Cities are exploding. Around the world, more and more people are forsaking the space of the suburbs in favor of the density of urban life. In the U.S., millennials focused on quality of life and professional success are moving into the city. According to the 2010 census, urban dwellers make up 80.7 percent of the U.S. population, up seven percent over the last 30 years. And with this surge in city living comes density pressures — the average American apartment has shrunk by eight percent over the last 10 years, according to Yardi Matrix.
So, more and more people are living in cities, and they are occupying less and less space, which begs the question: where to keep a bike? Having a bike as a reliable means of transit is more important than ever. Public transit is crowded and can require a commute just to get to and from stops, and parking a car is becoming an almost laughable proposition, from available spots to parking fees. But in shrinking apartments, storing a traditional bike can also be challenging.
Enter folding bikes: bikes that can break down quickly and easily to be kept in apartments, or tucked into suitcases. Once considered a bit of a subculture in the cycling world, folding bikes have been vaulted into the mainstream as storage space becomes ever more scarce.
With increasing popularity, experienced brands are coming up with better technologies and designs. At this point, many of the folding bikes on the market are even more fun to ride than traditional counterparts.
Beyond space-saving benefits, the folding-bike market has also matured to offer a near complete range of bikes. Mountain, electric and high-performance options mirror that of non-folding peers, and with features ranging from full-sized wheels, to rapid fold/unfold, and a growing host of accessories, the reasons to hold onto a full-sized frame are dwindling in size, just like that studio apartment.
Bike Friday Pocket Rocket
Since 1991 Bike Friday has been putting out high quality, collapsible frames designed to be taken anywhere. While (dis)assembly is a bit more involved than some peers, the Bike Friday sits at the top in terms of performance. Fully customizable, the Pocket Rocket can feature top-ofthe-line components and geometry for serious riders, and its agile 16” wheels give great control around corners and downhill. The Pocket Rocket packs into a suitcase and can be taken anywhere and ridden with the same intensity as any bike on the market. Starting at $1500.
Originally designed for the U.S. military, the Paratrooper has a colorful history. Purposely built for paratroopers to strap the bike to their packs and parachute into deserts in Afghanistan, and then ride away quickly without leaving a heat trace, the Paratrooper is built for adventure. Featuring full-size 26” wheels and front suspension, Montague’s flagship model can eat up dirt with the discipline of a soldier. Take it off-road, through city streets, or even to Afghanistan, the Paratrooper is built to take a beating. Starting at $895.
One of the oldest brands to make folding bikes, Brompton enjoys the status of an elder statesman. Since 1981, London-based Brompton has built bikes for city-dwellers. Boasting the smallest packed size on the market, Bromptons can be brought into restaurants, grocery stores and stored under work desks, letting you keep more than just an eye on it (and even save on having to buy a lock). A steel frame and 16” wheels are ready-made for the trials of city riding. With just one speed and compact folding design, storage and maintenance are a breeze. Starting at $1200.
Armed with a Bosch motor and 10-speed drivetrain, the pedal- assist Vektron offers up to 20 mph of speed assistance, giving the bike more than enough oomph to get up any hill after a long day at the office. Hydraulic Shimano disc brakes make sure you stop safely, and a rear rack lets you haul everything home with ease, and can even be converted to a kids seat. Plus, like the Brompton, Tern
bikes pack down small and fast enough to be carried anywhere. Starting at $3400.