Folding bikes can be a great companion for long rides, considering their overall build fits your height, weight, and preference. Also, it’s worth mentioning that bikes aren’t a one-size-fits-all approach —the one that works best for you might not be comfortable for another cyclist.
In general, folding bikes are comfortable to ride on. However, several factors (especially the bike parts) decide how comfortable your ride can be.
In this article, you’ll get to know why a folding bike’s poor configuration and design make any riding experience unenjoyable. Knowing the parts of a bike that contributes to a cyclist’s discomfort makes a significant difference as well.
Why Are Some Folding Bikes Difficult to Ride?
Cyclists (might include you) always opt for a folding bike that’s lightweight, stylish, and faster. With their minds focused on these features, they tend to overlook the importance of comfort and convenience.
Think you’ve had it all once your folding bike is “configured?” Bet not. Poorly configured folding bikes would give you the worst of the world: hazard and injury.
When we say configuration, we mean the overall health of a folding bike. You may want to check if the tires are inflated, brake pads are rubbing, the chain is lubricated, and brackets aren’t overtightened. Checking the saddle’s angle or tilt, seat post’s height, and frame mechanism are just a few things to consider. We’ll save this topic for later.
Customization is different from configuration; the former serves as a modification of your folding bike to meet your particular riding needs.
Poorly customized folding bikes are a pain in the neck, most notably when you’ve spent over a hundred bucks but aren’t satisfied with the output. Some folding bikes are meant for longer rides, while the rest are for travel leisure. In the end, you lose not only your money but also your bike’s comfortability.
Factors That Decide the Comfortless of a Folding Bike
Knowing the folding bike’s anatomy and even the basics are vital to having the most comfortable and enjoyable ride in your life. We’ve also highlighted the most common adjustment mistakes many cyclists make with their folding bikes.
1. Frame Size and Shape
One of the crucial bike parts that dictate a cyclist’s riding position is the frame size and shape. Moreover, they determine how long and tall the bike would be. The frame material connects three points of a folding bike: the saddle, pedals, and handlebars.
Common mistakes made: If the folding bike’s geometric frame isn’t matching your *most* comfortable riding position, expect many troubles from it. Problems from getting an incorrect frame size and shape bikes can have you suffering from back pains, fatigue, wrist pain, and hip aches. Noticing these symptoms while riding increases higher crash risk.
How to make your ride comfortable: The only and best way to get the right folding bike size is to familiarize yourself with bike anatomy. Understanding how the geometric frame influences other parts would be ideal to steer you towards getting the right folding bike. As such, this will give you a hell but comfortable riding experience.
2. Saddle Height
Your folding bike’s saddle is another basis of a good bike fit, giving you a more comfortable ride in the long run. Subsequently, the height of your seat specifies how much power and energy you’ll use to pedal your way forward. Riding a folding bike that has a too low or too high seat, again, would cause pain to your lumbar vertebrae and ankles.
Common mistakes made: A common mistake that beginners make is setting the seat too low (that is because a bike would be easier to get on and off). This would only cause pain in the front knee. Nevertheless, setting the seat too high isn’t good either. You’ll end up rocking your hips and pelvis rocking back and forth, which is vastly awkward for most cyclists!
How to make your ride comfortable: While most cyclists believe that adapting to the seat’s height is the best option, the strategy isn’t the best. A starting point would be measuring your inside leg and subtracting 10 centimeters from it. Apply the resulting length between the bottom bracket’s center and the top of the saddle. You can tweak the height a little bit depending on your shoes and pedaling system.
3. Saddle Tilt (Angle)
A degree in bike saddle position makes a significant difference in how comfortable and convenient your ride can be, especially when cycling for longer hours. Thus, adjusting your folding bike saddle’s tilt is an extreme modification you can make to cater to your sit and riding position.
Common mistakes made: Cyclists tend to put the saddle’s nose either too downward (so they lean forward towards the handlebar) or too upward (because they believe it will help control the bike). Unfortunately, none of these strategies is proven to be effective in creating a comfortable ride. Instead, they only cause hand and sore numbness.
How to make your ride comfortable: As for the saddle tilt, ensure that it’s in a neutral position but not necessarily on a perfectly even level. Try to tweak the angle slightly downward by a couple of degrees. This would relieve some pressure on your hips.
4. Saddle Width
Another thing to consider on the saddle is its width, which can come narrow or broad. Nonetheless, it must be in the appropriate shape (correct width) so that your sitting bones are comfortable while cycling.
Common mistakes made: It’s undeniable that newbies would particularly pay attention to folding bikes that have a broader and padded seat. While a cushioned seat is good, you’ll notice that it will feel hard after spending a good time on it.
How to make your ride comfortable: Grinding on the correct saddle width is the next thing. But to cater to this component, it’s essential to measure your sit bones first. To make your folding bike more comfortable to ride on, try switching saddles, such as cutout and split type. After all, no two butts are similar.
5. Handlebars, Hoods, and Grips
After setting the correct saddle position, height, and tilt, this is where changing the handlebars kicks in. Handlebars can come in various styles; inappropriate positioning would cause hand numbness, back pain, and wrist pain.
