For bikers looking for portability and convenience, finding the best folding bikes under $500 is key. Folding models are lightweight, easy to use, and most importantly, easy to transport from one place to another. Often called “folders,” folding bikes have undergone extensive renovations and transformations. Folders used to be bulky, heavy, and awkward to ride. As biking technology increases and the demand for convenience rises, folders have become much more streamlined, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to operate.
A good part of these changes also stems from tightened airline restrictions on bringing bikes—those that could be compactly folded up could travel free of charge. During the early 90s, folders began to experience a revival in form, innovation, and convenience. Today, there are over 150 different models and types of foldable mountain bikes. Thanks to a few decades of innovation in materials and basic construction, the folding mechanism found in the bikes of today are much more efficient than early models, offering higher performance, increased comfort, and lighter weights.
Advantages Of Folding Bikes
Compared to conventional bikes, these bikes come with a few key advantages. These benefits can create new possibilities for travel and road experience, allowing bikers to bring their rides along with them wherever their path may lead. These advantages are: No booking restrictions With very few exceptions, folders don’t require any necessary booking arrangements to be brought along on public transportation systems. This includes ferries, subways, railways, buses, and airlines. Enhanced protection against theft Of course, conventional bikes and folding bikes alike all have the potential to be stolen, and for the most part, chains and locks help prevent that. Unfortunately, even the sturdiest lock can be broken. These bikes allow for users to easily keep an eye on their bike, bringing it along to offices, stores, or restaurants. Increased storage space
Folding Bikes Wheel Size
Consider wheel size when looking for your ideal folding bike. It makes a difference in the folded size as well as what kind of terrain the bike is best suited to. Most folding bikes use 20-inch wheels to ensure they fold down to a manageable size and stay relatively light when commuting or traveling on public transport. If you plan on riding longer distances, 700c wheels will offer a smooth ride and maximize your pedaling input—but at the expense of a smaller size when folded down, and a lower weight.
Alternatively, a folding e-bike offers some pedal assist to save energy and make sure you don’t show up to work with sweaty clothes. If you plan to ride off-road, then a folding fat bike with 4-inch tires can smooth out a bumpy trail. Most of these bikes come as “one size fits all” with a lot of adjustability as you unfold them. Check for quick-release levers or simple adjustments so that the bike fits and rides well. A model with a lot of versatility may even be suitable for more than one member of your family.
Full Sized Folding Bikes
Not all folding bicycles aim to pack down as small as possible. Some folders arrive with full-size wheels that offer exactly the same riding position as their non-collapsible brethren, but they might not be the best choice if you have to battle busy rail networks twice a day. So consider your specific needs before you buy. The good news is that many folding bikes come with luggage racks or fixings. Other essentials such as mudguards and lights are readily available, and while you might have to forgo that water bottle cage, that’s no great hardship for short urban journeys. Some brands, such as Brompton, even have their own range of luggage, accessories and clothing, and want you to think of the brand as a lifestyle rather than ‘just’ a mode of transport. Folding bikes certainly do cultivate a keen following.
Your body might be a little oversized and you think that you would look like a circus elephant riding a folding bike. That’s not true. There are a lot of heavy-duty folding bikes built for big and tall cyclists, so you can take advantage of all benefits of a folder.
The Price Of Folding Bikes
Folding bikes can be found at nearly every price point, from a couple of hundred pounds up to the multiple thousands. It’s almost certainly a false economy to buy the cheapest one out there: the components and folding mechanism will be lower quality and heavier, they’ll wear out faster and your purchase is more likely to end up unloved in the shed or on a skip. On the other hand, you don’t need to buy a carbon-framed wonder-bike to get something that’s light enough to carry up a flight of stairs, or carry you and your lunch to the office. We're in the market for the best folding bikes under $500 on this particular article so we'll be focusing on finding the best value for $500.
Folding Bike Features
Disc brakes are also beginning to appear on folding bicycle, and though usually heavier and more expensive, these will offer greater stopping power – especially in wet weather.
Many folding bicycles will have anything from 7 speed to 18 speed gearing systems. Some will be single speed models. It's quite common to find the higher number of gears like the 18 speed model on the full size frame folded bikes. The best full size bikes often double up as a mountain bike. The folding frame is one of the best features of these particular bikes as it was unheard of being able to have a full sized mountain bike fold its frame down to a portable, light weight size.
Some of the smaller folding bikes on the market take their inspiration from Brompton bike models. Easily folding frame designs with speed and weight in mind. These small best folding bikes often have an aluminum frame, front and rear fenders and an adjustable stem. Many have limited gearings (7 speed is popular) and some even have a coaster brake to limit the need for cable management.
Although a folding bike with a coaster brake might sound strange it's something that when you try, you'll quickly see the appeal.
We've found as many of the best folding bikes under $500 that meet our standards for recommendation. We hope you enjoy!