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  1. #1
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    Folding Bikes for Commuting

    Hello, I'm a commuter so that's why this isn't in the folding bike forum. Anyway, I'm looking at folding bikes and they more and more make sense from appearances as they being smaller would be easy to keep in my small house and possibly take indoors at work. I commute 5 miles one way part over a gravel road that can be pretty rough but no problem for 700X32s. Anyway I'm looking for any other commuters who use or have used folders and why you are using them or why you quit using folders (besides looking geeky) as well as any other pros and cons. I'm pretty sure what kind of reaction I'd get over in the folder forum. I don't want to buy a folder (looking at 400 + dollars, don't want to mess with 200 dollar junk, will probably spend 6-700 if I drop the hammer) and find that it just won't work. I use a backpack so no need for racks.
    I'll appreciate all replies.

  2. #2
    Bike rider alexaschwanden's Avatar
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    I use my Tern Link C7 folding bike ($469) 2013. It works very well and it is very zippy, about 27 lbs and great quality build. So far i have 218 miles in 2 weeks of owning it.
    2013 Felt 960 29er MTB. 1,336.2 miles
    2013 Raleigh Revenio 2.0. 900.4 miles

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    I've gone over to a Brompton M6R. It's great for multi-modal commuting.

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    got a Bike Friday , but Us Made, as they are, $700 is a lucky, used, find. mine was $2K+

    true just by having smaller wheels, parked in the Apartment they do take up less space.

    a minivelo is a non folding bike with smaller wheels.. those are cool too .. no hinges, lets it weigh less..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 05-22-13 at 11:27 PM.

  5. #5
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Hi BT,

    If you can find a folder on which you're comfortable, I think you're golden. 20" and 16" wheels are generally wider, so you'll do o.k. on gravel (although if it's properly bumpy, the bigger the wheel, the happier you'll be). There are a lot of people who use folders because they live in small apartments and it is much easier than a bigger bike.

    You can get folders that ride just like road bikes (e.g., Bike Fridays) or folders that are particularly good at folding into small packages (e.g., Bromptons). I highly recommend taking as many different types for a test drive and deciding what you really want.

    Cheers,
    Charles
    http://Charles.Plager.net
    http://RecumbentQuant.blogspot.com

  6. #6
    Senior Member rica rica's Avatar
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    good question, i've wondered the same thing.

  7. #7
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    I have a Dahon Boardwalk, we keep it as a spare/guest bike. I'd hate to ride it any significant distance or at any real speed. The handlebar is too high and too close, puts you in a "sit up and beg" position, and due to the design there is no way to adjust that. The small wheels are slow and unstable. Can't get a high gear. I'm not at all saying all folders are like this, but I am saying that I'd test ride any folder you are considering, very extensively and critically, because at least this popular model is only good for mooching around at 12 mph.
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  8. #8
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    OTOH a different small wheel , the Tikit-Brompton 349 with a Slick narrow 100psi tire. is a world of difference
    than the tubby low'pressure 305 tire on Dahons .

    Or a similar 451 high pressure rim tire type in the 20" wheel type.


    just at a given Speed, the smaller wheel rotates more often to cover a mile.

    Overcoming Air resistance is still most of the Work done.

  9. #9
    born again cyclist Steely Dan's Avatar
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    i have a 20" wheel folder in my stable (Dahon Speed P8) and it sees occasional commuter duty, mainly when i'm meeting up with freinds after work at a bar or restaurant and i don't want to leave one of my other expensive bikes left locked up unattended on the mean streets of chicago. the folder allows me to fold up and take my bike indoors with me at my destination (yeah, i'm a bit paranoid about bike theft, but still a scumbag bike thief can't steal a bike that's not there).

    the main con of my folder is that it's slower than my other bikes due mainly to geometry, and it's not my favorite for longer rides (again because of geometry), but my one-way commute distance is only 14.5 miles, and it's certainly suitable for distances in that range. with the OP's one-way commute distance of only 5 miles, i'd think he'd likely be fine with most folders.
    The first rule: if you're riding a bike and not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    you mean a couple degrees steeper seat post and head tube would do it Dan?

  11. #11
    born again cyclist Steely Dan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    you mean a couple degrees steeper seat post and head tube would do it Dan?
    it's really more of a reach and saddle to bar drop issue (i can't get very aero on my folder), but tube angles also figure into at as well.

    i'm also currently running marathon plus tires on my folder right now, and that's just a slow, heavy tire anyway you cut it, and i'm sure that bites into the speed as well. when the marathon pluses eventually wear out, i'll replace them with something faster and lighter. i've come to realize that i'd rather have a tire i really love to ride on and deal with occasional flats than have a tire that's next to bomb-proof, but slow and piggy.
    The first rule: if you're riding a bike and not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    I've had a couple of folders, but nothing new or fancy. In general, I find they work over short distances. If you're willing to spend some money on one, you can probably get something that has decent geometry for longer riding.

