When journalist Ellen Ryan’s “downsizing” article appeared in Marketwatch.com, it got immediate attention from readers realizing that streamlining one’s world offers enormous emotional, financial, strategic, and physical payoffs.
Living in smaller spaces with fewer possessions eliminates stress, saves money, and offers newfound freedom as a bonus. In this environment, products supporting this lifestyle are debuting with regularity. Very few are as handy and space-saving as the folding bike.
- EuroMini ZiZZO Via
- Schwinn Loop
- Retrospec Speck
- Vilano Urbana
- Tern Node D7i
- Brompton M6L Black Edition
- Dahon Mariner 2019
- Montague Paratrooper
- Cyrusher FR100
The Folding Bicycle – Explained!
When Lydia Tanner took on the task of mastering the folding bike, she was so impressed, she enthused, “they can steal your heart and make commuting an anticipated part of your day.”
What triggered this enthusiasm? A good test run of a folding bike crafted by London’s Brompton throughout Washington D.C. streets.
Tanner’s o objective? Seeing “how convenient a foldy made getting around town (and because they looked entertaining).” Once folded down, Tanner’s test bike assumed the size and shape of a large stuffed backpack, ready to store under a desk, bus seat, or into a corner of her closet.
Will you have to open your wallet wide to add one of these to your life? Probably-—but as Tanner notes, “this nimble folding bike made it so enjoyable that I found it hard not to smile.” She declared the impressive functionality to be “endearing,” and who makes that kind of statement about a bike these days?
Top Five Benefits of Riding a Folding Bike
While early folding bike designs were clunky, unreliable and less than efficient to pop open and close, today’s models are the very essence of modernity, say U.K. reviewers at AtoB.org, a site that publishes the skinny on these cleverly-engineered bikes.
These days, a shopper gains five primary advantages by owning a folding bike, though you could probably cite more:
- They not only hold their value but can offer a higher resale value when compared to road bikes, and mountain bikes.
- Thieves would have to break into your home to steal one since you don’t have to stow it outside.
- Space-saving benefits are a given—but for new owners, folding bikes deliver surprises every day.
- Once folded down, you can take it on public transport that includes most buses, trains, and planes.
- The amount of money you save on a car, insurance, repairs, and maintenance is nothing compared to the cost of commuting on a folding bike.
What to consider when choosing a folding bike
Today’s folding bike comes in so many price points; finding one that fits your budget isn’t hard. Use the following ConsumerSearch.com list of things to look for when shopping and avoid experiencing buyer’s regret.
Opt for the lightest model you feel comfortable riding and toting. There is a surprising weight range in today’s market that ranges from 20- to more than 30-pounds.
Test the bike’s stability on a variety of surfaces before you buy it. If a model feels unstable, keep looking.
Verify each bike’s dimensions when folded down. Just because it’s lightweight, that does not mean it isn’t “clunky” or bulky, making it hard to handle during a commute.
Choose a folding bike that comes with a carrier bag or risk getting grease on everything the bike touches.
Audition folding mechanisms. Some are a breeze. Others are tricky. If you’re still struggling on the 5th try, take a pass and move on to another model, even if the price fits your budget. Try to find the simplest folding mechanism out there.
Check each bike to see how it’s secured once it’s folded down. If there’s no mechanism built into the frame, but you love everything else about the model, prepare to buy straps and bungee cords to do the job.
Give folding bikes on your shortlist the “roll and fold” test. Take the folded bike on a field trip to see how it moves on stairs, escalators, curbs, and obstacles likely to be encountered along your commute.
To gear or not to gear? Yes, folding bikes come with gears, and you’ll have your pick of up to 24 when you shop. On the other hand, if your commute is as flatter than a pancake, just one gear may do.
Yes, wheel size matters. Wheels can measure between 16- and 26-inches. It’s no secret that the larger the wheel, the more comfortable the ride, so if your commute is long, make sure the wheel size is adequate.
Are you tall, overweight, or both? Be discriminating when you pick your model. While Consumer Search reminds shoppers that tall riders “might be able to install aftermarket parts for a more comfortable reach and riding position,” if you can find a good fit without having to go to this trouble, why bother?
