Also, the power button was a pet peeve for me. You only need to hold it for a second or so to turn it on, but you have to hold it down for probably 5 full seconds to shut the bike off. If you don’t hold it down long enough, the bike doesn’t shut down all the way and just goes into “standby” mode. When I would hop off and park the bike, I found myself just standing there awkwardly while holding the button and waiting for it to turn off before I could lock it and walk away.
I wanted to love the Bike Friday Pakit, which is available for order with a custom-made frame. It has a unique fold (a sort of cross between those of the Brompton and the Birdy, with the rear tire rotating under), and with the front tire and the handlebar mast removed, you can pack it into an oversized backpack and bring it almost anywhere, even on a plane. It’s also the only bike we tested that can accommodate more petite riders (kids or little people) from 4-foot-5. But although it’s made in Oregon of good components—a Shimano Claris derailleur, Schwalbe tires—our testers thought it somehow felt less secure on the road, and the fenders I ordered kept rubbing on the front tire and getting caught on curbs. (If you go with the Pakit, don’t get the fenders.)
The Tern Link B7 rides great, folds and unfolds quickly (in the same manner as our top pick, the Dahon Mariner D8), and has a forged aluminum crank and a decent-quality seven-speed Shimano rear derailleur and shifters, all for a price that’s on a par with that of cheaper bikes built with no-name components. What’s missing are a rear rack and fenders (available for purchase separately from Tern). This model also has a slightly larger all-around footprint than the Mariner D8.
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We’ve updated the section on our upgrade pick, the Brompton S6L, to include information about Brompton’s recent voluntary recall. The company says that the recall is more of a safety precaution than a reaction to reported injuries or experiences of compromised quality. We’re still confident that the Brompton S6L is the best upgrade choice for a folding bike.
Lightweight folding bikes: Of course, if you intend to be hoisting the bike on and off trains, then it’s understandable that you want it to be light. This can be achieved though using a lighter frame material. Brompton have recently introduced titanium to their range and there are brands making carbon folders. Higher quality components will also reduce the weight, as will opting for fewer gears – such as a singlespeed version – but this will only really suit someone who doesn’t intend to come across many hills in their use of the bike.
Another system found on folders, such as Montague Bikes, utilizes the seat tube as a pivot point for the frame to fold. This system uses a tube within a tube design to give the bike more torsional stiffness. It allows the user to fold the bike without "breaking" any vital tubes down, thus preserving the structural integrity of the diamond frame. This system is operated by a single quick release found along the top tube of the bike.
But with prices ranging from a few hundred to many thousands of pounds, it pays to do your homework before choosing what’s best for your requirements. We took a range of folding bikes out in central London, on to commuter trains and into the depths of suburbia in order to ascertain which is best folding bike in each category. And if you'd prefer a little electric boost for your commute, have a look at our guide to the best electric bikes.
If you are like a lot of New Yorkers, you may have trouble finding a safe and dry place to put your bike at home. Your tiny apartment refuses to budge another inch, and the street seems to be the place bikes get left to find new owners. You may also want to ride to work, but parking is hard to find. If you try to take your bike into your building, the concierge looks at your bike as if it was a giant wheeled rat and refuses to let you onto the elevator. You may also long to take your bike along on a trip that requires transit, but cannot because of rush hour restrictions or outright bans on bicycles on trains or buses. The solution you are looking for might be a folding bike.
5 levels of pedal assist and a thumb throttle allow you to control the amount of power, with a top speed of 20 mph. When power is applied, it is not overwhelming. You remain in control of the 500-watt geared hub motor at all times. The battery is a 36v 9 Ah Lithium-ion model. You can get 20-30 miles of range on one charge, in part thanks to the motor inhibitor that cuts power when the brakes are applied.
Brompton - sometimes referred to as the "Jaguar" of folding bicycles, this British import folds smaller than any other model into a package that locks together and keeps the chain away from your clothes. It also can coast about in its folded state on suitcase-style casters (with optional rollerblade wheels for really covering distance). There is also an optional cover and saddle bag combo that turns this bike into a nondescript rolling black canvas object that cannot be identified as a bike (suitable for all "stealth" infiltrations of bike-unfriendly buildings). With its rear suspension, the Brompton is also known for its exceptional ride for a folding bike with 16" wheels. Price: about $700 for the simplest model, $1300 for a fully accessorized version with lights, fenders, a carrier, more gears, a cover, and a framed bag that attaches to the front of the bike. Its dimensions, when folded, are 22" X 22" X 10" and it ranges in weight from 24-28 pounds, depending on accessories. The Brompton folds in about 15 seconds. To see a demonstration of the folding process of the Brompton in animated .gif format, click here. Visit one of NYC's Brompton retailers at nycewheels.com.
As a counterbalance to the cute utilitarian bikes above, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp is a big, bad, and burly mountain bike. With 27.5-inch wheels, massive 2.8-inch tires, 150mm of travel in the front and 135mm of travel in the rear this bike is made to shred. The Specialized 1.3 Rx Trail-Tuned motor is designed specifically for off-road riding and features a double freehweel design that disengages the gear box at top speed to reduce friction while ripping downhill. The low center of gravity and stout parts make this one a relatively nimble handler that is ready for the rowdiest downhills.