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  1. #1
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    Review of Downtube Mini with internal hub

    Initial Impressions

    Iíve had a chance to ride the Mini a bit more. I maybe have 25 miles on it so far. I am not going to repeat many of the things that I said regarding Downtube (DT) in general. Suffice to say the quality of DT has grown by leaps and bounds. If you were to take off the DT labels off the Mini you would not think of this as a Downtube. This is both a good and bad thing. Good because the quality is that good. Bad because you think of how DT was when they first started; great price but sort of industrial looking.

    Well the Mini continues on in some ways where the VIIIH left off. It still has the very good Sturmey Archer 8 speed internal hub and same twistgrip shifter. Brakes look very similar and that is about where the similarities end. The Mini is of course smaller. It might actually be smaller than a Brompton. Iíll have photos soon of them side by side so you can see for yourself. If the Mini is in fact smaller then it will mostly be due to the smaller wheels; ERTO 305 vs. 349.

    Fit and Finish

    Fit and finish are definitely still upscale. Bike has very nice paint. The electric neon lime color is pretty cool. I do wish the bike came with touch-up paint. You will NEVER match this color if you scratch it without it. I will be padding contact points were it folds.

    What About the Merc or Brompton?

    One of the first questions many of you will want to know is how does it stack up against a Brompton or a Merc? Me too! I am not going to address that just yet. Donít skip to the end of the review either because it wonít be there. :-)

    I think it is important to understand the differences between this and the VIIIH in more detail. It is definitely smaller. Seat is different and unsuspended. FYI Ė mine has a plastic nose piece on the underside that has a few sharp edges so watch it if you grip it by the nose of the seat. I will file or trim mine down a bit. Handlebars are different and so is the handlebar stem. This may be the first one without a height adjustable handlebar stem.

    If you need handlebar adjustability you can use what Dahon does; Syntace System. What you do get in place is a very beefy looking stem similar to what is on some of the Dahons but the locking mechanism (on DT) seems better and less flimsy than Dahon. Dahon has a plastic piece in their lock that if it breaks you or out of luck. Definitely a design flaw on the Dahons.

    Compared to DT VIIIH

    Instead of the cool all metal folding pedals on the VIIIH we have the typical DT kick-and-go pedals. The bottom bracket seems lower than on other models so you might want to watch pedal strikes. I did actually scrape my foot. I do have big feet (euro 47) but not gigantic. I would just watch it will cornering and pedaling the first few times.

    There is no rack, rear fender or kickstand like the VIIIH has. Finally grips other than the cursed foam ones I hate so much. Those things are miserable when they get wet. So while we have better grips they arenít real high end either but I personally like them better. Note to Yan Ė donít have them trim the right grip so much. I always have to rest my hand on the shifter whether I want to or not. Because of this issue I will be swapping out the grips. The right grip itself is too narrow for my hand and holding the shifter all the time is uncomfortable to me since I donít need to shift that often on flat ground.

    One of my main complaints about the VIIIH was the gearing. Yan has said he will change the gearing on it for next year. Well on the Mini the rear wheel size makes the gearing almost perfect for me. I did need to do a quick adjustment on the cable to get it right. Now I appreciate this hub even more than I did on the VIIIH. Shifter effort is less than on my VIIIH but still higher than my Nexus. Gears are about spot on for the Mini. If you need a lower gear than 1st on this bike you would probably be on a hill so steep you would wheelie over backward if you pedal. Gear spacing is about perfect for me but of course your mileage may vary. Top gear is still tall enough to pedal over 20mph if you want but not insanely tall like the VIIIH.

    Ride and Drive

    So how does it ride? Very well! High speed stability is much better than I imagined it would. However if you are transitioning off a full-size bike donít try fast speeds until you get used to it a bit. It isnít twitchy but 16Ē (305) donít take a lot of effort to change their direction. Rear suspension definitely took the edge off bumps. I imagine it would work better for someone lighter than me but even I could feel the difference it made.

    Adding to the bikes nimble feeling is its light weight. The bike is VERY light feeling when you pick it up. It will be going on the scale later. Official weight listed on the box was 12kg for shipping including the box. This makes the Mini a pretty light weight folder.

