How to Buy a Folding Bike
Updated August 2011
Folding bike shopping tips
When shopping for a folding bike, your budget is the first thing that you need to determine. With numerous foldable bikes on the market, narrowing your options to one price range will save you a lot of time. Then head to your local bike shop to start looking; if they don't carry the bike you want, ask them to order it for you. Most of the bikes mentioned in this report are also available on the manufacturer's website or Amazon.com. If you do buy a folding bike online, take it to your local bike shop for a tune-up. Keep the following in mind when shopping for a folding bike:
- Weight is important. If you plan to carry your bike on a subway or bus, or up stairs at home or at work, you'll want a light bike. Some budget folding bikes can weigh nearly 30 pounds (or more), so make sure your folding bike is something you can carry easily.
- Stability is equally important. Although the total weight is important, it shouldn't be your only consideration. Extremely lightweight bikes can be unstable and uncomfortable, and you want to find a good combination of weight and stability.
- Check the dimensions. Some folding bikes fold more compactly than others; be sure to check the folded dimensions before you buy. If you can, test the bike in a bike shop so you can tell how it easy it is to fold and carry.
- Take advantage of optional bags. Some transportation operators frown on bikes inside trains or buses because they take up too much room or get grease on the seats. Many folding bikes come with optional bags, which make the bike easier to carry and alleviate a grimy commuting situation.
- Try out the folding mechanisms if you can. Most high-end folding bikes offer some sort of latching mechanism to keep the bike together when it's folded. This feature is often not included on budget models, so you'll need to add your own strap or bungee cord. If you can, try folding up the bike before you buy; owners say that folding a bike quickly takes some practice.
- Do you need multiple gears? If you live in a hilly area, you will probably want a folding bike with multiple gears. Many folding bikes come with only one or three gears, but you can get larger folding bikes with more gearing options.
- Height and weight limits. If you are taller than about 6 feet 4 inches or heavier than 230 pounds, check the manufacturer's maximum height and weight restrictions. Because of their generally smaller wheels and geometry, most folding bikes have a hard time accommodating taller or heavier riders.
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