Best Inexpensive Foldable Bicycle | Buyer Guide
As people flock to metropolitan areas in search of work and city-life, they often end up living in apartments that lack any form of outdoor storage. A space-saving folding bike can be tucked out of sight into any cubby or closet in the home. The bike once folded will fit easily into an elevator, plus you can carry the bicycle with ease up a stairway because of its lightweight design.
The best budget folding bikes are also ideal for commuting through city streets and taking on public transportation.
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In this buyer’s guide, we will explore the best folding bike to meet your unique needs. You’ll learn the pros and cons of each bike so you can pick the perfect folding bike.
Why Own One of the Best Folding Bikes?
Everyone should own a quality folding bike that enjoys the sport of cycling. The bike’s compact size lets you store the bike virtually anywhere, whether at work, at home, or while traveling. You can ride the folding bike to work, the store, or just for enjoyment. With no size constraints because of its foldability, the bike becomes an asset in large cities or on vacation.
Folding Bike Considerations.
Here are a few things to consider when purchasing a folding bike:
1.Wheels and tires
When shopping for the best foldable bike, you’ll want to consider the wheels. Typically, a foldable bike has 20-inch wheels. The smaller size helps them fold down into a manageable, compact size and remain lightweight. 700c wheels provide a wonderful ride and help to maximize the ride with each pedal. For those who wish to ride off the road, pick a foldable with 4-inch tires instead of a standard size.
Yes, a foldable bike is a smaller size than a standard bicycle, but it folds down, which is a perk that cannot be overlooked.
3. Pedal Assist
You can opt for a folding e-bike with pedal assist, so you don’t have to worry about working out too hard.
The best folding bicycle is lightweight and composed of high-quality parts. Most frames are fashioned from either carbon fiber or titanium. You can opt for a single speed folding bike because the fewer gears lighten the load.
5. Folding Ability
Folding should be rapid and efficient because you don’t want to waste time trying to fold up your bike at a busy bus stop or before boarding a train. The best full-size folding bike should have quick-release levers so you can rapidly fold-up the bike. With foldable bikes, normally ‘one size fits all’ so that you can adjust the bike to fit your needs. One of the nice things about such a bike is that anyone can ride it with a few minor adjustments.
6. Folding Speed
Okay, you are probably thinking that bike folding speed isn’t that important, but let me share a story with you. I was trying to get on the MAX train in Portland, and there was a line of people behind me. My bike was slow to fold, and I could tell people were annoyed. Trust me; you do not want to be the person holding up a line of angry people while you try to fold up your bike! Ideally, a bike should fold in 10 seconds, but some bikes take 15 seconds to fold. Please avoid any budget folding bike that takes longer or requires any form of disassembly. Also, you should never purchase a folding bike that takes tools to fold it up.
On many trains and buses, size matters. Even in your apartment, you do not want a big bike that still takes up space even when folded. The wheel diameter usually increases the folding size. Also, please remember that you might want a cover for the bike to slip it into once folded. Ideally, you want your bike to fold into a small size that fits with ease into any space on public transport.
The Components of a Folding Bike that’s Needs a Look.
The folding bike is all about ease. You don’t want components that complicate the ride or folding. However, a few of these are must-haves for many riders. You’ll need to be honest with yourself about which components you need and which ones you can live without.
Here are a few things to consider when it comes to the components of a folding bike:
You want tough tires that offer optimum puncture protection. You don’t want to be in the middle of a long commute and face fixing a flat. You’ll also want plenty of grip for the road to create traction and prevent accidents.
Opt for a single speed if you want more lightweight. Also, it will cut down on maintenance. However, if you live in a hilly region, then you will want gears. A single-speed bike is only good on flat terrain. Folding bikes come with triple chainsets that include an 11-32 wide ratio. You'll typically find 6-speed Shimano or 7-speed drivetrains on cheap folding bikes.
You’ll usually find internal hubs that are entirely sealed, which reduces maintenance. Hub gears with shifting are easier for newbies because there is no chain tension. The system will never suffer damage. You’ll need a derailleur system if you want multiple gears.
Many folding bikes now sport disc brakes, but the system makes the bike heavier. However, disc brakes stand up on wet surfaces giving great stopping power.
You’ll want to get a chain guard if you plan on wearing long pants while you ride our bike. You don’t want your pants to get caught in the chains.
