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Old 07-20-17, 12:18 PM   #26
impact1400
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IMO the best way to protect your back, if you already have injury, is to pop up out of the saddle when you go over bumps. I learned this as a youngling riding rigid mountain bikes. It's a habit I have to this day. Bent knees standing on the pedals and slightly bent arms will do more to absorb shock than thudbusters or even front shocks. I lift at every corner transition on the MUP and whenever I see potholes, etc. And the bike weighs a lot less that way, which matters if you are dragging it on public transportation.
Don't worry about the L.A. streets...Bay Area streets are awful, and 20" wheels are fine. I would not go 16" if you have lots of potholes, though. Pop some Big Apples on a 20" and you get some added suspension along with better pothole protection. I've ridden my friend's Brompton here and the 16" wheels are miserable on the streets - fine on the well-paved MUPs - so think about where you will be riding in terms of routes. And if you go with 16" wheels for the fold, then put Big Apples on for sure, or you'll knock your teeth out =).

I've been thinking 20" is the way to go for me, so your suggestions and experience are definitely helpful. Also - thank you again, @downtube, for the input.

Now, deciding between suspension or no suspension is the last piece of the puzzle. It's especially tricky as a novice. Here's where I currently stand:

Protecting against further injury, having the ability to change between a more upright riding position or a slightly more forward position (by adjusting the handlebar and seat), and possibly making future comfort modifications are the top priorities. Bike weight is next on the list, but--realistically--I may not end up commuting with the folder. If that's the case, I'll mostly have to worry about getting the bike in and out of my car trunk as opposed to folding it and hauling it around town with me.

So...that would make the riding experience itself the primary focus. If I'm not adept at standing up out of the saddle as a safety measure, does having suspension become an important feature? Or does the heavier weight of the suspension bike negate the benefit in terms of putting extra stress on the body?

  • Downtube 8FS - my top choice for suspension folder; offers full suspension at $339 but probably weighs ~30lbs or a touch more; The 9FS would be lighter but I don't think I can spend the additional $200 at the moment
  • Solorock Spin 3 was enticing as a 16" 9-speed since it apparently only weighs 21 lbs, but it may not be a good size for someone as tall as me according to info from @AccuNeal; it's also ruled out if I go with a 20"


Perhaps I'm overthinking it, but I figure all you gurus are the best people to analyze with. I sincerely appreciate everyone's help!
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Old 07-20-17, 12:41 PM   #27
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Suspension or not:
Big Apple tires can provide a fairly effective degree of suspension and will not add as much weight for lifting the bike into a car. They will smooth out your overall ride effectively with the ability to adjust tire pressure to change "plushness". They also don't require the maintenance that shocks do over time.
If you can wait, downtube is going to be running a kickstarter campaign with some great prices - see Yan's thread.
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Old 07-20-17, 01:06 PM   #28
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When it comes to suspension if neither forks or rear shock have sufficient damping (rebound and/or compression) or a means to adjust for either then IMHO it isn't worth considering. That's usually the case with inexpensive suspensions that make the bike feel like riding a hobbyhorse. High quality tires, such as what linberl suggested, can offer a smooth ride, low rolling resistance and light weight.
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Old 07-20-17, 01:52 PM   #29
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Been very happy with the Nova... it's functional and affordable, and you're new to the whole thing - if you realize 6 months later you're not using the bike much, $289 out of pocket isn't as bad as $500 isn't as bad as $1500.
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Old 07-20-17, 03:24 PM   #30
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When it comes to suspension if neither forks or rear shock have sufficient damping (rebound and/or compression) or a means to adjust for either then IMHO it isn't worth considering. That's usually the case with inexpensive suspensions that make the bike feel like riding a hobbyhorse. High quality tires, such as what linberl suggested, can offer a smooth ride, low rolling resistance and light weight.
I don't have scientific evidence for it, but I also find that shocks (which can't be locked out) rob a lot of pedaling energy. And, of course, there's the other issue of whether you weigh enough to actually make them do anything, as was the case with one inexpensive bike I had. They were either on or off, even though they supposedly had a functional "dial" and I swear they never moved even a quarter inch when I rode that bike. Stiff or bottom out. Period.

