How to select the best folding bike
A folding bike buying guide
Folding bikes are becoming increasingly popular. Because you can quickly fold them, they are very portable. In addition, a folding bike is easier to keep secure and protected from the weather than a regular bike. A new folding bike is remarkably sturdy and has surprisingly responsive handling. Thinking about where you will ride your new folding bike and your personal style can help you choose the best folding bike for you.
>> Where will you ride your new folding bike?
One of the handiest benefits of a folding bike is the ability to take it to a wide variety of places when traveling, when commuting and for recreation. Traveling
Airplanes, trains, buses and the trunk of a car easily accommodate a folding bike. Many airlines do not charge an extra fee for a folding bike - the bikes usually travel at the same rate as a standard suitcase. If you plan on traveling with your folding bike by air, consider the wheel size and the folding mechanism of the bike. The best folding bike for travel is one with multiple folding hinges and smaller wheels (20 inches or less), creating the smallest possible post-fold footprint. Some manufacturers offer cases for a folding bike that are ideal for this sort of travel.
A single-speed cruiser is great for travel because this style fosters leisurely rides. It commonly offers wide comfort seats and baskets for personal items in the front or the back. If your travel needs include more varied terrain, multiple gear bikes also fold down nicely and come with small wheels.
When considering which folding bike to buy for travel, consider folding tandem bikes. This style affords you and a companion a convenient way to enjoy the benefits of a bicycle made for two. Commuting
The best folding bike for your commuting needs will probably be a multiple-gear model. These models offer mechanical assistance so you can more easily negotiate hills and traffic.
Select a folding bike with front or rear baskets to provide storage for work clothes, lunches and shopping bags. Folding tricycles with cargo baskets offer the greatest amount of storage space for commuting cyclists, with some baskets as large as 4 square feet. A third wheel adds stability for heavy loads.
If you ride a train or bus in your commute, consider the folding time of the folding bike. Fewer folds means quicker folding time. Some folding bikes compress in less than 30 seconds. Also think about the dimensions of the bike when folded: will it fit on busy transit?
Once you arrive at your destination, you may be able to store the bike inside your office under a table, on a shelf, in a corner or in a closet. These storage options will give you peace of mind as your bike stays safe and dry while you work or study. If your office or school offers a specific storage space, examine the dimensions of each bicycle in its folded position to determine which folding bike to buy. The smallest styles have 16-inch wheels and multiple hinges at the frame, steering column and seat.
If your commute demands all-weather cycling, the best folding bike for you will include fenders. Durable fenders limit water and mud splashing up at you as you ride, making for cleaner, dryer travel. Some models have fenders you can purchase separately. Verify the bicycle's specifications before making a final selection. Recreation
You will appreciate the versatility of new folding bikes if you are choosing one primarily for recreation. Many experts remark on the responsive handling of these bikes, which contributes to a fun ride. When looking for a recreational bike, you may want larger wheels and increased suspension suitable for off-road terrain.
If fitness is your primary goal, the decreased mechanical advantage that comes with small, 16-inch wheels might add a unique dimension to your workout. If you are hoping to replicate the feel of a traditional cycling workout, the best folding bike for you will probably be a model with larger wheels. Wheels as large as 26 inches are available on folding bikes. Multiple gears will also add to the perception that you are riding a traditional bike and help you with hills.
>> Which folding bike design appeals to you?
The following chart provides an overview of common folding bike designs.
|Comfort cruiser bikes ||Curved frame; classic colors and 1950s styling; heavier steel frame; plastic components ||Fenders; fixed gear or multiple gears; wide comfortable seats |
|Road folding bikes ||Modern detailing; angular frame; steel, aluminum and alloy frames with plastic or metal components ||Fixed or multiple gears; fenders optional; variable seat options |
|Adventure sport folding bikes ||Bicycle motor-cross details and styling; aluminum, alloy or steel frames with metal components ||Larger wheels; increased suspension |
|Folding tricycles ||Often have curved frames, classic colors and 1950s styling; heavier steel frame ||Three wheels; larger baskets |
|Kids' toys (folding bikes/trikes) ||Bright colors; often feature cartoon characters; plastic frame and components ||Two or three wheels; baskets; extra handles |
>> Consider the rider
When considering which folding bike to buy, you will find sizing very simple. In contrast to traditional bikes, most folding bikes are offered only in a single frame size. Manufacturers rely primarily on adjustable seats and handle bars to fit the rider's specifications. Most folding bikes accommodate people less than four feet tall to well over six feet tall, usually up to 250 pounds. This means that a folding bike can grow with you. If you are buying a bike for a child and you want the child to use the bike for years, select a durable bike with few plastic components. Plastic folding trikes designed for young children max out at about 60 pounds.
Some manufacturers offer models weighing as little as 20 pounds. These lighter weight models are the best folding bike for you if you have limited lifting ability. Alloys or aluminum are the lightest weight materials for adult bikes. A vertical fold frame (also called a single-hinge frame) allows some folding bikes to be rolled rather than carried.
Kids' bikes, or toy bikes, are offered in folding styles and manufactured out of durable plastic. This material allows toddlers as well as their parents to haul the bike or folding trike around whenever they want.
Folding tricycles are a good option for adults and children who need extra balance. Just like their two-wheeled counterparts, folding tricycles use hinges and quick-release clamps. Because these tricycles have an extra wheel, which adds to their weight, consider a lightweight material if you will be lifting the bike frequently.