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Best Folding Bikes 2021 | Foldable Bikes Reviewed - Bicycling

Best Folding Bikes 2021 | Foldable Bikes Reviewed – Bicycling

Foldable bikes are a versatile and often-overlooked cycling option. Maybe your studio apartment has limited storage place, or perhaps your commute involves a train, several flights of steps, and an elevator. A foldable bike is a cycling problem-solver and a bundle of fun packed into a small and convenient package. From lightweight singlespeeds and cruisers to bikes with electric-assist motors, there is likely a foldable bike out there to suit your cycling needs. Check out five top options below, or scroll deeper for longer reviews of these and other options, plus buying advice.

Most Compact

Brompton M6L

Smallest folding bike currently available.

Best Motor

Tern Vektron S10

Tern Vektron S10

Class 1 e-bike with a Bosch Active Line Plus motor

Most Versatile

Rad Power RadMini

Rad Power RadMini

radpowerbikes.com

$1,499.00

Wide, 4-inch tires let you leave the pavement.

Budget model

Schwinn Loop

Schwinn Loop

The cheapest bike on our list

Most Portable (Up Steps!)

Bike Friday PakIt

Bike Friday PakIt

Belt-drive system requires minimal maintenance. 

Wheels for the Road or the Trail

Consider wheel size when looking for your ideal folding bike. It makes a difference in the folded size as well as what kind of terrain the bike is best suited to. Most folding bikes use 20-inch wheels to ensure they fold down to a manageable size and stay relatively light when commuting or traveling on public transport. If you plan on riding longer distances, 700c wheels will offer a smooth ride and maximize your pedaling input—but at the expense of a smaller size when folded down, and a lower weight. Alternatively, a folding e-bike offers some pedal assist to save energy and make sure you don’t show up to work with sweaty clothes. If you plan to ride off-road, then a folding fat bike with 4-inch tires can smooth out a bumpy trail.

Bicycle tire, Tire, Wheel, Bicycle wheel, Bicycle frame, Bicycle handlebar, Bicycle part, Bicycle wheel rim, Bicycle fork, Bicycle,

Just because folding bikes are practical, it doesn’t mean they can’t be fun.

Courtesy of Tern

Size, Weight, and Folding Mechanism

As folding bikes get more expensive, their overall weight typically goes down due to higher-quality parts and lighter frame materials, such as carbon fiber and titanium. If you climb stairs more often than you climb hills, opt for a singlespeed or a model with fewer gears, which can shave even more weight.

Consider how quickly and easily the bike folds down, especially if you’re the type who dawdles and gets to the train at the last minute.

Brompton Superlight Bike

Consider where you’ll be taking your bike. If it needs to go up stairs then make sure to check the weight and portability.

Brompton

Most of these bikes come as “one size fits all” with a lot of adjustability as you unfold them. Check for quick-release levers or simple adjustments so that the bike fits and rides well. A model with a lot of versatility may even be suitable for more than one member of your family.

Electric Options

Most electric folding-bike options come with a 250-watt motor and enough torque for safe but fast acceleration. The higher the torque, the faster the acceleration and the more powerful the bike will feel. Most folding e-bikes are Class 1, meaning they top out at 20 mph and are acceptable on bike paths. If you encounter several flights of steps during the course of an average day, keep in mind that a battery and motor add to the bike’s overall weight.

How We Chose These Bikes

Every product here has been thoroughly evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers, and use our own experience folding, unfolding, carrying, stashing, and of course, riding these bikes to determine the best options. The ones we haven’t tested were carefully chosen based on their value, quality of parts, our experience riding similar models, and how the overall package meets the needs of the intended buyer.

Ridden and Reviewed

—SMALLEST WHEN FOLDED—

Brompton M6L Black Edition

Courtesy

M6L Folding Bike

Brompton
rei.com

$1,525.00

  • Folds smaller than any other folding bike
  • Plenty of options to customize your ride

It’s hard to get your hands on a Brompton these days. The bikes are much sought after due to their overall high quality, and the fact that they pack down really small—so small you can commute to and from the airport and wedge one into the overhead compartment for a long-distance, car-free commute. The brand offers a variety of drivetrain setups, color schemes, and handlebar shapes—and a full lineup of luggage systems. We love the popular M6L for its six-speed drivetrain and u-shaped handlebar, which puts the rider in a comfortable, upright position. The steel frame is hand-brazed and ready to ride in wet weather, thanks to full-coverage fenders. You can also order a custom-built Brompton with your choice of colors and components—all the bikes are built to order at the brand’s London factory. Note: The M6L is currently sold out online, but expect to see a restock in early spring.

