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Best folding bikes: Space-saving bikes and e-bikes for your urban riding needs

Included in this guide:

A Brompton B75 folding bike folded up underneath a table
(Image credit: Brompton)

The best folding bikes make it incredibly easy to get around on two wheels without the usual limitations that can come with full-sized models. They offer a certain level of speed and comfort that makes getting around town by bike convenient and enjoyable, and once you get to your destination there's no need to worry about locking them up in public. Simply fold them back down and wheel them inside with you.

What's more, they're incredibly convenient if you find yourself needing to combine transport modes, as you can easily take them with you onto a train or bus. In fact, folding bikes are a great solution for getting around town, and are quite possibly the best commuter bikes you can get. 

Whether you're riding to the train station and then on to work, or you live in a studio apartment where storage space is at a premium, a foldable bike makes for reliable transportation and doesn't take up too much space.

So if you've got a new job in the city, are just tired of being squashed onto public transport like a sardine, or want to slash the time it takes to walk to the office, read on for a roundup of the best folding bikes we use to rip around town – or jump to the bottom to find out how to choose the best folding bike.

And then when you've found your perfect folding bike,  it's a good idea to check out our commuter bike accessories checklist, and while you're there why not grab one of the best commuter helmets and best waterproof cycling jackets to go with it?

Best folding bikes

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Entry-level folding bike that will fit in a train luggage rack

Specifications
Folded size: 39.5 x 80 x 73cm
Gears: 1 x 8
Weight: 12.8kg
Price: £750 / $849 / €tbc
Reasons to buy
+Eight-speed drivetrain+Magnetic dropout clips
Reasons to avoid
-Not as compact as a Brompton

Tern's C8 is one of the brand's entry-level folding bikes, which transitions easily and compacts right down. Using the brand's FBL two-joint frame design, the top tube breaks away in the middle, and the wheels are stuck together with the brands Magnetix 2.0 dropout latch. 

The C8 has 20-inch wheels that are finished in Schwalbe's Impact BigPack tyres, which have decent air volume and good puncture protection. The C8 has eight gears at the back, complete with a Shimano Tourney mech and grip shifter on the bars for maximum reliability with minimal maintenance. At the front, the bike uses Tern's Physis 3D Handlepost, which is made using 3D-forging so the structure is a single piece, removing the need for welds and increasing stiffness.

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Brompton B75

The gold standard in folding bikes at a price you can afford

Specifications
Folded size: 58.5 x 56.5 x 27.0 cm
Gears: 1 x 3
Weight: 11.76kg
Price: £850 / $1,095 / €tbc
Reasons to buy
+Super compact when folded+Brompton quality
Reasons to avoid
-B75 doesn't allow for the same customisation as other Bromptons

Brompton bikes are considered the gold standard in folding bikes for their foldability, reliability and comfort. The B75 is the brand's most affordable build, with a steel frame and a simple spec, featuring Brompton's M-type U-shaped handlebar and 16-inch wheels and tyres. While the B75 is a bit cheaper than the standard Brompton, it's sold as an off-the-rack model, rather than the full custom experience.

It has three gears and uses Brompton's wide-range gear hub, produced exclusively for the brand by Sturmey Archer. At the back, all Bromptons have an elastomer between the front and rear triangles, which acts as a simple-yet-effective bump absorber. Better still, the Water Blue colourway is one of the best paint jobs Brompton does.

Btwin Tilt 500 folding bike

(Image credit: Decathlon)

B'Twin Tilt 500

Best budget-friendly folding bike

Specifications
Folded size: 78 x 66 x 44 cm
Gears: 1 x 7
Weight: 12.9kg
Price: £349.99 / £399.00 / €369.00
Reasons to buy
+Very affordable+Mudguards included+Lifetime warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Large when folded

For a cheap and cheerful option, look no further than the B'Twin Tilt 500, equipped with a Shimano 1x7 drivetrain, front and rear mudguards, 20-inch wheels with 1.75in tyres complete with anti-puncture reinforcement, and a stand for convenience. It also comes supplied with front and rear battery-powered lights, and is compatible with a range of accessories, including a transportation cover, a pannier rack,and Hamax and Bike Original kids' bike trailers. At 12.9kg, the Tilt isn't among the heaviest folding bikes available, and it's covered under Decathlon's lifetime warranty.

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Tern BYB S11

Rides like a regular bike, folds like a folder

Specifications
Folded size: 33 x 78.7 x 51cm
Gears: 1 x 11
Weight: 12.7kg
Price: £2,200 / $2,499 / €2,395
Reasons to buy
+Handling+11-speed
Reasons to avoid
-You'll need deep pockets

The Tern BYB (Bring Your Bike) S11 is a 20-inch folder that aims to bring the ride quality of your regular bike to one that folds small enough to fit comfortably under your desk. The brand says that its double-joint design collapses down 30 per cent smaller than traditional folding models, but the joint and lock design makes for a robust frame that doesn't ride like a wet noodle.

