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  1. #1
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    Newbie Seeks Advice

    Hey there,
    I'm looking to get a folder and would love some advice. So far I've tried the Dahon Vitesse, Mariner, and D8. I liked the feel of the Vitesse best, but it's kinda pricey (for me.) Dahons are the only folders I've been able to try out so far, but I'm not closed to other brands. I think I might prefer hub gears, but I know they're more expensive. They just seem better for technically-challenged people like me, and better for messy conditions. I really like the look of the Dahon Ciao 7, but it's not available in North America. I'm a small female, not an experienced cyclist, in need of a decent commuter/recreational bike for the NYC (Metro-North) and LA areas. I do not want to spend a gazillion dollars when I'm still a newbie, but I do want something safe, easy to fold, reliable, and comfortable. Obviously, no Bromptons, Birdys, etc... just too expensive at this point for me. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forums. Hopefully you can find the guidance you need. Well if you want internal hub gears you don't have many choices. Based on your needs I highly suggest going with an internal hub. What sort of price range are you looking at? Go too cheap and you get lower quality and you can easily over pay. How important is weight or folded size? Any hills you have to contend with? A lot of women seem to gravitate toward the Brompton because of its compact fold and internal hub gears but you will spend more but it is the most compact package though not the lightest.

    Give us a little more to go on. You can find Bromptons used for about the $500-600 range but I don't know if that is in your price range. If you did sell it though it retains a high percentage of its resale so you can effectively ride it for about $100/year or less. Without knowing what your budget is it is tough to advise. If you did happen to not like it, a Brompton will sell quite quickly. The last one I sold on eBay sold in less than 24 hours. Last Dahon I sold took longer and didn't retain near as much of its purchase price so don't factor in just original price to calculate total cost of ownership (TCO).

    Of course don't buy anything you don't like but keep in mind any folder will have its quirks and you may need time to adjust to it. Ride as many as you can if possible and seek opinions from those you trust.

  3. #3
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    Hi, thanks. Yeah, I'm mixed on the hub gears because of the lack of choice and cost. But they seem better for the technically-challenged and also cleaner, easier to change gears, etc.... I hadn't thought of a used Brompton. Just figured any Brompton would be more than I would care to spend on a first folder. Because I'm small, weight is not insignificant, nor is ease of folding. Not too many hills to contend with, but somewhat crummy road conditions. I don't want to go cheap for cheap's sake, and get something totally junky, but I can't spend too much. The bikes I've tried so far are the Dahons -- Mariner, Speed 8, and Vitesse 5. I liked the Vitesse best of the three, but it's the $500 range -- probably the most I'd want to spend. I really want to try the Ciao 7, but it's not available in the US. Also, the cost would be greater -- but hub gears, low frame, and 7 speeds sounds pretty cool to me.



    Quote Originally Posted by Wavshrdr
    Welcome to the forums. Hopefully you can find the guidance you need. Well if you want internal hub gears you don't have many choices. Based on your needs I highly suggest going with an internal hub. What sort of price range are you looking at? Go too cheap and you get lower quality and you can easily over pay. How important is weight or folded size? Any hills you have to contend with? A lot of women seem to gravitate toward the Brompton because of its compact fold and internal hub gears but you will spend more but it is the most compact package though not the lightest.

    Give us a little more to go on. You can find Bromptons used for about the $500-600 range but I don't know if that is in your price range. If you did sell it though it retains a high percentage of its resale so you can effectively ride it for about $100/year or less. Without knowing what your budget is it is tough to advise. If you did happen to not like it, a Brompton will sell quite quickly. The last one I sold on eBay sold in less than 24 hours. Last Dahon I sold took longer and didn't retain near as much of its purchase price so don't factor in just original price to calculate total cost of ownership (TCO).

    Of course don't buy anything you don't like but keep in mind any folder will have its quirks and you may need time to adjust to it. Ride as many as you can if possible and seek opinions from those you trust.

  4. #4
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    Oh -- someone suggested the Piccolo 3, but I'm not sure I want to go with 16" wheels and only 3 speeds. As for advice, I don't know a lot of biking peeps, let alone folding bike enthusiasts, so that's why I registered for this forum!

  5. #5
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    Some advice specially for small females. Buy a regular bike that you like. It will have a small size frame. On the occations you need to make it compact bring a painters tarp with you. Take the wheels, pedals, seat and handlebars off. Put everything in on the tarp and bundle it up with bungee cords. I bet it is as compact as a large men's folding bike. You will need an allen key set and a wrench. Additionally quick release ($70) or folding ($40) pedals and rubber gloves are a good idea. Maybe narrower handle bars too.

    Commuting I suggest chaining it outside. If that bothers you buy a less expensive bike, remove the seat, pedals and skewers (wheel and seat). Get a better lock or two.

