This is a common question whenever I publish the weight of a folding bike. This started out as an 'authoritative' post on why folding bikes are so heavy, but to be honest I'm not exactly an expert in the field. I think they're heavy because they have thicker tubes because they lack the triangular geometry of traditional bicycles. Is this the case? Or is this true only for the less expensive, under $1000 folding bikes that I've actually tried? Can you get a lightweight, good quality folding bike for under $1000?
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It doesn't quite make your $1000 cut-off, but the Dahon MU SL at $1199 comes in at 19.4 lbs.
My experience the last few months shopping for a folder leads me to conclude that you get what you pay for. Though the Dahons were light, that seemed to be in cutting corners on rigidity and durability. To keep the price low, quality seems to have suffered. The Strida was nice, also around twenty pounds, my first choice for a folder if I weren't too tall for it, but its main triangular frame tubes don't fold, so it still takes up more space and is unwieldy at times compared to other folders. That aside, the Stride with belt drive and disk brakes would be my first choice for a short haul around town an to the train station bike.
I haven't weighed my BF, but it is VERY reasonable... in the low 20's I'd wager... but it definitely leaves something to be desired in quick foldability. Though not folding in the top tube, rather at the monotube/rear triangle joint allows it to remain rigid and ride very well.
=v= My Bike Friday Air Glide was 22lb when I got it, though of course I did the Yehuda Moon thing and added weight with a rack, fenders, Kleen Kanteens, Critical Mass stickers, road flares, etc. It was in the $1000 range 10 years ago, but it looks like the price has doubled since then. Yikes!
Grrl Friday has their 17lb Crusoe model, which I like to lift whenever I don't need upper body exercise.
I guess it depends on what you consider "lightweight". In looking at this folding bike buyer's guide I found, there are a few fairly decent quality bikes under $1000. Obviously folding bikes by definition have some kind of folding mechanism that will make them weigh more than a regular bike, all other variables being equal. There are not many regular bikes that I would consider particularly lightweight under $1000 that are of remarkable quality. So as was mentioned above, you get what you pay for, regardless of whether the bike folds or not.
I recently bought a CarryMe from Pacific Cycles that weighs 17 lbs and is in the $500 range. My understanding is folders are generally on the heavier side because of the extra hardware required to allow the bike to fold. The CarryMe is light because of its small wheels and its single speed. But it's specifically aimed toward multi-modal riders like myself.
A CarryMe owner! I'd love to know what you think of that bike.
Kate, that buying guide is very cool. Sorting by weight, it appears 30# bikes should cost under $500 or so. 28# bikes run about $1000. There's a huge price variance for bikes around 25 to 27#. 24# and under are consistently over $1000. A 23 lb folder for under $300 (the Citizen Gotham) seems scary to me, though. The heaviest bike on that list is the Bazooka Beach at a gut busting 36#! They list Eco Jym's Crusoe at 22#, though.
I've spent this week lugging a 30# folder around -- short distances it doesn't matter, but anything more than a train car length (e.g. getting from the Caltrain bike car to the luggage car *wink*) is painful. But I do need to build my upper body strength :-)
I just got an alloy Citizen Gotham folder yesterday, which weighs 25 lbs, 28 lbs. w/ fenders, rack and bags. I love it, so far, and only $400 including bags, gel seat cover, and shipping. Heavy, but not bad!! A thought for far lighter folder, under $1000, would be the Xooter Swift ($700, 7 sp., 22 lbs I think), or Swift Folder (same model, custom outfitted in Brooklyn, where invented, $1000 and up), which as a fixie I think can be made to 18 lbs I have read!!! Supposed to be an amazing bike, too, as the frame itself doesn't fold! See if it meets your needs, as it is a large but quick fold. swiftfolders.com