A Complete Intro To Folding Bikes (Are They Right For You?)

Last updated: July 17th, 2023

Folding bikes cram tons of utility into minimal space. But even if you prioritize portability, they aren’t the only option—or even the best one, necessarily.

We’ll cover basic suitability and expectations, look at general pros and cons, then take a deep dive into pricing, ride quality, speed/climbing/gearing, durability, size and weight limits, and common alternatives.

My perspective comes from years of commuting on a folding bike, test-riding scores of others, and talking with cyclists of every stripe.

Here’s what you need to know (or might not have realized) about how they work, feel, and fit into life.

This article might contain affiliate links. As a member of programs including Amazon Associates, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Are folding bikes actually good?

In short, yes. Most folding bikes are both practical and well-made, but they cost more than regular bicycles of similar quality.

Like anything, their quality ranges from garbage to artisanal. The latter are as durable, efficient, and fun as any regular bike. Later, we’ll talk about how to identify them.

In terms of utility, they make cycling more accessible for people who use transit, lack storage space, or even struggle to fit regular bikes. That’s why they’re so popular among urban commuters, apartment dwellers, and even travelers.

But are they worth buying?

Folding bikes are worth every penny for urbanites and commuters who need portability. Good folders are a joy to ride and will last as long as a standard road or hybrid bike of comparable quality.

However, portability requires minor sacrifices in price and ride quality. If space is not a constraint, then a non-folding bicycle offers better value, far more variety, and appropriate sizes for the very tall or small.

If you need even more compactness or more capability—not both at once—then it’s also worth considering a mini velo, electric scooter, or adult kick scooter.

These 5 folding bike advantages are worth every penny

The best folding bikes are amply capable and feel surprisingly…normal. For the right person, it’s the best money they’ll ever spend.

We’ll get to the compromises later, but first, here are some unique upsides worth thinking about.

Compact storage solves transit & small-space problems

Easy storage in tight places is, by far, the best reason to buy a folding bike. That could be storage in your home, workplace, transit, or even the trunk of a vehicle.

Personally, I bought one to free up space in a small apartment that didn’t have dedicated bike storage. As a bonus, it was also easier to store at the office—no fumbling around a bike rack.

A fun, easy & snappy ride (that feels surprisingly normal)

On pavement, a folding bike is no harder to ride than a regular one. They do feel a bit different, but not inferior. In fact, they’re often confidence-inspiring to petite riders who feel overwhelmed on standard bikes.

That’s a large part of why folding bikes are just as fun as their regular siblings—especially for non-aggressive riding on paved routes. Arguably even more fun, since they make it possible to bring a bicycle where you couldn’t otherwise.

Much of a bike’s feel comes down to geometry. Key dimensions (like head/seat tube angle, stack, and reach) are similar to those of regular bikes, so the handling is reassuringly familiar, too.

Low rotating mass and quick acceleration are oft-overlooked benefits of smaller wheels. You may even notice improved cornering thanks to a lower center of gravity

True, they struggle on gnarly terrain, but that’s a fine trade-off for urban riders who need to stop and start perpetually.

Surprising capacity for everyday cargo

Most folding bikes can accommodate a bag with everyday work items, like a laptop and lunch. If your usual load fits in a modest backpack or pannier, then it’ll be a cinch to carry on a folding bike.

Whenever possible, stick with the manufacturer’s own racks and bags to guarantee compatibility. Many third-party options are good, and most are cheaper, but they vary in ease and precision of fit.

Better still, all Bromptons and at least some Tern bikes have luggage mounts on the head tube (the part of the frame that the fork inserts into). That part doesn’t budge while turning, so the mass of the luggage doesn’t affect handling. Head tube mounting even improves the front-rear weight distribution, to boot.

They’re more durable than you’d think

Folding bicycles are generally as durable as regular ones. The frames tend to have stricter weight limits, but if you heed them, then they will last many years.