Are they any electric folding bikes? Yes, today we have even folding e-bikes. You can find some of the best models in our dedicated page for the best electric bikes for commuting.
The Best Folding Bikes Reviews
The EuroMini ZiZZO Via is one in a large family of EuroMini ZiZZO folding bikes, but it stands out for myriad reasons.
At just 27 pounds and with a lightweight aluminum frame and seven speeds, one of the reasons shoppers don’t mind spending $300 for this efficient transportation has to do with exceptional reviews from fans and owners and the brand’s reputation has grown over time.
All Via folding bikes are crafted of aluminum alloy, including the frame, handlebar, stem, seat post, kickstand, headset, front and rear hub, crankset, V-style brakes, front and rear fenders.
Offering a Genuine Shimano Tourney 7-speed Derailleur, Shimano Revo 7-Speed Grip Style Shifter, and stainless steel gears, the adjustable stem allows a rider to customize height so whether you’re 5-feet or 6-feet, 4-inches tall, this bike gets you where you want to go.
- Ride atop double-wall rims and Kendra Ultra-light multi-terrain tires
- The magnet catcher holds the bike together snugly when it’s folded
- Measures just 27(H)- x 31(L)- x 12.5(W)-inches when compacted
- Acommodates riders up to 240 pounds
- Even the pedals fold down.
- Despite touting U.S. manufacture, this bike is made in China
- Not recommended for elderly riders
- A secondary safety lock on the folding handlebar may not work.
The brand name is iconic, and the price is less than the aforementioned Via if you buy the black one.
Select the silver model and fork over around $360. This price spread doesn’t impact the bike’s essential features, however. The Loop features front and rear fenders, 20-inch wheels, a kickstand, rear carry rack, and nylon carry bag. Schwinn recommends taking this bike for service before your first ride.
Large enough to accommodate a rider up to 6-feet tall, the Loop folds down to 29.5(H)- x 29(L)- x 19(W)-inches, so it becomes slightly smaller than the aforementioned Via. Weighing 33-pounds, the Loop comes with a pant guard that, in concert with front and rear fenders, can keep your clothing from getting dirty or ripped during your commute.
The 7-speed Shimano RevoShift Twist Shifter and Shimano Tourney rear derailleur both get high marks, so as long as you don’t opt for the pricey silver model, you’ll enjoy value and performance.
- Comes with a limited lifetime guarantee
- Designed to be ridden by both men and women
- Rivals full-size bike performance, even on bumpy pavement
- Easy setup; no need for professional help
- Hand brakes are easy to use and don’t require lots of strength to operate.
- Reliable folding mechanism
- Could exceed max airline dimensions when folded down
- May not stay folded down without extra tethers
- Handlebars aren’t adjustable.
This sleek folding bike sells out fast, so if you see it, grab it. Comparably priced at between $290 and $295 (there’s a color differential), the Speck isn’t your bells and whistles commuter bike, but it’s ideal for routes that include small hills, and aluminum construction makes it around 30-percent lighter than comparable steel and Chromoly competitors.
The 20-inch Kenda Kwest commuter tires feature smooth, rounded tread and large water dispersion grooves.
For folks in a rush, you’ll appreciate the company’s statement that says it will only take you 10 seconds to fold down the handlebar tube, top tube and pedals using the under-seat lever, so if this has been a problem for you in the past, keep this model at the top of your shortlist.
Measuring 10(W)- x 30(L)- x 22(H)-inches, this folding bike weighs only 22 pounds, so carrying it up the stairs shouldn’t be burdensome, even if you’re not fit. This is the quintessential “stripped down” folding bike at a price that doesn’t disappoint.
- Shipped almost completely assembled
- The instruction manual is easy to understand
- Sturdy, lightweight and won’t rust if left outside
- Coaster brakes are easy to apply
- Even if you drive a Mini, this bike will fit!
- Available in beautiful mate black color.
- Does not come with fenders
- Bolts and screws could fall out in mid-ride
- Double-check the warranty before you buy it.
