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Best Folding Bike For Touring – Long-Distance Foldable Adventures

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Folding bikes aren’t known for their long-distance capabilities, but with careful planning you can have a fun time traveling on one.

There are even benefits to touring on a folding bike, which we’ll get into a bit later.

We’ll also be reviewing some top folding bikes for touring, including the Brompton C Line Explore Mid Folding Bike for its sublime build quality, wide gear range and compact folded size.

So, how do you choose the best folding bike for touring? This article tells you exactly what to look for.

Top Picks:

Top 11 Best Touring Folding Bikes Reviewed

Below you’ll find our top recommendations for folding tourer bikes.

1. Brompton C Line Explore Mid-Folding Bike with Rack (best overall)

CHECK PRICE AT REI

  • Wheel Size: 16”
  • Groupset(s): Brompton BWR – Sturmey Archer (6 gears)
  • Weight: 27 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 242 lbs

For its beautiful construction, high-quality components and smooth ride, the British-made Brompton C Line Explore Mid Folding Bike takes our top place.

Weighing only 27lbs, this bike is as light as many aluminum folding bikes, but delivers excellent ride quality through its hand-brazed steel frame.

There are 6 gears on this Brompton folding bike, comprising two external rear sprockets and a 3-speed internal hub (2×3).

The 16” wheels on the Brompton helps it to fold down to a compact 25.3 x 23 x 10.6 inch size. This is great for taking the bike onto buses or trains, but the small wheel size may make you nervous about potholes.

Along with a rear rack, the Brompton includes a front carrier block for attaching a Brompton bag.

What We Like

  • Construction – beautifully made from micro-alloy steel tubing.
  • Gears – wide 300% gear range for varied terrain.
  • Luggage – rear rack and potential for a front bag.

What We Don’t Like

  • Wheel Size – small 16” wheels sensitive to impact.

2. Tern Link C8 Folding Bike (best runner-up)

CHECK PRICE AT REI

  • Wheel Size: 20”
  • Groupset(s): Shimano (8 gears)
  • Weight: 28 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 231.5 lbs

For its smooth-rolling ride experience, sturdy construction and versatile gear range, the Tern Link C8 Folding Bike gets our runner-up prize. This bike has a  lightweight aluminum frame and high-quality componentry.

A compliant steel fork helps to create a plush ride feel on the Tern Link C8.

With a 52t chainring and 11t top gear at the back, this is a bike that will glide you along at decent speeds on flat roads. A 30t lowest gear will get you over most hills, too, though the bike is better for mildly rolling terrain than for serious climbs.

What We Like

  • Smooth – delivers a smooth ride quality.
  • Fast – good flat-road speed.
  • Componentry – high-quality bike parts.

What We Don’t Like

  • Climbing – steep hills are likely to be problematic.

3. Qualisports Volador Folding 350W Electric Bike (best e-bike)

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Wheel Size: 20”
  • Groupset(s): Shimano (7 gears)
  • Weight: 36 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 231.5 lbs

We’ve picked the Qualisports Volador Folding 350W Electric Bike as our best e-bike largely for its combination of low weight and a strong 350W brushless motor. This is a bike you could contemplate riding manually on tours while saving pedal-assist for hills.

At 36 lbs, this bike is lighter than most e-bikes. It has a 32-mile range in pedal-assist mode.

The Volador has a rear-mounted MXUS 350W brushless geared motor. It has 5 levels of pedal assist, cruise mode (throttle) and walk-assist.

You can buy rear and front racks for this bike separately. It would’ve been nice to have a rear rack included at the price! Fenders are included uninstalled.

What We Like

  • Lightweight – lighter than many e-bikes.
  • Modes – good choice of modes.
  • Branded – reliable Shimano 7-speed gears & shifter.

What We Don’t Like

  • Rack – a rear rack might’ve been included.

4. Bike Friday New World Tourist Folding Bike (best for luggage)

CHECK PRICE AT BIKE FRIDAY

  • Wheel Size: 20” (406mm)
  • Groupset(s): Choice of 9 or 18 gears.
  • Weight: 24 lbs (minimum)
  • Weight Capacity: 220 lbs

A customizable touring bike that delivers a full-on traveling experience is the Bike Friday New World Tourist Folding Bike. This is a bike designed to carry front and rear panniers and is a must-include on our review list!

With this bike, you get to choose bike components based on your own preferences and the kind of riding you envisage doing. The 18-gear version of the bike copes with serious climbing and helps to push a fully-loaded bike, for instance.

