5 of The Best Folding Bikes
Comprehensive folding bike reviews
Bikes that fold? If this engineering vision is something that has been off your radar, turn on your detection system and check these out. Below are 5 best folding bikes that I have personally tested. No, I don't own all of them. I'm just lucky that many of my friends and relatives own one and let me do test runs on theirs (I must have tried over dozen bikes to get down to these 5). With that said, I already ordered the Paratrooper Pro 27 Speed, which is my absolute favorite on this list.
The table below shows the best folding bikes for 2015 in price brackets suitable for recreation, transportation, boating, commuting or mountain adventures. Click on the name of each bike will give you a more detail review.
Max Rider Weight
Best All Around
For Recreational and Budget Conscious Buyer
Best Choice Products® 20" Folding Bicycle Shimano 6 Speed Bike Fold Storage
- Best folding bikes in the under $250 range
- Adjustable height 22” wide handlebar for taller riders
- 6-Speed Bike for minor hills or bridges
- 20” Front Wheel
- Weighs 32 lbs. fully assembled
- Comes with rack and fenders
A new manufacturer entry to the Folding Bike genre, the Best Choice Products’ Shimano 6-speed is made in Viet Nam which may account for the low-price. You can easily snag a $145 deal on this bike, which is huge for someone who just started with folding bike and wanted something casual.
The maker suggests no one over 250 lbs. or under the age of 7 use this bike. Personally, I’d suggest no one over 200 lbs. or under 12 attempt it.
It will need some tweaking when you first get it out of the box, but that’s to be expected with any bike even those that don’t fold. When I say, “tweaking”, I’m talking about tightening brakes, pedals, seat adjustments and putting air in the tires.
The instructions are very badly written, so let me tell you how to tighten the hinge locks. There is a small screw inside the main hinge. You will need to have allen wrenches on hand, so borrow some if you don’t own any.
If I were to purchase this one it would be for a someone age 12 – 15 who really enjoys tinkering with mechanical things and wants a bike to get around.
The quality is poorer than the more expensive models but as an entry-level road bike it would be an asset for those too young to drive. Great for running small errands such as to the corner store when you don’t want to fight for a parking space.
All that said, my neighbor bought this bike and toodles all over the city (New York City) with it and loves it.
Of course, he bought for his daughter and turns out, she’s at the age where she hates bikes.
College Town Bike
Columba 26” w.Shimano 18 Speed Black
- Best folding bikes under $300 price bracket
- 26” Front Wheel
- Weighs 35 lbs
- Optional colors – Blue, Yellow, Silver – at slight add-on cost
- Can store partially or fully folded
- Folds up small enough to fit in trunk of a Prius and most compact cars
The manufacturer, Columba (not to be confused with Columbia bikes from Boston or Columba Jerseys in the U.K.) suggests that this bike is ideal for riders 5”3” to 5”10” who are under 200 lbs.
However, for riders who are taller, purchasing a standard seat-post extension will allow you to ride comfortably with no further major adjustments. As with many folding bikes, the front wheel needs to be installed by you but this is easy to do on this model.
This folding bike has standard bolt holes toward the rear axle and the seat for installation of a standard sized bike luggage rack. The frame and stability of this bike is very good for a bargain fold-up model and will easily carry you, a full back-pack or groceries.
After riding my neighbors’ 6-speed (see above), I thought this one was much easier to pedal. It seemed to go faster with less effort and when I told him about it, the engineer in him leapt out to inform me that “it probably did because of the larger front wheel.”
Hmmmmm… wonder why he didn’t buy this one instead, then. Anyway, it seemed to have a smoother ride but I have to warn you – this is no dirt bike.
Even though it can be ridden on dirt roads, this is a College Town bike. You wouldn’t want to be lugging it around campus from class to class but if you know of an indoor space where you can secure it during classes, it makes a great mode of transportation for getting to and from campus.
The Daily Commuter
Dahon Speed Uno, Shadow
- Best Folding Bikes Under $500
- Single speed bike
- Weighs 25 lbs. fully assembled
- Ingeniously engineered Magnetic Latching System
- Arrives fully assembled
- 20” Front Wheel
Dahon is probably one of the best loved names in modern bike manufacturing. They have a long reputation for quality products and using top-line materials.
They haven’t skimped on either with this single-speed Dahon Shadow, either. Recommended height and weight for riders is between 4’8” to 6’4” and under 230 lbs. However, this bike is so well-made that it could easily ride someone up to 245 lbs.
