/ / / Is a Foldable Bike Right for You? 6 Pros and 10 Cons of Having a Folding Bike

Is a Foldable Bike Right for You? 6 Pros and 10 Cons of Having a Folding Bike

folding bicycle

Yes, if you’re looking for something that can be used for your daily commute then a folding bike is a top choice. Folding bikes have gained popularity because of their portability. Simply fold it when you’re not using it and place it in a corner. Although they are more expensive than regular bikes, you get a bang for your buck in the long run because of how versatile this mode of transportation is. 

Poole, UK – September 25, 2013: The location is the path / footpath / cycle path / coast path from Sandbanks in Poole to the traditional English seaside resort of Bournemouth. On the South coast of England in Dorset. The path runs alongside the sandy beach (imported sand) and is popular with visitors, residents and tourists. It is a warm, sunny September day in late summer / early autumn and there are people out enjoying the weather. A senior couple, man and woman, wearing cycling helmets, are cycling the path on small folding bikes.

What’s the Difference Between a Folding Bike and a Regular Bike? 

The difference between a folding bike and a regular bike is primarily their structure. To put it simply, folding bikes are designed to be portable which is why you can fold it and with a regular bike, that’s obviously not possible. 

Furthermore, folding bikes are not meant to be used for long rides nor is it used for sports. So if you’re thinking of extreme cycling, a regular bike is more suited for that. 

The Good Side of Folding Bikes

While there are certain limitations associated with riding and owning a folding bike, there are also some clear advantages as to why one should consider it. 

Ideal for Tiny Homes 

More people are opting for tiny home living and so naturally, they’re finding ways and solutions to maximize the square footage in their homes. If you’re living in a small apartment in the city, is it really ideal to get a car if you don’t have a garage or parking space? This is where folding bikes enter the picture. They can easily be stored in the closet, under the couch, or even hung on the wall. 

Security 

Folding bikes are less of a target for theft since they are so niche. Furthermore, unlike regular bikes, you don’t have to worry about your bike being stolen after you leave it chained in the parking all day. With a folding bike, you can simply place it beside your work desk or under the table, without worry about it being sacked. 

Cheaper Mode of Transport 

Fuel cost, car insurance, and monthly loan payments add up when you choose to get a car. But do you really need a car when the streets are already congested with vehicles every day? An increasing number of people are choosing bikes for their daily commute not only for how much faster they can travel with it, but also the cheaper price tag of owning a bike. Essentially, all you have to pay for is the bike. No need to top up the fuel every week or for car maintenance. 

Environmental Benefits 

A lot of people are making conscious efforts to reduce their carbon footprint which directly impacts the environment. Switching to a more environmentally friendly mode of transport like bikes is one way to save the Earth. So biking is not only good for your health but good for Mother Earth too. 

Big Second-hand Market 

Compared to traditional bikes, folding bikes are less likely to depreciate in value. So if you get a folding bike, you can resell it in the future without much of a loss. But if you’re on the other end of the spectrum and you’re looking to buy rather than sell, you’ll be glad to know that there’s not a shortage of second-hand folding bikes listed in the market. 

Develops Exercise Habits

Unless you aspire to be a professional cyclist or a triathlete, then you’re good to go with folding bikes. Some weekends can be made more enjoyable and productive when you insert some form of exercise like biking. For older people who could easily topple and fall on a regular bike, they will find these smaller-sized bikes more useful. They can drive to a local park and bike around for a good couple of minutes or simply make it a daily habit to cycle around the neighborhood every morning. 

Cropped image of businessman with his folding bicycle waiting for his train at railway station platform

The Downside of Folding Bikes

While they offer the portability that normal bikes don’t, these bikes definitely come with a couple of drawbacks. 

Prone to Break and Damage

If you put a regular bike and a folding bike side by side, you will notice that the latter has a few more added parts and features. These little extras are what allows the bike to fold. However, this is also what makes them more vulnerable to breakage and damage. In case the rider encounters an accident, this means that there are a lot more parts that will need repairing. Additionally, repair services for folding bikes are more expensive than regular ones. 

Expensive Repair Cost

As mentioned above, in case of an unfortunate accident, repairing a folding bike needs a bit more work and money. You can bring your bike to a shop and they can take care of it for you, but it may take serious money from your pocket since folding bike parts are more expensive. If money is a non-issue then you shouldn’t worry about repair cost, but if it is, then you’ll end up realizing that the amount you need for repairs might be equivalent to a brand new bike. 

Ride-ability 

Many people get folding bikes because of portability but that also means that some level of comfort is sacrificed. Some users will likely complain about its ride-ability. This means that it might not be as easy to use compared to a regular bike in the long run. Sure, it’s great for short distances and multi-modal commuting, but it does not offer the kind of stability that comes with a regular-sized bike if you’re thinking of biking for a long stretch. 

