Cycling is back!
Covid returned bicycles to many homes so we could safely (and sanely) adhere to social distancing precautions and get some much-needed outdoor activities and fresh air.
While the sticker price shock of what a new bike costs these days is bad enough, new bike owners are discovering that you can easily spend more than the cost of that bike on a trailer hitch mounted bike carrier for your car — adding yet another hurdle to it. owning a bicycle when it comes to the type of car you own. The main one is that you have to struggle with untangling one or two bikes loaded in the back of your sedan or small SUV, forcing you to buy a car bike carrier.
Unfortunately, buying a bicycle carrier is not without problems.
Reasons not to buy a bike carrier for your car include:
• Good quality bike carriers are expensive.
• Depending on the mounting system, you can easily damage the paintwork of your car.
• A battery-operated hand tool makes stealing expensive bike carriers a quick and easy target.
• A bicycle carrier on the roof of a car significantly reduces the fuel consumption of your vehicle.
• Tow bar or tailgate-mounted racks obscure visibility and may cause your vehicle’s safety alert functions to go off in error.
Related article: Consumer report analysts find that cycling can have a significant impact on your car’s gas mileage
One solution to the bicycle rack problem
One solution to this problem is to consider buying a folding frame bike that takes up less space when folded and is easier to load and unload from the back of a sedan or small SUV. The other plus is that it makes bike theft more difficult for criminals.
Recently, the good people of Consumer Reports gave a review of folding frame style bikes and came up with a selection of those they felt are the best available today.
The following is a summarized list of the models: Consumer Reports Analysts have tested bike brands Brompton, Dahon, Montague, Schwinn, which include range, ease of use and portability among other features and parameters.
CR analysts state that “Each of these folding bikes has specific strengths and weaknesses, but our testers found that they were all fairly portable pedal-powered and sometimes electrically assisted modes of transportation..”
The models are listed in order of their overall test scores.
BEST FOLDING BIKES
#1. Brompton C Line Explore (M6L) (price: $1750) — CR’s top pick, this model ranks highest in cruising, folding and portability compared to the models listed below.
• Available as conventional or electric assistance
• Lightweight at 26 pounds
• Suitcase-like feel and convenience when folded and carried
• Shifts and drives well
#2. ZiZZO Euromini Urbano (price: $429.99 – $464.56) —This is CR’s “Best Value” choice.
• Compact foldable
• Lightest model at 25.4 pounds
• Drives and steers well enough, but otherwise unobtrusive.
#3. Dahon Launch D8 Price: $900—A conventional bike with the plus of responsive disc brakes, but feels a little twitchy.
• Folds quite compactly; however, there are no folding instructions and it can take some puzzling to figure out how the handlebars, pedals and seat fold.
• Weighs 27.4 pounds
#4. Dahon HIT Pandemic Special (price: $600) —According to the assessment, CR analysts say “The HIT feels like a half-baked version of the Dahon Launch D8 as it is an earlier version of the same model. It works well enough – the ride and stability are okay, and it folds fairly tight – but the Hit lacks the substantial feel of the newer D8… we think most riders would be happier on the D8.”
• Driving and stability just right
• Weighs 25.9 pounds
• Folds quite tightly
#5. Schwinn loop (price: $344.45 – $408.57)—A model with a lower rating than the previous mentioned, CR analysts state that “…the lock that keeps the folding stem upright while you ride took some slack on our test bike, making the Loop feel a little wobbly over bumpsand add that it doesn’t fold as easily or as compactly.
• Comes with a handy carrying case — a plus as other models listed don’t!
• Weighs 30.2 pounds
#6. Montague Boston 19″ (price: $840) —This model looks more like a typical bike than a folding bike with its full-size frame and wheels.
• The frame folds in half and is not as compact as the previously mentioned models
• Weighs 26.1 pounds
• Driving and handling are “super”
• Single speed, no gears
Visit the CR website for a more detailed breakdown of the data. Keep in mind that while access to some information requires a CR membership, the potential savings make it negligible when compared to seeking out the latest information to support your car-related purchase research.
Timothy Boyer is an auto reporter for Torque News, based in Cincinnati. He has experience with early car restorations and regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for better performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily news about new and used vehicles.
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