We think that the folding bike is the unsung hero of the biking community. But don't take our word for it. We're here to answer the question, what is a folding bike? And weigh up the pros and cons to see if a foldable bike is right for you.
The folding bike: long mocked for making adults look like giants and alleged as inferior by "proper" cyclists.
Well, we believe its reception is rooted in the fold bikes rocky beginnings. But, that doesn't reflect the many brilliantly designed folding bikes available today. It's not for everyone, yet, many people count it out without giving it the consideration it deserves.
Here, we consider the advantages and disadvantages of the folding bike to help you decide if it's for you.
- It's a great way to commute.
You may have always wanted to cycle to work but not known where to store your bike. Or not felt comfortable leaving your bike outside the building. Or see it as an opportunity to fit a 15 minute bike ride into your day.
Whatever you're reasoning, commuting is more fun when you cycle. And the fold city bike is the ideal mode of transport for these journeys.
You may want to get part of the way on public transport. In which case, it's more convenient (and more likely to be allowed) if you can fold your bike. Plus, when you arrive at work, you can fold it up and even hide the bike under your desk.
- Easy to store.
As more people opt for smaller homes, there's limited storage space for your belongings. For instance, if you live in a flat, you're unlikely to have a shed to keep your bike in.
Luckily for you, the folding bike, well, folds. The compact size means you can say goodbye to shimmying down your corridor to pass your regular bike.
Instead, you can store a foldable bike in a cupboard. Or, keep it in the hallway by the door to inspire you to take it for a spin. Then, as a bonus, it's in the perfect position for visitors to admire.
- It can be ready in no time.
Most foldable bikes can be popped up in less than a minute. So, if you often fancy a last-minute adventure, it may be the bike for you.
Sure, it may feel like a Rubix cube when you first get to grips with a folding bike. But, over time, it will become easier until you can do it with your eyes shut (and impress your friends in the process!).
If you're the type to talk yourself out of activities, the foldable bike is great as it gives you no time to. We hope you won't see this as a con! You'll get more exercise and feel better for it, as you will be out of the door before you have the chance to reconsider your ride.
- Transport isn't a problem.
Unlike the mountain bike and road bike, the foldable bike can come along on your adventures hassle-free. If you've ever wanted to take your bike on a plane but not wanted the cost, look no further.
If you fly with a generous airline, your fold-up bike could even be your carry on luggage.
The same goes for public transport. If you don't want to go by car, your bike can fold down on the train. It's a minimal fuss way of getting to a cycle spot, thanks to the fact your bike can reduce in size. Buses typically allow folding bikes too, but not regular bikes.
Or, if you do want to drive, there's no need to worry about a bike rack. Most cyclists would rather forgo the rack but consider it a necessity. But, if you choose to ride a compact folding bike, it can fit into most car boots.
You can even make room for a couple in once you've initiated your friends into the foldable bike fan club?
You may not feel comfortable leaving your beloved bike on a public bike rack. Or in your garden shed at home. The beauty of the folding bike is that it can go everywhere with you. So, you never have to worry about whether it's secure.
This feeling of security alleviates 'bike anxiety'. You no longer have to wonder if you remembered to lock it up! Instead, keep it by your side, like an unconventional comfort blanket.
- There are different styles.
The folding bike, like the standard adult bike, is not one size fits all. Folders come in a range of shapes and sizes, depending on your desires. You might think that the traditional folding bike is unattractive.
So, you'll be pleased to hear that you can now get all types of models that stray away from the initial look. From hyper-modern designs to vintage-inspired, there's a folding bike for everyone.
- They often only have one gear.
To reduce the weight of a folding bike, they are often designed with only one gear. This means folding bikes cannot adjust according to the cycle, making it more challenging to ride.
To ride a folding bike, you may have to adjust your style and work harder than when riding a regular bike. However, this doesn't have to be a negative point - it also means a better workout.
Plus, there are plenty of folding bikes that do have multiple gears. You may just have to pay more and accept a heavier weight for your bike.
- A less smooth ride
Folding bicycles have smaller wheels than standard bikes to enable a compact fold. Usually, 20-inch wheels are the largest you will find for a folding bike. The wheels alone often create a bumpier ride.
Additionally, the folding bike rarely has a suspension system to minimise weight and bulkiness, causing a rockier ride.
A comfortable ride is less likely on a foldable bike. This problem isn't the end of the world when you stick to road cycling. But, if you're looking to ride on gravel or off-road, consider a bike with larger wheels to increase your ride quality.
- They can be heavy
So that it can collapse, a foldable bicycle contains a lot of hinges. These hinges add weight to the bike that wouldn't exist were it not folding. Here lies the paradox of the folding bike: created as practical and easy to transport but in reality heavier and more of a challenge to carry than a traditional bike.
The shape of a folding bike makes it easier to transport up flights of stairs than a regular bike, but it is less than ideal that it can be so heavy. The lightweight folding bike does exist. However, you should expect to pay more for the convenience. Here at Bobbin, we offer our reasonably priced 'Fold' bike, which is only 0.5kg heavier than our regular bikes.
Consider your strength before buying a folding bike and why you want a bike. It shouldn't be a problem if you only want it to collapse at home or your destination. But, if you wish to carry it around, you may find it exhausting.
- They're not designed for speed
If you're an adrenalin chaser, the folding bike is probably not for you. The bikes smaller wheel size mean they lose momentum on bumps, limiting the pace you can cycle at.
Folding bikes don't usually travel more than 10-12mph, but this speed can increase with experience. If you're a very experienced rider, cycling at club level, this may push to 20mph but not for long distances.
- More expensive than a regular bike
As with most things, the more convenient option is sometimes more expensive.
You can buy a folding bike at a wide price range, but the cons are often more significant when purchasing cheap folding bikes. Usually, this means smaller wheels, and the bike is heavier.
Another reason folding bikes are expensive is that parts are specially made. If you have a problem or something breaks, you cannot buy a generic replacement, but instead, you must return to the retailer.
This expense is another reason to not buy the cheapest design. The cost can quickly add up if you have to purchase replacement parts. Buying a trusted model to begin with is an investment that can pay off long term.
To Fold or Not to Fold?
There is a lot to consider when deciding whether a folding bike is for you.
It's most important to think about how you intend on using your bike. If you live in a city and plan to use it to commute, we believe a folding bike is an ideal option. But, if you're aiming for speedy cycles in the countryside, perhaps consider different types of bikes.
We hope that we've made your decision a little bit simpler. If you're now looking for the folding bike of your dreams, check out our Fold design!