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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 07-10-05, 09:48 PM   #1
sac1971
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Just got a folder! Now what?

Hi all! I've been lurking around here for a bit and the excellent information helped me as I made my first bike purchase in 12 years -- a Dahon Boardwalk D7 (I think that's the brand. It has seven speeds, anyway). I live in a small condo on the second floor of a building with no elevator access, and my old, heavy bike was just gathering dust because it's such a pain just to get in and out of my apartment or up or down the stairs. And forget getting it in the car. I started doing some research on folding bikes because I thought it could be a possible commuting option, and I feel very happy with my choice.
Now I want to sloooowly get it ready for possible commuting (I say slowly because I don't have a lot of money to throw at this right away.) Also, my stamina is not so great that I'm ready to just hop on and ride 12 miles! So I need to get myself ready as well.

I've already read some very good threads on this site about what supplies are needed for bicycle commuting, but I was just wondering if folks had some recommendations for things to start off with to make the bike more comfortable/useful. And please keep in mind, I'm not very bike-savvy! But I'm looking forward to getting acquainted with this bicycle. I am thinking that some bags might be nice, but I don't know if its best to go with Dahon brand or something else?...
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Old 07-11-05, 07:46 AM   #2
James H Haury
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Have it checked out to activate the warranty and start using it for short shopping trips and local rides. Cemeteries are a good place to ride as there is not usually much traffic in them. I.E it is dead in there ah ah! I mean Ha Ha!. Use transit and take yourself places you want to ride on the weekend but do not have the endurance to ride to straight from home. Carry some tools and a patch kit and tube and water for yourself wicking underclothes help you ride more comfortably .Walmart(for t shirts), Nashbar and REI have the best prices.

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Old 07-11-05, 08:18 AM   #3
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If comfort is an issue after trying a few rides you can do a few things - change the bike a bit or change your clothes. if you're getting saddle sore maybe you need a suspended seatpost, a gel saddle or some padded pants. Or you could get some squashy tyres (tires) like Schwalbe's Big Apples that absorb lots of bumps, running at a low inflation.

At the front - I put a suspension fork on my twenty from a recumbant bike but it was a bit of a job. You can get gel filled gloves that save a lot of handlebar vibration going into your wrists. It's also possible to get hubs with suspension in them (made by pantour) though these are costly and you'd have to get your Local Bike shop to take apart your existing front wheel and rebuild it with the new hub in the centre.

All this is academic if you ride a bit and find you like it - you probably wont find comfort an issue; it's always good to be sure you've got the saddle and handlebars set up right for your size. Perhaps the best tip is to stand on the pedals with your ass out of the seat over bigger bumps and let your knees take any of the shocks.

As for luggage - depends what you need to carry. If it's just a waterproof coat, puncture kit and pump you might just be fine with a small day-sack on your back and/or a saddle bag which usually fit all bikes universally. I wouldn't necessarily worry about getting a Dahon branded bag - there are lots of manufaturers. I'm in the UK so you might not get exactly the same on your own mailorder sites but good manufacturers are Ortlieb, Karrimor, Specialised, Altura, and Topeak. You can also get handlbar packs which are a lot more practical and large than they sound. I actually use a pannier hanging from my rear rack (it can get a bit sweaty on your back with a small pack) but my bike has a custom rack and some panniers might not clear the ground well if you actually find a rack that fits your bike.

Get a helmet, LED lights (in a city you don't really need a front beam - you just need to be seen), a puncture kit (however well you ride you *will* get the odd puncture) and small pump. A bike multi-tool is good if you need to tighten anything away from home - I never travel without mine) and a reflective coat/waistcoat/band and reflective bands for your ankles. It might make you feel a bit of a clown at first but I can testify how on hot days without my bright orange coat how many more cars get a bit close for comfort because they haven't seen me.

Don't let that all the parafenalia put you off though - do as James says and get your confidence up out of traffic then build up to your commute when you feel ready for it.

