There are many kinds of bikes on the market, but folding bikes are in a class of their own. If you’re someone with limited storage space, such as a cramped apartment or over-filled garage, then folding bikes are worthy of consideration. Some come with smaller wheels to allow for an even more compact fold while others are indistinguishable from their traditional counterparts.
Foldable bikes are great for those who want to commute to a biking trail by train because they can easily fold up the bike and carry it aboard. However, if you’re unfamiliar with these types of bicycles, then the options will likely leave you scratching your head. Folding bikes come in many different shapes, sizes, and mechanisms for folding. But since riding a bike—folding or otherwise—is a physical activity, they’re best chosen in person and not online. If you can feel the weight of the bike in your hands, or test how well it folds and unfolds, then you’ll be more likely to find the perfect bike for you, be it a low-end $130 bike, or a $3500 electric folding commuter bike.
What Bike is Best for Me?
To get the most value out of your folding bike, it’s imperative that understand all of the bikes features, to truly know what you’re paying for. Maybe all you need is that affordable $130 folding bike, and not the $3,500 electric models. Stowabike makes the most affordable bikes, including the $130 one. Schwinn takes it up a notch, offering bikes that start at $200 for entry-level options, and they also have a few more mid-range options. Tern is the name behind the $3,500 electric behemoth, and while expensive, if you’re looking for a folding electric bike that will keep you from breaking a sweat on your way to work, then you can’t go wrong here. Dahon and Brompton are two names that make mid-ranged folding bikes that price a little higher than the entry-level Schwinn and Stowabike.
What Features am I Paying For?
But what are you paying for when you buy a $1,000 folding bike over a $200 one? Well, bigger bikes are typically more expensive, and while they’re more difficult to store, they also tend to be more comfortable for long commutes. But what differentiates the more expensive bikes from, the cheaper ones is the materials used to construct them. The more costly folding bicycles are typically much more lightweight, utilizing titanium or carbon frames. The more inexpensive bikes use much more cost-effective materials, but unfortunately, those materials also tend to be heavier. If weight isn’t much of a concern, then there’s no reason to spend more for a lighter bike.
Here are our best folding bikes for commuting, all of which have been tries and tested by our team.
Dahon Mariner D8 Folding Bike
- Speeds: 8
- Folded size: 25.6"H x 31.1"W x 12.6"D.
- Weight: 26 lb.
- Rider height: 4'9" to 6'3".
- Max. rider weight: 230 lb.
Quick overview: 33 x 13.4 x 25.1 folded, Shimano gears, 26lb weight
Dahon is a USA based company which has been around for years. The Hon brothers have spent 35 years developing folding bikes, racking up 220 patents – they know what are doing.
If you’re looking for all-around the one of the best folding bikes on the market, then look no further than the Dahon Mariner D8.
This reasonably-priced (around $600) eight-speed folding bicycle from one of the leading bicycle manufacturers, Dahon, is the perfect package for anyone looking for a quality product without having to spend an arm and a leg.
Dahon bikes are built with patented aluminium tubes called Dalloya and Hi Ten steel for forks.
It’s comfortable, rides well, and folds and unfolds in seconds, locking securely in either mode. There are even a few practical features to make you feel as though you are riding in style. Fenders keep you from being woefully splashed upon when riding during or just after a storm; there’s also a rack in the back for baskets or items you’re carrying.
From the affordable bikes built with heavier materials to light-weight expensive bikes, there are many great choices when it comes to folding bikes, for just about any price range.
Other Dahon folding bikes to compare are:
Dahon Boardwalk Folding Bike, Obsidian (The single speed basic model)
Dahon Speed Uno Folding Bike, Shadow (Lightweight single speed folder)
Schwinn Loop Folding Bike
- Adult bike that folds up small for easy storage. Riders up to about 6' tall can ride comfortably. It folds in a few easy steps
- Durable steel, great for camping or RV. Packs up small so no bike rack is needed. The folded size is 29.5 inches x 29 inches x 19 inches
- A Shimano RevoShift Twist Shifter and Shimano Tourney rear derailleur make gear changes and shifting simple. Tackle small hills and cut through brisk winds easily.
- The rear carry rack and an included nylon carry bag keeps the bike concealed. Hinges are made of steel, comes with a kick stand, weighs about 33 lbs
- Low stand over frame and rigid fork for easy on and off. Front and rear alloy linear pull brakes. Perfect for commuting
Quick overview: 29.5 x 29 x 19 folded, Shimano twistshift, Shimano Tourney rear derailleur, 33lb weight
If you’re looking for a great entry-level bike, one that you won’t have to take a second mortgage out to cover, then the Schwinn Loop is most likely your best bet. It’s 40 lbs, so it’s a little on the heavier side, and some riders don’t look too kindly upon the stock seat, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself ordering a second one after riding around on it for a few days.
