Choosing a folding bike

My Greek cousin recently emailed me asking what folding bike he should get. The email was hastily followed by a worried call from my aunt reminding me not to suggest anything too expensive.

What my cousin wants to be able to do is to hop on and off public transport and then use his folding bike to go the rest of the way. This is probably the main reason most people choose this type of bike. The other huge advantage is that they are very easy to store as they take up so little space. All in all a pretty good solution to many city dwellers problems.

So I set about finding out which folding bike to suggest to my cousin. After all I have a reputation to keep as the cycling blogger of the family!

For my cousin I knew I wanted something that was not too expensive. I also knew it should be a bike that is quick and easy to fold and looks good (as he is a bit image conscious!). As a folding bike it should also be fairly lightweight to be possible to carry around easily. Finally I wanted a bike that has been well reviewed so I knew I was recommended something good.

Folding bike shortlist

After some research I shortlisted the following bikes:

  • Dahon Speed D7 – the Dahon is amazingly good value for money and offers a comfortable ride. It doesn’t fold down quite as compact as a Brompton but at this price you can’t argue. The folding process is very easy and the build quality feels good.
  • Mezzo D9 – Great handling and a very enjoyable bike to ride but unfortunately comes at a high price
  • Brompton M3L – folds down incredibly small, is loved by many but again slightly out of the price bracket

The majority of the bikes I looked at where outside the price range and at the price point of around £270 to £350 there really was not much competition. None the less the Dahon Speed D7 was a clear winner and I have recommended it to my cousin. I have seen it listed for £349 at Evans Cycles but there are some better deals out there. I’ll let you know if he decides to buy it and what he thinks of it (Knowing my cousin he jumps from one obsession to the next every day so you never know!)

Dahon Speed D7 folding bike

I would really love to hear off you if you would consider switching to a folding bike or if you already have one what you think of it.

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28 Responses to Choosing a folding bike

  1. Sue 14/12/2009 at 10:38 pm #

    I know this isn’t on your list, but has your cousin thought about getting a Montague folding bike? The Montague DX Crossover folds down to fit in a car trunk or a closet, it looks great, it’s affordable, and it has full size wheels so the ride is comfortable and durable. I have a Montague and I really love it. All of their bikes are in a pretty good price range.

    Cheers,

    Sue

  2. Darren Alff 15/12/2009 at 9:00 am #

    I think your choice for the Dahon is a good one. They have some great bikes at affordable choices.

    I have a Bike Friday folding bicycle and just returned from 9-months of riding across Europe on that bike. It worked great, but for this particular situation, you probably don’t need something that expensive or specialized. I got the Bike Friday because I knew I wanted something that could handle the beating I knew I was going to be throwing at it. In this case however, I think the Dahon is a good choice. I’d love to see more good, quality, AFFORDABLE folding bikes (in both 20″ and 26″ sizes).

  3. Adam Edwards 15/12/2009 at 9:22 am #

    Dahons are ok, but they don’t fold the way the Brompton does, so are much less easy to handle if your journey involves using the tube, for example.

    I’ve had one for 6.5 years and any day now will be upgrading to a 2009 spec one. With the itChair added, I did many a happy trip with my son on board, being able to cycle one way and then back on the train.

    I could go on for hours about what wonderful machines they are!

    If you want a detailed price comparison of all folding bikes available, go to http://www.atob.org.uk where they have an updated list (and electric bikes and trailers too.)

    Cheers

    Adam

  4. Andreas 15/12/2009 at 9:51 am #

    Sue: The Montague DX does look good but I think you need to remove the wheel every time you want to stow it which is a bit of a pain. I will e-mail it him and suggest it though because it does seem like you get a bit more of an all-round bike. Thanks for your suggestion :)

    Darren: Glad you approve, you’ve had plenty of experience with folding bikes ;)

    Adam: Agreed the brompton does set the standard for easy to unfold. Didn’t know that you could attach a chair to it, its pretty amazing how fully featured those bikes are, if I had a daily commute train ride I think I would be buying one.

