For commuters and regular travelers, folding bikes may seem like a godsend. They can be stored safely off the streets, which reduces their theft risk. They're low to the ground, which makes them easy to mount and dismount. Of course, there are also disadvantages to folding bikes, from the difficulty of getting parts and accessories to their somewhat unorthodox appearance.
Unless you live near a shop that specializes in folding bikes, you may have to special order accessories from the manufacturer according to the Chicago Bike Blog. Many common accessories sold at your local bike shop, such as bike racks, baskets and fenders, won't fit a folding bike, and spare parts will be hard to find. If you have trouble finding bikes that fit you because of height or weight, a custom folding bike will cost more than a custom non-folding bike.
Folding bikes are more compact because they have much smaller wheels than non-folding bikes. That means you'll feel the bumps and irregularities in the street more acutely. The Folding Society notes that as a general rule, larger wheels are better suited for very muddy or sandy conditions, which makes most folding bikes difficult to ride on an off-roading trail. Some companies sell folding bikes with 26-inch wheels, but they give the bike less portability.
Folding bikes and electric cars face a common image dilemma. The style conscious may find folding bikes embarrassing to ride because of their small wheels or, in some instances, their unconventional frame shape. Commute By Bike comments that some attempts at overly modern or cool frame shapes end with "ridiculous results."
There are some other concerns with the bikes. Folding Society claims many manufacturers aren't accurate about how long it takes to fold or unfold one. They can be cumbersome to carry around, and tough to steer. Some manufacturers may also take advantage of the term "folding" and require you to remove parts, such as the handlebars or a wheel, before it can be put away.