Folding Commuter Bikes: A NYCeWheels Guide

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Folding Commuter Bikes: A NYCeWheels Guide

Commuters in New York City don't exactly have it easy no matter how they get to work. Trains are crowed and hot, cars have to sit in traffic, and bikers have to deal with thieves and the streets. But of all the ways to commute, riding a folding commuter bike is probably the most fun. I know what you're thinking... Bike commuting fun?? What about all those crazy cab drivers? What if a pigeon goes to the bathroom on my tie? Why even bother if my bike is just going to be stolen while I'm at work? Ahhh!!!!

Well first of all, relax! It's much easier to bike commute than most people think. Especially in a city like New York where there are a growing number of bike lanes and laws promoting bike safety. And, when you're on a folding bike, you can easily tuck your ride under the desk when you get to work and into a closet when you get home. That way when you're coming down the elevator after work, beaming with excitement at the thought of riding home after a stressful day, you wont have the shock of finding a wheel missing on your prized commuter bike. Folding commuter bikes allow you to side step almost every hurdle in the life of a bike commuter. That's why at NYCeWheels we've come up with a short guide to folding bike commuting, part of our continued effort to encourage healthy and environmentally friendly modes of transportation. You might also like our folding bike travel guide.

Part 1: Owning a folding bike

There's really no way around this one. If you don't have a folding commuter bike let me make a few suggestions that will save you a lot of headache later:

  1. Get a folding bike that fits in your apartment. If you have a house you can store a folding commuter bike of any size, but for most of us Manhattanites the more compact the bike folds the better. Consider where you will be storing your folding commuter bike and what size would be practical before anything else.
  2. Find a folding bike that can carry some extra luggage. Unless you plan to pack light and the only thing your folding commuter bike needs to carry is you, then you can choose any style folding bike. The average commuter however should look for a folding bike which has a rack or bag attachment to carry extra clothes, water, and maybe a snack.
  3. Fenders will keep you dryer and cleaner. This one is pretty simple.
  4. Don't cheap out. A folding bike under $400 might look appealing but it is not made well. We've had lots of experience with people who buy cheap folding bikes online and after a year or two they have deteriorated and fallen apart. Especially for folding bike commuting, you want to have a quality machine like the Brompton folding commuter bike or Xootr Swift folding bike.

Part 2: Folding bikes on the road

Folding bikers should observe all the same rules as regular riders. When commuting on a folding bike you should keep safety in mind first. Wear a helmet and use lights even during the day. Always observe traffic signals (pretend you're a car). Remain alert and pull to the side of the road to take phone calls or change your iPod. Look behind you and signal your turns when riding in traffic, a mirror is helpful here. Don't rush, when you get in a hurry you stop thinking and acting safely. Leave plenty of time for your commute at first until you know on average how long it will take you.

Part 3: Avoid thieves, take your folding bike inside

This one is easier than ever thanks to a new "Bikes in Buildings" law in Manhattan which requires certain office building owners to allow bicycle access. Most folding bikes are small enough that even if your building isn't participating they may allow it. If your not sure, ask your building manager and be sure to get a bike cover so you don't get people dirty in the elevator. When you bring it in your folding commuter bike will be safe from theft and the elements. On my Brompton folding bike commute I easily carried my folding bike up 5 flights of stairs and tucked it in a corner. Folding bikes make stuff like that so easy.

Part 4: Combine your folding bike with other transportation

One of the biggest advantages of a folding commuter bike is that you can combine it with other forms of transportation like buses and trains where a regular bike would not usually be welcome. With a folding bicycle you can jump on a train to shave a few minutes or to travel long distance but with a regular bike you may need a permit or even have to wait for a specific train. This the case with the Metro North and Long Island Railroad, two of New York's biggest commuter trains.

Part 5: Have fun!

Perhaps the most important part of riding a folding commuter bike to work is enjoying your commute. Refrigerate your water bottle the night before so it's icy cold on the way and take a small snack to for a reward and energy boost when you get to work. Some people even mount coffee cup holders on their handlebars! And hey, while your out why not go for a loop around a park? There's nothing like fresh air and sunshine to clear your head after a hard day.

Well that about wraps it up for our folding bike commuting guide. If you don't already have one, or if you're looking for a new one, check out some of our great folding bikes. Thanks for reading and remember to be safe and have fun!