The History of the Folding Bicycle


Man has always looked for ways to improve on inventions to make them better and more convenient. One fantastic example of this is the bicycle – this superb form of transportation has been adapted and changed many times over the years and there are now dozens of variations available.

The Bicycle

One of the greatest adaptations is the folding bicycle. Before getting onto this, it is worth taking a step back through time to look at the history of the bicycle as we know it today. There are many disputed claims about the very first bike and there were early versions that had no steering mechanism or pedals, but the first recognisable bike was invented in 1860 by Frenchman Ernest Michaux. The English then adapted this design to create the first “safety bike” in 1885.

Folding Bicycle

As terrific as the safety bike is, the large design made it difficult to transport when not in use. This led to the demand for a bicycle which could fold into a neat package and be taken anywhere. In particular, the French military saw the benefits that a folding bike could bring for soldiers. There were many designs made in the late 1800s, but none found the all important combination of being a high-quality bike that was easy to fold.

Interest waned in the early 1900s with the rise of automobiles and the depression, but the 60s and 70s saw new demand for a folding bike. Designs were much improved, but the 1981 arrival of the Brompton folding bike was a real game-changer. The Brompton bike exploded in popularity due to its convenience and excellent design.

Brompton was awarded the coveted Best Product Award at the Cyclex event in 1987 and full-time production in their first factory commenced shortly after. Soon, everyone in England had a folding Brompton bike and this saw the company earn the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement in 1995. They remain the most popular and successful folding bike brand today.

Electric Folding Bicycle

The adaptations did not stop here, however. Although it was easier than ever to transport a bicycle around, many still wanted an improved experience. This led to the development of the electric and folding electric bike. The battery allows users to achieve speeds of around 15mph – this is particularly beneficial for those that regularly cycle uphill, lengthy trips or simply anyone who wants a bit of assistance or easier way to get around.

Batteries this size usually allow cyclists to travel between 25 and 50 miles on one charge.  The Brompton folding electric bike allows you to unclip the battery and charge it at the wall. This allows people to easily charge their bike at home, in the office or anywhere with a wall socket as they can simply fold up the bike and keep it somewhere safe.

Folding electric bikes are now common site in major cities. People are able to fold up their bike as they get on public transportation and then ride to the office with ease. They do not have to worry about chaining their bike up (which everyone knows can be unsafe) – instead they simply fold it up and store it under their desk.

The bike is one of man’s greatest inventions, but also a terrific example of how even the best inventions will be adapted to meet changing demands over the years. The folding and folding electric bikes are now historic and hugely popular adaptations that have even transformed lives.

Enjoy Your Ride
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One Response to “ The History of the Folding Bicycle ”

  1. Emily on August 18, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    We bought Bike Friday folding bikes in 2004 and still enjoy them! Originally bought for loaded touring, we now use them for utility bikes with racks, baskets, and panniers for shopping in our RV lifestyle.


    December 2023
    M T W T F S S


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