, so the gear range won’t necessarily be a problem for the average urban rider. The brakes do work and they will stop you, they’re just not great and they did have a tendency to squeal – this may improve with bedding in of the pads. If the braking was an issue, I would be inclined to invest in some TRP mechanical brake callipers – these are about the best mechanical brake callipers you can buy, but they do come at a premium. Regarding the weight, If you’re going to carry this around a lot you’ll get a good workout!

As far as the motor and battery are concerned, it provides strong assist. It was disappointing that pedal assist was only available in level 1, it would have been nice to see 3 levels of pedal assist with the option of using the throttle. If you want to use the bike in maximum power you are limited to throttle only.

himo z20 off road

Final thoughts

In my opinion, the Xiaomi Himo Z20 is one of the best folding electric bikes available for the price. It’s practical, versatile and well-built. The motor will provide more than enough assistance for the average rider and the range is respectable enough. This is now the fourth e-bike I’ve ridden from the Himo range and everyone has impressed me with its construction and general feel – I can highly recommend the Himo Z20.

Available from eBay

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  1. Bin zufrieden bis auf die Lackierung. Sehr empfindlich, da nur sehr dünn aufgetragen. Man sieht sofort Macken im Lack.

  2. Hi!
    I bought a Himo Z20 and here in Finland i have to take insurance if i want ride legally.Otherwice i have to modefy it.

  3. Hi Tony, hoping I can ask you a question…?
    I just bought a Himo Z20 in Australia. The store I bought it from unfortunately ‘copy and pasted’ the incorrect product description on their website that stated that the bike could be pedal assist AND full throttle. I bought one (AUD$1449) for my brother to use on his country property (off road). When I received the bike i tried to test it and discovered that the throttle had been disabled to comply with Australia road laws. Very disappointing. Now the store won’t accept a refund because I used it (0.9km).
    Do you know of any way to derestrict the throttle? I’ve seen suggested that the throttle wire may just be disconnected in the controller box. Could this be true? And if I reconnected the wires the throttle might work? Thanks so much. Louise.

    1. Hi Louise,

      As far as I’m aware you should be able to reconnect the throttle. We have the same issue here in the UK due to the e-bike laws. If the throttle is fitted you will need to trace the wire back to the motor controller – it will either be a 3-pin circular or block connector.


      1. Thanks Tony, I rang 6 ebike stores that do servicing/repairs in Melbourne Australia today and none said they could do it. The 7th store said to bring it in so I did and they just rang to say they can’t work out how to reconnect the throttle. What a bummer. I will try to have to resell it as a pedal assist only bike. If that doesn’t work my local op shop will be pretty happy. Thanks for trying to help. Cheers.

        1. Hi Louise,

          If they have fitted a controller without a throttle connection, it might still be possible to retro-fit an external controller which can take a throttle. If my memory serves me correct the motor connector is a standard circular type (6 or 8 pins) that should be compatible with a lot of after market controllers – the pedal assist sensor won’t need to be connected if it’s going to be used as throttle only. You would also need to isolate the battery positive and negative connection. The only other thing you might have to get is a separate display – something like a KT-LCD3 (along with a KT controller). These are usually available from eBay, Amazon or Aliexpress. I found an ebike conversion specialist in Melbourne, it might be worth giving them a try as they would know what to do. Here is their website:

          I hope this helps.


          1. Hi Tony what about if you want pedal
            pedal assistance 3 or 5 levels but don’t want the throttle cheers stan

    2. Hey Louise, I just received mine today and read your comment while assembling it… Where did you buy yours? I bought mine at JB HIFI and now I am afraid to use it and not be able to get a refund if the throttle doesn’t work… Can you share?
      I will test it anyway but wanted to get your reply before.
      Thank you! Leo

      1. Hi, there will definitely be no ‘throttle only’ function. You’ll be able to tell straight away as the twist throttle does nothing. It can only be used with pedal assist. Jb hifi said they’ll only take it back if it was still in the box. $1400 down the drain.

  4. I’m somewhat confused – presumably it’s not legal in the EU, due to the level 3 setting turning it from an e-bike into a motorbike?

    1. UK (and EU) EAPC rules state that an e-bike cannot be propelled purely by a ‘twist and go’ throttle regardless of whether the motor is 250w and limited to 15.5mph (25km/h) The throttle on the Z20 can only be activated once pedalling has started (not from standstill). It would seem that this bike (as tested) falls in to the L1e-A category meaning it has to be type approved for legal use on British and EU roads. The bike I tested was shipped direct from China, although I’ve noticed the main European supplier has listed the bike as an ‘EU version’ so I will find out if the throttle option has been removed from this model to comply with EU laws (or the bike has been L1e-A type approved).

      The use of a throttle was allowed on 250w e-bikes up until the law was revised in 2016, any throttle fitted to an EAPC now should only propel the bike at walking pace (6km/h). You can still use an e-bike fitted with a throttle providing it was manufactured before the law change in 2016. You can also fit a 250w 25km/h electric bike conversion kit with a thumb throttle as long as it is being fitted to a used bicycle.

      I hope this answers your question.


      1. Hi,

        I am from Germany and thus bike really looks promising for my needs and as well from quality perspective. But I am confused if it’s legal here in Germany. I have asked few sellers but non have provided a response. One said it’s your responsibility to check whether it’s legal or not. Now I don’t know if EU version comes with throttle or not.
        Also what do you think if removing the throttle and replacing it with simple handle grip will make it kind of legal? And I have one more question on level “1/medium” in pedal assist mode does it assist upto 25km/h or it only assist upto 15km/h this is important for me to know because in reality we only have 1 mode for pedal assistance :-(. I wish Himo had introduced a proper EU version as well so that I did not had to worry or look around much atleast proper description from sellers would have help too.

        Thanks, Kind Regards, Zubair Ahmed

        1. Hi Zubair,

          The Z20 I tested last summer only had 1 pedal assist mode and a throttle control mode. In the assist mode you could pedal the bike up to 25km/h before the power cut out. It seems like some companies are shipping the bikes with the throttle disconnected to comply with local laws, but I haven’t had a chance to test one recently. Any e-bike that is sold new is not allowed to have throttle control (except up to 6km) otherwise it’s classed as a moped. I’ve had a look on various sites like Amazon, eBay and Geekbuying and they all state throttle control (or moped mode) which would make the bike illegal to use on a public road. You could potentially disconnect the throttle and fit a regular grip, but you would not have access to the full power mode.

          Sorry I could provide a more definitive answer. When my contact at Geekbuying gets back from the Chinese New Year break, I’ll ask them the question regarding EU legality and post the answer here.

          Kind Regards,

          1. Hi Tony,

            Thank You for your quick reply. I will be waiting, meanwhile if I get any response from the seller I will also write here.

            Kind Regards,
            Zubair Ahmed

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