When space is at a premium, folding bikes open up the world of two wheels when a full bike simply is not practical. The invention of the folding bike has been a particular bonus to public transport commuters: the best folding bikes are lightweight and practical for urban journeys and, most importantly, are allowed on peak-time services.
Furthermore, these bikes are excellent companions for motorhome, travel trailer, camping, and even boats, or for living in small flat spaces.
Best suited to those looking for an easy-to-store folding bike at a low cost, as opposed to being a lightweight commuting machine, the Schwinn Loop has built a reputation for reliability.
An aluminum frame, paired with a steel fork, offers rigidity and durability, ideal for urban riding, with a host of added, integrated extras.
Accessories include pre-installed plastic fenders, alongside a built-in rack and a storage bag. Other useful touches include a long seat post – ideal for adjusting for taller riders.
Schwinn remains at the forefront of the industry, with the popular American brand banking on their experience and reputation by offering a lifetime warranty too.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Retrospec Judd is a stylish-looking single-speed folding bike with a coaster brake.
Built for commuting, the single-speed set-up and coaster brake – providing you are comfortable using it – means low maintenance. At the same time, the Judd’s hand-built aluminum frame is also significantly lighter than its competitors.
Retrospec offer the Judd in a range of attractive color options, including Matte Graphite, Eggshell, and Matte Pine, and the bike comes equipped with 20” Kenda Khan commuter tires for added reliability.
The absence of gear and brake cables makes for easy folding too, adding up to a quick and convenient folding commuter bike.
Another bike crafted from light-weight aluminum alloy, the EuroMini ZiZZO Via is an all-terrain folding bike, ideal for both traveling and commuting.
Weighing in at 27lb, the ZiZZO Via is dripping in alloy components – frame, hubs, crankset, headset, seat post, kickstand, double-wall wheel rims, chainring and more.
The feature-heavy Via is dressed in seven-speed Shimano gearing and Kenda’s 1.95 all-terrain tires, making it an ideal machine for both speed and mixed terrain, all-weather riding. That is further backed by built-in front and rear fenders – a recent addition to the popular, value-for-money bike.
Furthermore, the ZiZZO Via delivers plenty of bang-for-your-buck – a premium folding bike at a mid-price level.
The Vybe is a long-standing favorite from US folding-bike specialists Dahon, which remains a well-equipped machine at the lower end of the brand’s price range. Dahon are the world’s largest manufacturer of folding bikes, having been producing them since David Hon launched his brand in 1984. With a wealth of experience in the industry then, low cost does not mean low quality.
As such the Vybe may sit at the lowest end of the pricing scale but, since first launching in 2015, it has built a well-earned reputation as a smooth-riding, seven-speed aluminum commuting machine. Equipped with a built-in rear rack and fenders, the Vybe has an alloy body and steel fork and weighs in at a competitive 27lbs.
Tern built the Node D7i for city commuting, with low-maintenance features, integrated rear rack and fenders, and a riding position crafted to deliver comfort.
The low-maintenance riding is offered by an internal gear hub, while the Andros stem is designed to offer on-the-fly, tool-free adjustments to your riding position.
Tern have paired an aluminum body with a high-tensile steel fork, so the Node D7i is a little heavier than other folding bikes. Pair that with Schwalbe Big Apple tires – complete with Kevlar puncture protection – and the Node D7i is beefier, but more durable over uneven road surfaces than some competitors.
One smart additional extra is integrated lighting, meanwhile, powered by an electricity-generating hub.
Whereas the Vybe is at the budget end of the Dahon range, the mid-level Mariner D8 is one of their best-selling models. Its popularity is such, the brand has launched this stunning brushed aluminum version, which is crafted from Dahon’s in-house Dalloy Sonus tubing.
As well as its stylish looks, you, therefore, get increased strength and rigidity thanks to its oversized, flat-based, custom tube profiles – the product of more than 25 years leading the folding-bike market.
The Mariner is a versatile bike, initially pitched at the traveler market it has since become a favorite for commuting too. Schwalbe Citizen tires and eight-speed Shimano gearing keep you rolling over mixed terrain at a price that still delivers an excellent return for your investment.
Montague Bikes lead the way when it comes to full-size folding bikes, and the Paratrooper is their folding mountain bike. Built for tackling rough trails and hauling gear, the Paratrooper is aimed at off-road bike packers and is available in 16”, 18” and 20” frame sizes to accommodate a range of rider heights.
Its distinguishing features include Montague’s simple-to-use, patented folding design – which was designed for the military – as well as front suspension, mechanical disc brakes and Shimano shifters and gearing. In other words, it is everything you would expect from a mountain bike, except it folds too.
Throw in the new four-in-one rack stand, cargo rack and built-in mudguards and you have a bike perfect for hauling camping gear over rough surfaces and off-road trails. More committed mountain bikers will need to look higher up the Paratrooper range, but for versatility and value, this is an excellent entry point.
As well as off-road riding, Montague also produce full-size hybrid folding bikes and the New Boston is part of what the brand have dubbed their ‘Pavement’ range. The range covers several bases, and the Boston is the top choice if it is simplicity and low maintenance you are after. It is a single-speed hybrid bike, with full 700c wheels – the first of its kind.
As with all the bikes in Montague’s ‘Pavement’ range, the New Boston boasts the distinctive vibration-dampening, curved double top tube – designed to soften road buzz on your daily commute.
It is crafted from 6061-series aluminum and tips the scales at a very lightweight 25lbs. A ‘flip-flop’ hub means you can swap between fixed-gear or freewheel riding, but once settled maintenance should be fuss-free – exactly what you need if your primary focus is getting to and from the office.
If you live and commute on flat, city streets, the Vilano Urbana is a top option for minimal assembly, low maintenance, easy storage, top value and low weight. The aluminum-framed bike weighs in at just 21.5lbs and is a single-speed machine with a coaster brake.
It does feature mounts for a water bottle and rear rack if you want to add to the build, but for fuss-free, quick and easy commuting you can not go wrong with the off-the-peg model. The low weight is the stand-out, and a folded size of 12” x 32” x 25” makes it perfect for urban living when space is at a premium.
Clean, cable-free looks are complemented by the stylish grey or matte black finishes, and all at a very budget-friendly price.
Goplus have broken the trend with their 20” Folding Bike, using a rock-solid iron frame to ensure long-lasting durability and excellent load-bearing capacity. That makes it ideal for both commuting and traveling, though the trade-off, of course, is weight – the Goplus comes in at 32lbs.
Nevertheless, seven-speed Shimano shifting and all-terrain tires, combined with a comfort-focussed saddle and rising position, means you can get plenty of use out of the bike; it is comfortable on urban streets and tackling the rougher stuff if necessary too.
Most of all, it comes in at an excellent low price. If it is an entry-level folding bike you are after, the Goplus offers far more versatility and a decent spec compared to other bikes in the ultra-budget price range.