The best folding bikes 2023 reviewed and rated
The best folding bikes are one of the most versatile types of bike around with a multitude of uses
The best folding bikes are different from other bikes for one obvious reason. The clue is in the name: they fold. The ability of these machines to become suitcase-sized makes them perfect for taking on the train. It means you don't need to leave a bike locked at the station, and it's there to hop on at the other end of the train journey, too.
Yes, you can take regular non-folding commuter bikes (which feature among the best hybrid bikes) on many trains but often not during rush hour services and you may have to book a slot. On some services, such as the London Underground and New York City buses, they aren't allowed at all. A folding bike gets around those problems if you are commuting by bike.
Folding bikes are not only popular with city commuters but they’re also super convenient for people who have limited living space - if you live in a studio apartment or shared house, for example. And they're also much easier to take with you on RV trips or even canal boat holidays.
Commuting, space saving, multi-modal transport - the best folding bikes are a great investment for any cycling family.
We've covered our top picks of the best folding bikes below, followed by budget, premium and electric folding bike options. Read on to the bottom of the page, for our buyer's guide on how to choose the best folding bike for your needs.
Here's a quick look at our top choices from the best folding bikes, including budget and electric options...
The Brompton is the classic folder, which turns into a tiny package for carrying and storing. The original C Line is joined by a wide array of folders, from the 7.5kg T Line to the Brompton Electric.
The Dahon Mariner gives you foldability and affordability. It includes a rear rack and mudguards, so it's ready for all-weather commuting. It's not too heavy either.
The Tern Vektron gives you foldability and electric propulsion from a Bosch motor and battery. Add in a rack and mudguards and it's a versatile machine for transport and storage.
The best folding bikes
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Best folding bikes
1. Brompton C Line Explore folding bike
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
World-renowned, London-based brand Brompton is the market leader in and makes some of the best folding bikes. There's one frame size, with a whole range of customization options. Customers can choose everything from the handlebar shape, frame material (which obviously affects the weight), number of gears (in the C Line Explore it's six), finishing kit and, of course, colour. Bromptons feature a traditional 16in wheel size and are famously quick and easy to fold.
The handlebar shape greatly influences the geometry of the bike. Available options are:
- Brompton Mid handlebar style: classic Brompton style
- Brompton High handlebar style: offers a more upright position
- Brompton Low handlebar style: the more sporty flat bat option that offers quick handling
With six gears on this model, it's a perfect folding bike for anyone with hills to tackle and coming with mudguards means that your clothing has instant protection from mucky road spray.
There is a front luggage block that lets you clip on a Brompton specific bag, available at an additional cost.
The Brompton range features bikes with different numbers of gears, with or without mudguards, and includes the Brompton Electric e-bike. It tops off with the latest T Line bikes. Made of titanium and carbon fibre, the lightest build comes in at under 7.5kg.
2. B'Twin Tilt 500 folding bike
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Folding neatly in half and at the stem, this B'Twin is a very competitively priced folding bike from sports giant Decathlon's house brand. It's an impressive option that's well priced.
The Tilt 500 features seven gears, comes with fenders pre-installed and the highly adjustable saddle height allows for sharing across riders of different sizes.
Obviously at this price point there are some compromises to be made in the finishing kit on the bike, and it's likely that you will need to replace brake pads more often than with other models. But coming with a lifetime warranty on the frame, stem, fork and handlebars, it has life long value.
It's one of the best folding bikes on the market especially if you are on a tighter bike budget that won't stretch to a Brompton C Line or Tern Verge X11.
The best folding bikes: budget
3. Dahon Mariner D8
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Mariner D8 is on of US brand Dahon's most popular folding bikes, and with its all round performance, it's clear to see why.
The frame is made from the brand's Dalloy (an aluminium alloy) Sonus tubeset and it folds via Dahon's Lattice forged hinge with what it calls ViseGrip technology, which the brand says makes it a fast folder. It also helps keep the overall weight reasonably low. It's far from the lightest folding bike - that award goes to the Hummingbird folding bike - but at 27.69lb/12.56kg, it's far from portly.
The 20in wheels and V-brakes may be of no particular brand, but the Mariner D8 gets an eight-speed Shimano Altus drivetrain, a great reliable and durable component, and a great find at this price point.
Coming complete with a rear rack and full-coverage fenders/ mudguards, it's ready to commute or go shopping straight out the box, once you've undertaken the tricky task of assembling this website only purchase.