Remember, everything adds weight, but these are a few components that you might want to consider on your folding bike. Get mudguards to keep your clothes today, get a luggage rack to carry your items, get a tire pump that mounts on your bike’s frame to deal with a flat, and get lights in case you want to ride in low light.
Performance Considerations with a Folding Bike
The higher-performing folding bikes have a very still lateral feel that is comparable to a regular bike. I love that stiff feel and, trust me, and you are not sacrificing it with a folding bike. A folding bike with speeds lets you ride in comfort up and downhills. Depending on the tires, bumpy roadways are also not a problem.Read about best folding mountain bike.
With a folding bike, you should be able to ride 50 miles per day without any discomfort. The distance you cover and your bike’s performance will depend on the gear ratios, wheels size, and handle post/frame stiffness.
You’ll experience the best performance with 20-inch wheels. The bike’s weight also matters because you can carry a lightweight model with ease when necessary.
The Frame of a Folding Bike
You want to opt for a lightweight material when picking the best lightweight folding bike. Steel is very resilient, but it's also not light. Aluminum is a far better frame choice. Titanium is very lightweight but often out of budget. Carbon frames are super light but usually pack a hefty price tag. Sadly, carbon frames also dent easily, which is a drawback.
Is an Electric Foldable Bike Right for You?
Virtually every folding electric bike can have a 250-watt motor. Typically, fold e-bikes are classified as a Class 1 with a top speed of 20 miles per hour. However, one thing to remember is that a motor adds to the bike’s weight considerably.
Will you be Carrying Luggage?
You might think this is an odd question if you are looking for a bike to ride back and forth to work or just around town.
However, many people use folding bikes to travel. Imagine riding across Europe while alternating with public transportation. Such a dream is completely realistic and doable with a folding bike, but you are going to need to carry a change of clothes, your toothbrush, toothpaste, and other necessities.
Make sure that the folding bike you get can hold luggage or a rack with ease. You can remove the luggage and wear it as a backpack when the bike is folded, and you are not riding.
If luggage transportation isn’t important to you, then please get a streamlined bike and avoid the hassle.
Learning About the Best Folding Bikes.
Our team of bike experts has reviewed the following cheap folding bikes. You’ll find everything from the best budget folding bike to the best affordable folding bike. We outline all the bike’s pros and cons in this folding bicycle review so you can make the best decision on which ride best meets your needs.
Best Folding Bike Review.
Whether you are shopping to get the best inexpensive folding bike or a high-end choice, this list will have several great options.
Best Budget: Schwinn Loop Folding Bicycle
If you are looking for the best budget folding bike, then look no further than the Schwinn Loop bike. Schwinn was founded in 1985 with a very strong focus on quality and performance. With the Schwinn Loop, they do impress. The bike is small and compact but powerful. Another good thing is that it's also very easy to fold.
The Schwinn Loop 7-speed has seven speeds for riding on a wide array of terrain, linear-pull brakes, full fenders, an alloy frame, and rear cargo rack. It comes with a nylon bag for bike storage.
20-inch alloy rims, 3-piece single speed crankset, and seven-speed Shimano grip shifting ability. The bike is a wonderful light 33 pounds and has good city tires for gripping the pavement. The frame is a stand over and fits most riders.
The Schwinn Loop is a very good affordable bike.
EuroMini ZiZZo: Another Budget Bike.
The EuroMini Zizzo is great for people of all sizes. The bike comes with a reasonable price tag that won’t break your budget. The bike design is a nice 28 pounds, which makes it easy to handle and fold. People who regularly climb stairs will appreciate the weight.
The bike boasts Shimano components, which is a pleasant surprise considering its budget price tag. It has seven speeds with a nice grip style shifter.
Good V braking for fast stopping power. 20-inch wheels that are remarkably stable. Adjustable seat height for all body sizes.
Not as budget-friendly as the Schwinn, this bike is still a relatively cheap folding bike and a must if you are watching your pennies.
V brakes offer optimum stopping in any conditions. Shimano 7-speed shifter on the grips, so you don’t have to break stride while shifting. Also, it has 7-speed cassette gears that are stainless steel.
