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A theft-resistant rugged mountain bike?

Bob Forgrave

Mountain bike design is constantly evolving, faster than any other area of the bike world. But how many of those “must have” new developments every year are really life changing for mountain bike owners—for you?

One massively overlooked feature is portability. Here are four ways that the portability of one bike design alone can make a huge difference your life.

The portable, theft-resistant folding off-road MTB

The CHANGE Folding Off-Road MTB is a hardtail that’s at the near-impossible intersection of two wildly different types of bikes: Rugged MTBs and folding bikes.

venn diagram

As expected for any bike you would take into seriously rough terrain, the CHANGE Folding Off-Road MTB is built on an ISO-4210 certified, rugged frame. This destruction test suite includes automated fatigue testing with vertical forces, horizontal forces, and pedaling forces. Then it also is subjected to impact testing–both a falling mass hitting the bike, and the frame falling onto a hard surface.

testing a CHANGE folding frame

This ensures that your bike can handle what’s expected of it on technical singletrack .  .  . or when your bike simply falls over in the parking lot and smacks the pavement hard. What aren’t all bikes like this?

It’s also constructed from a double-butted 6061 aluminum frame to keep weight down, and outfitted with expected components of an upper mid-range hardtail, including Shimano Deore 1 x 11 gearing (with a low gear ratio of 0.63 wheel revolutions per pedal revolution), dropper post, RockShox fork with 120 mm of travel, hydraulic brakes, and 27.5″ Mavic wheels.

And then, your bike folds in half in under a minute, going from this…

folding MTB (angle)

…to this in under a minute.

folded CHANGE off-road MTB

Who wants a mountain bike that folds?

Okaaay, that may be remarkable from an engineering standpoint, but why even try to fold a mountain bike in the first place?

It turns out, once we’ve got ruggedness addressed, our customers share a lot of reasons for wanting their MTB to be more portable:

  • Easier to transport, so it gets used more often in more places.
  • Easier to bring inside apartments and elevators, so it’s convenient for urban riders to mountain bike.
  • Easier to protect from theft, because your bike is inside your trunk–even in a sedan!
  • Easier to ride spontaneously, because any car can be “the bike car” with no car rack needed.
  • Easier to get exercise on the road if you’re a long-haul trucker.
  • Easier to go on remote fights with a partner and an extra bike, if you’re a private pilot.
  • Easier to provision supplies and explore remote islands, if you’re a boat owner.
  • Easier to get closer to nature, without hauling a bike in the rain and road grit, if you’re an RV owner.


Folding MTB in action


Can this level of MTB portability really change your life?

These benefits are all worth looking into, but let’s investigate just four of them for their life-changing potential.

  1. Bringing inside apartments and elevators. When Mario was moving with his wife and new baby into a 700 sq ft Connecticut apartment, the shared closet became a main point of contention. He wanted it for his prized 29er MTB, but she had more domestic uses planned for it, including a vacuum cleaner.He began looking online for a folding bike, as if that could replace his beloved MTB.When he discovered the CHANGE folding mountain bike, a precursor to the CHANGE Folding Off-Road MTB, it changed everything. He blogged about it and put his new bike in half the closet.Then he discovered that it also fit in the trunk of his VW Passat, where it could live full-time, freeing the entire closet for his wife.
    folding MTB  folding MTB folded
    Suddenly, he was having spontaneous adventures; Every time he saw a new trail while driving, he already had his bike with him.
  2. Enjoying convenient exercise. When John first heard about Flatbike and full-size folding mountain bikes, he called Flatbike’s founder–who was driving at the time–and told him to pull the car over, because he had something important to share. The next 20 minutes were all about how important rugged portable biking is to truckers, who sit for 10+ hours a day.With a CHANGE folding mountain bike that didn’t have to be chained to the outside of his cab, John was finally able to free himself from the rig to visit places he cared about, for healthier food, regular exercise, and just the raw fun of exploring on trails after long hours and days of sitting in traffic. A product this healthy should be a trucking fleet benefits management offering!

    trucker folding a CHANGE bike

  3. Going on more adventures together. Steve and Heidi have their own plane. Like most private pilots, they carefully select everything they’re taking airborne, trading off for value, storage size, and weight. Full-size folding mountain bikes allow two bikes to fit where one used to, making it easier than ever to share remote adventures together.

    putting a CHANGE bike in a plane

  4. Harder to steal. Mike had actually visited the Flatbike site for two years, was intrigued and knew all the models, but never bought a mountain bike. He didn’t need to; He already had an excellent hardtail . . . until he didn’t. One cut lock, and it was gone.Today, Mike enjoys his bike just as much, but it “lives” inside. In his apartment, in his car trunk–even in his office sometimes. It’s a bike that’s harder than ever to steal, which makes the whole ownership experience that much more enjoyable.

