so I have a new job and a new commute. it's 3.5 miles away and along one of my favorite recreational routes. one problem: there are no bike racks, or anything else to lock a bike to for that matter, and there is no space in the office for a full-sized bike. obviously, I'm not letting that stop me. so, it's folding bike time.
now, I would normally say that I could do a commute that short on any bike. except for one thing: the first .5 miles is a climb up a steep hill (about a 4-5% grade) and the next .5 miles is on a fairly high-traffic road. the rest of the commute is flat and easy-going, but that first mile makes performance an important factor in any bike I get. plus I'm definitely going to want to put some extra miles in at the end of the day too. if it isn't quite as fast as my Jamis Coda Sport that's ok, the extra workout would probably do me some good, but to some degree, performance is still important.
I don't need the smallest, most compact fold ever, as I am not planning to take it on public transportation anytime soon, but I need it to fit in my work area which is approximately 6 by 10 feet
I've done some research and these are the bikes I'm leaning toward:
Dahon Cadenza - seems like the best one in terms of similarity to my full-sized bike, but doesn't seem to be available at any of my local bike shops (the closest one where it is available is 20 miles away)
Dahon Speed P8 - this looks like the best 20" one for me to get since the Speed TR and the Speed Pro aren't in my budget
Xootr Swift - also looks good, and seems like it's pretty close to a full-size bike in terms of performance but only two stores carry it here and one of them is a scooter dealership, not a bike shop.
Breezer Zag8 - I've actually test-ridden this one before and wasn't really into it but it is the most widely available folding bike here and the only one that my regular LBS has so I'm willing to give it another test ride at least
obviously I'm going to go to some shops and do some test riding but I thought I'd post here for some input also. how well do the above bikes climb and descend compared to full-size bikes? can they be ridden for long distances? will they accept lights (I'm particularly concerned about where the rear tail light would go) and fenders? also, some of the roads where I am are in pretty poor shape... how well does the frame/folding mechanism do on rough pavement?