The popularity of folding bikes has exploded in recent years. As traffic congestion increases, as well as the cost of fuel more and more people are turning to alternative forms of transport. What was once a choice of a few is now accepted by many as a viable means of beating the traffic.
As in any other industry there are a few companies specialising in folding bikes. The big ones are Dahon, Dawes, Airframe and Brompton. Each company brings its own speciality:
- Dahon is a 30 year old newcomer to bikes. They developed one of the first folding bikes in the 70’s after the founder Dr David Hon left the space race to focus on green transport. They produce a large range of bikes for every budget, with quality being their watch word.
- Dawes is another British company, founded in the 1920’s producing some of the most recognisable racing bikes ever. They have a good range of folding bikes for the occasional commuter to the enthusiastic daily rider.
- Airframe bikes are known for their architect designs, made from high end materials with an eye catching look. With their clean lines Airframe Bikes are perfect for someone looking for a bike that’s a little bit different
- Brompton is a classy designer brand with high quality expensive bikes. Popular in the UK and China.
Folding Bike Construction
The key feature of all folding bikes is that the frame is hinged to allow it to fold up. This normally means that the frame consists of a single bar, not a triangle frame common to road bikes.
This hinge is critical to the strength of the bike, and it’s quality and construction will go along way to establishing how many miles you will get from your bike.
Aside the hinge there is also the frame material to consider. There are 2 main options, steel and aluminium. Steel is cheap and strong, however it is also heavy. As these bikes need to be portable higher end designs use aluminium to keep weight down. The trade off is that aluminium is expensive and not as strong as steel, so tubes have to be bigger (although lighter) and the bikes tend to cost slightly more.
Why should I buy a lightweight folding bike?
Lightweight Folding bikes are incredibly versatile. They can be easily stored indoors, so if you live in an area where you worry about security and don’t want to keep a bike in a shared bike room no problem fold up your bike and keep it in the hall.
Or maybe you have a boat or a second home, a compact folding bike is perfect for stowing away on a boat. Dahon even make a special maritime version called the Dahon Marinar D7 specially for this purpose.
How much are folding bikes?
Like anything , its depends on how much you are willing to spend and what you will be using it for. Folding bikes range from $199 to over $1599. At the lower end you will have basic components, a heavy bike that might not fold particularly compact.
In the mid range at around $600 you can expect a bike around 24lb-26lb, with higher quality components, a better saddle and a few extras like mud guards.
Over $1000 and the sky is the limit, unique designs, light weight bikes and high end components can be found.
Here are some reviews of Low Mid and High priced bikes on the site: