Need a bike that hides away?

Once derided as cheap, nasty and heavy, folding bikes have rocketed in quality over the last couple of decades as commuting cyclists have demanded nicer-riding and better-folding options. Considering a folder? Let’s have a look at your options.

The range of available folding bikes is vast, and all they have in common is that, one way or another, they can be compacted into a smaller package without tools. There are large-wheeled and small-wheeled folding bikes, folders with gears, one-speed folders and folders made from just about every material you can think of. Let’s rake a closer look.

What are folders for?

Montague Boston - riding 2

Folders appeal to riders who need a bike that’ll fit into less space than a regular bike. Wonderful as they are, conventional bikes take up a lot of room and that makes it hard to store them in a small flat, transport them on a peak hour train or any sort of bus, or park them inside most offices. Get a bike that folds and all these things become possible.

The main use for folders, then, is commuting, and especially commuting that involves a section of another transport type. Hand out at any major central London rail station for a while and you’ll see hundreds of folders being assembled as their owners get off trains and head into the traffic.

That means modern folders are being folded, carried and unfolded far more often than the cheap folders of yesteryear, and that demands better quality of folding hardware, and lighter weight, or at least a folded design that lends itself to being carried. Unlike the old Raleigh Shopper, which was really only intended to fold enough to fit in a car boot, these bikes have to be easy to carry up stairs and along station platforms.

Birdy World - riding 2

A good folder costs at least as much as a decent road bike, and in some cases more, but if the alternative is catching a bus or the Tube, it will soon pay for itself, especially if you can use the Cycle To Work Scheme to spread the cost. Bung even a £800 folder on Cycle To Work Scheme and in many cities, you'll be better off. Compared to a London Zone 1-3 Travelcard at £144.80 per month, a £154.00 Bristol City peak travelcard or a Cambridge Megarider Plus bus ticket for £92, the repayments for a folder are trivial.

That means these bikes fold far more extensively, thanks to features like folding pedals, folding handlebars and extensible seat posts. To keep weight down, frames are aluminium, or good quality chromoly steel.

To explore your folding options, let’s look at a few popular folders. We've restricted this to bikes we've tested; if you have a favourite folder that deserves inclusion, tell us in the comments.

Read more: Beginner's guide to bike types
Read more: How to choose and buy your next bike
Read more: The road.cc A-Z of cycling jargon

Dahon QIX D8 — £679.75

Dahon QIX D8.jpg

This is a very decent folder at a sensible price. The fold is straightforward and while it doesn't end up as compact as some folders because of the slightly larger wheels, they do help it roll along nicely without being as affected by potholes.

Dahon QIX D8 folded.jpg

The parts are all good quality, and it's nice to see a rack and mudguards included; they make it a much more practical round-town proposition.

Read our review of the Dahon QIX D8
Find a Dahon dealer

Brompton folding bike — from £744.99

Brompton - 280318-12

The greatest British bike industry success story of the last twenty years, the Brompton has become almost synonymous with folding bikes to the extent that it’s even featured as the object of affectionate humour in the BBC’s self-parody W1A:

The Brompton has become wildly popular, selling over 40,000 a year and making the firm the biggest British bike manufacturer, because of its clever folding process. It shrinks in seconds so it’s only a bit bigger than its 16-inch wheels.

The key features that make the Brompton’s fold work so well are the combination of a frame hinge and folding handlebar; the rear triangle that tucks away under the frame; the folding pedal; and the long seatpost that vanishes into and through the frame to hold the compact package together. But designer Andrew Ritchie’s great achievement was making all these elements work together so that a folded Brompton is small and easily carried, but rides well when unfolded. While Ritchie’s original 1981 patent has now run out, Brompton uses copyright and industrial design law to defend it from attempts to clone the bike.

Brompton - 280318-13

With a starting price of just under £800, a Brompton isn’t cheap, but as mentioned above, it’ll pay for itself within a year in many places.

Read our review of the Brompton S2L-X
Find a Brompton dealer

Montague Crosstown — £850


Montague makes a range of folding bikes with 700C or 26-inch wheels, starting with this 7-speed machine and going all the way up to the £2,500 SwissBike X90, which is billed as a high-performance folding hardtail mountain bike.

We’ve reviewed the slightly more expensive Boston singlespeed and liked it, but although some of the parts are downgraded here, the derailleur gears probably make this a more practical proposition for most riders.


Folding bikes are always a compromise between the folded package and the ride characteristics. It's not a straight line correlation but the basic rule is that the bigger-wheeled bikes are easier to get on with on the road, but not as easy to hoik onto a train. They don't get bigger wheeled than the Montague: this is a full sized 700C bike, so don't expect it to fit in your glove box.

Usually when you're talking about a folding bike there's plenty to say on the subject of how the fold affects the ride, but not here. We wouldn't advocate riding blindfolded but were you to try it you'd be hard pressed to tell this was a folder, there's nothing to give it away. The mainframe is nice and stiff without being overbuilt to compensate for the fold, the geometry and riding position completely normal with a fairly upright stance that's just about right for shortish town journeys.

Read our review of the Montague Boston
Find a Montague dealer

Birdy World Sport — £1,259

Birdy World - full bike.jpg

The Birdy World Sport is a more versatile folding bike than similarly priced compacts like the Brompton. That's not to say it's better: the Brompton beats it hands down as a bike-rail commuter. It's not the best folder for touring or training rides either; that would be an Airnimal of some description. But it's a jack-of-all-trades folding bike that does all jobs well.

Like other Birdies, the TIG-welded aluminium frame and fork of the World Sport are unusual in a couple of respects. For one thing, there's no hinge in the main frame. That saves weight and, more importantly, eliminates flex. For another thing, there's suspension at both ends.

Birdy World - folded.jpg

The wheel size is a rather unusual 18-inch, but there are a few good tyre options available, mostly from Schwalbe, but the Birdy's ace card is its ride quality. It rides better than any other folding bike with wheels 20-inches or smaller in diameter. There's enough reach that you don't feel perched on it, the frame doesn't flex, and there's enough trail that it doesn't steer like a shopping trolley. You can race down descents at over 40mph and the World Sport still feels stable and safe, something that can't be said for all folders.

Read our review of the Birdy World Sport

Tern Link C8 — £579

Tern Link C8.jpg

An excellent budget option, the Tern Link has an aluminium frame with what Tern calls an N-fold to compact it.

Folding the Tern Link is straightforward; it's not the collapsible magic trick of a Brompton or Birdy. First you deploy the kickstand, which enables the bike to stand up both now and when it's folded. Then lower the saddle all the way down. (Shorter riders might be able to lower the saddle later, but I found it hit the handlebar unless I did it at this point.) Then undo the main hinge and 'N-fold' the front end back, so that the Magnetix clips on the righthand fork leg and lefthand chain-stay butt together. Undo the stem hinge and drop the handlebar down against the front wheel. There's a rubber strap under the main frame tube to secure the stem – simple but effective. Fold the pedals and you're done.


The resulting package is bigger than a Brompton but still small enough for train's luggage rack. It's lighter than it looks and no more difficult than an entry-level Birdy or Brompton to carry. It’s best carried by the saddle as when carried by the main frame tube, it tends to flop open around the main hinge. The magnets holding it together aren't that strong.

If you don't like the idea of carrying the Link, for £40 more you can get the model with a Trolley Rack. This is a rear rack with castor wheels on it, so you can tow the folded Uno rather than carrying it. This rack includes a cover, so the bike looks more like luggage.

We’ve reviewed the now-discontinued singlespeed version, but the folding process is the same for Tern’s Link and Verge ranges; the latter bikes have very nice hydroformed frames.

Read our review of the Tern Link Uno
Find a Tern dealer

About road.cc Buyer's Guides

The aim of road.cc buyer's guides is to give you the most, authoritative, objective and up-to-date buying advice. We continuously update and republish our guides, checking prices, availability and looking for the best deals.

Our guides include links to websites where you can buy the featured products. Like most sites we make a small amount of money if you buy something after clicking on one of those links. We want you to be happy with what you buy, so we only include a product in a if we think it's one of the best of its kind.

As far as possible that means recommending equipment that we have actually reviewed, but we also include products that are popular, highly-regarded benchmarks in their categories.

Here's some more information on how road.cc makes money.

You can also find further guides on our sister sites off.road.cc and ebiketips.

Road.cc buyer's guides are maintained and updated by John Stevenson. Email John with comments, corrections or queries.

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.


robertchappel [20 posts] 2 years ago

If you haven't enough budget to buy a folding bike in cash, so you can apply for a folding bike on finance. There are so many bicycle stores that offer Brompton folding bike at the affordable price. 

At this store, Brompton bicycle start from £760.00 which you can also pay on Installments through V12 finance.

If you are not interested in to buy folding bikes, you can also browse another bike as well such as: 

Hybrid bikes Sale

Road Bikes UK

Mountain Bikes For Men and Women

Electric Bikes

richiewormiling [90 posts] 1 year ago

Dahon Mu Uno, not on this list, is my personal fave. Simple single speed, light and nimble.

Bill H [100 posts] 1 year ago

When choosing a folder be honest as to why you want one. I commuted on a Brompton for six years as I had no safe storage space for a regular bike (10-12 mile round trip). 

The Brommie was great and I took it everywhere, but I wore thru' rims at a rate of knots and had to get them replaced/ rebuilt every two years which was beyond my mechanical abilities. That cost circa £180 for both wheels, as the front had a hub Dynamo, using my local bike shop. 

Throw in new tyres every 18 months, replacing the suspension block etc and it adds up pretty fast.

In hindsight I would have been better off with a cheap (£300) Dahon or similar, running 20" tyres, riding it into the ground over two years and then buying another one.

If you need to put your bike on public transport, or have really limited space the Brompton is unbeatable. Otherwise a much cheaper folder will suffice.

RobD [818 posts] 1 year ago

I have a Tern Link - the one with the nexus hub, rack and dynamo hub, It paid for itself a couple of times over in the first year of having it, it fit easily in the boot of my car, then would come out at the park and ride and do the last 4 miles of my journey. I rode it through some awful weather using it every day for two years, hosing it down and doing some very basic maintenance once in a while and it never let me down. Even after being hit by a car it only needed a new gear shifter which was a pretty easy job to do.

I upgraded the brake pads for better ones almost imediately, and a different saddle that I had (needed longer rails to get the position a bit more stretched out, and when the tyres wore I put some higher quality and larger volume schwalbe tyres on, that made the biggest difference to how it rode and made it quite fun on the right days.

I still have it, and even though I've changed jobs and can park outside the office, I still park a few miles away and cycle in on a lot of occasions (we don't have showers at the office so riding all the way from home is less practical)

Secret_squirrel [62 posts] 8 months ago

Is the Birdy World Sport even an official UK model now? Only 2 of the main dealers stock it to and R&M don't mention it on their website any more. Still they have re-invented themselves as a an e- bike manufacturer these days.

I have a Birdy Mark 3 with the hydroformed frame. Eye watering price of >£2k but worth it if you want a bit more performance than the Brompton will give you. Weight wise it's similar to the Brompton Ti but it has better range and gearing. Plus thoroughly modern gears and disc's. The Bromptons a just little bit too time warp for me and the 6sp is a bodge.

Time for an updated review Road.cc team?

bonzobanana [9 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

'Dalloy' is not a serious material it's a marketing term, no such real material exists. It will likely be 6061 or possibly 7005.  Is there any other industry that has such little regard for the intelligence of its buyers that is makes up stupid names for the materials the products are made from.  

Better value options are available than these bikes. Perfectly servicable folding bikes from about £300 with long life components. 

spen [260 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

The link to Evans and Halfords for the Brompton links to a bag not a bike - £310 for a 19 litre bag!

Dr_Lex [504 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
Secret_squirrel wrote:

Is the Birdy World Sport even an official UK model now? Only 2 of the main dealers stock it to and R&M don't mention it on their website any more. Still they have re-invented themselves as a an e- bike manufacturer these days. I have a Birdy Mark 3 with the hydroformed frame. Eye watering price of >£2k but worth it if you want a bit more performance than the Brompton will give you. Weight wise it's similar to the Brompton Ti but it has better range and gearing. Plus thoroughly modern gears and disc's. The Bromptons a just little bit too time warp for me and the 6sp is a bodge. Time for an updated review Road.cc team?


An article with currently available folders would seem sensible, but I doubt there’s the budget for it.

Brompton is if you want a folding bike; Birdy or Joey Airnimal if a folding bike.

Sid Aluminium [1 post] 1 month ago

Actually, Brompton is not doing so sparkling in limiting the use of Andrew Ritchie's brilliant design.  Folders of that pattern are sold in various world markets under the 3Sixty, B-Bike, Burke, Chedech, Cigna, Crosshead, Dahon, Element, Flamingo, Fova, Groo M3, Java Neo, Jcat, La Bici, MIT, Neo, Pico, Sanye, South Point, United and Viking brands, among others.  In addition, complete titanium examples may be built up from available aftermarket parts.  This doesn't affect the home market to any extent but confounds W B-A's announced goal of exporting 50,000 Bromptons/year to Asia.


Brompton took Dahon to court in August of 2017 to prevent the sale of their new Curl model in the EU.  One month later that legal action was dismissed and Brompton ordered to pay Dahon's legal expenses.  The Dahon Curl is widely available worldwide.


I understand there is potential for something called '3D Copyright' protection on the Ritchie design solely in the UK market.  To the best of my knowldge the extent of the application of this protection, if any, has not been established in the UK courts.