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Curious About Folding Bikes? We Tested One Out for You

Folding bikes are practical and affordable. Check out our review of the Citizen Bike MIAMI.

folding bikes

I always thought riding a folding bike would be a bit like eating Thanksgiving dinner off a paper plate – sure, it has a few perks, but it’s flimsy and before long it’s in the trash. Well, in the case of Citizen Bike’s MIAMI folding bike, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Citizen loaned me a Creamsicle-colored folder. It had 20-inch wheels, a steel frame and a Shimano six-speed gear system with a grip shifter. If you (or, perhaps, a son or daughter) grew up using Razor scooters like I did, folding the bike will seem vaguely familiar to you. But make no mistake, the MIAMI is no toy – it’s a real-deal bike ready to traverse any road, path or boardwalk you throw at it.

Manuals bore me, so when I was assembling my loaner, I popped on a YouTube video and got to work. The bike was essentially shipped to me in its folded position. All I had to do was learn where the joints were, insert the seat in the seat tube and adjust the handlebars. Admittedly, it took me a few folds to get used to the process, but once I did, it was easy.

This thing is built tough; it’s sleek and everything you want from a folding bike. And when you’re riding it, the only difference from a traditional bike is that you feel like you’re sitting a bit lower (it was actually more comfortable for me, and you can adjust it if you want). The only negative was that for some people the bike might be heavy to lift. At 32 pounds, it could be a tad on the hefty side for anyone who has to lug it up stairs. You should also be aware that there is a rider weight limit of 220 pounds.

My second day with the bike involved driving straight from work to the beach, which is something I always wanted to do but wouldn’t typically be able to without stopping home first (or worrying all day that my bike outside would be stolen). Fortunately, the bike was folded up in my trunk and ready to roll as soon as I was.

When I got there, I was up and pedaling in five to 10 minutes. Most of that time was spent walking over to the boardwalk. After a 20-minute ride, I decided to walk down to the water. I simply folded up the MIAMI and carried it instead of dragging it across the sand.

folding bikes

On the way home, I stopped for groceries. At first, I was worried a week’s worth of food bags wouldn’t fit with the bike in the trunk, but they did, surprisingly, with plenty of room to spare.

A few days later, when I loaded up my car for a trip home to upstate New York for the weekend (suitcase, guitar, junk to bring to mom and dad’s), the bike never got in the way. And I was glad to have it with me when I learned about a new(ish) bike path along the Hudson River in Albany.

The week after my return to Long Island was full of bike trips to Belmont Lake State Park and around my neighborhood. The bike held up well on both dirt roads and bumpy paved ones. Even though the tires are tan, they show very little dirt. The folding parts held up well (and still do), despite it being used nearly every day during the course of the two weeks.

Biking is a relatively new hobby for me. I bought my first bike as an adult two years ago when I was living in a one-bedroom apartment. And if I could do it again, I’d seriously consider buying a folding bike from Citizen. I still have nightmares about lugging my bicycle upstairs, struggling to open doors in the process, only to prop my bike and its filthy tires on the kitchen floor (it looked very out of place there.) Being able to fold my bike would’ve allowed me to store it in a closet or keep it in my trunk, a convenience I didn’t know existed back then.

All in all, the MIAMI is a great bike for someone living in close quarters (or anywhere, really). And it’s great if you want the excitement of a spontaneous bike ride in your life. The MIAMI is a great ride at a great value. And in addition to the MIAMI, the company offers a variety of other models (mostly bigger ones) in a number of striking colors for purchase on its website. I would highly recommend a Citizen Bike to any cycling hobbyist like myself or to anyone looking for the conveniences of a folding bike.

What are your thoughts on folding bikes? Tell us in the comments.

For information on being safe on a bicycle, folding or otherwise, visit AAA’s Bike Safety page.

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