It also doesn’t lock into place when it’s folded up, which can be troublesome if you’re trying to move it around while collapsed. But for such a slim price, you can’t go too wrong with the loop. It’s great for short commutes around town.
Montague Boston Folding Bike
- Folding Time: 20 sec.
- Wheel Size: 700c
- Speeds: 1 is all you need
- 21in Frame: For riders 5'11" - 6'4″. Standover height is 29″
- Folded Size: 36″x28″x12″
Quick overview: 36 x 16.5 x 25 folded,38lb weight
A more expensive option, the Montague Boston, is almost indistinguishable from traditional bikes. Meaning, it’s much larger, with its unique folding design. While it does tend to ride better in most circumstances, it can be a bit trickier to lug around, especially on public transportation. However, if you don’t mind the lack of comfortability while carrying it, and want a comfortable bike that can be quickly folded up for storage, then the Boston might be just what you need. And despite being somewhat bigger than the Schwinn, it’s still a few pounds lighter.
Montague also have a belt drive option for people looking to avoid oily chains when commuting.
Retrospec Speck Folding Bike
- Folding single-speed bike with rear coaster brake perfect for riding around the city, easy to carry and store in small spaces
- Ideal for commuting or exercise on paths that are mostly flat or smaller hills
- Lightweight Aluminum frame is up to 30% lighter than steel or chromoly
- 20" Wheels with Kenda Kwest commuter tires with smooth rounded tread with large water dispersion grooves
- Folding time of 10 seconds with folding handlebar tube, top-tube and pedals
Quick overview: 10″ x 22″ x 30″ folded, 22lb weight
If you’re in the market for the lightest folding bike that you can find, the Retrospec Speck is one of the lightest ones on the market, clocking in at a pleasant 22 lbs. That’s almost 20 pounds lighter than the Schwinn, and still under the $300 price range. But be warned that the stock tires might not be of the best quality, and will likely lose air over time.
Stowabike Folding City V2 Folding Bike
- Ideal for use as a commuting bike
- Easily folded and stored in a compact size
- 20" steel folding frame
- 6 speed Shimano Gear System
- Built-in rack for carrying your goods
Quick overview: 38″ x 12.6 x 5.1 folded, 38.5lb weight
The Stowabike Folding City V2 is the cheapest folding bike mentioned earlier. It’s one of the cheapest folding bicycles that you can find, and this is undoubtedly a case of “you get what you pay for.” For under $150 you’re getting is a decently constructed folding bike, that comes with a rack in the back for storing items. Just don’t expect it to last a lifetime.
Ford 7 Speed Folding Bicycle
- Seven speed Aluminum urban utility bike folds in seconds and is easy to carry so you never need to leave it outside
- Perfect for taking on a bus or train on your commute or stashing in your apartment
- Adjustable stem adapts to riders of all sizes from under five feet to over six feet tall
- Genuine Shimano 7-speed gears + Heavy Duty Alloy V-Breaks + Fenders + Rear Rack
- Designed and Manufactured by Dahon
Quick overview: 38″ x 12.6 x 5.1 folded, 40lb weight
Yes this is made by Ford the car manufacturer, so you know it will not be some cheap Chinese knock off! The bike is slightly heavier than the other folding bikes reviewed, but it is solid. Further investigation has shown the bike is actually manufactured by Dahon. You seem to only be paying for the Ford logo and think these were produced for a car promotion. You probably got one included with the New Ford Focus model.
Folding Bike FAQs
Where can I buy folding bikes near me?
It’s unlikely that a regular bike shop will stock folding bikes, which is why we recommend buying one online. Amazon has the largest choice.
What are the top folding bike brands?
Schwinn, Dohon and Bromton are the biggest names.
Can a folding bike be easily lifted?
The average folding bike weights 22lb-40lb. If you are worried about being able to lift the bike, we recommend choosing one of the lighter options.
Why have you not reviewed any Brompton folding bikes?
Bromptons are hand-built in London and are at the higher end of the market with bikes selling at $2000+. We decided to only review entry level folding bikes for now. Once this site grows, we will start looking at higher end brands.
What is the lightest folding bike?
The lightest folding bike (entry level) is the Retrospec speck single speed at 22lb.
How quickly can these bikes be folded?
Super fast! Some can be done in 30 seconds once you get the hang of it.
Can folding bikes go up hill easily?
Yes, but will be harder if you choose a single speed bike over gears. The trade off is gears v weight, so you need to decide which is the most important for your needs.