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We’ve all heard the buzzwords: ultra-light, zippy, compact, sleek – and it’s easy to agree that today’s folding bikes deliver. What a pleasure it is to throw your ride on the train, or in a car boot early one morning, and explore the world on your doorstep.
For those of us not blessed with the smoothest of roads, folding bikes can feel a bit of a dud. All it takes is one pothole and those twitchy fourteen inch wheels go shooting off in all directions.
Many cyclists also take issue with the increased rolling resistance that a small wheel generates, or the bolt upright riding position of your standard folding bike.
Luckily, there are a range of newcomers on the market with much bigger wheels. The models reviewed here have wheel sizes hovering around 24″. They offer the burliness of a bike with full-size wheels with the practicality that a folding mechanism brings. Just like their standard equivalents, they’ve been designed for a range of uses – touring, mountain bike trails, road ride, city cycle paths, you name it.
Below, we’ve take our pick of our favourite available right now, and answered a few common queries about folding bikes.
Why Do Most Folding Bikes Have Small Wheels?
The main reason most folding bikes have small wheels is portability. Smaller wheels means a bike can fold down compactly, and so be stowed away easily in homes and on public transport.
Small wheels are also lighter than full-size wheels. In a market where models are often ranked on their weight, it pays to make your folding bike as easy to lift as possible.
Can You Get a Folding Bike with Full-Size Wheels?
You can absolutely get “full-size” folding bikes. When we talk about “full-size” bikes, what we often mean is a wheel diameter hovering around 24 to 28 inches. The tiny Brompton might be the industry standard, but there are, in fact, hundreds of models on the market with larger wheels.
Many full-size folding bikes look and ride just like regular bikes. You’ll also end up paying the same amount. All the bikes we’ve mentioned here range from three to four figures.
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Best Full-Size Folding Bikes [Top 7]
- Bickerton Docklands 1824 Country Bike [REVIEW]
- Tern Joe Tour [REVIEW]
- Helix Standard [REVIEW]
- Montague Bikes Urban Folding Bike [REVIEW]
- Change Folding Hybrid Bike [REVIEW]
- Basis Hybrid Folding E-Bike [REVIEW]
- Ancheer Electric Folding Mountain Bike [REVIEW]
Best Folding Bike with Big Wheels
1. Bickerton Docklands 1824 Country Bike
Weight: 13.9 kg
Wheel Size: 26”
Folded Size: 44.5 x 93 x 82 cm
- 🇬🇧 £849
- 🇺🇸 Not available
- 🇪🇺 €982
Even the wobbliest of cyclists can recognise a Brompton. Over the past thirty years, the brand name has become almost as ubiquitous as the bikes themselves: a catch-all for anything that folds.
Yet, while perhaps the most iconic, Brompton wasn’t the earliest model on the market. Two years after man had put men on the moon, engineer Harry Bickerton couldn’t believe he still paying an extra fare to lug his full-size bicycle on the train.
The Bickerton Portable, the world’s first folding ride and built in his garden shed.
These days, Bickerton Portables is less of a Wallace and Gromit affair, but has lost none of that early pioneering spirit. The Docklands is a comfortable and confident set of wheels. Its light step-over frame makes it a far cry from those commuter bikes Harry found so unwieldy – and the robust Schwalbe tyres mean you can roll the cycle paths for miles before worrying about a puncture.
We like the 8 speed gears, and the retro styling: the leather seat and industrial aluminium pedals are a carry-through from Bickerton’s long heritage.
The Docklands 1824 does lack mudguards, which may put off cyclists wishing to use those full-size wheels on winter rides. Otherwise, it’s a worthy and well-established frontrunner.
2. Tern Joe Tour
Weight: 16 kg
Wheel Size: 27.5”
Folded Size: 46 × 95 × 87 cm
- 🇬🇧 £1500
- 🇺🇸 $N/A
- 🇪🇺 €N/A
Hoping on the Eurostar with your bike, tents and a head full of adventure.
That’s the dream, isn’t it?
Yet, for those of us without square miles of garage space for gear, the idea of bike-packing can feel a very long way off.
Thankfully, there’s the Tern Joe Tour, an impressive randonneuring bike that can be folded to fit a train, plane, taxi or your pokey apartment hallway in seconds.
The Tern’s most impressive asset is, of course, that chunky luggage rack. It’s ability to haul up to 25kg of gear makes the bike a stand-out option for spontaneous, multimodal trips. It supports all full-size panniers, meaning you’re not locked into Tern’s own-brand accessories range either.
It’s built-in rear and front lamps make touring much easier. They throw out beams of up to 19m, and with a Joule 3 dynamo, you’ll be generating your own juice as you ride. No scrambling about for batteries in your sleeping bag.
The Joe Tour also comes with the added reassurance of hydraulic disc breaks. It’s 9 speed hub means you should be able to tackle most hills fully-loaded.
In sum, it’s a genuinely enviable choice for anyone who prizes spontaneity and adventure. It’s only available in the UK currently, but keep your eyes open for an introduction into the US and European markets.
Folding Bike with 24″ Wheels
3. Helix Standard
Weight: 10.9 kg
Wheel Size: 24”
Folded Size: 58.0 x 63.5 x 23.0 cm
- 🇬🇧 £2,364
- 🇺🇸 $2,690
- 🇪🇺 €2,699
Helix’s founding story is a uniquely twenty-first century one.
The brand began as a Kickstarter scheme, producing a limited run of these robotically-welded, laser-cut, titanium bikes for its supporters.
