(Pocket-lint) - The missing link in public transport or just a supreme space-saver; designed to be packed down and taken on trains, buses, taxis and even airlines, the folding bike also does a grand job in homes with narrow hallways or inaccessible garages.
Some of them might cost as much as a car, but you can't put a folding Ford Focus in the overhead luggage compartment on the 08:25 to London Bridge, now can you? So, you want one, yes? Here are the best foldable bikes to suit your needs.
BEST FOR THE TRAIN
The Tern Verge Duo, £775
The trend for wire-free gadgets continues apace on the Tern Verge Duo, an 11.3kg folding bike without messy cables that can hamper the speediness of the pre-train fold-up. That's aided by something called N-Fold, which claims an easy - and thoroughly compact - 10-second operation.
The simple matte black and grey/pink finish will suit conservative types, while the use of automatic gear shifting and coaster brakes means that, while you'll only really be able to use the Tern Verge Duo on the flat, there are no brake pads to replace. With an enclosed bicycle chain, the Tern Verge Duo's rigid frame and precision machined, flex-less handlebars keep things steady while the seat post has a built-in bicycle pump.
BEST FOR OFF-ROAD
Airnimal White Rhino, £1,799
It packs up into a supplied case like any other, but this isn't just a pair of wheels to zip down the high street. Made specifically for off-roading, these 20-inch BMX wheels adorn the 12kg Airnimal White Rhino, as do a reinforced frame and serious suspension. The appeal of the Airnimal is literally two-fold. There's a quick-release, 45-second removal of the front wheel and seat post - complete with "first fold" bag with shoulder straps - that's fine for daily use.
There's also a tighter, five-minute fold (which includes removing the back wheel, pedals, mudguards and racks) into Traveller case for long-distance travel. However, the total weight in a Traveller case is then around 21kg, which nudges airline check-in allowances. Those after more refined components should head for the even posher alternative, the £2,799 Airnimal Black Rhino.
BEST FOR TWO
Bike Friday Family Tandem Traveler, from £1,000
Fold-away fun for couples or a crash course in divorce? A custom-made bike for two, the Family Tandem Traveler is designed not only to pack in the family fun, but also to pack up into a suitcase (exact weight varies).
Hand-built in Oregon, USA by Bike Friday and one of the few folding tandems we've come across, the Family Tandem Traveler is aimed more at the parent + untrustworthy child market; as well as a low stand-over height compared to conventional tandems, it can be custom tailored to fit each rider. Bike Friday also makes the Tandem Two’sDay and the Tandem Traveler XL.
BEST FOR NON-CYCLISTS
And Dutch Beixo Compact Low, £735
Though made exclusively for the UK market, this folding bike hails from Holland, the world's flattest country where there's no such thing as a non-cyclist. Consequently, the 14.7kg Beixo Compact Low is aimed squarely at the saddle-squeamish. Don't fancy hauling yourself over a bike frame? Check-out the extra-low frame. Hate the thought of having to wrench a fallen chain back on, and risk oiling your pinkies on the way to work? No worries: using a shaft drive system of bevel gears instead, this seven-speed folding bike always shows a clean pair of heels.
There's a £42 custom-made travel bag available, while other add-ons include an LED-powered Owleye Solar front light and Fahrer Spitzel iPhone holder which you can also use on your lawnmower for GPS-tracking around the Estate. So that's good, then. For those of small hallways after a space-saving upgrade to their current bike, Beixo's Folding Handle bars, £70, are worth getting to grips with.
BEST FOR BAGGAGE
Brompton P6R, £920
Called "Brommies" to those in the know, the Brompton P6R is one of dozens of commuter-friendly examples from Brompton Bicycle. A standard spec and part of the P-Type series, the Brompton P6R is a six-speed foldable with Schwalbe Marathon tyres, a particularly solid, well constructed integrated rack on the back as standard, and dynamo lights.
Comfortable and well made with a solid construction when popped-out, the P6R's weight is kept down to around 12kg when folded, thanks to the use of titanium in the the seat post and folding pedal axle, which partly explains the high price.
BEST FOR PURISTS
Moulton Jubilee 50, around £7,000
Built in Bradford-on-Avon since 1962, a fold-up bike from the Moulton Bicycle Company is what the purists pedal. Limited to just 50 bicycles, the special-edition Moulton Jubilee 50 comes with a classic Bugatti Blue finish with polished stainless-steel highlights. It's based on the company's widely available AM models.
An organic Jubilee Brooks Swift Ti leather saddle continues the high-end theme, as do Italian-made Campagnolo Chorus transmission and - the crowning achievement - a gold "Jubilee 50" riveted head-badge. Hydrolastic fluid-damped rear suspension comes as standard, as do 20-inch wheels, while front and rear platform carriers, day carriers and mudguards are optional add-ons.