  5. Adam Edwards 15/12/2009 at 10:17 am #

    itChair info at http://www.itchair.info/ but you need to be able to read spanish.

    They had to stop production earlier in the year, but looks like they are up and running again. I had it for my son from age 3-6. Not cheap, but works very well with the B. I then sold mine on e-Bay for not much less than I paid for it.

    If you go on to the itChair site and click fotos, the last one is my son on my Brompton.

    AtoB did a child carrying feature with the ultimate road train: Brompton with itChair towing trailer bike Brompton (as in B with no front wheel) towing child trailer. Looked completely bonkers and was a long as a bus!

    Cheers

    Adam

  6. Adam Edwards 15/12/2009 at 11:27 am #

    itChair details can be found at:

    http://www.itchair.info/

    Adam

  7. BigSmash 15/12/2009 at 9:00 pm #

    Tell him to get a proper bike and cycle all the way!

  8. Andreas 16/12/2009 at 11:04 am #

    lol @bigsmash – The distances he is covering are pretty big but like your cycling machoism

  9. Adam Edwards 16/12/2009 at 12:12 pm #

    The great thing about folding bikes is using them in combination with public transport and saving money. For example, I commute from Hatfield (Herts) to central London and have a season ticket to London Terminals (which covers King’s Cross and Moorgate). This is £103 cheaper than a season to Underground Zone 1. So a new Brompton pays for itself in 6 months or so.

    And it’s quicker too, as to get to where I work means changing tube lines.

    Now I’m sure there’s a Josie Dew look a like who would cycle the 20 miles each way, but that’s not for me.

    Cheers
    Adam

  10. Andreas 16/12/2009 at 12:45 pm #

    I’m putting together a post at the moment with a comparison of tube times with bike times so that should be quite an interesting result!

  11. Roonius 16/12/2009 at 1:15 pm #

    Can’t comment on the bikes selected, but I opted for a Dahon Matrix. It’s a folder, so it means that it gets around the rules of taking it on a train. But it’s also full-size, which means it doesn’t feel flimsy when you’re riding it. I’m about 15 and a half stones and I really get out the saddle when pressing on. I tried all sorts of small-wheeled folders, but none of them felt like they’d be up to much punishment.

    Luckily though, I have a garage at home and at work, so the only time it needs to be folded is on the train.

  12. Roonius 16/12/2009 at 1:19 pm #

    PS. I commute from High Wycombe to Knightsbridge, but get off at Wembley to have a decent ride.

    If I was doing shorter distances, or the train company changed its mind about what constitutes a folding bike, then I’d probably opt for a Brompton.

    Can’t your cousin use the ride2work scheme to get the bike for less? My Dahon should have been £713, but cost me half that new.

  13. Andreas 16/12/2009 at 1:23 pm #

    Unfortunately as he is in Greece they don’t have a cycle to work scheme otherwise yes he definitely could. I have advised him to take a look around and see if any good second hand bikes going or any good discount shops where he may be able to save some money on the usual retail price

  14. Yol 13/01/2010 at 2:20 pm #

    Hi
    I live in Greece also and i am doing some research for a folding bike. The Brompton seems to be getting the best reviews but i find the price too high. The Dahon speed D7 seems the best choise for me as well. But the following comment on A to B troubled me.

    A to B tip: Unless you’re looking for a rare top-end model, our advice is to ignore the Dahon brand altogether and go for a cheaper ‘badge-engineered’ model. Our top buy at the moment is a German-market 20-inch Dahon with a Compass Marine badge for just £70. Why pay more? Dahons bikes have also been copied by Neobike.

    So, i checked and found the following link http://www.compass24.com/web/catalog/shop/technology_comfort_bicycles
    is this what they meant ? and is it really a dahon at a price 1/3 of a dahon ?

  15. Andreas 14/01/2010 at 12:03 pm #

    Hi Yol, I’ve heard about cars being copied before but not bikes. At £70 it seems like a bargain price though I would not think the bike would be at the same quality as a Dahon from the official vendor. I really can’t advice as I haven’t tried the bikes.

