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Best Folding Bikes of 2024: Discover the Most Versatile and Compact Models Worth Buying

By Sam Millers   /  Last updated - April 3, 2024   /  Best-Of-Reviews, Folding Bikes, Reviews
man riding red tern folding bike

Image source: ternbicycles.com

In the simplest of terms, a folding bicycle is a bike designed so that one or more of its components can be folded or tucked into one another.

The designs of these bicycles vary greatly, with some companies embracing an elliptical frame and small 12″ wheels, while others opt for more angular frames that can host wider tires and larger wheelsets.

Therefore, the best folding bikes, with their compact dimensions and features like portability and lightweight components, come in various shapes and sizes, transforming people’s commutes and travel habits.

In this article, we will review some of the best folding bicycles on the market and discuss the key features to consider when making a purchase.

Why Get a Folding Bicycle?

gocycle g4 folding bicycle

There are quite a few benefits to owning a folding bicycle, some of them less obvious than others.

  • First and foremost is obviously the portability, with foldable bikes opening up entirely new options for those looking to ride from point A to point B. Say, for example, you’re someone who takes the train to work, but you’d love to save the cost of the trip back. All you’ve got to do is bring the bike with you as a carry-on, and unfold the bike once you’ve finished your workday.
  • Another plus to the portability factor is that thanks to the extremely compact design of certain models, you can sometimes even bring them with you onto an airplane/bus which means bringing your bike along as you hop from country to country has never been easier. Forget about dismantling your bike and shipping it in the mail, instead take it along!
  • The second and less obvious benefit to a folding bicycle is safety regarding theft. Instead of locking up your bicycle outside of your home or office, you can actually bring the bike with you into your home or workplace. This removes the need for heavy locks or chains and instead opens up a whole new world of convenience.
  • Another fun part of owning a folding bicycle is that they tend to be instant conversation starters, especially with bicycle enthusiasts.
  • Finally, they are an ideal solution for busy urban areas with limited storage spaces, where a compact bicycle would really shine.

tern link c8

MSRP: $849

  • Folded dimensions: 15.6″ x 31.5″ x 28.7″
  • Wheel size: 20″
  • Gears: 8-speed
  • Weight: 28 lbs. 3.2 oz.

Tern Link C8 checks all the boxes an urban commuter may have. It’s compact, folds down small, comes with good-quality components, and has all the accessories you can ask for. 

The Link C8 is equipped with an 8-speed Shimano Tourney rear derailleur and V-brakes, which are entry-level parts but offer good value considering the price.

The frame and handlebar fold down compactly in just 10 seconds and the bike weighs around 28 lb, so most people will be able to lift it into a car trunk or carry it around.

Moreover, its 20-inch wheels and 50 mm tires are practical and versatile, so you’ll be able to ride it on paved roads and light gravel paths without any issues. 

All in all, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option from a reliable brand, the Tern Link C8 is a safe bet.

Buy from REI.com    Buy from TernBicycles.com

2. Schwinn Loop

Schwinn Loop folding bike

MSRP: Check on Amazon

  • Folded dimensions: 29.5″ x 29″ x 19″
  • Wheel size: 20″
  • Gears: 7-speed
  • Weight: 33 lb

The Schwinn Loop is a compact, practical, and best budget folding bike that comes fully equipped for day-to-day cycling and commuting. 

It features a 7-speed drivetrain, reliable V-brakes, and accessories like front and rear fenders and an integrated rear rack. Therefore, you can ride it come rain or shine and carry whatever gear you need. 

The bike folds down quickly into a small bundle with the following dimensions: 29.5″ x 29″ x 19″. That’s pretty compact, however, the Schwinn Loop weighs around 33 lb, so it may be a challenge for some people to lift it or carry it. 

Finally, this bike rolls on compact 20″ wheels and fits riders 4’8″ to 6’2″ in height, so it’s suitable for a wide range of people. 

Buy on Amazon

3. Brompton C Line Explore

Brompton C Line Explore folding bicycle

MSRP: $1,950 (REI.com)

  • Folded dimensions: 25.3 x 23 x 10.6 in.
  • Wheel size: 16″
  • Gears: 6-speed
  • Weight: 27 lb

The C Line Explore is one of the best folding bikes by the most iconic and historical folding bike brand—Brompton Bikes. The C Line Explore is a high-quality and super compact folder that folds up to a size of 25.3 x 23 x 10.6 in. which means it can fit pretty much anywhere. The pedals fold as well to further decrease the footprint.

