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  1. #1
    Senior Member swwhite's Avatar
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    Should I purchase a sub-$200 folder?

    Recent events have suggested to me that I need a backup bike, and that it should be a folder. It would be used as backup to my main/only commuting bike and as a weekend runabout bike for going places where lockup opportunities are unknown, and for the occasional operation of taking the car to the repair shop.

    I scanned the folder forum for advice, and briefly searched the internet to find out that there are more folding bikes than I realized. The first folder I happened upon was a Citizen for $179. I also spotted a couple others, I forget which, for $199. I have seen references in this forum for $299 being a low-budget price, and I have seen a few folders locally for a lot more, and I know that a Bike Friday is about $1000.

    So my question is, would I be making mistake by ordering a really inexpensive folding bicycle? I am 6'3", if that is relevant.

    Thank you.
    Riding in search of the simple life.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Shilun's Avatar
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    If you enjoy cycling, you may be disappointed by a sub-$200 folder. I've tried a few and there are just too many irritations for my liking - the folding mechanism will probably be very clunky, chains always seem to scrape and grind, and the handlebars are usually way too low. The cheapest folder which gets good marks on this forum seems to be the downtube (c. $300)

    http://www.downtube.com/catalog/prod...3c90514771fac6

    Your height may be an issue, too. I'm just over 6ft tall and have 2 folders, both around the $400 mark. However, on one bike I have the seatpost at its maximum limit, and on the other I'm still looking for a replacement seatpost as the original was far too short. Although I can't be sure, I guess that cheap bikes will cut corners by only offering very short posts.

    I notice that you say that you want to take the bike to places where lockup opportunities are not available, in which case I imagine you're planning to carry the bikes into stores and so on. Be aware that you may find that the 20'' folders most commonly discussed in this forum are still rather cumbersome to move around. I would call them transportable rather than portable. I personally find them too unwieldy to carry inside stores or onto crowded buses, although they area joy to ride. I'm currently considering buying a secondary folder with much smaller wheels and more compact folding size and shape. Perhaps something along the same lines may suit you too.

    As an afterthought, you could just buy a beaten up old machine and lock the wheels, even if you don't lock it to anything. If it's decrepit enough, perhaps no-one will bother to steal it!

    Anyway, good luck with your search.

    Shilun

  3. #3
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    I agree with Shilun, the regular 20" folder that most people have around here is far from a convenience to carry. They are excelent to load into a car or travel with, but for folding them and keeping them with you while, let's say, shopping for food, you would be better served with a Strida or even one of those Mini 125 mentioned in the forum.

    One way or another, a 20" folder for less than 200 may compromise your entire "folding bike experience", unless you get lucky and buy off of e-bay or something a decent used folder for that price (there is a nice halfway right now for less than that).

    Good luck,

    Rafael

  4. #4
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    Short Answer: No.
    Somewhat longer: I agree with everything above.
    Longer and more hassle: See my other posts on a similair question.

    Good Luck!
    http://www.rhizomes.nl/twenty.html
    My Tweaked and modded Raleigh Twenty. Lots of pictures and lots of general info on for example a different & Cheap Bottom Bracket solution as well as fork solution.

  5. #5
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    I purchased a under $200 dollars folder. I did this since I wanted to upgrade and add various components and accessories not offered in the higher level (read aluminum frame) models. I knew what I wanted, did the research on each, and followed through. I wasn't really trying to "save" money. I just wanted to channel the money where I felt it would be most effective.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by folder fanatic
    I purchased a under $200 dollars folder. I did this since I wanted to upgrade and add various components and accessories not offered in the higher level (read aluminum frame) models. I knew
    What did you buy? What components did you change? And how are you satisfied?

    I considered doing this with the Dahon Boardwalk 1, which is a single speed. But there were a few limitations. I think the rear dropout width was even smaller than normal, there were no brake bosses for the rear, and it seemed to get bad opinions by others.

    In another thread others had mentioned the desire to buy just a frame. I continue to want to do just that. Ive got plenty enough components lying around to finish another bike and could build the wheels just as I want.

  7. #7
    meb
    meb is offline
    Senior Member meb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swwhite
    Recent events have suggested to me that I need a backup bike, and that it should be a folder. It would be used as backup to my main/only commuting bike and as a weekend runabout bike for going places where lockup opportunities are unknown, and for the occasional operation of taking the car to the repair shop.

    I scanned the folder forum for advice, and briefly searched the internet to find out that there are more folding bikes than I realized. The first folder I happened upon was a Citizen for $179. I also spotted a couple others, I forget which, for $199. I have seen references in this forum for $299 being a low-budget price, and I have seen a few folders locally for a lot more, and I know that a Bike Friday is about $1000.

    So my question is, would I be making mistake by ordering a really inexpensive folding bicycle? I am 6'3", if that is relevant.

    Thank you.
    Since you are using it as a backup bike for rare intermittent use sometimes in theft prone locations, it sounds as if for the purpose you've identified, there would be no reason to buy a performance folder that would normally be idle or easily stolen and a cheap folder would be fine.

    The 20" approach is better and the 34 gear inches low of the Citizen will handle most climbs but a top gear at 68 gear inches is not going overly fast, but if mechanically inclined you could swap out the freewheel or chainring. That suspension will also smooth the ride. My biggest concern specifically with the Citizen would be whether it is big enough for you since the recommended max size of 6'3" might be for a short inseam 6' 3" and the 230 lb limit may or may not cover you.

  8. #8
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasong
    What did you buy? What components did you change? And how are you satisfied?

    I considered doing this with the Dahon Boardwalk 1, which is a single speed. But there were a few limitations. I think the rear dropout width was even smaller than normal, there were no brake bosses for the rear, and it seemed to get bad opinions by others.

    In another thread others had mentioned the desire to buy just a frame. I continue to want to do just that. Ive got plenty enough components lying around to finish another bike and could build the wheels just as I want.
    I purchased the Boardwalk S1 when it was still offered in Dahon's on-line web site back in late 2003. I chose it for the flexible steel frame and most of the components/accessories were already in place and came with the bike.

    I turned it over to my trusted bike shop and had the following upgrades placed:

    Drivetrain converted to one of the last British made Sturmey Archer AW three speed hub laced in the wheel. (the rear dropouts were expanded outward to accomidate the hub by the qualified mechanic.)
    Trigger thumb shifter mounted on handlebars.
    A sidepull Tekro brake was attached to the brake boss created (drilled) by the bike mechanic for the rear.

    Total cost of the upgrades:
    100 dollars for three speed hub
    (shifter was thrown in free since they used a part just lying around)
    40 dollars for the Tekro brake
    plus labor pushed my bike total price to $400 dollars which was acceptable to my budget.

    As for improved ride quality, what can I say? The bike performs very well for what I use it for-moderate hill climbing without standing on the brakes and breaking out in a hard sweat as I communte on it for business. It does not go as fast as say a road bike. But with traffic the way it is so unpredicable, that works fine for me. I do not want to look too good when I am out there mixing in with a variety of strangers in a large city. The bike does all this and more.

  9. #9
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    I think the additional E 90 the Downtube (or maybe certain Dahons too) cost on top of the E 199 budget are really really worth it. Even if it means postponing your purchase for a bit.
    http://www.rhizomes.nl/twenty.html
    My Tweaked and modded Raleigh Twenty. Lots of pictures and lots of general info on for example a different & Cheap Bottom Bracket solution as well as fork solution.

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