Common mistakes made: Like the other folding bike components mentioned, placing the handlebars too high or too low would be troublesome. For instance, handlebars positioned more elevated than usual would cause more pressure on your bottoms. Meanwhile, settling them lower would cause extreme back pain and saddle sores.
How to make your ride comfortable: If you’re suffering from wrist pain or hand numbness, consider buying ergonomic grips. A good rule of thumb is to position your hood with the shoulder to directly contact the arm. Besides, pay attention to the shape of the handlebar. If it’s too far or deep, consider buying a compact one. Buying padded bike gloves and hand gears will help reduce pressure and impacts obtained from handlebars.
6. Brake Reach
To be in total control of your bike, you’ll need to check the distance it takes for you to reach the brake and lever. Most folding bikes manufacturers today adapt to this feature by implementing adjustable mechanical and hydraulic levers.
Common mistakes made: Cyclists sometimes miss the opportunity to check the accessibility of the brake levels, especially from the hood and drop perspective. Missing this bike component would make you uncomfortable, knowing that you won’t have that full control on your folding bike.
How to make your ride comfortable: Set the brake reach and other controls in a position that you’re most confident and comfortable to reach. Try some slight tweaks and experiments on the brake reach. After all, you won’t want to be awkward when trying to get the brake lever, gear shifter, and all.
7. Pedal Cleats
Perhaps an incorrect pedal cleats’ positioning in a folding bike is the *ultimate* reason why your knees hurt. Moreover, pedal cleats are among the critical “contact points” in any folding bike, which attaches your shoes’ sole onto the pedal. Too low or far forward pedal cleats would hurt your knees, as they aren’t allowing your legs to expand for a full stroke. In such cases, your legs won’t have enough time to “float,” causing discomfort and tension.
Common mistakes made: We hate to tell, but adjusting the saddle height isn’t going to provide the comfort you need when pedaling. In fact, some newbies attempt to move the saddle forward, reasoning that it will help them pedal faster. However, this would only give you tons of pains and aches.
How to make your ride comfortable: Don’t localize the force or pressure on your foot’s most sensitive area. You can get the cleat’s center by using the fore/aft position. Adjust the pedal cleats until they’re aligned with your foot’s center ball. For a more comfortable and cozy ride, try getting a pair of high-quality insoles. Those will help with foot collapse and knee pain.
In case you don’t know, a folding bike’s tires can actually affect your ride quality. In addition, tires also influence your brake system, acceleration, road friction, and steering mechanisms. There’s also a significant difference when upgrading tires from time to time, especially on the road feel.
Common mistakes made: Cyclists pump their tires until they reach the maximum recommended pressure to eliminate any rolling resistance. Although this is an effective method to reduce road imperfections, it only transmits those “shocks” and “vibrations” to the rider —resulting in discomfort.
How to make your ride comfortable: Consider getting your weight and the tire size and volume. Further, cycling with lower pressure tires would be an excellent strategy to take those stings out of your body. Try to seek professional help when in doubt.
9. BONUS: Not Wearing the Right Clothes
And finally, the reason *maybe* why you’re not feeling comfortable riding your folding bike lies behind the clothes you’re wearing. In fact, wearing the right and appropriate clothes when cycling is key to an enjoyable and comfortable riding experience.
Proper cycling clothing lets you use your energy well as you pedal. You’ll feel more aerodynamic wearing them as well. Such clothing gears include nylon cycling shorts, jersey shirts, padded gloves, socks and insoles, and a pair of quality shoes.
Best Comfortable Folding Bikes Available Today
Now that you’ve understood the bike parts that contribute to your ride’s quality, it’s worth checking these comfortable folding bikes in the market today.
The Dahon manufacturer needs no introduction. Regardless of whether you’re a newbie or a professional cyclist, we’re pretty sure you’ve heard of Dahon. They’re known for their folding green transportation movement, innovated with technology, to give cyclists excellent ride quality for a reasonable price.
Dahon Mariner D7 is a folding bike that lets you enjoy a comfortable and convenient ride quality. Customers particularly love this model’s riding experience that is comparable to any road bike in the market. Bike parts are positioned appropriately, but you can adjust according to your seat preference. It can move with the top speeds without compromising your ride’s overall quality.
With Brompton’s excellent craftsmanship and reputation, it’s no wonder that one of its folding bike models made it to the list. The B75 is the cheapest model Brompton offers, encompassing different handlebar options, a replaceable saddle, and an extended seat post.
Brompton B75 is what you need to experience a convenient ride for hours with the mentioned folding bike features. Customers who’ve already bought this folding bike praise Brompton for its adjustable seat post, eliminating the need to crouch or bend knees. No back pains or soreness from an awkward riding position.
Schwinn Loop markets their adult folding bike as an “adult commuter bike that stores small and rides smooth.” Aside from riding up hills with ease, you won’t have to worry about riding it with comfort. Customers feel their ride quality for an average speed of 10 miles per hour.
Schwinn Loop Adult folding bike accommodates tall cyclists. Significant tweaks might be needed for some. Finally, it includes seven gears that let you pedal comfortably the way you want to.