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Old 02-21-06, 12:44 PM   #1
harrington
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If you had 800 to 1000 dollars, what would you get....

This is an open-ended question. I'm new to folder bikes, and I have no experience with them. Professional reviews for these bikes are few and far between. I'm also unable to ride one before I make a purchase. So I'm calling you, the owners, to express your viewpoints. Honestly, I'm looking into a Brompton, but I'm open to suggestions. I'm a 6 ft male, 175 lbs.

What I'm looking for:
1) Something Fairly light-weight and small
2) Commuter bike to be carried on buses, cars, and planes.
3) General Use (going to and from work) with some casual riding on bike trails and parks.
4) Would like it to fix under my desk at work.


So if you had 800 to 1000 dollars (not sure about how many euros that is)... what bike would you get? and why?

Thanks alot!
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Old 02-21-06, 04:49 PM   #2
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Harington,
This is just my opinion, but here it goes. If it were me, I would look at several bikes. These choices are in no particular order.

If compactness is your most important need over everything else, I would go with a Brompton. Not only does it have probably the smallest fold, but IMO it is a pretty stylish bike. To me, it looks sort of like the volvo of folding bikes.

If you need it to fold, but it doesn't need to fold as small as a Brompton, I would look at any number of the Dahons. You would get alot of value for your $800-$1000 dollars. I would personally look at the Speed Pro, Speed tr, Helios(the really light one), and the suspended model that I can't remember the name of. None would fold quite as small as a Brompton, but would still be able to fold and pack in a suitcase.

I would also look at a Swift. It's a little less than $700 and you could buy yourself some nice accessories with the extra money. It's not the smallest fold but get's the job done. The plus is that I think it is quite a sporty bike...kinda like getting a fast bike that happens to fold. It also weighs about 22lbs, but could be made a sub 20lbs bike by simply buying a lighter wheelset.

I'm sure many people will give you their opinion, but that's my two cents,

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Old 02-21-06, 06:41 PM   #3
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In the price range and for the uses you denote, no question in my mind--Brompton, Brompton, Brompton.

I've seen 'em all, ridden most of them. That's what I ride, that's what I carry with me, that's what you find in my living room.
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Old 02-21-06, 08:04 PM   #4
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Okay i am going to have duck down after i say this,.. but i am sincerely feel in this case:

No one bike can do all the things you mention as well as 2 bikes can. I would (dead serious) buy 2 Downtubes.

A 16 inch version for Multi Mode commuting, lightness etc.

The other would be the cheaper DT which would serve all the other purposes.

Rationale? All the ideas i expressed in all the threads about DT. And the fact that Bromptons are non standardized and theft prone. This is no hack on Brommies, they are amazing machines no doubt, but they do have their downsides.

If you leave a Brommie anywhere outside in an urban environment chances are, you won't have it for long. Sure, you can carry it in most times, but that can be a hassle.

The small DT can be carried in too, but is not so expensive. It has way better gearing than the DT but does not fold as small, small enough though. The larger DT can be left outside is cheap but good and would be fine probably for almost all uses and would not get ripped of in a week if you had a decent lock.

It is nice to have options based on your use. Being able to share the folder experience simultaneously with a GF or friend is a blessing. 2 DT's and i think you (and friends) will be happy campers.

Please let us know what you decide.
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Old 02-21-06, 08:49 PM   #5
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V1nce, no doubt, if you are going to risk stealing a folder you might as well go for a Brompton, unless you happen see a Moulton Speed Pylon nearby. However, extendng that logic, you might as well go for a used folder if theft is an overriding concern. I do think the ease of carrying the Brompton and regularly taking it inside (as opposed to something less compact like a Xootr-Swift or 20 inch Dahon) does much to offset the theft worry. Try taking a 20 inch Dahon or a Xootr into a class restaurant. Nobody ever seems to object to the Brommie at tableside.

Bromptons do have nonstandard parts, but Brompton is a very reputable company for supplying parts and that should not be much of problem in most cases even in the USA where dealers are limited.












