Folding Bike Specifications Explained
There's a ton of different materials manufacturers can choose to make bicycle frames out of. The three main considerations are weight, strength, and price. Basically, manufacturers are trying to get the strongest, and lightest frames they can, while also keeping the price of producing their products as low as possible.
Initially, most bicycle frames were made out of Steel, but Steel has fallen increasingly out of favor, due to the availability of lightweight alternatives. Nowadays, most fold-up bikes are made from other materials. Steel frame foldable bikes can still be found, but are far from common. They're probably the best option if you want to buy a foldable bike for your child, because small bikes aren't that heavy anyway, and steel is a strong material known for a long lifespan and durability. But for an adult sized bike, it's not the best option.
Aluminum bikes are best used in urban areas. You certainly can use them when mountain biking or anything else, but there is a danger that the Aluminium could bend if you were to fall off your bike. While Aluminium is light and inexpensive, heavy impacts can lead to it bending, which is not an issue with Steel bikes. So please bear this in mind when making a purchase
Titanium. Titanium is an expensive material to get hold of. So bikes made from it tend to be pricey too. The advantage of titanium is that it's lighter than Steel while still being extremely strong and impact-resistant. This means that titanium bikes tend to be lightweight, but very durable and tough as well. This is a nice combination.
Foldable bicycles have exactly the same gearing systems as standard bikes. There are basically 3 different types of gears system to choose from. Which you choose should come down to what kinds of activity you're planning to use your bike for.
If you're just planning to use your bike for commuting and nothing else (or at least not much else) then you might prefer a bike with a single speed. The main benefit of single speed bikes is their low price and weight, you can certainly save a ton of money this way if you think you'll only need the one speed. Single speed folders are perfect for long rides on flat surfaces - so they're great for most people's commutes. They also tend to fold up quicker than bikes with more complicated gearing.
Hub gearing system this is a relatively simple gearing system in which the gears are protected inside a single unit. The main advantages of Hub gears is their durability and longevity. Basically, because they're stored inside a single unit, the gears are far less likely to be damaged by falls, or suffer excessive wear and tear, or by exposure to the elements. The Hub gears also make it less likely that the gears will 'slip' while changing them, which is reassuring as well. This type of gear system would probably be best for most users, unless you're really trying to reach top speeds or you need a wide variety of gears.
All mountain folding bikes use the derailleur gearing system. Derailleurs are faster, have a much wider variety of gears, and tend to be more efficient too. These bikes are designed for off-roading. They do however, tend to be more susceptible to malfunctions compared to Hub gears because off the fact that the gears aren't covered. This allows more opportunity for dirt and other stuff to get into the gears to gum them up. The only real solution to this is careful maintenance.
There are two distinct types of folding bike forks: suspension and rigid. Although they offer a very different riding experience, it's really up to your own preference which is appropriate for you, there's no 'right' and 'wrong'. Put simply: if you want more control over your bike, you should consider buying a bike with a rigid fork. For a less bumpy ride, you should pick a bike with a suspension fork.
Rigid forks are quite simple - The fork is solid and doesn't move at all. This means it's got no suspension, and for that reason, the ride off-road can often be uncomfortable. However, rigid forks allow you to have more control, so if you don't mind bumpy rides, they're probably a better option for you. Particularly if you're not planning on going off-road anyway.
Suspension forks are designed to absorb shocks. They're highly mobile and flexible and this makes riding off road a lot smoother. However, plenty of off-road riders prefer rigid forks because they feel it gives them more control. Ultimately, it's up to you. If you're riding in a city, then I wouldn't say that which type of fork you choose would make much of a difference to your riding experience.
Many companies recommend folding bikes with suspension forks for mountain biking. Having said that, it's pretty common to see off-road riders with rigid forks rather than suspension forks, due to the better ride control that rigid forks offer. If you want an adrenaline pumping ride, then the rigid fork is the better choice. But if you want something to cushion your backside, you'll be better off with a suspension fork.
The braking system is one of the most important parts of a foldable bike. There are several types you can find on the market.
A coaster brake is the simplest form of the braking system mostly used on single speed bikes. To stop the bike, you simply start pedaling backwards. The advantages of coaster brakes are their ease of use, the lack of maintenance needed for them, and their general reliability. They also don't require cables, which is a look a lot of people prefer. The downside of these brakes is that they rely on the chain, so if that breaks, your bike won't be able to stop at all.
A common breaking system on bikes is linear-pull more commonly known as V-brakes. Nowadays, this is probably the most common type of bike brake in the world. They work by pressing into the rim of the moving wheel and slowing it down that way. The only real issue with this type of brake is that it doesn't tend to work quite as well in poor weather. But, generally they work incredibly well, and when they do go wrong, they go wrong slowly (they'll gradually start getting worse, so you know they need repairing), rather than just breaking straight away
Last but not least, disc brakes are becoming an increasingly popular option for bike owners. Although disc brakes are probably your best option in terms of being able to stop quickly (they are incredibly powerful) they're probably a bit too pricey for most of you. However, if you've got the cash to spend, and are looking for the very best brakes money can buy, then you'll want to get your hands on some disc brakes.