Folding have been around for a long time. The first patent was registered in the year of 1888, and little by little they have been gaining ground in the bicycle market. Their ability to fold makes them an excellent option for the urban cyclist, since they take up less space and can be combined with other means of transport. There are several myths surrounding these bicycles, but I assure you they work quite well.
If you are looking for a bicycle and you think that a folding could be a good option for you, here we share some of the advantages and disadvantages that I have identified after several years of moving in a folding.
Folding bicycles are the perfect solution for when you need to take your bike everywhere. They are especially practical when you need to combine them with public transport or prefer to store it in a safe place within the office or university.
Buying a folding bike that is too cheap can be as unfortunate as paying too much for a model that exceeds our expectations and objectives. A cheap bicycle can end up being expensive if it cannot take us from one point A to another B without excessive complications and without deforming or breaking by welding.
Similarly, the most expensive bicycle – and in terms of folding prices can go up a lot – can be a waste if all we want is to go for a walk occasionally . For that we have an infinite range of cheap models that we can also store on the street without being robbed.
We must also take into account that the folding is designed for atypical circumstances: to fit in the most unlikely places, to be able to carry folded, etc. Consequently, when choosing a folding, we must weigh the factors that will refine our choice. The following are in our opinion the most important for which we should ask the seller .
- 0.1 1. The weight
- 0.2 2. The size
- 0.3 3. The folding
- 0.4 4. The gearshift
- 0.5 5. The diameter of the wheels
- 0.6 6. The price
- 0.7 7. Make it your size
- 0.8 Handle
- 0.9 The wheels
- 0.10 Speeds
- 1 Advantage
- 2 Disadvantages
- 3 For whom folding bicycles are ideal
1. The weight
The material with which the folding is made – which, despite being smaller, is usually heavier than many compact ones – can affect its portability . We want them to keep them at home, at the movies, in the office, etc., and this implies that at some point we will have to fold and drag them, even in short sections, and then we will notice the weight.
The average weight ranges from 9 kilograms of the lightest Brompton to 14 kilograms of the heaviest models, such as the Hoptown model that Decathlon sells. Obviously less weight means more technology and final price. But if we have no real need to move it folded, for example because it fits us at home or in the extended elevator, we can opt for more weight models if we want to save money.
2. The size
We consider the size both extended and folded in this type of bicycle due to various factors. The first is that small models, which fold well and barely bulge, can be extended too uncomfortable for tall people , who feel unstable or ridiculous. Therefore it is important to measure ourselves on an extended bike and see how we look.
On the contrary, we do not value only the aspect that we give or the sensations if we need a small model because we are going to have to keep it at home, at work, take on the bus, enter the elevator, etc. If we prefer portability, we must opt for the model that gives us the best folded result , that fits in the smallest space and shows the least weight.
3. The folding
It is no nonsense to assess the folding system of the bike in the store itself by opening and folding it several times. If we feel it fast, simple, effective, stable , convenient to transport and we are the ones who take the bike even when going to the bathroom, that is our model. The folding is one of the factors that most raise the price of the bicycle, because there factors such as materials, welding or general design regarding the response to pedaling play.
Therefore, if we do not need to carry the bike everywhere all the time – for example, we work at home, it fits us in the elevator, we do not take it to the office or they let it go extended, we must relativize the folding and ask Keep some aesthetic minimums , comfort and stability. We will earn a lot on the final price we pay.
4. The gearshift
There are folding bicycles without changing gears, but they are highly inadvisable unless we think of always going flat. The reason is that the pedaling effort that we make with a folding bike is much greater than that made with a compact given the wheel diameter, which greatly increases the force vector. So without changing gears, we will suffer a lot at a minimum slope and lose speed. And we don’t buy a folding to suffer …
Now, there are better and worse gear changes, and also cheaper or more expensive. The more expensive models have internal gear changes , much more stable and resistant to tensions, but the exterior ones can also give good results. We value the unevenness that we will have to face, if we will only use the bike on urban routes or also on rural paths, if we will use it a lot, etc.
5. The diameter of the wheels
The diameter of the wheels will determine both the comfort and size of the bike once folded, as well as the effort that needs to be made in pedaling. There are mainly two sizes: 20 inches and 16 inches . The 20 will give a folded bike plus hulks , but they can give better results in pedaling, on uneven and irregular roads, although large speeds cannot be expected from folding bicycles.
However, the 16-inch wheels, if they are of quality and have adequate cushioning , can give a good response and instead give a much smaller and more manageable folded bike . As a reference, the wheels of the Brompton are always 16 inches. In this regard, it is also important to assess the presence of damping, which usually occurs only in the high ranges, as we will notice it when it comes to raising and lowering sidewalks or overcoming potholes.
6. The price
As we said at the beginning, for just over 100 usd we can buy a pitiful chestnut, and from 1,000 usd we have a whole world to choose from, especially in Brompton. But beware, this is not a black and white sector For affordable prices we have many acceptable models of brands
For more price we can opt for higher ranges such as Dahon, with a large number of models ranging from 400 to 2,000 usd , or Brompton on the top. Now, we must be aware that an expensive bike is the object of desire of all the city’s huts and can never be parked on the street.
We must drag her everywhere and implore in all the bars, offices and cinemas that let us in. Is that what we want? Maybe a cheaper thing neither folds so well nor fits everywhere or weighs like a feather, but it gives us the freedom of carelessness by leaving it on the street.
7. Make it your size
It seems like a joke but it is not: do not get carried away by the passion for a model if you are an uncle or a tall and big aunt . The bicycle of your dreams may not fit your measurements and to be comfortable, for example, you have to lengthen the seat post (tube) too much, so that you can deform it. Or that given your weight you can end up breaking the welds. .. (seriously: you don’t need to be obese for it)
Keep in mind that in this type of bikes the softness of the fit between the pieces is essential when folding them: they have to perfectly match each other. In addition, they withstand enormous tensions compared to their small chassis.
