Best electric? I don't know, but I really like my kit I got from Spookytooth.
The laws are usually much more lenient in favor of electric bicycles. Some times you might have problems getting ticketed on a gas bike, but you will probably not be bothered on an electric (I have one of each). Here in Orange County, California, there are even rules specifically allowing electric bicycles, while the rules for gas bikes are best described as "gray area".
I built an electric bike from a Spookytooth kit, but I got the batteries somewhere else, so I'm not sure about that. If you shop around, you might be able to find a set of four 17 Ah batteries for about $100. I recommend buying them locally if you can, because they are heavy, and the shipping will be significant.
As for the folding bikes, I have no experience with those.
Hope this info helps.
By the way, Spookytooth does not have many electric kits left, so if you want one, you may have to make up your mind soon.
Hi, there. I have an electric bike and a motorized bike. An electric bike is so much easier to operate and ride than a gas powered bike. I have a great website for you to view electric bikes that are more economical in pricing than many other websites. I have a brand new EzipTraliz electric bike for which I paid $375 for online at target.com. If you ant to get a nice electric bike at an affordable and fairly inexpensive price, I would recommend you check either Walmart.com or Target.com or kmart.com. These are my suggestions because if you buy any electric bike at a regular-traditional bike store it's going to cost you quite a bit of money, any where from a few thousand dollars and up. This to me is outrageous. In this economy I don't know of anyone who has that kind of money to go out to a regular bike store and spend 2-3 thousand dollars on an electric bike for which you can get just as great of quality by buying them at the department stores for that I recommended for you above. Even sears.com has great deals as well. You may also want to try amazon.com or ebay to bid on a bike and they do show great ones-both new and used ones all covered with a buyer's protection plan. Your last and final resort could be to check on Craigslist, they have good deals too and great pictures of the bikes, etc. However, if dealing with Craigslist be very careful since it's an free site for advertising and be very careful with whom you are dealing with because these are private dealers who post on the website free of charge. Thus, if you choose to use them as your last resort or whatever and see an electric bike that you like which is a great deal (used or new), I recommend that you have someone go with you to do your shopping just to play it safe, etc. I've always wanted an electric bike. So, the type I have which is the EzipTRailZ low step electric bike which also becomes available in diamond or the Izip type bikes, these are your most economical and easiest electric bikes to use and operate. They are wonderful. Check out these 2 websites I have linked here for you on these 2 types of electric bikes: www.currietech.com and www.izipusa.com. So, here you have all these great sources to use. Again, you're always able to go to any bike store in your area that simply sells only bikes, and electric bikes and/or motor bikes. However, again; as I mentioned before a regular bike store in your local area is going to be 10 times more expensive than using the resources for which I've provided you above. Nevertheless, if you do have that kind of money to spend a few thousands of dollars for a nice and decent electric bike, then by all means do what you decide. Good luck and let me know how you make out.
The "best" electric bike doesn't yet exist. The industry is in a constant state of transition right now and people are trying all kinds of things.
The conversion kits are cool but most bikes are unable to handle anything more than a low torque peddle assist with a small battery. Otherwise they tend to twist out the frame, drop outs, sprockets, etc, pretty quickly. The best bikes to convert tend to be heavy steel frame "cheep" bikes. You're still going to do a lot of work on them and will be constantly wrenching in order to compensate for the fact that they aren't equipped to handle the kits. Not as much wrenching on a gas motor conversion but still quite a bit.
Commuter bikes (the ones that look like scooters) are designed to take the electric motors and tend to have more range and power. You'll not do as much wrenching but finding somewhere to do service might be a pain as traditional bike shops tend not to want to touch electrics and scooter and moped shops tend not to want to touch bicycles. With a little mechanical aptitude and internet research you shouldn't have any real problems... only a few bloody knuckles.
The laws for electric bikes in most parts of the US are the same for regular bicycles. As long as you obey the speed limit they don't have to be insured, licensed or registered. In some areas there are local laws that are more stringent but for the most part an electric bike is same same as a regular bike.
Folding electric bikes a bit harder to find. I really like HyBikes' little blue folding bike. It gets good range (ish) for a smaller hub motor and SLA battery. Talked to a guy who rides his all over the place near me and he said that he is getting about 22 miles per charge when he rides with the motor... about 10 miles pure electric. He stores it in the cargo compartment under his RV.
If you're looking for 100% American made, you're not going to find it. It doesn't exist. And those companies that do make the majority of their bikes in the US have to charge a LOT for their bikes. The trick is to find a balance between price, power/range, and quality. Do you want mahogany handlebars and hand-made frame or would you be okay with a bike that is built in China? Personally I see the Chinese at the front of the pack right now. Something like 80% of all electric bikes in the world are in China... and they've got a few decades on the US as far as design and manufacturing.
Optibike makes a good bike but is expensive. HyBikes has a great balance for the price and unlike most companies, they will allow you to finance the bike.
When looking for an electric bike just keep in mind that a lot of companies don't rate their motors properly. Do your research and make sure that you know what you're getting.
You sure know how to get an argument started (again). If range is the priority, get one of the smaller, 24v, preferably internally geared hub motor kits.
If speed is more important, get a 48 volt, direct drive hub motor kit rated at 500w or more.
Cyclone and SickBikeParts sell non-hub motor kits for riders that want a more mechanical appearance.
E-bikekit and Ampedbikes have good reputations.
Unless you plan to commute 10 miles round trip or less, get LiPo batteries. My 2 cents.