This single-speed folding bike may not be the smartest fold-down on the market, but if you’ve only got $220 and need reliability for your commute, keep reading.
There is no color price differential, so you can go for grey, black or white without paying an extra penny. At just 21.5-pounds, it’s the lightest in this review, so if the weight has been an issue for you in the past, this streamlined model should win your heart.
Crafted of lightweight aluminum throughout, this bike is engineered to tackle flat surfaces, so if you need to make it over hills or rugged trails, the Urbana may not be your best choice.
Folding and unfolding is easy say folks who have purchased this bike. The compact unit measures just 12(W)- x 32(L)- x 25(H)-inches when folded down.
Riders find the saddle to be comfortable and like the rack/water bottle mounts not usually included in a basic bike. Vilano has been around for more than a decade, so you can count on the brand to perform for you at the most modest price of all.
- Supports riders up to 225 pounds
- Both the handlebars and the seat can be extended/raised
- Set-up out of the box isn’t complicated
- Center of gravity is low and the ride is surprisingly fast
- Nimble and offers a solid center of gravity.
- Skip this model if you want multiple gears
- Tall riders complain about discomfort
- Made in China, not all parts are high-quality.
Prepare your heart and plastic for the Tern Node D71 if you’ve been shopping the $300 and under market for a folding bike. This sexy machine is so exclusive, you won’t find it on Amazon or eBay—and don’t look for sales that take the price below its $1099 retail tag.
In return for this price, “the Node D7i is optimized for commuting in the city.” Not built; optimized. A versatile, 7-speed bike with an internal hub for low-maintenance riding, this model offers full fenders, an integrated rear rack, swept-back handlebars, and adjustability is a breeze.
There are lots to love about this bike once you get past the sticker shock. It’s engineered to sail through potholes, rainstorms, and most everything Mother Nature throws at you.
To make sure this model outperforms its cousins, Tern has produced a low-maintenance ride featuring a versatile, internal gear hub plus a FreeDrive™ chain cover that protects your work clothes from grease and dirt. This is one bad boy (or girl) that deserves a second look if you’re in the market for excellence. Specs include 24-inch wheels, and it weighs 31 pounds.
- Includes integrated Freelance™ Fenders and Freight™ Rack
- Schwalbe Big Apple tires offer riders Kevlar puncture protection
- Fold this bike down in just 10 seconds due to simple folding mechanism
- Make adjustments on the fly using the Andros handlebar stem
- Integrated lighting with an electricity-generating hub.
- Harder to find than other models on this list
- At 31 pounds, lifting could be problematic
- A little bit pricey
Having already introduced the brand name to you earlier, it’s time for the skinny on the folding bike that will make the cost of the Tern mentioned above downright affordable.
Priced at around $1525, this British wonder bike is handcrafted in London. The M6L’s neutral riding position makes both commuting and exercising comfortable, and you’ll get around town nicely thanks to the bike’s 6-speed gearing range.
Like other folding bikes in its class, this bike comes with rain-, mud- and soil-repelling bumpers. Once folded down, the M6L measures a tidy 23(L)- x 22.2(H)- x 10.6(W)-inches. At 26 pounds and offering a 16-inch wheel, this isn’t the lightest bike on this list, but neither is it the heaviest.
Reasons to fall for this prestigious brand and bike? The M6L is manufactured of hand-brazed Chromoly steel guaranteed to survive any number of run-ins. In sum, this bike is made for discriminating commuters obsessed with detail for whom money is no object.
- Faster and more fastidiously-made than competitor models
- Despite the small wheels, riders enjoy excellent balance, security, and stability
- Fasten any load to the bike front, yet you won’t compromise balance
- The rear triangle morphs into a bike stand
- Fits into a checkable suitcase if you’re a frequent flyer.
- You will have to find an exclusive dealership to test one
- Yes, the price is daunting, but you could win the lottery
- Make sure your insurance covers this pricey item in case it goes missing.
Cyclists looking for a bike that’s got style, prestige, great pedigree, and a price tag that fits into the middle of this category’s range deserve a second look at the Mariner priced at around $645.
