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Old 03-25-06, 12:12 PM   #1
folder fanatic
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I was wondering about this for a while. I noticed that there are very few folders being ridden and seen even around transit hubs. Yet I see a increase of cheap, department store bikes and trashy ones cluttering up the light rail trains and the racks on buses. The major folding bike makers all report a large increase in sales over the past few years. Where are the folders being hidden. I see very few-a Dahon here and there, two Bike Fridays, one Brompton and one Moulton-in the last ten years. Can anyone comment about this rather unscientific observation?
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Old 03-25-06, 12:48 PM   #2
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They're all over here.

I see loads of them on the way to work - most heading up into London.

Maybe it's a global imbalance
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Old 03-25-06, 01:42 PM   #3
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It seems obvious to us that folders are a great idea. It's easy to assume that anyone who's thinking of biking in a city would look at one.

I'd guess, though, that the general public just isn't that aware of them as an option. Even a lot of very experienced, knowledgeable, bicyclists that I've met are only marginally aware that they exist. And until they've tried a good one, they tend to assume that they won't really ride all that well.

Also, when a bicyclist is at the stage of his development where he would consider a department store bike, even $200 for a Downtube probably seems like a lot to pay for a bicycle.

I think we'll have reached the turning point when it becomes the rule, rather than the exception, for a decent LBS to have several good quality folders actually on display, ready to be test-ridden.

Of course, these comments are meant to apply to the USA. Countries where bicycles are more integrated into the culture may be different.

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Old 03-25-06, 04:13 PM   #4
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I suspect that most of the folders sold in the USA are kept in RVs, boats and car boots, rather than being used 'everyday'.
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Old 03-25-06, 07:01 PM   #5
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Or the Brits are smart enough not to try to shove a giant SUV into overclogged rush hour traffic and then pay a 10 dollar daily parking fee.
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Old 03-25-06, 07:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by folder fanatic
I was wondering about this for a while. I noticed that there are very few folders being ridden and seen even around transit hubs. Yet I see a increase of cheap, department store bikes and trashy ones cluttering up the light rail trains and the racks on buses. The major folding bike makers all report a large increase in sales over the past few years. Where are the folders being hidden. I see very few-a Dahon here and there, two Bike Fridays, only one Brompton-in the last ten years. Can anyone comment about this rather unscientific observation?
My observation is about the same. My estimate is that 70% of Americans don't know that folders exist; 80% have never seen one (this included me up to the summer of 2004); those who do know a little about folders often think they are low-quality bikes from big outlets like Camper's World. Part of my mission has been to, at least regionally, change those perceptions and expose folks to the wonderful world of quality folders. That's one reason I love talking about Moulton's. Although they are not strictly folders (separable), they clearly demonstrate what a fantastic and quality ride can be had on 17 inch wheels. Except for rough terrain Mountain biking, it seems to me that there is little modern need for wheels greater than 20 inches.

We have about 29 different folders (and no standard bikes) on our small showroom floor in Santa Fe. Folks are just amazed when they come in and see what the folder world really is all about.

I'm also proud now to be giving out "Oil Free & Happy Patches" with bike purchases from our shop.(http://home.comcast.net/~oil_free_and_happy/)

And thanks to all the hype over Downtubes from this folder forum, we expect to be getting in our first shipment of that model soon. We might even use them as part of a rental fleet.

Folders have their place for making this world just a little bit better. But the word needs to get out, at least in America.
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Last edited by wpflem; 03-25-06 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 03-25-06, 09:54 PM   #7
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I have only ridden road bikes all my adult life. I never really gave folders much thought until about 5 months ago when I started thinking about my future plans for long term travelling. I needed a bicycle accompanion. With some research and help from this forum, I was able to determine that a folder would be a good match for me, so now I am the proud father of Swifty, my Swift folder.
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Old 03-28-06, 12:27 PM   #8
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I think that it is extremely important of folder (and separaters) owners and users to be seen and educate the curious public about these little wonders, no matter what brand it is. I get alot of attention about one of my folders most times I bring it out for a ride. I think Bike Friday is way ahead of other makers when it comes to recruiting present owners into goodwill ambassadors of their brand by handing out cards, promising a cut for a sucessful sale, and other materials to promote their bikes. Hopefully this will be a cue for other manufactorers to do the same or similar means.
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Old 03-29-06, 12:03 AM   #9
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Those folders are pretty slick. Can anybody tell me if the chain has to be removed to fold them?
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Old 03-29-06, 02:29 AM   #10
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Those folders are pretty slick. Can anybody tell me if the chain has to be removed to fold them?

I don't know any folder that needs its chain to be removed/adjusted in order for it to fold. However, I am sure there will be a poorly designed folder out there somewhere to prove me wrong!