You choose your own specs with this bike, like whether you want e-assist, what brakes you want, handlebar type and which touring accessories you need to add.

Each bike is custom built, so delivery time is a potential disadvantage if you’re in a rush.

What We Like

  • Customizable – tons of choice in creating the bike you want.
  • Climbs – potential for some fairly serious climbs.
  • Loads – caters for serious touring gear.

What We Don’t Like

  • Wait – built to order, so waiting times apply.

5. Dahon Mariner D8 Folding Bike (best budget)

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Wheel Size: 20” (406mm)
  • Groupset(s): Shimano Altus (8 gears)
  • Weight: 28 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 230 lbs

Lots of folding bikes are cheaper than the Dahon Mariner D8 Folding Bike, but few of those are as suited to touring. This is a well-made bike with a Sonus tubeset for extra strength and torsional rigidity.

The 8 gears on the Mariner D8 offer a wide 11-32t range. With the 53t front chainring, the lowest gear is roughly equal to a 34/28t gear on a road bike, and that’s pretty good for climbing moderate hills.

Adjustable handlebar and seat height let you fine-tune your position on this bike. The 20” wheels on the Dahon boost ride quality, though the bike’s folded size is on the large side.

What We Like

  • Quality – sturdy build quality with Sonus tubing.
  • Gears – wide range from Shimano gearset.
  • Adjustable – seat post and handlebar post are both adjustable.

What We Don’t Like

  • Folded size – not as compact as high-end folding bikes.

Read more: The best budget folding bikes

6. Montague Navigator Full-Size Folding 700c Bike

CHECK PRICE AT MONTAGUE

  • Wheel Size: 700c
  • Groupset(s): Shimano Sora (9 x 3 gears)
  • Weight: 29.5 lbs

If you’re looking for a regular-sized folding bike that doesn’t break the bank, behold the Montague Navigator Folding 700c Bike. We’ve picked this for its thoughtful specification, lightness and climbing prowess.

This bike weighs no more than many smaller-wheeled folding bikes thanks to a lightweight and compact aluminum frame.

Triple 48/38/28 chainrings at the front coupled with an 11-25t cassette (subject to change) make for a useful gear range that can tackle many a hill or go fast on flats.

A natural downside of the bigger wheels is less compactness when folded down, but you can still carry this bike onto most buses or trains with ease.

What We Like

  • Full-Size – full-size stability and speed.
  • Weight – impressively lightweight.
  • Gearing – useful gear range for heavy loads or climbing.

What We Don’t Like

  • Bigger – not so good if you need the smallest fold.

7. Airnimal Joey All Rounder 24” Folding Bike

CHECK PRICE AT AIRNIMAL

  • Wheel Size: 24”
  • Groupset(s): Shimano Deore (3 x 9 gears)
  • Weight: 29 lbs

Okay, so it’s no budget bike, but the Airnimal Joey All Rounder 24” Folding Bike comfortably counts touring and adventure among its possibilities. Thanks to a wide range of available accessories, you can make this bike do most things.

For those that don’t like to hold back, the gearing on this bike caters to varied terrain. A 50/39/30t crankset drives an 11-32t cassette for considerable climbing capability, even when you factor in wheel size. 

The 24” wheels on this bike help deliver a smooth ride, and they’re fitted with puncture-resistant Schwalbe Marathon tires. You’d be unlucky to get a flat.

What We Like

  • Gears – very wide gear range for a folding bike.
  • Lightweight – stays under 30 lbs.
  • Tires – extremely puncture resistant.

What We Don’t Like

  • Price – a premium price tag for a unique bike.

8. Zizzo Forte Heavy-Duty 20” Folding Bike

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Wheel Size: 20” (406mm)
  • Groupset(s): Shimano Tourney (7 gears)
  • Weight: 29 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs

Zizzo makes a range of budget-priced folding bikes, but the Forte Heavy-Duty 20” Folding Bike stands out as a particularly robust machine. It boasts an impressive 300lbs load capacity, and yet it still dips below the 30lbs mark in its own weight.

The strength of the Zizzo Forte comes in part from the gusseted welding visible on the frame. A thicker gauge of aluminum is also likely.

You’ll be able to climb pretty well on this bike thanks to its 11-28t cassette and 48t front chainring. Steep climbs on a heavily loaded bike might be tough.

What We Like

  • Lightweight – low poundage for such a strong bike.
  • Load – impressive 300lbs load capacity.
  • Comfort – a steel fork and wide tires add comfort.