    Tires are typically DT. They are a few steps up above ďrim protectorsĒ but I would never replace them with the same ones when they wear out. When I have a few spare $$$ Iíll upgrade the tires on this and VIIIH and keep the stock ones for if I ever sell them. Ditching the stock tires would also save off some weight too.

    Compared to Brompton/Merc

    I am sure many of you are still itching for the Brompton Merc comparo. Is it a potential alternative to either of these yes but with qualifications. The brakes are vastly better on the DT vs. the Brompton (any flavor) or the standard Merc brakes. The Merc GT6 still has some of the best brakes on any folder I have ever ridden. The 8spd SA hub is better as well than what comes on the others except for the Merc GT6. I would say it is a tie as on the GT6 I can more easily play with my gearing. For most people though the SA 8 speed is a better choice.

    One area where the Brompton and Merc are clearly better is in the more stretched out riding position. I would not want to ride the Mini 20 miles. I could do it but I wouldnít want to. On the Merc or Brompton it is not an issue for me. If you are smaller in stature (5í9Ē) or less you could still be pretty comfy on a longer ride.

    If I had to choose between a C model Brompton and a Mini, Iíd take the Mini if my commute was under 6-7 miles each or if I had hills. The 8spd hub is what would really sway me. Iíd take the cost savings and buy better tires and a rear rack and fenders. If I had a longer commute Iíd start thinking more about the stretched out riding position. With stock tires they both arenít going to win any speed contests but are faster than you might think. Iíd like to see a Mini with 349 tires as I like the available tire choices there better most notably the Scorchers and the Bropton Greens. Both are VERY fast tires.

    Stock seat is better on the Mini than the B or the Merc. You have a lot more seat options on the Mini (and the Merc) than the B unless you buy the special Pentaclip from B. Merc and Brompton luggage systems outclass what the Mini has to offer. I do plan to adapt the Brompton luggage system to one of my DTs.

    Iíll be comparing folded size later in another post. Mini is a very small folding package. You do only have one choice of color whereas Merc has several and the C model Brommie only one. If you do go upscale in Brommie you have more color choices and the option of custom colors.

    What NOT to Like

    So what isnít there to like about it. Honestly there isnít much I donít like about it that can easily be fixed on your own. The Mini is, well...mini! All small bikes make some compromises and the Mini may not be for everyone. The handling is very responsive and please donít try and read between the lines or think that I am writing in code to describe an evil handling bike. I can easily ride it hands off though I donít encourage you to for liability reasons. Your weight and balance may be different than mine.

    Keep in mind that this is a short bike that is relatively tall. What this means is you can more easily do wheelies if you have the seat up high and you are a big person. Regardless of your size Iíd recommend keeping your weight forward while climbing hills. I havenít had any issues but get a feel for the bike and then modify your riding style. Simple physics dictates that small, short-coupled bikes with a high center of gravity are easier to wheelie or do stoppies. So far Iíve done neither but going up short sidewalk ramps I could feel the front end get light. This is not a flaw of the Mini itself. If you donít like the laws of physics go complain to Sir Isaac Newton. Maybe he can ask someone to re-write them for you. Donít forget to have him send a memo to Einstein while he is at it.

    So what else is there to not to like about the Mini? Like my VIIIH I had squeaky brakes when first riding. They have pretty much bedded and are quieter. Nothing has vibrated or fallen off yet. I do detect a few loose spokes in my rear wheel but none in the front. Shifter still is stiffer than what I would like or that I am used to. Grip on the right is too narrow.

    What Would I Change

    So what would I change if I had a chance to change things on the Mini? If I could back up in the design process Iíd have gone with ERTO 349 wheels as they would offer a faster and better ride with a lot more good tire choices. The small folded size might have been compromised a bit but I think it would have been worth it. Since I canít easily do that, here is what I will personally change on my Mini as time and finances permit:

    Better tires
    New grips
    Fenders
    Rack
    Kickstand
    Some sort of mechanism to hold the folded package together better(an issue of most folders)
    Add padding to the painted bits that touch each other (an issue of most folders)

    FTR Factor (Fun to Ride)

    The bike is a blast to ride. The fun factor is really high and donít ride it if you donít want to attract attention. I get a lot of smiles while riding it so I must look like a total dork on it. The Mini climbs hills very well. Itís so maneuverable that you can easily avoid inattentive pedestrians when they step out in front of you. Brakes are very easy to modulate and have excellent stopping power.