What’s different now, with the CHANGE Folding Off-Road MTB??

Since 2010, CHANGE bikes have been designed and manufactured in Taiwan by Changebike, LTD. Our company, Flatbike, came along later as the US-based distributor for CHANGE bikes, and eventually started building new bike models in the Pacific Northwest around the CHANGE folding frame: the CHANGE Folding Gravel Bike, The CHANGE Folding Adventure Bike, and now, the CHANGE Folding Off-Road MTB.

This newest bike incorporated modifications that others had asked us to make on previous Changebike-built mountain bikes, including conversion to a Shimano 1×11 Deore drivetrain, internal dropper post, and 120mm-travel RockShox fork.


CHANGE folding MTB cassette

Pairing a 32-tooth chainring with a 51-tooth largest cog, the CHANGE Folding Off-Road MTB can deliver a low gear ratio of 0.63 on steep climbs.


Rockshox fork

The RockShox Recon Silver RL suspension fork offers 120mm of travel. Axles are quick release on the back (from the CHANGE frame) and 12mm thru-axle on the front.



Open latch

Main frame latch, open and closed.

blue frame latch closed

This internationally patented folding latch actually isn’t what keeps the bike from folding. The frame holds itself together with large teeth that are meshed when the latch is closed.


Geometry of the CHANGE Folding Off-Road MTB

We’ll add a more complete analysis and illustrations of these measurements as we build more sizes of this model, but these are the geometry specs we have today.

Folding MTB geometry table

A big thanks to our customers who have pushed us in the direction of more specs as we move the CHANGE frame into more technical uses.


What do our customers say about CHANGE folding mountain bikes?

Changebike and Flatbike aren’t big names in the mountain biking world, but here’s just a glimpse of what our customers say about our mountain bikes and service…

812 review 1

mtb review 2

mtb review 3

flatbike service review

That the service review above happened years after purchase is rather extraordinary. But that’s because our goal isn’t to move bikes; it’s to ensure that every Flatbike customer has an awesome riding experience.

 A note about traveling with a bike…

You’re on the cusp of some exciting bike adventures. Your new bike will be easier to take more places, and safer from theft once it gets there–and if you’re driving, you’ll get better gas mileage and arrive with a clean bike.

Or maybe you’re going on even bigger adventures…

river rafting with a folding bike

We hear some other bike rafters even disassemble their bikes, rather than just fold them the easy way.

If you’re going by train or bus, your bike will be easier to transport folded in a carrying bag in the main cabin or in the luggage bay underneath.

Even if you’re going by commercial air, there are advantages at the far end of your trip, as you navigate hotels, elevators, narrow staircases, trains, buses, taxis, high theft areas, and places where a large carrying case is more welcome than an even larger bike.

Carrying full-size bikes

Is there an easier way to carry a full-size bike? Here are two of them.

But a carrying bag is not an airline shipping container. It is not suitable for the rough-and-tumble world of the suitcase conveyor belt. You will need something sturdier.

One possibility is the pasteboard carton that a CHANGE bike comes in. The good news is, it’s half the size of a regular bike, which makes it less unwieldy to transport, whether in airplane luggage or simply mailed ahead to your hotel destination. At least one of our pasteboard bike boxes has traveled seven times across the country for various shows.

The bad news is . . . it’s still half the size of a regular bike, which makes it a bulky package–35″ x 30″ x 14″. It’s not going in the cabin with you, and some airlines may charge you an oversize fee for over 62 inches (height + length + width). Others may even charge a fee once they see it’s a bicycle.

There is a way around that last point. Bikes built by Changebike come in a clearly marked Changebike box. Bikes built by Flatbike come in an unmarked, Flatbike-designed box that doesn’t say “bike” anywhere on it. If you want an unmarked box for a Changebike-built bike like the 812, just ask.

CHANGE bike boxes

The absence of safety markings on the Flatbike box doesn’t matter; we used to receive CHANGE boxes from customs with boot prints atop the FRAGILE icon! And all the bikes were fine.

And…when you take your bike out of the box, the only assembly you’ll need is to re-attach the front wheel and handlebars.

If using the original shipping carton doesn’t work for you, then a standard bike shipping case (hard or soft) is always an option, still letting you benefit form folding at the busy part of your trip.

Where will portable adventure take you?

Portable adventure is life-changing. So think big. Where would you like to go biking? What’s stopping you?

If your plans need to change, and you’re suddenly taking a taxi or linking up with others, can your current bike blend in smoothly?

If you’re ready for the perfect folding mountain bike, it’s ready for you–the CHANGE Folding Off-Road MTB.

Bob Forgrave


Bob Forgrave is president of Flatbike, an
ecommerce company offering full-size folding bikes
and kits to make any bike take up half the space.

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