    A smaller folding bike is only really usefull if you are going to commute partially by bike and partially by bus/train during rush hour. You can take a regular bike on the subway and LIRR off peak no problem. City buses are a bit trickier due to narrow isles (I never tried it with my Montague). The really light weight ones are only usefull if you are forced to carry it (5th floor walk up?).

    As to the hub as you weigh less, small increases in weight are more percentage wise. Popping off the rear wheel is not a good idea with an internally geared hub. I think you might look for a regular bike that has or accepts a Shimano Mega range cassette. I really like the Mega Range.

    Consider a Xootr Swift.

    iXibike has a nice conept for $1000.

    Metro North I have seen people with bikes told to get off the train. They have alot of rules and even a special pass, if I remember correctly. I have never been thrown off Metro North with my folded Montague wrapped in a tarp. I was also not the person with the most crap on the train. What do all those Yalies carry with them? Check the web site for the rules.

    Also if you really are going to commute daily buy the best tires you can (I like conti top touring), best tubes, and even consider the "Mr tuffy" tire liner product. For a daily use bike the tires are the most important part.
    Last edited by geo8rge; 03-26-06 at 07:18 PM.

  6. #6
    folding thru paradise
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    Dahon
    Vitesse 499.95
    Mariner 359.95
    D8 499.95
    Ciao 7 GBP 479 or $835

    This forum is just too funny! Tarp & bungee cords! Well what ever works for you.

    I hope you will find this advice useful. I have been a folding bike dealer for 3 years in NYC. A few month back a small female 5’2” and about 110 lb wanted to know the difference between a Downtube and a Brompton. She owned a Dahon Piccolo at the time and was very unhappy with it. Unfortunately, there are no dealers in New York City for the DT but she did managed to convince a few people to let her test ride their DT on this Forum. She too had a limited budget and at the end she purchased a Brompton and she is loving it every day.

    Buying a folding bike is not like buying a watch. You do not have to start with a Timex before you end up with something expensive. At the end watch only tell time and the difference is status.

    In the world of folding bike every bike is different and sometime getting the best in your order of needs may not be that much more. Also, if your first folding bike turns you off maybe you will never graduate to a better folder.

    So, here it goes. Stay focus as to why you are buying a folding bike. Here are the 6 categories I use and you can mix and match to find the best bike for your needs.

    1) The bike must “fold” and the faster the better.
    2) The size after folding the more compact the better
    3) The engineering will it stay together when it is folded
    4) The ride
    5) Weight
    6) Price.

    Most people end up buying a Brompton for the above reasons. Once you know how to fold and unfold the Brompton most people can fold it under 10 seconds. I think 15 – 20 seconds for a Dahon.

    The size after folding is only 22x22x10.5 inches. I think the Dahon are a few inches more here and there. But do keep in mind this will determine if you get into a building or not. If you have to bring a lock don’t forget to add the weight of the lock to the bike.

    With no additional straps if you can pick up the brompton with one hand you can shake it and nothing will fall apart. Don’t even try this with anther folding bike. You will definitely need two hands to carry the Dahon without any straps or bags. Dahon use a magnet to hold the front of the bike to the back.
    It does not ride like a road bike (bike Friday) or a Mt. bike (birdy) but it ride like a regular street bike. I do not recommend 16 inch Dahon as the ride is very poor. However most of the 20inch Dahons ride very well as good or better than the Brompton. (do keep in mind the actual wheel size of the Brompton is more like 18 inches.

    The Weight is around 24 lbs depending on the model you choose. Average in the folding world.

    The price. I do not recommend the C-type which is $650 I would recommend the M3L starting at $830. In a years time you can get that money back by not spending it on the subway and don’t forget the gym membership you will be saving as well.

    About spending “gazillion dollars” $150 or $350 (from $500) more is not a lot of money and you will have one of the best well compared and talked about folding bikes and if you are not happy at the end. I am sure you will have no problem selling it. Just check it out on ebay and Craigslist how many Dahon do you see and how many Bromptons do you see?

    Go test ride a Brompton and see what you can do before you decided it is too much money. You are not just buying a folding bike but a life style. I had many customers calling me back saying “the bike have changed my life!”

    Good luck.

    bfold.com

    p.s. Finally do keep in mind no matter what component the bike has if it can’t fold well it is not worth it.

  7. #7
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeynewbie
    I hadn't thought of a used Brompton. Just figured any Brompton would be more than I would care to spend on a first folder. Because I'm small, weight is not insignificant, nor is ease of folding. Not too many hills to contend with, but somewhat crummy road conditions.
    Bromptons are not the best in crummy road conditions. I have 2 of them left as I sold one of them on eBay. Sort of an FYI it went for $550. Good thing about it if the new owner wants to sell it in a year he'll probably get pretty close to that back for it. It sold in less than 24 hours. Hopefully my next one will go that quickly. Point is they have good resale so you can easily move it if you want to trade up to a more expensive version.

