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Best folding bikes 2023 — portable bikes for convenient commuting

A guide to the best folding bikes currently on the market for all of your transport and storage-friendly bicycle needs

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Having been a firm favourite with commuters for decades now, the best folding bikes are no longer exclusive to those getting to and from work; quite the contrary, as they are now also a solid choice for those lacking storage space at home who still want to swap four wheels for two. 

Even compared to the best commuting bikes that don't fold, the ride quality of some high-end folders is so refined now that unless you looked down, you'd hardly notice the difference. As practical utility bikes that could even replace a motor vehicle for city commuters in most use cases, folding bikes certainly have an important role to play in helping society to become more green, one bike ride at a time.  

Whether you want high-end or something that won’t break the bank, there are folding bikes for everyone nowadays. For many people in the market for a folding bike, knowing what you can get for your money and which style may fit into your daily routine, as well as lifestyle, can often become somewhat overwhelming. Not to mention stepping into certain chain bike shops, where you could end up being bombarded with advice before you've had chance to think about what you actually want! It’s best to get a rough idea first, whether you're buying in-store or online, so you don't end up buying a bike that isn't actually quite right for you. 

This guide to the best folding bikes should offer everyone food for thought on what’s out there: whether that be regarding what you can get for your ideal budget, or even what may suit your needs or lifestyle. At the end of the day, it’s best to be armed with knowledge before you splash the cash on a new bike. 

If you fancy a little helping hand with regards to speed and power with a folding bike, then be sure to also check out our guide to the best electric commuter bikes. Without further ado, here are our top folding bike picks... 

The best folding bikes: our top picks

Brompton C Line Explore

Brompton C Line Explore

Best overall folding bike
Buy now for £1215 from Sigma Sports
Good range of gears
Climbs very well
Super compact when folded
Fun to ride
Gears take a while to fathom
There are cheaper options

Perhaps unsurprisingly, our top folding bike choice comes from the pretty much ubiquitous British success story that is Brompton. This one is six-speed, has 16" wheels with tough puncture-resistant tyres and the folding mechanism is unchanged. 

The C Line Explore weighs 12.1kg, is pretty easy to fold after a couple of goes (it should take the average Brompton user around 20 seconds) and is understandably a very popular option amongst commuters because of the impressively compact fold, perfect for those who frequent busy trains. As we've mentioned already, this version also comes kitted out with a generous six gears which your legs will surely be grateful for on inclines; though if your commute is flatter and you don't need the extra range, the 2-speed C Line Urban or 3-speed C Line Utility might suffice.  

Aesthetically it’s hard to deny that a Brompton is one of the best-looking folding bikes money can buy, with our reviewer describing it as it's "the ultimate commuter [that] can do so much more." Additionally, there is also the option of nine different colours for this model. Although that doesn’t affect the ride quality, reflecting your individual style is always important when you're making a considerable two-wheeled investment.

Read our review:
Carrera Intercity Disc 9-Speed Folding Bike

Carrera Intercity Disc 9-Speed Folding Bike

Best budget folding bike
Buy now for £450 from Halfords
Excellent spec
Great fun to ride
Impressive price
A bit short for riders over 6ft

The Carrera Intercity Disc folding bike has landed the spot of our best budget folding bike option, which will not shock many given this Halfords own-brand is synonymous with being well-priced and affordable. At just £450, it’s also a great pick to consider if you are unsure whether a folding bike is suitable for your needs and lifestyle. 

Just because this is the best budget folding bike, it doesn’t mean the ride quality is underwhelming. This particular model offers a 53-tooth chainring and a 9-speed, 11-34 cassette which will allow for more venturing up hills compared with many other folding bikes on the market. Moreover, this bike weighs a highly respectable 12.5kg, which for a budget option isn't bad at all. 

The Carrera Intercity also benefits from folding in half easily to the dimensions: 750mm x 350mm x 650mm, therefore it's super easy to store or take on public transport. It also comes with disc brakes to offer more direct and precise stopping power, which is of course always useful while commuting in busy areas and riding around traffic and pedestrians.

Read our review: 
Montague Crosstown

Montague Crosstown

Best folding bike with full-sized wheels
Buy now for £1099 from Montague Bicycles
A 'normal' bike that folds
Chunky 35mm tyres for added comfort
Compatible with regular 700c road bike wheels
Not as compact as smaller folders

Way back when we reviewed the Montague Boston singlespeed, but after being more impressed by the geared version we've picked the more modern Montague Crosstown as our best folding bike with full-sized wheels. It has impressive folding capabilities, a respectable weight of around 12.7kg and very reasonable price of only £1,099. 

It goes without saying but thanks to the 700c wheels, which are a standard circumference for wheels found on a road bike, the Crosstown offers a much more stable and nippier ride in comparison to its little-wheeled counterparts. Therefore, if you want a full-sized bike that also folds, this is certainly one for you.

Likewise, this convenient bike also features seven gears, and along with the bigger wheels this will be plenty for commuters. In addition to that, it also folds down to dimensions of 914.4mm x 711.2mm x 304.8mm, which is decent given it’s a 700c wheel folding bike.