It's one of the best folding bikes on the market as it does tick all the boxes of what to look for in a folder, but they're just rather small ticks. In order to reach this competitive price point, you are making compromises all around, with none of the Dahon Mariner D8 features really excelling. It's not particularly exciting, thrilling or stand-out-from-the-crowd beautiful. It just does what it says, and sometimes that's all we really want.
4. Origami Hawk
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Origami Bicycle Company, from Richmond, Virginia, wins the 'best name for a folding bike brand' competition. But there's much more to it than just a name.
The steel frame and fork will give some riders strength reassurance, especially as it has a higher max rider weight of 240lbs (108kgs).
Equipped with Shimano Tourney/Revoshift drivetrain with seven gears the bike should deal with undulating terrain well, and as the wheels are 20 inch, it's one of the best folding bikes for stability and smoothness.
Having disc brakes at this price point is really impressive, although these are cable rather than the hydraulically actuated brakes which are featured on the significantly pricier Tern Verge X11. So don't assume that their stopping power will automatically outperform standard rim braking options.
Overall it's a great package. Folding dimensions are a bit larger than smaller sized wheel bikes, such as the Brompton and it is one of the heaver folding bikes on the market, but a great value for money option.
The best folding bikes: premium
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
If you're after the best folding bike that's a bit faster and if money is no object, the Tern Verge X11 is a superb option. With 22in wheels, it's more like a standard road bike and comes with a SRAM Force 1x drivetrain and wide-ratio cassette, making molehills out of mountains.
We really noticed the difference the larger wheel sizes made during our testing - in many ways it rode and felt much like a regular hybrid, with decent acceleration and the ability to roll along nicely once up to speed. The result, we found, is a bike that's not just suited to short, city commutes but longer rides, too.
The 10-42 cassette gearing won't feel much different from that of a full-sized machine, nor will the braking with the well-respected Shimano Deore, hydraulic disc power on board, borrowed from the brand's mountain bike range.
With an aluminium frame and SRAM Force carbon cranks the total weight is an impressively low 22.5 lb/ 10.2 kg (claimed) and the Verge X11 is swift to fold, which Tern say takes around 10 seconds. However, we did find that the larger wheel size means that even when folded it's larger than many of its competitors, so perhaps not the best choice for those whose commute also involves public transport.
It's rare to see such a high-end spec, which also includes hydraulic disc brakes, Kinetix Pro X wheels with Schwalbe Durano tyres and a uniquely designed adjustable stem making it a very impressive folding bike, but the price does reflect all this!
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Brompton's P Line features a titanium rear triangle, and is offered as a lighter sub-10kg option to the original all steel Brompton, now called the C line, which will weigh in between 24.7 and 26.6lbs /11.2 and 12.1kg. During our testing we really noticed the difference, and while 22lbs / 10kg is still a fair amount to carry around for longer periods, the reduction in weight did make the P Line altogether easier to pick up and take with us.
Like all Bromptons it's nicely put together with umpteen clever little design hacks. We really liked the saddle up, roll-ability, not offered on previous P Lines, that allowed us to easily wheel it around a station concourse via the saddle and maneuver it around commuters during the rush to the train.
The four-speed gearing system is just as clever. It comes with an ingenious own brand two-piece derailleur which has been designed to fit inside the narrow fold - one part has a spring mechanism with one jockey wheel that is mounted and tucked under the chain stay, and the second part is a fixed chain tensioner that’s mounted below the rear drop out. We did find however that the rear derailleur was a little fiddly to adjust and we'd have liked a smaller bottom gear, but both are relatively minor issues.
All told, we found the new P Line to be more practical, more 'pickupable', more maneuverable than before, which truly makes it one of the best folding bikes out there.
Best electric folding bikes
Still capable of folding into a handy transportable package, the best electric folding bikes will provide power assistance for any cyclists looking for a little help on their ride.
These are the best folding bikes for saving the legs, wanting to arrive at your destination without working up a sweat, or even as a car swap for a trip to the shops.
As with all electric bikes, there is a huge difference between the models of batteries and motors, which in general is reflected in the price tag. If you are considering a folding e-bike, then check out our page on the best electric bikes as it provides all you need to know about e-bikes.
Check out our page specifically covering the best electric folding bikes for more info.
7. Raleigh Evo Electric Folding Bike
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The really competitively priced Raleigh Evo Electric bike is one of the best folding bikes for riders looking for a little power assistance and an alternative option over the car or public transport.
The aluminium frame and steel fork combo comes with an eight-speed Shimano Altus gear system, a 250Wh battery and a New TranzX F15 motor, which Raleigh says provides a range of around 31miles (terrain, speed and rider weight depending).
