Deciding whether to purchase a folding bike or not isn’t an easy choice to make, especially if you’re new to it. Nevertheless, there’s no better bike than a folding bike that lets everyone travel with ease —thanks to its portability and security features.
If you’re looking for a sign, well, this might be. Folding bikes are generally good for beginners because they’re easy to learn, safe to use, and comfortable to ride. Besides, some foldies can be customized according to your cycling needs and preferences, letting you maintain its components effortlessly.
Good thing, most bike manufacturers cater to starters by offering entry-level folding bikes. They also include size and folding mechanism variations, which is essential to learn if you’re a beginner. Regardless of your choice, these folding bikes guarantee you the features that we’ll delve into in the following section.
What Makes a Folding Bike Beginner-Friendly?
The famous quote by Wendy Flynn, “Allow yourself to be a beginner,” seems to work well in this case. After all, being a newbie in the world of folding bikes is such a great thing! It’ll teach how to deal with being uncomfortable, which will eventually let you fold-unfold challenges and do new things with your foldie.
Furthermore, here are the top reasons why folding bikes are good for starters:
1. They are easy to use (even kids can use them!)
Some say that not riding a bike as a kid closes the door for experiencing one once you’re an adult; yet, this isn’t really true. In fact, you can quickly learn how to ride a folding bike as long as you go through the same systematic process: letting your fears and nerves of falling out of your way.
You can easily learn how to ride a folding bike by practicing in a safe, wide-open, and empty park with someone to assist you. As such, you can work on a few steps before pedaling your way around, like getting on and off the bike, using the brake system, and learning the balance method. Once you get a hang around of these basic activities, you’re all set and ready to pedal.
You’ll also notice it would be easier to maintain your balance once you pedal faster. Experts at folding bikes mention that it would only take around five 30-minute sessions to learn cycling for adults. Still, learning how to ride a foldie depends on your determination.
2. They are literally the same as traditional bikes (except for the foldability feature)
Suppose you already have riding experience with non-folding bikes and wanted to switch to a foldable bicycle. In that case, the chances you’ll be having a challenging ride with a foldie would be less. You’ll also get similar quality rides from a regular bike because foldable bikes can accommodate any cyclist.
You can get on and off a folding bike, use the brake system, and pedal your way around with a folding bike the same as you do with a traditional bicycle. Foldable bikes are also easy to maneuver, especially in traffic (which is actually an advantage).
However, the main difference lies with the folder’s folding mechanism. This feature gives you the ability to fold-unfold your bike compactly, letting you carry them around with you. Known bike manufacturers create entry-level folding bikes that are great for beginners. They can be folded-unfolded within seconds —a massive plus when you need to hop on a train or a bus at the last minute!
3. They are comfortable and safe to ride
Similar to regular bikes, you’ll find foldable bikes comfortable and safe to ride. But mind you, several factors could affect your folder’s quality ride. For instance, you may want to check the frame size and shape because these elements greatly determine your riding position.
No one wants to ride while in an uncomfortable position, right (this might only lead to severe accidents)? So, avoid those common mistakes and familiarize yourself with making your ride more comfortable with a folding bike.
As for safety, foldable bikes deliver exceptionally. Bike manufacturers never fail to vigorously test their folding bikes’ components to ensure every rider’s safety, regardless if you’re a newbie or a pro. You don’t need to worry about their safety features because folding bikes have brakes and gears. Nonetheless, folding bikes are safe as long as you don’t exceed the weight limit recommended for the bike.
4. They can be customized according to your cycling needs and preferences
Aside from catering to beginner-friendly folding bikes, several bike manufacturers offer custom options. This ensures you can design your very own unique folding bike that nobody else has. Manufacturers let customers personalize the folder’s size and shape, handlebar position, styles, and even colors!
Among the best folding bike brands that provide customization service is no other than Brompton. It lets you choose your preferred type of handlebar (S-type, M-type, or H-type) for a riding position that fits your style. Additionally, Brompton allows clients to select their gears (2, 3, or 6 speeds), versions (E-version, L-version, or R-version), and saddle height (standard, extended, or telescopic).
You’ll also appreciate that some manufacturers provide customization, upgrade, warranty, and service options. So, if you need expert assistance, they’ve got you covered.
5. They are manageable and convenient
If you’re ditching that commuting traffic or traditional bikes by owning a foldie, you are on the right track. Obviously enough, folders are much more manageable because most bikes come in more compact, lightweight features. You can easily carry them with you on public transportation or stairs.
Beginners would also find folding bikes convenient, especially when switching between being a rider and a pedestrian in an instant. Although they are smaller and lightweight, folding bikes are actually a God-sent gift because you’ll get the best worlds of portability, mobility, and security.
Why include security? Because you can take your folding bike with you anywhere you go. Their small footprint lets you store them under your bed, inside a rack, or even beside your work desk. Newbies will find the security feature ideal because this means the risk of getting your folding bike stolen is minimal. What’s more, folding bikes are the handiest when touring in an unfamiliar place. Folders, indeed, give you the assurance you need for your cycling needs.
