Best Folding Bikes for saving space to suit all budgets

If your daily commute involves a train ride, a folding bike can be a lifesaver, providing a convenient and efficient means of travel for the last few miles of your journey. Not only that, but folding bikes offer the advantage of being easily portable and less prone to theft compared to full-size commuter bikes that need to be locked up on the street.

A folding bike is the epitome of convenience on two wheels. It can take you from point A to point B just as efficiently as a regular bike, but with the added benefit of being easily stashed in a car trunk, tucked under a desk, stored in a closet, or even brought along on a boat, RV, or van.

To help you find the best folding bike that caters to the needs of most commuter riders and utilitarian users, we have extensively researched and tested various models from different manufacturers. After more than 85 hours of research and hands-on testing, we have identified the top contenders that offer a comfortable ride, easy folding mechanism, and good-quality components at a reasonable price.

Our Top Pick: Dahon Mariner D8

The Dahon Mariner D8 takes the crown as our top pick for a commuter folding bike. This eight-speed bike excels in key areas, including a smooth ride, user-friendly folding mechanism, and the inclusion of a rear rack and fenders for added convenience.

The Mariner D8 delivers a comfortable riding experience, effortlessly handling bumps and smoothly shifting gears on hills. Its folding and unfolding process is quick and secure, ensuring hassle-free transportation. Practicality is also at the forefront of its design, with features like fenders to shield your clothing from splashes on rainy roads, a rear rack for carrying belongings, and the option for a frame-mounted front bag. Despite a slight increase in price since our initial testing, the Mariner D8 still offers great value for money. As with full-size bikes, the price of folding models often reflects their quality. Priced at around $950, the Mariner D8 provides the essential features of a good-quality folding bike.

Runner-up: Tern Link D8

For taller riders, the Tern Link D8 is a strong contender. This eight-speed folding bike offers some notable upgrades compared to the Mariner D8, making it suitable for riders with a taller stature. With the prices of the Mariner D8 and the Link D8 now matching, you no longer have to pay extra for the Link D8’s higher-end components. Our test riders praised the adjustable handlebars, which can be easily adjusted for height and angle using quick-release levers. The front brake design, mounted close to the frame to prevent snagging, was also highly appreciated. Additionally, the Link D8 comes with a rear rack and the option for a front bag, just like the Mariner D8. However, opinions were divided among our testers regarding the folding mechanism of the Link D8, with some finding it easy to manage while others preferred the more compact package of the Dahon model.

Budget Option: Btwin Tilt 900

If you’re on a budget, the Btwin Tilt 900 is the most affordable option on our list, priced at £450. While this may not seem cheap to some, considering the additional stress and strain folding bikes endure, the Tilt 900 offers great value for its price. Made from lightweight aluminumconstruction, weighing only 12kg, and equipped with medium-sized 20-inch wheels and chunky tires, the Tilt 900 handles well. It also comes with mudguards and built-in lights, enhancing its practicality and saving you potential after-sales costs. While it’s expected to have V-brakes at this price point, the standout feature is the superb Shimano Sora 9-speed gearing, a rare treat for a budget folding bike. Although its folding mechanism is slightly basic, resulting in a slightly larger packed size, the Btwin Tilt 900 offers unbeatable value for the money.

Highest Performing Folding Bike: Tern Verge X11

For those seeking speed, the Tern Verge X11 is the perfect choice. Tern offers a wide range of folding bikes to cater to different cycling needs, and the Verge X11 is designed for high-performance riding. With its folding frame and 20-inch wheels, this bike is essentially a miniature racing bike. Many of its components are recognized as top-of-the-line, such as the ultra-wide ratio single-ring Sram X1 11-speed groupset, Shimano Deore hydraulic disc brakes, and German-made Schwalbe tires. Despite its foldable design, the Verge X11 easily fits within regular baggage allowances, making it an excellent choice for traveling or commuting. Weighing just 10kg and equipped with a full range of gears and high-quality components, the Verge X11 delivers a riding experience that feels almost like a full-sized bike.

Minimalist Folding Bike: Vello Alfine 11

The Vello Alfine 11 stands out for its minimalist design, incorporating a slim steel frame, larger-than-average 20-inch wheels, and integrated suspension damper. This Austrian-made folding bike offers a near full-sized ride experience in a compact package, justifying its premium pricing. With its unique fork folding mechanism and simple magnetic clasp system, the Vello Alfine 11 is a sight to behold. The 11-speed version boasts a wide range of low-maintenance internal gears, complemented by a clean running belt-drive and powerful disc brakes. Despite its great ride quality and moderate weight of 12.9kg, Vello bikes are not yet widely distributed in the UK. However, given the quality of their design and the brand’s expansion into the electric bike market, we hope to see more availability in the near future.

Compact Champion: Brompton S6L 6-speed

When it comes to folding size, the Brompton S6L reigns supreme, leaving the competition behind. The Brompton excels in compactness, folding to dimensions that are significantly smaller than other folding bikes. This makes it incredibly easy to carry around. Despite its compact size, the Brompton offers a riding experience that closely resembles a full-size bike. The handlebars, gearing, frame type, accessories, cargo options, and paint job can all be customized, albeit at a higher price point. The S6L, priced at $1,590, is a notable option from the Brompton range. However, the Brompton M6R, which we tested in 2021, is currently priced at $1,690. Although the Brompton may come with a higher price tag, its exceptional compactness and customizable features make it a popular choice among folding bike enthusiasts.

Finding the right folding bike depends on your specific needs, budget, and preferences. Consider factors such as ride comfort, folding mechanism, additional features, and price to make an informed decision

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Stevie Flavio
Film Writer


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