folding bike
Heavy electric scooters and e-bikes can quickly wear riders out when moving from one place to another. Urban folding bikes solve most commute complaints. Image Credit: Unsplash/Honbike

If you take the Dubai Metro to work, then you're most likely walking, scooting or cycling to catch the next train. No doubt, an electric scooter has become a popular choice for commuting in the UAE, but what if we told you there exists a cheaper alternative that is space-saving, time-efficient and healthy? Folding bikes are designed with the urban commuter in mind.

Is it worth getting a folding bike?

According to a health expert we previously spoke to, cycling is our second-best commute option, after walking. Both e-scooters and kick scooters have their cons, from the high cost of maintenance to minimal fitness benefits. Someone with access to a non-electric bike, instead, doesn't have to deal with charging a vehicle at the eleventh hour or renting one at the bus and Metro stations.

Full-sized bikes are cumbersome to haul from place to place, which is why people have been increasingly opting for the folding kind. "Metro and bus users here prefer getting a folding bike, so that they're allowed to carry it on public transport," said Mohammad Adam Khan, founder and CEO of AK Bikes (@akbikes.ae) in Dubai, a store that specialises in pre-owned bikes, rentals and maintenance.

"The key is that you're able to fold the bike and put it in your car trunk or luggage. Many people who travel or commute often find folding bikes convenient, since they can take the bike with them wherever they go," Khan added, who has nine years of experience in the industry.

folding bikes
Folding bikes usually come with small wheels that aren't suitable for speeding. Image Credit: Pexels/PNW Production

Those with multiple folding cross-sections, at the centre, stem, handle and saddle, are more compact for carrying. Khan says that a bike that only folds at the centre will usually have larger wheels and take up more space.

Folding bikes are limited by design, making them purely city bikes. "You will not find any mountain bikes in this range as these have to be sturdy and strong in their frame material. Folding bikes have a lot of moving parts and joints, affecting their stability [on rough terrain]," said Khan.

They're also urban in speed. Their small 20 to 22-inch wheels make them slower than regular bikes, cruising at a speed that's just right for cycling lanes. However, if you'll be cycling as a sport, aside from commuting, then you're better off with a faster, full-sized sports bike, says Khan.

Ensure fewer trips to the repair shop when you opt for a reputable brand, such as those in our list below. With an Amazon Prime membership, you can get free, fast delivery.

1. Best Overall: Dahon Mariner D8 Folding Bike

Pros

  • Compact, three-step folding bike
  • Eight-speed gear
  • Lightweight at 12.4kg
  • Rear rack for carrying bag
  • Rust-proof frame

Cons

  • Some reviewers replace the saddle with their own

Khan lists Dahon, a well-known manufacturer of folding bikes, as a solid option to look into. Its Mariner D8 foldable bike is a popular choice for many, equipped with eight speeds and a lightweight alloy aluminium frame. The 12.4kg bike runs on 20-inch custom tyres shielded by front and rear fenders. Unlike compact foldables, the Mariner D8 still features a rear rack or cargo rack. It has a three-step folding mechanism, aided by magnets and clamps, and it consists of the stem, central hinge and pedal. Reviewers mention the quiet, smooth ride and use the bike to commute to work or save time on travel, storing it on small boats, under the desk and on a crowded train. Beginners do say that they're still getting used to folding and unfolding the bike.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh249.92 for 12 months with select banks.

2. Best for Women: Schwinn Loop Folding Bicycle

Pros

  • Low step-through frame for female or senior riders
  • Seven-speed gear shift
  • Sturdy rear cargo rack
  • Comes with a transport bag
  • Arrives assembled

Cons

  • Tricky to fold and unfold
  • Might be heavy for some riders

Another one for smooth city rides is the Schwinn Loop folding bike. In many ways, it's nearly identical to our Dahon option: the aluminium bike has a rear cargo rack for bags, 20-inch pavement tyres, fenders and a seven-speed twist gear shifter. It stands out for the sophisticated, vintage design of the frame, including the low step-through tube and a missing top tube, so you get to straddle the bike in seconds without awkwardly throwing over a leg. Once folded, the bike goes into a nylon carrying bag, but do note that it weighs heavier than the Mariner D8 at 14kg. You have to go through three folds as well, but the stem has nothing to hold onto in its folded state, making it a bit troublesome to carry. Depending on how much weight you can haul, the bike can be lightweight, as some reviewers find it to be. The rear rack is extremely sturdy and the low gear has great grip for climbing inclines.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh182.92 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year warranty for Dh142 and two years for Dh202.

3. Best Value: Java Fit Folding Bike

Pros

  • Lightweight at 11kg
  • Riders as tall as 185cm can ride the bike
  • Two-step quick folding
  • Combination gear shifter with 18 speeds

Cons

  • Seat might need replacing

Java folding bikes are a value buy but Khan does add that they might be a hit or miss in terms of longevity. The Java Fit model sees decent reviews on Amazon. It's a 20-inch foldable, with a telescopic handlebar that can suit riders as tall as 185cm. You're getting 18 speed combinations with the help of two separate gear shifting mechanisms, so you can tackle hills or straight roads with ease. It's lighter than the Dahon and Schwinn bikes at 11kg. The fold-down is relatively simple, starting from the stem and down to the top tube hinge. Reviewers say that it comes assembled with inflated tyres but the seat unscrews after 10km or so, which you could choose to replace.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh150 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh114.

4. Best Budget: Litepro 16-Inch Folding Bike

Pros

  • Lightweight at 11.5kg
  • 16-inch small wheels
  • Nine-speed gear shifter
  • Easy folding mechanism

Cons

  • Can be slow on 16-inch tyres

For the ultimate compact collapsible on a budget, consider the 16-inch wheels on the Litepro. The chrome-molybdenum steel frame can withstand a rider weight of up to 110kg, with a maximum saddle post height of 100cm. It features a nine-speed gear system to deal with all kinds of slopes and flat roads. The frame folds in half after three steps, trapping the loose stem between the two tyres. Once it's folded, the bike weighs 11.5kg in the hand, easy for getting on and off the Metro, as reviewers note.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh75 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a two-year extended warranty for Dh81.

5. Best for All Terrains: ZiZZO Campo Folding Bicycle

Pros

  • Secure folding with magnetic catcher
  • All-terrain tyres
  • Seven-speed grip gear
  • Wide ergonomic saddle
  • Great for taller riders

Cons

  • Pedals might not be sturdy

ZiZZO's Campo surprises with all-terrain 20-inch tyres, so even if you were to take an off-road shortcut, this folding bike would serve you well. Like the Dahon option, the Campo has a magnetic catcher for a secure fold, with no loose parts. Though the aluminium bike weighs 13kg, it can withstand riders of up to 109kg and a height of 190cm. Its grip-style gear shifter comes with seven speeds, perfect for beginners to ease into riding uphill. Reviewers call it a great entry-level folding bike that's comfortable to ride and simple to fold and unfold. The weight is a non-issue for many, who carry their Campo everywhere they go. Experienced cyclists pick it up to take on flights when they're holidaying. Others vouch for the all-terrain tyres after taking it through different grounds.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh123.10 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh86.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.