Quote:
Originally Posted by v1nce
Okay i am going to have duck down after i say this,.. but i am sincerely feel in this case:

No one bike can do all the things you mention as well as 2 bikes can. I would (dead serious) buy 2 Downtubes.

A 16 inch version for Multi Mode commuting, lightness etc.

The other would be the cheaper DT which would serve all the other purposes.

Rationale? All the ideas i expressed in all the threads about DT. And the fact that Bromptons are non standardized and theft prone. This is no hack on Brommies, they are amazing machines no doubt, but they do have their downsides.

If you leave a Brommie anywhere outside in an urban environment chances are, you won't have it for long. Sure, you can carry it in most times, but that can be a hassle.

The small DT can be carried in too, but is not so expensive. It has way better gearing than the DT but does not fold as small, small enough though. The larger DT can be left outside is cheap but good and would be fine probably for almost all uses and would not get ripped of in a week if you had a decent lock.

It is nice to have options based on your use. Being able to share the folder experience simultaneously with a GF or friend is a blessing. 2 DT's and i think you (and friends) will be happy campers.

Please let us know what you decide.
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Old 02-21-06, 08:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by v1nce
I would (dead serious) buy 2 Downtubes.

A 16 inch version for Multi Mode commuting, lightness etc.
Does such a thing exist? I remember Yan discussing the possibility but don't see any info on downtube's website.

I would check out the Dahon SpeedPro ($899). And a can of spray paint.

SpeedPro
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Old 02-21-06, 10:10 PM   #7
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@ wp, good points but I am not suggesting taking a Xootr (or any other folder except what i wrote) into a swank restaurant. I am suggesting a 16 inch small quick fold, comes with a nice bag DT... a whole other folder...

The OP does not necessarily seem to want a second hand folder. But it is true if you are very worried about theft 2nd hand is the way to go. That is exactly why i have two folders, one cheap and one expensive (both sortoff second hand actually).

But the next best thing is a cheap new folder and a more expensive second folder. Not everybody likes to shop around for or tinker with, second hands.

@ Phar. It is in the works (it has progressed very far and can be pre ordered right now) see the recent 16 inch Downtube thread for a very nice picture of the product.

No offense but i think this folder may well (not sure) blow the socks off most Brommies in every way except compact fold. To wit: Included bag, (much) cheaper, much better gearing, standardized!, very likely (much) lighter, etc etc.

In terms of service, Brommie has a longer track record but it would appear that DT (at present) is in a class of their own.

Worth a serious consideration and a smallish wait i think. Especially as you can order the 20 inch version right now to tie you over.

YMMV, my 00.2 cts, just opinion, no Yan is not paying me to hold these opinions, i just love his bikes, etc etc do apply.

Having said all that Brompton is a great bike and company. I don't think anyone would ever regret buying one, i just feel what i suggest is an even more advantageous solution/answer to the OP's query.
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Old 02-21-06, 10:12 PM   #8
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What: If I had $800, I'd spend $700 of it on the Swift, $35 on a longer stem, and $30-$65 on a nice saddle.

Why: I take my Swift on the commuter train, throw it in the trunk of the car occasionally, store it under my desk at work, and take it on long rides around San Francisco on the weekends. What I like most about my Swift is that it's fun and rewarding to tinker with, and an absolute blast to ride.
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Old 02-21-06, 10:20 PM   #9
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Swift is very nice too to be sure. Fold is really rather large though, i guess i really depends on the OP's priorities, what is paramount and what is secondary?
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Old 02-22-06, 07:09 AM   #10
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For brands that I've had actual experience with, I'd suggest looking at Dahons. If the gearing range on a 3 speed Brompton is satisfactory, then look at the Piccolo (inexpensive but not light) and the Presto. If you want higher performance and a wider gearing range, and can live with a somewhat less compact fold, then any of the P8 models, such as the Speed or Helios. They fold quickly, and small enough for most purposes.

