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Which Is The Best Folding Bike? Reviews & Picks for 2015

Updated on June 17, 2015
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Finding the Best Folding Bicycles for Your Money

Almost everyone loves to ride a bicycle, but sometimes people face limitations that prevent them from getting out there. Lack of space is a major issue, and people in smaller residences and apartments can miss out. Finding the best folding bicycles can help! A folding bike (or 'folder', as they're known in the industry) will fit into a small storage space, giving you more versatility and breathing room.

Which is the best folding bicycle? There are actually tons of different models, makes and varieties out there, and navigating the brands can be overwhelming. To figure out which is the best folding bike for you can be tricky, and there are definitely some warning signs to be careful of.

This article is all about good folding bikes for sale and will attempt to point you in the right direction. We'll talk about what makes up a folder, and some things to watch out for. We'll also take a look at a few of my favorite cheap folding bicycles for sale, giving a short review of each one so you'll know what to expect.

Let's get started!

Features of the Best Folding Bikes

Common Equipment on Good, Cheap Folding Bicycles

Typically, most folding bikes for sale have the ability to fold roughly in half, keeping their storage space requirements much smaller than those of a conventional bicycle. How they fold, however, is different on each model. Some will use a simple quick release lever and a hinged break in the frame to fold in half. Others will use complex mechanisms to fold up.

One thing they usually have in common is the need to 'break' the main frame triangle. Most modern bike frames utilize a triangle or diamond shape to the frame. In order to fold effectively, folders must find a way to break this shape. They usually employ clamps, hinges and quick release locking mechanisms that stay shut while riding but unlock quickly.

The best folding bikes for sale today typically include other convenient foldable features. Pedals and handlebars will often have additional hinges and quick releases to fold up even smaller. But which is the best folding bicycle style out there? They all have their pros and cons, and the best way to figure those out is to read a detailed customer review. And, almost always, the better the brand, the easier the folding experience will be.

Montague Crosstown Bike Boulder Grey/Black 21''
Montague Crosstown Bike Boulder Grey/Black 21''

7 speeds, rapid folding and 700c full sized wheels.

 

Montague Crosstown: The best full-sized folding bicycle, feature rich and inexpensive

The Montague Crosstown is a premier example of a top quality full size folding bike that's perfect for the commuter or urban rider. Montague's awesome proprietary folding system is extremely quick, and it folds down to a size barely larger than the wheels. It'll easily fit in a hall closet or trunk of a car with little effort.

The full size, 700c wheels, click-button handlebar adjustment and 7 speeds make this the ideal city commuter, and it's fun to ride too.

What I particularly like about the Montegue is it doesn't sacrifice looks for utility. My brother owns one, and riding around town he often gets comments on how great it looks. Many people won't even realize it's a folding bike.

SwissBike X50 18-Speed Mountain Bike 20" Gloss Black
SwissBike X50 18-Speed Mountain Bike 20" Gloss Black

Patented CLIX system lets you fold this beautiful folding mountain bike in under 20 seconds.

 

Swissbike X50: A top quality folding mountain bike

I'm often asked which is the best folding bike to consider. The truth is it depends entirely upon your riding needs and requirements. If you're after a good quality folding mountain bike that can handle real riding conditions, this is it.

Swissbike is all about folding bikes, and they produce some of the best products on the market. This one is a full size folding bike that's also built to handle trails and off-road riding.

They actually didn't skimp, and it comes with great components comparable to any non-folding mountain bike in this price range. It folds up in under 20 seconds, and holds its own on the trails. Like the Crosstown, it will easily fit in the trunk of your car.

With the right accessory, you can actually even wear it on your back like the paratroopers do!

Dahon Mu P8 Folding Bike (20-Inch Wheel, Obsidian)
Dahon Mu P8 Folding Bike (20-Inch Wheel, Obsidian)

Unique folding frame is light and strong. Dahon is all about folding bikes and makes a quality product, and the 8 speeds will get you anywhere you want to go.

 

Dahon Mu P8: A simple, small folding bike for a great price

Dahon has made their business all about folding bicycles, and this is a nice example of their wide array of options. The Mu P8 is a great little entry level folding bike that's got everything you'll need. The all-aluminum frame folds up in about 15 seconds, and the 7 speed Shimano drivetrain will handle hills and flats.

Don't be put off by the smaller sized wheels, this is an adult folding bike and it's meant for the rigors of a daily commute. The only downside to smaller wheels is you lose a bit of top end speed. However, if you're riding in the city or commuting, this is more than enough bike to get you there quickly. You'll actually probably appreciate the extra maneuverability these small wheels allow.

Dahon is an innovator in the industry, so there are some very smart folding options (like the unique handlebar system) on this model. It's one of the best affordable folding bikes around today, and I encourage you to give it a look over.

New Dahon Espresso 20" (Large) Folding Bike - 26" Wheels
New Dahon Espresso 20" (Large) Folding Bike - 26" Wheels

A full sized folding bicycle that offers great solid construction, a quick and painless folding system, and great innovative technology.