    Considering the target market of the Mini it is a very good offering. I am really impressed with how much DT has improved their offerings. They are easily able to compete heads up with the folder companies.

    Who Should Buy or Consider the Mini?

    I would enthusiastically recommend this bike to anyone looking for a ultra-small compact folder. Even if you arenít looking for ultra-small it is still a very good bike. Maybe you donít care if it is really small folded or not but you want something very light weight. Mini fills the bill here too. In some ways they Mini and VIIIH are direct competitors. I think this is in large part due to the internal hub. If I had to pick just one of them I honestly donít know which I would pick.

    The best analogy I can offer is like you have two sons or daughters and you could only keep one of them. You love them both and donít know how you could have just one of them after you have them both. Do you keep your cute baby face one that is always perky or do you go with the more athletic and intelligent one? You can better answer that question for yourself than I can. Fortunately I donít have to make that one myself. In reality I have sold off almost all my other bicycles and will keep just my Swift and the DT folders and possibly a Brommie/Merc hybrid.

    The Mini would be an outstanding choice for a woman or a child. The physical dimensions of it mean even a child about 7 years old could ride it. It has a very low step-over height. The women who want to wear dresses could ride this if they wanted to and retain their modesty. It weighs so much less than the typical tanks they sell disguised as kids bikes. Your kids will definitely love the light weight.

    Once you have an excuse to have one in the family (nudge, nudge, wink; I bought it for my wife/kids) that youíll find ways of enjoying it too. You will secretly take it out at night while the neighbors arenít looking and the kids are sleeping. You will drift back thinking about your first bike you rode when you were a kid. Then in the morning you will hop on it before anyone is awake and commute to your local rail or bus stop, hide in it in the bag it comes with and go to work.

    Conclusions

    So based on my current experience so far I think Downtube has another winner on their hands. I think in general if more people had a chance to ride a bike with a good internal hub like the DT has and I have on my Swift, fewer people would be buying derailleurs. If you havenít already ordered your Mini and were thinking about it, all I can ask is, what are you waiting for? Better get one now before they are all sold out. It may look cute but it is a surprisingly serious bike. It is definitely an alternative to the Brompton and Merc for the shorter commutes and could be used on longer ones if you are smaller in stature.

    Pics to come soon. I'll update this thread as I accumulate more miles on it and once my children have a chance to really stress test it.

  2. #2
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Thank you for the review. Would it fit on a conventional luggage withut disassembly? That may be a major selling point.

    Rafael

    (Finally free from Summer School)

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Thanks Wav! nice report... my Mini is definately slated to be ridden only by my girlfriend ...hahaha .. she's just over 5' and isn't a seasoned rider.. she has trouble with derailleur shifting... and.. always wants to ride my hub converted DT FS when we ride together ... I'm looking forward to this lime green baby..

    Bruce

  4. #4
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    I think it might fit in a normal suitcase without much (if any work). If I can, I'll try it and post some pics. My biggest concern would be about the handlebar stem at this point. It doesn't telescope and is pretty long but very sturdy. At worst might need to pull the front wheel and rotate the bars a bit.

  5. #5
    SeŮor Mambo
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    Did this review really need a separate thread of its own?

  6. #6
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    Here are a few photos of the Mini and friends. I borrowed a Brompton for comparison from my boss. The Mini is obvously not as small as the Brompton when folded. The VIIIH thrown in for comprison looks positively gargantuan! What is affecting the smallest possible size is the bars.

    FYI- if you have any shifting issues on your VIIIH or Mini turn it upside down on the seat and bars. You will notice a 2 little yellow marks. Turn the cable adjustment screw until the align WHILE in 4th gear and you should be all set.

    If anyone is interested in more shots comparing it to the Brompton let me know. I have to give it back on Monday. I told my boss I'd tune it up for him if I could borrow it for a while to do some photo shoots.