For street riding, some Big Apples and some moderately padded gloves if you are getting handlebar vibration work great. If you've got the money, add in a suspended Brooks saddle. Happy hands, happy butt. And the Brooks and gloves can move to a new bike, if you decide to upgrade later on.
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Old 07-20-17, 05:34 PM   #31
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Hello.

I'm also in Los Angeles, Mid City area. I just bought a folding bike myself. I found this fairly new brand called Euromini and their customer support is really responsive. I was getting tired of carrying my full size bike everywhere and decided on a new folding bike. Anyway, I bought the Euromini Campo model and it's less than $200 and it seems really well made. I have to ride it around for a while to really have a good opinion on it but so far so good. Check it out. It might just be perfect for you. Oh, have you ever participated in CicLAvia?
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Old 07-20-17, 09:07 PM   #32
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When it comes to suspension if neither forks or rear shock have sufficient damping (rebound and/or compression) or a means to adjust for either then IMHO it isn't worth considering. That's usually the case with inexpensive suspensions that make the bike feel like riding a hobbyhorse. High quality tires, such as what linberl suggested, can offer a smooth ride, low rolling resistance and light weight.
I completely disagree. Small wheel bike frames are inherently stiffer than bigger wheeled bikes ( smaller triangles ) and the wheels are stiffer ( smaller radius ). Therefore small wheel folders need more suspension that a standard bike. I don't think balloon tires are sufficient.

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Old 07-20-17, 09:12 PM   #33
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I don't have scientific evidence for it, but I also find that shocks (which can't be locked out) rob a lot of pedaling energy. And, of course, there's the other issue of whether you weigh enough to actually make them do anything, as was the case with one inexpensive bike I had. They were either on or off, even though they supposedly had a functional "dial" and I swear they never moved even a quarter inch when I rode that bike. Stiff or bottom out. Period.
You can calculate the power loss on a bicycle with suspension, however that is only half the argument. The suspension takes abuse instead of your body, hence your body will be fresher and have more power. This is impossible to measure ( since it varies with every individual ) however it is important to address the benefits when we talk about the costs of suspension.

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Old 07-20-17, 09:40 PM   #34
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Yan, I think quality suspension with proper adjustable damping can be a good thing for the right person. There are tradeoffs with everything in cycling imo; this is just another one. The OP has to decide whether the added weight, possible inefficiency, loss of road feel, and added maintenance is outweighed by the possible benefits (comfort, possibly longer ride times as a result). Feel free to add any benefits I didn't mention.
I'm personally a big fan of options that can be moved to the next bike (because there always is one) when solving a problem. Tires, saddles, gloves, all can be transferred. But then I'm always moving parts around and upgrading.
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Old 07-20-17, 09:57 PM   #35
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Yan, I think quality suspension with proper adjustable damping can be a good thing for the right person. There are tradeoffs with everything in cycling imo; this is just another one. The OP has to decide whether the added weight, possible inefficiency, loss of road feel, and added maintenance is outweighed by the possible benefits (comfort, possibly longer ride times as a result). Feel free to add any benefits I didn't mention.
I'm personally a big fan of options that can be moved to the next bike (because there always is one) when solving a problem. Tires, saddles, gloves, all can be transferred. But then I'm always moving parts around and upgrading.
I agree with your summary of the trade-off.

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Old 07-24-17, 03:36 PM   #36
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Hello.