    Downsides to them are they don't have the best ride. They have a limited gear range (compared to others) but perhaps adequate for what you want to do. They have a mediocre seat and the brakes suck. I ended up modifying all my Bromptons to improve that last issue, the brakes. Weight is average. Retail price is steep so the used market can be a good option.

    Plus is definitely the fold. It is not a terrible bike to ride (nor is it excellent either). It isn't terribly heavy. The design has been around for a while so you can usually find someone to help you if you have any issues. Definitely not going out of style anytime soon and is NOT the flavor of the month club. I have bought 3 of them in the past year, have another on order and a clone on order as well.

    Having said that it they are NOT my favorite folder. Top spots in my fleet belong to my Swift and Bike Friday (in that order). I rode for about 25 miles today totally on folder with my children. It was about 35 degrees with strong winds but neither my kids nor I wanted to stop as we were having too much fun riding them. I road for about 90 minutes straight on my Swift until my oldest child finally was able to pry me off the bike. I was having too much fun with it and he really wanted to ride it. I then my rode my Bike Friday tandem for a while and my another child was on one of our Downtubes.

    When you ride the Swift or a Bike Friday you think "What an amazing bike!" without respect to whether it can fold or not. However when you ride a Brompton you think "What an amazing fold!". I hope you understand the distinction. I could say the Brompton is the best piece of bicycle origami I've seen but it is not the best folding bicycle even though it may have the best fold.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the advice. I would say that ride comes first, then comes ease of folding and cost. If it takes 30 seconds rather than 15 seconds to fold, I'll live. I've heard that Bromptons are the best fold, but not the best ride, and Swifts are good for city conditions, but not a great fold. Downtubes seem like the best price. They're all over ebay, as are some junky cheap bikes called zports and citizen bikes (which I've considered, as a first bike.) I think Bike Fridays and Birdys are more than I should spend on a first bike. If I can find a moderately-priced bike, and I find I'm loving cycling, then maybe I'll spend more later. Dahons seem like a decent balance of ride-ability, foldability, and cost, but the ones I like are not available in the US. I'm curious that you listed the Ciao -- do you have a way of importing it? What about the internal hub Helios and Impulse? I'll be in NY in 2-3 weeks.

  9. #9
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    I do get your distinction. Ride trumps fold, I think, especially on the streets of NY. Seems like Bromptons are the best fold but not the best ride. And cost is an issue. I think buying cheap is stupid, but I also think spending a great deal on a first bike is stupid, plus I don't want a theft-magnet (although I plan not to let it out of my sight, if poss.) And then there's the hub/derailleur question.


    Quote Originally Posted by Wavshrdr
    Bromptons are not the best in crummy road conditions. I have 2 of them left as I sold one of them on eBay. Sort of an FYI it went for $550. Good thing about it if the new owner wants to sell it in a year he'll probably get pretty close to that back for it. It sold in less than 24 hours. Hopefully my next one will go that quickly. Point is they have good resale so you can easily move it if you want to trade up to a more expensive version.

    Downsides to them are they don't have the best ride. They have a limited gear range (compared to others) but perhaps adequate for what you want to do. They have a mediocre seat and the brakes suck. I ended up modifying all my Bromptons to improve that last issue, the brakes. Weight is average. Retail price is steep so the used market can be a good option.

    Plus is definitely the fold. It is not a terrible bike to ride (nor is it excellent either). It isn't terribly heavy. The design has been around for a while so you can usually find someone to help you if you have any issues. Definitely not going out of style anytime soon and is NOT the flavor of the month club. I have bought 3 of them in the past year, have another on order and a clone on order as well.

    Having said that it they are NOT my favorite folder. Top spots in my fleet belong to my Swift and Bike Friday (in that order). I rode for about 25 miles today totally on folder with my children. It was about 35 degrees with strong winds but neither my kids nor I wanted to stop as we were having too much fun riding them. I road for about 90 minutes straight on my Swift until my oldest child finally was able to pry me off the bike. I was having too much fun with it and he really wanted to ride it. I then my rode my Bike Friday tandem for a while and my another child was on one of our Downtubes.

    When you ride the Swift or a Bike Friday you think "What an amazing bike!" without respect to whether it can fold or not. However when you ride a Brompton you think "What an amazing fold!". I hope you understand the distinction. I could say the Brompton is the best piece of bicycle origami I've seen but it is not the best folding bicycle even though it may have the best fold.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Heraclitus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeynewbie
    I do get your distinction. Ride trumps fold, I think, especially on the streets of NY. Seems like Bromptons are the best fold but not the best ride. And cost is an issue. I think buying cheap is stupid, but I also think spending a great deal on a first bike is stupid, plus I don't want a theft-magnet (although I plan not to let it out of my sight, if poss.) And then there's the hub/derailleur question.

