Brompton M3L
Brompton M3L

Best overall folding bike

If you want the best foldable bike on the market -- and are willing to pay for it -- reviewers say Brompton folding bikes simply outclass the competition. The Brompton M3L has one of the most compact folds on the market (22.2 inches by 21.5 inches by 10.6 inches), and its rear-wheel suspension provides a more comfortable ride than most folding bikes. Reviewers say the folding process is quick and easy to master. The 25-pound Brompton M3L stays locked once folded, and the chain is tucked away in the middle to keep grease away from your clothes. Fenders and reflectors also make the Brompton M3L very commuter-friendly. According to reviews, the biggest downside of the Brompton M3L is the gearing -- with only three gears, this folding bike isn't the best choice for hilly areas. Still, the Brompton's portability makes it ideal for riders who hop on public transportation as a legs of their commute.
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MSRP: $1,280 Estimated Price
Dahon Speed D7
Dahon Speed D7

Budget folding bike

When it comes to value, experts say the Dahon Speed D7 is a clear winner. The Dahon folding bike has a stable and smooth ride that belies its budget price tag, and seven speeds give it decent gearing options for moderate hills. The foldable bike comes with a good number of commuting accessories for the price, including fenders, a kickstand, chain protector and a rear rack. The folding mechanism is quick and easy to use, and the bike only takes about 15 seconds to fold, according to Dahon. The Dahon Speed D7 is also remarkably stable for a bike in this price range, and most reviewers are impressed with the ride quality. Like most budget folding bikes, the Dahon Speed D7 is pretty heavy at 28 pounds. It's also not as compact when folded as some other foldable bikes, measuring 11.7 inches by 30 inches by 25 inches. Even so, reviewers say the Dahon Speed D7 is a great option for budget shoppers.
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Montague Boston
Montague Boston

Full-size folding bike

For long commutes, a full-size folding bike like the Montague Boston makes a lot of sense. The 26-inch wheels are faster and more comfortable than the smaller wheels found on most folding bikes, and they can hold up to potholes and rough roads. Even though it has a full-size frame and folds in less than a minute, the Montague Boston weighs in at a mere 24 pounds. The folded size (35 inches by 12 inches by 28 inches) is also relatively compact for a full-size bike. Reviewers are impressed with the quick fold, and most say that you would never know the Montague Boston was a folding bike based on its ride quality, which is sturdy and stable. However, the Montague Boston is a single-speed bike, so those with hilly commutes may want to look elsewhere. In addition, the Boston folding bike doesn't come with popular commuting accessories like fenders or a storage rack.
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See a side-by-side comparison of key features, product specs, and prices.

Folding Bikes Runners Up:

Dahon IOS XL MSRP: $1,600

2 picks by top review sites.

Brompton S6L-X MSRP: $2,100

2 picks by top review sites.

Evaluating foldable bikes for commuters

Folding bikes are exploding in popularity, thanks in part to volatile gas prices and a renewed emphasis on green commuting options. For commuters, folding bikes offer a number of advantages -- they are portable, versatile and compact. You can put a folding bike in the trunk of a car, carry it on the subway or store it in your office or apartment to prevent theft. The best folding bikes are lightweight and can fold in seconds, making them a great choice for commuters or cyclists with limited storage space.

Most foldable bikes include quick-release levers or hinges that fold the bike; pedals and handlebars can also be folded down for a more compact package. Some folding bikes include a carrying bag. To keep weight down, foldable bikes typically have minimal accessories. Some models come with fenders or small rear racks, but you'll have to pay extra for these accessories on most bikes. The majority of folding bikes come with 16- or 20-inch wheels, although it is possible to find full-size foldable bikes with 26-inch wheels. Mini bikes with 8- or 12-inch wheels are another option, but the ride quality on these models can't compare to the larger-wheeled bikes.  

Foldable bicycles come in a variety of price ranges. There are several well-reviewed folding bikes under $500, but these bikes are typically heavier and less compact than more expensive models. If you only have a short commute, these bikes perform perfectly well. If you have to ride multiple miles and then carry your bike on public transportation, you may want to consider paying more for a lightweight bike. If you don't need to fold your bike, note that ConsumerSearch covers non-folding comfort bikes in a separate report. These commuter and recreation bikes emphasize comfort and cargo practicality over compact size and weight.

Folding bikes are incredibly popular in the U.K. and Europe, so some of the best comparative reviews come from British publications. Surprisingly, a car review magazine, the U.K.'s Auto Express, conducts excellent tests of folding bikes, although some of the bicycles they review are not widely available in the United States. T3.com and the Daily Mail also have solid group tests.

Among American publications, Bicycling magazine has some coverage of folding bikes, and Men's Journal offers shorter reviews. The Wall Street Journal and Outside magazine are also helpful. Owner-written reviews are in short supply for folding bikes, but some bike blogs offer owner perspectives.

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