While we are used to comparing road bikes to mountain bikes, today these are not the only two dominating the market. Bike commuting is booming, with more and more people hopping on the bikes. In the last two decades, the number of bike commuters increased by 61%.
As bikes became popular, and the bicycle industry is trying to keep up with the demand, the bike boom created space for the development of new technologies. Among the innovation in the market are the new trending folding bikes. You, like most of the people, admit they look cool in the street but can’t stop thinking ‘are folding bikes worth it, really?’
We are here to shed some light on this question with a detailed explanation of what are folding bikes and what are the pros and cons of folding bikes.
Let’s jump in.
What Are Folding Bikes?
As the name implies, folding bikes are designed to be folded in a compact form so you can easily transport them from one place to another. They come as a perfect solution for city bike commuters as it allows them to carry the bikes through public transport or up in the apartment.
In metropolitan areas where space is a limiting factor, bike commuters love folding bikes as they take so little space when stored in the apartment. Besides, the ease of transportation makes you less susceptible to bike thefts—you can carry your bike wherever you go.
Besides being convenient, transportable, and safe, they make up for a fun ride.
Advantages of Folding Bikes
Folding bikes sound cool, right? Well, they kind of are, but like everything else, there are pros and cons of folding bikes.
They have several advantages compared to traditional bikes, and we are here to lay them out for you.
When you live in a city, your bike security options are limited. Most of us don’t have the opportunity to carry our bikes back to the office, so we have no choice but to leave them outside. Even worse, some of us with small apartments are forced to leave our bikes outside at night, too (scary, I know).
Yeah, we can make up for that by buying multiple lockers, but there is always a thief who finds the way to crack them.
Investing in a folding bike may be the perfect solution to tame down the fear of getting your bike stolen. Folding bikes are foldable, so you can easily carry and keep them near you. When you own a foldable bike, you can tuck it in the corner of your office or move it up the fourth floor of your tiny apartment.
On the plus side, folding bike locks are more secure than cable or chain locks, which can cause a headache to bike thieves.
Folding bikes are as highly qualitative and long-lasting as their counterpart bikes. This comes from their design and technical characteristics and a result of the advancements in their manufacturing. Depending on the brand, folding bikes are usually made of long-lasting materials such as aluminum, Chromoly steel, or titanium.
All folding bikes manufacturer such as Dahon, Montague, Brompton, Change, Tern, and Bike Friday are respected for the high-quality bikes they produce. The high quality comes with the price, but you know that quality costs, right?
Easy to fold
Folding makes these types of bikes unique, and most of the credits go to the easiness these bikes fold. Depending on the brand of the folding bike, it can follow different folding technologies; however, they are all easy to learn and perform.
While it may take a few minutes in the beginning as you get used to your new folding bike, most of them are folded in less than a minute.
As folding is their main characteristic, these bikes take very little space. You can transfer a riding bike to a box-looking vehicle in less than a minute, easily carried around. The people who ride traditional bikes know the struggle I am talking about.
Instead of worrying about your outside-stored bike while working, now you can carry your folding bicycle up to your office. Or, if you live in a small apartment, the folding bike can be a solution to saving your precious little space.
In addition, if you are planning a weekend getaway, their compact storage will allow taking your bike with you during the trip.
Disadvantages of Folding Bikes
All the advantages stated above come at a price. As we looked over the pros and cons of folding bikes, we found a few drawbacks which we listed below.
You may have mistakenly assumed folding bikes weigh less because of their ability to fold and be carried. In reality, they have a similar weight to the other bikes as approximately the same amount of metal is used to build folding bikes.
The weight of folding bikes varies based on the brand, type, and design, though the typical folding bike weighs 28 pounds. However, lightweight folding bikes such as M6L Superlight and Hummingbird weigh 28 and 14 pounds, respectively.
Compared to the price of traditional bikes, folding bikes are more expensive. Of course, the costs come high as the bike is packed with unique features such as the ones we mentioned above. However, the price can be the turn-off for some people when searching for a commuting city bike.
Folding bikes’ prices differ based on the manufacturer, design, and materials used to build them. Though you can find not-so-expensive folding bikes, remember that “the lower the price, the lower the quality” rule applies.
Folding bike prices varies, with those in the lower end having a starting price of $600, while the best ones cost over $2,000. However, most folding bikes, such as the popular Brompton bikes, cost around $1,200 – $2,000.
Though you may love the folding feature of your bike, it comes with a cost, especially if you are tall or overweight.
Since the folding bikes are made to be folded and take less space, they are harder to navigate. They usually come with 16 to 20 inches wheel size, which don’t handle road bumps so well. If you are tall and have bumpier roads, the ride can be uncomfortable for you.
At the same time, the folding bikes have a weight limit that you shouldn’t exceed. This can be a problem if you are overweight or you like carrying your groceries on your bike.
Though small wheel bikes are steadier at low speed and can accelerate their pace quicker, they have a few disadvantages.
First, if your commute route is filled with bumps and potholes, your ride will be uncomfortable. This is because smaller wheels can’t handle the shock from bumps well as the standard bikes.
Second, small wheels can become a disadvantage if you are commuting long distances. With smaller wheels, your bike cannot constantly take the speed to get to the destination on time.
Are Folding Bikes Harder to Ride?
You may have assumed that riding a folded bike is more challenging than riding regular bikes. In fact, their distinct design makes riding a folding bike less comfortable at first. Your body takes a different position while riding a folding bike due to the geometry of the frames that enable its folding.
However, the handlebars and the saddle on the folding bike are similar to that of the regular bicycles. Hence, riding a folding bike will become quite comfortable and straightforward for you with some time and practice. At some point, riding a folding bike will feel easier than a standard bike.
Can You Use Folding Bikes for Exercise?
Like any other bike, a folding bike is a good exercise routine to include in your daily plan. It can help you maintain your body weight and keep yourself active at all times. However, folding bikes are not just for loosing weight. You can use your folding bike for athlete training, which means riding for long hours.
Besides, their compact nature allows you to carry your folding bike in the back of your car and use it for some outdoor training near a park or lake in your area.
Are Folding Bikes Worth It for Commuting?
Folding bikes are a favorite by commuters as they allow them to make a hybrid trip between biking and riding the bus or train. If you have to take the train or bus to work in addition to riding the bike, then you fold the bike, and you’re good to go.
Besides, the folding features let you easily carry the bike in your office, shops, restaurants, or other indoor areas.
Are Folding Bikes Worth It for Long Rides?
The smaller wheels of folding bikes are smaller, making the ride slower when riding in long distances. Also, the small wheel may not handle the road bumps well, making the ride uncomfortable. However, these reasons don’t mean folding bikes are not meant for long distances.
For example, with a 24″ wheel, your long-distance commuting will feel like a breeze.
Now, that we explain everything the answer to ‘are folding bikes worth it?’ is a total yes. However, for you, the answer lies in your personal goals, needs, and taste. If you want a financially affordable means of transportation that folds and does not take up much space, a folding bike is your ideal choice. All in all, it is best to do a little research before making a decision.