    Bromptons are elegant in their fold -- they are fun and somewhat "cool" I think. But I also think Swifts are elegant too, in their functionality and ready "bikeness." (Though I have yet to own a Swift.) But I think where Wavshrdr rides his swift I would ride my regular road bike, or fixed gear... all over town and back again on 700cc wheels. And now I bought a Brompton because it is so fascinating to me -- and I really do love it. But a good friend of mine who is looking to get rid of her fat old too heavy "mountain bike" is looking at folders and hooked on the Brompton; where for her, I have been pushing that she at least consider a Swift for the fact that I think it would be more versatile in the long run. But her logic is that the Brompton is just so fun and fascinating, that if it gets her riding around that is all she needs -- not to mention how convenient it is to store or to transport by other means. And, so her logic goes: if it turns out she becomes a "cyclist" then she can get whatever else might be next - swift or road bike... etc, but for now, Brompton it is. (And she borrowed my new Brompton to ride to work for a week and it has only cemented her intention -- only she wants to order custom colors!) Budget is a consideration, but she still thinks that the use will justify buying what she knows she will spend time on.

    My very rough conclusion is that Bromptons are beautiful for trips of anything less than 10 miles at a go. If you want to travel beyond that you may get a bit frustrated at the lack of efficiency in a Brompton, but then for me, I would be found on what I think are more "efficient" bikes than a Brompton or a Swift. (Wavshrdr may have his own opinions about what I consider "more efficient.") I just imagine that if I were multimodal commuting in New York I would not be looking as much for the joyful long-Saturday-ride (Swift) machine as I would be looking for the small-folding pop-in-and-out-of-wherever-I-am-bike from England. (Do I remember correctly that you are in NY? I hope so.)

    Like I said, I haven't owned one yet, but Wavshrdr has me pretty convinced that if I could have only one bike here in the spread out wasteland of LA I would have a Swift. If I lived in New York, I still think I would have a Brompton. Luckily I have mutiple options. Good luck with yours!

    Cheers
    Nothing endures but change.

  11. #11
    Señor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heraclitus
    My very rough conclusion is that Bromptons are beautiful for trips of anything less than 10 miles at a go.
    I'd disagree. Many times when I read such comments, I wonder if the writer has a certain speed or pace in mind. For example, 9-14 mph is a relatively easy speed range to achieve, and I'm sure many of us (knocking on wood) could ride at that pace forever. But if someone is used to riding at 19+ mph, then yeah - another bike would probably be better.

    I suppose comfort could be another issue, but not many have complained about the Brompton's comfort so far - or if they have, they've usually found solutions: sprung saddles, etc.
    Last edited by spambait11; 03-27-06 at 04:19 AM.

  12. #12
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    "his forum is just too funny! Tarp & bungee cords! Well what ever works for you."

    If you actually ride the bike daily you will notice that the chain is covered in grease, the wheels run over all manner of filth. The bike itself if well maintained is often sprayed with WD-40 type solvents and is also pretty dirty. If you bring it on rush hour mass transit you will encounter people in expensive cloths that need to be dry cleaned. Tarp and bungee cord are just good manners. The $50-$100 carry bag is more stylish.

    While it is true that meak subway riders will not toss you off the train, Metro North and LIRR conducters will if they think you are a nusance.

    I personally think based on cost and ride a small regular bike is what is best.

    Based on making the bike a compact ball quickly folders are definately faster and better but folding decreases length in exchange for increasing width. Folding up pedals, losening handle bars takes about 30 sec and reduces you bike to a 4 in width, sometimes narrow is the best.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Heraclitus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spambait11
    I'd disagree. Many times when I read such comments, I wonder if the writer has a certain speed or pace in mind. For example, 9-14 mph is a relatively easy speed range to achieve, and I'm sure many of us (knocking on wood) could ride at that pace forever. But if someone is used to riding at 19+ mph, then yeah - another bike would probably be better.

    I suppose comfort could be another issue, but not many have complained about the Brompton's comfort so far - or if they have, they've usually found solutions: sprung saddles, etc.
    Yeah, maybe 17-19mph. I haven't tried the B on a long ride yet (and I will) but I am pretty sure it will be slower. (I am waiting for a telescoping seatpost right now.)

    And you are quite right that I could go a long way on the Brompton at a more leisurely pace; but if I am crossing LA on the B it would probably take me long enough that I would rather ride it to the bus stop (which is I suppose what the Brompton's are for) or take another bike. For me a Brompton is an expensive toy, bit it will allow me to ride more often and in more places than I otherwise would. It is supplementary. For my friend the Brompton is primarily transport - but she finds it very fun too, and thus it is something that she thinks will really get used. In neither case is it a primary ride for somebody who wants to "get into" cycling... hope that is helpful for consideration.

