When you think a folding bike, you might picture a decidedly small, underwhelming bicycle that’s not much fun to ride, can’t support much weight, and could never take the place of a standard bike. And that would be quite accurate were we living a decade or two back. As while folding bikes have actually been around since the days of WWI, the best folding bikes you can buy arrived on the scene only in recent years.
Today, you can get bikes suitable for hours of cycling on streets, sidewalks, and even trails that will nonetheless fold up and tuck away in a car trunk or hall closet. And you can even get folding electric bikes that just may replace your car if you have a moderate commute. Folding bikes can be used for everything from point-to-point transit, for fitness, for fun, or for some combination of those and more.
Here are 9 folding bikes to consider whether for your short haul to work or the shops or for your all day cycling adventure.
Best for Commuters: Schwinn Loop Folding Bike
This is a perfect choice for the urban commuter who also wants a bike that’s fun for longer rides on the weekend. The 20-inch wheels aren’t going to have you zipping along at race speeds, but the adjustable seat, seven gears, and dual hand brakes allow for a comfortable, controlled ride on any decent roadway, sidewalk, or even a well-maintained park trail. The bike can easily accommodate some cargo on the back, so go ahead and bring your files or get some groceries, and it weighs less than 35 pounds, so most riders will be able to carry it up or down a flight of stairs with little issue.
Read more: Best Commuter Bikes
Best for Short Distances: Xspec Compacty City Commuter Bike
This is not the right folding bike for the cycling enthusiast who wants to spend hours every week in the saddle; rather it’s the perfect bike for the person looking for that “last mile solution” to their commute or for a convenient way to zip a mile or two around town now and then. At less than $225, the bike will pay for itself in savings off Uber and Lyft rides in no time, and it folds down small enough to tuck away even in a small city apartment so it won’t be much hassle when not in use. Note that its rated for users a maximum of about six feet tall and 220 pounds or less.
Best for Trails: Eurobike TSM G7 Folding Bike
If you need a bike that folds down (sort of) small to save space yet you want to go charging down trails, bouncing off curbs, and generally biking in a way that folding bikes in general don’t allow, then this is your bike. It’s a full-sized bike with shocks, rugged tires, a capacity for riders up to 300 pounds, and overall the feel of a regular non-folding bike. All that said, the quality is fine but not great, and there are some plastic pieces that will wear out with time. If you’re a serious off-road or mountain biker, you need a regular fixed frame bike, e.g.
Most Stylish: Brompton M6L Folding Bike
This is the folding bike that proves that folding bikes need not look odd or stilted. The long, flowing frame of this bike, each of which is handmade in London, is elegant without meekness. And though the wheels are rather small at 16 inches in diameter, the long shaft under the seat and handlebars and the long center tube mean the bike rides much like a standard full-sized cycle. This bike is durable enough for years of regular use, and while it might not be the fastest cycle on the roads, its ride is enjoyable enough that you’ll want to spend hours atop it.
Best E-Bike: Tern Vektron D8 Folding Electric Bike
If you’re OK with spending a chunk of change, you’re going to get a great bike if you spend it on a Tern Vektron. This pedal-assist electric bike can have you cruising along at 20 MPH with ease and has a range of up to 50 miles with power assistance, and then of course can also be operated as a regular bike without the motor. Priority’s Swegle calls it “a great mobile solution for yourself or even for bringing your little one along on a seat on the back.” The bike has eight gears, it charges in about five hours, and it can accommodate riders as short as 5’3″ or as tall as 6’5″.
Read more: Best Electric Bikes
More Folding Bikes We Love
EuroMino ZiZZO Campo Folding Bike
When you picture a folding bike in your mind, this is probably about what it looks like. And that’s not to denigrate the EuroMinim, it’s merely accurate. This folding bike is nothing special, but it’s decent in every way, including the averaged 4.6-star customer rating it enjoys with hundreds of reviews posted. The bike weighs less than 30 pounds but can support riders up to 240 pounds, it has seven speeds, twin brakes, and adjustable handlebars and seat. And folded down, it can easily fit into the trunk of any car on the road.
SWAGTRON EB-5 Folding Ebike
This electric bike can do the work for you, at least for about 15 miles; it will cruise at up to 15 miles per hour and can travel about 15 miles without you so much as working the pedals, and of course when you pedal along with the motor its ranges only increased. (You can swap in a spare battery for more range, FYI.) Folded up, the EB-5 measures 26″ by 23.6″ by 15.6″ so it can stash in the closet or in the corner, and at $500 it’s a decent investment even if you’ll only ride a few times a month.
Tern Link C8 Folding Bike
This bike is impressive for its eight gears that provide easy comfort and speed control, its modest weight of around 28 pounds thanks to an aluminum frame, and its full-sized feel thanks to the long center tube and tall seat post and handlebars. But what’s truly notable about the C8 is the fact that you can fold it down and lock it in folded position in 10 seconds flat. How’s that for hopping off the bike and jumping onto the train, into a cab, or running upstairs to get on with your day?
ANCHEER Folding Electric Ebike
This ANCHEER electric bike is a good compromise choice in many regards. It doesn’t have the same range as the best e-bike on our list, nor can it match its speed, but it’s less than half the price. And it’s only about $130 more than the next best e-bike yet has a decent 30-or-so-mile range. It also offers both full electric power, pedal assist power, or regular pedal-only biking options, a rarity for e-bikes of any price range.
Why Folding Bikes Are Perfect for Urban Commuters
A folding bike is also an ideal choice for the urban denizen. Connor Swegle, co-founder of Manhattan’s Priority Bicycles, says a folding bike can be “a great solution for many riders. [For someone] who has to bring the bike up into an office or who has limited storage space at home, folding bikes are perfect. If you don’t have a bike room at work or a garage at home, these things that you can just carry or tuck away are ideal.”
And if all you’re focused on is what Priority’s Swegle calls “that last mile solution,” getting yourself from a bus stop to your office or your front door, e.g., then a smaller, decidedly more affordable folding bike is all you need, and options abound.