What We Don’t Like

  • Climbing – upgrade to a wider gear range if you’re tackling steep hills.

9. B’Twin Tilt 900 20” Folding Bike

CHECK PRICE AT DECATHLON

  • Wheel Size: 20”
  • Groupset(s): Shimano Sora (9 gears)
  • Weight: Approx. 27 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 220 lbs

Decathlon offers excellent value with the B’Twin Tilt 900 20” Folding Bike, not least because of its 9-speed Shimano Sora gears.

The whole of the Tilt 900’s frame is made of 6061 aluminum, as is the fork. This helps the bike achieve its low 27 lbs weight.

Other features of this bike include a fixed aluminum handlebar stem, powerful V-brakes, battery-operated lights and ergonomic handles.

For touring or commuting purposes, you can add a separately available Tilt pannier rack. One downside is the magnets when folding the bike up, which come apart.

What We Like

  • Gears – high-quality 11-28t Shimano Sora gears.
  • Lightweight – 6061 aluminum throughout.
  • Value – a lot for your money.

What We Don’t Like

  • Magnets – folded bike doesn’t always stay folded.

10. Dahon SUV D6 20” Folding Bike

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Wheel Size: 20”
  • Groupset(s): Dahon (6 gears)
  • Weight: Approx. 28.88Ibs
  • Weight Capacity: 231 lbs

The sturdy Dahon SUV D6 20” Folding Bike has plenty going for it despite the relatively low price. It’s made from patented “Dalloy” aluminum and is more lightweight in its modern version than stated on some retailers’ websites.

Only the forks of this bike are made of high-tensile steel. This adds to the weight a little but introduces a more compliant material for a smoother ride.

A major plus point in favor of this bike is the adjustability of both the handlebar post and seat post. Handlebar posts are sometimes solid on folding bikes, which leaves less scope for fine-tuning your position on the bike.

One downside if you’re planning on rolling effortlessly over hills is the limited 6-speed gear range.

What We Like

  • Strength – strong Dahon aluminum construction.
  • Adjustable – handlebar and seat are both height adjustable.
  • Urban – ideal for city touring.

What We Don’t Like

  • Limited – only 6 gears to pick from.

11. Tern Node D8 24” Folding Bike

CHECK PRICE AT TERN

  • Wheel Size: 24”
  • Groupset(s): Shimano Claris (8 gears)
  • Weight: Approx. 29.3 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 231.5 lbs

The Tern Node D8 24” Folding Bike doesn’t fold up as small as bikes with smaller wheels, but it’s a smooth-rolling machine with a nice specification for its mid-range price. One attraction is the 8-speed Shimano gears with a versatile 11-30t range.

Anyone who prefers an upright riding position or who suffers from wrist problems will appreciate the swept-back handlebar of the Tern Node D8. This creates a natural, untwisted position for the hands.

This bike has a patented “Andros” stem that lets you tweak the handlebar angle, either making it low and more aero into the wind or higher for extra comfort.

What We Like

  • Gears – wide gear range for varied terrain.
  • Wheels – big 24” wheels for smooth ride quality.
  • Handlebar – comfortable design & Andros adjustment.

What We Don’t Like

  • Foldability – bigger wheels make folded size less compact.

Advantages Of Using Folding Bikes For Touring

Folding bikes have some distinctive benefits for bike touring.

Intermodal Touring

Unlike full-sized bikes, folding bikes are ideal for mixed-mode traveling where you jump on buses or trains to supplement your cycling. Indeed, this is a sensible way to do things if you’re planning ambitious distances.

Even folding bikes with bigger wheels will pose no problem most of the time on public transport around the world. Conversely, it often takes more planning to wheel a full-sized bike onto a train and may not even be possible without booking a space.

If your folding bike is capable of fitting into a suitcase, you open up further possibilities when flying. The bike can then be carried as part of your luggage allowance. You need a bike with very small wheels to do this, like a Brompton.

Video: Flying With A Brompton Bike

Emergencies

It’s always possible when bike touring that you might suffer some disastrous mechanical problem that can’t be fixed at the roadside. With a folding bike, you know to a certainty that you can call any taxi and the bike will fit into the car.

On a full-sized bike with full-sized panniers, emergencies are more problematic. It might be the case, too, that you don’t speak the local language fluently, which makes it harder to explain your situation. These problems diminish with a collapsible bike.

