Choosing the Right Folding Bike
If you live in the downtown core of a major city, you may not wish to own a car but you’ll still want a simple way of getting around the city quickly. A folding bike is a great way to travel in an urban environment and it can be easily stored away when not in use. Lugging a road bike up and down the stairs of an apartment building isn’t much fun, and when space is at a premium you don’t want that bike clogging up your hallways anyway – a folding bike is a great compromise.
I’m actually surprised at how popular folding bikes have become in urban environments – it seems whenever I head out on my daily commute I generally run across someone with one of these types of bikes on a daily basis. They’re not only ideal for folding up out of the way when you get home to the apartment, their foldable construction also makes them ideal if you need to hop on the train and still take your bike with you. It’s that versatile nature that makes them ideal for the urban commuter.
As you might have guessed, one of the most important functions of a folding bike is that it folds well. Some folding bikes are quite complicated and may take you several minutes to fold – that’s not good if you’re in a rush. The best folding bikes have quick release clasps that allow you to quickly fold the bike down if you’ve just arrived at the bus stop and need to quickly fold it up to get on the bus for the next phase of your commute. Ideally you want to look for a bike that can be folded in about 15 to 20 seconds.
Foldable bikes are certainly convenient, but they’re generally designed as a sort of one-size-fits-all type of bike. Most foldable bikes are designed for riders that are anywhere between 5’2” and 6’2”, so when looking at a folding bike you need to make sure that the parts are quickly adjustable. In particular you’ll want to look at whether or not the seat and the handlebars can be adjusted quickly. The best folding bikes feature quick release clasps that can be flicked open with your thumb to quickly adjust the height of your seat or handlebars. These then quickly lock into place to make your bike secure and safe for riding.
The Weight Is Important
Perhaps the most important thing to consider when purchasing a folding bike is the bike’s weight. Unfortunately, some folding bikes can be quite bulky and difficult to carry – that’s a problem for people that are using their folding bikes as a convenient commuter vehicle. Ideally, you want something that can be folded up quickly and is lightweight enough to be carried up a couple of flight of stairs with no problem. Generally, you’ll want to look for a bike that’s no more than about 30 pounds, as anything more than that is probably more than most people can handle carrying for any length of time.
A lot of folding bikes are made with steel frames, but if you can find one with an aluminum frame it will considerably reduce the weight of your bicycle, making it easier to carry. You’re not likely to find too many carbon fiber folding bikes, but there certainly are aluminum models and if you can afford an aluminum model it is your best choice.
The Perfect Commuter Vehicle
If you live in an urban environment and you’re concerned about space issues a folding bike is a great option. As we’ve mentioned above, you’ll want to make sure that you choose one that can be quickly folded, is lightweight, and is also easily adjustable. Remember, these bikes aren’t built for speed or off-roading – they’re meant to be a convenient commuting vehicle in an urban environment. As long as you’re realistic about your expectations these bikes can be ideal.