Besides the frames, folding bike components are similar or identical to components on non-folding bikes. Consequently, they have similar life expectancies, which this article on bicycle longevity covers in more detail.

In fact, small-diameter wheels may actually be more durable and less prone to bent rims or broken spokes. The smaller size means less leverage, as well as more spokes per inch of circumference.

Take care with hinge clamps

If any part of your folding does break or wear out prematurely, it’s likely to be a hinge clamp. You can mitigate that by keeping them just snug enough. Too loose and they’ll wiggle around with road vibrations; too tight and they’ll experience forces they weren’t designed for.

In the rare event that your hinge clamp develop play despite proper care, it’s likely to fall under warranty. Only new bikes carry warranties, however, so that’s probably the biggest disadvantage to buying secondhand.

And yes, they’re still plenty fast

On normal urban terrain, folding bikes are no slower than regular ones (with similar riding posture). This isn’t a benefit, so much as a common misconception that you needn’t worry about.

Simply put, smaller wheels are not inherently slower. They use higher gearing to spin faster and achieve the same velocity with the same effort. We’ll cover this at length in the section on speed and gearing.

I’d be remiss not to mention tire wear. More revolutions per mile means more tire wear per mile, so you can expect to replace a folding bike’s tires roughly 30%–50% more often. That’s not a serious issue for most of us, but it’s worth considering if you rack up several thousand miles per year.

Posture: the forgotten factor in riding speed

To maximize speed on a folding bike, look for one that encourages a forward-leaning riding posture. That’s more aerodynamic, plus it helps you use your glutes and calves more efficiently while pedaling.

Normally, road bikes encourage that posture by using drop bars. Unfortunately, they tend to interfere with the fold, so drop-bar folders are rare. What’s more, aero rims and other high-end racing parts just don’t exist for folding bikes. It’s a commuter-oriented market, so there’s little demand for race-ready accessories.

If you’re one of the few who want a drop-bar model, then check out Tern’s Verge X18 or a couple options from Bike Friday. They’re some of the only production examples on the market these days.

9 disadvantages of folding bike

Portability isn’t always enough to justify a folding bike. Some drawbacks are obvious on paper, whereas others only emerge after you’ve lived with one for a while.

Below are some important quirks and limitations you might not have expected.

They cost more than regular bikes of similar quality

For similar components and build quality, a folding bicycle costs about $100-$300 more than a non-folding one. That’s mostly because a strong folding frame requires extra R&D and proprietary parts.

For example, regular bikes worth owning start around $500–$600. These budget hybrids are great examples of what to expect.

But for folding bikes, the entry level starts closer to $700-$800.

Likewise, the best value city bikes offer commute-friendly upgrades (like dynamo lighting) starting around $1000. A comparably equipped folding bike will begin around $1500—if not significantly higher.

Whether it’s worth the additional cost is another question altogether. But if paying that premium lets you cycle when you couldn’t otherwise, then I’d say it’s a bargain.

Expect a bumper ride

Smaller wheels don’t roll as easily over bumps and dips. They also transmit more vibrations than larger wheels.

Good grips and saddles, fatter tires, and a Brompton-style suspension block all help smooth things out. That’s especially important for long rides, since road vibrations get more fatiguing over time.

But nothing changes the fact that small wheels just don’t preserve momentum or plow through potholes like full-size ones.

Gear range may be limited

It’s very rare to find folding bikes with a front derailleur. That’s partly for technical reasons (it might complicate the fold) and partly because most commuters and city riders just don’t need many gears.

But if long, steep climbs are on the horizon, then you’ll find yourself wishing for a “granny gear” up front.

Some brands address this by shifting the entire gear up or down, or by using extra-wide steps in between gears.

But with very few exceptions, you won’t find the combination of wide gear range and narrow steps that a regular bike affords.

Hinges limit strength & stiffness

Folding bikes have lower weight limits than non-folding bikes.

Rather than distributing forces along a frame tube, hinges concentrate forces on a few small points. The result is more frame flex and a more conservative load limit.

