The Best folding bike is just as useful as one that doesn’t fold down because both types of bike take you from where you are now to where you want to be. The major difference is that the foldable one is easy to fold up and place on the back seat your friend’s car, in the trunk for a long journey, or store in a closet when not in use. This added flexibility makes a folding bike more versatile and useful than a full-sized bike in our opinion. There are some trade-offs to a decision to buy a folding bike, but you’re likely to find it adds more in options than it takes away in necessary features.
There are a few significant differences between a full-sized bike and a folding bike. The wheel sizes are usually smaller to make them lighter and more compact. They have fewer gears than professional touring bikes do. Fenders are either provided or an accessory that’s available during purchase on most models. There’s also usually some type of luggage storage or rack system to help carry things to and from work, for a shopping trip or excursion.
Folding bikes are not really built to withstand long distance transport on two wheels. They’re more of a bike for commuting and taking convenient trips where the bike folds down neatly out of the way. A particular type of bike for a specific purpose is how the dependable folding bike should be thought of.
Top 5 Folding Bikes Review
Schwinn 20-Inch Loop Folding Bike
The Schwinn 20-Inch Loop Folding Bike is an alloy-based frame model which is heavier than pricey alternatives. It comes in a choice of black, titanium silver or white. It isn’t assembled, but it’s possible to purchase it assembled for a higher cost. When folded down, the bike measures 30-inches by 32-inches by 11-inches.
The solid fork holds the wheels and frame in place. The 20-inch alloy-based wheels are a standard height for commuting partly via a train or bus journey and partly by bike. There is a nylon bag to pack the bike away once it’s been folded down neatly which avoids mud and collected dirt from spreading on the floor once it’s not in use.
The Sure linear pull brakes are good quality supported by the V-brake systems at the front and back. The 7-speed drivetrain and use of the Shimano Tourney derailleur in the rear are good additions. The Revo shifters from Shimano are a good companion making it easier to shift through the gears when needing to pick up speed.
The fenders wrap all around the wheels to protect from mud and debris spraying your clothes as you ride. For travel and commuting there is a rear metal rack to carry items on there and safely secure them for the ride to/from work or to the stores.
This bike will support someone up to six feet tall, and with adjustments to the handlebar and seat height, it’s possible to manage with someone a tiny bit taller too. The shifter needs twisting, not clicking to move through the gears which is a bit tricky for people new to that style. The seat is not an expensive one and will wear over time. The tires are also fairly basic and will need replacing with heavy use.
A limited lifetime warranty is provided with this model.
The Schwinn 20-Inch Loop Folding is a good option for limited commuter use over mostly flat terrain. It doesn’t have the best of everything in terms of parts, so replacement of occasional parts will be necessary to keep on riding. What you’re mostly getting here is the assurance of quality from the Schwinn brand and as such it’s good value for money for a fair price.
Vilano Urbana Single Speed Folding Bike
The Vilano Urbana Single Speed Folding Bike is available in grey (slightly purple in hue, actually), matte black or white color frames. The rest of the bike is mostly black in color. The folded bike packs down to a svelte 25-inches by 32-inches by 12-inches. Initial assembly is required which can either be done by hand or a version is available pre-assembled at a different price.
The aluminum frame is super light-weight with a total weight of only 21.5-lbs which is impressive in this range. There are easy to use coaster brakes, and the bike has a folding system which is simple to operate. The 20-inch wheels are typical of this type of bike allowing a more compact size for carrying or storage.
Given that the bike is only a single speeder, it is not ideal for uphill terrain or extensive rides. More peddling will be involved to pick up speed and get to your destination in a reasonable time. This is part of the reason that the bike is so light, along with the lack of fenders on either the front or back wheels. There is a mounting system for a rear rack and a water bottle, but unlike with other models, there’s no rack provided. The soft seat is more comfortable than one might expect.
Vilano have been producing bikes since 2008, so they don’t have the pedigree of some other major folded bike brands, but their products are generally worth consideration for their affordability and value.