    But I realize that the poster already said "no" to Bromtons... it is a bit pricey (I just spent another $150 for the mounting block and front bag too. I am also putting on a better seat.) But if you will get the use out of it because you love it and it works for what you need, it is worth it in the end. On the other hand if you spend half as much on another bike and get the use out of it you will feel that much smarter. I am personally just the type who would always still have an eye on an on something I thought was a better design -- rather, I am the type who will gravitate to what I consider better quality from the outset, even if it is pricey. To me the Brompton is still fun to just look at sitting folded up in my room.

    I didn't have the chance (and good that the poster has already started this), but test rides are a great idea.
    Last edited by Heraclitus; 03-27-06 at 09:13 AM.
    Nothing endures but change.

  14. #14
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    Yes it is true I really like my Swift the most but I am not blind to the attributes of other bikes or the deficiencies of the Swift. At some point you have to decide what is most important to you. After you define your priorities then you can start to make a more educated decision. If you can only have one bike it means that you likely will have to make more compromises. That is what it really comes down to. Each bike is a compromise, what ones can you live with?

    For a commuter bike I absolutely want an internal hub with at least 5 gears if not more. The maintenance is less and it keeps my bike bag and my pants much cleaner. I like being able to drop gears at a light without pedaling. For me light weight is very important. Even a 25 pound folder gets heavy when you have to lug it around all day. Depending on how I travel a compact fold is important or critical. Cost is important to me but not as important as value. It is also important to me that the company uses as many standardized components as possible so if I need a replacement part its not to difficult to find as folding bike dealers aren't on every street corner. The actual attributes of the bike AS A BIKE are extremely important to me always.

    I will only compromise on my enjoyment actually riding the bike if the situation forces me to take a more compact folder (i.e. Brompton) or maybe better yet I could use my Xootr scooter instead. If I am going to be on heavy subway/metro usage and have tight connections AND I am not going more than about 2 miles to or from a station then the Xootr kicks most folder's butts in this scenario. I can easily maintain a 10-11 mph pace and it is super lightweight (9 pounds) and rolls very well.

    So on the occasions I am actually thinking about using my Brompton it comes down to would I be better served riding it or using my Xootr scooter. For me the Brompton has a lot of "gotchas" that may not be for other people. I find its limited gearing range a real drag. I have often complained about its brakes until I upgraded it. It isn't super lightweight. For me it is like buying a piece of luggage. It is a tool that I use but not super enjoyable to ride but it is better than walking.

    When I ride my Swift it is like I fall in love with cycling all over again. This weekend I rode the Swift again extensively. It was like I rediscovered the joy of cycling the moment I pressed on the pedal. The bike felt so much more alive than the Brompton. It felt eager and responsive. Brakes would stop on a dime and give change. The Big Apples (tires) felt so plush and bums I felt myself bracing for on the Brompton were just a little noise under the tires. I wasn't afraid about leaping off a curb or playing BMX racer. My kids wanted to race me and where on the Brompton I was working hard to beat them I could give them a head start on the Swift and smoke still smoke them.

    For me the Brompton is an appliance pure and simple. If I need a refrigerator I buy one. To me the Brompton is a bike that appeals to me on a purely intellectual level. I appreciate that it is well designed to fold very compactly. It is like buying a Prius (but not as well thought out as a Prius). I don't really connect with it on an emotional level when I ride. I think that is the best way I can describe it. If you just want a commuter bike, a beast of (limited) burden to be used in a multi-mode scenario (ride bike to train or bus, change a few times and then ride some more, then the Brommie may be an outstanding choice. In my town they have dedicated bike areas so fold isn't always so critical but in other areas it is more so. Regardless my Swift, Dahons and DTs have done fine as well. They don't take up much more space in my office than the Brompton either. On occasion there are times where the Brompton is superior for some types of commuting. I am hoping that my project Brommie when done will be more inspirational when I am done with it. It takes more than a pretty fold to get me to want to ride!

  15. #15
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    how about me looking into an older ( 2004) Helios XL from Dahon .... It retailed for 799 at the time. I just MIGHT be able to find a new one with a couple scratches for less of course... How much less I dont know but at least 100 bucks.... it has an integral 7 speed and has an adjustable handlebar, plus the highly regarded thudbuster seatpost

    I could get a vitesse 5 the same way sug retail 460 at the time with little scratches for 100 bucks less.
    That would be much closer to your original budget , but the Vitesse does not have an adjustable handlebar.

    of course if you like to try the 16 inch I do have that special offer open for the piccolo . I know some folks dont like 16 inch but they are several daily commuters with 16 inch bikes, who love theirs.

    folding size versus folding time ....... I think that a few inches more or less are not as important as the ease of folding it without lifting and turning and make a dance around it . Even real big bikes can be made real small if you take everything apart ( after 2 hours one ends up with a real small package ) that might be ok for air travel, but certainly is not working for commuter bikes ...

