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Folding Bikes Discuss the unique features and issues of folding bikes. Also a great place to learn what folding bike will work best for your needs.

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Old 09-20-06, 09:06 PM   #1
jur
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Why do so many folders have rear suspension?

Why do so many folders have rear suspension? Is it a necessity, or is it a spec race between suppliers?
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Old 09-20-06, 09:33 PM   #2
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It's not a necessity, but generally smaller wheels (especially if using high-pressure tires) = harsher ride. The suspension is designed to take some of the jarring out of the ride.
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Old 09-20-06, 10:06 PM   #3
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As far as I know, there is ONE Dahon with rear suspension, the Giant Halfway RS, KHS (no longer manufactured) and DTFS. There are some "el cheepo" folders with RS, but not a lot. I wish MORE serious bikes came with rs, would make like easier to buy one justfor the frame...
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Old 09-20-06, 10:29 PM   #4
jur
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafael Guerra
As far as I know, there is ONE Dahon with rear suspension, the Giant Halfway RS, KHS (no longer manufactured) and DTFS. There are some "el cheepo" folders with RS, but not a lot. I wish MORE serious bikes came with rs, would make like easier to buy one justfor the frame...
If one views bikes overall, then folders seem to be the only ones out there of which some have RS only. Of MTB, comfort, hybrid and BMX, some have FS only. None have RS only. So you see my point? Folders are the only ones that come in RS only. I therefore wonder if something in folders make RS almost a necessity.

The only thing I can think of, is that the seat is closer to being directly above the rear wheel axle and therefore road bumps get transmitted more severely to the rider, compared to say a road bike. But that difference is fairly small, hardly likely to necessitate suspension compared to a roadie.

If you were a folder frame designer, then why would you consider putting in suspension?? More parts & expense, so cost can't be it...
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Old 09-20-06, 11:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jur
Why do so many folders have rear suspension? Is it a necessity, or is it a spec race between suppliers?
A vast majority of folders have poor riding dynamics. They make you sit upright where most of the weight falls on rear wheel, not to mention such a riding position takes away the suspension effect of weighted arms. They compensate for this by adding a rear suspension, making the bike rear heavy, complicated and prone to bobbing (not to mention loss of pedalling efficiency). I have only ridden 20 inch bikes and they are smooth enough that you don't need any suspension as long as some weight is distributed on the front wheel.
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Old 09-20-06, 11:39 PM   #6
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I understand what you are saying. I believe the problem is that RS gives a much needed extra confort for the smaller wheels. OTOH, I am still looking for a good fork that does not cost more than the bike itself, so maybe cost of front shocks may be one of the limiting factors.

If I were a frame designer, I would create a Brompton-like, bigger frame frame with standard headset to fit a nice front fork (suspension) and 20" wheels front and back.
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Old 09-21-06, 06:07 AM   #7
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Marketing, some people will not buy a bike unless is has full suspension. Try selling a MB to a 15 yr boy wo shocks (when all his friends have bikes with shocks). BTW, the more expensice shocks probably do improve the ride, with some costs to performance.
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Old 09-21-06, 09:47 AM   #8
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OK, here's my guess. Most folding bikes are not made for MTB purposes so a full suspension isn't necessary. Front suspensions require significantly larger forks than an unsuspended fork, and thus interfere with some folding designs. Pantour hubs (which don't interfere with folding) are an alternative but are expensive and increase both wheel weight and wheel complexity. In comparison RS's, like a Thudbuster, have minimal effects on folding. Between folding compromise, added weight, added cost, and added complexity, I'd assume that most designers believe that the advantages of FS are outweighed by the disadvantages.

By the way, keep in mind that many folding bikes do not have any suspension at all, ranging from low-end (e.g. Dahon Speed D7's) to midrange (Swift) to high-end (Bike Fridays).
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Old 09-21-06, 12:20 PM   #9
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If I still lived in Oregon I might wonder why a commute bike needs suspension of any kind, front or rear. I now commute in NYC and there are some stretches of pavement where I can barely get in two consecutive pedal strokes because I am so busy bouncing out of one road irregularity into the next. I used to think like a previous poster that suspension robbed energy from the drivetrain but I now believe that a properly set up suspension (not too soft) will 'aid' pedaling efficiency if only because it frees the rider more to focus on pedaling and steering and less on picking the least punishing line through a particular stretch of pavement and minimizes time spent out of the saddle. Why do we have gears? Some argue that a single speed is all they need. Fine, but I like having not to have to ride all the time in a 75" gear, the top gear on my 1/2way. In fact I'd like even more gears than the seven that I now have.

All of the reasons given above for using suspension are valid. The reason suspension is not in wider use is cost, period, end of story. As the cost of suspension components comes down you will see their use in more bicycles, folders included. For folders the existing suspension designs have to be further miniaturized and this has slowed their appearance at all price points of the folder marketplace but the revolution is coming. Disk brakes f/r are still head turning on full size bikes, they won't be in another season. A disk brake design is ideal for all kinds of folders but especially appropriate for the single blade fork and rear triangle design of the Giant 1/2way. It will take additional time for folder designers to incorporate these new options in their creations. Do you think it won't happen? I don't. All in all its not a bad time to be a folder fanatic.

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