This British WWII Airborne BSA folding bicycle was rigged so that, when parachuted, the handlebars and seat were the first parts to hit the ground (as bent wheels would disable the bike). BSA abandoned the traditional diamond bicycle design as too weak for the shock and instead made an elliptical frame of twin parallel tubes, one forming the top tube and seat stays, and the other the chainstay and down tube. The hinges were in front of the bottom bracket and in the corresponding position in front of the saddle, fastened by wing nuts. The peg pedals could be pushed in to avoid snagging and further reduce the space occupied during transit.
As with any purchase, ask yourself how you plan to use the bike and try to find the one that matches your needs best. Remember that you often get what you pay for and that a lower-quality bike may make you wish you had bought a better bike in the first place. The better quality folding bikes may seem expensive, but considering that a typical non-folding bike takes up 20 square feet in an apartment, you'll save perhaps $10,000 over ten years by being able to get a slightly smaller apartment. So you can't afford not to buy a good-quality folding bike.
“I am a big mountain biker and over the past couple years have taken a couple of electric folding bikes with me on various trips around the Southwest. I ride hard on the mountain bikes, then use the eFolders to get out and see the nooks and crannies of the town we are staying in … Mammoth Mountain, Big Bear Resort, Sedona, Springdale near Zion National Park, etc. I leave my truck in the parking lot and explore on the eFolder … after a hard day of riding the electric aspect is great … don’t have to worry about hills! Also the folding nature allows the bikes to transport easily, and store easily in the hotel or condo.”
The folding bike may be the most convenient mode of transportation on two wheels: It can get you from point A to point B just as readily as a full-size bike, but you can stash it in a car trunk, tuck it under a desk, or store it in a closet. To suss out which folding bike does it all best for most commuter riders, we pedaled and shifted, folded and unfolded, and carried and maneuvered 11 popular models from eight manufacturers. After our 60-plus hours of research and testing, the well-designed Dahon Mariner D8 edged to the front of the pack, combining a comfortable ride and easy folding with good-quality components, all for a reasonable price.
Crowdfunding is a chaotic field by nature: companies looking for funding tend to make big promises. According to a study run by Kickstarter in 2015, roughly 1 in 10 “successful” products that reach their funding goals fail to actually deliver rewards. Of the ones that do deliver, delays, missed deadlines, or overpromised ideas mean that there’s often disappointment in store for those products that do get done.
After evaluating the seven-speed Tern Link B7, I had to double-check that it in fact retailed for just $400. For starters, it rode great, an opinion that all nine of our cyclist testers shared—one tester, suspecting it was one of the pricier bikes of the group, said that even if it cost $500, he would buy it that day. (I don’t think he actually did buy it, but he was pretty pumped when I told him it came in under his estimated sticker price.) Bike expert Strub confirmed that “it’s a lot of bike” for the money, praising its “clean frame design” and pointing out that it had the same Shimano derailleurs and shifters and similar 20-inch Kenda tires as the Mariner D7, which usually retails for nearly $200 more; the updated Mariner D8, however, improves on the derailleur and shifter for the same D7 sticker price. I found the fold, which is like the Mariner’s, to be a cinch, and the magnet snapped tight every time. The Link B7 also has ergonomic handlebar grips similar to the ones we like on the Link D8.
Backing any high-tech crowdfunding campaign always comes with a degree of risk. In the case of the Mate X, I’d rate that to be fairly low. The brother-and-sister company now employs about 15 full-timers, and has the experience that comes from shipping over 8,000 bikes to more than 50 countries. As such, the company is much better positioned to handle the logistical and support issues that resulted in delays and frustration in the overly ambitious Mate campaign from 2016.
As with any bicycle, you should buy a folding bike in person, at a local bike shop—first, so that you can test-ride it, and second, so that you can have a knowledgeable person set it up and make sure it’s safely street-ready. If the model you want isn’t in the store, the shop owner can typically order it for you. If you do end up ordering online, unless you’re very knowledgeable about bicycle mechanics, please take your bike to a local shop to have a pro set it up (and be sure to take the fee for that service into account when you’re weighing any online discount you’ve found). Remember: You will be entrusting your life to this bike, and the last thing you want is for the handlebars to come loose or who knows what else happening when you’re riding in traffic.
The Ancheer folding electric mountain bike does have a few weird quirks. The first is the handlebar mounted battery. It saves space for the folding mechanism, but looks odd. Fortunately it has very little effect on handling because it is mounted so close the head tube’s pivot point. It does raise the center of gravity of the bike a bit, but the difference is small compared to how much you raise the bike’s center of gravity.