Bike Friday is great, but might be more of a pain for frequent fast folding to take on public transport. Also, anything in the price range specified is going to be either used, or at the low end of the component specs. A simple single chainring model could work, though.

For brands I've never ridden, Brompton and Swift both do seem like good potential choices, but I've got nothing else to add.

Downtubes might be okay, but I'd be concerned about the weight, and the possible need to upgrade components. Still, the price makes it worth considering, particularly if you have an opportunity for a test ride.
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Old 02-22-06, 12:45 PM   #11
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"Rationale? All the ideas i expressed in all the threads about DT. And the fact that Bromptons are non standardized and theft prone. This is no hack on Brommies, they are amazing machines no doubt, but they do have their downsides.

If you leave a Brommie anywhere outside in an urban environment chances are, you won't have it for long. Sure, you can carry it in most times, but that can be a hassle"-Vince

"V1nce, no doubt, if you are going to risk stealing a folder you might as well go for a Brompton, unless you happen see a Moulton Speed Pylon nearby. However, extendng that logic, you might as well go for a used folder if theft is an overriding concern. I do think the ease of carrying the Brompton and regularly taking it inside (as opposed to something less compact like a Xootr-Swift or 20 inch Dahon) does much to offset the theft worry. Try taking a 20 inch Dahon or a Xootr into a class restaurant. Nobody ever seems to object to the Brommie at tableside."-wpflem


One of the most important distinctions that seems to get lost when the folder is concerned is the high theft rate that all bicycles face. Because there is no secure storage 99%of the time-by that I mean an live parking attendant with secured indoor parking-people are ususally make do with locks and prayers that their bikes would be there when they return. The folder is the only bike that can be taken with it's owner like luggage, period. Some bikes like the Brompton is more portable than others like the 20" bikes. Theft is eliminated except for the rare violent bikejacker that physically removes the bike from the owners possession. Read any website that lists stolen folders. Chances are the owner left it outside like a regular bike (even locked) and it is taken and rarely seen again. I turned to folders because regular bikes are no longer safe anywhere in urban centers. Yes there are trade-offs. But having a little bike is better than having no bike!
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Old 02-22-06, 09:58 PM   #12
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harrington...
I can only comment on bikes I've ridden... which include a number of Dahon's and one Brompton...
With folding bikes there is a give and take on two qualities when selecting the bike you want:
> the ride
> the folded package
Usually, one effects the other... ex: good fold usually translates into a not-as-good ride, etc.
There is not a bike I know of (yet) that achieves a perfect score in both qualities.

In my mind, the Bromptons win when it comes to a nice, neat folded package. But the ride and componentry are not the best... they will get you from A to B... and thats what they are made for.

As far as ride, I believe the Dahon 20 inch bikes excel... and really, the fold is pretty good too. They have a wide selection of bikes that suit alot of needs.... they seem to be geared towards someone who wants to get a bit of a real ride into the day.

I've experienced commuting with Dahon's and have had minimal problems carrying it... and the new bags they introduced, seem to ease this burden even further.

I'm not sure what to say about the Downtubes... they look to fold worse than the Dahon's and I'm not too impressed with the components.

now about it fitting under your desk... no matter which way you go, you'll need a big desk!

goodluck!

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Old 02-23-06, 01:00 AM   #13
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It may be prudent to remember that the DT components are upgraded all the time, the newer models (especially the 16 inch!) are a very far cry from the initial ones when it comes to components.

But Dahon is also a very good choice to be sure.
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Old 02-23-06, 03:05 AM   #14
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I think you could say component upgrading is true of all bike companies...
You could also say, after looking at their history, that Dahon is a true innovator in this niche of bikes... I believe they have a commitment to upgrade and refine every single model/frame they have, year after year... after riding one for a couple years, you can really tell where all this R&D has paid off.
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Old 02-23-06, 03:18 AM   #15
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If I knew that the 16" Downtube would fold into an "easy-to-stay-collapsed" package once folded, I would suggest the new Downtube coming out soon. For now I still think you are better served with a brompton.

