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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 06-18-05, 08:02 PM   #1
Elvish Legion
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Folders?

Pre-Post; Wasn't sure if I should post in commuting or folding....as this is a little of both?

After looking around on this site I came across the wonderful folding section and got to thinking "I wonder what a commute on that would be like". I got to looking at the Dathon website (only one I could find on a really quick search) and I liked what I saw (Though I must admit I'm not sure what kind of tires they use...some say mnt bike some don't so I'm not going to assume anything) Does anyone have experince on these commute wise? Right now I have a 10or so mile commute that I am really wondering if those little 8speeders would get me there fast enough (a good amount of the way is up hill). Any advice, or should I just fork out the cash for a full bike and go with a roadie?

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Old 06-18-05, 10:28 PM   #2
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Honestly, it's not climbing hills you really need to worry about - your average 20-inch folder's primary disadvantage (in my opinion) is the low gearing limit. Even with a 53-11, a bike with 20 inch wheels would only have a 96 inch gear. I can't think of any small-wheel folders that use chainwheels that big (you might see a 46 tooth chainring), so a lot of them have only an 80 inch or so top gear. There are full-sized folders out there, of course; the trade-off is a less-compact folded size.

That said, most of the established folding bikes out there are, from what I've heard, pretty solid, dependable, well-riding bikes. At least one board regular uses a Bike Friday (one of the higher-end brands, natch) for loaded touring. If you've got the bug for a folding commuter, there's really no practical reason not to buy one unless you want to go fast. I don't know about everyone else, but I spent most of my basically flat commute spinning a 66-75 inch gear. You can of course buy a full-sized folder, but if you don't mind coasting down the big hills, you really won't go far wrong with a standard, 20" folding bicycle.
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Old 06-18-05, 11:14 PM   #3
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Rock out.

If you can commute on a fixed gear (and many do, me included), you can swing a folder. 77" is more than enough for my commute and in an extreme pinch, a person could always build up a wheel around a Rohloff speed hub and any sized chainring they cared to bolt to the spider. In that sense, it's no different than any other geared bike. I think some Dahons even use a Sachs geared hub plus cassette and derailleurs to provide tons of gears.

There are lots to choose from: Dahon, Bike Friday, Strida, Raleigh (old folding 20s are just too cute), and off-brand like this guy right here: http://www.neobicycle.com/foldingbike/foldingbike.html

(I ran into the guy who distributes them the other day and they seem pretty slick.)
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Old 06-18-05, 11:30 PM   #4
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Right on - high gears are unnecessary. And I only just realized (thanks to bostontrevor) that what I said about the low gears available on a folder specifically applies to one that uses only derailer gears. Hybrid gearing (for example with the SRAM/Sachs 3x7) or just a Rohloff will allow you to neatly exceed the 85-inch limit of derailer gears if you still want those 35 mph downhills.
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Old 06-18-05, 11:34 PM   #5
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I'll have to see if I can't find a place that stocks folders so I can go test one out now. If I can't I may end up with a tried and true bianchi I found for 700ish (I have a soft spot for bianchis as they were my first)

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Old 06-18-05, 11:45 PM   #6
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Hey, I've touched nigh 40 mph at my 77", so watch what you're saying!

(ok, 37.5 by the numbers)

Last edited by bostontrevor; 06-19-05 at 12:09 AM.
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Old 06-19-05, 12:04 AM   #7
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I believe Richardson Bike Mart stocks Dahons. I have used a full size (26") and small wheeled (16") folder. I still have the 16", but if I could do it over again I'd get a 20" because it's a good compomise as far as ride and folding size are concernced. I actually think you can have a nice bike with 16" wheels (Brompton certainly does well), but most of Dahon's better models have 20" wheels. I've always thought this one looks nice for the money http://dahon.com/heliosp8.htm

I don't think the gearing will be any problem for you, as the area around here isn't that hilly. As bostontrevor mentioned, you can simply spin down hills, and this area is really so flat that a "low" gear of 50 inches would probably be fine, even when you're loaded down with gear.
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Old 06-19-05, 12:29 PM   #8
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I recent purchased and started riding to work a Dahon Speed Pro, which has a full complement of gears. It mixes a 53-tooth chainring with a seven-speed cassette... and a three speed hub to substitute for three chainrings. Amazingly, on my commute, I've used most of the 21-gears. I have yet to spin out the big gear (111", about the same as 53x13) but I've come close. I really fly to work and manage NYC traffic all in one bike. I highly recommend it.
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Old 06-19-05, 12:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bostontrevor
Hey, I've touched nigh 40 mph at my 77", so watch what you're saying!

(ok, 37.5 by the numbers)
My hat is off to you, sir! What was your cadence? 250 RPM? YOW.
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Old 06-19-05, 01:28 PM   #10
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163 if I've done my math right. It wasn't exactly a "sustainable" spin. At least not for me.
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Old 06-20-05, 03:46 AM   #11
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Folders can make good commuter bike. The tour-oriented takedown bikes are better at longer distances. Transit style compact folders are better at short distances, but in the right hands are quite cabable. I just went on a ride with 2 Brompton riders , taking in 15 miles of potholed roads, trails, steep hils.

The alternative for commuting is not a road race bike. You should be looking at a touring-style bike. The lighter ones are quite racy but have practical features (lower gears, tyre clearance, rack and fender fittings).
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Old 06-20-05, 08:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelW
Folders can make good commuter bike. The tour-oriented takedown bikes are better at longer distances. Transit style compact folders are better at short distances, but in the right hands are quite cabable. I just went on a ride with 2 Brompton riders , taking in 15 miles of potholed roads, trails, steep hils.

The alternative for commuting is not a road race bike. You should be looking at a touring-style bike. The lighter ones are quite racy but have practical features (lower gears, tyre clearance, rack and fender fittings).
I want a roadie not (mainly) for commuting, but so I can start to enter some races and stuff...

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Old 06-20-05, 05:30 PM   #13
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I myself started with a basic Dahon 1 speed Boardwalk 20" bike. I modified to fit the hilly locale that I ride in with a Sturmey Archer 3 speed AW hub. For me it is the best of all bicycle worlds combining the best features of the different bicycle styles with a little disadvantages of each.
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