Folding Bikes Buyers Guide

Folding bikes are increasingly popular among commuters and leisure riders who want a bike that is both comfortable to ride and convenient to store.

In this folding bike's buyers guide, we describe what folding bikes are and why you might want to buy one.

Why a folding bike?

Folding bikes are an ideal choice for commuters and leisure bike users who want a fast and functional bike that takes up significantly less space than a regular bike and is easy to store. With the added benefit of smaller wheels, skinny tyres, and narrow handlebars that make them easy to fold down, carry, store on a train, and put in a car boot ready for mini adventures they are an ideal solution for those with limited space.

You can also add accessories to your folding bike, such as mudguards, pannier racks, lights and more that make it suitable for everyday adventures.

Folding bike features

Folding bikes have some unique design features that make them different to standard-sized bikes. While each model is slightly different, here are some of the common differences between a folding bike and a standard-sized bike: 

  • Wheels: Folding bikes will have wheels smaller than those on a standard-sized bike. Brompton, for example, have 16" wheels. Most folding bikes will utilize a smaller wheel to support the nature of the fold. It keeps them nice and compact making them simple to store in your home, under your desk or anywhere you might need to. A smaller wheel does not take anything from the ride if anything it makes them more nimble and agile when nipping about town.
  • Gears: Folding bikes may have fewer gears than most road, hybrid, and mountain bikes. Some folding bikes use hub gears hidden inside the rear wheel these will need to be assessed for your usage as you may need 1 or 3 gears for cities, or you might need 6 or 9 for some hillier riding.
  • Frame: Most folding bikes come in one size, with an adjustable seat post enabling you to find a comfortable riding height. Frames are typically made from rigid alloy or steel and built for long-term use on city streets.
  • Handlebars: Folding bike handlebars are narrower, providing speedy handling and enabling you to filter through traffic on your commute.

How do folding bikes work?

Instead of a single solid frame, folding bikes frames are built from several hinged parts. When the bike is assembled, quick release clamps keep the frame together. They also have an adjustable seat post and handlebars which also lock into place, some may even have folding pedals.

When you need to pack it up, loosening the clamps on the frame, seat post, and handlebars enable you to fold the bike. Each part clips into place, so the folded bike stays secure when you are moving about.

Each folding bike has a slightly different mechanism, but they are simple to learn. Most will use quick release clamps that can be tightened or loosened in seconds. With a bit of practice, you should be able to pedal away in less than a minute.

Practical tips for buying the best folding bike

When shopping for a new folding bike, here are a few things you should look consider:

  • Folded size - Folding bikes come in varied sizes, which is why we included folded dimensions in every Halfords folding bike description.
  • Weight - Some folding bikes are heavier than others, so check you can comfortably manage the weight. You will find details of weight in every folding bike description. We always advise checking them out for yourself and trying to get a feel for that folded weight.
  • Gears - Ensure you have enough gears. A simple single-speed or 3-speed hub gear may be enough for flat rides on smooth city streets, but you will want more gears if you are tackling even the shortest of climbs it gives you some range and allows you to use the bike in different cycling scenarios.
  • Mudguards and luggage racks - If you want to stay mud and muck-free on your commute, check if your folding bike comes with mudguards. A luggage rack is a nice extra, enabling you to carry more while riding.

Ready to buy a folding bike?

At Halfords, we stock a massive selection of folding bikes from some of the world's biggest and best-loved bike brands, including Apollo, Carrera, Brompton and Dahon.

We are always available to help you find the right folding bike for you, so drop in to your nearest store where you can check out our range and chat with one of our staff. As well as the UK's largest selection of folding bikes for sale, we also have essential extras every commuter need’s, including helmets, lights, and luggage.


Did you know that you can get a brand new bike at a discounted price through the Cycle2Work scheme? Cycle2Work is a government initiative that offers the most cost-effective way to get new cycling equipment. The scheme is run through participating employers, meaning you do not have to pay tax or national insurance on these products – saving you up to 47%! This reduced cost is then deducted from your payslip over 12 or 18 months.

To find out more about the Cycle2Work scheme and how to sign up, visit our dedicated page.

Find out more about Cycle2Work