Folding bike reviews

Cycling is a great way to save time, save money and get a bit of exercise. But are folding bikes up to the challenge?
 
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  • Updated:11 Dec 2007
 

04.Profiles

Different bikes will appeal to different riders, so we’ve profiled all of them here. The pictures show each bike in their extended and folded positions.

Dahon Boardwalk D7

Folded Dahon bikePrice: $560 UInfolded Dahon bike
Best ride/fold combo

  • The experts rated the Dahon highest overall: its construction and quality were considered reasonably good, and they were very impressed by its handling and bike-like ride. It’s one of the heaviest (including rack and mudguards), so might be better suited to those who want a folding bike for storage reasons or for taking in the car to go cycling, rather than commuting. Considering its price, it is excellent value for money: "Probably the best ride/fold combo [in this test]."
  • Trialists considered it a stable bike with good control, and it rated highly for all aspects of ride performance. The folding action and mechanism also rated well.

Trialists’ comments

  • "The bike was fun to ride. Felt very stable and suitable for riding longer distances."
  • "How simple. How easy. It’s a pleasure to fold."

Yeah YRA062

Folded Yeah bikePrice: $599
Unfolded Yeah bikeGood all-rounder

  • The Yeah has basic components and adequate quality, and the experts reckoned it rode reasonably well. However, it’s more expensive than other folding bikes of similar quality.
  • It’s a little lighter (it doesn’t have a luggage rack) and more compact than the Dahon, and might therefore be more suitable for commuters. Considering the ride, the quality and its portability, it’s a good all-rounder.
  • Our trialists considered it a comfortable and solid bike to ride, and it rated highly for all aspects of ride performance as well as for folding.

Trialists' comments

  • "Beautiful, smooth ride, comfortable and easy to handle."
  • "So straightforward — the easiest [to fold] of the lot."

Birdy Orange

Price: $1800 Unfolded birdy bikeFolded Birdy bike
Best quality

  • Our experts rated the Birdy equal second, scoring it well for overall quality and ease of use, with quick-release wheels and good-quality gears and brakes. However, folding was complex and cumbersome.
  • Ride performance rated well with trialists, who liked the gear-changing mechanism and shock absorption, but folding was considered difficult and smaller riders commented on the long frame. Note, however, you can buy them with a handlebar stem that’s angled more towards the seat, making the reach a little shorter and more suited to smaller riders.

 Trialists' comments

  • "I felt stable on this bike. Steering responsiveness good and not too tight. Didn’t feel too many bumps — loved shock absorbers."
  • "Fairly tricky to [fold] — you would have to practise this a lot. I guess once you get the hang of it, it would be OK. The most difficult of the bikes tested."


Progear Cross Road

Price: $385 Unfolded progear bikeFolded Progear bike
Value for money

  • While the Progear’s components were generally of only basic quality, the experts agreed they worked well and the bike functioned and rode very well — they rated it equal second overall. As the cheapest bike on test, they considered it excellent value for money.
  • A number of trialists commented about the handlebars feeling wobbly, and not being able to stand off the saddle for hill climbing. Folding was rated fiddly by some and easy by others.

Trialists' comments

  • "Compact and light, a pleasant ride for shorter distances."
  • "Good gear ratio for hills but can't stand out of the saddle to ride up. Gears don’t go high enough for flat or downhills."

Brompton M3L

Price: $1365 Folded Brompton bikeUnfolded Bromton bike
Most compact when folded

  • Our experts rated the Brompton fairly well for quality. It has a good-quality Sturmey Archer internally geared rear hub, but other components are basic. It rode fairly well on flat ground but the gearing (only three gears) told against it on hills and the free-hanging rear wheel (which becomes a neat bike stand) was disconcerting over bumps. Quirky, and may suit some riders well, but at the price it rated poorly for value.
  • Trialists rated it fairly well for ride performance, but the three gears were a letdown. The fold mechanism is a little tricky but straightforward once learned, and when folded it’s very compact and easy to carry.

Trialists' comments

  • "Biggest drawback is having only three gears. Not a very good gear-changing mechanism, which looks flimsy on otherwise a very good-quality bike."
  • "Handlebar height too low and fixed. Too much pressure on the hands."

Giatex Sport 6 Speed BICI 660

Price: $695 Unfolded Giatex bikeFolded Giatex bike
Adjustable length

  • The Giatex scored reasonably well with the experts for quality and ease of use, but the problem for this bike was the unusual folding mechanism: its tubes telescope to make the bike shorter, rather than folding and collapsing down like most others. This is very easy to use, though not as compact a fold as most other bikes on test. The experts found the telescoping tubes tended to move (the inner tube rotates within the outer tube) when ridden, especially under hard riding. The resulting frame flex was disconcerting.
  • Trialists were similarly unimpressed with its ride, and although they thought the adjustable centre tube resulted in a tailored fit (which could also be good if different sized people are sharing the bike), the bike was rated down because of its bulky folded size and its heavy weight.

Trialists' comments

  • "Weird having the saddle offset to the right of the mainframe. Gears needed adjusting — didn’t click in correctly. Felt rather unstable despite looking like one of the most sturdy bikes tested."
  • "Fantastic to be able to adjust the distance between seat and handlebar."

Strida V3.3

Price: $630 Unfolded Strida bikeFolded Strida bike
Design icon: hang it on your wall!

  • Both experts were impressed with the quality of the Strida’s build, and clever features such as its folding mechanism and greaseless drive belt (instead of a chain). However, the ride, in the words of one of our experts, was "diabolical". It’s very unstable, especially when the seat is high up for taller riders, and hard to ride up hills (you can’t stand on the pedals, and it has only one gear).
  • Trialists found its design intriguing and reasonably comfortable, and it’s easy to fold and lightweight to carry. However, its ride was considered too unstable.

Trialists' comments

  • "Interesting and innovative but not a serious proposition — the ride is just too weird and no gears would be no good for Sydney [or anywhere with hills]."
  • "I felt decidedly unstable for most of the test ride. I only had to look sideways and the bike turned. Each time I stopped and restarted I felt I was at the risk of the unknown."
 

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