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  1. #1
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    Please help me choose a folding bike

    Hi All,

    My first post here and I'm looking for advice on which folder to buy. I'm in the UK and my budget runs to 1000 as an absolute maximum but would rather spend as little as possible to meet my very basic needs.

    Background:
    Male, 45, 5'8", very inexperienced cyclist. Never ridden a folder before. Last rode a bike about 25 years ago.

    I want to fly this bike out from the UK to my apartment in Fuerteventura (Canary Islands, 4 hour flight away) where it will be my one and only bike. My first-floor apartment is small hence the need for a folder to store in the bottom of a built-in wardrobe / closet and negotiate the communal stairwell as easily as possible.

    Fuerteventura is a desert island so sand is everywhere. It has some excellent cycling for proper cyclists but I'm not interested in that and will mostly stick to flattish terrain.

    The most common bikes seen in my ultra-sleepy fishing village are old mountain bikes ridden by drop-out surfers. I have considered buying something similar (ideally second hand from one of the many bike hire companies when they renew their fleet) by Specialized or some such brand.

    All I want to do is:
    - pootle around my village (average quality tarmac) and people-watch during the evenings.
    - ride at most 5-10 miles to the neighbouring towns along good quality tarmac (both roads and cycle paths), visit the local markets, hang out, have a coke and ride back.
    - ride out to some local beaches along solidly made-up roads but which lack a top dressing of tarmac in certain areas.
    - not be scared to take the bike a mile or two along solid but sandy paths.
    - be able to stick the bike in the car and head off to other parts of the island to explore.
    - be able to take the bike on the local bus should I get tired.
    - store it as described in my first floor apartment.
    - hopefully lose a few pounds.

    What have I been considering:
    - Firstly I thought about the Dahon Mu Uno cause it has 20" wheels, looks great and is minimalistic. But the more I've read the more issues have cropped up (single speed, creaking joints) so I went off that idea.
    - Then I thought about the Tern Link C7 which has more gears but is clumsy to fold and I don't want oil everywhere in my wardrobe with the chain exposed. I've also read of the fragile and creaking FBL joint and large folded size but it does have 20" wheels and is reasonably priced (best price in UK = 320).
    - To avoid the above issues I next thought of the Term Link D8 with the new OCL joint and other upgraded stuff but now we are getting more expensive (best price in UK = 410) so when I started reading about the frames breaking around these new joints I became very unsure.
    - Finally the inevitable happens. I start playing around with the Brompton Bike Builder and start lusting over a S3E (S bars, 3 speeds (less maintenance, -18% as I've no interest in flying down hills and need as much help as possible going up them), Brooks saddle, Marathon tyres, no other junk to keep price and weight down) but I'd be looking at 900 minimum. Obviously I'm aware that they are only 16" wheels and fold very neatly which is great for storage in my apartment but maybe not the best for the wide-open space, quiet village, very slightly off-road at times, pretty tame cycling that I want to do. I'm also aware that Brompton has a huge fan base but also many who feel they lack sturdiness and are gimmicky.

    So part of me thinks "what are you waiting for, just buy the C7", another part thinks "pay the extra 90 for the upgraded D8", another parts thinks "how cool and convenient it would be to see a Brompton neatly fitting into my wardrobe" and the final part of me thinks "just buy a cheap second-hand mountain bike over there and throw it about like everyone else".

    Two final issues:
    Firstly, if I buy in the UK I will have the not insubstantial cost, hassle and stress of moving a fairly expensive bit of kit out there via the delights of Ryanair or some such cattle-truck airline.
    Secondly, if any of the above bikes need specialist servicing above and beyond that afforded to a standard mountain bike in a LBS then they won't find it over there. Whilst there are several good quality bike shops over there they are all catering for the semi-pro mountain biker / triathlete market so I'm not sure how well a folder might be serviced. I am back and forth between Fuerteventura and the UK fairly regularly so will be able to get spares out there should they be available in the UK and I'm fairly handy at DIY so know how to use a spanner, but specialist servicing could well be a problem (if the above bikes require such ?).