Speed Performance

For those who value speed when it comes to deciding what kind of bike to purchase, then you have to put foldable bikes out of the equation. Not to say that they are slow, but when it comes to speed, they fail in comparison with regular ones like road bikes. Although some of them can go faster than average speed, some users might end up dissatisfied with it in the long run. 

Body Type Proportion

One of the major disadvantages of folding bikes is their size. While their smaller body frame assures portability, it’s also an issue for those who are larger built. Most folding bikes might not be appropriate for an average person’s body type and when this becomes an issue, it might lead to aches and pain, and worse – injuries. When looking to buy a bike, consider your height and weight as these are both major factors to ensure a comfortable ride. 

Level of Discomfort

Folding bikes are made for flat roads which means that it won’t be a pleasant ride when you use them on rough terrains. Because of their small wheels, they won’t be able to absorb the bumps on the road which will then lead to a less than enjoyable biking experience. Furthermore, the smaller wheels make it more difficult for the rider to steer the bike on uneven roads. Some people invest in high-quality tires and suspension, but the truth is, it won’t really make much of a difference. So, if you’re looking for a bike that you can use for commuting and will still do well in different terrains, then a foldable bike is not the right one for you. 

Stand Out 

In comparison to normal bikes, folding bikes really stand out more. Whether someone is riding or folding them up, these bikes will most likely draw attention. If it’s your first time having a folding bike, you may even feel awkward in the beginning packing it up in front of people. So, if you’re self-conscious or someone who cares about how you look in public, this bike might not sit well with you. If you go to work wearing a suit or any formal business wear, then you might want to choose another mode of transportation. 

More Expensive 

To start, folding bikes can be a lot more expensive than regular bikes. Depending on the brand and quality, these bikes can go from a couple of hundred to a few thousand dollars. The price of these bikes depends on factors like the number of gears, as well as their body and frame. Those made from carbon fiber are a lot lighter to carry but are also more pricey. If you can afford it, then why not take the plunge. But if you can’t, you can stick with a reasonably priced road bike that will probably be worth half of what you need to pay for a foldable bike. 

Limited Customization 

If you’re someone who is looking to customize their bikes, then forget about getting a folding bike. Adding accessories like fenders, baskets or racks is not an option for you when you have a foldable bike. They are simply not made to be customized because anything you add to it might not fit. While many companies can personalize accessories for your folding bikes, they also come at a steep price. So if you’re looking to give your bike an overhaul, whether it’s design or added features, skip folding bikes and go straight to the regular ones. 

Not as Portable 

As advertised, foldable bikes are widely known for being portable. But is it really the case? The truth is, not all folding bikes fold the same way. They are made with different parts and have particular mechanisms which means that not every bike will be easy to fold and carry. When you are looking for a folding bike, make sure that they are easy to fold and unfold. You also need to consider their weight. Some of them are lighter to carry than others but that also means that the more compact and lighter they are, they’re more likely to have a bigger price tag. 

Middle aged businessman carrying his folding bicycle on sidewalk by the street

Who Should Use Folding Bikes? 

If you’re an urban dweller looking for a reliable mode of transport to go around the city, whether it’s for running errands, commuting to work or leisure, then you might want to consider getting a folding bike. If you’re someone who hates the traffic during the morning commute and wants something compact and reliable, then a foldable bike will be a good alternative.

In addition, a growing number of older people have developed a fondness for folding bikes because of how they can easily incorporate it into their health and lifestyle habits. Instead of getting big old bikes that they would need to hop in on and ride, folding bikes are a more convenient and safer choice. 

But since they are mainly designed for flat roads and short travel, they are not the best choice for sports and long rides. If that’s what you’re looking for, then a mountain bike or a road bike is the answer for you.

Old rusty vintage folding bicycle near the brick wall

Some Factors to Consider Before Getting a Folding Bike 

Before you purchase a folding bike, there are a few variables that you need to consider first. These things will help you to make sure that you’re getting the right foldable bike for you. 

Weight

Not all folding bikes are easy to carry. Some will be heavier than others. It’s best to choose something lighter so it is easier to travel with. 

Folded Dimension 

Although they are already compact in size when you fold them, you still need to consider how much they take up space when they are folded. Their wheel size range from 16, 20 and 24 inches. If you have a specific space in mind for storage, you’ll want to look for something that fits. 

Speed 

Bicycles have different numbers of gears which determines the various speeds your bike can do. These gears are set in the front and rear derailleurs. If you’re particular about gears, then you can opt for something than what’s normally provided. 

Frame 

The material and design used to make the frame of the bike directly influences the durability of the bike. Frames are typically made from four main types: steel, aluminum, titanium, and carbon fiber. 

Bottomline 

If what you’re looking for is maximum comfort and high speed then you are best to stick with a regular bike. But also keep in mind that you can’t take a regular bike everywhere, and this is where folding bikes enter the picture. If distance to your work and home office is not too far, if you enjoy leisure biking on weekends, or if you would like an easy mode of transportation that could fit in your tiny home, then a foldable bike is a top and worthy contender. 

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