Are Foldable Bikes Safe?


Did you know that folding bikes have become increasingly popular since the public developed an interest in them in the 1970s? And according to this report, the global folding bike market has grown exponentially and is expected to grow even more by 7.30% annually between 2022-2027. 

For many of us who live in cities, folding bikes are a great way to commute from place to place with ease. They can also be folded compactly for easy carriage and storage, and you don’t have to worry about bike theft ever again!

If this is your first time knowing about folding bikes or you simply want to know more about them, stick around. I’ll be giving you a rundown of what folding bikes are and if it is safe to ride one. 

Like all things, using a folding bike has its advantages and disadvantages and you’ll get a front-row seat to check them out. I’ll also go over some factors you should consider before making that folding bike purchase. 

Are Foldable Bikes Safe?

As a potential buyer, this is most likely the first question that comes to mind. This kind of bike is easy to take with you as you commute and can be stored easily, so what’s not to like? You think to yourself, ” Yea, they seem pretty cool, but are folding bikes safe?”

Black folding bike stored under wooden desk

Generally speaking, folding bikes are safe. They have some similar features that can be found on regular bikes. For instance, the distance from the bottom bracket to the middle of the head tube, the position of the saddle and the handlebars are usually similar to regular bikes. Also, some folding bikes have wheelbases that are the same as regular bikes.

Yes, folding bikes are safe as long as you stick to your bike’s weight limits. You can check out some popular folding bike weight limits here.

Structurally, folding bikes are strong and durable, so they don’t break easily.  However, every folding bike has a weight capacity that shouldn’t be exceeded. Putting too much weight on a folding bike can cause it to break while in use and can lead to an accident.

What are Folding Bikes?

Brown and black folding bike on wooden bridge.

A folding bike is basically a bike that can be folded up. It is a bicycle designed to fold into a compact form that reduces the risk of bike theft, makes transportation easier and helps you to save space during storage. 

Folding bikes come in different shapes and sizes, including both single speed and geared options, and some even have simple suspension systems. Some added advantages of folding bikes over regular bikes is that they provide better mobility and are flexible for mixed commute. You can ride a foldable from your house and easily hop on a train or bus with it. 

Folding bicycles range from poor to excellent quality. The good ones are durable, efficient, and fun. However, foldable bikes don’t feel smooth on rough terrain due to having smaller wheels; but they are perfect for urban cycling, commuting and leisure riding.

Owing to their unique foldability feature, you will need to budget a couple hundred bucks more than you would for a regular bike to purchase a foldable. Quality doesn’t come cheap, right? 

You should check these popular brands that make foldables: 

Why do People feel Folding Bikes are Unsafe?

A lot of people tend to believe that folding bikes are unsafe because of the misconception that it might break. Yes, a foldable bike can break but not if the manufacturer’s guidelines are adhered to, especially with the weight limit. For specific brands of foldable bikes, there are guidelines on recommended weights, the kind of terrain in which the foldable bike should be used, instructions for proper bike care, etc. 

So, if you adhere to the proper guidelines, there’s nothing to fear and you won’t have your foldable bike break mid-ride. Contrary to what some believe, the standard and quality of a modern folding bike is so high that the chances of it breaking out of the blues is pretty slim. 

To get the best out of your foldable bike (and make sure it doesn’t break), I recommend that you buy from trusted brands that make quality bikes. Yes, the cost may be a lot more but that’s a small price to pay for comfort, portability, strength, safety and durability.

Suggested post: Benefits of Electric Bikes 

Advantages of Folding Bikes

To help you decide on whether to get a folding bike or not, here are some advantages that may impress you to consider buying one. 

  1. Portability

Folding bikes are easy to carry and this portability is the chief benefit. If your bike stops working on the road, You can simply fold it up and carry it with you as you use another means of transportation. In fact, you can carry a folding bike onto trains without needing a special bike carriage. They can weigh as little as 6.9 kg in the case of the carbon fiber Hummingbird ebike.