 

Dahon Espresso: A good folding trails bike from Dahon with innovative features

Dahon proves over and over that they love innovation in the field of folding bike technology, and the Espresso is another example of that. Not only does this bike fold up quickly, it includes great features such as the neat Axis stem that allows you to tuck away those handlebars quickly and neatly.

Most of Dahon's lineup use smaller wheels, but this is a full sized adult bike. With 26" wheels, an attractive design, and a super solid construction, this full size folding bike offers versatility and long term quality. It's great for trails riding, and it works well in a hybrid role or as a capable commuter. If you changed the tires to something a bit more beefy, this could make a great mountain bike too. It's hard to beat the price point that the Espresso offers, I'd definitely consider it.

Schwinn 20-Inch Loop Folding Bike, Black
Schwinn 20-Inch Loop Folding Bike, Black

7 speeds, a low price tag, Schwinn quality and great extras, this is a nice bargain for a casual rider.

 

Schwinn Loop: A cheap folding bike with good reviews

The Schwinn Loop 7 is another example of a great folding bicycle that reviews well. Schwinn is a major manufacturer that produces good quality entry level bikes of all varieties. They've been making good quality folding bicycles for about the last ten years, and I've had the opportunity to build and test ride most of their lineup.

The Loop has smaller wheels and frame, and is intended for maximum comfort with its low step-through styled frame. It's a unisex bike, great for men or women. This one has a rear storage rack and comes with a large carrying case for taking it on trips or storing it away. 7 speeds, front and rear brakes and alloy 20-inch rims make this a nice buy and a bargain for this price point. It's a commuter bicycle that's in its element in the city, so I often recommend this one to apartment dwellers.

Full Size Folding Bikes?

Do you want a full sized folding bicycle or will a mini bike suffice?

When asking what's the best folding bike to buy, you'll invariably run into the choice of going with a full size folding bike or a miniature version. The difference is usually in the frame and the wheels. A full sized folding bicycle will typically have large (conventional) sized wheels, usually 26 inch or 700c, and a larger frame. All other folders will have a smaller frame specifically built for ease of folding. The wheels will be smaller, usually 16 or 20 inches, and the seatpost and handlebars will be very tall to compensate.

Even if you're taller, I wouldn't write off the 'miniature' folding bikes out there. They are just about as comfy as a full sized folding bike, and they can compact into a much smaller space. The main sacrifice is top end speed (smaller wheels, lower speed), and they are usually perfect for a commute or just casual riding. You might actually enjoy the added maneuverability. I'm 6'3 and a folding bicycle with 20" wheels is quite comfortable for me when set up properly.

The best full-sized folding bicycles for sale do have the advantage of being marginally more comfortable for bigger riders, and you can achieve a good top speed. In fact, most modern full sized folders are every bit as good as their non-folding brethren.

Stuff To Watch For: Choosing a good folding bike, avoiding lemons

When choosing which is the best folding bicycle, whether a full sized folding bike or a smaller version, you need to be careful of a few things. I've created a list of watch points to be careful of, especially when buying online.

  1. Be careful of novelty bikes. There are a lot of really miniature folding bikes out there (sort of like clown bicycles). They're fun for a lark, but they shouldn't be considered for real riding, but more of a novelty item. They are cheaply made and won't last very long, especially under hard riding conditions. Buy a real bike from a reputable brand.
  2. Be careful of 'no-name' brands. While there are some relatively unknown brands that are pretty great out there, you should be careful and do your research and read reviews. Since folding bikes are getting more popular, lots of shoddy manufacturers have started producing them, with inferior metal and poor quality components. The best folding bicycles will review well and have a following. If you can't find any info on it, avoid.
  3. Take a look at where you might store your folding bicycle. Even the best folding bicycles for sale can be a pain in the neck if you have nowhere to stash it. Keep it in mind as you investigate, and check out the folded dimensions of your prospective new ride. Use that as a measuring stick to find the right one for you and your space.

Delta Hublox Security Skewers - Protect your great new folding bicycle's equipment

Even among the best folding bicycles for sale today there is a shocking lack of consideration for the protection of one important thing: quick release wheels. Where I live wheel theft is common and it's hard to avoid. You can always loop a cable lock through your wheels, but that's not always 100% effective since cable locks are easy to cut with simple bolt cutters or a hacksaw.

I recommend getting a quick release wheel protection system for your folding bicycle. Reviews indicate that they are easy, straightforward to install and effective. Thieves are lazy and if it's going to be too much work, they'll give up and search for an easier target

How do they work? Most quick release wheels use a removable 'skewer' that you tighten to attach or detach from the forks. There are 'security skewers' that prevent this easy theft.

The Delta Hublox security skewers lock and unlock using a special quick release key that you take with you. This prevents thieves from removing your wheels while you're away, and it's far more effective than a simple cable lock.

What are your thoughts on folding bicycles?

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      Jessica Hyde 2 years ago

      Thanks for taking the time to write the review, it’s been of great help.

      I was wondering whether you could help me though, I’m thinking of getting a folding bike to commute to work (perhaps the schwinn loop) but I’m worried that the schwinn loop might be too heavy for a daily commute and might not be the most suitable bike for the task?

      I like how it looks and it’s apparently very strong.

      Do you think it would be a good option or would you recommend something else?

      Thanks,

      Jessica