Best folding bikes 2024: Jump Menu
There are plenty of reasons for choosing a folding bike. You might lack space at home, or need a two-wheeled friend for your RV trips or canal boat holidays. Your commute might involve train journeys, or perhaps your office doesn't have suitable storage. The best folding bikes can help with all these scenarios.
While you can of course use any bike for your daily commute, including one of the best hybrid bikes, a folding option can be the most practical. On some services, such as the London Underground and New York City buses, regular bikes aren't allowed at all. You also might be wary about locking up and leaving your bike unattended - a folder can typically be stored inside your workplace with ease. It might even fit under your desk!
But how do you decide which folding bike is right for you? Is weight important to you? Perhaps you're after an electric option? Maybe you're shopping on a tight budget? We've tested a number of the folding bikes to help you out and featured our favourites below. We've also compiled a guide, answering your questions about all things folding.
The quick list
Best folding bike overall
Brompton's iconic model, the C Line, is easy to fold, carry and store. It's also great to ride, with several models available including the 6-speed Explore.
Best electric model overall
Best electric folding bike overall
Utilising 20" wheels and suspension, the G4i delivers a comfortable ride alongside reasonable battery life and a low maintenance drivechain.
Best for low weight
Best lightweight folding bike
The P Line provides all the benefits of a Brompton - reliability, ease of use, 4-speed gear system - in a lightweight sub-10kg package.
Best value folding bike
The Dahon Mariner seeks to deliver a practical, folding solution without the usual high price tag. Features include fitted rack and fenders making it commute-ready.
Best budget folding bike
The Tilt's low price makes it affordable but it achieves this without scaling back on features - you get fenders and 7-speed gear system suited to undulating terrain.
The best folding bikes
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The best folding bike overall
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
World-renowned, UK-based brand Brompton is the market leader in 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, finishing kit and, of course, colour. Bromptos feature a traditional 16in wheel size and are famously quick and easy to fold.
With six gears we found the C Line Explore, to be the ideal folding bike for tackling hilly terrain - we also appreciated the fenders that protected out clothing from mucky road spray. Furthering it's commuter credentials, there is a front luggage block that lets you clip on a Brompton specific bag, available at an additional cost, and a set of durable and puncture-resistant Schwalbe tires.
The C Line weighs just over 12kg, which means it's not the lightest object to carry when folded up, but there are other options in Brompton's line-up if this is an issue, notably the 'featherweight' T Line.
Read more: Brompton C Line Explore full review
The best electric folding bike overall
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Gocycle G4i neatly packages its motor and battery into a total weight from 17.6kg. Although that sounds a lot, the bike is easy to push around folded using its seatpost. It's also quick to fold, with a single hinge in its centre placing the wheels adjacent to one another.
The 20 inch wheels and long wheelbase for a folder give the bike more of the feel of a full size bike, while there's suspension at the rear for extra comfort. All the cabling and the drivetrain and Shimano Nexus gearing are fully enclosed and should be low maintenance.
There's a 250 watt front hub motor and 375Wh battery. Gocycle claims a range of up to 80km, although we didn't achieve more than 44km on our hilly commutes. We did find it delivered a smooth and comfortable ride, though.
Gocycle offers a wide range of accessories, such as fenders (mudguards), a front and rear pannier rack, integrated lights, lock holster and a travel case, making the G4i a good choice for e-bike commuting.
The best lightweight folding bike
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Brompton's P Line features a titanium rear triangle, which makes for 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. 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.
The best value folding bike
4. 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.
The best budget folding bike
5. B'Twin Tilt 500
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 value electric folding bike
6. Tern Vektron S10
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.
The rest of this impressive folding bike is, as expected with Tern, specced highly with Magura MT4 hydraulic disc brakes and a reliable Shimano 10-speed Deore drivetrain. The as standard Atlas rack can haul 27kg, and is also compatible with a child bike seat.
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.
How to choose the best folding bike for you
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
- No need to spend money on a bike rack for your car
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 tires 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 tires 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 tires.
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 grow 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
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.