There are all kinds of bikes on the market to suit the taste and needs of every consumer. There are, of course, road bikes, gravel bikes, tandems, recumbents, and mountain bikes. But one type of bike that doesn’t get as much attention (or love) is the folding bike.
Maybe the reason for that is that some people believe folding bikes with their small wheels and frames look like something a kid would ride. Or, even funnier, the type of bike ridden by a circus clown. The truth is folding bikes offer amazing utility and versatility to all kinds of riders, circus clowns included.
What Makes Folding Bikes Unique?
The keyword when it comes to folding bikes is versatility. Chances are, though, you’re not likely to see sports cyclists on folding bikes, such as roadies or mountain bikers. They instantly appeal to the work commuter or the casual cycling crowd.
That said, a folding bike’s major features and benefits are as follows:
- They offer a security advantage because they fold down compactly enough for storage and are lightweight, which is perfect for the office commuter.
- Folding bikes come in different sizes and shapes with either 16 or 20-inch wheels, an upright riding position, and single-speed or geared options.
- Easy to ride in casual clothes or office wear, no bib shorts needed.
- Folding bikes go in and out of popularity but usually retain their value.
Where to Find or Buy a Folding Bike
Obviously, bikes can come in a range of prices based on the type of bike and the manufacturer. Folding bikes are considered specialty bikes much like recumbent or tandem bikes. That means they are sometimes hard to find at a local bike shop or even a big box retailer.
So, in most cases, you’ll have to search for them online and purchase from retailers such as Brompton or Dahon, two of the most well-known manufacturers of folding bikes.
That said, folding bikes can be a lot more expensive than you might think. In an article over at Bicycling.com, there is a review of 12 different folding bikes currently available and prices start at around $1,500 and go up from there.
Different Fold Types for Different Folding Bikes
The knowledge that your bike can fold down for storage after usage is a great thing. However, if it is complicated to go through the steps to achieve the fold, that would definitely impact my decision as to which kind of bike to buy.
There are basically three ways in which to fold a folding bike.
- Mid-Horizontal Fold: The bike will have a hinge that allows the fold to occur and is initiated by a quick-release clamp.
- Triangle/ Vertical Fold: The bike has one or two hinges to allow this fold.
- Swivel Fold: With no breaks or hinges in the frames, the bike swivels at the intersection of the downtube and seat tube. This is most common in full-size bikes.
Folding Bike Disadvantages and Limitations
Most folding bikes are not going to offer you the ability to ride super fast, climb big hills, or ride for long durations like you could achieve on a full-size bike. Folding bikes also have a rider weight limitation of 240 pounds (110 kilograms) or less. Overall, they are meant to get a rider from point A to point B quickly and comfortably.
However, folding bike manufacturers are now offering e-bike options, so you might be able to do more than when folding bikes first hit the market. You might even be able to exceed the 15 mph limitation of an 8-speed drivetrain.
That said, there are a few manufacturers who offer full-size folding bikes. These bikes are outfitted with 26 or 27-inch 700c wheels with the range of gearing available on a standard road, mountain bike, or hybrid bike.
- Bickerton Portables
- Tern Eclipse
Folding bikes offer lots of versatility and utility. You can ride one as a commuter or casual cyclist, but people also use them as touring bikes. But they are popular among cycling enthusiasts because they can be stored compactly in an office at work or in a car for a trip.
Folding bikes have certainly evolved and improved from the days when they were first invented in 1887, then used during World War I and World War II. A full-size bike that folds is a seductive option, but your favorite cycling brand probably doesn’t offer one. So, make sure to be discerning about how you’ll use your folding bike before investing in one.
Do you have a folding bike? How do you use it? Where do you use it? Please like, comment, and share this post and let me know.
Have a great weekend everyone.