Folding Bikes 101

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Folding bikes are rapidly gaining popularity as the ride of choice in many urban centers whether for daily commuting, vacationing or a weekend adventure.  They offer the versatility of owning one bike that can easily traverse stairs and be stored in most any vehicle type. 

With all the different options on today’s market, deciding on your next bike purchase can be an overwhelming decision.  We’ve tried to break it down for you here, to help you understand the important differences and what bike might be best for you.

Why a Folding Bike?  

A folding bike may be right for you if you are looking for:

  • Compactness & Convenience.   The small wheels and ability to fold mean these bicycles can be stored and transported in your car trunk, under your desk, or in an apartment closet.  They fold away when you don’t need it, but when you do need it, then you have a bike ready to roll.

  • Freedom & Independence.  since you can take your bike with you anywhere you go, it gives you the freedom to cycle and the independence to use your own equipment that you can rely on instead of finding a rental bike.

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How would I use it?  

Intermodal Transportation.  This means using a folding bike to get you between other major modes of transportation, like from your car to the nearest public transit hub.  Grab your folding bike and zip to the train, metro or LRT.   Depending on your jurisdiction, folding bikes may also be the only bikes allowed on public transit during peak hours.

Travel.  Do you enjoy sailing, and wish you had a bike when you were on shore?  Or do you enjoy flying and with you could cycle straight from your hotel?  Are you eager to visit different countries and cycle in the city and the countryside?  If you do, then you will love having a folding bike!

Fits in the car.  With a folding bike, you don't need a bike rack to transport your bike.  A folding bike will fit in the trunk of your car.  You also have the peace of mind that your bike is secured within the car.

Limited space.  Do you live in a small apartment? If so, a folding bike can easily be tucked under a table or in a corner out of the way. I t may also fit it under your desk at work!

Fun and fitness.  You probably already know this, but cycling is a lot of fun as well as being good for you.  If you work locally then you can bring a bike with you to ride on your lunch-break.  If your job involves traveling, like an airline pilot or a truck driver, you can always have a bike with you to help stretch your legs, explore your surroundings, and stay active.

What do the different wheel sizes Mean?  
Different folding bikes have different sizes of wheels, generally between 16 and 24 inches, but some even have 26-inch and 700c wheels similar to traditional bikes.  So what’s the difference?
  • Size matters: 16” to 20” wheels.  Bigger isn’t always better.  The one great benefit of the smallest wheels size (16” – 20”) is that they are generally able fit into airline suitcases as well as circumnavigating bicycle restrictions during peak hours on public transit (depending on your jurisdiction), so you can travel with it almost anywhere without much extra hassle.  As another bonus, if you have limited living space, the bike practically disappears when not in use.  Smaller wheels also give you a mechanical advantage when climbing hills.

  • 22" to 24".  22-inch wheel sizes  (also known as 451 wheels) and 24-inch wheels seek to blend the characteristics of smaller wheels with the riding characteristics of traditional bike wheels, and can be deliver noticeably more comfort and pedaling efficiency if compactness is not your main priority.

  • 26", 27.5" and 700c.  Larger wheels roll over obstacles more easily.  Because of this, the bike may feel more comfortable and will handle more confidently on surfaces like cobblestone and gravel.  The larger wheels also make it easier to go long distances as you get more travel out of each pedal stroke and wheel rotation.

Folding Bike Manufacturers - Which Brand to buy?  

Dahon is the leading brand of the folding bike industry. They have over 30 years of experience producing folding bikes, known for unique bike designs, Dahon does not set any boundary on the capability of folding bikes, if you are seeking an imaginative folding bike that reflects your personality and also great value Dahon should be the first consideration

Tern is quickly proving to be a force on the folding bike market. From their award winning Physis 3D handlepost and OCL joint, Tern puts effort thoughts into the protection of their bike as well as keeping its models simple built for easier service. Tern is perfect for customers looking for high robustness and protections in their bike.

Montague bikes are considered to be full-size folding bikes they offer 26” and 700c wheel sizes along with more speed than an average folding bike, this gives customer not only the look but the feel of a standard size bike. Another known fact is Montague has worked with the United States military to aid development of their bikes. Montague is a great choice for any avid biker that needs a bike that can handle variety terrain as well as maintaining the compactness of a folding bike for transportation.

Currently The City of Calgary allows 20" folding bikes on all buses and C-Trains during all service hours (including peak hours, if properly covered). For more information visit Calgary Transit.

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