  16. Mimi 14/07/2010 at 9:11 am #

    Thanks. I am just looking into getting a foldup as well for use in Athens. Similar specifications but as I am older, more concern about ease in folding and weight. I use a regular bike for local transport and shopping but with restrictions on the metro lines, am increasingly aware of the need for something compact. Was also recommended the Dahon from a biking friend in SF (USA).

  17. l keegan 07/09/2010 at 10:59 am #

    I bought a Compass Marine 16″ Aluminium frame
    folding bike some weeks ago. I bought it online and it arrived in about 3 days

    It cost £159 , weighs about 12kg and is a delight to use.

    It was very easy to put together- I simply had to screw on one pedal and then unfold it.
    It folds and unfolds in seconds. I use it for cycling to and from the station- about 1 mile each way and for weekend leisure. So far no complaints whatsoever
    LK

  18. Mimi 07/09/2010 at 12:00 pm #

    Hello,

    I also bought a Compass 16” aluminium frame 12 k folding bike for 200 euro including delivery to my door. Its wonderful. Very easy to fold and a very flexible and comfortable ride. Ideal for public transport. Only restriction is that it does take a lot of energy to use and so would not recommend for longer distances.

    Mimi

    • DaveG 17/04/2011 at 3:23 pm #

      Mimi.
      I was going to order the Compass but have hesitated after reading your post.
      How do you mean “it takes a lot of energy”? .Is it heavier than the Dahon or does the 6 gears against the Dahon’s 7 cause a problem.

      Is anyone able to offer a comparative comment between the Dahon and the Compass?
      Thanks,
      Dave

      • Mimi 17/04/2011 at 7:17 pm #

        hi.

        As mentioned, I got the one with 16 inch wheels hence It requires a bit more energy to get it going and keep up the speed (physics I think). Should I get another, I would look at larger wheel size.

        That being said, it is easy to use and very flexible and light. 6 gears are fine for most situations. The joints and hinges are good. It folds well and is very convenient on public transportation. Works very well in city situations (Athens – on street and sidewalk). I have taken it on the road as well (4-5 kilometers) though do not feel as comfortable with it as I do with a full sized bike.

        Good luck!

        • Mimi 17/04/2011 at 7:18 pm #

          oh yes, it appears to be some subsidiary of Dahon as the manual is a Dahon one.

        • DaveG 17/04/2011 at 7:32 pm #

          Thank you very much for your response.
          Dave

  19. Rachel 22/09/2010 at 8:05 pm #

    First off, you have a “where” when you want a “were” in the article.

    Second, I am going to be buying a brompton. The hard part is deciding what colour I want each part of the frame to be. Very stylish!

  20. Jackart 28/09/2010 at 10:46 am #

    Brompton all the way. The luggage is well designed, the fold is joyful in its simplicty, and they hold value. A second-hand brompton is better than a new Dahon, especially if you’re handy with the spanners.

    Rachel, My Brompton is BRG and Yellow (Lotus racing team colours). That looks good!

  21. Stelios 27/01/2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Hi Andrea,

    I guess this post date back in 2009, so may I kindly ask you if you could give an update on folding bikes under 300 pounds.
    I would love to go for a Brompton (esp. now with the taller steer) but the price is just in the sky, so if you have any proposal it would be more than welcome !

    Have you heard anything about the Carrera Transport from Halfords, or the btwin sold on decathlon, too ,

    efxaristo poly!

    • Andreas 28/01/2013 at 8:25 am #

      Thanks Stelios – I’ll see if we can cover this again soon.

  22. Stelios 28/01/2013 at 10:20 am #

    Many thanks for your prompt reply!
    I am looking forward to the article .
    All the best ,

    Stelios

  23. Helen 27/01/2014 at 10:49 am #

    Hi Andreas,
    Your article and the subsequent posts are really helpful – but I wondered if, following on from Stelios’ request, you’d taken a look at the recent market for folding bikes?
    I’m wanting to get one to take on the train from Woking to Clapham Junction or Waterloo, to cycle at each end of the train journey…
    Your thoughts and comments (and those of your readers) would be much appreciated.
    Thanks!
    Helen

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