A few years ago, folding bikes were so unpopular and consumers have just a limited number of choices. At the moment, we can see them everywhere in the United States, from online retailers like Amazon to brick-and-mortar stores like Target, Walmart or Sports Authority.
While this is good news for us, it also means you might have to spend a lot of time researching and deciding which is the best folding bicycle for your needs. We love folding bicycles and have tested hundreds of them, so we know this is not an easy decision, especially for inexperienced shoppers.
Why Should You Buy a Folding Bike?
With urban spaces becoming more congested and the need for practical, eco-friendly transportation increasing, the appeal of folding bikes has never been greater. Many people have the prejudice against this type of bicycle because they think it is more expensive, bulkier while performance is subpar as compared to regular full-sized bikes. The viewpoint is no longer valid and here are the 5 reasons why you should buy a folding bike now:
- Portability and Storage: One of the most significant advantages of folding bikes is their compactness. Their cleverly designed folding mechanisms allow them to be reduced to a fraction of their size within a few seconds. This means you can take them anywhere, whether it’s on public transport during rush hour or into your workplace. Say goodbye to the worries of finding a suitable bike rack or the fear of bike theft. With a folding bike, your bicycle can sit discreetly under your desk or in your closet, making it a perfect choice for those living in apartments with limited storage space. There’ve been a lot of improvements in design and materials of folding bikes in the last decade. The weight of most recent folders is made lower than 30 lbs and we even see some lighter than 20 lbs. We created an infographic to help you compare the differences between a folding and a regular bike. You will be able to find out more details in our comprehensive reviews.
- Multi-Modal Commuting: Folding bikes excel in multi-modal commuting. If your journey involves a mix of cycling, public transport, and perhaps walking, a folding bike can handle it all. You can cycle to the train station, fold up the bike, carry it onto the train, and then cycle again from the station to your final destination. You can also roll it along station platforms and carry it upstairs easily. This flexibility is hard to beat and allows you to effortlessly integrate cycling into your daily commute, even if you live far from your workplace.
- Eco-Friendly: Choosing to commute by bike rather than by car is a significant step towards reducing your carbon footprint. It’s a non-polluting mode of transport, and folding bikes make this choice more accessible and convenient for many people. Plus, as a bonus, cycling is a great form of exercise, contributing to your daily physical activity and promoting a healthier lifestyle.
- Financial Savings: While the upfront cost of a folding bike might be higher than a standard bicycle, the long-term savings can be substantial. Think about the money saved on fuel, parking, and public transport fares. The lower maintenance costs of folding bikes also add to the savings, making them a financially sound investment in the long run.
- Variety and Customizability: There’s a folding bike out there for everyone. They come in various sizes, designs, and price ranges, with different gear options to suit various terrains and journeys. Whether you need a high-speed bike for longer commutes or a more leisurely model for short city hops, you can find a folding bike to match your needs.
The Leading Brands
Numerous brands excel in this niche market, creating bicycles that offer durability, excellent performance, and innovative folding mechanisms. Following are some of the leading folding bike brands that are changing the game in urban commuting.
- Brompton: Brompton is arguably the most well-known name in the folding bike industry, and for a good reason. Made in London since 1975, Brompton bikes are renowned for their compact size when folded, and their quick and easy folding mechanism. They offer various customization options, including gear ratios, colors, accessories, and electric options, allowing riders to tailor their bikes to their specific needs. Brompton bikes are known for their durability and are designed to withstand the rigors of urban cycling.
- Dahon: Dahon, a pioneer in folding bikes, boasts a global footprint with a presence in over 30 countries. They offer an extensive range of folding bikes to suit various needs, from super-compact models for short commutes to high-performance bikes for longer rides. Dahon’s commitment to quality and innovation has earned them numerous awards and a strong reputation in the folding bike market.
- Tern: Tern is another significant player in the folding bike industry. They are known for their robust bikes, which are designed for durability and performance. Tern’s innovative designs, such as their 451 Verge family, are praised for providing the speed of a full-size bike while retaining the compact nature of a folder. Their bikes also come with a host of smart features like integrated lighting and luggage systems.
- Montague: Montague is the brand to look for if you’re interested in full-sized folding bikes. They are known for their patented Folding Integrated Technology (FIT), which allows a full-size, high-performance bicycle to fold in seconds for the car trunk, train, or closet. Montague’s range includes mountain, road, and urban commuting bikes, all of which can be folded without the need for tools.
- Bike Friday: Bike Friday stands out with its focus on creating custom-built folding bikes for their customers. They offer a wide range of bikes, from touring to road to commuting bikes, each one designed to fold quickly and compactly. Bike Friday’s models are perfect for those who want a folding bike that doesn’t compromise on the fit, ride, and feel of a regular bike.