    Last edited by Wavshrdr; 07-28-07 at 08:01 AM.

  7. #7
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    Just thought I'd follow up with some weights according to my unofficial scale. These weights are for comparitve purposes and are not meant to be absolute.

    Weights in pounds. If you live with the metric system you can do the math.

    Brompton 27.2
    DT Mini 25.7
    DT VIIIH 32.2

    These weights are as you see them in the photos. Do NOT compare them to other published weights as often those weights don't include seats and pedals. These were ready to ride weights and as you see them. I also weighed the bikes individually and with me holding them. I then averaged out these weights to try and eliminate scale error.

    By comparison my Swift weighed 29.6 lbs with Thudbuster, Big Apples, Brooks, fenders and rack.

    I went through and re-tensioned my spokes tonight on the Mini. I had 3 REALLY loose ones and two loose ones. All is great now and quiet as can be. I trued the wheel while I was at it. It was off just a little bit probably due to the loose spokes which were all pretty much in one quadrant.

  8. #8
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spambait11
    Did this review really need a separate thread of its own?
    Yes, I think so. It was a lot more in depth with a lot of photos to be posted. There is a lot of interest in the bike and few people here take the time to right a thorough review so why not? I personally think we should have a sticky area where reviews are posted. It would save a lot of time of answering the same old noob questions about this bike or that bike.

    I do take a lot of my time to write a thorough unbiased review. I am not doing it for my edification nor am I being compensated for it. So if the price you have to pay is for it to be in a new thread and you are unhappy about it, well it sure beats a lot of the drivel that gets posted here. It also makes it much easier to search for based on name. If it was SPAM I could understand your point but honestly it seems like a minor one to me but I'm sure others will chime in if you've raised a salient point and they agree with you. I don't mean to be confrontational here but I see it as not a big deal and this review was very in depth compared to the mini ride report I posted before.
    Last edited by Wavshrdr; 08-11-06 at 07:30 PM.

  9. #9
    Is this your card? woofman's Avatar
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    Wav,

    I appreciate that youíre willing, able, and capable of writing a comprehensive review such as this. The knowledgeable and experienced opinions of you and others who are generous enough to take the time to contribute posts which enlighten the rest of us is invaluable. I had never even heard of folders until I joined the Forum eight months ago, however, since that time the feedback from you, BruceMetras and others has enabled me to make an educated purchase, and now Iím about to make another.

    Keep sharing your thoughts, and thanks for the photos too.

    woof

  10. #10
    Decrepit Member Scooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spambait11
    Did this review really need a separate thread of its own?
    I believe it deserves its own thread.

    Whether it's appended to another thread or is its own thread, the information presented (very good info, BTW) takes the same bandwidth. Since the Downtube Mini is relatively new, and everyone seemed to be comparing it to the Brompton in terms of comfort and folded size, why should it not have its own thread?

    Thanks for putting in the time and effort to write up a nice report, Wavshrdr.
    Last edited by Scooper; 08-11-06 at 10:23 PM.
    - Stan

  11. #11
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Thank you once again. This pictures will help people making a decision. As a new Thread, it will only make things easier when the search feature of this forum is used.

  12. #12
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    Thanks all for the kind words. I know that it takes all of us to make this a good place to be.

    I just went out for a quick spin in succession of all 3 bikes in the photos. I wanted to get a back to back comparison of them all while it was cool enough I wouldn’t run down quickly because of heat.

    Out of all three on my test loop the Brompton was clearly the fastest but had the narrowest gear range by far. I attribute the Brompton’s speed to its great bars and VASTLY superior tires. It has the Brompton “greens” which are some of the absolute fastest in a 349 size. They are 100psi tires and really fly.

    Getting on either DT after the Brommie with these tires made them feel lethargic. My instincts tell me there is a lot of speed to be had with either DT with a simple tire change. Quite honestly the Brommie was almost as fast as my Swift on my loop. That was a surprise in some ways as my Swift isn’t slow but it does weigh more and the Big Apples are slower tires than the greens.

