Tern was at Interbike showcasing their new 2017 bicycles and electric bike models which now include several conversions (even a folding cargo bike!) and the new Bosch powered folding model called the Electron which uses the Bosch Purion display. I’ve heard it has a longer wheelbase and feels more natural and stable than other folders because it uses the premium mid-drive with the battery mounted just behind the seat tube. From what I could tell, it looked very well made and was receiving a lot of positive attention at the event. The co-founder of the company Joshua Hon was there to provide insight on what’s being released this year. The Elektron was a show stealer in many ways, generating a lot of attention the days before the indoor portion of the show at Outdoor Demo Day but costs a bit more at ~$3,400
Tern has been around since 2011 and was formed from a team of “bike nuts” that all had experience in the space, some of whom worked for other folding bicycle companies. Their team is international and intercontinental (with one of the designers living in Finland, not owning a car). Their team fits into different customer profiles as Josh explained and presents different measures. One of the advantages of folding ebikes that we discussed was how portable they can be… Lithium batteries tend to lose capacity quickly in extreme cold but with the Elektron folding bike you can bring it inside and avoid that kind of limitation (or just remove the Bosch battery pack). Similarly, you don’t have to leave the bike outside when commuting.
Josh also showed me the Andros stem which a person named Yoyo invented. It’s like a sturdy double quick release allowing you to angle and raise the bars as well as twist them for a better fit. Apparently it can accommodate people from 4’10” to 6’5”. They believe it’s important for the entire family to be able to use, not just one person (which makes sense given the higher quality and price point). Another interesting folding bike Josh showed me was the Tern Cargo Node, he would use it to take his kids around to play Pokemon on the go. Josh is always asking himself how to make the experience of riding easier, safer and more convenient so more people will join in. Some people are concerned about distance to work, getting sweaty, difficult climbing but with electric assist many of those challenges are addressed.
According to Josh there are over 250 Bosch dealers in the USA and the company is so large and reliable that they will very likely be able to offer replacement batteries and parts ongoing (for years) and the parts we do see that are emerging are designed to be backwards compatible like the new 500 watt battery pack Powerpack 500. We also looked at a Bafang powered folding bike called the E-Link D7i which is much less expensive than the Elektron at ~$2,000.
We also checked out the new folding cargo bike called the Node which is designed to fit more easily into elevators, cars and even bike parking spaces. It has the option of using the e-rad mid-drive motor systems and batteries which we saw. This product works very well for running around town and getting groceries etc. Ross Evans and Josh Hon were college buddies and partnered up for the Tern Cargo Node which uses an Xtracycle rear end (made by Ross and his company). The bike has 24” wheels which balance strength and lower axles for stability but are smoother and more comfortable than 20” wheels. Josh lives in Taiwan with his family and he and his daughter ride together on the cargo bike which she calls “Daddy Taxi”. It’s hot in Taiwan and this form of transportation lets them get around without becoming sweaty. I love that the tern folding bikes have rubber straps to keep the handlebars in place, magnets to keep them folded and safety slide latches for the locking points.