One thing you need to consider before buying a folding bike is its weight. A bike’s weight generally influences your cycling speed and acceleration, especially when going downhills or uphills. Moreover, the average weight of folding bikes is about 28 lbs. but others can go lighter (about 15 lbs.) or heavier (about 36 lbs.).
Yet, it’s important to note that several components affect a bike’s weight, including the frame material and tire size. So, if you ever want to get a light or heavy folding bike, consider targeting these areas when buying one.
A slight change in weight makes a significant difference in your cycling performance. As a bike commuter, you don’t want to fold and lift a folding bike that’s too heavy to lift.
The rest of this article mainly gives you an idea of how much a frame material and tire size adds to the total weight of a folding bike. Plus, a fun fact about the lightest and heaviest folding bike existing today in the market.
Folding Bike Weight Based on Frame Material
The frame serves as the “backbone” that primarily affects the overall strength, durability, stiffness, and weight of a folding bike. It acts as a “glue” that binds all bike components together to create a machine. And when it comes to a bike’s frame, the material used matters.
Nonetheless, folding bikes are made with different frame materials, such as steel, carbon fiber, aluminum, titanium, or a combination of these elements. The following points explain the differences between the most commonly used materials in a bike’s body:
Bike producers usually use steel when creating the bike’s frame because it’s deemed the strongest yet cheapest among all frame materials used. And by the word strongest, we mean it’s the heaviest bike frame as well.
Unlike aluminum, steel frames last longer and are less brittle. The latter can withstand any stress or pressure given to it. In fact, it can take any beating, scratching, or bending without losing its structural integrity. Pretty much any professional welder can repair steel frames without any difficulties.
Steel frames weigh around 4 to 5 lbs. Further, it’s safe to say that a folding bike’s weight could weigh between 25 and 30 lbs. once the steel frame is added.
On average, aluminum frames are much more lightweight because they have lesser density than steel components. Some bike manufacturers opt to use aluminum frames in their products since they’re way cheaper to accommodate than steel.
As such, aluminum frames have an average weight of 3 lbs., meaning folding bikes with this component can weigh between 20 to 24 lbs.
Compared to steel, aluminum frames are appreciated for their rust-free material (but still susceptible to corrosion). Because of their lighter weight, cyclists maintain a slight increase in the average speed with an aluminum-framed folding bike. The right components let you have a more lightweight foldable bike, but nothing can beat carbon fibers for bike racers.
What makes other cyclists opt for titanium-framed folding bikes is their lightweight features. Ideally, they’re lighter but offer the same strength as steel. It doesn’t come as dense as steel and is much more expensive than the latter.
Moreover, titanium frames usually have a 2.5 lbs. weight, which adds to the total folding bike’s weight between 17 to 20 lbs.
They also feature an excellent shock-absorbing property, especially with those high-end folding bikes. Yet, a disadvantage of titanium frames is that it comes with a price tag. Still, it offers the best of both worlds (steel and aluminum).
Carbon Fiber Frames
For weight weenies, a carbon fiber bike frame might just be a blessing. Most racers ultimately target a folding bike that’s made with carbon frame material because it’s the lightest and stiffest compared to other materials mentioned on the list. That being said, carbon fiber-framed folding bikes come the most expensive as well.
Carbon fibers come in different grades, which are lower-grade and high-grade. Further, the average weight of carbon fiber frames usually ranges between 1.5 to 2 lbs., creating a total folding bike’s weight at about 14 to 15 lbs.
Like steel frames, carbon fibers have infinite fatigue life. Still, it’s vulnerable to direct damages and impacts. Bike manufacturers also use carbon fibers to create unique shapes but with tough and sturdy components.
Folding Bike Weight Based on Tire Size
Most often than not, the tire size affects your folding bike’s overall weight and performance. Nevertheless, folding bikes come in various wheel sizes that affect the tire size (and weight).
The most common wheel sizes are 16 and 20 inches, while other manufacturers create 24-inch folding bikes.
16-Inch Tire Size
16-in folding bikes add little mass to a folding bike’s overall weight, generally about 5 lbs. less than larger tire size. Given the standard average of folding bikes (which is 28 lbs.), 16-in folding bikes only weigh about 25 lbs.
