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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 12-22-06, 12:48 AM   #1
oldokie
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How to select a folding bike????

Total nubie to folding bikes...be gentle. I would like to have a bike to ride as I travel on business and I thought a folding bike might do the trick. Is there any folding bike that can pack up in a case that meets airline baggage limits...without oversize fees? Do any folding bikes fill that square? If so, what brands would be a good place to start looking at. I am 5' 8" and 190lbs if that matters.
As a side note, I recently visited my son in Japan and I saw a number of people riding bikes with the small wheels. Don't know if they were the folding variety or not. I did not get a chance to visit any of the LBS there to check them out.
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Old 12-22-06, 04:35 AM   #2
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This is a good introduction to folders.
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Old 12-22-06, 06:58 AM   #3
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Depends on the kind of riding you intend to do and your budget. Ideally, you'd get a 20" folder because that would be the most versatile as far as terrain covered (from pot-hole ridden streets to badly diveted dirt). But, 16" bikes clearly fold smaller.

If you have the cash, check out Bikefriday, their pocket pilot or pocket tourist would be good for generally road riding with some trail stuff maybe. They have a suitcase and trailer they sell so that you can ride your bike to the airport and then fold it, pack it and fly.

You'll also want something with an internal hub on the rear (packs smaller and no real worries about knocking a rear derailleur out of alignment). The Downtube Mini has one of these.

I myself have a downtube and love it. It's much less expensive and comes in 16" or 20".

In any case you find yourself, if you want to pack it, you'll end up needing a samsonite 29" hard case. They make a 30" too, but it's 1 or 2 inches over the 62" limit set by airlines, most won't catch it, but the day they do, you'll have to pay.
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Old 12-22-06, 07:24 AM   #4
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Dahon & Bike Friday

When I bought my folding bike two years ago I went to the bike shops and tried a Brompton and Dahon. The Brompton had a superior ride to the aluminum Dahon I tried. There are a couple of Dahon's that are a much better value than a Bike Friday or Brompton. Bike Friday has one adavantage over the Dahon and Brompton. It is designed for traveling and not just folding. I bought a Bike Friday because I was able to select each componet. In addition, my Crusoe weighs only 20 pounds.
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Old 12-22-06, 07:58 AM   #5
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Here are a few manufacturer links.

http://www.bikefriday.com

http://www.airnimal.com

http://www.brompton.com
---the US distributer is http://www.foldabikes.com/
---there is a Brompton clone called Merc that has received positive reviews by many on this forum.

http://www.rad-innovations.com/
---this is the US distributer of Birdy bicycles

http://www.downtube.com

More generally, you have to consider what type of riding you plan on doing, how important performance is, and how small does the fold have to be. From what you describe, it looks like you are heading for one of the folders with 20" or larger wheels. There are several old threads that discuss each of these bikes. A quick scan will give you a quick overview.

What is your experience with bicycles?
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Old 12-22-06, 06:27 PM   #6
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Thanks for the links. I will check them out. The ability of packing in a 29" Samsonite hardcase is exactly what I am looking for. I will not consider any bike that cannot fit into normal airline bagagge limits.

I currently ride a C'dale road bike and also a Trek Hybrid. Depends on weather, distance, etc for which one I choose to ride on any given day. I ride mainly for exercise, enjoyment and ocassional short tours. I miss that when I am traveling and have found that renting a bike is expensive and sometimes impossible in different cities. I though I would deal with that issue by taking my own bike on some of my trips.
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Old 12-22-06, 07:08 PM   #7
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Hello oldokie,

I have three folders in my family at present in both the 16 inch (Dahon Piccolo, Brompton C or Companion) and the 20 inch (Dahon Boardwalk) wheel size. I use each one in different, yet overlapping ways and do take them wherever I go. For serious air traveling, I recommend a Bike Friday, some models of Dahon, or a Brompton. Do feel free to check out my 2 websites on The World Of Folding Bicycles. The Geocites one has a complete section on the Selection topic to assist people how I went about in picking out the right bike for me as well as the best bike shops to do business with the unique features and needs of these bikes. See below for the links and welcome to this forum.

Please let us know if you have any more questions.
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Old 12-22-06, 07:28 PM   #8
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The Bike Friday website and the Xootr website both have information about packing their bikes for flight. Swift is a high end folder that is said to have a very full-size like ride, and Xootr makes a variant of the Swift under license.
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Old 12-22-06, 07:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldokie
I currently ride a C'dale road bike and also a Trek Hybrid. Depends on weather, distance, etc for which one I choose to ride on any given day. I ride mainly for exercise, enjoyment and ocassional short tours. I miss that when I am traveling and have found that renting a bike is expensive and sometimes impossible in different cities. I though I would deal with that issue by taking my own bike on some of my trips.
Your riding patttern sounds like mine. I recently got into folders as well for the portability and convenience. There's probably no one answer to your questions as we are all different consumers. In folding bikes you can buy anything from $200 to $3000 that'll give you the same utility. Of course what varies is the prestige and "bling".

I chose the Downtube brand because I thought they were exceptional values. I now have bought 3 of them. A full suspension, a front suspension and a 16" Mini. If you want something that goes easily into the Samsonite 29 (which I also got), then I suggest the Mini. It's very well equipped. However, if you're over 6ft., you'll have a fit issue. If the Mini doesn't fit, then I recommend the basic Downtube non-suspension model which can be had on eBay for a tad over $200. Can't be beat. I'd upgrade the basic model with some better tires and things and you'd be very happy. Check out the Donwtube thread on this forum. Lots of testimonials there.

Good luck choosing.
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Old 12-22-06, 10:04 PM   #10
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You should check out this site. He specializes in customizing folding bikes for travel and has a lot of useful information. He is also a very helpful if you have specific questions.
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Old 12-25-06, 10:03 AM   #11
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The size of the wheel is determined by what you will be riding on. 16" is fine for smooth pavememt. 16" will be unpleasant for long distances on broken pavement with 16" potholes to fall into.

Dahon Mu is probably the best choice if you have no idea what you want, but have the money. A Mu will hold about half it's value if you need to resell it. You might check cragslist ebay, and postings in the forum for cheap bikes. Sure a $150-$200 folder will not be that good but it will be serviceable for a while, and you will learn if that style of bike is what you want. Then you will be more confident about blowing $1000 on a Brompton Swift Birdy or Dahon.
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Old 12-25-06, 11:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldokie
Thanks for the links. I will check them out. The ability of packing in a 29" Samsonite hardcase is exactly what I am looking for. I will not consider any bike that cannot fit into normal airline bagagge limits.
Not that I have personally tested it out, but apparently, the extra 2" of the Samsonite F'Lite case instead of the Oyster makes a big difference in the ease of packing. Has anyone ever heard of someone getting charged with the 64" case?

Nothing beats test riding the bike. Unfortunately, other than Dahons, it is usually quite difficult to find a shop that carries a good variety of folding bikes. In the DC area, I recommend

http://bikesatvienna.com/
http://bike123.com/

In Philadelphia, there is Tropy Bikes ... http://www.trophybikes.com/

There are a bunch of places in NYC. I know that there is a big folding bike club in Chicago. Calhoun Cycles in Minnesota is a famous folding bike shop. I know that there are a bunch in California. I recall that Folder Fanatic is from the LA area. She can probably point to a few shops there and perhaps some in San Francisco.

Hopefully, others will send you links to other shops. Good luck again.
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