The larger 20" wheels are fitted with Kenda 1.95" tyres, which should provide a comfortable and stable ride. While it's unclear what brand V-brakes are fitted, the rest of the finishing kit features many Raleigh own branded parts, which from experience are good quality, reliable and durable.
We're really impressed to see the inclusion of front and rear lights, and integrated racks and fenders/ mudguards as standard in this little machine. The downside, as with all electric folding bikes, is the weight that a battery and motor add to the bike. At 44.09lb/20kg (claimed), it's about 20lbs/10kg heavier than a standard folder such as the Tern Verge X11. So it's hardly a fold and hop on a train/ pop in the boot of a car bike, but it's worth noting that even with all the as-standard extras it still comes in a little lighter than the much higher end Tern Vektron S10 electric folding bike.
The Raleigh Evo Electric Folding Bike is a great option for anyone wanting a cycling commute without working up a sweat, perhaps wanting to replace the car for trips to the shops, or even undertake a little touring (as long as you take the battery charger).
8. Tern Vektron S10 electric folding bike
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
We really rated the non-electric Tern Verge X11, so have complete confidence that the powered Tern Vektron will also be one of the best folding bikes on the market.
This time the Vektron has slightly smaller 20-inch wheels, although these are larger than some folding bike models, like the Brompton, which are teamed with Schwalbe Big Apple tyres, and should provide a really stable and comfortable ride feel.
The biggest deal with this electric folding bike is that it features a high-quality gold standard Bosch electric drivetrain, with a full charge that can last between 30 and 60 miles depending on the level of electric assist. It's well worth reading our page on electric bikes, highlighted above, to understand why the battery and motor choice really make a difference in the ride quality of e-bikes, but in summary: you get what you pay for.
The rest of this impressive folding bike is, as expected with Tern, specced highly with Magura MT4 hydraulic disc brakes making speed modulation and controlled stopping a breeze, and highly respected Shimano 10-speed Deore drivetrain also making an appearance.
The as standard Atlas rack can haul 27kg, and is also compatible with a child bike seat, a great option for anyone combining their commute with dropping off the little ones.
With the battery, motor rack, fenders/mudguards and integrated lights however does come a weight compromise. Weighing in at 48.72lb/22.1kg it's probably one of the heaviest folding bikes on the market, which can make off bike manoeuvrability tricky, especially if there are stairs involved.
Weight penalty aside, this is one of the best folding bikes money can buy, you'll just require rather a lot.
Buyer's guide to the best folding bikes
Folding bikes: what benefits can they offer you?
There are many benefits a folding bike offers. Here's a quick list of just a few of them:
- Ease of switching between cycling and public transport
- Stores easily in your home
- Peace of mind of not having to lock up the bike outside (it can sit under your desk!)
- Convenient to take on vacation - collapsible bikes are popular with RV road trippers and some can even be packed into airline luggage
- Most are built with durability and simple maintenance as the top priority
What sort of folding bike is best for you?
There are many different brands offering folding bikes, and what might be the perfect option for one person may be the wrong one for another. Key differences can be found in folding mechanism, wheel size, weight and price.
Folding mechanism: A collapsible bike can be folded in a few different ways. Some styles are more user friendly than others, so it's worth seeing a bike in the flesh and practising folding and unfolding before you buy, particularly if you expect to be unfurling the bike in a hurry on a train platform.
Folding bike wheel size: Models with smaller wheels will be lighter and more compact when folded, but won’t gather as much momentum on the road. A folding bike with larger wheels will be much faster rolling once the wheels are up to speed - but will likely weigh more and will be a little more cumbersome to load onto public transport or haul up a few flights of stairs.
Lightweight folding bikes: If you intend to be hoisting the bike on and off trains, then it's understandable that you want it to be light. This can be achieved through using a lighter frame material. Brompton has introduced titanium to its range and there are brands, such as Hummingbird, making carbon folders. Higher quality components will also reduce the weight, as will opting for fewer gears - such as a singlespeed version - but this will only really suit someone who doesn't expect to come across many hills in their use of the bike.
Folding bike adjustability: Most folding bikes will be ‘one size fits all’, with a great deal of adjustability – meaning that it’s easy to share the bike across members of your household. However, if you know this is an important consideration, it’s worth ensuring that the model you buy offers a wide range of adjustment that’s easy to use. Brompton bikes, for example, have a long seatpost that is adjusted via a simple quick-release lever, making it easy to swap between riders.