Other key factors about the bike are the 27-pound weight and the high quality of the frame, fork, and components. The bike has 16″ wheels, fenders, and the frame is made of hand-brazed Chromoly steel. You’ll also find rim brakes, puncture-resistant tires, and a 6-speed internal drivetrain on this bike.

All Brompton folding bikes are famous for their ride quality and easy-to-use, practical folding mechanisms. The C Line Explore even has tiny rear wheels that let you pull it along when folded!

Buy on Brompton.com     Buy from REI.com

4. Schwinn Hinge

schwinn hinge folding bike

MSRP: Check on Amazon

  • Folded dimensions: 30″ x 32″ x 11″
  • Wheel size: 20″
  • Gears: Single-speed
  • Weight: 33 lb

The Hinge is another popular folding bike made by Schwinn. It is one of the cheapest bikes offered by this big-name brand, which is far from the only positive thing about it.

The Hinge is simple but comes fully equipped for daily commutes, which means you don’t need to buy any extras to ride it. It comes with fenders, a rear rack, and a chainguard, as well as a single-speed drivetrain and streamlined V-brakes.

The frame is made from steel, and the wheels have a standard 20″ diameter. The bike folds down to a size of 30″ x 32″ x 11″, which is pretty compact, but weighs 33 lbs, so you may struggle to lift it and carry it if you’re not very strong. 

Buy on Amazon

5. Tern Verge D9

Tern Verge D9

MSRP: $1,149

  • Folded dimensions: 17.3″ × 31.5″ × 29.1″
  • Wheel size: 20″
  • Gears: 9-speed
  • Weight: 28 lbs. 3.2 oz.

Tern bikes are well known for their electric cargo bikes, and electric folding bikes which means creating compact and convenient commuters is not a new task for the brand.

The Verge D9 is a well-made folding bike and a solid investment for years to come. It’s made from hydroformed aluminum frame, and equipped with a 9-speed drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes, which makes it a premium product.

Whether you’d like to extend your commutes by traveling with an RV, sailboat, or any other means of transportation, a good-quality folding bike is irreplaceable for such occasions.

What we like the most about Tern bikes is how easy it is to fold them, as well as the general attention to detail and the quality of manufacturing. 

Buy from REI.com    Buy from TernBicycles.com

6. Dahon Mariner D8

dahon mariner folding bike

MSRP: Check on Amazon

  • Folded dimensions: 31”x 12” x 25”
  • Wheel size: 20″
  • Gears: 8-speed
  • Weight: 28 lb

The Dahon Mariner D8 is an 8-speed, 28-pound aluminum-framed collapsible bike that features 20″ wheels and a long list of accessories to make your life easier on a day-to-day basis.

Preferred by urban commuters and those who combine bike rides with public transportation, the Dahon Mariner D8 makes for a very versatile ride, satisfying the needs of most cyclists looking for a compact option to get around town.

Dahon folding bikes are among the most searched bikes online, the reason being that they offer high value for the money and have reliable customer support. 

The Mariner D8 fits riders from 4’9” to 6’2” in height and has a 230 lb maximum weight capacity, so a wide range of commuters can ride it.

Buy on Amazon

7. EuroMini Zizzo

euromini zizzo foldable bike

MSRP: Check on Amazon

  • Folded dimensions: 27″ x 31″ x 12.5″
  • Wheel size: 20″
  • Gears: 7-speed
  • Weight: 29 lb

This reasonably priced folding bicycle is packed full of features, including a 7-speed Shimano Tourney derailleur, versatile 20″ tires, and a durable aluminum frame.

It folds down in seconds to a size of 27″ x 31″ x 12.5″ and weighs around 29 lb, which is reasonably light for an affordable bike like this one.

The components are low-tier, but they will get the job done. What’s not ideal is the fact that the EuroMini Zizzo has no accessories, but that can be a plus for some riders who don’t need them. 

However, if you want to be able to ride year-round, in all weather conditions, and carry additional gear, we recommend choosing one of the other options above.

Buy on Amazon

Things to Consider When Buying the Best Folding Bike

What are the alternatives to folding bikes?

Dakine - Bike Roller Bag with a bike in it

The concept of a bicycle travel case is quite popular among professional cyclists.

