I'm new to folders and I'm checking out some used folders - I'd appreciate your opinion on whether they're worth looking into further.
Bike #1: a 5 speed Dahon Da Bike; I believe it's about 8 years old. I've included some pictures of the Dahon Da Bike below.
Bike #2: from the ad: "25 inch Bi-Frame M1000 of Japan, 10 spd". Not sure if the 25" refers to the tires or the frame. I googled a bit and it seems that it's a 1993 Montague. See http://tinyurl.com/872z3.
Bike #3: a "Eska Rapido" made in Czechoslovakia. Since it's a single speed, I'm not really interested in it, but thought others here might be. It's about 3 years old, and according to the owner, folds into 20" x 20" x 7".
Ed Vander Hoek
Dahon Da Bike pictures:
I have a Montague M1000 Bi-Frame (Schwinn co-branded) which I bought in the early nineties and really like. It's basically a full size mountain bike that folds around concentric seat tubes. Folded, it's 30" x 39" x 16". While it's a bit larger and heavier than most folders, that's the price you pay for having a full size bike that folds and a compromise I readily accepted. Folding and unfolding only takes a few seconds. I made a Cordura carrying bag for it that makes carrying it on public transportation a non-event.
When I purchased my Dahon Boardwalk in late 2003, I decided to buy new since there were no used ones available at the time. You look like you have a nice Dahon bike available and ready to purchase. I feel that this will be an excellent way to be introduced to the world of folders just as long as you are realistic in your expectations of this particular model's performance. Remember that Dahon and other makes have improved their models over the years. When you are ready to purchase new, you will really be suprised! This bike will be a good guide whether when and if you decide to upgrade your choice of bike.
Here's another one to add to the list:
Bike #4: Oyama Jet 2001 N, about 3 years old, 7 speeds, steel frame, with suspension.
What do you want to DO with your folding bike?
It will probably* be mostly city riding - getting groceries, visiting the local coffee shop, etc. I'd also like to have the option of doing some mild trails. And every now and then a longer ride of perhaps 60Km or so. There are a number of substantial hills in my area. I live in an apartment so a non-folding bike would be less convenient.
* I haven't ridden since I was a kid, so I'm not really sure how I'll be using the bike yet.
Doesn't sound like you need anything particularly high end or expensive, though what i wrote about cheapy bikes still applies. Swifts, Dahon's and Downtube sound like viable options. As for the hills, either Hub or Derallieur gears would seem very usefull though it'd have to be 5 or more i am guessing. Your weight, height and strength should also be considerations since they influence your fit on the bike, ride comfort and whether you find it easy to lug the bike around. If you live in apartment that requires you to haul around your folder often/longer weight of the folder as well as folding size could be important. Ideally you'd want to test ride the folders you are considering. Perhaps there are people of shops nearby where you can test ride, then after that you can still buy second hand or new but will be more informed.
I am one of the many Brooks saddles converts. I also urge you to buy a Brooks B 17, i think it may very likely do wonders for your comfort and hence cycling experience. Many (re-entering) cyclists quite because of saddle pains when these are almost always wholly avoidable.
Also browse the pages of Sheldon Brown for some Sage and wise advice on cycling posture, saddle adjustment, cycling technique and comfort, ankling and pretty much anything else on bikes. These two tips i think are among the best things any cyclist can do for himself.
60 K rides are fun but not something you should expect to do from one day to the next unless your current fitness level happens to be particularly good at present.
When you decide and actually buy one i hope you can find the time to post pictures and a short review. Might be nice for others! :)
I don't know how much the sellers want for the used folders you're looking at but there are a lot of very nice models on the market for not much $$$.
As V1nce mentioned, Dahon and Downtube make several options that won't likely break the bank.
Now that we know your intended use, what's your budget, if you don't mind us asking?
If you've got the $$$, the Downtube VIII FS (full suspension) offers huge bang for the buck. I don't own one but if I'd known about it prior to buying my KHS, it would have been a contender.