    Sorry for such a long first post. Thanks if you bothered to read this far. Any advice very gratefully received.

    Cheers,

    Ernie
    Last edited by ErnieElse; 10-06-15 at 09:14 AM.

  2. #2
    Portable Audio/Bike Lover tds101's Avatar
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    Dahon Speed P8. Deal with a small amount of "grease" and be quite assured that it can handle any and all the situations you've mentioned. A total all-rounder.
    Fitness is only a side effect,...I feel alive when I ride!!!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Cyclosaurus's Avatar
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    Maybe consider a downtube 8H which has a belt drive and internally geared hub. No grease, low maintenance. Downtube 8H Shimano Nexus - Downtube
    Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve. -Popper

  4. #4
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    Only have experience with Bromptons, not familiar with the other models listed.
    I have done all of the above requirements with my bike; and quite easily - gone
    on rides between 1 and over 100 miles, had it inside shops/restaurants/museums,
    packed it inside the car where the rear passenger's feet go and inside the trunk,
    had it inside buses/trains/planes, fits inside my small apartment easily, lost a few
    pounds while training for long rides, gone off road with it a few times:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNuu...6zPoymgKaIoDLA

  5. #5
    Senior Member Violinfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
    Only have experience with Bromptons, not familiar with the other models listed.
    I have done all of the above requirements with my bike; and quite easily - gone
    on rides between 1 and over 100 miles, had it inside shops/restaurants/museums,
    packed it inside the car where the rear passenger's feet go and inside the trunk,
    had it inside buses/trains/planes, fits inside my small apartment easily, lost a few
    pounds while training for long rides, gone off road with it a few times:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNuu...6zPoymgKaIoDLA
    +1. a Brompton with IGH meets all the requirements. it's more friendly to flight travelling.

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    + being in UK you have a lot of Bromptons changing hands in the 2nd hand market ..

    Manufactured in London, they are made to last. all spare parts are retrofitable .

  7. #7
    Senior Member ThorUSA's Avatar
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    how about a Curve d 3 ?
    Having fun selling Terns and Dahons for a living. My personal website is also my business website, same as my profile name, therefore no link given to follow forum rules.

  8. #8
    cpg
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    Senior Member cpg's Avatar
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    Have you looked a Mezzo folding bikes? Similar to a Brompton but cheaper, lighter, nicer to ride and use standard parts so spares should be available in other countries. On the second hand market you probably get 3 Mezzos for the same price as a new Brompton, that means you can have one in the UK and one in Fuerteventura if you wished. Folded size is a little larger than the Brompton but not by much. You should also consider a Birdy as an alternative to a Brompton, it will handle rougher surfaces better than either the Mezzo or Brompton.
    Mezzo I4 (converted to dual drive), Whyte PRST-1, Trek 1200, Dahon Jack, Bickerton Portable (upgraded).

  9. #9
    Senior Member bhkyte's Avatar
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    Have you considered just using a regular bike with quick release front wheel. I stored a mountain bike with the front wheel removed by hanging it up in a narrow corridor for years when I lived in a terrace.
    I would not recommend a Brompton, and to a lesser extent a mezzo or birdie without a test ride. Folders can handle very differently from other bikes and many people don't enjoy riding certain brands.

    Brompton is a great cafe,commuting,and city touring bike, but I don't enjoy riding them due to the riding position and gear options. I have owned 3 and always end up selling them.

    I like the birdie. As if you get it with both racks its the best bike for rolling folded as the front rack doubles as a pull along suitcase style handle. That option is well over a grand new. Its a very versatile bike. Also avoid the low handing drailler with an IHG or the newer chain tensior. It has full suspension and not alot bigger than a folded mezzo. It takes bigger tyres and 2 inch big apples fit (admittedly front with out mudguards only). I spoke to a person who holiday tours with partner on two and he just wraps I in climflim to check in, presumably goes in the hold. They do suitcase with some dis assembly. I you want a new birdie its just within your budget for the basic.

