The Best Folding Bike Buying Guide
A folding bike is like your conventional bicycle; the only distinguishing feature is its folding mechanism that allows for great convenience in transport and storage. With people trying to make best use of the space available at their disposal, folding bikes have become the preferred choice.
With such a wide range of foldable bikes to choose from, it's really a challenge and a headache for the layman to pick the right bike. Simply from top manufacturers itself, some bike store may carry a wide range of wheel sizes, folding mechanisms and folding systems.
There is an extensive range of folding bikes featuring different frame designs, wheel sizes, folding mechanisms and gears.
To choose the best folding bike you should consider: What is Your Need?
Decide on what is you need in purchasing a folding bike and type of riding you intent to use. Is it for recreation, traveling, commuters, short errands or for sporting activities?
We list the best folding bike buying guide:
1. Ride Type
The type of riding you do is the most important consideration. Do you use your bike for leisure trips round the corner, or do you use it for your regular commute to office or do you use it for mountain tours? Bikes for regular commute need to be comfortable and lightweight; yet they need to hold up against regular travel. Mountain bikes are designed for off-road travel across an array of terrains.
2. Wheel Size
Folding Bikes come in different wheel sizes. Popular brand bikes come with a few different wheel dimensions: 16 inch, 20 inch, 24 inch and 26 inch. These dimensions will impact on the riding performance and ease of carrying your bike.
16 inch diameter wheel size - It is light and compact when collapsed and ideal for taking in public transport. However, there will be a compromise for the compact size and riding comfort. Comfort for taller riders would be disadvantage on long ride. If compactability is your requirement then this may well be your option.
20 inch diameter wheel size - advantage of performance and compact when folded. Bike with this size delivers both comfort and efficient in ride and also ease of transport when folded.
24 & 26 Inch diameter wheel size - a normal size bike that can be collapsed and efficient performance. Consider the advantage of this full size bike if you need a bike that gives you both performance and looks of a normal full size bike but come with folding availability.
3. Frame Design and Material
The idea of including a folding mechanism is to add functionality to the bike. The frame and build material have a say in it. Aluminum, steel, carbon fiber and titanium are the commonly used build materials for folding bikes. Titanium and carbon fiber are lightweight, but very expensive. Aluminum and steel are extremely durable, but heavier with steel being the heaviest.
The frame design should not make the folding mechanism redundant.
4. Gears or No Gears
Amateur cyclists might ask what difference gears make to the performance of a bike. One, they allow you to adjust the speed. They also make maneuvering tricky terrains like hilly areas a lot easier. The only benefit a non-gear bike offers is that it breaks down less often.
Single gear bike offers comfortable ride on level track but it is cheaper and easy to maintain. Multi-gears provide ease of cycling over hilly ground with the varying combinations of the gears. Such bikes are more pricey and requires skilled technician to maintain and costly to up keep.
Bikes, whether they are the folding or non-folding type, require regular maintenance for optimum performance. Your bike components such as the inner tubes, tires, rims and other spare parts should be easily available. If not, you will have to pay extra to source them. Not only this, you will be unable to use your bike until it gets repaired.
6. Ease of Folding
How easy is it to fold the bike? Different brands make use of different folding mechanisms. There is the split fold, triangular hinge and break away mechanism. In the spilt mechanism, the bike has a single hinge which allows the bike to be folded in half. It is quickest to fold. The triangular hinge mechanism (such as Strida)features more hinges and clasps and enables you to fold the bike into a more compact form. But it's more complicated in comparison. The last lets you fold the bike by disassembling selected parts.
Finally, I have to mention the price of folding bicycles. Cheap folding bikes can be folded; however, with poor quality, the steering wheel might break off while riding. Of course, no one wants to have a folding bike that suddenly detaches in the middle of a ride.
Cheap folding bikes often demand frequent maintenance to retain exceptable quality. What makes it difficult or unfavorable is the cost that the person has to spend for the maintenance.
Do not consider folding bicycles below $500.
When shopping for a folding bike, do consider all these factors. Compare bikes from different brands at different price points to get only the best.