    When it came to climbing hills the VIIIH was in last place and the Mini in first. The Mini had the best gearing for hill climbing. The low speeds didn’t seem to make the tires seem as slow and its light weight allowed it to fly up hills. This little baby is fast up hills.

    In short order I sort of figured out how the bikes stack up against each other personality wise. The Brommie is like a Jag XKE. Fast, fairly nimble, and definitely comfortable. The DT VIIIH is more like a Honda Accord. Not as fast but well appointed and an excellent value. The Mini is like the Mini Cooper S. It almost feels like a toy (in the good sense) and was fun to play with and still pretty quick (but not fast).

    In cut and thrust riding in the city the Mini would be a lot of fun especially with better tires. The VIIIH is a great all around bike; good at a lot of things but not really great at anything. The Brompton is definitely nicer than the ones I had but still has the so-so brakes. Nothing still touches its fold. Mini is close but if I had to fit a bike in a suitcase with no disassembly the Brommie/Merc is still the best choice.

    I also want to point out that while the Mini may not be mini on the scale, its compact dimensions make it feel even light when you ride it. By comparison the Brommie felt heavier than the VIIIH even though it weighs less. I think this is primarily due to the fact it is longer. With weight further from the CG (center of gravity) it has a higher polar moment of inertia so it resists directional changes more.

    Best ride quality of the bunch was the VIIIH, then Mini and then the Brompton. The Brommie has better rear suspension than the Mini but the tires are definitely harsher. The front fork and suspended seat on the VIIIH soak up a lot of bumps. Brommie would be better on a long trip but the VIIIH isn’t far behind. No way I’m going to be going on a long trip or ride more than about 7 miles at a stretch on the Mini. I am just too big of a guy but it is fun playing around on. This would be a great bike on a college campus or someone who lives downtown and would commute 3-4 miles to work each way.

    Lastly the Brompton costs several times more but it might only be 20%-30% (at most) better in some areas and worse in others. Gearing wise the DTs totaly outclass the Brommie. So ultimately (for me) the DTs are a much better value. If you need that those areas where the Brommie is still king, you might want to pay the extra money. Alternatively you can consider the Merc too if you want the basic Brompton pluses at a lower price.

  13. #13
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wavshrdr
    Out of all three on my test loop the Brompton was clearly the fastest (...)

    Getting on either DT after the Brommie with these tires made them feel lethargic.

    The Brommie is like a Jag XKE.

    The Brompton is definitely nicer than the ones I had but still has the so-so brakes. Nothing still touches its fold. Mini is close but if I had to fit a bike in a suitcase with no disassembly the Brommie/Merc is still the best choice.

    Best ride quality of the bunch was the VIIIH, then Mini and then the Brompton.
    All good to know, once again, thank you for taking the time to share...
    Last edited by 14R; 08-11-06 at 11:13 PM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    So how much does one of these set back your wallet?

  15. #15
    SeŮor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wavshrdr
    I am not doing it for my edification nor am I being compensated for it. So if the price you have to pay is for it to be in a new thread and you are unhappy about it, well it sure beats a lot of the drivel that gets posted here.
    Your reviews were never in question. You had another thread entitled "mini me" which I thought was going to be appended and updated with the review and pics. I think that would make it easier on the search engine.

    As far as distilling drivel, I'm with you there.

  16. #16
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    So how much does one of these set back your wallet?
    Retail is $439. Yan had an introductory special a while ago for $399. I had pre-ordered one a long time ago.

    The VIIIH is less than the Mini. I don't know how many of these you will see on eBay. Last time I asked Yan about the internal hub models he said they were all doing quite well. It seems the VIIIH sold out very quickly and the Minis are doing very well too.

  17. #17
    SeŮor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scooper
    Since the Downtube Mini is relatively new, and everyone seemed to be comparing it to the Brompton in terms of comfort and folded size, why should it not have its own thread?
    To address your latter point about having its own thread, I'd rather see info about the same bike in the same place. What's the point of a mini-review and a full-review of the same bike coming from the same person being posted in two different threads? I'm NOT accusing Wav of shilling because he's been here a while, but doing something like this can be viewed as such.