It’s not noticeable if you’re under the limit and not riding particularly hard. But the flex can become noticeable if you’re hammering through a sprint, for instance.

And more importantly, some folding bikes are simply out of the question for heavier riders. We’ll cover several examples in a later section.

They’re not exactly featherweight

You might expect a diminutive bike designed for portability to be remarkably light, but that’s not always the case.

The average folding bike weighs 25-30 lbs. Ones with low-grade steel frames or larger wheels can easily exceed 30 lbs. The lightest titanium or carbon models weigh less than 20 lbs. However, different bikes fold down to different sizes. A smaller folded bike feels lighter than a bulkier one of the same weight.

Folding frames are geometrically smaller than regular ones, but they need roughly the same amount of metal to withstand the stresses of riding. Probably even more metal, due to the hinges, reinforcements, and fasteners that facilitate the fold.

(Triangles are incredibly strong shapes, which is why regular bicycles are still based on triangles after all this time!)

If you’re willing to drop serious money—we’re talking four grand and up—then it’s possible to get a Brompton with titanium everything, or an all-carbon Hummingbird, down to 20 lbs or even less. In fact, this gentleman got an all-titanium clone of a Brompton frame down to an astonishing 5.20 kg.

Speaking of weight, one small benefit is that smaller and lighter wheels accelerate a little more easily.

Less mass to get moving means less work for your legs, so a folding bike may feel ever so slightly “snappier” from a dead stop, all else being equal. It doesn’t matter much in the big picture, but it’s a pleasant surprise all the same.

Limited cargo options

The combination of weight limits, unusual frame design, and clearance for folding means fewer options for luggage/cargo.

Common attachments like fork-mounted panniers aren’t usually possible. Others—like saddle or handlebar bags—might interfere with the fold.

Then again, necessity is the mother of invention, and I’m continually amazed at the clever ways people fit large loads onto small bikes. (Just mind your warranty terms!)

Depending on your definition of “portable,” you might also consider one of these electric-assist folding cargo bikes from Tern. They’re an exciting brand that every urban cyclist should keep an eye on.

A slight weight penalty

Speaking of hinges, they also require a lot of extra metal for reinforcement and durability. That contributes weight, albeit just a couple of pounds.

Now, I firmly believe weight is almost irrelevant for commuters and casual riders—especially when the difference is so small.

But if you do prioritize weight reduction, then keep in mind that it’s difficult (and expensive!) to get a folding bike under the low-20-lb range.

Limited handlebar options affect comfort

The most comfortable bicycle handlebars are ones that sweep back toward the rider. That keeps your wrists in a neutral position and makes it easier to sit upright.

Unfortunately, their shape isn’t conducive to folding. That’s why most folding bikes use basically straight bars, which sweep back no more than a few degrees.

The best ergonomic grips do help with hand position, but nothing replaces genuinely swept-back bars.

They just don’t look as cool

There, I said it

Even as a delighted owner and daily user of a folding bike, I readily admit they have a certain…visual awkwardness.

It’s not about the bike per se; it’s about its proportionality to the rider. The bigger the rider, the more incongruous the look.

Is that a real problem? Does it affect their utility or value? Should it actually influence whether you buy one?


You won’t win style points, but those worries slip away when you’re cruising freely in the fresh air on your own schedule.

How much does a good folding bike cost?

Most quality folding bikes cost roughly $700–$1800 depending on component quality, included accessories, and frame construction. That’s about $100–$300 more than conventional (non-folding) bikes of similar quality.

It’s possible to spend as little as about $200 or as much as $4000+, but most riders should avoid either extreme.

Low-end models tend to fold clumsily and use fussy, imprecise drivetrain components. They’re more prone to repair and adjustment issues, and may have hard-to-find proprietary parts.

Ultra-high-end models are rarely cost-effective, and seldom do things that more modest alternatives don’t.

Why are folding bikes more expensive in general?