  1. Save on Storage Space

Like most urban dwellers, owners of road bikes, hybrid bikes and MTBs have to deal with the challenge of storage. But as a cyclist with a folding bike, you don’t have to deal with such a headache. A folding bike takes up minimal space and can be stored in a variety of spaces like a cupboard, under a desk, beneath your bed, etc. 

  1. Easy to Transport

Folding bikes are cheap to transport because they’re usually accepted as hand luggage. Where owners of regular full-sized bikes have to pay extra on trains, you get to transport your folding bike completely free of charge! 

  1. Nimble

Due to their small size, most folding bikes are nimble, responsive and have great handling, especially on city roads.

  1. More Security

With a folding bike, you do not need to fret over its safety. Anywhere you go, your bike can go with you and you can easily keep an eye on it. Since your folding bike does not have to be parked outside, it goes into your fave restaurant, your friend’s house, your corner store, etc. 

  1. Great for the Environment
Lady rolling folding bike

As the world becomes more conscious of the ecosystem, we keep talking about climate change and how to protect the ozone layer. Owning and using a folding bike is one of the ways to walk the talk. You can commute from place to place on your bike without dangerous emissions that contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. 

  1. Good For Your Health

A folding bike encourages you to do regular exercise and contributes to the health of your cardiovascular system. Regular cycling helps to stimulate and improve your heart, lungs and circulation, thereby reducing your risk of getting. cardiovascular diseases. It strengthens your heart muscles, lowers resting pulse and reduces blood fat levels. Regularly doing a small amount of exercise on your folding bike cumulatively makes you a healthier person. 

  1. Folding bikes are simply cool! Yea, that’s it. They seem more like a gadget than a bike, kinda like a transformer (imagine a bumblebee folding bike). 

Suggested post: Effect of cycling on body shape

Disadvantages of Folding Bikes

Like all good things, folding bikes have their own downsides too. Let’s take a look at some of them. 

  1. Lower Weight Limits

Folding bikes generally have lower weight limits than regular bikes. This makes sense because the bike is smaller and can bear less weight so folding bikes aren’t ideal for those weighing more than 100kg (220lb).

  1. Not Ideal For Long-Distance Rides 

A folding bike is considered an urban get-about and no one considers riding one for two to three hours on end. This is because the design of foldable bikes generally does not allow them to perform well on long distance traveling. Also, they aren’t designed for speed and their small wheels make them a poor choice for distance travels. 

  1. Poor for Off-roading 

I mentioned earlier that the wheels of folding bikes are small. They have a wide range of wheel sizes from 10 inches up to 26 inches. The most popular tire sizes for folding bikes are 16, 20, and 24 inches. For this reason, riding on bumpy roads with debris and portholes is a no-no for folding bikes. Else, the tires would wear out easily and slow down your ride. Unlike how bikes with bigger wheels conquer trails with these kinds of hazards more efficiently, foldable bikes have an obvious disadvantage. 

Yellow folding bike parked beside a tree on grass in fall.
  1. Less Comfortable Ride

Due to its smaller tires, and lack of any suspension, some folding bikes will be less comfortable than most road or mountain bikes. (some folding bikes do have suspension nowadays) You will feel more of the bumps on the road or other non-flat, paved terrain.

  1. Heavy Weight

Despite the fact that they can be folded into tidy-carry size, foldable bikes are heavy. In fact, many foldable bikes weigh more than full-sized bikes. They are made from aluminum and can weigh anything from 18lbs to 35 lbs. It’s for this reason that people prefer to wheel them along. Although there are some lightweight models with titanium and carbon fiber that weigh as low as 14lbs, be ready to pay a premium for those. 

  1. Expensive 

If you’re thinking “small bike, small price”, you’re wrong. The price of folding bikes are often more expensive than their non-folding bike counterparts. You’re paying extra to own a bike that can fold into the size of a carry-on bag. Folding bikes are in the same price range as budget to mid-range road bikes and buying from a top brand can set you back over $1,000.

