FAQ on Riding Folding Bikes

There are a lot of questions concerning riding experiences on folding bikes, especially for those who are not familiar with riding on small-sized wheels. This article will answer most commonly asked questions which help you to understand better how it is like to ride with this kind of bicycle. 

Do small wheels make riding on folding bikes slower?

Actually small wheels allow faster acceleration and maneuver and require less force from your legs to pedal. Those who are not custom to riding small wheeled bicycles may find it hard to take control when getting started. However, it just takes 5-10 minutes to adapt and get used to.

Is it more difficult to ride small-wheeled folding bikes than full-size bicycles?

Unless you purchase full-size mountain folding bikes – which allow sufficient off-road riding as well as custom configuration, other collapsible bicycles impose certain disadvantages due to their small size of wheels.

First of all, 16 inch and 20 inch wheels tend to be less stable on bumpy and rocky roads. Secondly, these small-wheeled bikes are generally made with the concept of “one size fits all”, thus it feels uncomfortable for too tall or too short people. Also these bikes can only support a limited amount of weight, commonly up to around 225lbs.

For some of low-priced bikes, the frame might be not stiff enough due to the low-class material and the frame hinge required for folding mechanism. Those are only suitable for short hops or recreational riding around neighborhood or local parks. Higher priced folding bikes are made with premium material thus having better stability and performance – which you should choose for long distance rides.

How well can folding bikes cope with up hills?

This really depends on what type of folding bike you ride (single speed / fixed gear, multi gears or folding mountain bikes) and how steep are the hills.

The single speed ones are least likely to well handle high hills, . Some people may recommend you to stand on pedals and ride up to cope with the obstacle; however, it is generally unsafe to do that on single speed folding bikes. The frame may not be constructed for such torquing and the risk can double if pedals are foldable.

If your folding bike have multi-gears along with suitable road tires, rolling up gentle hills is a breeze. In case your frequent routes include lots of rocky and steep terrain, a folding mountain bike can actually cope well with those riding challenges.

Are folding bicycles suitable for long-distance rides?

Yes there are certain brands manufacturing folding bikes particularly for long distance touring or travelling, two of which that we highly recommend are Dahon and Montague. Their prices fall into the medium high range due to their premium components and spectacular performance. Below are a couple of best folding bikes for long distance ride:

  • Dahon Speed P8 (under $500): This is a powerful workhorse that provides a very smooth ride on different road surfaces. Click here to read our review
  • Montague Paratrooper Pro (under $1000): This is an outstandingly durable and solid folding mountain bike that is particularly built for off-road riding. Click here to read our review.

There are some important factors you should look at when choosing this type of bicycle for your next touring trip:

  • If your trip (especially in a foreign country) immensely gets involved with the exchange of transportation, such as moving around with buses, trains, metros, etc, you may want to consider having 20 inch wheels for the great convenience of folding and carrying the bike around.
  • The foldable bicycle’s ability to stock up heavy weight is also worth taking into consideration. Lots of bicycle travellers use trailers to carry luggage as a solution to remove burden of heavy loads on the bicycle.
  • When you are continuously in the saddle for long hours, being comfortable on the bike is very important. You need to check out carefully how your body reacts to the size of your folding bike, including all contact points such as handlebars, saddle, pedals, etc – which will affect your riding position on the bike.
  • Well-tuned components are technically essential to ensure enjoyable long hour rides. Tires are the main part holding grips on the route, so they must be in good shape and inflated at the appropriate pressure for the sake of safety. Other things such as wheel bearings, drivetrain systems, etc should have low resistance to maintain speed and stability on the road. It’s highly recommend that you ask a professional to check up before rolling.