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Old 10-12-05, 02:59 PM   #1
bobkeenan
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Light Rail Commuter - Help with New Folder

They just finished a light rail line closer to my work. So I now have about 2 miles to the start and 2 miles from the end to my work. I could walk but I would like to shorten the time I commute. The Light rail, itself, adds 15 minutes.

Light rail allows you to bring your bike on board but limits each car to 2-4 bikes. About 10% of the time the cars are full of bikes and you have to miss the train. That means getting to work 30min late.

My budget is @ $500.

At my local bike shops I have tried the Giant halfway and the Dahon Boardwalk. I can't explain why but the Halfway felt like a better ride.

I was also thinking I could use a folder when we car camp or go sailboat chartering but it would mostly get used in the commute.

Any suggestions or comments on these bikes or any other that I should consider for this kind of use?
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Old 10-12-05, 03:23 PM   #2
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A guy at the shop where I got my SpeedPro said he liked the feel of the Dahons over the Halfway. Go figure.

FYI, I've taken the SpeedPro camping a few times. Very handy to be able to toss the bike on the back seat with minimal effort.
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Old 10-12-05, 06:11 PM   #3
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I purchase the Boardwalk for my commutes to and from the light rail that opened up here nearly 3 years ago. The folder is a great choice in a cramped area that is usually shared by all sorts of others (wheelchairs, baby carriages and strollers, luggage carts-trolleys, and other sort of wheels). The next time that I will purchase a folder, I probably will go for a smaller 16" wheel due to the extreme increase use of the light rail because of the increase vehicle and energy costs-and more crowding in the area where I keep it.
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Old 10-12-05, 07:12 PM   #4
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Ok... you have me thinking now. I was homing in on the halfway but it is about 28lbs. I looked up the Dahon Presto lite. Its a little more expensive but the weight is about 19lbs and if folds up to a much smaller size. Since I am only riding about 4 miles a day maybe I should go with the smallest lightess folder in my price range? Any bad things about the Presto Lite that I should know about?
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Old 10-12-05, 07:22 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by bobkeenan
Any bad things about the Presto Lite that I should know about?
Sorry - I have nothing bad to say

I test rode it and thought it was great. Gearing a little limited if you have steep hills, but otherwise a really nice bike!
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Old 10-13-05, 02:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobkeenan
They just finished a light rail line closer to my work. So I now have about 2 miles to the start and 2 miles from the end to my work. I could walk but I would like to shorten the time I commute. The Light rail, itself, adds 15 minutes.

Light rail allows you to bring your bike on board but limits each car to 2-4 bikes. About 10% of the time the cars are full of bikes and you have to miss the train. That means getting to work 30min late.

My budget is @ $500.

At my local bike shops I have tried the Giant halfway and the Dahon Boardwalk. I can't explain why but the Halfway felt like a better ride.

I was also thinking I could use a folder when we car camp or go sailboat chartering but it would mostly get used in the commute.

Any suggestions or comments on these bikes or any other that I should consider for this kind of use?
Could you clarify how folder fits into the light rail issue:
i.e., is a folded bike exempted from the limit in contrast to a non-folded bike subject to it?
Is a folder chosen to take inside the office?
Are folders the only bikes permitted on the light rail system during hours you need commute?


If the Giant feels better to you than the Boardwalk, go with the Giant/Boardwalk as you are going to be riding it for years.
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Old 10-13-05, 07:45 AM   #7
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Bikes are allowed on the Light Rail but only 4 per car. A lot of people here use bikes. I would guess that about 25% of the time, when I use the light rail, there are already 4 bikes on board. There is not time to get into one car, find its full, get off, then check another. So if its full you are screwed unless you cheat and stay.

So you cheat and hope that you are not kicked off. I was being asked to leave about once a month. So the whole process is a little stressful if you are trying to get to work on time and my line only comes every 30 minutes.

As for folders..... I have called and asked the question and am waiting for an answer. I bet they won't know what I am talking about and will say " a bike is a bike". No matter what they say the security guys propably won't know about any obscure policies on rare folding bikes. I had one instance where there was a rule that during rush hours, past a certain street, you could not have a bike on board. I was kicked off , rather rudely, about 4 miles before my stop but it was not near this "certain street". I argued with the security guy... which did me NO good. Later I called the complaint line. They said I was right and "reprimanded" the guard. Then I had to worry about a mad guard. Its not easy being a light rail commuter out here with a bike.

So I thought.... I already have my road bike... why not get a folder that is so small that they will not notice it.... especially if I bag it (which I have never done so that may be more of a hassle than its worth).

So that's the logic.
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Old 10-13-05, 07:55 AM   #8
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Bob,

I have a Halfway. It's a great bike, but it's hardly inconspicuous when folded. If the train is as crowded and the staff as inflexible as you say, I think a folded Halfway (and I suspect a folded Boardwalk, too) is not going to solve your problem. Bearing in mind the short distance that you're planning to ride, I think a 16 inch wheel is your max (Dahon Presto, Sweetpea, pehaps) or even a Strida if you don't mind the odd looks.

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Old 10-13-05, 08:11 AM   #9
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Why not ride all the way to work? A fifteen minute rail ride can't be that far.


