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Consumer Reports Best Bikes for Car Owners Who Do Not Want a Bike Carrier

While bicycle carriers are useful for taking your bike to the great outdoors, there are good reasons why you may not want one on your car. Here’s a solution to this problem with this recent best bike recommendations from Consumer Reports.

Biking is Back!

Covid brought bikes back into many homes so that we could safely (and sanely) adhere to social distancing precautions and get some much needed out-of-the-house activity and fresh air.

However, while the sticker price shock of what a new bicycle costs today is bad enough, new bike owners are discovering that you can easily spend more than the cost of that bike on a trailer hitch mounted bike carrier for your car---adding yet another hurdle to bike ownership when it comes to the type of car you own. Chief of which, is having to struggle with untangling one or two bikes loaded in the back of your sedan or small SUV and thereby necessitating buying a car bike carrier.

Unfortunately, buying a bike rack is not without its problems as well.

Reasons for not buying a bike carrier for your car include:

• Good quality bike carriers are expensive.

• Depending on the mounting system, you can easily damage the finish on your car.

• A battery powered hand tool makes stealing expensive bike carriers a quick and easy target.

• A car rooftop bike carrier significantly lowers your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

• Trailer hitch or hatchback door mounted racks interfere with visibility and can cause your vehicle’s safety warning features sound off erroneously.

Related article: Consumer Reports Analysts Find That Bicycles Can Significantly Affect Your Car’s Gas Mileage

One Solution for the Bike Rack Problem

One solution to this problem is to consider buying a folding frame style bicycle that takes up less space when folded and can more easily be loaded and unloaded from the back of a sedan or small SUV. The other plus is that it makes bike theft more difficult for the criminally inclined.

Recently, the good folks at Consumer Reports gave a review of folding frame style bikes and came up with a selection of those they found to be the best available today.

The following is a summarized list of the models Consumer Reports analysts tested from bike brands Brompton, Dahon, Montague, Schwinn, that covers range, ease of use, and portability, among other features and parameters.

CR analysts state that “Each of these folding bikes has particular strengths and weaknesses, but our testers found them all to be fairly portable pedal-powered, and sometimes electric-assisted, transportation.”

The models are listed in order of their Overall Test scores.


#1. Brompton C Line Explore (M6L) (Price: $1750) ---CR’s top pick, this model scores highest in cruising, folding, and portability compared to the lower listed models.

Main Points
• Available as conventional or electric assist
• Lightweight at 26 pounds
• Suitcase-like feel and ease when folded and carrying
• Shifts and rides well

#2. ZiZZO Euromini Urbano (Price: $429.99 - $464.56) ---This is CR’s “Best Value” choice.

Main Points
• Compact folding
• Lightest model at 25.4 pounds
• Rides and handles well enough, but unremarkable beyond that.

#3. Dahon Launch D8 Price: $900---A conventional bike with the plus of responsive disc brakes, but has a slightly jittery feel to it.

Main Points
• Folds down fairly compact; however, there are no folding instructions and it can take some doing to figure out which way the handlebars, pedals and seat folds.
• Weighs 27.4 pounds

#4. Dahon HIT Pandemic Special (Price: $600) ---According to the review, CR analysts state “The HIT feels like a half-baked version of the Dahon Launch D8 because it’s an earlier version of the same model. It works well enough—the ride and stability are okay, and it folds down fairly tight—but the Hit lacks the substantial feel of the newer D8…we think most riders would be happier on the D8.”

Main Points
• Ride and stability just okay
• Weighs 25.9 pounds
• Folds down fairly tight

#5. Schwinn Loop (Price: $344.45 - $408.57)---A lower-rated model than the previous ones listed, CR analysts state that “…the lock that holds the folding handlebar stem upright while you’re riding had some play in it on our test bike, making the Loop feel a little wobbly over bumps” and add that this one that does not fold as easily or as compactly.

Main Points
• Comes with a handy carrying bag---a plus since other models listed do not
• Weighs 30.2 pounds

#6. Montague Boston 19" (Price: $840) ---This model is closer to being more like a typical bicycle than it does being a folding bike with its full-sized frame and wheels.

Main Points
• The frame folds in half and is not as compact as the previous listed models
• Weighs 26.1 pounds
• Ride and handling are “superb”
• Single speed, no gears

And finally…

For a more detailed breakdown of the data, please visit the CR website. Note that while access to some information requires a CR membership, the potential savings make it negligible in comparison when looking for the latest information to aid your car-related buying research.

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Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.

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