Can You Use A Folding Bike For Touring?
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I purchased my first mountain bike when I turned twenty. I wanted to stop driving my car to work, and this sturdy, built-for-speed bike was perfect! Although I love this bike, I sometimes wonder if a smaller bike would be better for commuting.
Folding bikes are not intended for touring; they can break if used for long distances. Although sturdy, they don’t handle hills or rocky terrain well. They’re designed to be ridden on well-paved roads without significant inclines.
What kinds of trips were folding bikes invented for? How do you know when it’s time to stop when riding your folding bike? Keep reading and find out!
Can You Use a Folding for Long Distances?
It would be best if you didn’t use a folding bike for non-stop long distances. While they are an excellent supplemental means of transportation, they’re unsuited for specific terrain. This makes them ideal for packing for a trip but not the ideal means of transportation.
Folding bicycles are small, compact bicycles designed to be easily transported while traveling. They’re famous for being small enough to fit in an overhead bin on a plane and sturdy sufficient to get you around a city.
This makes them ideal for travel and casual touring through a city.
Whether to use your folding bike for long-distance biking is a somewhat controversial subject online. However, the general consensus is that these bikes are ideal for travel as long as they’re not the only means of transportation.
What does that mean, exactly?
Folding bikes aren’t suitable for bike touring, which requires you to use your bike exclusively. As Sam on Bike Commuter Hero explains, folding bikes can be used for long-distance under certain conditions:
- Flat roadways
- Well paved roadways
- No luggage
- Good weather
Folding bikes aren’t known for their durability, and they’re meant to be ridden on paved streets. They don’t have the same capabilities as a full-sized bike and could break under certain conditions.
One significant difference is their tire size and lack of suspension. Folding bikes don’t have suspension since the folding mechanism would interfere. The tires are narrow and smaller than most touring bikes for similar reasons.
Both of these combine to make for a challenging ride over long distances. They don’t handle bumps, potholes, and hills well and can become very uncomfortable after days of cycling.
Folding bikes are an excellent transportation tool to bring on vacation. But they’re not ideal as the only means of transportation. However, you can use these bikes as an alternative means of transportation.
If you are looking for a bike that is geared toward long distances, check out this article on touring and road bikes: Touring Bike Vs. Road Bike Compared- Which Is Better?
How Far Is Too Far for a Folding Bike to Travel?
The general consensus among bike enthusiasts is that a folding bike can handle 20-30 mile rides. However, their size, weight, and capabilities aren’t well suited for prolonged rides in the wild. Try to plot your path solely on well-paved roads, away from hills or mountains.
Folding bikes are somewhat heavy in comparison to their small size. This is because the folding mechanism creates extra weight. The weight of the bike can make fast sprints over long distances difficult.
However, the size and height of this bike make it somewhat uncomfortable for anything over 50-65 miles. This makes them unsuitable for bike packing and cycle touring. On bike tours, you’re likely to traverse 60 miles daily at a minimum, and bike packing is similar.
Additionally, due to the heavy yet small frame of the bike, it will not be able to hold luggage. This means you’ll have to stay at hotels or hostels while traveling over long distances.
Also, if you are interested in completing a long bike tour, we made a handy checklist in PDF format that you can download here.
Quora user Luca Guala lists out several practical reasons why these bikes can only handle 20-30 mile rides:
- Shorter frame
- Small wheels
Riding a folding bike downhill can be uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous. The fact these bikes fold means they can bend or collapse if not handled properly. These factors make this bicycle better for shorter-distance rides rather than endurance rides.
Ready to take biking to the next level and integrate camping? Well, check out this article on bikepacking and touring.
What Is the Purpose of a Folding Bike?
The primary purpose of a folding bike is transportation and portability. These bikes are intended to make traveling easier and more accessible. They can easily be stored on planes, buses, and taxis, making them ideal for adventurous vacationers.
Even though folding bikes can be used for a significantly long distance, this isn’t their intended purpose. Folding bikes are meant to make bringing a bike on vacation easier and more accessible.
Folding bikes were originally patented and invented back in 1887. The inventor, Emmit Latta, patented the design, which was a simple foldable bicycle. Pope Manufacturing Company eventually purchased the patent, and the bicycles became more popular.
The design was eventually brought to the military, where they made it heavier and sturdier. The army’s goal was to create a bike that’s easily transported and folded by G.I.s when parachuting.
