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BUYER'S GUIDE

Best folding bikes 2024 — portable bikes for convenient commuting

A guide to the best folding bikes currently on the market for all of your transport and storage-friendly bicycle needs

This article contains links to retailers. Purchases made after clicking on those links may help support road.cc by earning us a commission but all of our reviews are fully independent. Find out more about road.cc buyer's guides.

A firm favourite with commuters for decades now, folding bikes are no longer exclusive to those getting to and from work; quite the contrary, as they are now also a solid choice for those lacking storage space at home who still want to swap four wheels for two. 


Even compared to the best commuting bikes that don't fold, the ride quality of some high-end folders is so refined now that unless you looked down, you'd hardly notice the difference. As practical utility bikes that could even replace a motor vehicle for city commuters in most use cases, folding bikes certainly have an important role to play in helping society to become more green, one bike ride at a time.  

Whether you want high-end or something that won’t break the bank, there are folding bikes for everyone nowadays. For many people in the market for a folding bike, knowing what you can get for your money and which style may fit into your daily routine, as well as lifestyle, can often become somewhat overwhelming. Not to mention stepping into certain chain bike shops, where you could end up being bombarded with advice before you've had chance to think about what you actually want! It’s best to get a rough idea first, whether you're buying in-store or online, so you don't end up buying a bike that isn't actually quite right for you. 

This guide to the best folding bikes should offer everyone food for thought on what’s out there: whether that be regarding what you can get for your ideal budget, or even what may suit your needs or lifestyle. At the end of the day, it’s best to be armed with knowledge before you splash the cash on a new bike. 

If you fancy a little helping hand with regards to speed and power with a folding bike, then be sure to also check out our guide to the best electric commuter bikes. Without further ado, here are our top folding bike picks... 

The best folding bikes: our top picks

Brompton C Line Explore

Brompton C Line Explore

9
Best overall folding bike
Buy now for £1200 from Condor Cycles
Good range of gears
Climbs very well
Super compact when folded
Fun to ride
Gears take a while to fathom
There are cheaper options

Perhaps unsurprisingly, our top folding bike choice comes from the pretty much ubiquitous British success story that is Brompton. This one is six-speed, has 16" wheels with tough puncture-resistant tyres and the folding mechanism is unchanged. 

The C Line Explore weighs 12.1kg, is pretty easy to fold after a couple of goes (it should take the average Brompton user around 20 seconds) and is understandably a very popular option amongst commuters because of the impressively compact fold, perfect for those who frequent busy trains. As we've mentioned already, this version also comes kitted out with a generous six gears which your legs will surely be grateful for on inclines; though if your commute is flatter and you don't need the extra range, the 2-speed C Line Urban or 3-speed C Line Utility might suffice.  

Aesthetically it’s hard to deny that a Brompton is one of the best-looking folding bikes money can buy, with our reviewer describing it as it's "the ultimate commuter [that] can do so much more." Additionally, there is also the option of nine different colours for this model. Although that doesn’t affect the ride quality, reflecting your individual style is always important when you're making a considerable two-wheeled investment.

Carrera Intercity Disc 9-Speed Folding Bike

Carrera Intercity Disc 9-Speed Folding Bike

9
Best budget folding bike
Buy now for £460 from Halfords
Excellent spec
Great fun to ride
Impressive price
A bit short for riders over 6ft

The Carrera Intercity Disc folding bike has landed the spot of our best budget folding bike option, which will not shock many given this Halfords own-brand is synonymous with being well-priced and affordable. At just £460, it’s also a great pick to consider if you are unsure whether a folding bike is suitable for your needs and lifestyle. 

Just because this is the best budget folding bike, it doesn’t mean the ride quality is underwhelming. This particular model offers a 53-tooth chainring and a 9-speed, 11-34 cassette which will allow for more venturing up hills compared with many other folding bikes on the market. Moreover, this bike weighs a highly respectable 12.5kg, which for a budget option isn't bad at all. 

The Carrera Intercity also benefits from folding in half easily to the dimensions: 750mm x 350mm x 650mm, therefore it's super easy to store or take on public transport. It also comes with disc brakes to offer more direct and precise stopping power, which is of course always useful while commuting in busy areas and riding around traffic and pedestrians.