I'm also in Los Angeles, Mid City area. I just bought a folding bike myself. I found this fairly new brand called Euromini and their customer support is really responsive. I was getting tired of carrying my full size bike everywhere and decided on a new folding bike. Anyway, I bought the Euromini Campo model and it's less than $200 and it seems really well made. I have to ride it around for a while to really have a good opinion on it but so far so good. Check it out. It might just be perfect for you. Oh, have you ever participated in CicLAvia?
Thanks for the suggestion. I'm a novice so I haven't participated in CicLAvia or any other biking events, but it could be a fun goal to keep in mind for the future!
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Old 07-24-17, 03:47 PM   #37
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Yan, I think quality suspension with proper adjustable damping can be a good thing for the right person. There are tradeoffs with everything in cycling imo; this is just another one. The OP has to decide whether the added weight, possible inefficiency, loss of road feel, and added maintenance is outweighed by the possible benefits (comfort, possibly longer ride times as a result). Feel free to add any benefits I didn't mention.
I'm personally a big fan of options that can be moved to the next bike (because there always is one) when solving a problem. Tires, saddles, gloves, all can be transferred. But then I'm always moving parts around and upgrading.
Thanks @linberl and @BassNotBass - I appreciate both of your detailed posts on suspension bikes vs. other modifications (suspension saddle, bigger tires, etc.). I have a lot to consider.

A follow up question: I've seen a bunch of users comment in various threads that the best "suspension" is proper technique -- standing up out of the saddle, allowing your arm muscles to absorb shocks, and so on. I've also seen other users reply that casual riders or people with little stamina likely won't be able to sustain that, so they end up seated for longer.

Since I do have a weak back and core (which I am in the process of working on strengthening), I'd fall in that second category. Hypothetically, if I end up riding once in a blue moon and have "lazy" technique, would the suspension saddle and bigger tires be a better safety precaution than a suspension bike itself? By the way, this question presumes that things like road feel, speed, resistance, etc. will be less important to me. Thanks again for your input.
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Old 07-24-17, 04:00 PM   #38
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Thanks @linberl and @BassNotBass - I appreciate both of your detailed posts on suspension bikes vs. other modifications (suspension saddle, bigger tires, etc.). I have a lot to consider.

A follow up question: I've seen a bunch of users comment in various threads that the best "suspension" is proper technique -- standing up out of the saddle, allowing your arm muscles to absorb shocks, and so on. I've also seen other users reply that casual riders or people with little stamina likely won't be able to sustain that, so they end up seated for longer.

Since I do have a weak back and core (which I am in the process of working on strengthening), I'd fall in that second category. Hypothetically, if I end up riding once in a blue moon and have "lazy" technique, would the suspension saddle and bigger tires be a better safety precaution than a suspension bike itself? By the way, this question presumes that things like road feel, speed, resistance, etc. will be less important to me. Thanks again for your input.
I'm 67 years old and I post out of the saddle, lol. You don't have to lift yourself up very far, depending on the bump. For small bumpy terrain, I just press down on the pedals and don't lift. My legs (which are not big bulky muscles, btw) counteract the little bumps enough. For larger bumps I lift an inch or two, maybe 3 if it's a huge pothole. Although sometimes I go into full standing mode because it also gives my butt a rest I've been doing it so long I no longer even think about it - I just do it. I have a bad back (bulging discs L4/5) and for me, I found a 45-50% bent riding position much more comfortable than fully upright - which basically hammers down on the discs. The somewhat bent position spreads the space between the discs and provides a nice stretch for me. YMMV.
Can you borrow someone's bike and just try lifting up a little out of the saddle? If you can do that, I'd go with the tires, saddle, etc. over mechanical suspension. But then I have to lift my bike to go in the car and any extra weight makes it that much harder.
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Old 07-24-17, 04:21 PM   #39
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I'm old fashion and am anti-suspension for street riding. Well, that is...I was...now that I'm a little older and pain is popping up here and there, I may change my tune fast! But yeah, I'm on a road bike turned commuter so skinny tires and no suspension and I do as Linberl describes. On my folder, I hover just above the seat more than stand as I'm not quite as confident putting all that weight on folding pedals.

