Small is beautiful – folding bikes

I’m a huge fan of folding bikes. They do everything a full-sized bike can do, AND they’ll fit in trains, buses, car boots, under desks, as well. See this folded blue Brompton is actually smaller than the back wheel of the full-sized bike, but the unfolded green Brompton is nearly as big as the full-sized.

They go just about as fast as comparable full-sized bikes. Many people think small wheels must make a bike slower. It’s a myth – fake news! You don’t have to pedal any faster – the gears take care of that.

A Brompton has just broken the record for Lands End to John O’Groats unsupported, doing it in 83 hours, less than 3 and a half days, despite dehydrating in this summer’s heatwave. And watch this Brompton beat a superbike up Cheddar Gorge.

And they ride just like normal bikes, once you get used to the steering. Some people say they’re ‘twitchy’, but I say ‘responsive’. And because they almost all have 16 or 20 inch wheels, they’re incredibly manoeuvrable, with incredible acceleration.

Most folding bikes are one-size fits all, so you can raise or lower the saddle to fit almost anyone. And often the handlebars too. I’ve had kids of 7 ride my Decathlon Tilt-500 folder just by lowering the saddle, so no more worries about kids growing out of their bikes.

Less confident riders can lower the saddle to let them easily touch the ground, which is a huge help to gaining confidence. And a step-through frame is a big help for people with limited leg or hip mobility.

Bikes change often, so we’re reluctant to recommend individual models, but there are some folding brands that stand out. As always, buying cheap can mean buying often, so it can be worth investing a little more.

At the lower end, Decathlon offer great value. from around £180 upwards. We have a big Decathlon store locally in Port Solent, although they might not stock all models.

Slightly more expensive, but with a huge reputation for folders, and a huge range, are Dahon and Tern. And Tern have turned – to making e-cargo bikes too. And there is a huge range of folders and e-folders.

But if I had to pick one above all, it would have to be Brompton. They are far and away the best for folding – quickest, easiest and smallest. They’re more expensive, but they have great long term reliability, and hold their value really well – people sell them years later for more than they paid. And they carry a surprising amount of luggage very easily, with their unique front bags, which clip onto the front frame without affecting the steering. We’ve done over 60 miles a day when touring and carrying our own gear, without any impact on us or the bikes.

CH White in Malmesbury specialise in folding bikes. If you want to see everything under one roof and talk to the experts, that’s the place to go.

If you’d like advice, or just a chat about folders, you can always contact us!

One day, all bikes will be folders!