Mirider One GB3

MiRiDER One GB3

9
Best folding e-bike
Buy now for £2495 from Merlin Cycles
Great hill-climber
Nippy throttle
Clean, low maintenance belt drive ideal for a folder
Not the lightest e-folder available

The MiRiDER One GB3 is an evolution of the single-speed MiRiDER, with the same magnesium frame and integrated but removable battery, mid-frame elastomer suspension and adjustable height handlebars and seatpost. However, the GB3 gets three gears, belt drive, hydraulic disc brakes and a new display. 

This is a great choice if you're looking for a folding bike with the added assistance of a motor and in terms of operation, it's just like a three-speed hub gear. You have a twist grip with three gear points to click between making it very simple to use and that instant throttle power goes a long way towards making it one of the most fun e-bikes to ride. 

Montague Crosstown

Montague Crosstown

8
Best folding bike with full-sized wheels
Buy now for £1199 from Montague Bicycles
A 'normal' bike that folds
Chunky 35mm tyres for added comfort
Compatible with regular 700c road bike wheels
Not as compact as smaller folders

Way back when we reviewed the Montague Boston singlespeed, but after being more impressed by the geared version we've picked the more modern Montague Crosstown as our best folding bike with full-sized wheels. It has impressive folding capabilities, a respectable weight of around 12.7kg and very reasonable price of only £1,199. 

It goes without saying but thanks to the 700c wheels, which are a standard circumference for wheels found on a road bike, the Crosstown offers a much more stable and nippier ride in comparison to its little-wheeled counterparts. Therefore, if you want a full-sized bike that also folds, this is certainly one for you.

Likewise, this convenient bike also features seven gears, and along with the bigger wheels this will be plenty for commuters. In addition to that, it also folds down to dimensions of 914.4mm x 711.2mm x 304.8mm, which is decent given it’s a 700c wheel folding bike.

If the 700c wheels have you reconsidering if a folding bike is right for you, then it may be best to read our guide to the best road bikes under £3,000

Estarli e20.7 Original Pro

Estarli e20.7 Original Pro

8
Best affordable folding e-bike
Buy now for £1410 from estarli
Smooth power delivery
Confidence inspiring handling
Easily removable battery
Not the best range in the world

The Estarli e20.7 Original Pro is an affordable electric folding bike, offering excellent value for money, with its standout feature being its impressive ride quality.

The most striking thing about riding a small-wheeled folder can be the compromises in handling but the 20” wheels and wide Schwalbe tyres minimise any compromises – that and the extra weight added to the e20 by way of the motor and battery setup over a traditional folder.

The way it behaves, along with the wide tyres, means that the e20 is just as capable away from the road too, giving you plenty of options if you want to ride or commute away from the traffic. 

Riese & Müller Birdy City

Riese & Müller Birdy City

8
Best folding bike with suspension
Buy now for £2579 from
Front and rear suspension for extra comfort
Rear mudguard
Nexus hub gears for low maintenance
Expensive

The Birdy City from German brand Riese & Müller has taken the spot for the best suspension folding bike due to its impressive front and rear suspension... yep that’s right, rear suspension on a folding bike! Coming in at just under 13kg it’s also not too heavy given the added weight of the suspension.

Thanks to its 8-speed hub gear system, not only is this suspension folding bike a comfy ride but it’s also a little more versatile in comparison to others on the market. Both front and rear suspension will help to offer a softer ride quality, especially on light off-road terrain such as gravel bike paths and grass, which is great for slightly more adventurous commuters. Then with the added addition of eight gears, riding on light off-road terrain won’t be an issue.

Additionally, the Birdy City can also be folded into a nice and neat size, although it doesn't pack down quite as fast or as agile as the Brompton. It’s still a very reasonable size which is also practical for those hopping on and off public transport all day.

Dahon Mariner D8

Dahon Mariner D8

8
Best mid-priced folding bike with an easy fold
Buy now for £650 from Halfords
Easy fold
Affordable
Eight gears
Not the most compact fold

Like the previous generation Dahon Quix D8 that we reviewed back in 2017, the Dahon Mariner D8 has 20 inch wheels compared to 16 inch on Bromptons, meaning it isn't the most compact fold on the market. If folding your bike into the smallest space possible isn't your priority, though, then the Mariner has plenty to offer for a very reasonable price. 

20" wheels mean the ride should feel more 'normal' than some folders with smaller wheels, and to help with hills you get eight gears with plenty at the bottom. To fold, it's just a case of dropping the seatpost, folding the handlebar stem and then folding the frame at the main hinge. A magnet on the right fork grabs a steel plate on the left dropout so it doesn't flap about, and the pedals supplied are also folding to stop them getting caught on you or anyone else while you're transporting the bike.  

