Is this a downtube Mini ?
Saw this on UK ebay (Item number: 230039153848). Price is only £4-99 ($12) BUT shipping is £178 ! (from China). It is interesting because it packs v small, and has a folding crank. We've seen Brompton copies, is this a downtube copy ?
I'd have to say no. Although it shares several features with the mini (small size, rear suspension, aluminum frame), I'd hesitate to ride this.
The 14" wheels are quite small, and I find 16" wheels to be nearly too squirrelly to ride comfortably (or safely). Also, the odd wheel size.... I don't know how difficult it would be to get tires/tubes for this. Look at the pedals too; they're so close to the ground that I'd be afraid of pedal-strikes on the pavement each time you turn the bike.
As for downtube copies..... I get the impression that the situation with all the chinese bicycles is this:
-A fair amount of factories, making frames that are all very similiar to each other (for folding bikes). Aluminum welding, decent quality, and a price/quality index that is pretty attractive, since workers pay/benefits are less. In order to keep any kind of quality control, it seems that bicycle manufacturing will always be a labor-intensive process. Because of this, I think it'll tend to drift to wherever there is a sweet-spot of low-paid workers and industrialized economy.... if China continues to become more affluent, I wouldn't be surprised to see bicycle manufacturing move to some countries in sub-Saharan Africa or mainland SE Asia in the next 50 years.
-The tricky part is getting these low-priced, decent-enough quality frames equipped with components that are good enough to be more than Walmart bikes, and getting the fully-assembled bikes shipped out to the customers without inflating the price too much. DT seems to have found a great business niche because so many of these folding bikes from China have crappy components on them, and the good ones (Dahon, Giant, etc) are locked into retail agreements and so will always be priced higher than a web-store can offer.
-Because so many of these folding bikes from China all look so similiar, I'd hesitate to say that any of them are a "copy" of any others. Except for the ones that obviously ape a very distinctive design (like the Brompton knockoffs), there is very little in the frame design that distinguishes many of them from each other. The big things that do distinguish the different bikes are price, componentry, and aftermarket support.
With regards to this bike too, I'd steer away from the seller at least for the time being. He's an "importer" who only has 30-something feedback remarks, and hasn't been on ebay for more than a year. This has been noticed by other BF folks before... bikes being shipped from China with incredibly low price, incredibly high shipping, and the seller is not a longtime ebay-er, nor do they have much feedback. I'm not going to say "scam" definitely, but.... I wouldn't bid on it. Usually they try to say that their bike is a Dahon also.
Last edited by bookishboy; 10-21-06 at 09:52 AM.
Car free since 1995
If anyone does bid and buy the bike, it would be great to hear about it. It looks cool with the Birdy like rear suspension. I bought $60 16" Xidesheng folders in Beijing, and the quality was only on small step down from the Presto (better hinge, but even flimsier stem than Dahon and steel hubs, but with a nice 6061 frame and alloy rims).
Find out what tires they have on it.
I loved that bike, but I was way too tall for it at 5' 10". My girlfriend sold hers and bought a Downtube, which I think is an amazing bike for the price.