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Folding Bikes Discuss the unique features and issues of folding bikes. Also a great place to learn what folding bike will work best for your needs.

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Old 07-08-05, 04:43 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2005
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Full Size Folders 2005

I'm a long term reader first time poster. Love the community really nice atmosphere and some great advice. Well Done!

I'm looking for a new full size folding bike. Not planning on spending more than 500, which is about $900 but we Brits pay more than our American friends for most things so I think $600 - $700 is probably a more accurate conversion.

I'm a urban user, so a huge set of gears wouldn't benefit me that much, indeed one gear would be fine. I want to keep it full size because of my height, I don't find the small folders particularly comfortable. I'v looked at the Dahon Jack but not seen many reviews of it.

Have any of you used it? Or read about it?

Any reccomendations and advice would be much appreciated.


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Old 07-08-05, 06:08 AM   #2
Simple Simon
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Hi Dan, I'm in a similar situation to you - interested in full sized folders (and I'm Tall), but I havent found anything yet. The Dahons seem to be good quality and prices but they only seem to fold in half which make them way too big to take on my crowded commuter train.

Maybe you dont need to take it on the train, bus or tube ?

In which case, there are a couple of favourable test reports on Another full sized folder is Montague ( which also gets good reviews, but again it is not suitable for london commuting - the front wheel needs to be removed !

I am sure many people here will say smaller wheels especially 20" are OK, and make the best compromise - and I have taken that route too and have two 16" folders which i fit fine (Strida3 & BromptonL3) and are perfect for the commute ...... However after riding MTB's off road at the weekends, I too wish there was a practical full sized folder.... Si
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Old 07-08-05, 06:19 AM   #3
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Interesting point.

I'm not going to be using a communter train or bus but it would be nice to know that the size wouldn't hinder me if did need to use some public transport.

I think on the whole we may struggle in this department. Biomega have a concept bike called UM (urban mobility) that folds up pretty tightly but it looks like we won't see them in our parts until after Christmas, and its top of my budget 500.

I'm not interested in anything that needs wheels removing. I want a 30 second fold tops.

I'll check out those sites and keep you posted on my progress.
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Old 07-08-05, 08:11 AM   #4
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I have a Dahon Matrix full-size folder. I transport it on the Metro (train) here in Washington, DC when night falls early in the winter. I bought it because I have a 12-mile commute one-way that I ride in the mornings, and wanted a full size bike for that part of the commute. Now that I've completed one winter with that arrangement, I'm thinking about switching to a 20" folder.

The Matrix looks good and rides well, and it folds quite quickly. However, it is heavy and a bit cumbersome in the station and on the train. I have ridden several 20" folders and have found them quite a nice ride.

For Simple Simon, it sounds like you really need two bikes--one folder for commuting that folds up small enough for the train, and a regular mountain bike for the weekends. The Matrix is NOT designed for off-road use. I think it would be fine for dirt roads, but certainly not for technical single-track, rough riding, jumping and the like. I don't think any folder would be particularly good for that. So you would really need a regular mountain bike for your weekends anyways. The problem with having one bike for several different purposes is that you end up with a bike that does neither task very well.

For Dan, the Matrix seems like it would be good for you, to bring on transit occassionally. In Washington, DC, bikes are not allowed inside busses, but all the busses have bike racks in front, so a folder is not necessary. On the train, officially folding bikes are allowed anytime as long as they are in a bag. The Matrix in a bag is not managable at all, so I take my chances with carrying it "naked". So far, so good. The Matrix folds quite quickly. I like it alot, but my winter commute would be more nimble with a 20-inch folder.
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Old 07-08-05, 08:46 AM   #5
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does it come in black?
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Old 07-08-05, 11:11 AM   #6
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If you want something in black, has only 7 speeds, and is full size (26"), take a look at the Dahon Jack. It seems to have everything you wanted in your ideal bike. Dahon takes care of it's customers and is gaining a stronghold in the UK. I own a black Boardwalk myself. Check out the 2 website they maintain:
here in the US and
for all of you in the UK

Please let us know of your decision in this matter.
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Old 07-09-05, 04:03 PM   #7
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Ride a 20inch first before you buy. I too was thinking about a 26 till I rode both a 26 and a 20 the same time. I have a 20" Dahon Speed TR and it is the greatest bike I've ever owned. I'm retired so commuting wasn't the issue. I just wanted a folder to make traveling in car or motorhome easier. After a month I rode my MTB and "hated it" it was like trying to drive a big old truck. The 20 incer seems unstable at first, but after a day or so you will fall in love with it.
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Old 07-09-05, 10:29 PM   #8
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I would encourage anyone considering a 26 inch wheel folder to take a look at the offerings by Montague.
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Old 07-11-05, 08:46 AM   #9
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I've gone with the Jack.

The montagues were hard to find in the UK and I really didn't want to get a 20" so the bromptons which had also been reccomended to me where out of the question.

I get it tomorrow so I will let you all know what it is like after I've taken it for it's first spin.

Cheers for the comments.