Impact, if you think your back needs it--I would just go for a beater bike with suspension as a tester. There are so many on Craigslist. I bought a Trek 800 for $40 off Ebay and put about $80 into it to make it ride-able when I was in grad school. That was the bike I could lock up around campus and kept the road bike for recreational rides. You can leave outside and if it gets stolen, it won't be too painful. Once you have had some experience then perhaps you can start looking into folders and folders with suspension, etc.
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Old 07-24-17, 04:42 PM   #40
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I'm 67 years old and I post out of the saddle, lol. You don't have to lift yourself up very far, depending on the bump. For small bumpy terrain, I just press down on the pedals and don't lift. My legs (which are not big bulky muscles, btw) counteract the little bumps enough. For larger bumps I lift an inch or two, maybe 3 if it's a huge pothole. Although sometimes I go into full standing mode because it also gives my butt a rest I've been doing it so long I no longer even think about it - I just do it. I have a bad back (bulging discs L4/5) and for me, I found a 45-50% bent riding position much more comfortable than fully upright - which basically hammers down on the discs. The somewhat bent position spreads the space between the discs and provides a nice stretch for me. YMMV.
Can you borrow someone's bike and just try lifting up a little out of the saddle? If you can do that, I'd go with the tires, saddle, etc. over mechanical suspension. But then I have to lift my bike to go in the car and any extra weight makes it that much harder.
Those are really helpful insights. Thanks!
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Old 07-24-17, 07:02 PM   #41
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Craigslist

I'm in San Diego and I troll both SD and LA's Craigslist. In Moreno Valley a guy is selling a Bike Friday Silk (8 speed IGH with a Carbon belt drive and 20" wheels) for $800. I mulled it over, but I want the 11 speed version or the Tikit. I just missed a Brompton for $700 (I just couldn't shake free from work).

Deals can be had. You just have to check everyday. In almost 3 years of trolling, I have only seen one Birdy and one Mezzo. I have seen many Bike Fridays and Bromptons.

As a point of reference, I own a Downtube Mini, Dahon Mariner, and the Crius 14.
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Old 07-24-17, 09:38 PM   #42
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I'm in San Diego and I troll both SD and LA's Craigslist. In Moreno Valley a guy is selling a Bike Friday Silk (8 speed IGH with a Carbon belt drive and 20" wheels) for $800. I mulled it over, but I want the 11 speed version or the Tikit. I just missed a Brompton for $700 (I just couldn't shake free from work).

Deals can be had. You just have to check everyday. In almost 3 years of trolling, I have only seen one Birdy and one Mezzo. I have seen many Bike Fridays and Bromptons.

As a point of reference, I own a Downtube Mini, Dahon Mariner, and the Crius 14.
Thanks for the tips. I've been keeping an eye on the LA Craigslist but it hasn't been very consistent. I will keep doing so, but I'm leaning toward getting a new bike since I'm looking at lower price brackets.
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Old 07-24-17, 10:20 PM   #43
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I'm a folder noob. Just picked up my bike two days ago, did a 35-mile ride yesterday and no sore butt, back, neck etc today. No suspension, it is a very rigid 20" with Big Apples. I never thought "man, I wish I had some suspension" on the whole ride. I'm also not coming off of a back injury, so yeah, YMMV.

The other thing I was thinking while reading the replies was about budget. You said you'd prefer the 9FS to the 8FS, but it was $200 more. Personally, I'd save a little longer and get the 9FS. $200 seems a pretty small premium to pay for the bike you actually want. I don't think I've ever spent what I budgeted for a bike, usually more and sometimes a LOT more, and I've never regretted it later. And I'm not a rich guy by anyone's definition. I know the value of a hard-earned buck. I just think that a bike is really a great purchase to splurge a bit on.
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Old 07-24-17, 11:41 PM   #44
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I would never buy a 7 speed or less folding bike. I have stated this on several threads but the 8 speed cassette will give you a much wider gear range while running just one gear up front.

While some guys are fonder of 16", I am much fonder of 20" wheels because they allow use of a wide range derailleur with just one gear up front and an 11/32 or 11/34 rear cassette.

I also favor expensive bikes and would wait and get more than an entry level ---Something that was truly $800 or more when new.

With a little research I would keep an eye open for a recent model dahon 8 speed or better, or a xootr Swift.

