Folding bikes or no?

The pros and cons of getting a folding bicycle.

Pros ✅

Light weight

It’s guaranteed to be light weight and carryable (usually about 10 kilograms or 20-25 pounds).

That excludes the weight savings from not having to carry a bike lock(!), allowing you to travel more lightly.

Note: electric folding bikes are still incredibly heavy–expect them to weight 10-25lbs (5-10kg) more.

Faster acceleration

Because of smaller diameter wheels, folding bicycles are easier to accelerate from a deadstop.

Folding bike point-of-view photo

Easy Mount/Dismount

Folding bikes generally have a step-through frame & a lower center of balance, which makes them fantastic to mount/dismount.

Stopped on a folding bike

Are these really folding bike features?

These first three benefits are not unique to folding bikes, but there is an entire category of bicycle called “mini velo” which has some popularity in Asia. Read more here: Mini velos

Here are a couple of benefits that are specifically due to the folding behavior:

It Folds (Duh)

Since it can fold into a smaller shape, it can be carried and place in:

Folding bike & backpack in the trunk of a Tesla Model 3

If you have fear of social shame for bringing your bike into specific places (e.g. grocery store) recognize that:

  1. a folding bike may be smaller than a shopping cart and
  2. you are giving the store money

If they want your money or your participation then they will not force you to leave the establishment–especially if you take the time to fold your bike:

Folded bike


Folding bikes are harder to steal–as you can carry them with you, even inside of buildings where you ordinarily would be forced to lock your bike outside.

This is the most clear benefit–whether you live in an apartment building or work at an office with no secure bike storage.

This has a secondary benefit, which is that you no longer have to carry a heavy lock and remember/carry its key.

Handlebar mounting

It’s easy to mount a bag or backpack on the front handlebars, since it has a long front stem with small wheels:

Handlebar mount on folding bike

Cons ❌

Less stable

With smaller diameter wheels you will feel less balanced on the bike.

For example it is harder to pedal with one hand on the handlebar.

This requires a bit more focus as you travel, and it’s certainly not recommended to whip out your phone mid-ride to take photo/video (where you might on other bikes).

Adam on folding bike


At higher speeds you may travel slower than non-folding bikes-–though this isn’t necessarily true.

This is most exhibited when you might be going up a steep hill, and need to step up out of your seat to pedal (in order to keep momentum).

This type of athletic exertion is harder to do on a folding bike frame, as it does not have as much structural integrity as a road bike (for example).

I personally haven’t found this to be much of an issue as I use my folding bike(s) for transit and not racing or going up big hills.

Lots of videos on YouTube illustrate the tradeoffs of wheel size and aerodynamics:


Folding bikes do not look like a conventional bike.

If you want to ooze confidence to onlookers while riding your bike, it may be harder to do so on a folding bike.

But you won’t know if you don’t try!

I feel pretty cool on mine:

Beautiful folding bike in front of downtown San Francisco

Custom/uncommon components?

This is not unique to folding bikes, but you can encounter this issue with finding readily available (and cheap prices for) replacement components with manufacturers like Brompton

A couple of components that will be different:

Less durable in the long run?

Smaller wheels wear down faster.

You will need to replace your tires more frequently than a conventionally sized bicycle.

The frame also feels less structurally sound than a full-size bicycle.

I don’t know what lifetime a folding bike has (I haven’t rode one into the ground yet), but longevity is something of which to be mindful.

Folding Bike Brands

Here is an abbreviated list of companies that manufacture folding bicycles:


I enjoy my folding bike–it definitely fits a small feature gap that other “conventional bicycles” cannot support.

If you live in tight housing or you work at an office with insufficient or unsafe locations for locking a bike, folding your bike and carrying it inside is your best bet for preventing theft.

· bicycles, biking, transit, commuting, economics