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Old 03-29-06, 03:10 AM   #11
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I am 47 (in 30 days). I used to ride good bikes in the '70's. $600 was a decent amount of money to spend on a club ride bike. I didn't ride for 30 years but when I got back into it (2002) I bought a $300.00 hybrid with 21 speeds, aluminum frame, decent quality component gruppo. The equivalent folder to that bike costs $1,000. My folder (bought in 2005) costs $600 and while I love it, it is heavy, has cheap components and is not the equal of the Bianchi that I owned in Michigan. In my entire life I have only seen one other folder comparable to mine in quality most are the $200 16" wheel variety. Value is very important to Americans and folders I am sad to say do not have any. I also ride a tandem with my GF on the weekends. I have 'never' seen another tandem in my entire life. We stop traffic when we go out on ours, it would appear lots of people have never seen a tandem before either. Why? Same reason. Tandems have, if possible, even less value than folders. They cost double and then half again what an equivalent single bike costs but do not cost any more to manufacture. This sets up a catch-22. As long as folders and tandems cost so much they will be shunned by buyers which in turn keeps their cost high. Folders and tandems have some real unique advantages and qualities but to get to those benefits requires a real effort of will to overcome the value reflex.

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Old 03-29-06, 06:48 AM   #12
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Leisesturm,

I was just wondering, what folder did you buy? For $600 you should have been able to get a very good quality folder with a ride just as good as a full size bike and that weighs comparably the same. I agree with you that Americans want value, but it sounds to me you are giving a bum rap to folders when you have only owned one and only seen a few of them. For around $600 you can get a folder with 20" wheels, weigh 22lbs, and have a good quality bike grouppo. While folders can go for 1000+ dollars, these folders generally have as good a drivetrain as a comparable roadbike. Take a look at bikefriday, swift, airnimal, and the higher end dahons and you will see that their weight and parts group are very comparable to non folding bikes. I do agree with you on the fact that there is very little to be found on the lower cost end (I say this with apologies to downtube and dahon), but there are some folders that indeed fall in the $100-$300 range...They are not the lightest and their parts groups aren't the best, but neither of those are true of their nonfolding cousins. Besides, folders FOLD, and when unfolded are feel as if they were normal bikes...do you really want a folder that costs cheap and fold cheap? That's like asking for death!!!

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Old 03-29-06, 06:55 AM   #13
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I bought a Dahon folder three weeks ago. Love it!

It's used to get me from my house to the park and ride. Then it gets folded and stuffed in the trunk.

I get a lot of double takes when I'm riding home, but no one has asked me what it is.

Next week I have training in Orange County, CA. I'm not driving into that traffic jam. I plan to take the train, with my folder in hand.

Not too many bicycle communters, much less folder commuters here in So Cal. I found out about them by accident (on this forum).
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Old 03-29-06, 07:17 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crankypants
Or the Brits are smart enough not to try to shove a giant SUV into overclogged rush hour traffic and then pay a 10 dollar daily parking fee.

Oooh Biting!
Lol: I applaud!
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Old 03-29-06, 11:09 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juan162
Leisesturm,

I was just wondering, what folder did you buy? For $600 you should have been able to get a very good quality folder with a ride just as good as a full size bike and that weighs comparably the same.
Actually I bought a Giant Halfway, very roughly comparable to a Dahon Speed 8. It weighs 28lbs. so says the literature, I have never weighed it. I am not a 90lb weakling but I keep wishing it were lighter. I have learned to roll it while folded but it puts a real strain on the arm doing so. I have seen folders that have been designed to roll when folded. The components on my Halfway are the exact same ones on my seriously cheap tandem! And yes my folder has 20" wheels and a very stiff aluminum frame but the handling is decidedly twitchy. You cannot take your mind off riding for a second. I don't dare take more than one hand off the bars and not for long at that. For a commute bike in NYC traffic its just the ticket but on some of the worse streets the ride is so bad that the other day I went onto the sidewalk for relief. I NEVER do that but wouldn't you know I hadn't gone 30 feet before I was pulled over by two of NY's finest. I got away without a ticket because I have a shield but it was close. Lately the hinge has been coming undone while in motion!! There is a spring loaded locknut that has obviously gone out of adjustment but getting at it requires a tool that I don't possess. Again, I love my folder and will probably never own a standard bike again unless I leave the city again but folders do cost more than a comparable standard bike for the same build quality and that is more than enough to turn the average consumer away.