6. They are easy to maintain
Experts and professionals were once beginners; they have entirely no idea about a folding bike’s mechanic skills. Nonetheless, you don’t need to be a “folding bike mechanics expert” to learn the essential tips and tricks of maintaining your bike’s quality.
Even though you’re a newbie in the world of foldable bikes, you’ll still find them easy to maintain. You’ll only need to learn the basics and understand how each component is connected with your cycling quality. Some of the general rules in maintaining a foldie are to keep the drivetrain clean and lubricated, tires inflated, nuts and bolts secured, and brakes appropriately adjusted.
As such, folding bike maintenance extends your bike’s cycling life and reduces repair costs. Following periodic folding bike maintenance is crucial since it always makes your bike in top condition. After all, doing easy bicycle maintenance is the ultimate step towards figuring out what your bike needs.
7. They create adventurous riding experiences (and exercise) for newbies
All bikes make fun-filled moments as you ride them. However, nothing can beat folding bikes when it comes to giving a more adventurous experience. Why? It is because folders are so versatile and portable, resulting in slight, dauntless riding moments you could never have with their non-folding counterparts.
Indeed, they’re easy to use and fun for either leisure travel or commute. Cycling also provides a cardiovascular exercise that develops your lower body, particularly your glutes, legs, and hips. Bicycling is also an incredibly low-impact workout for your lower back and knees.
Cycling for greater distances and more extended periods improves your physical fitness and health by raising your heart rate. It also lowers your risks of contracting significant illnesses, including diabetes, depression, stroke, and arthritis.
Types of Folding Bikes You Should Know Before Buying One
Folding bikes come in many shapes and sizes. And before buying one, you must know that a folding bike’s height can be classified into three: full-sized, compact, and portable. Each size has an advantage and disadvantage over the other. Thus, knowing how each one differs will help you prepare when buying a folding bike.
1. Full-Sized Folding Bikes
As the name suggests, full-sized folding bikes virtually have almost the same size as their non-folding counterparts. Foldies that fall under this category use standard wheel sizes, like 29-inch or 26-inch tires.
Having said that, full-size folding bikes have bigger wheels. But this shouldn’t stop you from getting one. Actually, bigger-wheeled folders encompass more shock-absorbent properties to ensure your ride’s comfort and quality. This means you can easily ride your full-sized folding bike on uneven or rocky terrains, dirt trails, or mountain trails.
2. Compact Folding Bikes
Bike manufacturers create folding bikes that are more compact than full-sized folders, thus, the name itself. Compact folding bikes are considered the standard size, referring to a smaller version of a full-sized foldie.
Compact folding bikes generally use a 20-inch size for the tires and wheels. It implements a more straightforward, basic frame size and style. Still, it encompasses an adjustable seat post and handlebar for your riding position and preference.
3. Portable Folding Bikes
Finally, portable folding bikes are the ones that cater to 16-inch (and below) wheel sizes. They’re the most preferred type of foldie for those who want to save storage as much as humanly possible.
If you need a foldie you can fit around your car’s trunk, a backpack, or a briefcase, a portable folding bike might be the right fit. Yet, smaller folders definitely have drawbacks in the long run.
Types of Folding Mechanism A Foldable Bike Can Have
A smooth folding mechanism is required for any folding bike. Make sure your bike has the features you need, whether they’re mid-folding, vertical folding, triangle hinge, magnet folding, or break-away. There is no such thing as a good or bad folding mechanism. Instead, choose the ones that give you an excellent and quick fold-unfold process.
1. Mid-Fold Mechanism
Folding bikes with a mid-fold mechanism can “break” the frame halfway by releasing the clamp. After doing so, you can easily swing the handlebar part and line it up with the tires. Bike manufacturers known to have this type of folding mechanism are Dahon, Tern, and Java.
2. Triangle-Hinge Mechanism
Meanwhile, the triangle-hinge mechanism is considered the fastest folding process because it lets you fold down the wheels and rear triangle. You’ll get to flip them forward under the frame tube as well. Known manufacturers that offer this folding mechanism include Tyrell, Birdy, and Bike Friday.
3. Break-Away Mechanism
Unlike other mechanisms where a hinge is located on the frame, break-away has its hinges located around the seat post. In this way, you can disassemble the frame into two parts, letting you fit your folding bike inside a suitcase or a car’s trunk. A downside of this type is that you’ll find some difficulties reassembling it back. Several bike firms cater to this folding process, which are Ritchey and Moulton.
4. Vertical Folding
Rather than folding your bike horizontally, this mechanism allows you to fold the bike vertically. This is made possible through a couple of hinges in the frame tube or chain and seat post. Once folded, you’ll notice that the two wheels are gathered side by side. Still, it offers more compactness than a horizontally-hinged design. Dahon and Brompton accommodate this folding process category.
5. Magnet Folding
And finally, the magnet folding mechanism is far more sophisticated than any other types mentioned in the list. This category uses a magnet and rear shock absorber combination, wherein the former locks the rear wheel to the frame. In order to fold the bike in half, you’ll need to disconnect the magnet. The rear wheel starts to rotate forward and folds vertically.