Folding bikes have revolutionized how and the way we commute. Over the years, we’ve seen a resurgence in cycling as more compact, lightweight and unique bicycles have been introduced. Foldable models have given riders a compact version which allows them to be taken anywhere without compromising performance, comfort and location.
For starters, not all folding bikes are the same, and not any two models are the same. This is what makes folding bicycles so unique which have helped them increase in popularity in recent years. Some offer the ride, look and style as other models including road, mountain, and commuter bikes while others offer their own unique take on what cycling what meant to be.
Below we detail all you need to know about folding bikes and give you the best reviews to find exactly what you’re looking for.
What is a Folding Bike
Simply stated, a folding bike is a bicycle that folds. This gives riders the ability to fold and store it out of sight or take in places that would otherwise be impossible like trains, buses or store it in the trunk of your car.
How exactly they fold and how compact they get depends on the brand and specific make. For instance, Dahon folding bikes are some of the most popular because they collapse to a size that can be carried with one-hand and can be stored virtually anywhere. On the other hand, there are plenty of models which boast full-sized wheels like mountain folding bikes that fold, but are far less compact.
Some folding bikes are easier to fold, take less time to fold and can become more compact then others. Below are some things to consider when looking at foldability:
The ease to fold and unfold may make all the difference if you intend on doing so multiple times of the day. Some models require a tool to fold and unfold while others offer a simple push button operation and nothing else to fold and lock into place.
The overall size is something worth considering depending on what you intend on using it for. For those looking for a space saver solution will want to choose a folding bike that completely folds to the diameter not much larger than a single tire. On the other hand, larger styles like mountain bikes aren’t as compact when they fold.
When looking at size, you’ll want to choose a bike that fits you as the rider with ergonomics in mind. When riding for short distances, size may not matter, but when commuting regularly or for longer periods you’ll want to size will surely matter. Size in this instance may pertain to the wheel size, more so then the frame size.
The time it takes to fold and unfold a bike can vary anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 minutes. Some of the higher-performing models take less time while other, cheaper or larger models take much longer.
Advantages of Choosing a Folding Bike
As with other types of bicycles, folding bikes have many benefits while offering other advantages you just wouldn’t get with one that doesn’t fold. Below are some of the most common advantages:
- Cheaper transportation – many people are turning to bicycles because of the cost advantage over driving a car or truck through town. Aside from saving money on gas, there are other benefits including no parking fees, no insurance, and lower maintenance.
- Breaks up a sedentary lifestyle – in recent years, there’s no denying that more and more people are leading a sedentary lifestyle. Folding bikes not only allow you to exercise, but offer a sense of style you just won’t see with traditional exercise. Not only are these bikes aesthetically appealing to look at, they’re more fun to ride.
- Better deterrent for would-be thieves – bicycles are some of the most common items that can be stolen. With the value of cycles increasing, would-be thieves have taken elaborate steps to stealing and reselling bikes. With the ability to fold and carry with you into your home or office, there’s no more locking it to a tree or bike rack only to find it gone hours later.
- Stable and durable – when folding bikes were first introduced, there was a lot of concern as to their stability and durability. With technology improved, so has the craftsmanship of these cycles to where they’re now as stable and durable as traditional bicycles.
- Lightweight and compact – even when not folded, these are some of the most lightweight bikes we’ve ever seen. For them to be compact and portable, manufacturers had to make them lightweight which bodes well for riders seen in all styles.
Key Terms to Know
Below are some of the most common terms you may need to know before purchasing a new folding bicycle:
Folding bike drivetrains are typically broken down into 2 types; Derailleur and internal hub.
- Derailleur – A derailleur drivetrain is the most common which includes a series of cogs located at the pedals, rear wheel and crank and transfers energy from one cog to another via a chain.
- Internal hub –The defining difference is hub drivetrains do not have cogs, but instead, the gears are enclosed within the hub of the rear tire keeping them free of dirt and other types of road grime. This type of hub requires a lot less maintenance, but tends to be more expensive.
There are three common types of material used to make folding bikes including aluminum, carbon fiber and steel with aluminum being the common.
- Aluminum – Cheapest, lightweight and durable, but provides poor shock absorption when compared to the others.
- Carbon fiber – Most expensive, but stronger than steel and lighter than aluminum.
- Steel – Moderately priced, strong, durable, but heaviest of the three.
Folding bikes range in size from 16 – 28-inches. The size itself pertains to the size of the frame and not the tire size which some consumers confuse. Typically, the smaller the size the more compact it will fold.
Just like traditional bikes, folding bikes have many gears, but fewer gear ratios which is measured in inches. Gears are important as they offer resistance giving you the option to dial in depending on the gradient or terrain your riding.
A gear ratio of 25-inches will allow you to cover most gradients, 70-inches is recommended for city cycling, and if you’re looking for a high-performance folding bike you’ll want to consider at least 100-inches.
Tires are probably the single most feature to consider if you’re looking for performance and planning. Some of the more expensive folding bicycles have puncture resistant tires which are just that, they’re resistant to being punctures by nails, glass and other road debris. These tires leave you worry free, especially when out and about and far away from any help.
Tires come in a wide array of sizes, and its not always the case where bigger is always better. Some of the most common sizes include 16, 20, 24, 26 and 27.5-inch wheels. Larger wheels are best longer commutes, wider tires are best for rougher terrain and smaller wheels are best for shorter distances.
Folding Bike Accessories and Options
There are many accessories and options which can either be found standard or be added on later. Some of the most popular include: baskets, fenders, headlight, tail lights, water bottle holders, luggage racks, and much more.
Price of Folding Bikes
It’s hard to imagine, but the price of folding bikes is comparable with all other models. They can range in price anywhere from just under $100 upwards to $1700 which gives consumers a wide range to chose from. Of course, some would say you get what you pay for, but this isn’t always the case as we’ve uncovered the best cheap folding bikes under $200 which can be seen in the following review.
100% Unbiased Folding Bike Reviews
If you’ve made it this far then you’re interested in picking up a new cycle. For starters, determine your budget which gives you a great starting point and then determine which style, options and accessories you’re looking for. Starting with one of the top name brands is always a great option with some of the most popular listed below.
To help make your buying decision much easier, we’ve introduced the most comprehensive, 100% unbiased folding bike reviews. We’ve broken down our extensive list of reviews by category which can all be seen below.