While some foldable bikes include a carry bag, adding an additional cover to shield the bike from external elements is always beneficial.

Bike travel cases have evolved to provide substantial protection, and you have the option of selecting either a soft-shell or a hard-case cover for enhanced safety.

Choosing a travel case means you get enhanced protection, and once assembled, you have the advantage of riding a full-size ‘performance bike’.

On the other hand, a foldable bike offers the convenience of quick folding and unfolding on the go. 

Origins: The History of Folding Bikes

Bicycles first began to rise in popularity during the late 1800s, with folks of all ages and abilities embracing the newest two-wheel craze.

By the end of the 19th century, these wonderful machines were being considered for other transport-minded applications, situations where people needed to get from place to place quickly while eschewing the use of complicated machinery, or beasts of burden like horses and camels.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t modern convenience that drove folks to create the first folding bicycles. Instead, it was an incredibly unlikely scenario that pushed this innovation forward—war.

First folding bike historical photo by Emmit G. Latta

Image credits: Bikefolded.com

One of the first designs for a folding bicycle was created by the Danish inventor Mikael Pedersen, at the behest of the British army for use by their infantry soldiers.

Before this, there were limited French folding prototypes, but these were somewhat unreliable and tended to cause more trouble than they were worth. But it wasn’t until a couple of years later, when Mikael took his patented Pedersen bicycle, stripped it of its components, cut it down, and reassembled it in his workshop, that the first truly stable and dependable nesting bicycles began to be seen.

This was the start of the first true military folding bike “boom,” with several government entities licensing Mikael’s designs and adding their own modifications before sending them into production, which was still popular even into the 1960s and 70s.

During this period the first commercially available folding bicycles also began to hit the public, but it wasn’t until the early 1980s that the next evolution of these bicycles occurred, thanks to a little-known company (at the time), called Dahon.

Believe it or not, folding bicycles were a wartime invention.

Formed by eccentric inventor Dr. David Hon, the company took cues from Hon’s experience at the world-famous Hughes Aircraft Corp. in California. After Hon left the company, he spent much of his time researching ideas related to “green” solutions for everyday, practical applications, including public travel.

It was this mission that eventually resulted in the 1982 Hon convertible, a bicycle that stayed more or less unchanged for the next decade.

Moving into the present day, several companies have carved out a niche for themselves in the folding bike world, such as:

  • Dahon Bikes
  • Brompton Bikes
  • Tern Bicycles
  • Change Bike

This pervasiveness of folding bicycles, along with their more recent innovations has all but guaranteed that just about everyone can find a folding bike that fits their price constraints and specific needs.

How Do I Find the Best Folding Bike for Me?

Tiny Brompton C Line Explore

There are plenty of questions to ask yourself when choosing the right folding bicycle for your needs, many of which aren’t always the most obvious.

  • Intended Use

The first question you should be asking is what this bike is mainly going to be used for. If you’re someone who’s looking to make longer rides, then comfort might be your primary concern. Alternatively, if you need something to get yourself down the street to your home or office, maybe the size of the bicycle or its weight are the main features to focus on. Folks who enjoy the outdoors and tend to do a lot of dirt track riding are going to be looking for suspension and chunky tires.

  • Getting the Right Fit

Once you know what specifications you’re looking for, the next step is to make sure the model you’re considering is actually going to fit you. Not all folding bikes are created equal, and some can only accommodate riders up to 5’9″ or 5’10”. The maximum weight limit is also an important consideration, as some models support more weight than others.

  • Storage Options

You’ll also want to consider storage options. If you live in a small studio or loft apartment with a limited storage space, it’s possible that there are certain options that will fit much better than others. Generally, with a folding bike, there’s no need for additional bike racks. Perhaps you’ll be taking your bike on airplanes often, in which case a suitcase-ready option like the A-Bike would be perfect since it’s designed to slip into a personal bag.

  • Budget

Price is also probably going to be a large factor in which bicycle you eventually choose. Not everyone is looking for an expensive, feature-rich beast with a carbon frame, that can handle every type of terrain. Research is key here, as many of the options out there cost around the same as a typical mid-range touring bicycle.

Different Wheel Sizes to Consider

So, while there are a few outliers, there are generally three main folding bicycle wheel sizes you’ll come across: 16-inch, 20-inch, and 24-inch.