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—SMOOTHEST RIDE—

Tern BYB S11

Trevor Raab

BYB S11

Clever double hinged aluminum frame lets this 20-inch wheel bike fold impressively small

  • Bigger wheels roll smoother
  • Premium parts
  • Doesn’t fold as small as a Brompton

Tern’s BYB (Bring Your Bike) is an attempt to improve the performance of a folding bike without increasing its size. This 20-inch-wheeled bike folds up smaller than any of the brand’s previous models thanks to proprietary double-folding mechanisms on the frame that allow it to be broken down into thirds, so it shrinks down nearly as small as a folding bike with 16-inch wheels. But the BYB’s larger wheels give it a smooth, uncompromised ride and better stability than smaller-diameter wheels. The S11 model has a 1×11-speed Shimano Ultegra drivetrain and comes equipped with fenders, front and rear racks, and a chain guard—a bonus for commuters.

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—MOST VERSATILE—

Rad Power RadMini

Courtesy of Rad Power

RadMini

  • Big tires are good on a wide variety of terrain
  • Class 1 e-bike
  • Not as compact as most other folding bikes

The Rad Power RadMini is a lot to take in. It’s an electric-assist bike, a cargo bike, and a folding bike—with 4-inch-wide tires that would make a Lunar Rover jealous. It sounds like a bike for a niche sliced as thin as graphene, but the RadMini has something for everyone: hunters who need a convenient way in and out of the woods (and a bike that’s easy to conceal), anyone who wants in on the e-bike action but is limited on space, and RVers who want something they can use to zip around the campsite. This Class 2 e-bike top outs at 20 mph and has both pedal assist and a throttle.

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—BEST MOTOR—

Tern Vektron S10

Courtesy of Tern

Vektron S10

  • Bosch Active Line Plus motor

The 2019 Tern Vektron S10 improves upon the original’s über-compact folding design with more power and a bigger rack. The Bosch Active Plus motor delivers 25 percent more torque to help you conquer hills on the nearly 50-pound bike, and the 10-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain gives you options when you’re pushing more of the weight in eco mode. Tern uses 20-inch wheels to position the weight lower to the ground and keep the bike from becoming top-heavy while hauling cargo on the integrated rear rack, which is now longer and lower, thanks to a diagonally mounted battery. It’s a bike that disguises its heft well and folds up to stand on its rear end for a portable package that goes wherever you do.

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—GOES ANYWHERE—

Aventon Sinch

Aventon Sinch

$1,499
aventon.com

With a front suspension fork and 4-inch-wide tires, Aventon’s Sinch folding e-bike broadens the types of terrain on which you can ride your folding e-bike. A 500-watt motor gives you the power and torque you need to climb hills, and a throttle gives you the option of not pedaling at all. Its off-road stature means the Sinch isn’t the most portable folder on this list; it’s 66 pounds and takes up nearly 17 cubic feet while folded (compare that to about 3 cubic feet for the Brompton). That means the Sinch is better for people buying a folding e-bike to take up minimal space in an RV or apartment, not those needing to carry their bike regularly.

—LIGHTEST FOLDING E-BIKE ON OUR LIST—

Brompton Electric

Courtesy of Brompton

Electric, $3,639

brompton

  • Available in 2- and 6-speed models
  • Folds to same dimensions as nonelectric Bromptons
  • Maximum pedal assist is 15.5 mph

The folding bike with the cult following (check out #bromptonmafia on Instagram) recently got a motor, adding even more capacity for distance and cargo to an already ultra-practical bike. We’ve long loved Bromptons for being one of the only folding bikes that can, according to Brompton, fit in an airplane overhead compartment; the electric iteration of the 16-inch-wheeled bike still folds to the same small dimensions but adds a custom-developed 250W front-hub motor with a removable 300Wh battery pack that offers a riding range of 25 to 50 miles between charges. Available in two- and six-speed models ($3,499 for the 2-speed, $3,639 for the 6-speed), the bike shifts and accelerates smoothly with or without the e-assist. Although the motor and battery do add weight, something you’ll notice if you have to haul the bike up stairs, at 35 to 37 pounds (including the battery), this is still one of the lighter e-folding bikes. The e-assist tops out at 15.5 mph.

Read Full Review

—BEST FOR HILLY COMMUTES—

Blix Vika+ Electric Folding Bike

Vika+, $1,599

  • Comes with fenders and a rear rack
  • Has a throttle for pedal-free assistance
  • Fully charges in 2 to 3 hours
  • Folding mechanism isn’t smooth
  • Folding stem flexes noticeably

Weighing almost 50 pounds, the Vika+ is among the heavier folding e-bikes out there, but what it lacks in staircase-friendliness it makes up for in assistance. The 20-inch-wheeled aluminum alloy bike is powered by a 500-watt rear-hub motor. Included with the motor and electric system are five levels of pedal assist and a throttle mode for burning rubber in the bike lane (well, up to 20mph), all of which can be controlled by buttons on the handlebar and monitored by an LCD display that shows your speed, range, trip meter, and odometer. Depending on the assistance setting, the battery has a range of 20 to 45 miles per charge. As for the nonelectric components of the bike, 7-speed Shimano gearing gives you everything you need to keep pedaling with the e-assist turned off, with Tektro V brakes for stopping. Ultimately, it’s a pretty great bargain for a fast-folding bike that packs down smaller than most e-folding bikes. Plus, the bike comes equipped with commuter-friendly details: a rear cargo rack, fenders, and head- and taillights.

