Best folding bike 2019: five of our favourite folders

These are the best folding bikes you can buy in 2019

  The products mentioned in this article are selected and reviewed independently by our journalists. When you buy through links on our site we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our opinion.

We’ve rounded up five of the best folding bikes on sale in 2019, as rated and reviewed by our expert testers.

Advertisement

Folding bikes can be a top choice for commuters, city dwellers and everyone else short on space. They can be packed down small, so you can fit them into the busiest of trains, under a desk or in cramped apartments.

Not all folding bikes are made equal. There’s a huge variety of designs out there, in a range of wheel sizes, and pricing varies wildly depending on quality and kit.

Read on for full buying advice and our list of high scoring bikes.

The best folding bikes in 2019

  • Bickerton Junction 1307 Country: £449
  • Brompton: From £745
  • Airnimal Joey Endurance Plus: £2,499
  • Tern BYB S11 review: £2,300 / $2,495
  • Tern Link A7: £475 / $399

Bickerton Junction 1307 Country

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Folding bike Bickerton
The Junction is a comfortable and stylish ride for city streets.
Courtesy
  • £449
  • Folded dimensions: (H)40 x (L)80 x (W)72cm / 15.8in x 31.5in x 28.2in

This Bickerton is an excellent choice for those looking for a cheap folding bike.

The classic design of the bike actually predates that of the Brompton, yet the Bickerton Junction is several hundred pounds cheaper than even the most basic Brompton. At 13kg it’s not the lightest, but it is definitely acceptable considering the low price.

The fold isn’t as neat as that of some rivals but it’s fine for those popping the bike in the back of a car. Its handlebar height has to be reset after each fold too.

We thought the Bickerton’s 7-speed Shimano drivetrain could have been taller, but overall the comfortable ride and stylish looks won us over.

Brompton

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Blue Brompton bike in field
The Brompton delivers a best-in-class fold.
Oli Woodman / Immediate Media
  • From £745
  • Folded dimensions: (H) 58.5cm x (L) 56.5cm x  (W) 27cm / 23in x 22.2in x 10.6in

Brompton’s iconic design has really stood the test of time. Its fast fold and compact folded dimensions remain the envy of most of its competitors while the impressive handling makes it enjoyable to ride too.

The Brompton’s popularity makes it a very well supported product, so there are tons of OEM and aftermarket upgrades available, ranging from tyres and transmission upgrades right through to kits that will motorise your Brompton.

All Bromptons are built to last at a small UK facility, so prices are steep. Even the cheapest, lowest specced model comes in at almost twice the price of the cheapest bike on this list. The plus side is that residuals for these bikes are exceptionally strong.

Airnimal Joey Endurance Plus

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Airnimal Joey Endurance Plus
The Joey Endurance Plus offers a road bike-like ride.
Courtesy
  • £2,499
  • Folded dimensions: TBC

If you’re looking for a folder that offers a road bike-like ride then this Airnimal is in a league of its own — though it certainly doesn’t come cheap.

The Joey is designed to offer the ride of a bike with full-size wheels, and indeed its 26in wheels are exactly what you’d find on mountain bikes of yesterday.

It’ll fold into a shape that’s suitable for public transport in around a minute, while its travel-friendly ‘case fold’ will take around ten minutes.

Unlike most bikes in this list, the Joey is a genuine option for those wanting to take on serious miles, ride sportives or even to go touring with. Its got a grown-up spec with a SRAM 1x drivetrain and disc brakes mean it’ll even venture off road without trouble.

Airnimal supports this model with a whole host of accessories from racks and mudguards to light brackets. There’s even an additional trailer kit that converts the Joey’s case into a trailer for self-supported travel.

Tern BYB S11 review

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Tern BYB S11 01
The Tern has superb handling for a folding bike
Robert Smith
  • £2,300 / $2,495
  • Folded dimensions: (H)81cm x (L) 52cm x (W)35cm  / 32in x  20in x 14in

Another bike with a ride quality close to that of a non-folder is this premium model from Tern. The BYB S11 offers one of the best rides of any folding bike out there thanks to its stiff frame design, long wheelbase and 20-inch wheels.

Its slimline fold is impressive but isn’t as compact or as easy as the Brompton’s. However, its integrated trolley wheels make it easy to move, even if it does weigh 13.3kg.

