The Best Folding Mountain Bikes (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
A foldable mountain bike is both convenient and fun to ride
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BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED ON December 1, 2020
If you want a new mountain bike, but you don't have a lot of space to spare, you may want to consider one that folds in half. Foldable mountain bikes are very popular with commuters who bike as they are easy to break down and transport from place to place. If you don't have a bike rack, for example, you can stick one in the trunk of your car. Or you can put it in a closet if you don't have a garage.
But what's the best folding mountain bike available? There are many things you should consider before investing your money in this type of bike. While they share similar features, some brands and models have advantages over others. Check out our buying guide to find the best folding mountain bikes currently available on the market.
This 26-inch folding mountain bike has 21 gears, alloy rims, disc brakes, and Shimano derailleurs and shifters.
- Folds in half easily
- Front and rear shock absorbers
- Easy to shift
- Tough steel frame
- Assembly can be challenging
- Instructions aren’t very good
This 26-inch bike has 21 gears, a 17-inch frame, and comes in three different colors. It features double disc brakes and Shimano components.
- Accommodates up to 330 pounds
- Easy to assemble
- May require a tune up out of the box
- Folding hinge can be tight
This full-suspension 26-inch bike has 21 speeds, three-spoke mag wheels, Shimano components, and weighs 40 pounds.
- Fun to ride
- Good brakes
- Agile steering
- Absorbs bumps well
- A little heavy, making it a harder to carry
- Seat isn’t particularly comfortable
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Benefits of a Folding Mountain Bike
- Save space. One of the best things about a folding mountain bike is it's easy to store. If you live in a small apartment or don't have access to a garage, you can fold the bike, and it will take up less space than a traditional mountain bike.
- Portable. If you commute to work on a bike and there is limited parking, or you're worried about someone stealing it, you can simply fold it up and take it into the office with you. You can also carry it to campsites and other places with ease.
- Fun. Riding any type of bike is enjoyable, but mountain biking kicks it up a notch because you can ride on trails as well as roads. Folding mountain bikes are just as fun as traditional bikes, and they're easier to transport.
Types of Folding Mountain Bikes
Many manufacturers use this type of folding system, which folds a bike in half horizontally. Essentially, there is a hinge in the center of the bike's frame, and the rider simply folds it in half. These bikes often have quick-release hinges, and they work well on trails and other terrains.
Vertical folding mountain bikes also have a hinge in the center of the bike, but instead of folding horizontally, they fold vertically. There are also quick-release hinges on the seat post and handlebar. What makes this option desirable is that it becomes very compact when you break it down for storage purposes.
Compact vs. Full-Size
Compact folding bikes are smaller than traditional ones and typically have 16-inch or 20-inch wheels. Commuters like these bikes because they take up very little space when folded. Full-size folding bikes have 26-inch wheels and are the same size as traditional bikes. They also use quick-release hinges and clamps and can fold down to a portable size.
IBIKY, based in Riverside, Calif., makes a variety of bikes, from the IBIKY Flex Foldable Bike to the IBIKY Stealth Electric Dirt Bike. If you want a fat tire bike or even bike accessories to improve your ride, the company has many options.
Folding Mountain Bike Pricing
- $250-$400: Most mid-range folding bikes fall within this price range. They can feature as many as 21 speeds, come with front and rear Shimano derailleurs, etc.
- $400 and up: If you opt for an electric mountain bike that folds up, it's going to cost quite a bit more than a non-electric folding bike. They feature everything from pedal assistance to LCDs to keep you updated on things such as battery life.
Ease of Use
Before you purchase a folding mountain bike, check the folding system: look for pivots and hinge points, and check to see if there is a quick-release mechanism as well as a clip fastener. The easier it is to use the folding system, the better. Still, you'll have to make sure to maintain it properly and lubricate it as required, so it folds easily.
Most bike frames are made of either steel or aluminum. While steel is more durable and can better tolerate extreme conditions, it is also heavier. Conversely, aluminum is lighter weight. It's also pretty durable, and it resists rust better than steel. The one downside is that it tends to be more expensive.
Some folding mountain bikes don't have any suspension and are designed for less-aggressive trails and bike paths. Others have front suspension to minimize vibration on the front wheel. There are also full-suspension folding bikes with spring-loaded rear shocks, making them the best option for more challenging trails.
Most folding mountain bikes are designed with 26-inch wheels, which is slightly smaller than what's on standard mountain bike wheels. Still, some models feature 27.5-inch wheels, so make sure to shop around to find what's best for you. Just keep in mind that a smaller wheelbase makes for easier storage solutions.
- Gears. Even if the bike folds in half, that doesn't mean it will be limited to gearing. Folding mountain bikes can have as few as one gear to as many as 27 gears. You need to decide whether you need that many gears to do the type of riding you do.
- Comfort. Some bikes are more comfortable than others based on their dimensions and your size and weight. Consider components such as the grips, saddle, and suspension before making a purchase. For example, ensure the saddle has adequate padding and is made of good materials, such as leather, but synthetic is also acceptable.
Best Folding Mountain Bikes Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Less expensive folding bikes tend to be heavier than more expensive options as they don't have high-end components, and the frame will also weigh a little more. Keep this in mind if you plan on carrying your folding bike long distances.
- If you opt for an electric folding mountain bike, take a look at the battery run time. Many have a range of 50 miles or so, but make sure you know the specs, so you don't get stuck unexpectedly with a dead battery.
- If possible, purchase a storage bag for your folding bike to protect it from damage while it's in your closet, car, etc.
- It's a good idea to keep a toolkit, air pump, an extra inner tube, and other items on hand in case something fails when you're riding your bike.
Q: Is it worth getting a folding bike?
The advantage of getting a folding mountain bike is if parking and/or storage is too expensive or inaccessible. A folding mountain bike also comes in handy since there's less of a chance it gets stolen if you carry it with you instead of parking it somewhere.
Q: Are folding bikes good for long rides?
Some top-end brands do really well on long rides as they are built with durability and stability in mind.
Q: What is the lightest folding bike?
Folding bikes made of aluminum with smaller wheels are lighter than those made of steel with larger wheels. Both have advantages and disadvantages that we detailed earlier in this article. We also feature several lightweight options to consider.
Our pick for the best folding mountain bike is the Xspec 26" 21-Speed Folding Mountain Bike. It's a reliable, sturdy option that can easily tackle both your commute or an afternoon on the trails. This bike has 21 speeds, is easy to shift, and easy to fold. For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Eurobike 26 Inch Mountain Bike Folding Bicycle.