When folded, built-in spinner wheels allow you to roll the BYB S11 along without needing to lift it, while an anchor bolt connects the front and rear dropouts, so it doesn't unfold as you make your way through train turnstiles or as you board the bus. With 20in wheels and tyres, the Tern sees a 1x11 Shimano Ultegra drivetrain – including a Shadow rear mech – with an 11-32T cassette paired with a 54T front chainring.

Tern Node D8 folding bike

(Image credit: Tern)

Tern Node D8

Best for if you have a lot of ground to cover

Specifications
Folded size: 39 x 86 x 84 cm
Gears: 1 x 8
Weight: 13.3kg
Price: £900 / $1,099 / €899
Reasons to buy
+24in wheels offer faster rolling+Simple folding procedure+Rack and mudguards included
Reasons to avoid
-Not as compact as others

Rolling on 24-inch wheels and tyres, the Tern Node D8 is the ideal folding bike if you have a longer commute. With the bigger wheels, the Node D8 also has an 8-speed Shimano Claris drivetrain, with an 11-30T cassette and a 52T chainring to satisfy your need for speed. When a stoplight turns red, or the busy-busy businessperson who is too busy to look up from their phone steps out in front of you, the mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors will help you avoid a collision.

With the large wheels, the bike isn't as compact as some of the others, but it'll still fit under your desk, and it only takes about 20 seconds to transition. With an aluminium frame and the bigger wheels, it's not offensively heavy, either, and shouldn't give you too much trouble as you climb the stairs up to a train platform.

Best folding bike: Raleigh Stowaway 7

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Raleigh Stowaway 7

Budget folder equipped with mudguards and a rack

Specifications
Folded size: 41 x 80 x 75cm
Gears: 1 x 7
Weight: 13kg
Price: £470 / $n/a / €n/a
Reasons to buy
+Simple folding procedure+7-speed
Reasons to avoid
-Heavier than similarly-sized options-UK-only

Raleigh's Stowaway sees an aluminium frame and a single-hinge design for a simple folding process. There are magnets to hold the 20-inch wheels together in storage mode, and the bike comes stock with mudguards and a rear rack.

The majority of the components are Raleigh's own, including the tyres, crank and bars, although the drivetrain is a Shimano Revo/Tourney 7-speed mix, with a 14-28T cassette and 48T crankset.

Best folding e-bikes

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Brompton Electric

Best folding electric bike for compact size

Specifications
Folded size: 64.5 x 58.5 x 27.0cm
Gears: 1 x 6
Weight: 18.31kg
Price: £3,020 / $1,590 / €3,495
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight compared to other folding e-bikes+Compact folding+Removable battery
Reasons to avoid
-Front-wheel drive systems can be a handful to control-No luggage rack as standard

With the popularity of e-bikes, especially for commuters, it's no surprise that London outfit Brompton has jumped on board with its own pedal-assist bike. Everything about the bike is what you'd expect from Brompton, including the M-type shaped handlebar, its compact size when folded and the Sturmey Archer wide-range gear hub, with the addition of pedal assist. 

Brompton opted for a 250W front-hub-based motor with a 300Wh removable battery pack, with a claimed range between 30km and 70km. Brompton says the charge time is four hours with the included charger, or two hours with the available-for-purchase fast charger. Tipping the scales at little over 18kg, and considering that some of the other bikes on this list weigh nearly as much, it's a very respectable figure.

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Tern Vektron S10

Best folding electric bike for speed

Specifications
Folded size: 41 x 86 x 68cm
Gears: 1 x 10
Weight: 22.1kg
Price: £3,700 / $3,999 / €4,099
Reasons to buy
+Bosch Active Line Plus drive unit+10-speed and disc brakes+Heavy-duty rack
Reasons to avoid
-22kg weight will take its toll if carrying upstairs or onto a train-Most expensive bike on this list

Tern's Vektron is a folding e-bike that's all about getting you to your destination as quickly as possible. Using a Bosch Active Line Plus motor, which has 25 per cent more torque than its predecessor and is said to be 20-per cent lighter, the bike does still weigh a hefty 22kg. The frame has been updated to lower the centre of gravity, however, so that the bike doesn't become 'tippy' when the rear rack, which is rated to carry 27kg, is fully loaded. 

Tern uses its heaviest-duty OCL+ frame joint, which uses a single shaft design, advanced welding techniques and bombproof gussets to maintain rigidity. To rein in all this weight and power is a set of Magura mountain bike brakes (MT4 Hydraulic disc brakes), while a Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain gets everything moving again.