    I got my first folder (which was actually a split-apart bike, an old, Sears Tote-Cycle) thinking it would be easier to travel with. Well, sort of. Thanks to it splitting in two, I could get it in the car and not rely on a bike rack, but it was still a pretty bulky thing. It had a long wheel base and was a really solid ride as a result. I don't think I'd have any qualms about riding it on gravel, but it wasn't great off-road. The bolt upright position wasn't great for distance riding, but I could handle it if I had to. For short jaunts, I loved it. I used it regularly for commuting until I got my touring bike, which is just more comfortable overall. I only split the Tote/Cycle for transport or storage. It didn't make it that much smaller and so wasn't worth the effort.

    Tried fixing up a Raleigh 20 (and I haven't given up on it, just put it on hold), and I got it working, but I never got it comfortable. I think it could get there, and could possibly be comfortable enough to use on longer rides, but not until it's had some major work done. The fold is simple, one bolt/pivot point at the center, but the simplicity means that it doesn't fold all that small. Still a good, serviceable bike once I address some of the quirks associated with modernizing an R20. It was my backup commuter for a while. It worked, but folding it was still more of a transport thing. I bet with some fat tires it would handle gravel like a champ. Probably not as good as the Tote/Cycle, but as good as any non-mountain bike I've ridden.

    Now I'm using a Dahon Boardwalk as my backup. It's the least comfortable of the bunch, but it's also the lightest and folds up the smallest. I still don't bring it in to work. I don't know if anyone would care, but it's still easier to leave it locked up than get it up and down five floors. It also is the most squirrelly as far as handling goes. It gets the job done, though, and I've used on my 7+ mile commute, and have considered longer trips, not because I thought it'd be comfortable, but because it's portability made it easier to work into a multi-modal trip. Even unfolded, the Dahon takes up less space than any other bike I have.

    My experience may not be typical, and I know there are higher end folders that will ride better, but I have found that the trade off is between comfort on the bike and portability off the bike. I keep a folder around because sometimes that portability comes in very handy, but when I don't need that portability, I go back to my full-sized bike. If all I ever had to do was make a five mile commute, and I needed the compactness, I could see having a folding bike as my only bike. But right now, the number of times I want the better ride quality of my full-sized bike far outweigh the number of times I enjoy being able to throw my bike in a trunk or take it on the train without boxing it. If I had to pare down to one bike, it would still be the full sized one. I ride enough that having comfortable, versatile riding bike is far more important than having a bike that's portable and takes up little space, but I can imagine a situation where that might not be the case.

  13. #13
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
    i've come to realize that i'd rather have a tire i really love to ride on and deal with occasional flats than have a tire that's next to bomb-proof, but slow and piggy.
    Have your cake and eat it too,Marathon Supremes come in 406 20x1.6".
    http://www.schwalbetires.com/node/37

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  14. #14
    rhm
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    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    I commuted on a Downtube Mini (16" wheels) for three years (9000 miles) and then a Downtube 8H for two (6000 miles). Both are cheap but we'll designed and solidly built. I'm not sure either is available at the moment. They are well suited to being customized, and I did a lot of that, adding dynamo lights, fenders, etc. To make them fit like a road bike I had to take extreme measures to lower the handlebar, which is strange since I am almost too tall for either one. But once I had them set up for my riding style they were excellent bikes. I rode the heck out of the mini and am still mercilessly pounding the 8h into the ground.

    My recommendation would be to make sure you can adjust the seat and especially the handlebar height to suit you. I really hate having the bar to high.



    I take mine on the train. For that, I need it to fold as small as possible. The Downtube is pretty flexible in this regard, in contrast to some Dahons I've seen that can only fold one way.
    Last edited by rhm; 05-23-13 at 04:41 PM.

  15. #15
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    If you want a full size 700c folding bike, I think the only ones I've seen are from Montague bikes -
    http://www.montaguebikes.com/folding-bike/



    It's straightforward to fold and unfold. The drawback is - with a 700c wheel, it's not a small bike even folded. It's like the kind of bike you'd be able to fit in your car trunk easier.

    For a 26c tire, there's the Dahon Jack -
    http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/catego...-jack-09-33732

    And the Tern Joe 24" -
    http://www.ternbicycles.com/bikes/joe-p24

    Which does have, weirdly, 26" wheels (why do they call it 24 dunno...).