    I find your primary observation of people wanting to compare the Mini to the Brompton very intriguing. It seems everyone would rather have the B., but no one wants to pay the price. In the meantime, they hope for a cheaply priced B. killer which is probably not going to happen unless it comes from B. themselves. To be fair though, I doubt the Mini was meant to compete head to head with the B., but those people will try to force a comparison anyway. They should really be trying to compare the Mini with the Dahon Piccolo or Presto Lite. The B. is not even in the same league as the Mini - the B. is in a higher league. But whatever they want to believe...

  18. #18
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wavshrdr
    Retail is $439. Yan had an introductory special a while ago for $399. I had pre-ordered one a long time ago.
    That's pretty darn reasonable. As much as I like my Strida, the DT mini looks like a lot more bike for about the same price.

  19. #19
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spambait11
    It seems everyone would rather have the B., but no one wants to pay the price.
    I agree. I realized about 1 year ago that if you are into conventional bikes, even the not so expensive folders will need upgrades and will cost aprox. US$500 to make it similar in performance and feel to a conventional bike. There is no way to compare a Downtube or strida to a Brompton/Merc or Bike Friday. I personally have a Downtube VIIIFS05 ($300) and a Modified Giant Halfway ($1300). They are both folders, both 20" but all you need to do is ride each one for 30 seconds and you can see the difference.

    On the other hand, since the Mini has smaller wheels and falls into the Super compact folder category (AtoB Mag), giving an idea on how it rides/performs comparing to more sophisticated versions of the same category (different "class" I guess, but still same category) may help the newcomer understanding that these are different products, for different purposes, with different price tags.

    What I really would like to see is a picture of an adult riding the Mini now, so I can see how far the knee is from the handlebar while pedalling.
    Last edited by 14R; 08-12-06 at 01:46 AM.

  20. #20
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spambait11
    I find your primary observation of people wanting to compare the Mini to the Brompton very intriguing. It seems everyone would rather have the B., but no one wants to pay the price. In the meantime, they hope for a cheaply priced B. killer which is probably not going to happen unless it comes from B. themselves. To be fair though, I doubt the Mini was meant to compete head to head with the B., but those people will try to force a comparison anyway. They should really be trying to compare the Mini with the Dahon Piccolo or Presto Lite. The B. is not even in the same league as the Mini - the B. is in a higher league. But whatever they want to believe...
    If you rode them back to back you might be surprised. I've probably owned more Bromptons than many people but in a shorter period of time. Regardless of the model there were several things they all shared; poor to mediocre brakes!

    When riding them back to back it was pretty interesting to note the differences. The Dahon Piccolo and Sweat Pea don't even remotely compare to the Mini. They may seem to on paper but in reality they don't. The Mini compares more favorably to the Brompton than the Piccolo or Sweat Pea compare to the Mini.

    Put a good set of tires on the Mini and move the bars forward a bit and it would move up quite a ways against the Brompton. I've spent quite a few miles on Bromptons and as I've repeatedly said, the Bromptons are great at folding but not really great bikes.

    My boss' Brompton is one of the most expensive made. It has pretty much all the upgrades you can get on one. Considering his income level I'm not surprised it isn't gold plated.

    In spite of going against what could arguably be called best Bromptons, the Mini stacked up verywell. The Brompton was easily 6 or 7 times more expensive. It is the Ti version and pretty nicely equipped with even a titanium telescopic seatpost and titanium pedal axle and SON hub dynamo. He basically spared no expense and went with custom gearing too.

    Am I saying the Mini is as good? No. In some ways it is better! Most notably the gearing and brakes. I like the chassis slightly better on the Brompton because I am more stretched out. The Mini being shorter is more nimble It doesn't have the nifty luggage system of the Brompton nor does it fold as compactly. It is a super compact wheelbase bike and because of that there are sacrifices. I didn't buy it to take on long trips or rides. I bought it for around town use so that my family could ride.

    A primary consideration was the wide gear range. Something I absolutely hate about Bromptons. For my usage if Brompton had a wider gear range and better brakes I'd enjoy them a lot more.