Electric folding bikes: In the past few years, electric folding bikes have become a genre of their own. The addition of a motor usually makes for a greater overall mass, but weights are ever-decreasing and the additional power will make ascents significantly easier.
Are cheap folding bikes worth it?
While the saying 'you get what you pay for' mostly applies here, you can pick up a cheap folding bike, such as the B'Twin Tilt 500 and be pleasantly surprised. A cheap folding bike will do the job for you - but you can expect it to be heavier than more premium offerings thanks to lower-end components and a heftier frame.
Finding the right option for you comes down to choosing which side of compromise to sit on.
Folding bike frame materials
As with any type of bike, there are multiple options when it comes to frame material.
Collapsible bike market leader Brompton specializes in steel – using its renowned high-quality brazing techniques to ensure that the frame welding provides the lightest yet strongest bond possible. Steel is resilient and comfortable – but it’s not the lightest and that's why Brompton started offering some titanium-tubed folders.
Aluminium is a very popular choice for its balance between weight and resilience - and also low price.
For those who really want to splash out, there are carbon-framed folding bikes such as Hummingbird's singlespeed, which comes in at 8kg. Although using carbon will make for a super-light folding bike, it's easier to damage than steel or aluminium, which is worth bearing in mind as many folders pick up a few knocks being hauled on and off trains.
Folding bike components: what to look out for
Because of what they do, folding bikes are popular among commuters who will opt for components that are easy to maintain and reliable.
Tough tyres with good puncture protection are often high on the agenda. Fixing a flat is the last thing you want to do on your way to work. Schwalbe and Kenda are popular manufacturers of small diameter tyres for folding bikes, and most will be 1.75-2 inches wide – offering a good level of grip thanks to a high volume and thus increased contact patch with the tarmac compared to traditional road tyres.
Think carefully about the number of gears, too. For flat city streets, a singlespeed (just a single gear) will cut down on maintenance and overall weight. However, for riding hilly terrain there are folding bikes that come with triple cranksets and 11-32 wide-ratio cassettes. This will allow you to spin up gradients but will increase weight.
Many folding bikes feature hub gears – this means the shifting system is entirely sealed, cutting down on maintenance dramatically. Shifting on hub gears is often easier than using derailleurs for beginners, as there is no chain tension to worry about - you don't have to be pedalling to change gear. In addition, there's no derailleur to get bent or damaged, always a risk for a hard-working folding bike.
If you want a wide spread of gears, a derailleur system is better, but less practical in the folding bike world.
Disc brakes are also beginning to appear on folding bikes, offering greater stopping power and control – especially in wet weather. They'll add more to the weight than rim brakes, however.
If you expect to be cycling in your office clothes and want to stay as clean as possible, chainguards and fenders are essential, while a belt drive can help keep muck off you and makes for lower maintenance.
Pannier racks, a frame-mounted pump and integrated lights are all accessories that you can feel justified in expecting on higher-end models.
Electric folding bikes: the future?
The huge rise in popularity of e-bikes hasn't passed the folding family by. There's an increasing number of folding e-bikes and in the next few years we can expect to see that number increasing even more.
Having an electric motor assisting your folding bike journey means you can commute without having to worry about getting sweaty in your work clothes.
Electric assist is also a perfect way of overcoming one of the drawbacks of e-bikes: their weight. They are relatively heavy for their size due to the extra rigidity that has to be built into their hinged parts. So although a folding electric bike will weigh more than a standard folding bike, you'll get a bit of help with your pedalling.
The lightest folding e-bike we’ve seen actually available to buy is the A-bike at 12kg, but most models are over 15kg and over 20kg isn’t an unreasonable mass.
As with any e-bike, have a good look at battery run times – most folding electric bikes can power you for about 50 miles. So if you're planning a mega commute remember to take a charger, or have one at both ends of your journey.
How we test
Where we've been able to link to a review, it means that we've put the bike through its paces. This means that we've ridden it over varying terrain and distances to assess it's performance across a range of factors. For folding bikes this means testing the folding mechanism for ease of use as well as the general suitability of the bike for commuting purposes - for example we consider how easy it is to carry and store.
Like regular bikes, we'll also consider the ride quality and the choice of components and how they impact key areas such as comfort, gear range and braking.
Where we haven't yet had the chance to review an item, we're still confident in recommending it as one of the best, because we either know the brand really well, and have probably tested another product or the previous version and can still happily recommend it as one of the best.
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.
Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor.
Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.
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