The History Of The Folding Bicycle

With the recent boom in sales of folding bicycles, and the increase in numbers of people commuting to work on a folding bike. Many people think that the folding bike is a relatively recent invention, but a little bit of research shows that they have indeed been around a while.

According to records from the patent office, the original patent for a folding bike was registered way back in 1887 by an inventor named as Emmit Lata, so the concept is certainly not a new phenomenon, even though they only become super popular recently. 

In the 19th century, there were many uses for folding bikes, and interestingly when you look at the list below, I think you will agree that virtually all of those uses remain today, with the possible exception of the first one.

  • Childrens Toy
  • A Method Of Getting To And From Work For Factory Workers
  • Police And Military Uses
  • Courier Services

Depending on your historical knowledge, you may or may not be aware of the fact, that the folding bicycle played a huge roll in the second world war. The soldiers were able to be dropped from planes with parachutes and a folding bicycle. Once they landed, it was only a matter of minutes before the bikes were assembled, and the soldiers were then able to travel significant distances, quickly and easily.

The 1970’s saw a boom in the number of different manufacturers making folding bikes, but the really big developments and inventions that are still powering the boom in growth of folding bikes occurred in the 1980’s. Perhaps the daddy of all modern folding bikes the Brompton was created by its designer Andrew Ritchie in 1981. In an amazing period of activity in 1982, Dr. David Hon started to sell his Dahon bikes, and both of these companies are still at the forefront of folding bike technology today. In fact, surprisingly enough the Dahon company now has about 60 percent of the market share and is acknowledged as the worlds largest folding bike manufacturer.

But the 1980’s innovation was still not over, and in 1987 Montague Bikes was formed taking a different design idea to the other companies. Rather than going for a cut down easier to fold bike, Montague designed a full size folding bikes, which have become very popular.

With ever growing city populations and crowded public transport systems, the growth in popularity of folding bikes shows no sign of slowing down. Cycling enthusiasts are now in the position where the bikes are light and flexible enough to deal with the morning and evening commute, but still strong and powerful enough to be taken away at the weekend for some mountain biking fun on hard core purpose built tracks. No longer does the prospective cyclist have to choose between one or the other.

At the time of writing, there are nearly 180 different companies manufacturing folding bicycles, and the latest design innovations and development involves the adding of electrical power to assist the riders in their daily journeys.

The history and the development of the folding bike over the years has been so widespread and poorly documented, that it's not possible to fully research the full story from that very first spark of ingenuity to where we find ourselves today. However, I think it is fair to say that with the increasing costs of fuel, the enthusiasm for people to get fit, by cycling to and from work, and the environmental benefits of cycling, the growth, and development in the folding bike market, it's only likely to continue grow.

As the largest manufacturer of folding bikes in the world, I felt it only appropriate to show you this wonderful video I discovered that shows the history of Dahon. Folding bicycles are not a cheap investment, but over time they will repay the cost both financially and in terms of your health. They can also save you a lot of time daily on your commute, and now that you know about the history of the folding bicycle, you can begin to imagine the future.

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