It’s possible that folding bike buyers are just willing to pay more for practicality. But the likelier reason is engineering.

After all, every bicycle frame is subject to strong forces in many directions at once. Adding hinges demands extremely careful design, additional testing, and superb construction quality. That all translates to more money.

How much should you plan to spend?

For daily commuting, errands, recreational rides, or anything similar, then the sweet spot for value is anywhere from $700–$2000, give or take. That’s a little more than the cost of comparable city bikes.

To reiterate, we’re talking about daily use. There’s no harm in spending less if you’ll only ride it on occasion. Just don’t be disappointed if ride quality, reliability, or the folding mechanism are underwhelming. And even then, I believe it’s safest to stick with well-known brands.

Sport- or fitness-oriented riders might prefer a lighter folding bike with wider-range gearing. It’s extremely tough to engineer a light yet safe folding frame, so the better ones (like Tern’s Verge X11) are well over $2000.

But what exactly do you get for your money?

Entry-level: $700-$900

The lower end of that price range, right around $700, covers some entry-level models from Dahon and perhaps Tern.

Those are perfectly good for daily use, but they lack upgrades like wide-range gearing and disc brakes—let alone internally-geared hubs, dynamo lighting, or extra-sleeking folding mechanisms.

Well appointed: $1100-$2000

Those fancier features start to appear around the $1100–$1200 level.

If your folding bike is just for brief and infrequent rides, then there’s no need to spend this much. But if it’s your everyday transportation, then those nice-to-haves may be worth every penny.

$1200 is also the starting roughly the starting price of the simplest Brompton. These bikes have a bit of mystique—if not a downright cult following, of which I proudly count myself a member.

I believe Brompton’s workmanship and ride quality are simply the best available. They also fold to an unbelievably small size.

Others may disagree, but their stellar reputation is no accident.

The best of the best: $2000+

Moving closer to $2000, you’re looking at a 6-speed Brompton with dynamo lighting, or an incredibly well-equipped Tern Verge S8i (briefly covered here), or a thoroughly customized Bike Friday.

These are all great purchases if you have clear needs and a consistent use for the bike, like all-weather commuting or extended bike travel/touring.

But if you ride infrequently, or are on a tight budget, then a sub-$800 model will still serve you well.

Folding bike speed, climbing & gearing 

While smaller wheels don’t slow you down, limited gearing does reduce speed and climbing ability.

Some folding bikes sacrifice gear range for cost and portability. Whether that’s a problem depends on where and how you plan to ride.

Standard drivetrain options for folding bike

Most folding bikes have a 1x drivetrain (i.e., single front gear) to make folding easier. Three-speed internally-geared hubs (IGHs) are common, and so are 6- to 9-speed derailleurs. Double or triple chainrings on performance-oriented models, but they’re not common.

Modern derailleurs are simple, effective, and affordable—even at the entry level.

But if you ride for practical transportation, then internal hub gears are worth the cost. They practically eliminate day-to-day maintenance, adjustment, and weather exposure. Affordable models have 3 speeds, but you can pay more for 7, 8, and even 11+ .

One notable exception is the Brompton folding bike, which optionally comes with an extra-wide-range 3-speed IGH and a 2-speed rear derailleur, for a total of 6 speeds. That particular hub and derailleur are both proprietary and both work well. I’m not aware of any other brands that offer that combination.

Lately, more folding bikes cater to sport/fitness cyclists who demand the same gear range as a road or hybrid bike. Space is limited for a front derailleur, so the most common option is a high-end rear derailleur with 11 speeds plus an ultra-wide-range cassette. It gives almost the same range as a conventional 2×8 or 2×9, but with only one shifter to worry about and one derailleur to maintain.

How many gears does your folding bike need?

For flat to mildly rolling terrain, 3 speeds will suffice, but 6–7 are nice. For steeper hills, heavy cargo, or long-distance riding, choose 9+ gears (or 6 gears on a Brompton).