Bicycles are a major source of fun in my life and I don't mind investing in my recreation.
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Old 07-25-17, 09:45 AM   #45
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Rick's point above is a good one, however, budget can be a consideration. I bought a used 7 speed Bike Friday. Almost a year later, I replaced the rear wheel because the hub was shot and I put on an 8 speed wheel for $100. The cassette/chain were replaced on normal schedule (when worn). All that remained was changing out the shifter. So a 7 speed isn't the end of the world if you get a great deal on a bike frame that you love....you can make the upgrade bit by bit so it doesn't hit the budget all at once.
That said, I would not buy a NEW 7 speed unless I lived somewhere very flat OR the price was low enough that it was basically disposable for a better bike later on (Nova fits this criterion). I don't actually know one person who stayed with the first folding bike they bought; there is a learning curve on what you like. So the OP is likely to end up getting a better bike later on, anyway, because of folder love....

Last edited by linberl; 07-25-17 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 07-25-17, 10:45 AM   #46
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Rick's point above is a good one, however, budget can be a consideration. I bought a used 7 speed Bike Friday. Almost a year later, I replaced the rear wheel because the hub was shot and I put on an 8 speed wheel for $100. The cassette/chain were replaced on normal schedule (when worn). All that remained was changing out the shifter. So a 7 speed isn't the end of the world if you get a great deal on a bike frame that you love....you can make the upgrade bit by bit so it doesn't hit the budget all at once.
That said, I would not buy a NEW 7 speed unless I lived somewhere very flat OR the price was low enough that it was basically disposable for a better bike later on (Nova fits this criterion). I don't actually know one person who stayed with the first folding bike they bought; there is a learning curve on what you like. So the OP is likely to end up getting a better bike later on, anyway, because of folder love....
You anticipated my question with that edit That's how I'm thinking of my purchase as well. Solid enough starter with the possibility of future modifications or even bike upgrade. But first I have to actually get to riding In terms of the modification you mentioned (upgrading to greater than 7 speeds), could that also be done with the Nova? I've been focused on reading about saddles, handlebars, tires, etc. and I've forgotten some of the things I read about changing the drive train.
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Old 07-25-17, 11:13 AM   #47
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You anticipated my question with that edit That's how I'm thinking of my purchase as well. Solid enough starter with the possibility of future modifications or even bike upgrade. But first I have to actually get to riding In terms of the modification you mentioned (upgrading to greater than 7 speeds), could that also be done with the Nova? I've been focused on reading about saddles, handlebars, tires, etc. and I've forgotten some of the things I read about changing the drive train.
The Nova is a freewheel not a free hub, so it will mean a new rear wheel/hub instead of just a cassette swap but that would be the case with a 7 speed free hub wheel anyway (can't put 8+ speed cassettes on 7 speed free hub wheels). At the point where you think about doing that, you would want to do a cost evaluation....the cost of the upgrade (leaving you with the rest of the bike components the same quality level you started with) versus just buying a new bike which would likely be an upgrade in every component. Deduct the selling price of your Nova (keep it looking nice!). In the case of my Bike Friday, it made sense because the frame is the same as the ones on their $2000+ bikes. Plus I learned to do all the wrenching myself which made it cost-effective. Shop labor costs are another layer to consider if you can't do it yourself.

By the time you decide you want more gears (if you do), you may also have a better idea of other "wants" which would be better met by a better bike (or not). So the short answer to your question is - yes, it's do-able but you may decide to get a different bike instead. Most peeps who buy folders end up going to something better/lighter/nicer in the long term. Upgrading a lower end bike won't get you back what you put in to it.
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Old 07-25-17, 05:43 PM   #48
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Update: Somewhat unexpectedly, I found an enticing eBay auction for a Downtube 9FS the other day (URL removed). I did some more research on the bike, decided to give it a go, and won the auction. According to the seller it's only lightly used.

Edit: I imagine people would advise me to bring the bike to a local bike shop/mechanic to have it inspected and tuned-up, which I plan to do. Aside from that, anything I should be aware of? Any feedback about the spontaneous purchase itself?

Last edited by impact1400; 08-02-17 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 07-25-17, 06:14 PM   #49
Mtroup
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I think the only advice left to give is: When in doubt, take Fountain.
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Old 07-25-17, 06:19 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mtroup View Post
I think the only advice left to give is: When in doubt, take Fountain.
Haha, you know it
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