Folding Bikes: Are They Good For Long Rides


In this article I am going to address the question that many folding bicycle enthusiasts ask, which is “Are Folding Bikes Good For Long Rides?. There is a common misconception that folding bikes are not designed for or any good for commuting on longer cycling routes, in this article I will clearly answer this question and all other related questions

Tables Of Contents

  • Are Folding Bikes Good For Long Rides?
  • What Are The Benefits Of Using A Folding Bicycle For Long Distance?
  • How Far Is Considered A “Long Distance” On A Folding Bicycle?
  • How Can I Reduce The Distance On a Longer Distanced Folding Bicycle Ride/Commutes?
  • Are Folding Bikes Smaller Tyres Suitable For Long Distance Journeys?
  • Is It Even Worth Buying A Folding Bike For Long Distance Rides?
  • What Brand Or Type Of Folding Bicycle Is Best/Recommended For Longer Distances?
  • What Criteria Should I Look Out For In A Folding Bike For Longer Distance?
  • What Are The Common Problems I Can Encounter When Using Folding Bikes For Long Rides?
  • Should I Be Consuming More Calories When Using My Folding Bicycle For Long Distances?
  • What Length Of Journey Is Best Suited For Folding A Bicycle?

Are Folding Bikes Good For Long Rides?

Typically folding bicycles are designed for shorter distances (urban commuting) however this is not to say that they can not be used for longer distances as well. Folding bicycles are as reliable as any other type of bicycle (road or mountain) so there is no reason why they can not be used for longer distances. However typically larger wheeled bicycles are better suited for longer distances, but don’t let this stop you using your folding bicycle for longer distances

Folding bikes offer a unique advantage over traditional bicycles (road or mountain bikes) when it comes to commuting longer distances, if you happen to come up against an impassable passageways or terrains then the advantage of folding bikes is that you can simple fold it up, carry it along, and then unfold it vs carrying a heavier and more awkward fully assembled bicycle (road or mountain bikes) on your shoulder 

Folding bicycles are also suitable for longer distances as they typically have light weight frames, when fully assembled and folded up as well. This is an advantage over traditional bicycles (road or mountain bikes) as they tend to be heavier to cycle which means you need more effort to cycle them over longer distances. Additionally folding bicycle come with handbag sized carrier bag which makes them fashionable and practical as well 

It’s worth mentioning that if you are using your folding bicycle for longer distances, consider the quality of folding bicycle you purchase, the build quality of folding bicycles will inevitably affect the ride quality and comfort level you will experience on your longer commutes. Choose a folding bicycle that is comfortable to ride over longer distances and is long lasting (durable). We have all heard the saying “you get what you pay for

Most folding bikes can be customized or upgraded to allow you to get a better ride quality when using your folding bicycle for longer distances, upgrading or tuning up your folding bikes suspension or frame can certainly improve the ride quality, not to mention fitting a new pair of tyres that are able to cushion bumpy or rougher terrain better is also going to help

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Folding Bicycle For Long Distance?

Cycling long distances with your folding bicycle has some significant benefits that you should consider, below are some of the benefits you can get from using your folding bicycle as a long distance bike:

  • Your Health & Exercise

Cycling longer distances on your folding bicycle (or any type of bicycle) will do wonders on your personal fitness, if you cycle longer distances regularly on your folding bicycle then you will feel better and be healthier as your fitness improves after each ride. Getting your heart rate up and daily exercise always promotes better health and well being

If you are cycling longer distances regularly on your folding bicycle then I would suggest to do some body stretches or pre-exercise warm ups, “muscle losing up” to prevent any injuries (pulling a muscle or hamstring) that you may get from regularly cycling longer distances on your folding bicycle 

  • Money Saving

Think of the money you can save from not using public transport, that is if you are using your folding bicycle for your longer work commutes. The amount of money you can save from using your folding bicycle could be very considerable if you happen to live far away from your place of work or commute destination 

How Far Is Considered A “Long Distance” On A Folding Bicycle?

The answer to this question will greatly depend on the individual cyclist fitness levels, personal health situation  (if they have any underlying medical conditions) and finally the age of the individual cyclist. All cyclist are at different stages in their experience and level (beginner to advanced) when it comes to their cycling capability

However to best answer this question I will have to make a generalization and consider “how far is considered a “long distance” on a folding bicycle” for the average folding bike cyclist. Generally speaking an average distance to cycle on a folding bicycle is between 5km to 20km in a day, so what could be considered a “long distance” on a folding bicycle is between 30km to 100km

However all cyclists that use folding bicycles have different fitness levels with a greater capacity to cycle shorter or longer distances. Some cyclists may disagree with me saying that 30km to 100km is considered a “long distance” on a folding bicycle commute but keep in mind all cyclists (young and old) have different capacities to cycle shorter or longer distances based on their personal health and well being 

The bottom line is that you have to find this out for yourself, you have to test and experiment with different lengthed distances to find out what is considered a “long distance” to cycle on a folding bicycle for yourself, every cyclist is different and it’s not a “one size fits all” approach 

How Can I Reduce The Distance On a Longer Distanced Folding Bicycle Ride/Commutes?

