Ultimate Guide to Traveling with a Folding Bike: 5 Useful Tips

By Mark Plummer •  Updated: 10/21/22 •  13 min read

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One of the primary reasons why people choose a folding bike is because it’s easier to travel with. When you want to take it on public transport or a plane, you must fold the bike into a compact package. When you arrive, it will often take 30 seconds to unfold and start riding again.

But there are several things to remember when traveling with a folding bike.

Ultimate Guide to Traveling with a Folding Bike
Here’s Our Guide to Traveling with a Folding Bike

Each transport method will often have a few unique considerations to bear in mind. Please keep reading to learn everything you need to make sure that your folding bike arrives at its destination safely.

Transporting a Folding Bike in A Car

One of the most popular transport options is putting folding bikes into the car. There are a few places where you can set up the folding bike. The most popular options are:

Transporting a Folding Bike in A Car
Transporting a Folding Bike in A Car Is Super Easy

Since most folding bikes will end up the same size as a suitcase, you shouldn’t have any problems fitting them in the car. There are a few important things to keep in mind to avoid damaging the folding bike:

If you are going on a driving holiday, you might have to store a lot of luggage in the car. In this case, it’s best to put the folding bike on top of the other bags to prevent the weight from damaging the frame.

Traveling on Public Transport With a Folding Bike

Sometimes, you only want to ride part of the way and take public transport for the next leg of your journey. The good news is that boarding public transport with a foldable bike is very easy.

Traveling on Public Transport With a Folding Bike
Traveling on Public Transport With a Folding Bike

However, before you board, there are a few regulations that you should be aware of; these include:

When you fold your bike, it will make a highly compact package. In most cases, it will be a little larger than a suitcase. It’s often easier to grip it around the steel frame rather than holding it by the handlebars. This will allow you to carry it onto any public transport mode easily.

Once you are on the transport, you might be able to slide it underneath your seat.

This prevents the bike from irritating other passengers. At other times, there might be some overhead spaces for you to store luggage during the trip. If not, you can place it close to your side. To learn more about the correct etiquette, check out this post on how to take a folding bike onto the tube.

The only downside to this type of transport is that folding bikes can get heavy if you need to carry them long distances.

This is most common if you must walk along an extended platform to get to your transport. To solve this problem, you might be able to leave the seat pillar extended, allowing you to roll the bike by your side.

Transporting Folding Bikes On Buses

Sometimes, you will want to take a long bus journey with your folding bike. In this case, you will need to store your folding bike in the luggage component of the cycle. As you do this, there are a few regulations that you will need to consider:

If traveling by bus, you should take a few protections when traveling with your folding bike so a reckless driver can’t load it incorrectly and damage the frame.

Transporting Folding Bikes On Buses
Transporting Folding Bikes On Buses With Minimal Fuss

It’s best to put it in a hardshell case, protecting it from any bumps in the road. You can refer to this guide on whether you can take a folding bike on a bus to learn more.

Transporting a folding bike on a train will be similar to taking it on the bus.

The line you travel with will determine your weight limit. Though most will allow you to take two pieces of luggage and have a weight limit of 50 pounds. If it’s over this limit, you will have fees. If you want to learn more, this resource explores transporting a bike on a train.

Flying With a Folding Bike

One of my favorite advantages of having a folding bike is quickly putting it onto a plane. Here are a few logistics to consider as you fly to ensure the cycle reaches its destination in good condition.  

The first consideration is how you will prepare the bike.

It’s best to put it into a hardshell suitcase. This will provide insulation from any knocks received during the baggage handling process. You might be able to find a dedicated bike bag.

These will often contain straps that you can use to hold the bike components in place.

Flying With a Folding Bike
Flying With a Folding Bike – Courtesy of Montague Bikes

Air travel can require more jostling movement than other forms of transport, like buses.

There are even videos of baggage handlers throwing suitcases onto conveyors leading to the plane. Because of this, you might want to put some padding in the suitcase.

This can be as simple as filling gaps between the components of your clothes. This will stop them from moving around too much as they get loaded into the plane, helping to limit the damage.

Another option is to get some pipe insulation from your local hardware store.

This is soft foam with a hollowed middle. You can cut a slit on the side, sliding it onto your bike’s frame. Rubber bands can be used to hold the pipe insulation in place. You can also cut a hole into the base of a tennis ball and place it over the seat pillar.

Here are my tips on what you should bear in mind when preparing your folding bike for the flight:

So far, we’ve looked at ways you can check your bike and fly easily.

Though some people will want to bring their bikes as a carry-on. While this approach will allow you to watch over the cycle during the trip, it isn’t recommended. There are a few reasons to avoid this approach, they include:

If you take a folding bike as a carry-on, you should still put it in a suitcase or bag. This will help avoid questions from confused airport staff or fellow passengers. Plus, a hard-shelled bag will add a layer of protection.

Fees Associated with Taking a Folding Bike on a Plane

One of the most significant downsides of flying on a plane is the chance of having to pay extra fees to transport your folding bike. The costs will depend on how you transport the folding bike.

The folding bike might exceed weight limits if you want to take it as a carry-on.

Fees Associated with Taking a Folding Bike on a Plane
What Are The Fees Associated with Taking a Folding Bike on a Plane?

Because of this, you might need to pay additional fees. Or you will need to check the folding bike, resulting in an excess baggage charge.

If you are always going to check the bike, you shouldn’t have too many problems.

Most people report that airlines aren’t too strict with enforcing the rules. Most airlines won’t charge any fees for folding bikes. Though you should always check the size and weight limits before you fly.

Remember, these rules will vary from airline to airline.

If you want some tips to ensure that you don’t pay anything, it’s worth reading this post about how to take a folding bike on a plane without paying for excess baggage.

What To Take On A Longer Trip?

Properly packing your folding bike is essential. But on a more extended trip, you should also consider what you will need to take to keep the folding bike in good condition.

What To Take On A Longer Trip
What To Take On A Longer Trip?

Some of the essential tools you should take include:

In most cases, you should pack light when going on a folding bike holiday. If more substantial repairs are needed, like replacing a tire, you should try to find a local bike shop that can help.

What Bags To Put A Folding Bike Into When Traveling?

As we’ve mentioned, the most common option is to put your folding bike into a hardshell suitcase while traveling.

This should fit most bikes. If you are wondering whether your model will work, this post has more information about which folding bikes fit in a suitcase.

What Bags To Put A Folding Bike Into When Traveling
What Bags To Put A Folding Bike Into When Traveling? Here are the Options

However, this isn’t the only option that you can explore. Here are some of the other things you can consider:

Final Thoughts

Folding bikes are lauded for their compact nature, making them significantly more straightforward to transport than conventional models. But there are still a few things to remember, like using a tennis ball to guard the seat pillar.

Thankfully, as long as you follow these tips, your folding bike will arrive at its destination in excellent condition.

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Mark Plummer

Mark 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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