(Image credit: Raleigh )

Raleigh Stow-E-Way

Budget electrically powered folding bike

Specifications
Folded size: 88 x 80 x 44cm
Gears: 1 x 8
Weight: 20kg
Price: £1,595 / $n/a / €n/a
Reasons to buy
+Nippy acceleration+Pannier rack
Reasons to avoid
-20kg weight, while lighter than some, is still a lot if carrying up stairs -Quite a large folding size-UK-only

Add an electric motor and Raleigh's Stowaway turns into the creatively named Stow-E-Way. This 20-inch electric folding bike is powered by a TransX motor and a 250WH battery to give some oomph away from the lights or up the hills. The range is a claimed 31 miles which should be plenty when dashing around town and the battery takes four hours to recharge.

Being a budget bike means that there isn't much in the way of glamourous componentry although Raleigh has specced a Shimano Altus 8sp derailleur for dependable gear shifting. Like the analogue Stowaway, it comes equipped with plenty of accessories to get you started including kickstand, mudguards and a rear pannier rack.

Gocycle G4

(Image credit: Gocycle)

Gocycle G4

For those who want premium features and a unique design

Specifications
Folded size: 88 x 39 x 61.5 cm
Gears: 3
Weight: 17.1kg
Price: £3,399 / $4,999 / €tbc
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight for a folding electric bike+Electronic predictive shifting+Daytime running lights+Carbon fibre mid-frame+Integrated USB port+Bluetooth connectivity
Reasons to avoid
-Lots of proprietary parts

If you've got deep pockets and want some premium features, then look no further than the Gocycle G4. Alongside its unique design that folds and unfolds in seconds, is easy to wheel along when you're on foot, and looks pretty slick, it comes with a plethora of proprietary parts and innovations that you won't find elsewhere.

With a carbon fibre mid-frame and one-sided fork, it weighs significantly less than many other e-folding bikes. It features an integrated USB port, so you can charge your phone and other devices on the go, meanwhile it is Bluetooth compatible, so you can connect it to your phone via the Gocycle app to control and monitor various aspects of the bike.

While it boasts many high-tech features, the only thing to bear in mind is that to invest this much money in a bike with so many proprietary parts, means that if you ever find yourself in a bind without one of its service centres nearby, you may struggle for repairs and replacements.

How to choose the best folding bike

What wheel size do I need on my folding bike?

Bigger wheels roll faster, carry speed better and offer more stability, while smaller wheels are lighter, more manoeuvrable and allow a bike to fold down smaller. Folding bikes come with wheels in sizes ranging from pint-sized 16in hoops all the way up to traditional 700c rollers, with most folding bikes based around 20in wheels.

If you have a long distance to cover, consider upping the wheel size for the increased efficiency. Alternatively, if you have heaps of stairs to climb before boarding a packed train, smaller wheels and tyres may suit you better.

Do folding bikes only come in one size?

Quite a lot of bikes have a one-size-fits-all frame but have a glut of quick releases and miles of adjustments to make the bikes fit most bodies. 

That said, if you can dunk a basketball without jumping, you may struggle to find a folder that fits, while the more vertically challenged will have a much easier time.

What's the best folding mechanism on folding bikes?

The whole selling point of a folding bike is the fact that in a few seconds it can go from bike to compacted storage. However, if it takes as many steps as an origami crane, steer clear. 

Also, consider the quality and number of joints. The more joints, the smaller the bike will be folded. However, it also introduces more points for flex, which can make for vague handling and pedalling.

Are folding electric bikes worth it?

We're seeing a lot more pedal-assist folding bikes these days, which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the 250W motors will help you get to your destination without breaking a sweat; on the other hand, some can weigh ~20kg, which if you encounter many stairs on your way to the office will definitely leave you a sweaty mess.

Don't forget to keep it safe and well-maintained

When buying a new folding bike, it's likely that you're trying to avoid leaving it at the train station or on the bike rack outside. It'll certainly be safer parked under your desk, but a bike is never completely safe from bike theft.

The last thing you want for your new bike is for it to be stolen, so ensure you take steps to reduce this risk. We have an article dedicated to advising how to prevent bike theft, but the key takeaways are to ensure you choose the best bike lock, know how to lock a bike correctly, and shop around to compare bicycle insurance to ensure you are covered by the best bike insurance policy for your needs. 

Mildred Locke

Mildred joined as Reviews Writer for Cyclingnews and BikePerfect in December 2020. She loves all forms of cycling from long-distance audax to daily errand-running by bike, and does almost everything on two wheels, including moving house, and started out her cycling career working in a bike shop. For the past five years she's volunteered at The Bristol Bike Project as a mechanic and session coordinator, and now sits on its board of directors.

Since then she's gone on to write for a multitude of cycling publications, including Bikeradar, Cycling Plus, Singletrack, Red Bull, Cycling UK and Total Women's Cycling. She's dedicated to providing more coverage of women's specific cycling tech, elevating under-represented voices in the sport, and making cycling more accessible overall. 

Height: 156cm (5'2")

Weight: 75kg

Rides: Liv Devote, Genesis Equilibrium Disc 20, Triban RC520 Women's Disc, Genesis Flyer, Whyte Victoria, Cotic BFe 26, Clandestine custom bike