It is worth discussing ways in which you can reduce your commute if in the case you are not comfortable with cycling a longer distance on your folding bicycle. Obviously the advantages of having a folding bicycle is that it can be folded up and carried onto public transport which includes the local train or bus service or better yet, your own car

The easiest and best way to reduce the distance of your commute is to use another means of transport part of the way, jumping in the bus, train or driving part of the way and then cycling the rest of the journey with your folding bicycle will help reduce your commute by half or even three quarters (75% 0f the way) 

Are Folding Bikes Smaller Tyres Suitable For Long Distance Journeys?

The smaller tyres on a folding bicycle are suitable for longer distanced journeys however there are some disadvantages compared to the likes of a larger wheeled mountain bike tyres or a road bike tyres. The smaller sized wheels on a folding bicycle makes it more difficult to control to the bicycle, especially when riding down a hill at speed or when cycling over rougher terrian (rocky uneven road or when going over potholes, bumps, slopes or dents in the road surface)

Is It Even Worth Buying A Folding Bike For Long Distance Rides?

The answer to this question will greatly depend on your own personal circumstances and option as every cyclist with a folding bicycle buys one for their own practical and personal reasons. However generally, Is it even worth buying a folding bicycle for longer distances?, well I would say “No” personally

The reason I say no is that typically folding bicycles are primarily designed for shorter distances, ideally shorter urban commuting because this is where the strengths are in folding bicycles. Folding bicycles is specifically designed for the following circumstances:

  • If at work or home there is no space for a conventional bicycle
  • If you are going to commute to work and you won’t be able to go back home on it
  • You can fold it and go back home with it in the car
  • When using public transport part of the way on your commute, you can hop on and off and carry your folded up bicycle with you like a briefcase

One of the biggest misconceptions when cyclists are considering a folding bicycle for longer distances is that they expect folding bikes will perform as well as a mountain or road bike. However this is not the case, the smaller sized wheels makes folding bicycles difficult to control especially when riding down a hill and over rougher terrian when comparing them to a mountain or road bike 

High quality folding bicycles tend to be more expensive than traditional bicycles due to their extra functionality and compactness, this is another factor against folding bicycles being used for longer distances. I would personally recommend that you choose a mountain or road bicycle for longer distances as they will give you a better ride quality, and they are more reasonable priced and are specifically build for longer rides and different terrain

However this decision is up to you, every cyclist is different and has their own personal budget, reasons options on this matter. I would suggest testing a folding bicycle for a month before fully committing to it, if you can manage to trial a folding bicycle for a couple of weeks or a month then try it out first, try cycling longer distances and see what you find out and if it will work for you personally  

What Brand Or Type Of Folding Bicycle Is Best/Recommended For Longer Distances?

For high quality folding bicycles it is always best to choose the longest and most trusted brands of folding bicycles. Folding bicycle brands that have founded and been around for many years and stood the test of time. Here are some of the following brands I would personally recommend:

  1. Brompton bikes are a UK based company who make to order, Brompton folding bikes have been handmade in London since 1975. The Brompton folding bikes make the best commuting bike, due to their durability and tensile strength.
  2. Dahon is the world’s leading manufacturer of folding bikes and have been pioneers and leaders in folding bikes since 1982. All of their frames and folding components are built in their our own ISO 9001 certified factories, and all their bicycles exceed the rigorous U.S. and european strength and safety standards

What Criteria Should I Look Out For In A Folding Bike For Longer Distance? 

As mentioned above it is great to know some of the major brands of high quality folding bicycles to choose from, but this is just the first part. As a cyclist enthusiast you want to know some of the main characteristics that makes a practical and enjoyable folding bicycle to use on a daily basis or for longer distanced commutes

This is especially more relevant than ever if you plan to use your folding bicycle for longer distances, below is a run through of some of the characteristics that make a great folding bicycle, there is a number of factors that make up the a high quality folding bicycle, here are some of the main characteristics:

  • Ride Quality

Steering & Feel: When test riding a folding bicycle (which you should always do by the way) you want to get a feel for how it steers and feels to ride. Does it handle well and are you able to steer and ride the bicycle comfortably or effortlessly? You want to get a good feel for this, other things to consider does the folding bicycle feel sturdy (structurally) enough and safe to ride on

Comfort: This is perhaps the most important quality of a folding bicycle if you plan to use it for longer distance commutes. Although comfort is a high priority on a folding bicycle, be aware there is no getting away from feeling the bumps on the road or a rougher terrain because of the smaller tire sizes on a folding bicycle (there is no getting away from that fact)   