Each type provides its own benefit, with smaller wheels providing a more nimble experience, with tighter turns and a smaller footprint, while larger wheels provide a longer distance per pedal push.

Below, I break down the main benefits of each of these.

16-Inch Wheels

brompton c line

Brompton C Line is one of the most popular 16-inch folding bikes around

One of the most obvious benefits here is the compact nature of the wheels, and therefore the smaller total size of the bicycle. If you’re planning to commute in the city, many consider 16″ wheels to be the best.

One downside of this wheel size is that many manufacturers charge a bit more for bikes that include them, as they’re a bit more of a specialty item.

Also, it tends to be true that the smaller the size of the wheel, the less stable the bicycle. While many enthusiasts love these bikes, it’s certainly something to keep in mind for any aspiring folding bicycle owner.

20-Inch Wheels

blix vika+ 20" folding bike

Twenty-inch wheels are the most popular option, commonly seen on folding e-bike models and regular folding bikes.

Twenty-inch wheels are the middle-ground when it comes to folding bikes, with their wider base providing a substantially more stable ride than their 16″ counterparts.

Many owners consider the 20″ to be the perfect size, which is why they’ve been traditionally the most popular option.

The portability of smaller wheels, along with a feel that’s closer to more traditional bicycles are what keeps these a popular option.

24-Inch Wheels

Tern Node - 24 inch wheel folding bike

Tern Node is one of the rare 24-inch wheel folding bikes.

The largest of the three options is the 24″ wheel, which is perhaps the most comfortable of the three sizes, with their larger size providing the perfect cushion for bumpy roads and a full-size bike ride feel.

While it may not be quite as compact, for those in more rural areas, it tends to be the perfect option. However, it’s worth noting that 24-inch folding bikes are not that common.

6-8” Specialty Wheels

a-bike folding bicycle

The A-Bike is the most compact folding bicycle available on the market.

In rare cases, companies make their own specialty wheel sizes for folding bikes.

One great example is the A-bike, which has both 6” and 8” tires for their models.

These wheels are exceptionally small, and as one might expect are rather wide to compensate for their minuscule footprints.

These types of wheels provide a maximum level of portability while sacrificing a certain amount of stability.

About the Author

Sam Millers

Sam Millers is the guy behind Bikexchange.com. From the early days of three wheels to conquering challenging mountain trails, Sam's love for cycling knows no bounds. With a background in web development, Sam seamlessly combined two of his greatest passions – cycling and technology. As the creative force behind Bikexchange.com, he shares insightful stories, expert tips, and engaging content for fellow cycling enthusiasts. When he's not exploring new biking routes or tweaking website codes, Alex enjoys sipping on a post-ride espresso and planning his next cycling adventure. 

5 thoughts on “Best Folding Bikes of 2024: Discover the Most Versatile and Compact Models Worth Buying

  1. Paul Perks says:

    Best ever was the Bickerton, folding to fit 10x20x30 meeting airline luggage requirements. Very flexible, I found it comfortable commuting amd trips up to abput 50 miles.

  2. Kenneth Wagner says:

    If I plan on carrying my folded bike on public transportation, it better had be under 30lbs. If I want a space saving bike (for car or apartment) so I can ride along with my son, I don’t want to spend more than a few hundred dollars. I also don’t want something cheap (Target or Walmart). I did purchase a folding bike (same manufacturer as the one reviewed but a different model) and I’m very satisfied. A hint…the bike is 26lbs. Oh, all the Zizzo bikes can handle up to 240lbs and the Forte, 300lbs.

  3. Kenneth Wagner says:

    If I plan on carrying my folded bike on public transportation, it better had be under 30lbs. If I want a space saving bike (for car or apartment) so I can ride along with my son, I don’t want to spend more than a few hundred dollars. I also don’t want something cheap (Target or Walmart). I did purchase a folding bike (same manufacturer as the one reviewed but a different model) and I’m very satisfied. A hint…the bike is 26lbs.

  4. Mark says:

    I’m a heavy man, what frame weight capacity do these bikes have?

    1. Sam Millers says:

      Good point, we’ll add those there at some point. In general, folding bikes have a slightly smaller max weight capacity, for example Brompton bikes have a max weight capacity of 242 lbs, while the popular folding e-Bike Rad Power Bikes – Rad Mini has a max weight capacity of 350 lbs.

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