Folding bikes can go to faraway places as an accessible means of transportation without taking up space. They’re not intended to be the sole or primary means of transportation. However, the bike’s purpose remains essentially the same across all areas of use.
How Heavy is a Folding Bike?
Folding bikes are usually heavier than other bikes of a similar size and capacity. Generally, they weigh between 30-45 pounds. However, they’re light enough to take on planes and buses and can easily fit and be carried in a bag.
Folding bikes can weigh as much as 60 pounds, depending on the design, metal, and size. However, according to Charlotte Cycles, they usually weigh between 33-40 pounds.
Generally speaking, the more you pay for your folding bike, the higher tech it will be. These more costly bikes are made with lightweight metals, decreasing their overall weight.
The weight is one of the significant strikes against these bikes. Not necessarily because they’re too heavy to carry but because they’re hard to ride.
This is hotly debated online, and people have varied opinions on this topic. But the general agreement is these bikes are too heavy to travel vast distances easily.
The design isn’t optimal for riding at fast speeds, either.
The bike comes with upright handlebars rather than the sloped handlebars of mountain bikes. However, many claim this setup is much more comfortable for cruising around towns and tourist sites.
Do Folding Bikes Have Good Tires?
Folding bikes have smaller tires and tire frames than other bikes. This works in their favor when you try to fold the bike for transport on a plane or bus. However, the tires aren’t nearly as supportive or durable as other bike tires.
The small size of a folding bike makes it more compact than other bikes. But this makes it smaller and less durable over long distances and rough terrain.
The lack of suspension also makes traveling on bumpy roads difficult and painful. If you try riding a folding bike tire over rough and holed terrain, the tire might break.
Folding bikes aren’t sturdy enough to balance at high speeds, and you risk toppling. Some claim the thread of a folding tire is superior to a traditional tire when racing. But this is counting that you move the tire of a folding bike onto a racing bike.
Additionally, although they have a better grip, they don’t have the durability of other tires. This means they’ll be unlikely to withstand a lot of friction, and you might have to change them regularly.
The best way to use folding bike tires is how they were intended. Avoid rocky and unpaved roads to prolong the lifespan of your folding bike and tires.
What Type of Trip is a Folding Bike Good For?
Folding bikes should be taken on leisurely vacations where you hope to explore the area. Most people bring folding bikes on these trips to save money on transportation. But they also allow the rider to immerse themself in the local culture and customs more fully.
If you plan on taking a trip to another country, bringing a folding bike is a great idea. But it would be best if you didn’t ride your folding bike as you would a touring bike.
They’re ideal for cruising local communities and sightseeing. Since they can’t be ridden at high speeds, they allow you to relax and see all there is to see.
The handlebar position isn’t ideal for speed, but many users claim it enhances comfort while sightseeing. The upright position helps the rider take everything in without feeling the urge to ride faster.
Take this bike with you the next time you visit a city and want to see all the beautiful sites. But remember, it’s not meant for off-roading or long-distance cycling.
Folding Bike Prices?
Prices for folding bikes are all across the board. Obviously, the more you spend, the better the quality. However, if you are looking into getting a bike quickly and you want it delivered, Amazon provides some good options. Take a look:
- Brompton Folding Bicycle – C Line Explore for around $1,750
- SoloRock 16″ 8 Speed Aluminum Folding Bike for around $459.00
- Zizzo Via 20” Folding Bike for around $329.00
- TBVECHI Folding Bike, 20″ for around $149.00
Folding bikes are an excellent addition to your bike collection if you plan a leisurely trip. They can save you a lot of money on transportation and permit you to indulge in the local tourist sites.
I don’t recommend using these bikes for bikepacking, bike camping, or touring. Even though some users claim they did it successfully online, the risks aren’t worth it to me.
They aren’t structured for those types of trips, and no one wants to get stranded without a bike!
Encyclopedia Britannica: From boneshakers to bicycles
Bike Commuter Hero: Riding Folding Bikes on Long Distances: Myth Vs Reality
Cycling Weekly: What is bikepacking: everything you need to know to get started
Bicycle Touring Pro: Bike Tour Planning: How Far Should You Plan To Cycle Each Day?
Quora: Are folding bicycles suitable for long-distance rides – say 20 miles or so?
Change Bike: THE HISTORY OF THE FOLDING BIKE