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There are undoubtedly many considerations that must be made when it comes to identifying which lightweight folding bike is the right one for you.
Below we have drawn together what we believe are the best lightweight folding bikes that are currently available.
The debate of whether a lighter bike provides any significant benefits on the road is an age old one that has raged for many decades.
This question has been a central topic of conversation between everybody from amateur riders, right through to the professionals.
Ultimately the lightest folding bikes can make a huge difference on the road, however we believe that it is essential to consider whether or not you personally require a lighter folding bike.
Best Lightweight Folding Bike – Hummingbird Multi-Speed
Folded Size: 8” x 23” x 46” | Gearing: 4-speed Sturmey Archer internal gear hub | Weight: 18 lbs | Foldability: 3-step folding
Weighing only 18 pounds, the Hummingbird folding bike obviously comes on top of the list for people favoring portability.
This fantastically light assembly can be partially attributed to the unique design, but the full carbon fiber construction is the main reason.
If you want to go absolutely light, you should opt for the single-speed bike that weighs about 15 pounds.
The Hummingbird electric folding bike lightweight model weighs the most of the range. But to be fair, at 22.7 pounds, it’s still way lighter than most models.
When it comes to portability, the 3 versions share the same folding method.
You start by unlocking the quick-release handle, which allows the rear wheel to swing underneath the frame.
Next, the stem also folds backward by unlocking a convenient hinge.
Over the handlebars, there’s a small indentation that adapts to the folded rear frame to stay in place.
Lastly, the seat post lowers downward without any bending.
Cheapest Lightweight Folding Bike – Tern Verge-X11
Folded Size: 15″ x 31.5″ x 29.1″ | Gearing: 1 x 11 | Weight: 22.5 lbs | Foldability: 3-step folding
The most unique thing about the Verge-X11 is the state-of-the-art SRAM drivetrain.
With full carbon construction, the crankset delivers exceptional performance while staying lightweight.
As you might already know, the 1 x 11 gearing is famous for its frequent chain drops, especially when you attempt to change the gear.
Luckily, Tern changed that. With the SRAM’s X-SYNC technology, the chainring’s teeth alternate between being narrow and wide.
There’s also a convenient chain guide that keeps the chain in place at all times.
The fact that you also have SRAM X1 rear derailleur paired with the GX trigger shifter makes changing gears smoother than most, if not all, of the other folding bikes.
The gears range in sizes between 24 and 102 gear inches.
I like that because it gives a satisfying performance in the steepest hills, even with the smallest gear applied.
Yet you can ramp up the speed when driven on the large one.
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Sturdiest Lightweight Folding Bike – DAHON VISC SL9
Folded Size: 11.7″ x 25″ x 30″ | Gearing: 9-speeds | Weight: 26 lbs | Foldability: 3-step folding
Many people are usually deterred from foldable bikes owing to the false misconception of instability. And to be fair, it’s kind of understandable.
But luckily, the VISC SL9 bike from Dahon tears this stereotype into pieces.
The overall frame of this bike is made of extra-robust forged aluminum.
Furthermore, the hinge that secures the main frame from collapsing features Visegrip Technology.
This technology makes it possible to adjust the hinge tightness by using a simple wrench.
This should give you the ultimate confidence over any terrain.
On the downside, the wheels are 16″ wide and 1.35″ thick.
Such small wheels might negatively affect the speed to some extent. This is somehow balanced with the 9-speed gears.
Still, I think the performance would’ve been much better with 20” wheels, for instance.
Best With Large Wheels – Helix
Folded Size: 10″ x 23″ × 27″ | Gearing: variable | Weight: 23.3 lbs (single-speed) | Foldability: 4-step folding
Generally speaking, folding bikes come with small wheels to dial back on the folded size.
Without the right gearing, this will make the bike annoyingly slow. In that case, I’d recommend opting for this ingenious folding bike from Helix.
First things first, it’s important to note that Helix releases 3 versions: single-speed, 10-speed derailleur, and 11-speed internal gear hub.
All of those versions sit atop 24” wheels that ramp up the speed and performance.
Instead of the carbon fiber that we saw in the previous picks, Helix depended on robust titanium to fabricate the main bike frame.
Although it doesn’t feel as light as the Hummingbird, it’s way sturdier and more durable.
The single-speed version is rated at 23 lbs, while the 10-speed and 11-speed weigh 24.5 and 27 respectively.
The front wheel is held in place via a pass-through lock that you have to rotate a sensible amount before you can turn the wheel.
This system is secured with another safety button to ensure the best stability on the road.
The Smallest – Brompton M6L Superlight Folding Bike
Folded Size: 10.6” x 22.2” x 23” | Gearing: 6-speed | Weight: 25 lbs | Foldability: 5-step folding
Since it was released, the Brompton M6L received widespread popularity in England for having the smallest folded size.
At 22” x 23”, this bike can be allowed on most trains as onboard luggage, which is a lovely plus for daily commuters.
On the downside, the robust construction of the Prompton inevitably makes it somewhat heavier than normal.
You can already see that nearly all previous bikes weigh less than 23lbs, while this one is rated at 25lbs.
The seat of this bike is quite controversial.
It features a Brooks Cambium C17s saddle that’s made of vulcanized rubber.
On top, Brompton opted for soft organic cotton weaving with attractive metal rivets. The durability is phenomenal.
But how about comfort? It’s not the best. This construction makes the bike feel too stiff upon lengthy rides.
As I stated at the beginning of this article, it is important to try to ascertain whether or not you genuinely require a lightweight folding bike – or at least one of the lightest folding bikes around before purchasing one.
Clearly, if you plan on carrying your folding bike around for an extended amount of time then it makes sense to find a particularly light one.
However, if not then you may be sacrificing functionality for nothing other than saving your arms a bit of extra work.
Not only do the lightest folding bikes cost considerably more than the more weighty models, they also tend to lose some functionality and additional features too.
Ultimately, in the folding bicycle business, lightness is going to cost you.
Another essential fact to bare in mind when deciding whether or not to purchase a lightweight folding bike is whether or not you can handle the instability of them.
Yes, you heard it right – instability.
One of the biggest issues with light bikes is that they can be particularly “twitchy” when on the road and as a result can be fairly unstable – obviously this is entirely model and specification dependent.
Furthermore, it’s crucial to weigh in the fact that lightweight frames can be considerably less durable than heavier versions.
As a result, they can lose their rigidity and may or may not be in one piece after a crash.
Fortunately, the models listed above are all well-built and high-quality models.
One other potential solution worth considering is purchasing a heavier model and then modifying it so that it weighs less.
Now, this may not be possible on all folding bikes, however for the majority of bikes around there are some modifications that can be made to make them lose some weight.
Mark PlummerMark Plummer is an experienced bike mechanic who has built, repaired, and customized thousands of bikes over the years. A former mountain biking athlete, his cycling adventures have taken him all over the globe from the mountains of Scotland to the South Island of New Zealand. These days he enjoys the benefits of commuting to work and touring on his Dahon and Brompton folding bikes.
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