If the 700c wheels have you reconsidering if a folding bike is right for you, then it may be best to read our guide to the best road bikes under £3,000

Riese & Müller Birdy City

Riese & Müller Birdy City

Best folding bike with suspension
Buy now for £2277 from Brilliant Bikes
Front and rear suspension for extra comfort
Rear mudguard
Nexus hub gears for low maintenance

The Birdy City from German brand Riese & Müller has taken the spot for the best suspension folding bike due to its impressive front and rear suspension... yep that’s right, rear suspension on a folding bike! Coming in at just under 13kg it’s also not too heavy given the added weight of the suspension.

Thanks to its 8-speed hub gear system, not only is this suspension folding bike a comfy ride but it’s also a little more versatile in comparison to others on the market. Both front and rear suspension will help to offer a softer ride quality, especially on light off-road terrain such as gravel bike paths and grass, which is great for slightly more adventurous commuters. Then with the added addition of eight gears, riding on light off-road terrain won’t be an issue.

Additionally, the Birdy City can also be folded into a nice and neat size, although it doesn't pack down quite as fast or as agile as the Brompton. It’s still a very reasonable size which is also practical for those hopping on and off public transport all day.

Brompton P Line

Brompton P Line Urban 2022

Best high-end folding bike
Buy now for £2185 from Tredz
Classic easy fold
Excellent ride
10kg weight
Flighty front
Average braking
More than £2.2K

If you're after the original classic folding bike and have the cash to spend to get one of the very best out there, then look no further than Brompton's P Line. The P Line, with the P standing for 'Performance', is at the top of the tree in Brompton's recent slimmed-down product line (the others being the entry-level A Line and the mid-range C Line) and brings "a dose of considered, performance-orientated refinement to the classic tried-and-tested folding bike icon" according to our reviewer.

At 1.5kg lighter than A Line models and featuring a lovely, familiar ride quality, unless you look down you'll find it difficult to tell that you're rolling on 16 inch wheels. A titanium fork and rear triangle with a redesigned rear suspension block has helped with the weight-shedding and also dissipates a lot of the lumps and bumps you might otherwise feel underneath you when riding a folder. 

It's certainly not cheap, but the P Line Urban has the performance and the looks to justify its reputation as one of the best high-end folders you can buy. 

Read our review:
Dahon Mariner D8

Dahon Mariner D8

Best mid-priced folding bike with an easy fold
Buy now for £750 from Halfords
Easy fold
Eight gears
Not the most compact fold

Like the previous generation Dahon Quix D8 that we reviewed back in 2017, the Dahon Mariner D8 has 20 inch wheels compared to 16 inch on Bromptons, meaning it isn't the most compact fold on the market. If folding your bike into the smallest space possible isn't your priority, though, then the Mariner has plenty to offer for a very reasonable price. 

20" wheels mean the ride should feel more 'normal' than some folders with smaller wheels, and to help with hills you get eight gears with plenty at the bottom. To fold, it's just a case of dropping the seatpost, folding the handlebar stem and then folding the frame at the main hinge. A magnet on the right fork grabs a steel plate on the left dropout so it doesn't flap about, and the pedals supplied are also folding to stop them getting caught on you or anyone else while you're transporting the bike.  

The 13kg weight isn't the lightest around, but most of us will find this manageable for short flights of stairs and carrying on and off trains. 

How to choose from the best folding bikes

Are folding bikes good to ride?

Folding bikes are good for riding but are particularly great for commuters and those who do a lot of  riding around cities, on bike paths and to the shops due to their convenient nature. Not to mention, considering they're designed to fold at least in half and many have smaller wheels, they do offer a surprisingly solid ride quality

What are the cons of a folding bike?

Although from a practical perspective they are a great option, the cons of owning or using a folding bike can include: limited gear options in comparison to non folding bikes, higher price than hybrids/city bikes and a lack of versatility. Like anything, it's a case of weighing up those pros and cons... or if you can afford a folding bike for suitable occasions and a full-sized one for everything else, lucky you!


Is it harder to pedal a folding bike?

It isn't harder to pedal on a folding bike, more that the lack of gearing options means that hillier terrains are much tougher to conquer on a folding bike. But if you are just riding on flatter terrain, then pedalling is no issue.


How heavy are fold up bikes?

The weight of a folding bike will be determined by the make, model, price, size and design. You can expect folding bikes to range from around 9kg-15kg, and towards the upper end that could become a bit of a burden if you have to regularly climb up and down stairs at the train station. Always check the weight of the model you're buying if it's an issue. 


Can you ride long distances on a folding bike?

Riding long distances on a folding bike shouldn’t be a problem in fact, in the summer of 2022 James Houston completed the brutal Transcontinental ultra-distance bike race on one! While impressive there are, of course, bikes much better suited to such feats of endurance, so if you're buying a bike to ride a long way regularly then you're probably better looking at a road or hybrid bike. 


How do I fold a folding bike?

Even folders that just have a central hinge in the frame don't simply fold in two these days. The hinge is usually positioned and angled so that the parts of the frame nestle together to take up as little space as possible.

More sophisticated folders take this a step further with sections that tuck and telescope together so the folded bike is small enough to slip into places you'd never expect to fit a bike. There shouldn't be any modern folding bike out there that will take you longer than 30 seconds to fold, and with some practice you should be able to do it much faster. 

Having learnt to ride a bike in order to race age 4, Charlotte is no stranger to life on two wheels. Racing across multiple disciplines over the years, she now focuses her time on road racing. Racing at the UCI continental level with her British based team. Not only that, but Charlotte has many years experience working within the cycling industry alongside her racing endeavours. Therefore, it’s fair to say that anything with two wheels is right up her street.