    I am also somewhat concerned with weight. most people on the dahons leave the seatpost out and roll the bike ( somewhat wiggley waggly ) on the rear wheel, and only carry it, when the congestions becomes to thick....

    You arer doin a good job trying to find out whats best for you .... :-)
    thor

  16. #16
    Senior Member Heraclitus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wavshrdr
    When I ride my Swift it is like I fall in love with cycling all over again. ...To me the Brompton is a bike that appeals to me on a purely intellectual level.
    The Brompton does not make me fall in love with cycling, but I am in love with the Brompton. I do my "cycling" on other bikes. I have shared a lot or Wavshrdr's arguments with my friend who is buying the Brompton, but she is dead set on it -- she is getting rid of her mountain bike (which she never intended to ride on trails really anyway) and the B will be her only bike. She has also had the opportunity to borrow another friends road bike for several weeks; and as I mentioned, she has had the chance to try out my Brompton for a week.

    I have no complaints with the brakes on my Brompton (dual pivot front and rear.) Compared to my fixed gear, the 3 speeds on the Brompton are plenty of range; and even without comparison to the fixie I find them fine for getting around town - though not great for hillier sections. I think my friend may get a lower ratio.

    Wavshrdr - I like your Swift stories. I am thinking the info is around here somewhere, but I am wondering how much it weighs? Also, to kit out a really nice one, how much do you think one would expect to spend?
    Nothing endures but change.

  17. #17
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    Hey -- thanks to all of you who've replied to my postings. I really appreciate the information and advice you've offered. I'm going for a folder initially for the dual purposes of commuting and recreation. If I find I love cycling, then I will most likely get a regular full-size bike for recreation, and continue to commute on the folder. I'll be in NY for the next few months and possibly indefinitely. Right now I'm in LA -- and I may return here indefinitely (lots up in the air in my life right now!) Comfort is more important than speed (I'm not exactly a racer - yet!) I think I will choose something with internal gearing. And I'd like all the bells and whistles -- fenders, lights, racks, etc.... (you tell me!) Yes, I agree, value is more important than cost, but cost is an issue. Maybe in the future when I have become a full-fledged cycling fanatic, I'll be prepared to spend more on a bike, but spending too much now seems unwise. Ease of fold is important, but I wouldn't say it's more important than riding comfort or cost. Or overall weight. I don't want to be wrestling with a difficult fold for ages in a subway station, but if it isn't quite a lightning fast fold I'm sure I'll live. I've never tried a Brompton -- only seen one once -- in Larchmont in LA -- so I really don't know how I'd find the ride, but it does seem like its primary virtue is in its ingenuity rather than its comfort. Anyone have an opinion on the Giant Halfway? Or the Breezer folders? The Swift sounds like a great ride from what I've read here, but kind of a funky fold. I'll definitely consider those used Dahons. And I guess the Downtubes. I'm leaving for NY in a couple of weeks, so I expect I'll look around there before buying -- unless I decide to go for an online gamble -- I'm sure there'll be more to try out in NY than there is in LA.

  18. #18
    Señor Mambo
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    Brompton's are pretty sturdy rides, and can be pushed for performance. I used to commute regularly on one for 17 miles round trip, and it held up fine. Performance was good, and I was in the 16 mph range. For one week, I tried to keep myself at 17 mph or above; this was possible, but seemed to wear me out pretty fast. For me, time is a more pressing issue. Oftentimes I don't get out of work until 8pm, so I want to get home quickly (at this time of the day, I don't care about a workout). So I've found my Bike Friday (and Dahon S1) the best compromise, with the BF being faster.

    For the OP, a Dahon is a fine starter bike - just keep the weight in mind (hub gears are heavy), and know they don't fold as compactly as a Brompton, but are better at folding than a Bike Friday.
    Last edited by spambait11; 03-27-06 at 04:07 PM.

  19. #19
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    I am glad you like the Swift stories. I truly enjoy the bike. It morphs into almost everything I want. Fully loaded with rack, lights (front and rear), Thudbuster, fenders, 8spd internal hub, Big Apples, Brooks saddle, heavy duty rims, stainless chain, dual chainrings, parallel push brakes, telescopic seatpost and speedo it came in at 29 pounds. Which considering that it has about everything I could want isn't bad. The Brooks saddle is not light and neither is the Thudbuster. A Swift without all this stuff, rear derailleur, lightweight tires and seat can be under the 20 pound mark quite easily. I needed more of a bike that could double as a Jeep than as a track bike.