Overall, the model is okay for someone who is below six feet tall but not recommended for people taller than that. The lack of fenders is an issue for commuters on muddy or wet streets. There’s also no rear rack, though you could buy one and fit it. You get what you pay for here. Some corners were cut on parts to get the price into an affordable range. It depends whether that’s acceptable to you or not.
Stowabike 20″ Folding City V2 Compact Foldable Bike
The Stowabike 20″ Folding City V2 Compact Foldable Bike is a classic looking bike that looks more like a full-size one than a folding bike. It needs assembly like other models and also has the option of being assembled for you at additional cost. The model is available with a black frame and green accent; no other colors are offered. The dimensions when folded down are 23.2-inches by 34-inches by 9-inches.
The Shimano RD-TZ50 gear system has 6-speeds to get you up and down local hills. The steel frame coupled with the steel fork is tougher than aluminum, but that comes at the cost of a total weight of 34.1-lbs.
The bike is far more complete than the previous Vilano model. Mudguard fenders made of steel don’t mess around. The kickstand in the middle of the bike is tough enough to withstand frequent use. The steel v-brakes won’t let you down either. There is a built-in rear rack that looks very secure and solid, with reflectors behind it.
The Stowabike 20″ Folding City V2 Bike is heavier with its steel frame, so you won’t find the weight as light as other models. With that said, there’s a lot to appreciate here. The handlebars support a more upright riding stance, and there’s a good rack at the back for important items.
Shimano 6 Speed Bike Fold Storage Folding Bike
The Best Choice Shimano 6 Speed Folding Bike is a little different to other models reviewed above because it doesn’t require assembly. The elegant silver appearance accented by black tires, handlebar grips and seat looks good. The chrome plating certainly works to provide a luxurious look to this model from Best Choice.
The wheels are 20-inch ones with chrome spokes. The 6-speed rear derailleur and V-brakes are good quality.
The seat post is adjustable from a low of 36-inches right up to 46-inches, and the handlebar is equally adjustable from 24-inches to 42-inches. This makes the model excellent for shorter or taller people, and for families that wish to share a single bike in the household.
Where the model falls short is in the quality department. The frame, especially where the handlebars attach and the hinge area, are the weakest links. On occasion, the handlebar has been known to break off, and the hinge doesn’t seem too strong. The bike is imported with little support on faulty parts from the supplier according to reports, so that needs to be taken into account when buying this model. If you have any problems, you could be on your own.
Columba 26″ Folding Bike w. Shimano 18 Speed Blue
The Columba 26″ Folding Bike is a 33-lb model that packs down in 10+ seconds to a 29-inch by 38-inch by 14-inch dimensions. The blue-framed model supports riders from 5 feet 3 inches up to 6 feet tall, body weights up to 200-lbs.
The bike comes in a choice of Blue, Yellow, Black, and Silver colors. The model is 90% installed but needs the front wheel fitted which only takes a few minutes when following the provided instructions.
The wheels are 26-inch Tenda ones that are higher quality than found in most of the reviewed bikes so far. There is an 18-speed Shimano gear derailleur, supported by a steel hub at the front and back ensures durability and speed through the gear system. The kickstand is made of steel so it should also be reliable.
The metal hinge system in the center of the bike is tough. It’s unlikely to be a weak point on this bike. Improved quality in the bike parts and a tougher frame ensure durability over hills and valleys. I’d expect this bike to last for a long time offering excellent value.
Overall, the weight of 33 pounds isn’t so bad considering what this bike manages to pack in. You get larger and better Tenda wheels, a Shimano 18-speed gear system to manage the toughest uphill journeys, and it only takes about a minute to fold up/down. It is heavier, and some people with weaker arms may struggle when carrying it up and down stairs. It will also take up more space in storage too or in the trunk of a vehicle (a hatchback like a Honda Civic could have a trunk that’s too small to fit it).
Types of Folding Bikes
Not every folding bike is the same. They vary in design, size, and components. It is up to the individual buyer to determine what is right for them and choose according to their specific needs.
