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Best Folding Bikes

Updated October 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 16 Models Considered
  • 10 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 129 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best folding bikes

    Last Updated October 2018

    A long commute on public transit to work or school can be gruelling, but sometimes, a bicycle is all you need to speed up part of the journey. A full-sized bicycle is too large to take on a bus or train, but a folding bike is compact and easy to take along.

    In the past, folding bikes sacrificed quality in favor of a smaller size, but today, you can find some excellent folding bikes on the market. At BestReviews, we understand that our readers have unique needs and preferences. If you’re searching for the perfect folding bike for your lifestyle, you’ve come to the right place.

    Check out our top five folding bikes. But first, read on for our full guide to choosing a new folding bike.

    Using a folding bike for short journeys could save you money on fuel or bus tokens, and it's quicker than walking.

    The perks of owning a folding bike

    Perhaps you’re wondering if a folding bike is the right purchase for you. Below, we examine some of the benefits of owning a folding bike.

    • Folding bikes are perfect for commutes where you go part of the way on public transit, as they're small enough to fit on a bus or train.

    • If you live in tight quarters with nowhere to store a full-sized bike, a folding bike is compact enough to fit in a closet when not in use.

    • Say you want to ride a bike trail in another town. You can easily transport a folding bike in the trunk of your car.

    • You can bring your folding bike inside your shop or office rather than chaining it up outside. This diminishes the chance of theft and weather damage to the bike.

    • Using a folding bike is more eco-friendly than taking a bus or driving a car.

    • Riding your folding bike is good exercise. If you have a sedentary job, this is especially important.
    DID YOU KNOW?

    Some folding bikes have puncture-resistant tires. That’s one less thing that could potentially slow you down on your commute.

    Considerations for selecting a folding bike

    Size and Weight

    One of the main reasons to purchase a folding bike is that it's compact and portable. But before you buy, check the weight of your chosen product and its size when folded. The manufacturer's product specs should contain this information.

    • Is it light enough? Make sure the folding bike you choose is light enough for you to easily carry around. Granted, you’ll be riding it much of the time, but you may have to hold it while on public transit or haul it up the stairs to your office or apartment. Some of the lightest folding bikes weigh under 10 pounds, but notably, they tend to cost more.

    • Is it small enough? Some folding bikes fold up smaller than others. If you'll be taking your folded bike on public transit or carrying it for any length of time, the more compact, the better. That said, folded size might not be so important to you if you simply want to fit it in your trunk or store it in a garden shed.
       

    Wheel Size

    Folding bikes usually have 16-inch or 20-inch wheels. A model with 20-inch wheels feels more like a standard bike. It’s quick, smooth, and works well on all surfaces. Keep in mind, however, that a folding bike with 20-inch wheels will be larger when folded down.

    A folding bike with 16-inch wheels is much more compact when folded, but it’s slower to get around on, and it won’t feel as smooth or stable as a larger bike – especially on rough surfaces.

    Gears

    The gears on a bike are there to help you pedal comfortably on all kinds of terrain and in various conditions that may make riding harder, such as high winds and icy pavement. While you can find some single-speed folding bikes, we highly recommend a model with at least a handful of gears, especially if you live somewhere with lots of hills.

    You're not going to have as many gears on a folding bike as you would on a full-sized bike, but you should have enough that you can cope with cycling uphill and in adverse conditions. For most riders, four to six gears should suffice.

    Frame material

    The vast majority of folding bikes are made of aluminum, which is lightweight and affordable but not necessarily the sturdiest option. Unless you intend to do some serious riding on your folding bike, aluminum would likely serve you well.

    A few folding bike models have steel frames. Steel is superior to aluminum in some ways: it’s extremely strong, durable, and has natural shock-absorbing properties that make for a smoother ride. But steel is heavier than aluminum, and folding bikes with steel frames are more weighty to carry around. They also tend to cost more.

    Suspension

    As we touched on above, steel has some natural shock-absorbing properties, so a bike with a steel frame renders a smoother ride – even without suspension. But since most folding bikes have aluminum frames, you'll need to give your bike’s suspension some thought.

    • Folding bikes can have suspension on the front wheel, the rear wheel, both, or neither. Models without any kind of suspension usually cost less, but you’ll endure a relatively bumpy ride, especially on uneven surfaces.

    • We recommend choosing a folding bike with full suspension. If you decide to forgo suspension, however, we suggest that you opt for a model with larger wheels, as they'll help give you a smoother ride. Keep in mind that a folding bike with small wheels and no suspension can be extremely uncomfortable to ride.

    EXPERT TIP

    If you'll be riding to your destination in your work clothes, make sure you choose a folding bike with mud guards so you arrive as clean as you were when you left home.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Folding bike prices

    You can find folding bike prices to suit most budgets, but you generally get what you pay for, so it's worth spending a bit extra if you can.

    Here's what you can expect to pay for a new folding bike.

    • Basic

    These folding bikes cost between $100 and $300. The cheapest bikes in this price range don't tend to be very durable and may not fold down very small, but you can find some decent models for casual use.

    • Mid-range

    These folding bikes cost between $300 and $600. You'll find some excellent bikes in this price range that fold up small and withstand daily use.

    • High-end

    These folding bikes start around $600 and can cost up to $4,000. These bikes are ideal for serious cyclists who want a folding bike that's as pleasant to ride as a full-sized bike.

    We recommend a folding bike with folding pedals. If the pedals don't fold, the bike takes up more room and can be awkward to carry.

    Tips

    • Evaluate how quickly and easily a bike folds before you buy it. You don't want to spend so long wrestling with your bike that you miss your bus!

    • Check whether the messy parts of your bike are hidden away. Chain guards and hub gears can help keep the oily parts tucked away so you don't get your clothes dirty as you're folding or carrying your bike.

    • Find out if you can easily obtain replacement parts for your chosen bike. It may need to be repaired in future, but if you can't access the right spare parts, you may find yourself buying a completely new bike down the road.

    • Learn how much adjustment or assembly is required. Some folding bikes are ready to go straight out of the box. Others require some assembly or a range of adjustments before you can ride them. If you’re not a bicycle expert, you’ll likely appreciate a product that requires little fuss.
    A folding bike with 20-inch wheels performs better, but a folding bike with 16-inch wheels is more convenient if you plan to carry it regularly in folded form.

    FAQ

    Q. Do all public transit providers allow you to take a folding bike on board?

    A. While you'll be able to take your folding bike on most buses and trains when it's folded up, some transit providers have strict rules. For instance, you may have to carry the bike in a bag or be able to fit it inside a luggage storage compartment. As such, always check the rules before setting out.

    Q. Are folding bikes adjustable to suit users of different heights?

    A. Most folding bikes are one-size-fits all. The frame of the bike is fairly small, but the saddle is on a long stem that you can adjust to suit your height. While this could pose problems for the very tallest and shortest of riders, it works out for most people.

    Q. Will my bike stay folded on its own?

    A. If you carry your bike around once it's folded up, it could easily slip out of its neatly folded position – it doesn't stay in place on its own. Some folding bikes come with a strap or cord to secure them in their folded positions, but if yours doesn't, you'll need to bring something to secure it, such as a bungee cord.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Lauren
      Lauren
      Writer
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor
    • Michael
      Michael
      Writer

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