We can call this bike the Flatlanders’ Special since it is made for those among us that live in urban areas and want a bike that they can fold-up and toss in the car or take on a commuter train.
I am lucky to have friends that prefer to ride bikes than to drive everywhere so that I can test them out free of charge. Of course, the Shadow knows that it just makes sense to take a train, bus or car.
When I first went to unfold this one, I was terrified that I was going to break the latching system or something because it was so stiff. I got laughed at pretty good. The latch is tight because of the magnetic lock and you will need to use a bit of force to unfold it so don’t be surprised.
The pedals are flat instead of the speed-racing type which makes it a lot better for those of us who wear regular street shoes. I soon discovered that there is a small learning curve to operate this one with wiping out – such as how to make turns and avoiding uneven payment. Unless you have very strong legs and a sturdy heart, you really don’t want to charge at a steep hill no matter how short the distance. I have to say that in spite of the small front wheel, the bike is very easy to ride and glides over streets that are in decent shape.
Best Overall Folding Bike
Dahon Mariner D7, Brushed
- Specialty bike for Boaters under $600
- 7-speed Folding Bike
- Brushed Aluminum finish – not painted to look like it
- Weighs 26 lbs. when fully assembled
- 20” Tires on back and front
During the summer in New England (and other cooler regions), a lot of people love to go boating for the weekend. The one problem that they face is when they arrive downstream and dock, they have no vehicle to get around.
This is fine for those places where there are interesting things to do around the docks but what about places that you have to walk several miles to get to a great shopping district or museum? Dahon must have realized that this was an issue for enough people because they made this bike especially for them!
The finish on this bike is brushed aluminum not aluminum painted metal.
While the company clearly states that the bike is not rust proof, they did make it to resist the salt air more than any ordinary finish would. However, you do need to wash it down and dry it with a rag when you get back home to prevent pitting over time.
What I like best about this bike is that both the front and rear tires are the same size. The bike seemed to balance and ride more like a traditionally made bike: there wasn’t a learning curve to operate it as there is in some bikes. Still, because they are only 20”, in my mind I think I look like an adult on a kid’s bike. I don’t of course, but that’s how I felt. If I can suggest one best folding bike to get, this probably is the one.
My Personal Favorite
Montague Paratrooper Pro 27 Speed Folding Full Size Mountain Bike
- Best folding bikes in the $1000 price range
- Must be assembled at professionally licensed Bike Shop in order for valid warranty
- 27-Speed bike
- CLIX quick-release lever to fold and unfold this bike
- 26” Back and Front Wheels
- Two Frame Sizes – 18” and 20” to accommodate height and weight
- Full-sized Mountain Bike that folds-up for easy storage and carrying
- Weighs 29 lbs
Montague’s Paratrooper Pro is known for its toughness and agility. Even though this bike folds-up small enough to pop in backseat or the trunk, it’s still a sturdy bike ready to take the Rocky Mountains by storm.
If you live in San Francisco, Denver or any other hilly town, this is the bike you’ll want for riding to work or taking to the mountains on the weekend - that’s what 27-speeds can do to make uphill riding easier and riding over rough terrain a lot more fun!
The Paratrooper Pro shifts without any bumps or hard jerks – seamless and smooth.
Who is this bike made for? For human beings that love the outdoors and live in cities where finding a place to park means circling the block for an hour.
By now, it must be obvious that I have fallen in love with this bike. I didn’t even get to ride it in my all-time favorite camping spot in the Rocky Mountains just outside Laramie, Wyoming – but when mine arrives, I will!
I did the test run on my cousin’s bike in Boston and we packed it into the car and spent the weekend in Newport, Rhode Island. There is nothing rough, tough or backwoodsy about either place but there are plenty of hills, wind, rain and sun.
I took those hills like they were sleeping policemen in a parking lot. Up and over the curbs on Bellevue avoiding pedestrians and rode all the way around the island without feeling like I had a workout.
Folding the bike was easier than any of the others but of course, for the price I would expect the engineering of every part to be superior – and I wasn’t disappointed.
That quick release lever makes it so easy to remodel the bike into its pretzel shape that it took me less time to fold than it took my cousin to park.
More and more people in the U.S. are getting bikes for everyday use in cities and town. Not only is it environmentally friendly, it makes good financial sense.
Bikes don’t require driver’s licenses, state vehicle tags and taxes or parking garage fees. The best folding bike is one that you can park next to your desk – something you cannot do with even the smallest car.
The best advice I can offer is to spend as much money as you can afford on any one of these folding bikes. Read each of the folding bike review carefully to make sure it's a good fit for you.