We really enjoyed the wide gear range from its 11-speed, 11-32 cassette and 54-tooth chainring combination, making it an ideal companion for longer distances.

The multiple adjustments at this bike’s handlebar and stem plus the telescopic seatpost mean you can really get this bike to fit your body correctly.

Tern Link A7

3.5 out of 5 star rating
Folding bike Tern Link A7
The riding experience on the Link A7 is very natural.
Courtesy
  • £475 / $399
  • Folded dimensions: (H)39.5 x (L)80 x (W)73 cm / 15.6in x 31.5in x 28.7in

The Tern Link A7 had to be included in this list despite not quite scoring the usual 4-star rating required to get into a BikeRadar best list. This is because this bike presents very good value for money.

The Tern is an accomplished folding bike with a decent ride, but its large 20in wheels mean it doesn’t fold down as small as some of the competition.

There’s plenty of spec for the money, with v-brakes and a 7-speed Shimano Tourney transmission. The 12.1kg total weight is great when you consider the retail price.

Mudguards are an option and there are even eyelets for a rear rack, should you want to take some weight from your shoulders.


Folding bikes: a buyer’s guide

Depending on your budget, compromises have to be made somewhere on foldability, ride, handling or spec.

However, the best folding bike designs pack down small and quickly, can be easily carried then stored under your office desk, and offer a ride quality not far off most full-sized bikes.

They’ll also last you a long time if properly cared for, but they don’t exactly come cheap.

What will you use it for?

Not all folding bikes 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.

Folding bikes are targeted by thieves

Folding bikes are very popular with thieves. That said, part of their appeal is that they can be parked under your desk or wheeled into a supermarket, so they tend not to be kept outside as regularly as conventional bicycles.

If you are going to keep your folder in a public place, then please use a good-quality lock, preferably secured around both the frame and wheels, and get the bike insured.

How much do I need to spend?

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 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.

Our buying guide will help explain what you should expect for your money and highlight the features commonly found at each price point.

Folding bikes under £500 / $650 / AU$850

Simplicity is your watchword at this price point. Avoid elaborate folding mechanisms with lots of moving parts that can go wrong and don’t be tempted by fancy features such as disc brakes or suspension forks. These will usually mean cost savings have been made elsewhere.

If you live in a hilly city, then you can still find models with more than one gear at this price point. Conventional derailleur gears and internal hub gears are common, with the latter often requiring less maintenance albeit at the expense of a little more weight.

Rim or v-brakes are commonplace here and they are fine. They may lack the outright stopping power of disc brakes, but if the right ones are chosen they’ll provide many, many miles of hassle-free riding.

Watch out for cheap saddles and tyres that are puncture prone.

Folding bikes under £1,000 / $1,300 / AU$1,700

As you move up in price, folding bikes begin to hit the sweet spot of ride quality, portability and longevity.

If you’re using a train on your daily commute, then you’ll likely be folding and unfolding it a lot. So the components need to be up to the job and the ride quality should be good enough to give confidence on busy city streets.

The components used on bikes in this price bracket will usually be vastly superior to entry-level bikes. Expect quality contact points (that’s the grips, saddle and pedals) and tyres with impressive puncture resistance and comfort.

Folding bikes over £1,000 / $1,300 / AU$1,700

Now we’re getting into the realm of money-no-object components and materials. So look out for disc brakes, carbon frames, suspension and slick gearing. Some even have drop bars like a proper road bike.

At this price point, folding bikes tend to become more specialised; you’ll see fast, lightweight bikes designed for road riding, chunkier options that can actually be ridden off-road, and touring bikes that don’t leave you swearing in the back of beyond after a few hundred miles.

The fact these bikes fold down can be considered a bonus rather than their primary function. They’re usually aimed more at riders focused on a particular discipline who want to travel often or store their bike more easily, rather than the commuter end of the market.

Which folding bike should I buy?

Folding bikes have come a long way in the past couple of decades, with the best ones capable of becoming a reliable four-season friend. The key to picking the right one is identifying what you’ll use it for and how far you plan to ride it, and then spending accordingly.

The smaller-wheeled versions suit shorter journeys best, but that’s certainly not to knock them: their ride quality can be very impressive.

Advertisement

Larger-wheeled choices offer a more familiar ‘feel’, but they can’t be as easily collapsed into a small package or stowed away on a busy train or bus.