I certainly wouldn't find it worth the effort to commute a total of four miles...
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Old 10-13-05, 08:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobkeenan
They just finished a light rail line closer to my work. So I now have about 2 miles to the start and 2 miles from the end to my work. I could walk but I would like to shorten the time I commute. The Light rail, itself, adds 15 minutes.

Light rail allows you to bring your bike on board but limits each car to 2-4 bikes. About 10% of the time the cars are full of bikes and you have to miss the train. That means getting to work 30min late.

My budget is @ $500.

At my local bike shops I have tried the Giant halfway and the Dahon Boardwalk. I can't explain why but the Halfway felt like a better ride.

I was also thinking I could use a folder when we car camp or go sailboat chartering but it would mostly get used in the commute.

Any suggestions or comments on these bikes or any other that I should consider for this kind of use?
I have a lightrail and you're lucky they allow you to bring a bicycle during rush hour! I'm not able to do it but it would not be impossible if I put the bike in a bag. Unfortunately, this would take about 5 minutes and I would often miss the train. I don't bike to the train station anymore but prefer to walk so it's not an issue.

At a $500.00 dollar budget, you're limited to the Boardwalk or Piccolo. The Halfway is also an option and I would choose that bike over the Boardwalk! If there are bikes already on board, you'll have to buy the Dahon bag because you may have to stand next to it with other passengers just inches away. The package is fairly large when placed when covered but it's acceptable because the dirt from the wheels are what people worry about.

Once onboard, look for place away from the doors where people aren't standing. I would look to the center or far to the back of the train. Some lightrail trains are articulated so you might be able to stand in the middle.
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Old 10-13-05, 09:19 AM   #11
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I had a Dahon in mind when I bought my folder last December. After some significant internet research and 2 visits to bike stores, BY FAR the Halfway won and now I own 2. One "american", 7 speed with a hard tail and one "oriental" like shilun's, 7 speed with rear suspension. I use them with my girfriend for 7-15 mile rides on weekends and 4-10 mile rides during the week about 2-3 times a week. The plan is to travel with them starting this December.

Like Shilun suggested, for a 4 mile ride I would I think a 16 inch wheel is your best bet, or even a Strida. However, if you are planning on using your bike for something else, a 20" is a better option, just like it was for me. Besides Oboeguy's statement, every single person I asked (that had the experience to ride folding bikes) said that the Halfway is a very impressing folding, with a very solid frame.

In other words: I would go with a Strida, Dahon Sweetpea OR a Halfway. The halfway may not be the best option for your lightrail, but will be a non-folding replacement that you can start expanding your biking horizons.

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Old 10-13-05, 09:44 AM   #12
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It's out of your budget, but the Brompton is revered as having one of the most compact folds. If you are serious about rail commuting, you should consider it.


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Old 10-13-05, 10:45 AM   #13
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It's out of your budget, but the Brompton is revered as having one of the most compact folds. If you are serious about rail commuting, you should consider it.


Good pictures.

The Brompton will set you back almost $900.00 USD but you can get a Dahon Piccolo for about half that. I have the Piccolo and if you remove the rear rack, it's almost as small as the Brompton. I could get a Piccolo into that small space behind the chair if I lefted up the handlebar. The Brompton is a better bike than the Piccolo but I would prefer the Presto because it's lighter. In fact, you can find the Presto for less than $500.00 USD.

I still think you may need a bag because people may complain if they have to stand next to a bicycle. In all fairness, any place you can get a Brompton in, I can get my Dahon Piccolo inside too. I have never been denied access into trains because the Piccolo was too large. I will even go out and say that 99% of the time, most 20 'inch folding bikes will do just fine. (providing it's in a bag or maybe not)
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Old 10-13-05, 10:49 AM   #14
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Thanks for all of the good responses. And the pictures of the folded brompton are impressive but out of my $$ range. Also I mislead at least one of you. I am not a 15min lite rail ride away but it adds 15min to my car commute. Its a 25mile ride. I used to be able to do that and maybe again one day but not for awhile.

Also I just found out that the dahon presto lites are hard to get. I just talked with a dealer and he says only about 100 will be sold in North America this year?? But he said the dahon piccollo folds to the same size, is much less expensive, is heavier, and more available. So I might go with that because I think, with your help, have concluded that the smallest folding size and my budget are the main drivers.
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Old 10-13-05, 10:58 AM   #15
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Instead of the Dahon bag you could try to get your hands on the slipcover. I've been bugging Thor (aka brakemeister) about getting one for a while but apparently it's never available from Dahon. If you do get the bag, see about waiting for the '06 version, it's hot stuff! It looks more practical for day-to-day use than the current Dahon "Doubleplay" bag.
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Old 10-13-05, 11:26 AM   #16
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A quick slip cover can be had with a large garbage bag in a flash while you are waiting for the new bags that are coming in Dahon's 2006 accessory line up if you decide to purchase right now. I hope you will wait for 2006 (just a few months from now!) to get the Piccolo since Dahon constantly upgrades all of it's models for lighter weight and better components/accessories offered in each model.

Please let us know when you puchase one and how you like it!
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