A folding bike is like your conventional bicycle; the only distinguishing feature is its folding mechanism that allows for great convenience in transport and storage. With people trying to make best use of the space available at their disposal, folding bikes have become the preferred choice.
There is an extensive range of folding bikes featuring different frame designs, wheel sizes, folding mechanisms and gears. The best one for you depends on your cycling profile and needs.
1. Ride type –
The type of riding you do is the most important consideration. Do you use your bike for leisure trips round the corner, or do you use it for your regular commute to office or do you use it for mountain tours? Bikes for regular commute need to be comfortable and lightweight; yet they need to hold up against regular travel. Mountain bikes are designed for off-road travel across an array of terrains.
2. Wheel size –
The next criterion to tick against is the wheel size. It determines how portable your bike will be as well as the ride comfort. 26″, 24″, 22″, 20″ 16″ and 14″ are the different available wheel diameters. Folding bikes in 14″ and 16″ are among the smallest wheels, designed for leisure rides. Smaller wheel sizes are not as stable when cornering. Folding bike 26″ wheels on the other hand are typically fitted to mountain bikes as they offer the highest level of stability.
3. Frame design and material –
The idea of including a folding mechanism is to add functionality to the bike. The frame and build material have a say in it. Aluminum, steel, carbon fiber and titanium are the commonly used build materials for folding bikes. Titanium and carbon fiber are lightweight, but very expensive. Aluminum and steel are extremely durable, but heavier with steel being the heaviest.
The frame design should not make the folding mechanism redundant.
4. Gears or no gears –
Amateur cyclists might ask what difference gears make to the performance of a bike. One, they allow you to adjust the speed. They also make maneuvering tricky terrains like hilly areas a lot easier. The only benefit a non-gear bike offers is that it breaks down less often.
5. Maintenance –
Bikes, whether they are the folding or non-folding type, require regular maintenance for optimum performance. Your bike components such as the inner tubes, tires, rims and other spare parts should be easily available. If not, you will have to pay extra to source them. Not only this, you will be unable to use your bike until it gets repaired.
6. Ease of folding –
How easy is it to fold the bike? Different brands make use of different folding mechanisms. There is the split fold, triangular hinge and break away mechanism. In the spilt mechanism, the bike has a single hinge which allows the bike to be folded in half. It is quickest to fold. The triangular hinge mechanism features more hinges and clasps and enables you to fold the bike into a more compact form. But it’s more complicated in comparison. The last lets you fold the bike by disassembling selected parts.
So, when shopping for a folding bike, do consider all these factors. Compare bikes from different brands at different price points to get only the best.