The Most Popular Folding Bicycles in 2023 so far
Here we are presenting a list of high-quality folding bikes available in the US as well as in many other countries. Most of them come from well-established manufacturers like Dahon, Brompton, Tern, or Schwinn.
|Image||Product||Folded Dimensions (inches)||Weight (lbs)||Speeds||Frame||Price (USD)|
|Schwinn Loop||32.5" x 26" x 16"||33||7||Alloy||$289|
|Retrospec Speck SS||30" x 22" x 10"||23.5||1||Ultra-light Aluminum||$319|
|Dahon Boardwalk||29.5" x 26.0" x 12.6"||27.6||1||Hi-Tensile Steel||$319|
|Dahon Vybe C7A||31.5" x 26" x 11.8"||25.26||7||AA Series - Dalloy Alluminum||$399|
|Dahon Speed Uno||30.3" x 25.2" x 11.8"||24.2||1||SuperLite 4130 Chromoly||$419|
|Hasa F2||33" x 25" x 13"||27.5||6||6061 Aluminum||$420|
|Dahon Speed D7||30.3" x 25.2" x 11.8"||27.6||7||SuperLite 4130 Chromoly||$549|
|Dahon Mariner D7||31.9" x 25.7" x 11"||26||7||7005 Butted Aluminum Alloy||$599|
|Dahon Jack D7||36.7" x 30.8" x 13.3"||28.4||7||DA Series 7005 Aluminum||$749|
|Dahon Vigor P9||31.9" x 26" x 13.4"||25.8||9||Dalloy Aluminum||$799|
|Dahon Launch D8||30.4" x 25.7" x 16"||27.1||8||Dalloy Aluminum||$899|
|Strida SX||45.2" x 20" x 9"||26.4||1||7000-series Aluminum||$999|
|Dahon Qix D8||32.7" x 26" x 14.2"||26.2||8||Dalloy Aluminum||$999|
|Dahon EEZZ D3||25.6" x 24.4" x 10.6"||21.5||3||Dalloy Aluminum||$1,099|
|Brompton S1E||22.2" x 21.5" x 9.8"||22.4||1||Steel||$1,255|
|CHANGE Bike 611||37" x 30" x 15"||26.4||27||Double-butted 7005 Aluminum||$1,580|
|Turboant Swift S1||38" x 31" x 23.5"||67.2||7||Aluminum alloy 6061||$1,799|
|Brompton P Line||25.3" x 23.0" x 10.6"||21.8||4||Steel & Titanium||$2,950|
The table above shows you some basic information about those folding bikes, including:
- Folded Dimensions: This is the size of a bike after it is folded. Normally, a folding bike can decrease the size at least by half when folded. The wheel size and frame design will decide how compact a folding bike is. The most common wheel sizes are 16 inches, 20 inches, and 24 inches, you can see their differences in this video.
- Weight: This is another important factor you need to consider when buying a folder. A lightweight folding bike will be much easier to carry around, check out a list of the most lightweight folding bikes.
- Speeds: The bicycles can have from 1 to over 20 gears (speeds), which are provided by the front and rear derailleurs. More gears are not necessarily better, so wisely choose the number of gears based on the road you will be riding.
- Frame: Nobody wants a heavy and poorly made frame. The frame design and material will directly affect the weight and durability of your bike. Most bikes use aluminum or good-quality Chromoly steel.
- Price: The folders are generally more expensive than regular bikes but they are so affordable right now. We put manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) on the table but they often go on sale for up to 60% off. So, the real price ranges from $100 to $5,000.
There are over 100 folding bikes available on the U.S. market, so if you are having a hard time figuring out the best bike for your needs and budget, below are our recommendations.
The Mariner D7 is the most versatile folding bike that doesn't break your wallet. It has almost everything you will expect in a folder. It is lightweight with compact folded size, it has a sturdy frame, a sleek rust-resistant coating, and comes with a 7-speed drivetrain, a rear rack, and fenders. The Dahon bike is a safe choice and you never can go wrong with it.
If you don't mind the fat tires and heavy weight of around 67 lbs, the Swift S1 is my top recommendation for a folding e-bike. The bike features a powerful 750W motor with smooth speed boost, good battery range, and unprecedented comfort while its price is very affordable for average consumers.
Undoubtedly, the Schwinn Loop is among the cheapest folding bikes on the market. Although it is a little heavy and bulky due to the steel frame, it is totally acceptable for such a low price. It is not by chance that the Loop is still selling like hot cake since its release nearly a decade ago. This is my first folding bike and I haven't had any issue in the last 4 years. It is built to last and perfectly suitable for any rider with a low budget.
Buy Schwinn Loop
If you are living in a crowded urban area, you might just need a high-quality compact folder. Then, I highly recommend the Dahon HIT. It features a front triangle frame with an impressive weight limit of 300 lbs. It is also very lightweight and can be folded fairly small. Riders will appreciate the convenience of the small bike because it is very easy to carry around
There is nothing to complain about the Brompton. It is incredibly beautiful with a classic design. The folding mechanism is the best of all folders I've ever used. Besides, it delivers very comfortable, stable, and fast rides, thanks to the wide gear range and a long wheelbase. You can also customize the bike with a variety of accessories, and replacement parts are widely available.