Features To Look Out For
Prices for folding bikes vary wildly and how much you want to spend should probably depend on how much you’re looking to get out of it.
If you’re seeking a premium model which can be used as a road bike or even as an outdoors mountain bike, you’re going to want to spend a fair bit to ensure stability and quality.
However, if the bike is only going to be used 10 or so minutes a day from the train station to work etc. having every function known to man or looking like a million dollars is probably of way less importance!
As with standard bicycles, a brand new top of the range foldable model will easily set you back over £1000 or more.
Don’t let that worry you though, as there are plenty of models which cost much less, with the cheapest brands offering good quality bikes for the £200 to £500 range.
The gears your folding bike can offer are of crucial importance as they will determine how usable the bike is. Given they have such small wheels to make them more portable, folding bikes can sometimes require a little extra gusto to get going, particularly if you live in an area with lots of hills.
If you live in a flat area one-gear or two-gear systems will do just fine, but it’s often best to choose a bike with a more versatile range!
If you’re using your folding bike for a commute, chances are you’ll need to bring a few extras along with you that won’t always fit in a simple rucksack! Bag catches/attachment features or luggage racks attached to the front of the bike can help make carrying your loads a lot simpler!
Something that’s easily overlooked, but an item you don’t really want to have to purchase later or discover you need the hard way, mudguards are a vital component of any bike.
While mountain bikers expect to get mucky and kit up accordingly, you definitely don’t want track marks all up your back if you’re pedalling off to an important meeting.
Once your bike is folded up, unless you’ve got somewhere immediately at hand to store it, there may be occasional periods where you’ll have to carry the bike under your arm. It’s therefore quite important that it doesn’t weigh more than the Titanic and that you can easily pick it up!
How heavy the bike is will often be mostly down to it’s frame material.
Aluminium is the most common for cheaper to mid-range bikes when it comes to providing a lightweight frame, while titanium and carbon fibre models offer a stronger and even lighter frame.
If you’re planning to use the bike in more adventurous pursuits, a steel frame usually offers more weight and stability.
All in all, the minimum and maximum range for foldable bikes tends to be between 10 and 20Kg, so where they fall between those two numerals will give you a good idea of how heavy the bike will be.
While the idea is to whizz along as fast as you can, everybody has to make a stop once in a while and people ignore the quality of their brakes far too often when purchasing bikes!
Cheapest models have linear pull style callipers above the wheel which clamp down when pulling the brakes whereas more expensive brands use disc brakes which make them easier to fold. Beware though, disc brakes are slightly heavier!
Folding bikes are easy to spot thanks to their unusual dinky wheels which make them ideal for storage and portability. However, they often come in two different sizes of 16” or 20”, which can have a big impact on the bike’s suitability for you!
The smaller the wheels, the smaller the overall size of the bike, meaning it will be far easier to store if you wish to lace the bike in train luggage racks or cupboards. This also impacts the ride though, and smaller wheels will often be less stable and smooth than larger ones.
For those who want to take their folding bike mountain biking, you’ll need a much larger wheel and some brands do make models for that specific cause with a rarer 26” wheel.
Pretty much all folding bikes have the same style of frame, one that is very low to the ground and reminiscent of a children’s bicycle. Naturally though, this would be very uncomfortable for adults and so every model should offer plenty of adjustment for handlebar and seat height, so that you can find the best possible seating position.
Always make sure they can be adjusted to a size which will match your height and build!
Suspension mechanisms add more weight to your bike and so are something to keep an eye on if you’ve got your sights set on the smallest, lightest bike possible.
Good suspension is crucial for these kinds of folding bikes, as otherwise, they’ll be virtually unrideable!
The whole point of a folding bike is that it should be easy to quickly store away your vehicle and get it out of the way! You therefore need to make sure that your folding model of choice is simple to operate and hassle free.
In general, foldable bicycles either come in half-fold, triangle-fold or break away styles.
Which style you pick can have an impact on how your bike feels when riding.
Half folds are easy to dismantle and set up, but by far the least sturdy.
Triangle folds are the sturdiest and still easy to fold, but can often be difficult to ride.
Breakaways are then the absolute easiest to fold but are more difficult to set back up.
They all have their pros and cons, and which one you choose is up to you!
Before buying any folding bike it’s always important to think about what you’re going to be using it for.
If it’s a simple commuting bike, you need it to be really compact on folding, lightweight, with small wheels. As you’ll only be using it for short bursts, it’s general riding capabilities are not so important – it’s just about getting from A-Z as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If however you like the portability of a folding bike but still plan on taking it on longer cycling trips and adventures, it’s absolutely vital you go with something with the biggest wheels and sturdiest riding capabilities, with storability and folding efficiency being less crucial.