The first issue is one of branding. Brands like Schwinn and Dahon are both dependable ones that have been turning out standard sized bikes (and foldable ones) for years. On the other hand, there are less expensive brands which you might not have heard of that also produce their own folding bike.
The folded dimensions matter to buyers. Often, the folded size is a function of the bulkiness of the frame and the wheel size on the bike itself. Both of these affects how small the bike compacts down into. There is obviously a limit to how small the bike can fold down and other choices have a material impact on this measurement.
The main difference with the frame is the material used. There’s simple alloy, 7000 series aluminum for light-weight and strong, DalloyAlluminum is a patented formulation used with some Dahon frames, 6061 Aluminum, Steel, and Carbon Fiber for the ultimate in light-weight biking. The frame material massively affects the cost of the bike with Carbon Fiber framed bikes being some of the most expensive available.
The wheels range in size from 16-inches up to 20-inches. It is true that there are some foldable bikes that are available in smaller and larger wheel sizes fitted. These include as low as 8-inches mostly for children and sizes above 20-inches for larger adults. While the smaller ones are fine to ride around, they won’t cover any great distance comfortably making them a challenge for work commuting. Large wheel sizes become cumbersome both in terms of weight and also folded down the size when packing the bike into a closet, fitting it in the trunk of a vehicle for a long trip, or brought onto a train to work.
With gears, you’ll usually expect to see between six and 8 gears fitted. These are needed to get up and down hills when the journey isn’t completely flat. Fewer gears are problematic and more sometimes gets cumbersome.
The derailleurs (to shift gears) are typical Shimano models in most cases. Internal ones that permit shifting gears when stationary aren’t usually provided, but a few bikes support it at an extra cost.
Fenders that cover the wheels prevent the splashing of dirty water and mud up to your work clothing. Usually, they’re fitted, or they can be purchased before checkout as an add-on. Highly recommended for commuting purposes.
Many bikes come with a luggage or rack system built-in. These are intended to hold a laptop; some groceries picked up on the way home or other useful items. A bike that doesn’t at least provide the option for a rack system leaves something to be desired.
The brand of component parts is another issue with cheaper bikes. Different manufacturers produce parts that are less or more reliable. The operational life of each of the bike’s parts is also a factor in the total cost of the bike itself. It’s simply not possible to fit a bike in the factory with the best-in-class parts when the retail cost is too low.
Sometimes you’ll find a bike that uses a less expensive, heavier frame, but with quality parts fitted to deliver a reliable, albeit heavier, bike that is more dependable. It’s all a trade-off which each buyer has to consider based on their available budget and the quality they can afford. Similarly, the number of breakdowns on the road and the cost of replacements is a factor of what parts were fitted in the first place. So, the total cost of ownership goes well beyond the initial cost.
Top Tips to Picking the Best Folding Bike
Choosing the right bike for you isn’t an easy decision. We’re here to help though. Let’s examine these tips to picking the best folding bike:
For aficionados, the folding mechanism matters a great deal. Some are typical at different price brackets or wheel sizes, whereas others are more of a preference of the bike manufacturer themselves.
The folding mechanism matters more than one believes at first because when you’re having to fold out and later fold down a bike at least once or more every day of use, the time it takes to complete each action is holding you up getting to your next task or destination.
Split-fold – You’ll see this type of folding mechanism on many bikes marketed today. Most bikes with 20-inch wheels use the split fold system. Essentially, it’s just a hinge in the center of the bike that facilitates folding it in half. It’s a simple system and quick to use, but the downside with this type of hinge is that the resulting folded bike is far bigger and bulkier.
Triangular-hinge – Modern bikes are sometimes found with this mechanism now. It’s gaining in popularity. Both hinges and some clasps are utilized to compact the foldable bike down to a much smaller size with this design. It does take longer to fold out or fold down this type of mechanism which is the downside, but when compactness is key, then it’s hard to argue with this design. Using a bike between the train station and home/work where carrying the bike onto the train and storing it discretely is needed, then this type is probably best. You will lose some time folding it down upon arrival at the train station though, so you could miss a train to work as a result and may need to allow extra time for that possibility.