  1. Less attractive design

For the biker OGs, foldable bikes are just a poor compromise and look clownish to a generation of bikes who grew up on sexy aerodynamic road bikes or strong, powerful mountain bikes.

Things to consider before buying a folding bike

Here are some things to put into consideration before choosing a folding bike. Typically, these are the six features that you should look out for when shopping for the ideal folding bike.  

  1. Frame Size 

Although foldable bikes pretty much come in a single size, they are usually adjustable to accommodate taller people. So if you’re on the taller side, you need to check if the seat and handlebars can be adjusted to fit your height. 

  1. Wheel Size

If you’ve gotten this far, you must know that the size of your foldable bike’s wheel contributes largely to your riding experience. Smaller wheels are easier to steer, but bigger wheels give you a smoother ride on bumpy roads. The size of the wheels will also influence the size of the bike when it is folded. So, smaller wheels mean compact folding. 

  1. Folding method

Currently, folding bikes on the market have any of three folding methods. They are half fold, triangle fold, and break away. 

Male cyclist carrying foldable bike

Bikes with the half fold are very easy to dismantle but are not sturdy. 

Those with the triangle fold are sturdy and easy to fold but can be challenging to ride. 

Lastly, those with the breakaway fold are the easiest to fold as they can be folded compactly. The only downside of the breakaway folding bikes is that they are more difficult to reassemble.

  1. Suspension 

Suspension refers to the bike’s system that is used to suspend the rider and bike to insulate them from the roughness of the ground or terrain. Adding suspension to a folding bike usually adds additional weight that counters the effect of smaller wheels that cause bumpy rides. So, even if a folding bike has smaller wheels, having a suspension mechanism that adds pressure and weight helps you to enjoy a smoother ride. 

  1. Purpose

What you want to use your bike for matters. If you want to use it for leisurely trips about town, bikes with small tires are just fine. 

But for long journeys, those with bigger wheels and sturdier frames are your best bet for a smooth ride. 

In making a choice, let it be one that fits your lifestyle so that you can enjoy all the benefits of owning a foldable.  

  1. Weight

Check to make sure that you are okay with what your choice weighs. You don’t want to be saddled with a bike that you can’t handle.

The smaller the tires, the lighter the weight. If you’re earnest about getting a really light bike and don’t mind shelling out more money, carbon and titanium frame bikes are the best. 

Folding Bike FAQs

Lady commuter standing beside black foldable bike

Are Folding Bikes Durable?

Folding bikes are made to be durable and as long as their weight restrictions are adhered to, they can last long. 

Is A Folding Bike Good For Beginners?

Folding bikes are not ideal for beginners who lack confidence. This is because bikes with smaller wheels (10” to 20”) can be a little twitchy in their handling and are unsafe for inexperienced riders. 

Are Folding Bikes Good For Exercise?

Of course! They are great for exercise and you can get a nice workout on a foldable bike. 

Are Foldable Bikes Comfortable?

This largely depends on the road. Foldable bikes are generally comfortable but they are likely to make jarring and uncomfortable movements when you hit bumps in the road. The cause of this is the smallness of their wheels.

Can Folding Bikes Go Up Steep Hills?

Folding bikes can go up steep hills if they’re sufficiently light and offer a decent choice in gears. For instance, some Bromptons are equipped with 6 gears and can be further modified to conquer hills with a smaller front chainring.

Are Folding Bikes Slow Compared To Regular Bikes?

Yes, folding bikes are noticeably slower than regular bikes and especially road bikes. Goldie’s, unlike road bikes, are not capable of great speed.  On flat roads, you are likely to average about 10-15 mph with a folding bike. 

Final Thoughts

Foldable bikes are cool and if you decide to make a purchase but take the bargain route to save money, you may be sacrificing quality and durability. A cheap bike is not good and a good bike is certainly not cheap. So, when making a purchase, let quality be your watchword. Cheers!