Those are just rules of thumb. You can get a more objective answer by comparing gear-inches (an absolute measure that accounts for wheel size).

Fortunately, it’s easy!

The simple technique to find perfect gearing

  1. On a bike you already have, figure out the highest and lowest gear combinations you actually use.
  2. Put that information into a gear-inches chart like this one. Make note of the highest and lowest gear-inches figures. You’ll refer to them later.
  3. Do the same for the highest and lowest available gears on the folding bike you’re considering. Make note of these, too.
  4. Compare the highest high and lowest low from steps 2 and 3.

If the folding bike’s lowest gear is near/below your existing bike’s, you’re good to go.

If not, then recalculate step 3 with a slightly smaller chainring until you do get a comparable low. 

Once you know what size you need, ask the manufacturer or your local bike shop whether that size and bolt circle diameter are compatible with the bike. If so, all it takes is a simple DIY swap, or a cheap task for a mechanic.

(You can also play with cassette sizes, but swapping them costs more and takes longer.)

Note that this shifts the whole range down, so all your gears become lower. Of course it’s nice to have a comparable high gear, but it’s less critical. You can always coast down; getting up is the hard part!

For example, say you currently use a range of 35″–85″. Now, you’re contemplating a folding bike that offers only 45″–85″ using a stock 54-tooth chainring. 

If you replaced the 54t with 48th, then the whole range might drop to 36″–76″. The difference between 35″ and 36″ feels trivial, so you’d be able to climb the same hills with a similar level of effort. If you’re OK with coasting back down—again, that’s less of a concern—then you can easily make this bike work.

Lastly, if nothing provides a reasonable gear range, then it’s simply time to consider a different model.

How folding bike gearing affects speed

Folding bikes keep pace with standard ones because their gear ratios offset the difference in wheel size.

Pretend we have a folding bike whose tire circumference is ⅔ that of a standard bike. Consequently, every revolution covers just ⅔ the distance, so it needs to spin 3/2 as fast to travel at the same speed.

(More precisely: ⅔ the distance per revolution times 3/2 the revolutions per minute equals…exactly the same distance per minute.)

We could achieve that by using the same gear on our folding bike, but pedaling 3/2 as fast. It’s technically doable…but no thanks!

The better way is to pedal at the same rate, but use a gear ratio 3/2 as high. The gearing make up the difference, so the same work at the pedals translates to the same forward motion!

So, as you might’ve figured by now, folding bikes generally use higher gear ratios to make their smaller wheels spin faster.

(Pragmatically, there’s some speed difference over long stretches of bumps and potholes, let alone rocks and roots. Small wheels just can’t glide over them as easily. Then again, that’s well outside what most commuters face, so it’s not something to lose sleep over.)

Folding bike weight limits

All folding bikes have a weight limit. It varies but is often around 220 lbs–242 lbs (100 kg-110 kg), including your apparel and any cargo. Any rack or basket will have its own weight limit, which factors into the overall limit.

Heavier riders should consider folding cargo bikes, which are less compact but support far more weight.

For almost any model on the market, there are reports of customers riding safely despite exceeding the limit by 20+ lbs. I don’t advise you to push the limit, but realistically, it’s a conservative number.

Fortunately, there are some excellent options for bigger folks. Some can even hold their own with the all-around best bikes for heavy riders. You won’t be stashing them under a subway seat, but they’re a breeze to store in tight apartments or offices. 

Below are the manufacturer weight limits for some of the most popular folding bikes on the market today. Luggage systems have their own weight limits (for safe handling and to avoid clip/hook damage), which factor in to the total.

