The biggest advantage of folding bikes is their ability to fold. When you get off of your folding bike, you can use a clever assortment of hinges on the frame and take advantage of sliding seat posts and handlebars to turn your bike into a much smaller package.
This compact form factor allows you to store your bike in a backpack, put it in an overhead bin on a plane, or carry it with you on a train.
Not all folding bikes fold down to the same size, however. Some can get incredibly small, while others still take up about as much space as a large suitcase. Depending on your intended use case, you might benefit greatly from having a bike that can get a few inches smaller, helping you save space or fit it into a smaller storage container.
Other riders might prefer to have a bike that’s easier to roll around while it’s folded, allowing them to take it inside buildings. Finally, some might value low weight above everything else, making the bikes easier to carry by hand, in a bag, or in a backpack.
If you’re after a small bike, here’s a list of four of the smallest folding bicycles on the market.
These bikes are great for riding on paved city streets under normal pedal power, but you probably won’t want to use them to race down hills. If you prefer a smoother ride, you might want to consider a folding bike with 20″ wheels instead.
|Bike Name||Folded dimensions|
|B’TWIN Tilt 500 14″||23.6″x26″x15″|
1. Dahon K3
At less than 18 lbs, the Dahon K3 is one of the smallest and lightest foldable bikes around. It’s got tiny 14″ wheels, enabling it to fold down to 2′ by 2′ by 1′. Despite the lightweight frame, it can accommodate riders and cargo weighing up to 185 lbs.
Perhaps most importantly, the K3 is quite affordable. It’s a small fraction of the cost of a Brompton. It’s got a fairly small gear range and comes devoid of accessories, including fenders, cargo racks, and other necessities for city cycling.
While the K3 folds up into a small package, it can’t be rolled as easily as some bikes. The wheels aren’t quite parallel, and while you can somewhat fix that by leaving the handlebars “plugged in” and steering with the front wheel, most owners prefer other methods of transporting their bikes on foot.
Overall, the Dahon K3 is a great budget option for anyone in need of an extra small folding bicycle. If you need to move your bike around on foot, be sure to pick up a bag for your bike to make transportation a bit easier. At 18 lbs, you won’t mind carrying the K3 as much as most other compact folding bikes.
2. B’TWIN Tilt 500 14″
Another affordable pick, the Tilt 500 weighs a bit less than 20 lbs and folds to be 23.6″ by 26″ by 15″. While it’s only got a single gear option, it’s somewhat easier to roll when folded than the K3, making it a bit more convenient for use in subway stations and other locations where it’s inconvenient to have a full-sized bicycle.
Despite the lack of other accessories, mudguards on both wheels make the Tilt 500 much more pleasant to ride in wet cities than the Dahon K3. You’ll have fewer worries of getting mud spray all over your clothes after a quick ride.
The Tilt 500 is a solid choice for anyone looking for one of the smallest folding bikes out there. The low cost and mudguards make it great for people with short city rides in between subway stops and their other destinations.
A lack of gearing options and the slightly larger size when folded might make it an inferior option for some riders, however, especially those who embark on longer rides with more stringent storage requirements.
3. Litepro King
At about 14.5 lbs, the Litepro King lives up to its brand name. This tiny 14″ folding bicycle folds into a package of about 2′ by 2′ by 1′, just like the Dahon K3. Three gears give riders some choice in their gearing, while the included bike bag lets you carry a wallet or phone without wasting valuable pocket space.
The Litepro King is priced at about the same price point as the other two bikes here, but it’s a bit lighter than either of the other models. The low weight makes it slightly more expensive, but it’s not quite as big of a jump as you might expect.
A lack of mudguards, fenders, or travel racks makes this bike best suited for day trips in dry cities, not for commuting with a heavy bag.
It’s about as rollable while folded as the Tilt 500, allowing you to leave the bike on the ground in subway stations, malls, or sidewalks. With its incredibly lightweight, however, you’ll probably be fine to just throw it in a bag.
The Litepro King is an ideal compact folding bike for anyone who’s especially concerned about weight. While it’s slightly more expensive than the two bikes above, it’s close enough in price that it should be a strong consideration for riders on a budget.
The elephant in the world of compact folding bicycles, Brompton’s bikes are unique.
They feature strong twists on standard foldable bike engineering, enabling them to fold smaller and stay more convenient when folded than bikes from other brands.
Not only can you roll Bromptons effortlessly on luggage wheels included on most models, but the greasy chain also sits in between the two wheels when the bike is folded, keeping your clothes clean and your chain protected.
Brompton’s virtually unparalleled customer support and the incredible longevity of their bikes make them a standout brand for customers who want their bikes to last for years, if not decades.
Of course, none of this is free. Bromptons are several times the cost of all of the bikes above. They’re also a bit heavier, although they’re more compact. While the exact weight and size of a Brompton varies, their Superlight S2E bikes are about 22.7 lbs and fold to 23″ by 23″ by 11″.
It’s vital to note that despite this tiny size when folded, Bromptons use bigger wheels than the bikes above. Bromptons use 16″ wheels, making them a bit smoother to ride.
Their unique folding mechanism also gives them something that’s reminiscent of rear suspension, as the part of the frame supporting the rear wheel is attached via a hinge and a spring and can wiggle up and down a bit as you ride.
The combination of these two factors makes Bromptons very pleasant to ride compared to other compact folding bicycles.
Bromptons are also positively loaded with accessories that the smallest folding bikes invariably miss.
If you want cargo racks, fenders, and other necessities for city riding, Brompton will have you covered. Many of these come stock on several Brompton models, meaning that they’re a bit cheaper than their sticker price might indicate. With the other bikes here, you’d have to purchase a rack separately.
If you’re able to afford a Brompton and you plan on taking your folding bike seriously, it’s a good idea to check out their store and see what they have to offer.
Bromptons aren’t cheap, but their ability to last for decades with a few chain, tire, and brake replacements means you’ll get a lot of riding out of your investment. The longer you spend on your bike, the more you’ll appreciate the improved ride, improved folding, and other advantages of a Brompton.
They’re the gold standard in folding bikes for a reason.
All of these models take advantage of tiny wheels to reduce the size and weight of the overall bicycle. While this will make the bikes very small, small wheels generally correspond to a more wobbly ride, especially at high speeds.