Folding Bikes

‘They’re Weak’: 7 Common Misconceptions About Folding Bikes

Woman dressed in black standing in front of a yellow wall next to a black folding bike

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Folding bikes have gained significant traction in recent years. Offering commuters and urban dwellers a convenient, space-saving bicycle, they’ve become a mode of transport in their own right.

Despite their practicality and efficiency, some common misconceptions surround the compact two-wheelers.

We debunk some myths and misunderstandings about folding bikes.

two woman standing in front of a gate holding folding bikes

1. “They’re Only For Commuting”

While we often associate folding bikes with urban commuters, politicians, and middle managers, their versatility extends far beyond the daily grind.

Yes, their small footprint and short wheelbase mean they excel in navigating crowded city streets and weaving through traffic. But their utility doesn’t end there.

They’re a perfect companion for travel and leisure. Want to take a ride further afield on the weekend?

A folding bike will easily fit into a small car’s boot or even the passenger seat. 

We also know it’s a great companion for public transport, but that doesn’t mean they should only go to the office and back.

Why not take a train into the countryside and explore the other end by bike? Or go one step further. Take it as a carry-on the next time you fly.

And don’t forget, they can be ridden like a normal bike, meaning that urban mobility shouldn’t be the only reason you’d consider one. 

A woman folding a folding bike indoors

2. “They’re A Pain To Fold/Unfold”

Many people shy away from considering a folding bike due to the perceived complexity of the folding process.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. While some of the earlier folding models might have been fiddly, frustrating, or time-consuming, they’ve evolved significantly. 

Manufacturers have invested heavily in research and development to streamline the folding process, resulting in innovative mechanisms that are simple, intuitive, and straightforward. 

Quick-release latches, folding handlebar stems, or basic hinge systems can all be used easily.

The vast majority of commercial models are also tool-free, eliminating the need to carry anything other than your own hands.

Did you know that the record for folding a Brompton is a little under five seconds? While that is exceptionally quick, with a bit of practice, you, too, can perfect the art of the quick fold. 

Few things are more satisfying than that quick conversion from pedestrian to cyclist.

a person adjusting the seat of a folding bike

3. “They’re Unstable and Uncomfortable”

Many people also think that folding bikes sacrifice stability and comfort in favor of portability. This is a reasonable conclusion, but it’s not strictly true.

Due to their compact size, folding bikes may not be as stable as conventional bikes. It’s better to think of them as different, though.

Yes, they’re generally more responsive to road imperfections and might not handle the top speeds quite as well, but they’ve improved significantly as of late, as Bobbinbikes points out. A little practice goes a long way. 

Folding bikes can be just as comfortable as conventional ones. These days, plenty of folders prioritize comfort and ergonomics, like those from Montague.

They come with full-size wheels, promoting an upright riding position that’s easy on the back and neck.

There are so many different folding bikes available that it’s just a case of finding the one that shares your priorities.

A silver folding bike standing in front of stairs

4. “They’re Expensive”

Another common misconception is that folding bikes are prohibitively expensive and suitable only for a particular income bracket. While some models do have a high price tag, it’s essential to consider in detail the value they offer.

A folding bike can incur some serious long-term savings. Firstly, for many, it’s a cost-effective alternative to other forms of transport, like owning a car.

Used in conjunction with public transport, it can also be a great solution for the ‘final leg’ of your journey, saving money on fuel, parking fees, and other transport expenses.

You also don’t need to worry about the other aspects of bike ownership, like storage solutions and costly bike racks.

In addition, they’re available at a wide range of price points. Some premium models will run into the thousands, yes, but some brands, like Decathlon, have models available for just 300 pounds. 

Ultimately, they’re an investment, and the small amount extra you would pay is negligible when you consider the versatility and convenience they bring.

A person riding a folding bike in the city

5. “They’re Slow”

One persistent critique of folding bikes is that they’re slow compared to traditional bikes.

But just because we haven’t seen them on the tour doesn’t mean they aren’t nippy. Thanks to their lightweight construction, folding bikes can be agile and quick off the mark. 

According to Rodalink, you’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference in urban areas. How often are you really flat out when you’re cycling anyway?

It’s another dated myth to say that they’re slow. It’s worth reiterating how much research and development goes into folding bikes.

There are always innovations and technological advancements in the industry, and modern folding bikes are a revolution away from the sort you might have in mind.

A folding bike offers a dynamic riding experience, and while they aren’t optimized for the velodrome, don’t expect them to hold you back when it comes to performance.

A woman riding a folding bike in a field

6. “They’re Weak”

Another myth about folding bikes is that they’re inherently weaker than traditional bicycles. This is easily dispelled.

Reputable manufacturers use high-quality materials, like lightweight aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, and steel, to ensure strength and durability.

These are then constructed to withstand the stresses of everyday use. In other words, they’re built to last.

Take Bromptons, for example. The lugs of their frames are brazed at low temperatures, specifically to avoid ‘melting’ the metals.

This results in joints that don’t just look good but are extremely strong. It’s also one of the reasons why their bikes last for decades, not years.

Rigid testing is conducted on the folding parts to ensure that the hinges and locking mechanisms can withstand the stresses of folding, unfolding, and regular cycling. Despite the potential design challenges, companies are excelling at building folding bikes that last.

A man carrying a folding bike

7. “They’re Just a Gimmick”

The number one myth, by far, is that folding bikes are some sort of gimmick, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In previous years, folding bikes might have been associated with a particular type of person—someone who’s a bit quirky, to say the least.

But this myth fails to do justice to the versatility of folding bikes.

The bottom line is that they’re an incredibly practical solution for modern, urban living. In densely populated areas where space is at a premium, a bike that can tuck out of sight just as easily as it can be carried makes a lot of sense.

Ultimately, they allow people to enjoy the convenience and freedom of cycling, alongside the usual health benefits, without the limitations of traditional bicycles.

Living on the 5th floor without a lift? Not a problem. No space to lock it outside of work? Bring it in with you and tuck it under your desk.

For those who crave efficiency and practicality, a folding bike might be the weapon of choice to tackle urban living, one pedal stroke at a time. So don’t get caught up with the nonsense. 

ALSO READ: Folding Bikes: Everything You Need to Know [Inc. Pros + Cons]

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