Break-away – This type is not seen that often. The bike is actually disassembled and broken down into multiple pieces. It’s best to avoid this type because it takes much too long to compact the bike down once hopping off it.
Frame Material – There is a tendency to try to go for the lightest and most expensive. The reality here is that only bike racers require a super-light carbon fiber racing bike to shave fractions of a second off their time. The regular person won’t really benefit much. A typical carbon fiber bike is around 18-22-lbs, while an aluminum one is 23-25-lbs. Only an alloy bike (the cheapest) is significantly heavier and worth upgrading to something lighter if the budget allows for it.
Wheel Size – The standard size for wheels is 20-inches. Anything above or below this is non-standard. This is a good rule of thumb to look for. Unless you’re especially shorter in stature or a child, or over six feet tall, you’ll want to keep to a standard wheel size.
Geared or Non-geared Bike – Not every folded bike comes with gears. The ones that don’t are simpler to use and have a good top speed, but aren’t great at getting up hills. If you live in a hilly area or might do in the future, then you’ll want a geared bike.
Benefits of a Folding Bike and Which Model I Should Choose?
A folding bike is a great option for busy commuters who wish to reduce the cost of daily transportation to work. They also provide the freedom to ride around for exercise and to see local sights without needing to take the car out or own a vehicle.
Here are 5 benefits to owning a folding bike:
You don’t have to rely on a bike rack to lock the bike up. Even a good bike lock is easily cut through with a simple pair of bolt cutters. It’s far safer to take the bike with you. This is possible with a folding bike because it folds down to an acceptable size to fit it on local transport (buses, trains, etc.) without significantly inconveniencing other people traveling to/from work.
2. Light-weight City Bike
Many city folding bikes are light and easy to carry on a train or a bus. Their frame is lighter than most of the alloy frames with a full-sized, non-folding variety which opens up a world of possibilities. Want to travel to another city on the weekend and ride around? That’s tough to do with a full-sized bike, but with a folding bike it’s completely possible.
3. Easy Riding
Most folding bikes have a few gears which let the rider move through them as the gradient of the hill increases or to pick up speed on a flat road. The smaller 20-inch wheels of most folding bikes for use in the city get around corners easier and require less effort to ride around because they’re lighter.
4. Multi-purpose Bike
While urban cycling or commuting to work may be the main motivation for buying a folding bike, they’re great to take on vacations. Rather than relying on renting a bike at your destination which may not even be possible, simply take your bike with you on the trip. Back home, shopping trips and running errands is fast and easy without the problem and expense of finding a parking spot.
5. Access to Shared Transport Options
Whether you need to use a metro, rail, tram or bus to get to work during rush hour, taking along a bike makes it easier and faster to get from home to the office. You no longer must walk from the station to the office. Simply unfold your bike, hop on, and get there in half the time. The same is true when riding the rails home. Cut down on your commute time while possibly reducing your commuting costs at the same time.
The best model to choose is the one that best suits your pocketbook and your needs. In most cases, a functional folding bike that’s not too heavy and offers a few gears to ride up hilly terrain is sufficient. It’s advisable to get fenders if they’re not already fitted, and a rack or basket is very useful to carry bulkier items that you don’t wish to put on a backpack (you can get sweaty wearing a backpack to work, so a rack is nicer anyway).
A folding bike is an extremely useful tool to add to your life. It is a multi-purpose one that offers commuting options, plus travel and sightseeing possibilities, and running errands too.
When wanting to reduce the cost of the commute or eliminate the need to own a motor vehicle, maintain, insure and later to replace it, then a folding bike is an ideal way to cut costs dramatically. Most bikes will last for several years when carefully taken care of. The ability to take them into the office with you also avoids the risk of their bike chain being cut and the bike stolen from out of the bike rack which is a great advantage over traditional bicycles.
Choose the right bike for you based on your current and future requirements. It’s not about street cred or the best brand. Pick the folding bike that is the right one for your needs. Just make sure it’s not the cheapest option. Otherwise, you’ll spend more time in the bike repair shop than you’d like.