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Old 02-23-06, 09:35 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harrington
This is an open-ended question. I'm new to folder bikes, and I have no experience with them. Professional reviews for these bikes are few and far between. I'm also unable to ride one before I make a purchase. So I'm calling you, the owners, to express your viewpoints. Honestly, I'm looking into a Brompton, but I'm open to suggestions. I'm a 6 ft male, 175 lbs.

What I'm looking for:
1) Something Fairly light-weight and small
2) Commuter bike to be carried on buses, cars, and planes.
3) General Use (going to and from work) with some casual riding on bike trails and parks.
4) Would like it to fix under my desk at work.


So if you had 800 to 1000 dollars (not sure about how many euros that is)... what bike would you get? and why?

Thanks alot!
How many times are you going to board the bus? If you are going to board the bus twice a day, get a Brompton, otherwise, invest in a Dahon, Swift or Bike Friday.

The 20' inch wheel with a derailuer is more efficient and faster than a 16' inch wheel. The Bike Friday would be a better choice for a person your size and weight. Your casual riding during the weekend will increase if you have a bike with multiple gears and chainrings. I don't know a single person on this forum who ones a Bike Friday and could not get their bike on an airplane, car or train. In fact, I've known many Bike Friday and Dahon owners including myself who have been able to boad the bus. Don't be afraid to buy a larger bike (20 inch wheel) for fear that you won't be able to board a train or airplane. That's a myth.
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Old 02-23-06, 07:21 PM   #17
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I agree... I used to commute everyday, in LA of all places, with a Dahon Speed TR (20")... multi-modal style: bike>bus>train>bike and back again... no bag... I carried around a printout from the LA metro website stating you can carry folded bikes on the bus. The one and only time I got hassled was when the bus was way too full... so I waited for the next one

in my experience... a 20" is a better ride all the way around.
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Old 02-23-06, 11:12 PM   #18
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Having ridden a 16 inch Brompton yesterday i have to contest the 20 inch a little. I def. prefer 20 inch for longer rides. But the Brompton impressed me, especially it's comfort and the really long wheelbase. That is actually the only doubt i have about 16 inch Downtube, i hope the wheelbase will be long enough for a great/good ride.

I agree that with any decent folder (20 inch or 16) you will be able to board the bus. But 16 will make it a lot easier in almost all cases.

IMO a Bike Friday is not worth the money unless you ride lots or competitively. Also the BF fold is substandard for multi mode commuting (again IMO).
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Old 02-23-06, 11:13 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve

The 20' inch wheel with a derailuer is more efficient and faster than a 16' inch wheel.

A 17 inch wheel Moulton holds the world's speed record for normal riding position.
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Old 02-23-06, 11:54 PM   #20
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Indeed! I tire of hearing 'bigger is faster', i have written much on the topics here and elsewhere. My conclusion (and that of some world class athletes and some research) has been: all things being equal and if one does not ride on average faster than 30 miles/per hour, small(er) wheels are usually faster.

Here is the thread i started on the topic:

Large wheels and Unsprung (non leather) saddles are a lie?!
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Old 02-24-06, 07:44 AM   #21
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Here's Moulton's statment on small wheels (http://www.alexmoulton.co.uk/frames.asp?id=questions)

1. Why the small wheels?
The small wheels are an essential feature of the Moulton concept. They offer many advantages.
With only half the rotating mass of the wheels on a 'conventional' bicycle, it is possible to accelerate faster.
They are extremely stiff and much stronger than larger wheels because of the short spokes.
The aerodynamic drag is lower; there is less frontal area and less spoke area causing turbulence to slow you down.
The centre of gravity is lowered, resulting in improved stability.
The small wheels free up space normally occupied by large wheels, allowing luggage to be carried lower.