The vast majority of folding bicycles are designed for urban use so you will usually find them with straight or double-height handlebars. However, there are some models specially designed for road trips, whether on the road or tourism trips, which use dropbar or trekking handlebar variants .
The most common materials for folding bicycles are aluminum and steel, although it is possible to find some models of titanium and carbon fiber.
In general, geometry seeks an upright or semi-upright posture depending on the model. Although there are different designs, a characteristic of the folding frames is that only the upper tube joins the steering tube. In conventional bicycles, the lower tube also joins the steering tube in a triangle. The reason for this design is to allow the frame to be folded more or less in half.
The most common design allows folding the bicycle frame and collapsing the handlebar. However, there are other designs that also allow folding the triangle formed by the upper and lower sheaths and therefore collapse the rear wheel under the upper tube of the frame.
Being low frame, the folding have a long steering pole, equivalent to the power on a conventional bicycle. Models with telescopic steering posts can be found and therefore their height is adjustable; and others with fixed height.
Another feature of folding is its small wheels. The most common shot is 20 ″, although it is possible to find 16 ″, 24 ″ and 26 ″ bicycles. There are folding with smaller wheels, but they are impractical in urban use. The smaller the wheel, the bicycle will take up less space when folded.
It is not uncommon to imagine that with small wheels you cannot go fast or that you have to pedal at a higher rate than with a normal bicycle. However, a good folding will always use an adequate speed ratio to compensate for small wheels, generally the plate will be larger.
As for the number and range of speeds, the folding ones come in a great variety. There are only one speed up to 27 speeds. Remember that these bikes are designed primarily for use in the city, so the most common is to find them from 1 to 7 speeds. They can be found with derailleur / derailleur changes or with internal changes.
The first advantage offered by folding bicycles is intermodality. Unlike conventional bicycles, folding bikes can be combined much more easily with other means of transport. This quality is especially useful for people who have to travel long distances to reach their destination. You can leave your home towards the public transport station and when approaching your destination you can assemble your bike and reach your final destination. Currently, few cities already have adequate infrastructure to transport the bicycle in public transport.
Retrench of space
A folded bike takes up half of the space you would need to store a conventional bicycle. You can easily store them in any corner. Their ability to fold makes them especially useful for those who live in apartments or who do not have a suitable place to park the bicycle in their office. You fold it and put it on the side of your desk.
Thanks to the fact that they do not occupy so much space you can take them with you everywhere Forget about chaining the bicycle outside your office, restaurant, museum or cinema. Some bicycles are more compact than others, but all are enough to always carry with you.
Easy to travel with them
As we have just seen, you can take a folding bike everywhere, this includes carrying it as part of your luggage when going on vacation. This is one of the reasons why I love folding! They say that one of the best ways to get to know a city is by bicycle. I never go on a trip without my folding, whether the trip is by air , sea or land my bike always goes with me.
They are not devalued as much as a normal bike
Most folding bicycles maintain a good resale price. Of course, as long as they have been given proper maintenance and use. If for any reason you decide to sell a folding bike, you can sell it practically in what you bought it, depending on the mechanical and aesthetic state in which it is located.
Greater sensitivity to road imperfections
This drawback concerns the folding of small boulders. Generally these bicycles use wheels from 16 to 20 inches. The disadvantage of small boulders is that every road imperfection feels more. This is because the smaller the diameter of the wheel, the more difficult it will be to “roll” over the obstacles and imperfections of the road. Mostly, folding bicycles are designed for urban use. However, if you like going out to the mountain you can find mountain bikes of conventional size.
Difficulty to customize
Folding bicycles are much less popular than other types of bicycles. This makes your customization a bit more work, since it is more difficult to find the right accessories. The good news is that these bicycles are gradually gaining market and every time we can find a greater assortment and variety of specialized accessories for folding. There are even distributors specializing in folding bikes. Also, thanks to the internet, you can find almost any accessory and order it from the other side of the world.
Little portability of some models
There are folding of all sizes and with different folding mechanisms. It must be accepted, not all models are so easy to move when folded. Whether they are too heavy, their configuration is uncomfortable or it is almost impossible to keep them folded. If among your plans is intermodality, it is best to give more importance to the potability when looking for a folding.It is a matter of looking for a bike that is easy to transport folded and deployed!
They are more expensive than your premiums
Folding bicycles are usually more expensive than conventional bikes. This is largely due to the fact that many of the parts are designed and manufactured exclusively for one type of bicycle. On the other hand, conventional bikes use parts with standard measures which decreases the cost of production. If you compare the characteristics of a conventional bicycle with those of a folding bicycle (number of speeds, material, components, etc.) it is very likely that you can buy a conventional bicycle of higher range for the same price. However, you have to analyze what your needs really are. The ability to fold your bike and carry it everywhere may become a great added value and worth the investment.
They attract more attention than you are looking for
A strange-looking bicycle and small wheels will undoubtedly attract the attention of everyone who sees you passing by. Arriving at a traffic light will not miss the person who approaches you to ask about your bike. Don’t you get tired of those wheels? Are they the ones that take apart? How much does it cost you? They are just some of the most common questions. If you don’t like receiving so much attention, maybe a folding one isn’t for you.
For whom folding bicycles are ideal
They are perfect for those who must combine the bike with public transport or for those who have little space at home or in the office. Their small wheels make them agile to be able to move between the traffic of a big city. Although there are some mountain models, the vast majority of folding bicycles are intended for urban use.