Folding Bike Specifications Explained

For those who are not familiar with bicycle glossary, it is such a challenge to understand all specifications information. In this article, all terms that are commonly seen in folding bike spec descriptions will be explained to help you get a better understanding when choosing an ideal folding bike. 

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Frame Material


​This is a very common choice, since aluminum frames are rust-free and lightweight. The main reason it's not completely dominant in the market is that it can bend rather easily. On the plus side, it costs a good deal less than carbon fiber and other more advanced lightweight materials. It is also commonly known and described as alloy.


This metal has been used for frames for over a century. It's strong and rigid, while possessing just enough "give" to allow it to last well. Its main drawback is its weight: a steel bike is not a light option, so bear that in mind if you need to lug it around for more than a short time. Steel will also rust quite easily, so you'll need to store your cycle somewhere dry and sheltered, such as a weatherproof porch. Steel is widely used on bike frames at all levels.​


This is similar to steel, but carbonized during manufacture. This gives a frame that saves on weight while maintaining strength. Chromoloy bikes are good choices, as they're not too expensive, fairly light to carry, and easy to ride. As such, they've become the most common type of folding bicycle​.

Carbon Fiber

​Moving up the range still further, this is a very light material, but balances that by being quite expensive. Carbon fiber is fairly rigid, so can crack if not well cared for. Nevertheless, if your budget can run to it, and as long as you're willing to look after it carefully, a carbon fiber bike is a solid choice.


Folding bikes made of titanium are only found at the very top of the price range, but you certainly get what you pay for. Titanium is extremely durable without being heavy, and as long as it is cared for well, a titanium cycle will last for many years.​

Wheel Size

The most common wheel sizes for folding bicycles are 20” and 26”. Some are made with other size options. The following part will explain pros and cons of each size.

16 inches

This is the smallest size usually available, and is best for situations where compactness and agility are very important. The small wheels let you turn quickly and precisely, as well as making the folded bike very small and light. However, bicycles with 16 inch wheels are less stable over bumps.​

20 inches

This is the most common wheel diameter you'll find on folding bikes, because it offers a good compromise. The wheels are still small enough to let you turn corners quickly and easily, but comfort levels are higher and stability is improved when compared with the 16-inch version. Bicycles with 20-inch wheels are highly versatile, and can be customized to a high racing specification while still able to fold down quite small.​

16 inch and 20 inch are mostly used for small-sized folding bikes.

Check full reviews right here!

24 inches

Once you get to these diameters, bikes are not able to fold quite as small as their more diminutive relatives. Even so, the folding design is broadly similar and still quite compact. The big advantage of a 24-inch bike is that it has a very smooth ride, not far off what you'd get with a traditional, non-folding cycle. That makes this size an excellent choice if you want a mixture of convenience and comfort.​

26 inches

This wheel size is the standard for mountain bikes, so folding cycles with the same diameter wheels are also often aimed at a similar market. The tires will have knobbly grips to allow them to go off-road with ease, while the large wheels give the smoothest possible ride. These bicycles are great over rough ground, but inevitably they can't fold up quite so well as smaller options. Usually, the front wheel will need to be removed before folding.​

16 inch and 20 inch are mostly used for full-size folding bikes or folding mountain bikes. Check full reviews of folding mountain bikes right here!


Single Speed

Single speed folding bikes have only one gear ratio. They are designed with simple mechanism, getting rid of problems towards slipping gears or shifting cables. In addition, it allows lower costs to make the bike. Riders should pick up single speed bicycles if riding mostly on flat roads otherwise they have to work hard on their legs for pedaling up hills.​

Hub Gears

This system is where gears and lubricants are attached within the hub shell, usually often known as internal gear mechanism. The advantage is that it isn’t exposed to outer weather thus protected from being rusted by dirt or rain. It also doesn’t require as much maintenance as derailleur gears. Hub gears normally come with a small amount of gears (typically 3 speeds up to 8 speeds), suitable for riding for small steep roads.​

Derailleur Gears​

This is a more complicated gear mechanism, including a wide range of ratio transmission. The system consists of multiple gear options and popularly used on mountain folding bikes, thus allows riders to tackle rough routes both up and down hills. The usage of derailleur gear requires more concern with chain shifting, gear overlap and also exposure to weather.​


Fork is a bicycle component that is made to support the front wheels. Below is a few common type you will see in fold-up bicycles.

Rigid Forks

Rigid forks are structured in a way that fork ends and crowns are connected by blades, hence being immovable. They are not recommended for rough riding, such as on bumpy surfaces. If you use your folding bicycle for casual urban riding, rigid forks will work efficiently.​

Suspension Forks​

These are made with more flexibility and mobility, also allowing the shock absorbing ability and ensuring a more stable ride in off-road riding. You will see suspension forks in most folding mountain bikes. 


Brake is a component to decrease or stop the speed of a bicycle. The full list of brake types available on the market is certainly a long one - which you can read more in-depth details from here. Below is just a summary of commonly seen terms in foldable bicycle specifications. 

V-brakes (Linear-pull)

These are the most popular brake system installed in folding bikes due to their simplicity and easy usage. They include two arms reaching out over bicycle tires and strongly holding the rim to stop the bicycle from moving. Users can easily fix or adjust V-brakes with some basic tools. However, their responsiveness is not too powerful for instance in the rainy weather.​

Coaster Brakes

These brake types function in a way that you need to pedal backward in order to stop the bike speed. They are designed to stay internal thus are unaffected by weather conditions. In addition, because there are no cables running from the handlebars, folding bikes with coaster brakes appear compact and untidy.​

Disc Brakes​

These are the most powerful and accurate style of brake. Due to their excellent performance on-road riding and their high costs, you are likely to see disc brakes mechanism mostly on high-end mountain folding bikes.​


This post attempts to explain widely used terms for folding bike specifications. Hopefully acknowledgement on these technical terms will help you easily purchase the most suitable collapsible bicycle for your own usage.

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