The 13kg weight isn't the lightest around, but most of us will find this manageable for short flights of stairs and carrying on and off trains. 

How to choose from the best folding bikes

faq-icon
Are folding bikes a good buy?

Folding bikes are good for riding but are particularly great for commuters and those who do a lot of riding around cities, on bike paths and to the shops due to their convenient nature. Not to mention, considering they're designed to fold at least in half and many have smaller wheels, they do offer a surprisingly solid ride quality

faq-icon
What is the disadvantage of a folding bike?

Although from a practical perspective, they are a great option, the disadvantages of owning or using a folding bike can include limited gear options in comparison to non-folding bikes, a higher price than hybrids/city bikes and a lack of versatility. Like anything, it's a case of weighing up those pros and cons... or if you can afford a folding bike for suitable occasions and a full-sized one for everything else, lucky you!

faq-icon
Is it harder to pedal a folding bike?

It isn't harder to pedal on a folding bike, more that the lack of gearing options means that hillier terrains are much tougher to conquer on a folding bike. But if you are just riding on flatter terrain, then pedalling is no issue.

faq-icon
How much does a folding bike weigh?

The weight of a folding bike will be determined by the make, model, price, size and design. You can expect folding bikes to range from around 9kg-15kg, and towards the upper end that could become a bit of a burden if you have to regularly climb up and down stairs at the train station. Always check the weight of the model you're buying if it's an issue. 

 

faq-icon
Can you use a folding bike for long rides?

Riding long distances on a folding bike shouldn’t be a problem in fact, in the summer of 2022 James Houston completed the brutal Transcontinental ultra-distance bike race on one! While this is impressive, there are certainly other bikes better suited for feats of endurance. If you're planning to ride long distances regularly, it's advisable to consider a road or hybrid bike instead.

 

faq-icon
How do I fold a folding bike?

Even folders that just have a central hinge in the frame don't simply fold in two these days. The hinge is usually positioned and angled so that the parts of the frame nestle together to take up as little space as possible.

More sophisticated folders take this a step further with sections that tuck and telescope together so the folded bike is small enough to slip into places you'd never expect to fit a bike. There shouldn't be any modern folding bike out there that will take you longer than 30 seconds to fold, and with some practice you should be able to do it much faster. 

Having learnt to ride a bike in order to race as a child, Charlotte is no stranger to life on two wheels. Racing across multiple disciplines over the years, she now focuses her time on road racing. Racing with her Belgium based team. Not only that, but Charlotte has many years experience working within the cycling industry alongside her racing endeavours. Therefore, it’s fair to say that anything with two wheels is right up her street.

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20 comments

Avatar
check12 | 10 months ago
0 likes

strange you still doing mention decathlon's range of folding bikes, much cheaper than these and very good.... 

single speed folding bike - £199

geared folding bike £250, £330

elevtric single speed folding £800

Avatar
check12 | 10 months ago
0 likes

strange you still don't mention decathlon's range of folding bikes, much cheaper than these and very good.... 

single speed folding bike - £199

geared folding bike £250, £330

elevtric single speed folding £800

Avatar
Langsam | 10 months ago
2 likes

It's an odd one, purchasing a folder. 
Why? Because you have to work backwards with your decision making. Your choice is determined by what you want to do with it, arguably more than any other urban bike. Here's some of the questions I asked myself before I ended up with a Tern Link. 
 

Taking it on the train/underground?

Putting it in the car?

Do you need to store it under your desk at work?

How long and bumpy will the commute be?

Do you fancy doing summer touring on it, together with public transport?

Will you be using it in all weathers? Do you normally use full size panniers?

How tall are you? (The Dahon and Tern folders can be really cramped and twitchy for a bigger rider)

Is retained value important to you? The Brommies hold their value like nothing else, a lightly-used Tern or Dahon will be available for 40% RRP. 

Avatar
a1white | 10 months ago
1 like

The Best Budget, halfords, bike here has a better spec than the Best Mid-range, Tern Bike. With 9 Speed Sora on the Carrera vs 8 Speed Tourney on the Tern. The Carrera has disk brakes too (cheaper rim brakes on Tern) and is slightly lighter.