    Mine was at 23 lbs with the stock saddle and internal hub and dual chain rings. I can strip it down to that point quite quickly by pulling off the Thudbuster, Brooks, rack and fenders. It takes me about 2 minutes to do this. I have a carbon fiber seatpost with a light weight saddle attached. Replace this and I save the weight of the Thudbuster, Brooks and rack (about 5 pounds difference). Pull the little light up front and fenders and I am in the mid 22 pound range. The bike is super nimble at that weight and very fast. I could save more weight by pulling the Big Apple tires but I love their balance of ride and efficiency.

    As for total cost I think I have about $1200 or so in it with ALL the stuff. The internal hub wasn't cheap but I think you could get a nicely equipped one for about the mid $800's to low $900's with an internal hub. That is definitely less than a BF and less than a lot of Bromptons. It then becomes your canvas to complete as you see fit. You could always start with the basic Xootr which is the mid $600 range but I really wanted powdercoating instead of paint. I wanted better rims and a few other bits that are easier to spec out in the first place than change later.

    One last thing about the Brompton vs. others debate. I enjoyed my Bromptons most when I first got them as the newness and their cool fold really intrigued me. The more I rode the more annoyed I became with the idiosyncrasies. On my Swift I enjoyed it at first and over time enjoy it even more. That is were a short test drive isn't going to do it. Live with the bikes for a few days and you notice a lot of things that aren't noticeable on the first test drives or while the newness hasn't worn off. I thing I think is quite humorous is I have never heard anyone on this forum rave about how wonderful a BIKE the Brompton is but many rave about its fold and its transportability. My backpack is portable too but I really don't want to ride it either.

    The Brompton is a competent bike but no standout. If possible I would encourage someone to rent one for a week before buying it and live with it for a few days. Some shops have rental policies that allow you to credit part of your rental fee toward the purchase of a new bike from them. I think you should do this with almost any major bike purchase if you can and not just Bromptons to be fair but they are really a bit different than other bikes in some respects. It takes a while to get used to the fact that every time you pick the bike up the rear wheel wants to tuck under. So if you lift the bike up to clear some obstacle the rear wheel invariably falls down and smacks it anyway or it slops it snow and slush all over my pant leg at the same time. I adapted and refrain from picking it up by its seat or post and by the rear subframe instead. It is these sort of things that you need to adapt to with a Brompton that are unique.

  20. #20
    Member, Schmember DaFriMon's Avatar
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    If I did live in a large city, rather than just visiting one from time to time, I don't think I'd be able to resist a Brompton, for transportation, with a BF or a Swift for when I really wanted to just ride. I still hope to try out a Brommie, some time, but I won't be ordering one until I have.

    The attractive thing about the Brompton is that small, easy to handle, folded package. If I were taking a bike on trains or buses almost every day, and didn't want a lot of "you can't bring that thing in here" arguments, it looks like it would be hard to beat. I mention this because the OP plans to be using the bike in NY and LA.

    But maybe the Dahon 16 inch models would also be good. They actually have a different "16" inch wheel, slightly smaller, I think, than the Brompton. I've never seen one, but I'd think that some shop in NY must have a display model for you to test ride.
    Last edited by DaFriMon; 03-27-06 at 01:22 PM.
    You're right, I do have more bikes than I need.

  21. #21
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    I agree there are certain environments where the Brompton is king but that still doesn't make a particularly good bicycle. I obviously have seen the need for it so I have purchased a few. I would like it a lot more if they could really reduce the weight to about 20 pounds with fenders. I think the entire functional argument about a Brompton is that it is one of the most portable/compact bikes. If you follow the logic of this argument you assume that you are going to be carrying it with you a lot.

    If you follow that further further and since you ARE carrying it a lot, weight becomes of paramount importance concurrently with compact size. It excels in one area and fails in the other. Maybe failure isn't exactly correct as it isn't the heaviest but it sure isn't light. I wish it were as light as it is compact would be a better way to express it. That is why I can't get super enthused about it. I appreciate it and all but after carrying the thing all day from metro to metro, riding for a bit, taking a bus and carrying it some more, it starts to get heavy especially if I am toting my laptop along as well. By the end of the day carrying about 35-40 pounds of stuff I am tired especially since it can sometimes be awkward to carry unless you bag it. For a smaller person this would be even more of an issue.

  22. #22
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    I just had a peek at the 2004 Helios archive on dahon.com. Looks like a pretty cool bike. I think the adjustable seatpost issue is significant, which knocks out the Vitesse -- plus everyone says the bike has problems. You said to keep pushing you on the Ciao 7, so consider yourself pushed. Because I'm small and a newbie rider, it does seem like an ideal frame. As I mentioned in another message, I'll be in LA for another couple of weeks, then in NY indefinitely. I've looked around LA but there hasn't been much to try (only the three I've already mentioned,) so I think it's worth waiting to see what I can try out in NY -- there are a lot more folder-owners there, so I expect there will be more to check out. But I will want to get something soon after I arrive, so keep me posted on your offers. And thanks so much!