A folding bike’s comfort level is heavily dictated by the suspension and the padded seat, the suspension helps the folding bicycle handle bumps and rougher terrain more effectively. The padding on the seat should provide a comfortable cushion when cycling and when going over bumps and rougher terrain

Good Standard Components: Another thing to keep in mind is the standard of components on the folding bicycle, make sure to test out the following items to make sure they are of a good quality: Tires, spokes, brakes, bell, pedal quality, handlebar grips, the gears changes (if it has any gears) and any accessory like a water bottle holder

You want to make sure that these items are of good quality/standard to last a long time (durable), and to be reliable for you. Always look for any signs of wear and tear or damaged items, that is usually a good sign of a poor quality/standard components

  • Weight

The weight of your folding bicycle is very important as this makes the bicycle more practical to use and transport when cycling it and when carrying it around (when it is folded up) on public transport (on the bus, train or car). You’ll want to get the lightest folding bicycle that you can for your budget, you’ll want to test out if the you can comfortable carry and cycle on the folding bicycle to see if the weight of the bike is ok or too heavy for your own liking  

Try cycling up a steeper slope to see if the weight of the fully assembled folding bicycle is an issue for you, you may encounter several steeper inclines in your long distance commute so make sure to consider this. A good little tip is to think of the commute that you will be cycling on your folding bicycle to get an idea of the challenging parts that the weight of the bicycle may effect

  • Practicality 

Another important criteria that you spud look for in a folding bicycle for longer distances is the practicality of it, the best way to find this out is to test drive it and to test all of the other functions of the bicycle (folding and unfolding it)

The hallmark of a practical folding bicycle is in the way in which it folds and unfolds up, if the folding bicycle has been well designed and has a high standard of components then the folding bicycle should fold up very easily in minutes. Avoid a folding bicycle that is awkward to fold up, confusing to operate/fold up and that takes you several minutes (7 – 10 minutes) to fully fold and unfolds, this will save yourself a big headache later on

A good little tip is to think of the commute that you will be cycling your folding bicycle on, this will give you a practical and real world look at when you will be folding and unfolding the bicycle when using other modes of transport, such as buses, trains, taxis or your own car

Another consideration is to think of the compactness of the folding bicycle when you are folding and unfolding when boarding other means of transportation. Is it bulky and awkward or is it super slim and does it take up very little space, using a carry bag is also another practical criteria to consider to make it easier to transport and carry when the folding bicycle is folded up 

What Are The Common Problems I Can Encounter When Using Folding Bikes For Long Rides?

It’s worth mentioning some of the common problems you may encounter when using a folding bicycle for longer distances. Below are some of the problems that you may encounter and want to beware of when using your folding bicycle for longer rides:

  • Bicycle Wheels

The most likely and biggest problem that you may encounter is issues regarding the folding bicycle wheels, specifically the smaller sized wheels on a folding bicycle. The smaller sized wheels on a folding bicycle makes it more difficult to control to the bicycle, especially when riding down a hill at speed or when cycling over rougher terrian (rocky uneven road or when going over potholes, bumps or dents in the road surface)

  • Terrain

If you have a folding bicycle then you know cycling over rougher terrian is an uncomfortable experience, this is another common problem that you will encounter with a folding bicycle. You are limited to the type of terrain you can cycle on, sure a folding bicycle can cycle over a rougher terrian but it is not designed for this and not a comfortable ride

  • Performance

One of the biggest misconceptions with folding bicycles is that cyclists expect they will perform as well as a mountain or road bike over a longer distance. However this is not the case, the smaller sized wheels makes folding bicycles performance drop when cycling over rougher terrain or at speed

Should I Be Consuming More Calories When Using My Folding Bicycle For Long Distances?

Yes, you should be consuming more calories if you are cycling over longer distances, the extra calories that you burn on your commute will leave you feeling drained if you do not eat enough calories to keep you going for the rest of the day

If you are cycling around twenty miles a day (to and from destination), then you have to be consuming extra calories for your own body needs. Due to the extra effort and energy needed to cycle on your folding bicycle over a longer distance make sure you are getting enough calories to keep you going throughout the day, you’ll need to make extra time to make sure to eat between your cycle and whatever you are doing that day (activity like work…etc) 

What Length Of Journey Is Best Suited For Folding A Bicycle?

The answer to this question will greatly depend on the individual cyclist fitness levels, personal health situation  (if they have any underlying medical conditions) and finally the age of the individual cyclist. All cyclist are at different stages in their experience and level (beginner to advanced) when it comes to their cycling capability

Generally speaking an average distance to cycle on a folding bicycle is between 5km to 20km in a day, this is around the average distance and what could be defined as an average or short commute to work 

I hope you enjoyed this article on “Are folding bikes good for long rides?”, All of the information has been thoroughly researched and I have plenty of real world experience on this issue to add as well. Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Recent Content

error: Content is protected !!