Now a fully-fledged brand and regularly sold out, it’s quite possibly the smallest folding bike in the world. We’re impressed that Helix haven’t compromised on spec to achieve these dimensions.
With a ten-speed Shimano derailleur, 24-inch wheels and sharp disc brakes, it reportedly rides like a road bike twice its size.
Ultra-lightweight (tipping the scales at 19lbs) it’s also great fun to take around the city. Those big wheels can roll even when the bike is collapsed, meaning it can be pushed along pavements and station platforms.
Science buffs will also be interested to learn that they’re riding the only bike ever to be welded in an argon chamber. This allows for a far greater control over temperature and humidity than in your standard workshop.
Anyone wanting to get their hands on the Standard – or its even lighter sister model – might have to practice a little patience, though. Although Helix ship to practically every country, the Canadian-made bikes are out of stock until late 2022.
4. Montague Bikes Urban Folding Bike
Weight: 13 kg
Wheel Size: 29”
Folded Size: 36” x 28” x 12” cm
- 🇬🇧 £1199
- 🇺🇸 $949.00
- 🇪🇺 €N/A
Like we’ve said, a fourteen-inch wheel sometimes feels like a bit of a lost cause.
Whatever’s gained in portability is lost in mornings spent disappearing down potholes and skidding over loose gravel.
The full-size Montague Urban has been designed with this frustration fully in mind. Montague have fitted their folding ride with satisfyingly knobbly twenty-four-inch tyres. Not only will they take you over the dodgiest of urban terrain, they should make the bike a pleasure to ride on country roads.
The 21-speed Shimano gearing also stands out in a market crowded with 8-speed competitors – and it’s not the only nod to the fact we don’t all commute in the City. The built-in mud guards clearly come from a team who know the annoyance of arriving in the office with mud sprayed up your back.
We would’ve liked the designers to have shaved a little of the final weight, though. At 13kg, it might be a little too heavy to use on a multi-stage commute. However, with a rear mudguard, kickstand and compact folding size, it is practical enough to be your only bike.
Overall, an ideal ride for rural and semi-urban commuters.
5. Change Folding Hybrid Bike
Weight: 11.7 kg
Wheel Size: 27.5”
Folded Size: 95 cm x 75cm
- 🇬🇧 £1549
- 🇺🇸 $1800
- 🇪🇺 €1771
Try as much as you like. Sometimes, it’s hard not to get excited about a fancy spec sheet – and the Change Folding Hybrid’s is about as respectable as they come.
This all-dayer boasts carbon forks, 27-speed Shimano groupset and a sharp hydraulic disc brakes.
Oh, and did we also mention the carbon front forks?
Change clearly want to stand out from the crowd, and with the Hybrid they’ve done it. They’ve run it through ISO certification, and the team claim it’s the only folding bike on the market to have passed the MTB test, meaning it should perform beautifully both on and off road.
Visually, it’s as classy as the component parts. We love the jet-black finish, and the added bonus of a high-quality travel bag thrown in.
At one and a half thousand pounds, it is certainly an investment. And it’s worth remembering that if a hybrid ride is what you’re after, there are a load of excellent standard models out there at price point. However, if you need the portability of a folding bike, then the Change Hybrid is a no brainer.
It’s a sleek, modern get-around that’ll thrill even the most low-tech of cyclists.
Electric Folding Hybrid Bike
6. Basis Hybrid Folding E-Bike
Weight: 23 kg
Wheel Size: 20”
Folded Size: 99 x 99 x 50 cm
- 🇬🇧 £899
- 🇺🇸 $N/A
- 🇪🇺 €N/A
What’s the old adage? If you can’t beat them, join them. And when it comes to e-bikes, we’re inclined to agree.
The Basis Hybrid means you can arrive at the office just as spotless as that colleague who glides past you on the morning commute. Mounted to the Basis rear-luggage rack, you’ll find a 9.6aH battery which – when combined with the powerful motor – offers you three levels of electric pedal assistance.
Basis claim it can take you up to 30 miles on a single charge.
For a bike of this size, the charge time is pretty standard: 4 to 6 hours. You can leave it to charge during the working day and have more than enough power to get home.
The Basis also has a bright LED display and all-important disc brakes. Its relaxed step-through frame make it a perfect city bike, but weighing in at a hefty 23kg, it’s hardly the easiest to take on the Tube.
Basis is the in-house brand for the Sussex retailer, E-Bikes Direct and so can be bought through the UK government’s cycle to work scheme. At £899.99, it’s a relatively affordable entry-level e-bike boasting the added convenience a folding mechanism brings.
Full-Size Folding Electric Mountain Bike
7. Ancheer Electric Folding Mountain Bike
Weight: 27 kg
Wheel Size: 26”
Folded Size: 82 x 102 x 23 cm
- 🇬🇧 £823
- 🇺🇸 $668.57
- 🇪🇺 €1009
The frame of the Electric Folding Mountain Bike is the stuff of science-fiction. Ancheer have done away with fiddly spokes – and replaced them with a five-knife integrated design. It’s a visually arresting choice – and a practical one too. Ancheer claim that their design provides unparalleled shock absorption. It doesn’t hurt that it looks straight out of The Matrix prop room.
The sci-fi element extends to the bold blue-and-white colour way, and the LED control panel.
For those planning to use the Ancheer off-road, the high-strength magnesium forks will also prove a welcome feature
In battery terms, the range of the Ancheer is not so futuristic. It’ll travel up to 28km on a single 8 hour charge – fairly standard for a bike of this size. We haven’t tested it, but reviewers say that the manufacturers were quick to respond when any problem arose.
With looks like these, just remember to invest in a good pair of locks.