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Old 03-29-06, 11:11 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juan162
Leisesturm,

I was just wondering, what folder did you buy? For $600 you should have been able to get a very good quality folder with a ride just as good as a full size bike and that weighs comparably the same.
Actually I bought a Giant Halfway, very roughly comparable to a Dahon Speed 8. It weighs 28lbs. so says the literature, I have never weighed it. I am not a 90lb weakling but I keep wishing it were lighter. I have learned to roll it while folded but it puts a real strain on the arm doing so. I have seen folders that have been designed to roll when folded. The components on my Halfway are the exact same ones on my seriously cheap tandem! And yes my folder has 20" wheels and a very stiff aluminum frame but the handling is decidedly twitchy. You cannot take your mind off riding for a second. I don't dare take more than one hand off the bars and not for long at that. For a commute bike in NYC traffic its just the ticket but on some of the worse streets the ride is so bad that the other day I went onto the sidewalk for relief. I NEVER do that but wouldn't you know I hadn't gone 30 feet before I was pulled over by two of NY's finest. I got away without a ticket because my job issues me a shield but it was close. Lately the hinge has been coming undone while in motion!! There is a spring loaded locknut that has obviously gone out of adjustment but getting at it requires a tool that I don't possess. Again, I love my folder and will probably never own a standard bike again unless I leave the city again but folders do cost more than a comparable standard bike for the same build quality and that is more than enough to turn the average consumer away.

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Old 03-29-06, 05:31 PM   #17
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Manila?
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Old 03-29-06, 06:58 PM   #18
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I would guess that they're stored somewhere, slowly deteriorating. I envision two common scenarios:

The owners thought that they were making a purchase that would change their lives, but the owners failed to use them. The owners keep them around solely because parting with them would force them to admit that they never became the people that they thought they would become. The puchases had the potential to change the owners lives, but the owners never got off of their asses and realized that potential.

Alternatively, the owners did manage to change their lives with the bike. Unfortunately, the owners quit riding the bikes, and drifted back into the Great American Sedentary Lifestyle. The owners keep them around because parting with them would force the owners to admit that they will no longer be the people that they once were.

The same can be said of bikes that don't fold, and numerous other items.
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Old 03-30-06, 02:11 PM   #19
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EubI,
When you get to the Park n' Ride, Do you put in a car trunk and does it stay there until the eveing commutte? The reason why I'm asking is that I work in El Monte and will probably start commutting on my Friday when DST comes this weekend. I do a mixed mode with Metrolink in from Upland. My Main concern is traffic and the nieghborhood once I get to El Monte. It's about 2 miles from Metrolink to work, and I usually take a City shuttle. It's usually a bus with a bike rack on Front, so I could always "wimp out"
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Old 03-30-06, 07:51 PM   #20
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I bought 3 folders to ride whever I go. Two are in the trunk of my car and I ride whenever I can.
I have taken them to flordia and to portland or. Of course being a diabetic and needing exercise is a powerful motivator. I bought a dahon 16 in piccalo just because I wanted to try it . I used to work as apolice at the national Institutes of Health and saw a bunch of them being ridden around campus. folks ride them to hte metro station. sooo they seem to be out there you just have to look
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Old 04-02-06, 08:40 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by janalingo
EubI,
When you get to the Park n' Ride, Do you put in a car trunk and does it stay there until the eveing commutte? The reason why I'm asking is that I work in El Monte and will probably start commutting on my Friday when DST comes this weekend. I do a mixed mode with Metrolink in from Upland. My Main concern is traffic and the nieghborhood once I get to El Monte. It's about 2 miles from Metrolink to work, and I usually take a City shuttle. It's usually a bus with a bike rack on Front, so I could always "wimp out"
Yes, the bike stays in the trunk during the day. I use it to ride from home to the park and ride and back.

On April 4-5, I have a class in OC. I'm taking the Metrolink from Corona to Irvine, with my folder in my lap. I'll let everyone know how it goes.

Before the car pool, I drove from Corona to Covina, then rode from Covina to S. El Monte. I have never had any problems in any of these "tough" neighborhoods, and I've been riding this area for about 20 years.

My biggest problems are with bike riders riding against traffic.

*sigh*

I just smile and wave a lot.

Of course, I am also very big and scary looking!
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Old 04-02-06, 05:19 PM   #22
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Yes, the bike stays in the trunk during the day. I use it to ride from home to the park and ride and back.

On April 4-5, I have a class in OC. I'm taking the Metrolink from Corona to Irvine, with my folder in my lap. I'll let everyone know how it goes.

Before the car pool, I drove from Corona to Covina, then rode from Covina to S. El Monte. I have never had any problems in any of these "tough" neighborhoods, and I've been riding this area for about 20 years.

My biggest problems are with bike riders riding against traffic.

*sigh*

I just smile and wave a lot.

Of course, I am also very big and scary looking!
-Eubi

That helps alot when you are big and scary looking. I tend to try to blend in the surroundings when I go through the various tough areas (after all, I live right in a middle of one)!
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Old 04-03-06, 01:09 PM   #23
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Actually, I've done one commutte with the Friday once. I think My big mistake was folding and sticking it the bag. It was too unwidley. It looks my experminet is going to have to oushed back to next week, with the weather, a couple of commitments that will keep me out late (till about 9), and friday off. I'll try and let everyone know how it went.
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