(KHS are also nice but only two models are available in North America; KHS Japan makes nearly a dozen)
One more thing: a personal bias of mine is 20" wheels. They're by far the easiest to find tires for. Murphy's law: when you need them most, there won't be 16 or 18" tire or tube in stock at the local bike shop. Everyone has 20's. (406)
My budget is about $500 USD. I've whittled my list down to the Dahon Mariner D7 and the DownTube VIII and VIIIFS. The Dahon has a slightly wider gear range - 33"-90" versus the DownTube's 33"-84". The VIII is very inexpensive and includes fenders and a rack; the VIIIFS has the full suspension.
So, how much practical difference is there between 90 gear-inches and 84? How beneficial is the full suspension?
evh: a few bits of info for you.
I'm upgrading my drivetrain but the upgrade means going from a 32T inner chainring to a 40T. (I have a double front ring-set on a 20" folding bike)
At the same time, I'm substituting the current 30T rear sprocket with a 34T to compensate.
The net effect: I lose "2 gear-inches".
When I asked someone if this was going to be a problem - they said (and I'm quoting):
"2 gear inches isn't a noticeable difference. Even if you had two of the exact same bike, and someone told you to ride 'em and guess which one had an extra two gear inches, you'd be hard pressed to figure out which one it was."
You might feel the 6 gear-inch difference but I don't think it's going to be a huge one.
If the Downtube folder doesn't have a 34T cog already, you could bump up to one (might need a new rear derailleur depending on what's on there). FWIW, with my 40-34 combo, I'm at 23.5 gear-inches. I don't often find a use for that... maybe a 30degree incline (note: 30 DEGREE not "30%" incline ;)
Other option is a second front ring... IF you find yourself needing the added low-end. Depending on where you live, you might not.
*** *** ***
You might also look at the Giant Halfway. It's a cool design nicely implemented but doesn't seem like as much bang for the buck as the others you're looking at.
Given the choice of all those models, I'd vote for the Downtube VIII FS. Full suspension makes a 20" wheel feel more like a much larger wheel. Since most of your weight is on the rear wheel, rear suspension makes more sense than front (to me at least) but it's also less common and not really something you can add later. (unless you count suspension seat posts or sprung saddles)
Have you seen the Downtube thread here in the bike forum? Here: http://www.bikeforums.net/folding-bikes/122760-downtube-folding-bike.html
Really, I don't think you'd be disappointed with any of the bikes you're looking at. To me, it's just a matter of which you get the most value for and what you're comfortable investing.
I'm 5'10" so that puts me at the upper end of the DownTubes with a bit of room to spare. Thanks for the link to Sheldon Brown's page - I'm finding the info invaluable.
Ah, I was wondering about changing the gearing. It sounds like I have some options to me. Right now the VIIIFS is the one I'm leaning toward.
Thanks to everyone for all the great advice and information. You have all been incredibly helpfull.
Yaarrggg, happy to hear that another person is helped by Sheldon's wonderfull pages. May his beard grow longer still and his pages be on-line and free forevermore! ;-)
About the Halfway.. i dunno i thought it was a little Caca in terms of weight, components and price. Check:
Unfortunately that table doesn't include some of the folders you are considering, i have already asked the person who made it to include the Downtube as it think it is a real contender.
Also evh i think it very wise you are getting informed and taking your time. Had i done so before i got my first folder i could have gotten a great one the first time around rather than taking 5 years, 3 bikes and "wasting" some cash. I am a great believer of learning from others experiences and buying something good and to last whenever possible.
I really hope to hear of your choice and subsequent experiences once you decide!
Perhaps off your question a bit, but I recently bought a used 04 Dahon Speed TR, 6 months old, riden about 100 miles for $450, so great deals are out there if you look enough. I love this bike. I ride about 10 to 20 miles daily, mostly flat bike path along the ocean but with on strech of hills as the path follows some cliffs. Also about two miles of city streets to path.
What I really love about my bike is the dual drive. I can come to an interestion and click down while at a stop, then quickly accelerate.
the Dahon has 20 inch wheels which I was leary about but after a day thought were great. After a month I took my MTB out for a ride and thought I was driving a truck.
You also need to be concerned about what kind of tires you use. My TR has slicks which are great on street or path but grass and sandy spots are out. my wifes Dahon Speed 8 has Big Apples which are better for rougher trails and are a more comfortable ride.
Whatever you get the idea of just folding it up and keeping in the car to be able to go riding whenever you feel like is great.