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—LIGHTWEIGHT, SPACE-SAVING E-CARGO BIKE—

Tern HSD S8i

HSD S8i

ternbicycles.com

$4,099.00

  • Space for a child seat
  • Hauls up to 374 pounds
  • Long range

With the new HSD, Tern combines all the best traits of a folding bike, e-commuter, and cargo bike in the ultimate bid to replace your car. A midsize cargo bike, it’s got everything we love about the older GSD, like plenty of cargo and kid capacity, but in an even more compact, convenient package that feels much less overbuilt for a smaller family or solo rider. The bike can handle up to 374 pounds, with space for one child seat. Its Bosch Active Line Plus motor is smooth and quiet as it accelerates up to 20mph, and the Gates belt drive and Shimano Nexus 8-speed internal geared hub are as high quality as they are low maintenance. The bike has a 400Wh battery with a 69-mile range, and fits riders 4-foot-11 to 6-foot-5. With all that, it’s still a great folder—it feels as nimble as a regular bike when riding, but once you’re done, you can double down the handlebar, and stand the bike on its rear rack to fit into compact spaces.

More Options to Consider

—FULL-SIZE FOLDING—

Montague Boston

Boston

  • More stable than smaller folding bikes
  • Single pivot point means less frame flexion
  • Flip-flop hub
  • Doesn’t fold as small as 20- and 16-inch options

For those who want the convenience of a folding bike without the tiny-wheeled look, there’s the Montague Boston—a folder that uses standard 700c wheels and has a flip-flop hub for fixed-gear or singlespeed riding. No, you won’t get the ultra-compact folded size of a bike with 16- or 20-inch wheels, but the bike will still pack down much smaller than a traditional one and fit easily into your trunk. A pivot point on the seatstay allows the back of the bike to fold toward the front in one move; just remove the front wheel and it’s ready to stow. The Boston comes in two sizes and features a riser handlebar and BMX-style brakes for a comfortable riding position.

—FULLY LOADED—

Dahon Mariner D8

Mariner D8

amazon.com

  • 8-speed Shimano drivetrain
  • Fenders and rear rack

There are lots of reasons Dahon’s most popular folding bike has been so hard to get a hold of during the pandemic—the aluminum-frame bike has brand-name parts, a quick-folding design, and everything you need for a convenient commute, like fenders and a rear rack. The bike’s Shimano Altus rear derailleur shifts smoothly with trigger shifters, and its 8-speed gearing is more than capable of tackling urban climbs. Thick, 1.75-inch-wide Schwalbe Citizen tires on 20-inch wheels are burly enough for city riding. We love this bike’s combination of ride quality and value—when more widely available, some sites have it for as low as $700.

—INEXPENSIVE—

Schwinn Loop

Loop Folding Bike

amazon.com

  • Heavy
  • Needs a strap to stay folded

The Schwinn Adapt formerly filled our slot for “best value” folding bike, but due to low stock, we recommend the inexpensive Loop instead. The bike has a retro-styled aluminum step-through frame and a 7-speed Shimano Tourney derailleur with Shimano Revo twist shifters—which are entry level in quality, but provide enough gearing to charge up most city climbs. The bike rides smoothly enough and it’s a cinch to fold down, though it doesn’t have a holding mechanism to lock it closed once folded. At 33 pounds, it’s also the heaviest non-cargo, non-electric folding bike on our list, so it’s best suited to the rider who doesn’t have to transfer from bike to public transportation through the course of their commute. The Loop comes with a few added essentials: fenders for riding in wet conditions, a rear rack for light cargo, and even its own storage bag.

—LIGHTEST ON OUR LIST—

Bike Friday PakIt

Courtesy of Bike Friday

PakIt

  • Weighs 15 pounds
  • Belt drive system is very clean

If your commute involves a lot of bike-carrying to get on or off public transit or summit a five-story staircase at either end, you’ll want something light. The PakIt is a standout in that regard—according to Bike Friday, it weighs just 15 pounds and can fit into a backpack for easier toting. The PakIt is built with 16-inch wheels to help keep it compact, and has a menu of customizable options, including singlespeed and 8-speed models. Choose from a variety of builds and five colors or upgrade to the Elite Custom build and choose from 20 colors. Bike Friday’s size range should accommodate riders from 4-foot-5 to 6-foot-3. The brand also offers three belt-drive options, which are easy to maintain and great for keeping the grease off your pant legs. Add an electric-assist motor for easy climbing. Builds start at $1,019.

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