Avatar
andystow | 10 months ago
2 likes

The new one from Priority looks like a great deal for a belt drive folder.

https://www.prioritybicycles.com/products/folder

Avatar
Sriracha replied to andystow | 10 months ago
2 likes

I'm tempted by a Tern S8i - same Gates belt drive but higher all round spec (and price, sadly). I like that the whole spec is aimed at commuting convenience. No lights to charge or forget (hub dynamo), rack and mudguards included, no oily bits, and it folds. But it does cost a lot. Be nice if road.cc could test one!

https://www.ternbicycles.com/uk/bikes/472/verge-s8i

Avatar
check12 | 1 year ago
1 like

the decathlon folding bikes are great and a lot cheaper than these

Avatar
OldRidgeback | 1 year ago
2 likes

A point worth noting is that folders with 20" wheels will typically be able to use a very broad range of tyre choices. You can get some really good 20" tyres from the likes of Maxxis, Tioga and Michelin to suit a range of riding conditions as many of us BMXers know. I'm curious when Brompton will recognise this and offer a model with a 20" wheel TBH.

I've ridden a few Bromptons over the years and I do admire the engineering and build quality, while the ride isn't bad either. But they are expensive and the wheel size does limit tyre options. If I was buying a folder, I'd want a 20" wheel as that offers a better range of tyres and can still fold down to a compact size.

Avatar
wtjs replied to OldRidgeback | 10 months ago
1 like

folders with 20" wheels will typically be able to use a very broad range of tyre choices

This is true with 20" ERTO 406 tyres- but if, like the Halfords Intercity, you have 451 rims you are very restricted and the 451 20 x 1 3/8 that come on the bike are badly made. You can't get replacement tyres as wide anywhere. The saga is here

Avatar
wtjs replied to OldRidgeback | 10 months ago
0 likes

website behaving badly here at present- duplicate post

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wtjs replied to OldRidgeback | 10 months ago
0 likes

another duplicate

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cattleandcane | 1 year ago
0 likes

Difficulty in gettting hold of parts for my dahon vitesse d8 is a real issue for me, though the bike itslef is a good bike.  I think brompton are much better in making their parts available. Does anyone know of any good fold up parts suppliers except holland bike shop, brillant bikes and c h white.  I'm really struggling to get a 52 teeth chain ring guard.  Thanks

Avatar
Sriracha | 1 year ago
1 like
Quote:

Even compared to the best commuting bikes that don't fold, the ride quality of some high-end folders is so refined now that unless you looked down, you'd hardly notice the difference ...
... It goes without saying but thanks to the 700c wheels, which are a standard circumference for wheels found on a road bike, the Crosstown offers a much more stable and nippier ride in comparison to its little-wheeled counterparts.

Which is it then?

Avatar
robike | 1 year ago
1 like

Is £450 really a budget price?  Why not any of the BTwins (some under £200)?

I'm surprised Brompton haven't got discs yet.

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wtjs replied to robike | 1 year ago
0 likes

I'm surprised Brompton haven't got discs yet

Yes, I suspect they're already planned- they'll be forced to offer them

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Sriracha replied to robike | 1 year ago
0 likes

I'd suspect discs would need wider wheel axles, which would interfere with the fold. Probably the same reason they have not offered an 8-speed Shimano hub, etc.

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IanGlasgow replied to Sriracha | 10 months ago
0 likes

Kinetics in Glasgow modify Bromptons. Their offerings include disc brakes, hub gears, belt drive and 20" wheels. It can all be done, but Bromton choose not to.

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Sriracha replied to IanGlasgow | 10 months ago
1 like

Indeed, as andystow mentioned a while back. But all these mods detract from "the fold", which is what makes a Brompton a Brompton. Of course Brompton could do it - as so many other manufacturers do. But in neither case would the result be "a Brompton" other than in name. Now, if Brompton could find a way to include an 8-speed hub gear, Gates drive & disc brakes without compromising on their USP, that would be a different matter.

Avatar
andystow replied to robike | 1 year ago
4 likes

I bought a Brompton, my first, a couple of months ago, and I find their stock brakes to be fantastic, even in the wet. When braking becomes less than fantastic as the pads age, I'll replace the pads with Kool Stops.

This guy sells a front disc conversion kit starting at £430, and says the fold is "just a bit wider."

https://www.kinetics-online.co.uk/folding-bikes/brompton/brompton-disc-b...

Avatar
quiff replied to andystow | 10 months ago
2 likes

Some great stuff there - not sure how much original Brompton would be left if you went through all their upgrades though!