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Old 07-11-05, 08:49 AM   #10
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Don't forget the happy medium between full size and 20" provided by the capable looking Airnimal 24" range:
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Old 07-11-05, 04:38 PM   #11
Gordon Petrie
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Bikes: Dahon Espresso; Dahon Helios. Phillips Boardwalk Lite: Trek Navigator
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Dear Dan,
With regard to the discussion on full-size 26 inch folders that you initiated, I do have one of these bikes (a 2004 Dahon Espresso). Besides which, I also have two 20 inch wheel folders - a 2004 Dahon Helios and a 2002 Phillips Boardwalk Lite (which is an older type of re-badged Helios**. My wife has two 20 inch folders - a 2003 Giant Halfway and an older Universal Stowaway. Previously I had a 16 inch wheel Phillips (Dahon) folder. However it proved to be quite unsuitable for use on the rather rough cycle trails and canal towpaths that we have here in Central Scotland with their loose gravel, cinder or sandy surfaces, occasional stretches of stone cobbles and frequent potholes.

Based on my experience with these various folders, I have no hesitation in saying that I find the Espresso with its 26 inch wheels [fitted with SKS mudguards and shod with Schwalbe Hurricane Sport tyres] provides the most comfortable ride and is the most suitable of our folders for use on these rougher tracks and towpaths. It has 21 (3 x 7) gears that I find very adequate for our conditions - which, away from the canals, include a lot of hills that utilize all the available gears. In fact, I found that the chain and the rear gears (sprockets) of the Espresso wore out after six months' solid use, causing the chain to slip or jump off the gears in a most annoying and frustrating fashion. As a result, I replaced the whole of the transmission with much better quality components - Shimano Deore front and rear derailleurs; a SRAM Truvativ chainwheel set and a new chain. This drastic action finally cured all the chain and gear slippage and jumps on the Espresso.

Before I bought the Espresso in April 2004, I also had the opportunity to try out the Dahon Matrix. I much preferred the Espresso, mainly due to its more upright riding position - which suits my riding syle and abilities. By comparison, the Matrix is set up much more like a mountain bike, resulting in the rider having a much more bent back and stretched-out arm positions. Obviously this would suit some riders, though not me. The Matrix also had shock absorbers on the front wheel. Again thiis would suit some people, even though it wasn't to my taste.

More recently, I have tried out the new 2005 Dahon Jack with its 26 inch wheels. It lies more in the same price bracket as the Espresso rather than the more expensive Matrix. However the Jack only has a single front chain wheel instead of the three used on the Espresso. Its riding position is similar to that of the Matrix, but it doesn't have the front fork suspension of the more expensive Matriix and Zero-G models. Another important point with both the Matrix and Jack is that the front post, stem and handlebars do not fold down as they do on my 2004 Espresso (and on our 20 iinch folders). Instead the post carrying the stem and handlebars is slackened off using an Allen key. It is then rotated so that the handlebars are aligned with the main frame of the bike. So these two bikes (the Matrix and the Jack) are somewhat less compact than the Espresso overall after folding down the main frame.

I believe that the 2005 model of the Espresso is like the 2005 Jack in that it doesn't have the folded down handlebars of the 2004 model that I have. However the 2004 Espresso is still available from the importers here in the U.K. (at a reduced price!). If you want to have still more choice in 26 inch folders, the Phillips Discovery - which is very similar in design to the Espresso (and is made by Dahon or its associate company Yeah) - is also widely available from Raleigh/Phillips dealers at a still lower price. But it uses a steel frame instead of aluminium and is quite substantially heavier.

In practice, I can fold down the Espresso and put it in the back of our small Honda Civic hatchback car without any difficulty with the back seat fully down. So, if I am going out riding on my own, I always take the Espresso and use the car to take me to my starting point. However if I go out with my wife and her big dog (a standard poodle), we invariably use the smaller-wheeled folders (her Halfway and my Helios). All of us (two adults and the dog in its car seat harness), together with the two 20 inch folded bikes can fit neatly into the Civic with one half of the back seat folded down.

Similarly, if we go on the train (as we often do), then again we tend to go with the smaller-wheeled (20 inch) bikes since they take up much less space. Furthermore, if all the special bike stalls provided on some of our local trains are occupied, we can still fold our 20 inch wheeled bikes right down to fit into whatever other space is available - e.g. into the space between the seats or below the stalls occupied by the non-folding bikes hanging from hooks located on the sides of the carriage. However I have experienced no difficulties whatsoever in taking the Espresso on the trains folded down whenever this is required.

We tend to plan our trips with the small wheel (20 inch) folders using the cycleways with smoother tarred surfaces, most of which have been built on some of the disused railway tracks that abound in the Glasgow area and West of Scotland. These formerly served the numerous shipyards and the associated heavy industries that are now closed. The 20 inch wheel folders cope with the smoother surfaces of these tarred cycleways very well. However the Espresso copes much better whenever the surface is rougher.

In summary, I find the Espresso to be a sturdy bike, not too heavy, comfortable to ride and very easy to fold and transport when required. I do hope that these experiences are useful to you.

Finally, in reply to Little Pixel's remarks about the Airnimal bikes such as the Joey and Chameleon with their 24 inch wheels, I would point out that Dan set 500 as his upper price limit. The Espresso costs 330; the Jack is 360 and the Matrix, 500. The Airnimal machines are all priced well above his limit. The simple Joey for urban use costs 700. The high-performance Chameleon road bike costs in the range 1,000 - 1,500 depending on components. Airnimal's Rhino off-road bike with 20 inch wheels and full front and rear suspension costs 1,375 (White Rhino) or 2,000 (Black Rhino). Now it seems that Airnimal are about to introduce a new range of bikes with 22 inch wheels. Again these are all priced well above 1,000 - see the current A-to-B Magazine U.K. price list.

Gordon Petrie
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