There are many kinds of bikes on the market, but folding bikes are in a class of their own. If you’re someone with limited storage space, such as a cramped apartment or over-filled garage, then folding bikes are worthy of consideration. Some come with smaller wheels to allow for an even more compact fold while others are indistinguishable from their traditional counterparts.
Foldable bikes are great for those who want to commute to a biking trail by train because they can easily fold up the bike and carry it aboard. However, if you’re unfamiliar with these types of bicycles, then the options will likely leave you scratching your head. Folding bikes come in many different shapes, sizes, and mechanisms for folding. But since riding a bike—folding or otherwise—is a physical activity, they’re best chosen in person and not online. If you can feel the weight of the bike in your hands, or test how well it folds and unfolds, then you’ll be more likely to find the perfect bike for you, be it a low-end $130 bike, or a $3500 electric behemoth.
What Bike is Best for Me?
To get the most value out of your folding bike, it’s imperative that understand all of the bikes features, to truly know what you’re paying for. Maybe all you need is that affordable $130 folding bike, and not the $3,500 electric behemoth. Stowabike makes the most affordable bikes, including the $130 one. Schwinn takes it up a notch, offering bikes that start at $200 for entry-level options, and they also have a few more mid-range options. Tern is the name behind the $3,500 electric behemoth, and while expensive, if you’re looking for a folding electric bike that will keep you from breaking a sweat on your way to work, then you can’t go wrong here. Dahon and Brompton are two names that make mid-ranged folding bikes that price a little higher than the entry-level Schwinn and Stowabike.
What Features am I Paying For?
But what are you paying for when you buy a $1,000 folding bike over a $200 one? Well, bigger bikes are typically more expensive, and while they’re more difficult to store, they also tend to be more comfortable for long commutes. But what differentiates the more expensive bikes from, the cheaper ones is the materials used to construct them. The more costly folding bicycles are typically much more lightweight, utilizing titanium or carbon frames. The more inexpensive bikes use much more cost-effective materials, but unfortunately, those materials also tend to be heavier. If weight isn’t much of a concern, then there’s no reason to spend more for a lighter bike.
There’s also the folding mechanism itself, which is why you should definitely try a few out in person, if possible, before you make any decision.
For the Beginner – Schwinn Loop
If you’re looking for a great entry-level bike, one that you won’t have to take a second mortgage out to cover, then the Schwinn Loop is most likely your best bet. It’s 40 lbs, so it’s a little on the heavier side, and some riders don’t look too kindly upon the stock seat, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself ordering a second one after riding around on it for a few days. It also doesn’t lock into place when it’s folded up, which can be troublesome if you’re trying to move it around while collapsed. But for such a slim price, you can’t go too wrong with the loop. It’s great for short commutes around town.
For Longer Rides – Montague Boston
A more expensive option, the Montague Boston, is almost indistinguishable from traditional bikes. Meaning, it’s much larger, with its unique folding design. While it does tend to ride better in most circumstances, it can be a bit trickier to lug around, especially on public transportation. However, if you don’t mind the lack of comfortability while carrying it, and want a comfortable bike that can be quickly folded up for storage, then the Boston might be just what you need. And despite being somewhat bigger than the Schwinn, it’s still a few pounds lighter.
For Lightweight Simplicity – Retrospec Speck
If you’re in the market for the lightest folding bike that you can find, the Retrospec Speck is one of the lightest ones on the market, clocking in at a pleasant 22 lbs. That’s almost 20 pounds lighter than the Schwinn, and still under the $300 price range. But be warned that the stock tires might not be of the best quality, and will likely lose air over time.
For an Affordable Option – Stowabike Folding City V2
The Stowabike Folding City V2 is that $130 bike mentioned earlier. It’s merely one of the cheapest folding bicycles that you can find, and this is undoubtedly a case of “you get what you pay for.” For $130 you’re getting is a decently constructed folding bike, that comes with a rack in the back for storing items. Just don’t expect it to last a lifetime.
For All-Around Great Price and Value – Dahon Mariner D8
If you’re looking for all-around the one of the best folding bikes on the market, then look no further than the Dahon Mariner D8.
This reasonably-priced ($600 on Amazon) eight-speed folding bicycle from one of the leading bicycle manufacturers, Dahon, is the perfect package for anyone looking for a quality product without having to spend an arm and a leg. It’s comfortable, rides well, and folds and unfolds in seconds, locking securely in either mode. There are even a few practical features to make you feel as though you are riding in style. Fenders keep you from being woefully splashed upon when riding during or just after a storm; there’s also a rack in the back for baskets or items you’re carrying.
From the affordable bikes built with heavier materials to light-weight expensive bikes, there are many great choices when it comes to folding bikes, for just about any price range.