Wishing you well on your first few rides - I just know it won't be long till you are rolling up the miles without even noticing... Huw

Last edited by LittlePixel; 07-11-05 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 07-11-05, 12:34 PM   #4
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I always ride very easy when I am off the bike for a long period of time. I take it very easy, don't push myself too hard and take breaks as when I feel tired at various bus stops. I carry very light items like a cell phone, a tiny AM/FM radio, mini tool pack, and plenty of water and snacks to boost my energy and not be overwhelmed by too much weight.

If I ride with another who is much stronger than me, I do not try to match him/her in speed or endurance.
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Old 07-11-05, 01:53 PM   #5
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You can start by commuting part of the way, and then hopping on the Metro or bus. If you want some assistance in finding a good cycling route, drop me a PM. I've been riding my bike and commuting in and around DC for several years now.
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Old 07-11-05, 03:14 PM   #6
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Thank you, velogirl. I may take you up on that. My drive to work takes me across Rock Creek Park via Military Road, and I don't feel comfortable navigating that stretch of road on a bicycle.
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Old 07-11-05, 08:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sac1971
Thank you, velogirl. I may take you up on that. My drive to work takes me across Rock Creek Park via Military Road, and I don't feel comfortable navigating that stretch of road on a bicycle.
The beauty of commuting by bike is that you DON'T go the same route as if you were driving a car. You will learn more about the city and various neighborhoods, and life will generally become more interesting. The ADC Bike Map of DC is a good place to start.

I commute between Prince Georges County and Alexandria, through downtown and NE DC. I have several established routes, none of which I take driving. I've really learned alot about the city, and life is, in fact, much more interesting than if I were just driving the same ole' route to work and back.

Congratulations on your curiousity about commuting. Little steps are the way to go to get started.
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Old 07-15-05, 07:46 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by sac1971
I was just wondering if folks had some recommendations for things to start off with to make the bike more comfortable/useful.
--- Consider your options for a comfortable saddle; there are many new designs for you to choose from. Anyway, hang on to your beloved folder--it will be VERY valuable during the next oil crisis: www.hubbertpeak.com/campbell/
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Old 07-16-05, 12:51 PM   #9
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I would like to add any bicycle will be valuable during any harsh times that lie ahead. So don't feel guilty about communting, enjoyment recreational riding, utility riding, or fancy racing your collection of bikes and styles. My own tiny collection of two have proven themselves time and time again to support me and my family during any high stress times. I would not trade either of them for anything now.
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Old 07-16-05, 01:14 PM   #10
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The best piece of equipment you can buy (even relatively cheaply), IMO, is a pair of bike shorts.

Good luck!
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Old 07-18-05, 08:12 AM   #11
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Helmet!
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Old 07-18-05, 12:54 PM   #12
sac1971
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Well, a helmet goes without saying, of course!

I rode a bit Sunday, even though the humidity in this area was at death-like levels. Got a lot of good attention, even though I don't quite have the folding part down, and I was sweating like a pig, besides. I don't know why I can fold the darn thing so easily in my house, but on the road I can barely get the stem latch to go down. I need to practice some more so that the people who say "ooh, that's neat!" don't have to watch me wrestle around with the thing for 15 minutes.
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Old 07-20-05, 11:13 PM   #13
tedi k wardhana
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dear oboeguy,
I looked closely at your pictures of your dahon speedpro.
folding bikes are not too easily to be found here in jakarta.
please tell me how much it cost, new?
and also please tell, how many ridable folding bikes you tried, before you decided to buy the speedpro? thanks a lot!
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Old 07-21-05, 02:14 PM   #14
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Hi tedi. The SpeedPro is great! There's a long thread somewhere here where I worried about getting the bike sight-unseen, because, even in NYC, nobody stocks it (I had to put down a deposit for a special order). I tried a regular "Speed" model, was comfortable enough on it, I suppose, to place the order. I think the retail price is around $800? (I found it online somewhere) Not cheap, but well worth the price.

You can PM me if you have more questions.
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