  16. #16
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Just browsing the Dahon site, the Dash P18 looks pretty nice. If it can take drop bars and still fold up, I'd consider it. If I needed to commute on a folder, that is.

    The Replica Anniversary looks interesting too.
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  17. #17
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    I have ridden a Dahon Cadenza 8 as my main everyday ride since 2008. I dont fold it very often and I don't think the "lockjaw" hinge would last if you operated it twice/day. Apart from the hinge, the bike is pretty normal, except for the eccentric bottom bracket and disk brakes. 26" MTb wheels are good on road and trail and less bulky then 700c.
    You may want to consider a flatpack bike, where you can rotate the bars and fold a pedal to store it along a corridor. Canondale Hooligan with BMX 20" wheels.

  18. #18
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    Thanks for all the replies, I'll probably hold off until next year as I had to take a year off and just now getting back in the saddle.

  19. #19
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    And the Tern Joe 24" -
    http://www.ternbicycles.com/bikes/joe-p24

    Which does have, weirdly, 26" wheels (why do they call it 24 dunno...).
    3x8 drivetrain = 24 speeds? Yah,not really,but that's marketing speak.

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  20. #20
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikertrash View Post
    Hello, I'm a commuter so that's why this isn't in the folding bike forum. Anyway, I'm looking at folding bikes and they more and more make sense from appearances as they being smaller would be easy to keep in my small house and possibly take indoors at work.
    Here's a re-edit of a post I have made about my experience. When I bought a Bike Friday several years ago for travelling, I thought I would commute with it sometimes too, and I never have. Why?

    My commuting bikes are good quality used bikes but you could also call them one step above beaters. If they are stolen, I lose an investment or replacement cost of about $200-$300 each. My folder is custom built and costs almost 10 times as much, so no way I would lock it outside, and of course, the whole point of a folder is you don't have to - just fold it and take it inside.

    However, the other bikes are sitting there ready to go. Don't need to carry them outside and unfold them, and do the reverse at the other end.

    I arrive at the office in summer a little warm, and most days I cool off for a moment and then go inside without needing to shower. If I had to fold a bike and lug it upstairs I would sweat more, so there would be more days I would have to shower. Plus, even folded, the bike takes up a fair amount of space and would clutter my office.

    If I had primarily intended the bike for commuting, I should have gotten a folder that rolls when folded, like Brompton, Strida or Tikit.

  21. #21
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Also, small wheels roll more harshly than big ones on gravel, so comfort may be an issue. I find I have to ride at about 70-80 psi on my Bike Friday to avoid too much boneshaking.

  22. #22
    ---- buzzman's Avatar
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    I'm currently commuting a minimum of 20 miles/day 6 or 7 days a week on a Novara Fly By from REI (currently $509)

    Your height and size is important when considering a folder. I'm at the limit height-wise for this bike but it still rides well.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Sancycles's Avatar
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    Commuting for me is simply going from one place to another regardless of the type of bicycle I use. I usually ride my bikes as a maintenance routine to keep them in good condition. Here's one piece I am using now.

    Miyata Zigzag. A classic folding bicycle which I restored a year ago. I installed an internal dynamo hub and LED headlight cause I also ride during the night.




  24. #24
    Senior Member Shahmatt's Avatar
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    I bought an Oyama East Village about a year back. It uses a steel frame with 20" wheels, with a 3 speed IGH, fenders and rear rack. Here's an image:
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/I...inal/55561.jpg

    The bike is quite heavy at 15.8kgs to start. Lifting it about is impractical, but once folded both tyres sit on the ground and it can be pushed around like a wheelchair quite comfortably.

    The price I bought it at was quite appealing at around 200 British Pounds. The frame is sturdy and well made. The gear hub range is good enough for the kind of city commuting I do. The rack is plenty useful to tie down stuff (I use a cargo net). Fenders are a must if you have unpredictable weather.

    I find that the smaller wheels are less intimidating to pedestrians if I have to hop on to pavements. Also smaller wheels are more maneuverable.

    Cons: I think the most serious would be the ever so slight play I get on the headset. The folding mechanism does not hold it together properly as one solid unit. But this can be expected out of most foldies I think.

  25. #25
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    I have a Dahon Mu SL which was a $900 bike when I bought it. It is unquestionably a very nice bike (I am particularly impressed with the sweet-shifting, bombproof X9 rear derailer), and light too, but my commute is 9 miles over bumpy roads and it was just too much of a pounding for my butt and wrists. I switched to a 29er on fat tires and it's much, much better over that distance.

    For five miles though, you can ride anything without losing much time. If you're not bothered about average speeds, a folder works well enough. They're no fun up a staircase though, and usually easier to carry when they are not folded. A minivelo is not a bad idea if you don't go on buses I think.

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