BrandModelWeight Limit
Bike Friday(most)230 lbs (104 kg)Higher limits available as special order
Brompton(all)242 lbs (110 kg)
Citizen(all)220 lbs (100 kg)
DahonCurl286 lbs (130 kg)
DahonHit300 lbs (137 kg)
DahonBriza, Launch, Mariner, Mu, Piazza, SUV, Vybe230 lbs (105 kg)
DahonVisc220 lbs (100 kg)
TernCargo Node350 lbs (159 kg)
TernGSD440 lbs (200 kg)
TernHSD374 lbs (170 kg)
TernBYB, Eclipse, Link, Node, Vektron, Verge230 lbs (105 kg)

Folding bike sizing: a simple guide to a simple topic

Generally, folding bikes do not come in different sizes—just a single frame size and wheel size per model.

The main exception is full-size folding bikes (from brands like Montague), which do offer a couple frame sizes. Still, they’re quite rare in the folding bike market as a whole.

And despite what you might expect, larger wheels don’t always mean a large frame.

For example, a Brompton with diminutive 16″ wheels (plus the higher handlebars bars and a telescoping seatpost) can accommodate riders up to roughly 6’8″. Yet a full-size Montague folder with 700c wheels maxes out at about 6’4″.

So, how do you dial in the fit?

Folding bike fit adjustment is through saddle height, saddle position, and handlebar position. Standover height isn’t a concern. It’s delightfully simple, but it can be hard for the smallest and tallest riders to get comfortable.

However, folks at the extremes still have options. Some brands—most notably Brompton—offer multiple handlebar and seatpost options to suit different heights and riding postures.

What folding bike alternatives should you consider?

For most cyclists, particularly commuters, folding bikes are the best balance between performance, portability, and value. 

But several alternatives outdo them in at least one respect.

Folding bike vs. mini velo

Consider a mini velo if need a bike that’s easy to carry in tight quarters and store indoors, but don’t need the compactness of a folding bike.

Most mini velos use the same, 20″ wheels as many folding bikes. But their rigid frame saves weight and improves stiffness while avoiding the need for any proprietary parts.

Wheel size alone accounts for a huge difference in portability. They obviously won’t fit under a train seat or a desk, but they’re surprisingly easy to stash in a tight corner or the trunk of a car.

The main drawback is availability. Outside of Asia, they’re quite rare off the shelf, and high-end custom builds can run into the thousands.

If this piques your interest, then visit my complete guide to mini velos for a closer look and some specific models to consider.

Folding bike vs. hybrid

Folding bikes are preferable to hybrids if you use transit or deal with tight storage spaces. They’re simply more compact and convenient.

But if not, then get a hybrid for better value, far more options, and a smoother ride all around.

Hybrids are notably better (and safer) for trail riding. They’re certainly not intended to be used as mountain bikes—that’s a danger and a warranty violation—but they’ll cruise over dirt roads and paths that feel jarring on a folding bike.

And if weight is your concern, worry not. Folding bikes may have diminutive frames, but all their hinges and gussets and reinforcements add serious heft. For instance, a folding Dahon Mariner D8 and a Trek FX 1 hybrid might be the most popular entry-level models of their type. Each weighs around 28 lbs, even though the compact Dahon seems far less massive.

In fairness, there are two shockingly light folding bikes (Brompton T Line and Hummingbird). Both come in at a paltry 16 lbs, give or take. That makes them even sleeker than the lightest hybrids at 19+ lbs. The only catch is those flyweight folders cost hundreds or even thousands more than their hybrid counterparts—assuming you can find one in the first place, which is no small feat.

Folding bike vs. road bike

As for road bikes, it’s essentially the same story. Folding bikes are hands-down winners in terms of portability and storage, but road bikes are faster, lighter, more readily upgraded, and simply a better deal.

If you don’t need the convenience of a folding bike, then don’t pay the weight and price penalties.

What’s more, “road-adjacent” styles like gravel and cyclocross just aren’t the domain of folding bikes. If you like to mix on- and off-road riding over long distances, you’ll find a full-size bike faster, sturdier, and more enjoyable.

Folding bike vs. folding electric bike

If you need the steady wheels of a folding bike with some motorized assistance for big hills or long distances, then an electric folding bike may be just the ticket.