    A Downtube FS handles more like a regular bike, as do 20" Dahons. Some damm nice Dahons and terns under a grand. You could also consider 24 inch bikes like Animals and paciffic reach or even a helix.

    The Downtube with IHG and belt drive sounds a good deal and idea in a sandy location to me.
    Last edited by bhkyte; 10-07-15 at 07:38 AM.
    Bikes; dual drive Mezzo X2 bullbar previously owned brompton with mods. Also 3 birdies + downtube FS

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Agree with bhkyte above..don't get a Brompton...I have one and they are great little bikes but you will struggle for spares in the Canaries and they have one or two disadvantages..rear punctures are difficult to fix by the side of the road..and they are not too good on bumpy,gravel roads..I say this even though I have toured around Thailand on mine..
    I have had excellent service from CH White of Malmesbury..brought 3 bikes from them over the years..Dahons and Bromptons..They sell a bike called a Succinct which look very good value.7 speed ..20 inch wheel about 240..They will also make you up a custom model for you ..and they send by post...They also sell Terns and Dahons..In fact I would go as so far to say they have the best spares service for Dahons and Terns in the UK..
    Ring them up and talk to them..They have a lot of stock and old stock also..
    If you cannot find anything from them I would recommend a Carrera Intercity from Halfords..made by Dahon I believe..349..8 speed ..20 inch wheels....they look good..Other bikes I would recommend are a Python folder..7 speed ..20 inch wheel..COOKs of Grimsby have one in stock..299..
    Winstanleys may have some also..I guess top of my list would be a Dahon Speed 8..chromoly frame..but hard to find these days..A company from Spain sells them on Ebay ..Trade-Inn I think..or you may get one from Germany or Slovenia on Ebay..
    Other places I would recommend..Fudge online cycles..good choice..Maybe that a 7 or 8 speed Nexus or Alfine internal hub geared folding bike might do the trick..not much maintenace needed..
    With most 20 inch wheel folding bikes ,with some disassembly , you can generally get them into a very large suitcase..without too much trouble..
    Last edited by tudorowen1; 10-07-15 at 01:09 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Ridefreemc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpg View Post
    Have you looked a Mezzo folding bikes? Similar to a Brompton but cheaper, lighter, nicer to ride and use standard parts so spares should be available in other countries. On the second hand market you probably get 3 Mezzos for the same price as a new Brompton, that means you can have one in the UK and one in Fuerteventura if you wished. Folded size is a little larger than the Brompton but not by much. You should also consider a Birdy as an alternative to a Brompton, it will handle rougher surfaces better than either the Mezzo or Brompton.
    I have three Mezzos and they are great bikes. Since they come from the UK I would expect you to find them easily. Mine are in excellent shape, ride very well, and pack up small. I just rode one to and from work yesterday (bus in and ride back) - 15 miles and was reminded of how nice they ride.
    On the move!
    2015 Bike Friday New World Tourist, 2013 Velo Orange Campeur, 2011 Mezzo D9 (x3), 2004 Marin Mount Vision Pro, 2014 Xtracycle Electric, 2014 Surly Big Dummy electric assist

  12. #12
    Senior Member bhkyte's Avatar
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    My dual drive mezzo 21 speed with bullbars and a spare suspension seatpost is on ebay at the moment if you are interested. I would make sure you get a spare seatpost clamp if you do go for a mezzo. Spares are getting more difficult to find but it takes many standard parts.
    How small does the OP fold need to be?
    I would recommend a 20 inch over a 16 inch for riding ability, if you dont need the small fold. A birdie with big apples is very forgiving on rough stuff.
    Another left of field option is the bullet proof Diblasi R22. Smallest fold of the 20 inch bikes, but not the best qualisty for the money.
    Bikes; dual drive Mezzo X2 bullbar previously owned brompton with mods. Also 3 birdies + downtube FS

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