Folding Bikes - A No Nonsense Review Guide
They've completely changed the way we ride and interact with our urban environment, unlocking a world of transport freedom on two wheels that just didn't exist before. Our no nonsense review guide will help you get started and tap into the brave cool new world of folding bikes.
Personally we've been using them for around four years now, pedaling, riding, crashing and commuting our way around urban landscapes and we wouldn't change it for the world. This year we took a jump into the unknown and decided to release our reviews online for the first time.
Let's get cracking shall we. To do it right you're going to need the folding bike to start, pause for a moment and think about what you need to consider before buying one. What will you mostly be using it for? What's your budget?
Check out the table below, we've collected a few of our favorites and left out the ones that didn't make the cut. Just click on the photo or name of the ones you like the look of and you'll jump straight into that folding bike review which will also show videos and photos to help give you an idea whether that is the right one for you.
PS: Ignore the MRSP (Manufacturers Recommended Sale Price) We'll show you where to get them a lot cheaper than that. But don't get ahead of yourself, first narrow it down and find a couple that fit your needs and lifestyle, then we'll jump to the super cheap part.
25.8 lbs (11.7 kg)
24.1 lbs (10.9 kg)
25.9 lbs (11.7 kg)
33.1 lbs (15.0 kg)
24 lbs (10.8 kg)
36 lbs (16.3kg)
35 lbs (15.8 kg)
WHY BUY A FOLDING BIKE?
- You'll have more transport options. You can walk there, train it, bus it, taxi it or ride it. Portable bikes give you that option to do all. Here's a practical example, you rode to work this morning and the sun was shining, but by 4:30pm the clouds have rolled in and it's bucketing down with rain. Not a problem, just pack it up and catch the bus/train home, heck you could even jump in a taxi and put it in the trunk. Having one lets you tackle all modes of transport in a hassle free way whatever the situation.
- Save yourself some money. Use one for the daily commute to work and you’ll save a serious amount of money on parking fees, petrol, bus/train fares. Me personally, I cycle to work in the morning and will often ride the bus home at night if i've had a tough day. Even doing it this way still saves me at least 50% on what i used to spend on transport.
- The feel good factor and exercising by accident. When you ride you feel alive, you feel engaged. You start to notice the things happening in your community and neighbourhood and best of all you’re doing it a lot faster than if you were walking. You’re also exercising but not really exercising consciously, if you know what I mean? You’re having fun getting from A to B and just so happen to be getting fit as well. Oh and you can cancel that gym membership that you may or may not have been using.
- They look the part. Forget the cost and transport benefits for a second, these are are smooth looking machines and will be a talking point wherever you go.Besides you're probably too old to pull off that BMX look now anyways.
Video time! Here's a great short video showing the different modes of travel you can tackle when riding a folding bike.
TYPES OF FOLDING BIKES AVAILABLE
Urban design city slicker
You can separate them loosely into 3 broad categories maybe four if you like wearing spandex. Try to ignore the noise of the different brands and manufacturers for now and instead look at what style of rider you are. Although the categories are fairly self explanatory we have included them to help newbies get started and to protect the shiny object buyers from themselves (i'm just as guilty of this as the next person)
Our favorite type and the style we ride the most, these are by far and away the most popular and common type on sale.
Designed with ease of use in mind, these can be carried or wheeled around with ease in even the most crowded of places. They are becoming increasingly lightweight too with a lot of designs now around the 10kg mark.
Not only are these the most affordable of all the categories they are also great to look at as well with a sleek modern look having all the bells and whistles you'll ever need.
Folding electric bikes
These are fairly new on the market and those of us that live and ride on steep inclines are forever grateful. However a lot of cycling purists view them with horror as they believe its cheating. We say whatever gets people out and about riding is fine by us.
So what are they? Well they're exactly the same as the traditional type except it has a small motor that helps you to pedal. The motor can be set to different help levels and can also be completely turned off. They really are amazing and take all the pain out of hill climbs and steep trails.
The downside is it makes the bicycle a little heavier and they also cost significantly more than the non motor models although the price will come down as more manufacturers enter the market.
Folding mountain bikes
Simply put they are exactly the same as a normal all terrain ride with the difference being they collapse down. They have more gears/speeds than an urban ride and the suspension has more give for those rough rides and bums you'll encounter off pavement. The downside is that foldable mountain bikes are generally bulkier with their wheel size of 26" as opposed to the standard 20".
As a result of the larger wheel size the fold process is generally slower and they don't compact down quite as well as a normal collapsible bike does but that's understandable. The plus side is they are multi purpose and fit to be used on any terrain, unlike their dainter urban cousins.
Five quick things to check before buying a fold up bike
Most people, myself included look at five main factors when deciding on a model to buy. Seeing as we want no fluff legit reviews we’ll apply these five factors to all the reviews we add to the site. So without wasting anymore time here are the things we’ll be looking for.
We’re looking at two sizes here, the wheel size and the size after it’s been collapsed down. Wheel size is fairly standard with most having 20″ Wheels, folding mountain bikes generally have 26” Wheels.
This is important because the more compact it is when disassembled equals how easy it is to carry. The whole purpose of a portable bicycle is the take it anywhere attitude, so the collapsed size is a biggie as is the weight which lead me onto our second factor…
Pretty simple, the lighter you go the easier it is to carry. We’re after that effortless, not breaking a sweat look.
Gears and speeds
Means the same thing really. The more gears you have the more options you have in terms of speed and ability to get up those tough hills. If you live somewhere where hills are a factor, then you’ll need to pay attention to this. If you live on the flat and never intend to ride up a big mountain then that's not as important, but the more speeds you have the faster you can go.
Bicycle frames are made from metal. Some metals are lighter than others and some are stronger than others. Also some metals are cheaper than others in terms of price and quality. Think of the frame as a juggling act with the three balls being weight, price and durability. When we get to the individual reviews you’ll see what we mean so don’t worry too much, we’ve got a good handle on things frame wise so will point out things as we go along.
Just like any other product or service, you get what you pay for. With that being said it’s definitely possible to find quality cheap folding bikes for sale. Some of the rides you’re paying for the branding rather than a good bicycle, we call it label bashing, we’ll let you know when we review them if that’s the case.
Brands You Can Rely On
In this final section we're going to take a look at some of the brands that dominate the market. These guys have a history of innovation and a reputation for producing high quality products. Basically if it's produced by these following brands then quality, workmanship and customer service won't be a problem. You still have to choose the right one for you though!
Dahon are the big player in the US market holding around 60% market share. It was started way back in 1982 by a guy called David Hon (see how the name came about?). He worked away for seven years in his garage before perfecting his version. We rate these guys very highly with most of our favorite rides being made by Dahon. A lot of our folding bike reviews involve the Dahon brand.
Brompton is a London UK based company which has been around since 1976. It was started by Andrew Ritchie from his bedroom which overlooked the Brompton Oratory. Interesting fact is they contain around 1200 individual pieces and the basic design has remained unchanged in all these years. Despite being a UK company you'll see plenty of these designs in the US.
Montague was formed in 1987 by an actual inventor and his son! These guys have scooped multiple awards and even worked with the Marine Corp to develop a MTB which eventually became known as the Paratrooper. They also partnered with BMW to produce the official bike of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Thats some serious achievement. We feature the Paratrooper in one of our reviews here and rate it as the #1 MTB we've ever had the pleasure of riding. These guys basically produce feats of engineering on two wheels.
If you come across a brand not mentioned above then you can check them against our list of folding bike brands. We went through and listed close to 200 brands and link to their websites so you can check the company out before purchasing to make sure they're legit.