And rest assured: you’ll still get exercise on an e-bike, provided you don’t rely on a throttle.

The main drawback is that folding e-bikes are much heavier and more expensive than regular ones.

At around 38.5 lbs each, the Brompton Electric and GoCycle GX are among the lightest around. They also cost well over $3,000 as of writing.

Granted, you could spend 1/3 to 1/2 that amount on a Lectric XP or RadMini 4. They’re terrific deals, plain and simple. They also weigh 60 lbs, and are even larger than an electric scooter when folded.

They’re either the best or the worst of both worlds, depending on your priorities.

Folding bike vs. electric scooter

Consider an electric scooter if you ride on fairly smooth ground, you want to go faster with less effort, and don’t mind sacrificing some portability to do so.

Choose a folding bike if you want something very compact (e.g., for transit), you want safety on rougher terrain, or you frequently ride in very wet or cold weather.

For many commuters, weather will be the deciding factor. E-scooters rapidly lose range in frigid weather, and most are ill-equipped for prolonged, heavy rainfall.

As for portability, folding bikes are smaller than electric scooters when folded, so they’re easier to take on public transit. Most commuter-friendly bikes and scooters are similar in weight, but longer-range scooters are 15-30 lbs heavier.

For instance, here are the folded dimensions of a typical 20″ folding bike (Dahon Mariner), ultra-compact 16″ folding bike (Brompton), longer-range electric scooter (Ninebot Max), and mid-range electric scooter (Xiaomi M365).

Brand & ModelWeightFolded LengthFolded WidthFolded Height
Dahon Mariner (folding bike)26 lbs25.6″12.6″31.1″
Brompton (folding bike)25-27 lbs(depending on config)23″10.6″22.2″
Ninebot Max* (scooter)41 lbs45.9″18.6″21.0″
Xiaomi M365 (scooter)27.6 lbs42.52″16.9″19.3″

* The Ninebot Max G30LP is about 3 lbs lighter, but with shorter range

There’s more variation out there, but these are typical models that urban commuters might realistically choose.

Finally, there’s the question of longevity.

With regular maintenance, a folding bike can last nearly forever. That’s especially true with a steel-frame model, since they don’t inherently fatigue and wear out like most aluminum ones.

It’s too soon to say how many years an electric scooter can last, but the answer is almost certainly: fewer than a bicycle. I’d guess that 3-5 years is the most we can reasonably expect, in light of their fatigue-prone aluminum frames and complex internal electronics. But most aren’t that old yet, so we simply don’t know for sure.

Folding bike vs. adult kick scooter

If you rarely travel more than one or two smooth, flat miles, then an adult kick scooter may be the right compromise.

They’re smaller, lighter, and cheaper than literally anything else with two wheels. They’re a piece of cake to transport and are easy to hop on and go. They’re also excellent low-impact exercise!

Prices can range from under $100 for an adult-size Razor (I like the A5 Air) to several times that amount for a “foot-bike” like the incredible Swifty.

Frankly, kick scooters are a lot of fun. But kicking is less efficient than pedaling a bicycle, so they wear out their welcome after a mile or two. They’re best for short commutes and nearby errands.

Yep, I want one…so what next?

It’s frustratingly hard to find a large inventory of folding bikes. While sizing is easy—in fact, there’s usually just one—it’s hard to gauge their feel from the internet.

My two cents is that Brompton makes the best folding bike for commuting and casual use. There’s no better folding mechanism, ride quality, or luggage system on the market. 

Read my long-term Brompton review for all the details, and a few caveats to consider.

They cost a pretty penny, but they also guarantee you folding bike experience won’t be marred by clunky design or inconsistent quality control.

If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, then Dahon is a good budget choice. They’re nowhere near a Brompton’s refinement, but they’re also (roughly) half the price.

Finally, check out Tern for some innovative options. Certain models feature useful and uncommon upgrades like 1×11 drivetrains and even belt drives—and that’s not to mention their rather groundbreaking line of compact cargo bikes!