Security

When touring on a standard-sized bike, most people don’t feel inclined to entrust their only mode of transport to a bike lock. Thus, they end up staying with the bike the vast majority of the time to avoid any undue risks.

A folding bike sidesteps security issues because you can simply take the bike with you wherever you go. A typical example might be a supermarket to stock up on food or a restaurant of some kind.

The ability to carry your transport with you is convenient in the extreme when bike touring. That’s especially true because bike locks worth their salt are big and heavy and add to your load considerably.

Accommodation

Closely linked to security is the ability to carry your bike into any type of accommodation without issue. You can do that with a folding bike. With full-sized bikes, you have to know in advance whether a hotel or other accommodation is bike-friendly.

Even when camping, it’s good not to have to leave bikes outside of a tent, particularly at busy campsites.

Conversation Starter

Bike touring in general tends to spark conversation among cyclists, but doing it on a folding bike is a bigger ice-breaker still. It’s not often done.

Your folding bike might lead you to meet a diverse range of people, all with a common love of cycling.

Disadvantages Of Using Folding Bikes For Touring

Not everything about a folding bike is ideal for touring. We’ll explore some of the downsides.

Rougher Ride

A bike with small wheels is inevitably a little rougher than one with big wheels.

The “attack angle” is steeper when the tire strikes obstacles, so the bike is subjected to more bumps and jolts. Potholes are hazardous. Watching the road closely helps.

Slower

The typical upright seating position on a folding bike is less aerodynamic than on a road-style touring bike, and that will make you slower.

Tires are fatter and have more rolling resistance. You don’t deliver as much power to the pedals with a more upright posture.

Tire Wear

Tires wear out quicker on small wheels for obvious reasons.

They spin around more often. Folding bikes do tend to come with durable, puncture-resistant tires, which mitigates the problem to a degree.

Carry Less Stuff

Lightweight bike touring is a fun way to travel, and that’s good on a folding bike because you won’t be able to carry as much stuff.

Panniers designed for folding bikes are smaller than those for full-sized touring bikes.

Limited Gears

Apart from some high-end machines, most folding bikes do not include wide-ranging gears suitable for riding mountain passes! Study the gearing closely on a folding bike if you intend hilly or even mountainous tours.

The number of teeth on cassette sprockets and chainrings means a different thing with smaller wheels than they do on typical 700c road wheels or full-sized touring wheels.

You can use a gear inches calculator to compare different gears on different bikes.

Descending Hazards

Serious climbing on a folding bike is not impossible, but long, steep descents are decidedly more sketchy. You need to take extra care to avoid imperfections on the road at high speed on small wheels. Be more cautious if you don’t know the road.

The temptation to brake frequently during a folding-bike descent will be great. This creates another problem because most folding bikes have rim brakes that will heat the wheel rim. This can lead to a blown tube or tire.

Video: Descending On A Brompton

Touring Folding Bikes: FAQs

Below, you’ll find some commonly asked questions about folding touring bikes.

Are Cheap Collapsible Bikes OK For Touring?

Cheap folding bikes are okay for touring as long as you match the bike to the distance and difficulty of the tour. Cheaper bikes tend to have fewer gears and lower-end parts.

Are Folding Bikes Comfortable To Ride On Long Trips?

Folding bikes are fine for long trips but a little less suited to long single rides. The small wheels transfer bumps and jolts to the rider more readily, gradually creating fatigue.

Can You Take A Collapsible Bike On A Plane?

You can take a collapsible bike onto a plane. Those with the smallest wheels are best for this, like the 16” Brompton bikes.

Folding Up: Conclusion

It’s time to revisit our folding touring bike reviews. Our top-placed Brompton C Line Explore Mid Folding Bike has a build quality you can rely on and packs down to an ultra-compact size that’s ideal for planes, trains, cars and buses.

In second spot, the Tern Link C8 Folding Bike offers smooth ride quality and a good selection of gears at an appealing price. Its sturdy construction inspires confidence.

We chose the Qualisports Volador Folding 350W Electric Bike because it’s light for an e-bike and has a powerful 350W geared motor to help you up hills. This is a bike that won’t weigh you down too much if you run out of battery power.

Armed with all of our recommendations and advice, we hope you’ll find the ideal folding touring bike for your needs. Have fun!

Read more: Are folding bicycles good?

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Glenn Harper
Glenn Harper
When I’m not contributing articles to Bike Push, I can often be found cycling on the rural roads around me. If I can help you benefit from bicycling in some small way, I’ll consider it a win.

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