They’re more compact when folded. This makes it easier to store them in any room or vehicle. Besides, you can take the folding bike anywhere with you, even in places where standard bikes aren’t permitted. They are far better to navigate in terms of avoiding potholes or obstacles in the pathway. However, they can’t roll over big craters.
And since they have less mass, 16-inch folding bikes tend to accelerate faster and easier. Mind you, all of these stated benefits come down with a cost.
20-Inch Tire Size
Perhaps most cyclists prefer 20-inch folding bikes because of their accessibility and availability in the market. They are much easier to replace since most manufacturers cater to this type of tire size. Further, 20-inch tire size adds a little more weight to a folding bike’s entirety.
Most 20-inch folding bikes approximately weigh in around 30 lbs, which are somewhat bulky to carry around. This also means that they may not fit in places that a 16-inch folding bike could.
However, folding types falling under this category provide greater luggage storing capacity. Plus, they’re good at traction since these tires mostly have wider rims. As such, they won’t overheat quickly when using the brake system.
Other Components that Influences a Folding Bike’s Weight
Aside from frame material and tire size, here are the other notable components that influence a folding bike’s weight:
Folding bikes tend to have fewer gears than regular bikes. Still, those gears can add up to your bike’s overall weight.
Folding bikes come with an array of seat material and posts, adding approximately 1 to 1.5 lbs of weight. As such, some have narrower or broader saddles, which could provide convenience or comfort as you cycle.
They are usually made with either aluminum or carbon fiber, but they offer different benefits and drawbacks. If you’re planning to shed some saddle’s weight, be ready to spend more.
Racks typically weigh in about 1.5 lbs., usually mounted on a folding bike’s front or back part. Furthermore, you may need to consider this component if you need better luggage for your cycling needs.
Finally, any component, upgrade, or accessories you may want to put on your folding bike adds up to its total weight. Such examples include extra tubes, night lights, bells, water bottles, and pumps.
Are Folding Bikes Heavy?
As mentioned, folding bikes have an average weight of 28 lbs., but they can range from 15 to 36 lbs. depending on the parts and materials used to create them.
Nevertheless, determining the “heaviness” of a folding bike primarily depends on one’s personal judgment and physical fitness. Everyone has their own opinion of what is “heavy” to them. Thus, it could significantly differ from one cyclist to another.
For instance, physically fit riders can lift up to 36-lbs. folding bikes. But for those who aren’t, they’ll likely find the weight heavier than they could potentially carry.
Does Choosing a Lighter Folding Bike Always Better?
Choosing the most lightweight folding bike isn’t always the better option. Still and all, the ideal folding bike weight would generally depend on what kind of riding you’re going into.
Light folding bikes are best for bike commuters who need to carry their bikes with them when riding transportation or walking upstairs. They’re also a great benefit when your rides generally have a lot of uphill because it would take less force to pedal them. Meanwhile, heavy folding bikes are an excellent choice if your ride takes a downhill path.
Also, the more lightweight a folding bike gets, the pricier it becomes due to the sophisticated materials used to create one.
Fun Facts: The Lightest and Heaviest Folding Bikes Today
The Lightest: Hummingbird Single-Speed Folding Bike
With exceptional features, Hummingbird Single-Speed Folding Bike isn’t surprisingly the lightest folder in the world, weighing only 15 lbs!
This model was initially launched via a Kickstarter campaign and continued into production with the British motorsport company Prodrive in 2016.
This Hummingbird folding bike model features a revolutionary three-step folding mechanism, taking less than 5 seconds to fold and unfold the machine. Moreover, the frame material is made with carbon fiber, sliced and aligned correctly to make the frame.
Meanwhile, the wheelset encompasses ultra-light aluminum alloy with 16-inch tire size. Hummingbird Single-Speed Folding Bike offers super-fast acceleration with these mentioned components, giving you a solid and stiff ride.
The Heaviest: Ausstech Monster Folding E-Bike
Austech Monster Folding E-Bike is the heaviest folding bike to date, weighing about 36 lbs!
This e-folding bike lets you have a stylish but enjoyable riding experience while cycling on a trail or a road. It comes in only one color (silver) and has a powerful 36V*250W brushless motor.
What makes the model the heaviest foldable bike is its high-impact alloy aluminum frame and full-alloy suspension fork. Lastly, the tire comes in a 26-inch size, adding up to the bike’s entire weight.