    On the Mini I can ride it reasonably comfortably for about 5-7 miles. My knees don't hit the bars but if someone had 34" inseam they might have an issue. A Syntace System would probably give me enough room to stretch out more. Still it wasn't met to ride 20 miles at a stretch. It would be a great alternative for someone living in an apartment where space is a premium. It would be a decent multi-mode commuter as well. I'll see about adapting luggage from a Brompton for it and upgrade the tires and see how it is then.

    Sure it isn't a Brompton but it doesn't need to be. It isn't like the Brompton is the best folder in the world. It may have about the best fold but that doesn't make it the best folding bicycle. Bottom line is for the money DT wants you get a lot of bike but in a small package. I didn't expect it to be a Brompton killer nor did I want one. Regardless its size will invite comparison whereas there is no comparison in the price. Like all things bicycles are subject to diminshing returns. I'd say a large portion of people considering a Brompton could probably buy the Mini and be quite happy. It does have a very small fold even if not as small as the Brommie but it would suffice for many.

    At least we all have choices. Nobody has to agree with mine. Buy what you like. For me it was a GREAT choice because of its small size will be great for my kids and my mom to ride. The internal 8 speed hub means we'll almost always have a good gear for conditions. The good brakes means I am not going to worry about my kids stopping safely. The light weight means I am not going to get a hernia putting the bikes in the back of a car all the time. The low price means I can save and buy 2 of these for about the price of one cheap C model Brompton. For me there isn't much to NOT like about the Mini at this point. YMMV of course.

  21. #21
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    Wav, great post. Don't let sb discourage you. You've done one of the few bike:bike comparison, esp. the photos.

    PS - It seems from Yan's post (below), you can make it fold smaller with the bars between the two frame halves?

    Downtube folding bike

  22. #22
    Life in Mono
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    Wav, great reviews ! ...... really useful. Got to the key issues pretty quick and answered all our q's before we asked ... THANKYOU.

  23. #23
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasong
    Wav, great post. Don't let sb discourage you. You've done one of the few bike:bike comparison, esp. the photos.

    PS - It seems from Yan's post (below), you can make it fold smaller with the bars between the two frame halves?

    Downtube folding bike
    Jasong- I'll try that later and maybe update the pics if I have time.

    Simple Simon- Thanks for the kind words. I just try to cover the points I think most people will be interested in or that I am interested in.

  24. #24
    SeŮor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasong
    Wav, great post. Don't let sb discourage you.
    I'm discouraging because I don't agree with one of Wav's comparisons?

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    Quote Originally Posted by woofman
    Wav,

    I appreciate that you’re willing, able, and capable of writing a comprehensive review such as this. The knowledgeable and experienced opinions of you and others who are generous enough to take the time to contribute posts which enlighten the rest of us is invaluable. I had never even heard of folders until I joined the Forum eight months ago, however, since that time the feedback from you, BruceMetras and others has enabled me to make an educated purchase, and now I’m about to make another.

    Keep sharing your thoughts, and thanks for the photos too.

    woof
    Not to derail the thread, but if you're happy with the purchases you made, and happy with the information that you got from the forum, give some thought to paying for an upgraded membership. It's apparently a one-time purchase, and helps to cover the bandwidth costs of the forum. The information/help that comes out of the community is worth the price many times over, in real dollars, when you consider the hazards of otherwise bad purchases, mechanical mistakes, hard-to-locate parts, etc etc.


    -back on track- Thanks for the reviews, Wav, and especially the photos. It does look like the Brompton still has the market cornered on coolest/tightest/neatest fold, but the mini really does seem to give it a run for its money. Considering the price difference, I'm getting more and more eager to get over to PA and check it out in person. Couple of questions:

    1. You stated that this was your bosses bike. Did he choose a folding bike, and particularly a DownTube, on your recommendation? Does he/she have other folders?

    2. You mentioned something in one of your other DT reviews on just how quiet you find the SA hub to be. I'm just curious about this..... Do you mean silent? When you coast on it, does it make that "tiktiktiktiktik" sound from the pawls inside? Is it noticeable?

    3. What tires do you have in mind for an upgrade? What's available in the 305 size (pref high-pressure) that would be considered "slick" or near-slick?
    Last edited by bookishboy; 08-12-06 at 11:27 AM.

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