But you’ll have to do a little detective work to find one since they sell out fast and retailers don’t always know when stock will be available. That stated, the 2019 Mariner features 20-inch wheels, weighs 26 pounds, and the frame is composed of lightweight alloy Sonus tube set.
This commuter bike offers riders eight smooth gears and compact design, but you’re going to have to foot the bill for a carry bag since one isn’t included in the deal.
Folks tend to be enthusiastic about Dahon’s outstanding customer service and support and rave about the sturdy packaging that keeps this product from getting scratched, bumped, and otherwise damaged in transit.
The Mariner’s fold-down mechanism is unique, and while requiring practice, the red dot on the handlebar stem does a great job of closing the latch and re-seating the plastic guard. The price isn’t overwhelming, so if you’re looking for a folding bike offering value, check the Mariner (if you can find one, that is!).
- Easy to lift, carry and stow
- Frame welds get universal high marks
- Fenders and rear rack included
- The easily removable handlebar is a great theft deterrent
- Sturdy, stable, and recommended by bike shop techs, too!
- Good folding mechanism
- Comfortable ride
- The framework is easily scratched (touch-up paint is included)
- The seat may not be comfortable for long commutes
- Keep indoors to avoid propensity for rust.
Reviewers of the Montague Paratrooper folding bike usually include photos of military sorts astride this cleverly-designed product designed with deployment in mind. Retailing for around $900, this sturdy, durable mountain bike weighs a hefty 32 pounds despite the aluminum frame.
It comes with mechanical disc brakes, Shimano 24 speed shifters, and measures an impressive 36(L)- x28(H-) x12(W)-inches. The rack stand feature is especially handy for commuters who haul gear.
Because the Paratrooper was engineered to be tossed out of helicopters with their riders, it would be no understatement to say that toughness and sturdiness are this folding bike’s hallmarks, yet it retains the characteristics of “true folding bikes.”
The frame is crafted of reinforced aluminum, and shock absorption is handled by an SR Suntour XCT fork with 80mm of suspension. Because the shocks are adjustable, riders can adapt them to flat terrain. This is not your run-of-the-mill mountain bike for obvious reasons, but if you need a workhorse that folds, this one should do the job nicely.
- Enjoy precision steering on the fly
- Quick-release latches detach both rear chain and the front wheel fast
- The fold-down process takes around 30 seconds
- Shimano trigger shifters give riders access to 24 gears with a click of a lever
- 26-inch alloy rims with 32 holes guard against bending.
- Larger wheels
- The rugged design may be overkill for ordinary commuters
- If you don’t need that many gears, why pay for them?
- Weight could be a deal-breaker if you’re not fit enough to hoist 32 pounds.
One look at this beast with its tech vibe tells you plenty about the folding mountain bike with a distinctly powerful look.
Priced at around $600, the Cyrusher FR100 packs a punch thanks to the 24-speed Shimono shifter, but for some reason, the company insists that this model is designed just for men. Women: feel free to prove Cyrusher wrong.
Manufactured of aluminum alloy and featuring disc brakes, the FR100 has 26-inch wheels that, in concert with a superior suspension fork, deliver a smooth, easy ride-—even if that ride happens to include mud, sand, soil, and rugged terrain.
Use the quick-release clamp to get your bike open and closed quickly and expect to be delighted by how snugly this bike fits into even the tightest spaces once it’s been compacted.
But what may impress you the most are the “fat tires” that tackle every road surface on the planet. And since changing gears is a piece of cake, you’re likely to arrive at your destinations in good humor. Don’t you wish the other aspects of your life were this easy to control?
- The 17-inch frame accommodates riders between 5-feet, 4-inches and 6-feet, 1-inch tall
- 26-inch wheels with ultra-thick tires cushion every ride
- Comes standard with 31.8 aluminum pro handlebar
- Hefty and sturdy, the FR100 gives non-folding mountain bikes a run for the money
- It comes 90-percent assembled and takes just 20 minutes to finish the job.
- Excellent ride quality
- Are you prepared to lug a 41-pound bike around?
- There have been complaints about defective mag wheels
- You may have to call China to register complaints.