    Quote Originally Posted by brakemeister
    how about me looking into an older ( 2004) Helios XL from Dahon .... It retailed for 799 at the time. I just MIGHT be able to find a new one with a couple scratches for less of course... How much less I dont know but at least 100 bucks.... it has an integral 7 speed and has an adjustable handlebar, plus the highly regarded thudbuster seatpost

    I could get a vitesse 5 the same way sug retail 460 at the time with little scratches for 100 bucks less.
    That would be much closer to your original budget , but the Vitesse does not have an adjustable handlebar.

    of course if you like to try the 16 inch I do have that special offer open for the piccolo . I know some folks dont like 16 inch but they are several daily commuters with 16 inch bikes, who love theirs.

    folding size versus folding time ....... I think that a few inches more or less are not as important as the ease of folding it without lifting and turning and make a dance around it . Even real big bikes can be made real small if you take everything apart ( after 2 hours one ends up with a real small package ) that might be ok for air travel, but certainly is not working for commuter bikes ...

    I am also somewhat concerned with weight. most people on the dahons leave the seatpost out and roll the bike ( somewhat wiggley waggly ) on the rear wheel, and only carry it, when the congestions becomes to thick....

    You arer doin a good job trying to find out whats best for you .... :-)
    thor

  23. #23
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    If you would consider a vacation in Europe before or after NYC you could buy a Ciao there, see if you can get a VAT refund. See if you can claim it as used for custums tax.

  24. #24
    folding thru paradise
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    Why I love my Brompton:

    I live in New York City where a hole in the wall apartment can cost $1000 to $2000. Most shops and restaurants are very small. Manhattan is relatively flat so, the lack of gears are not a major issue (3 speed or even a 1 speed can do) and going from East to West may take 10 to 20 minutes depending on traffic. Trust me you do not want to be riding your bike at 17 mph even if you could.

    Most people live in walk up apartments so the small compactness of the Brompton is great and the fact that it stay together well after it is folded allows you to have a hand free for carrying other things such as a bag or lunch. It is very clean since it use hub gear the chain is not that greasy. Also the chain ends up in the middle of the bike so, no part of it can touch another person on the train or on an elevator (well the chain ring but it has a chain guard).

    Here is what I do most days. I get up go to a dinner or coffee shop and I bring my Brompton in with me. For Lunch I ride to a local restaurant to pick up some take out. In the evening I go hang out at my friends place or meet up at local Bars and I can take my brompton in with me. If the place is crowed and there are no walls to lean your bike on? Not a problem my Brompton can stand on its own I can straddle around it and still drink a beer no problem. With a Swift you need to lean it against the wall or a table.

    I have taken my Brompton into a crowed restaurant with out any problem. I usually slide the inside chair against the table and put my Brompton behind the chair and slide the outside chair out a bit and sit down and enjoy my meal.

    I have taken my Brompton into Crowed movie theaters without any problem. I just walk all the way up to the front of the stage and leave my bike just in front of the stage and walk back and enjoy the movie with over 300 people in the theater looking forward I think my bike is safe!

    Sometimes I will even take it to a museum and check it in at the coat check. Most building will let you bring the bike in and a few that do not allow bikes. You can buy an optional Cover & saddle bag and that will get you into about 100% of the building in NYC.

    Going up and down the curve of the side walk is not a problem. With my left hand on the handlebar my right hand can grab the far caster wheels just at the bottom of the seat post.

    Transportation: Riding the bike is best then rolling it then, wheeling it if you have the EZ-wheels or skate wheels. If the bike is 28 lbs wheeling it will bring it down to 14 lbs or less. Lastly carrying the bike. Yes, 24 lbs may not be much but carrying it far will make a difference. But this is no different with any other folding bike.

    Yes, the ride is not great but if I wanted a great ride I could take my trek Carbon road bike. In fact in the afternoon I take my bike Friday out to the park for a fast ride. But even when I am home I do not fold my bike Friday. It stays open because it is easier that way. I need to live in NYC and this is why I need a Brompton and why I love my Brompton. For people who live in places with more space and a car you really don’t need a folding bike but in the city like New York. Trust me the speed of folding, the size and if the bike can stay together after it is folded it is very important.

    As a test, I took my Brompton to Hawaii for a month riding around 20 to 60 miles a day carrying tents, sleeping bags, mats, clothing and etc. I travel to all the major Islands. I would go set up my tent at a camp ground and ride my bike to a grocery store, fold my bike and put it in a shopping cart and go shopping!

    The ride is fine. Nothing great but I am loving it because it folds and it is compact.

  25. #25
    Señor Mambo
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    I don't get it. The Ciao 7 is close to $840+/- US. That would definitely net you a nice bike from any company. Besides, when folded, it looks like a PITA to carry. (I guess you really can't say enough about the power of fashion. Go figure.)

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