An adjustable stem that caters to riders from 5’ to 6’4”. Double rim walls so you don’t worry about punctures — Kendra ultra-light multi-terrain tires. There is a magnet catcher to hold the bike in place while folded.
Although not as cheap as the above choices, this folding bike still comes at an affordable price.
Best for Commuting: Schwinn Adapt 1.
Are you concerned about your carbon footprint? Maybe you want to save money on your gasoline bill. Whatever your reasoning, you probably want to buy the best lightweight folding bicycle for commuting. The Schwinn Adapt 1 is a top choice commuter, as well as one of the overall best budget folding bikes. It is my personal choice because it is an excellent bike if money is not an issue. I would easily use this bike for a long road trip or to tour a region on a biking vacation.
Alloy frame with V brakes Shimano Revo Shift Twist Shifters and 7-speed Shimano Tourney to let you ride across a variety of terrain.
The 16-inch bike with a 20-inch wheel size fits most people. Full wrap fenders keep dirt off your clothing and shoes. Sidewall reflectors improve visibility on the road.
Not a cheap bike but still affordable for most riders seeking a commuting bike
Dahon Mariner: For Commuting.
With 8-speeds, the Dahon Mariner can ride across flat or hilly roadways. It makes an excellent commuter bike. The brushed aluminum frame is lightweight so you can carry it upstairs, onto buses, or wherever you need to go. This bike was designed for boaters to use when they want transportation onshore, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used for other riding adventures.
20-inch wheel size to absorb bumps on the roadway. The aluminum frame makes the bike weigh only 26 pounds.
Accommodates riders from 4’9” to 6’3”. Folds in less than 15 seconds. 8-speeds Shimano FT35 with the rear derailleur. Telescope handlebar with fusion technology. Trigger shift.
A very durable and upscale bike for the price
Xspec 7-speed Folding Bike: City Touring and Commuting
This simple and cheap folding bike from Xspec is a great option for city-dwellers. The steel frame and steel fork fold flat in seconds. The folded size is just 29" x 24" x 13", making this easy to carry upstairs or to take with you on public transport. It's also highly adjustable, so it fits riders more than six feet tall and offers a 220-pound weight capacity.
This city bike comes a SL-TX30 7-speed folding bike shifter. The 20" wheels are outfitted with impressively wide 1.75" tires, enabling this bike to easily handle rough roads and potholes. The front and rear rim brakes are good, but they don't necessarily work as well as we'd like on wet roads.
Another great thing about this bike comes outfitted with several features that make it good for commuting. For example, it includes a rear rack that you can easily strap panniers or other bags onto for everyday carry. It also comes with fenders on both wheels, although you'll probably want more rain protection if you plan on riding in the rain. Keep in mind, too, that you'll need to add on lights and a bike horn if this is your regular bike for commuting.
FAQ About Folding Bikes.
If you are considering one of the best budget folding bikes, then you probably have questions before making a purchase. Below, you will find the most frequently asked questions about folding bikes.
Is there any disadvantage to using folding bikes?
A folding bike is just a standard bike with the ability to fold. Folding bikes have special joints that enable them to bend and form a compact size. Sadly, the joints make the bike less solid than a standard bicycle. Over time, the joints can wear out. Also, the hinges on folding bikes make the ride heavier than a standard bike.
Can I take a folding bike on an off-road trail?
Yes, you can take a folding bike on an off-road trail. Many come with large tires, and some folding mountain bike models are even designed specifically for off-road use.
Are folding bikes fast?
Yes, folding bikes can be as fast as standard bikes, but some have smaller wheels, so you’ll need to pedal faster to gain the same speed.
Are folding bikes easy to fold up?
All folding bikes are designed to fold up, but some are just easier to fold. Many take only seconds, which is a true asset if you are getting on and off public transportation with your ride.
Is a folding bike safe?
Quality matters. You will want to make sure that the hinges on the bike are quality, and it is a name brand. Overall, most well-designed and professionally constructed folding bikes are safe to ride.
My top choice is the Schwinn Loop because it is affordable and well-designed. The Schwinn Adapt 1 is more money than other folding bikes, but I also love it. If money isn’t an issue, then I suggest taking either bike for a test ride to try to decide because they both come out on top.
As you can see from the above review, the other folding bikes have their advantages and disadvantages. I suggest weighing what is important to you when picking the best folding bike for your unique needs.