Pros and Cons of Folding Bikes: Should You Buy One?
Here you are, mulling the possibility of purchasing a folding bike after owning standard models throughout your life. You’re nearly convinced – but not quite there. Fortunately, you have us. We take you through the most common reasons people invest in or avoid buying folding bikes. You may be surprised by what you learn!
Read more: Our Favorite Folding Bikes
20 Pros of Folding Bikes
1. They’re ideal for commuters. Whether you ride or take public transport, a folding bike makes life easy.
2. No storage worries. Fold your bike down, bring it into your office or home, tuck it away, and rest easy.
3. These bikes go where you go. Travel the world by train, bus, and plane—most welcome folding bikes.
4. Security is a non-issue. As a rule, people prefer to steal standard bikes, so theft is less likely.
5. You can be more spontaneous. Pack up and go knowing that your folding bike feels the same way.
6. Hotel managers don’t like oily, muddy bikes in rooms, but bagged folding bikes are acceptable.
7. Folding bikes are lighter; carrying one won’t strain your back or send you to a chiropractor.
8. Transport your bike in your car trunk or back seat. No need to buy an external bike rack.
9. If you’re hitchhiking, schlepping a folding bike is easier and more convenient.
10. Folding bikes make great conversation starters. Looking to expand your social network? Buy one.
11. It’s easier to mount and dismount a folding bike thanks to step-through frame design.
12. Cyclists with arthritis find getting on and off is easy on the joints.
13. Folding bikes are practical, agile, and easily maneuverable in traffic.
14. Getting a bike bag for storage keeps grime, oil, and soil off your floors.
15. Folding bikes are subject to stringent manufacturing standards, so they tend to be of higher quality.
16. Manufacturers are beginning to add upgrades like racks, panniers, and premium tires.
17. The industry is beginning to adopt higher grade materials like carbon fiber and titanium models.
18. Fold-down bikes now come in a variety of weights.
19. It takes seconds to fold the bike down, so you save time.
20. Knowing your bike is safer inside than it would outside boost your mental health.
20 Cons of folding bikes
1. With convenience comes the price. Folding bikes are more expensive; they require more engineering to produce.
2. Small wheels = big bumps and the potential for sore derrieres. We won’t mention potholes!
3. Seeking a high degree of comfort when you ride? Stick to a full-size bike.
4. Kiss your inner speed freak goodbye. Folding bikes are designed for convenience, not speed.
5. Can you interchange parts? Nope. You’ll have to return to the manufacturer to get items you need for repairs.
6. Hate unwanted attention? Folding bike riders get lots, so skip this style if you’re in a witness protection program.
7. Components wear out faster, particularly hubs, rims, and tires. This adds to one’s maintenance worries and costs.
8. A market for generic components doesn’t exist so that you will pay higher prices for proprietary items.
9. You could have difficulty locating retailers. Not every retailer or website stocks and sells folding bikes.
10. Folding bikes can’t haul as much weight, so your career as a Sherpa could end.
11. Because hinges weaken the frame, folding bikes tend to be more fragile.
12. Folding bikes are less efficient; you will expend more energy to ride one.
13. Lack of a suspension system can make off-road and gravel riding a nightmare.
14. You may look like a circus clown on a tiny bike, so gird your loins for ridicule if you’re a large person.
15. People choosing folding bikes tend to ride less so you won’t stay as fit.
16. Folding bikes are not as stiff as standard model bikes.
17. Consider your weight. Not every folding bike accommodates large riders.
18. Folding bikes may not be as safe to ride as standard bikes.
19. Buy a cheap model, and the fold-down process can take longer and be less efficient.
20. If you aren’t prepared for the downsides of riding a folding bike, you could wind up with the buyer’s regrets.
To fold or not to fold; that is the question
Having considered the pros and cons listed above, considering your budget and being realistic about your purpose, you have likely come to a conclusion based on the facts rather than “the look.”
As the folding bike design, refinements and engineering move into the future, the question to ask yourself is: Am I prepared to pay for the quality and performance I need because unlike regular bikes, technology is still catching up when it comes to folding bikes.
In sum, buying a cheap folding bike is not only a bad idea, but it could ruin your riding experience, so remember your mom’s adage: You get what you pay for.