2. Aren't smaller wheels harder to pedal?

No, because:-
The gears are chosen so that they correspond to pedalling a bicycle with large wheels.
The smaller frontal area results in less aerodynamic drag.
The lower inertia means that you can accelerate faster.
If you are still doubtful, consider the HPVs (Human Powered Vehicles) developed for the ultimate performance - many
of these use the unique 17" Moulton wheels and tyres fitted to the AM series bicycles.

An AM bicycle holds the world speed record for bicycles of conventional riding position at 51mph, fully faired.



The frame does separate into two parts.
This does not affect the frame rigidity - tests on a brazed-up version of the frame against the normal separable version
showed no difference in rigidity.
When separated into the two parts, it easily fits into the boot of a car.
When placed in the carry bag, it can be carried on a train as hand luggage, rather than needing to be placed in the
luggage van of the train - a big advantage given the restrictions on some train services.
Users have also transported their AMs as normal luggage on aircraft flights.

SO I MIGHT FOLLOW WITH THE QUESTION: IF YOU HAD $2500 TO $10,000 TO SPEND ON JUST A BICYCLE WHAT WOULD YOU BUY?
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Old 02-24-06, 09:04 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wpflem
Here's Moulton's statment on small wheels (http://www.alexmoulton.co.uk/frames.asp?id=questions)

1. Why the small wheels?
The aerodynamic drag is lower; there is less frontal area and less spoke area causing turbulence to slow you down.
The centre of gravity is lowered, resulting in improved stability.
The small wheels free up space normally occupied by large wheels, allowing luggage to be carried lower.

SO I MIGHT FOLLOW WITH THE QUESTION: IF YOU HAD $2500 TO $10,000 TO SPEND ON JUST A BICYCLE WHAT WOULD YOU BUY?
The aerodynamic drag mabe lower but the straight up geometry of folders make them slower. The 16' inch wheel of the Dahon Presto or Brompton are much less stable than a touring bike. Luggage is carried much easier on a larger (26',27') touring bike wheel.
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Old 02-24-06, 10:42 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
The aerodynamic drag mabe lower but the straight up geometry of folders make them slower. The 16' inch wheel of the Dahon Presto or Brompton are much less stable than a touring bike. Luggage is carried much easier on a larger (26',27') touring bike wheel.
While I don't doubt this is true (to an extent), I'd point out that my Bike Friday New World Tourist (20" wheels) seems quite stable even when loaded. I suspect that frame design, and the specific compromises made therein, have a huge impact in this regard.
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Old 02-24-06, 11:57 AM   #24
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Disagree with all that Dahon Steve. But i made my case for smaller wheels and even smaller wheeled touring bikes ad fundum in aformentioned thread. Guess i won't repeat all that. But i will say this:

Being able to have a low center of gravity (carrying luggage low on your touring rig) is ideal. Small wheels have an inherent low center of g. and allow you to carry luggage lower (more than enough if it).

Who is speaking about a presto or brompton, it is possible to tour on these but there are much better touring folders available. As for stability, i dsagree again. It is non issue, i have ridden with 20 kilos on the back no problem. Of course a larger more stretched platform (a tourer) is somewhat more stable by default, but that is not to say Folders are too unstable to make great Tourers. Whatever advantages a tourer specific 'normal' bike MIGHT have for me the fact that a folder folds, travels for free in an airplane/suitcase and has indesctructable wheels will almost always be more important.

Heinz Stucke tours on a BF. People have done the RAAM on a Moulton, there are several famous online worldtourers on folders on the net. It is done, it can be done and it is even a great option IMO.
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Old 02-24-06, 12:11 PM   #25
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About touring with folders. I think it would be far more ideal than a regular, non-folding bike. Why? Because unless you are planning to be an extremely remote area of the planet, you can hitch a ride with any vehicle. Bikes break down, riders get ill, weather changes for the worst, things happen. Folders are flexible. Regular bikes are not as much.

Loads? How about traveling with as little as possible. Experienced travelers (military personnel, hobos, and others) do this. Only the middle class travel with their house on their backs.
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