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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Which folder for commuting via train

    I'm looking to get a folder for my daily commute from home to my local railway station, then from the station to the office which is a total distance of around 4 miles each way.
    I've considered Dahon and Brompton but then discounted the latter because of price.
    I've shortlisted the Dahon Speed and Vitesse and even the Helios (which is quite pricey compared with the Speed/Vitesse), but I need a little advice on which 20" folder to choose. What's the difference between the Speed and Vitesse? Is the Helios a much better bike for the money given that it costs 200 more in the UK?
    In case it's useful info, I'm 6'4" tall so I'd need a bike that accomodate that.

    All feedback and advice gratefully accepted and appreciated.

    TIA

    Johno

  2. #2
    Life in Mono
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    Hi Johno, welcome !! I have an almost identical commute to you (4+2 miles each way), and I'm a similar size to you. I use both a brompton (L3) and a strida(3), and each do the job very well: almost identical jouney times. Where your journey needs multiple folds and a distance to carry/move the folded bike the Strida is best, you will fit it (just). Where steep hills and absolute smallest cubic folded space is important Brompton is best. If not new, then second-hand both are pretty bomb proof (perhaps not the best metaphor in london ! ). I've seen Strida3's for under 200 and Bromptons for under 250 (on ebay, and in AtoB). There is also a Brompton copy called a Merc. Often on ebay for about 330.

    For general folding bike cycling (ie not necessarily using a crowded train) the concensus here is to go with as big a wheel size you can get, vs folded size, hence 20" seems to be a good compromise. Personally when I ride for pleasure (non-multimodal), I take a road bike or mountain bike. But, as this is a folding forum, I am probably in a minority here as many use their folders for every journey !
    Looking at fellow commutors on my (overcrowded) London train 20" 'fold in half ' bikes are just too big and get in the way of everyone.

    Probably the best advice is look at what other people use on the same commute, and the issues they face - ie who gets a seat ? who has to always standup in the doorway ? Does the carriage have any luggage space ? How far do you have to push/carry ? Ideally borrow a bike and try it for your individual circumstances.
    Last edited by Simple Simon; 01-30-07 at 04:22 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simple Simon
    Looking at fellow commutors on my (overcrowded) London train 20" 'fold in half ' bikes are just too big and get in the way of everyone.
    I've seen a few 20" Dahons on my train (from Brighton/south coast) and they appear to fold small enough to put in the luggage racks near the doors. You're right about choosing a bike, I do need to try before I buy which is what I'll do and I'll try and have a chat with other "folders" to see if they can offer any advice.

    Thanks for the feedback

    Johno

  4. #4
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    Consider Strida

    Consider Strida.

    It actually ISN'T as small when folded as some other bikes - but the folded shape makes it very easy to take on a bus or train without getting in anyone's way.
    Last edited by lee_rimar; 01-30-07 at 08:37 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Fear&Trembling's Avatar
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    As you are tall I would check that the seatpost will extend sufficiently (if you have a 34"+ inseam). On some Dahons you will be fine, others may not be ideal for optimum leg extension.

    If you can get a your bike in the luggage rack, then you're in luck. I guess you get the train nearer Brighton than London?

    The new Dahon 2007 range is coming out very soon, so look out for offers on the 2006 range. It is probably worth checking out Evans etc...

  6. #6
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    I'm a 34" inside leg but I'll check out the bike before buying it - I should make sure that my leg is fully extended on the down-pedal, is that right?
    I've just phoned my local Evans in Brighton and will be checking out the Speed D7 and Vitesse D7, though I'm not so sure about the Vitesse's colour - bright red. I'm not superstitious but I read somewhere that red cars are statistically more likely to be involved in accidents!
    There's 30 quid off the 2006 models of the above bikes so hopefully I'll bag a bit of a bargain. BTW, does anyone know what's the difference between both the above bikes, apart from the Vitesse's aluminium frame and being 1.1kg lighter than the Speed and 50 quid more expensive?

    Cheers

    Johno

  7. #7
    Senior Member Fear&Trembling's Avatar
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  8. #8
    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    I use a Dahon Speed 7 for train commuting (and everything else ). If it's a crowded train, it fits on the floor folded between my legs. Otherwise, I strap it to the wall where the bikes are supposed to be stored.

    I am 6'1", 33" inseam and the Dahon is very comfortable for me. Depending on your proportions, the handlebars may feel a bit low. Ride one if you can.
    Fewer Cars, more handlebars!

  9. #9
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    I own various sizes Dahons and a Brompton. I have used them on crowded buses and trains in the Southern California area where any vehicle is not respected unless it is a car. I find that if they are covered properly, they are welcomed and easy to store without worry. If you need more ideas, see my personal web sites below.

    Feel free to ask if need be.

  10. #10
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    i have a Vitesse and used to take it on the train and into my office as well.

    it folds quickly and easily, which is very nice. what is not nice, is the weight. at about 30lbs i found the daily struggle of carrying it up and down stairs to the train platform and into my office just too much work.

    so now i ride the bike to the train station, fold it up and lock it there, and then get on the train. i realize this kind of defeats the purpose of a folding bike, but i suspect that when it's folded up and locked it will be less of a target for theft.

  11. #11
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Brompton

  12. #12
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    "...so now i ride the bike to the train station, fold it up and lock it there, and then get on the train. i realize this kind of defeats the purpose of a folding bike, but i suspect that when it's folded up and locked it will be less of a target for theft."-timmhaan

    Careful timmhaan,

    I recently spoke to a former folding bike owner (emphasis on the former) who was lulled in false sense of security and locked his bike up. One day he discovered it was gone forever. While the man took all possible percautions to protect his bike that one usually encouraged and does, when any folding bike owner locks his bike up like any other bike, he or she runs the same risks as the other guy. Do not underestimate the intellegence of bike thieves. After all, they make a good living off other people's misery. My own brainless brother thought that if he parked his car in an alley they won't steal it (they did). See my Security topic below in my Geocities website for a full discussion of the unique protection feature built-in each folding bike has and use it.

  13. #13
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    If the train has no luggage space or handicap section, then get a Brompton or Strida. However, if there is a handicap spot where people are not standing or an overhead rack that's large and deep enough to fit a folded bike, then you can use almost any folded bike. However, if the train is packed during rush hour and all spots are taken, than a 16 inch folder should be considered.

  14. #14
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Wouldn't it make sense to have a pinned post on bike advice? It seems that whenever advice is given, it would make sense to base it on:

    Size requirements/commute mode (big issue in the UK or places where they have to be baged)
    Performance requirements (full 100K/day touring bike or commuter)
    Weight (if you have to carry it up stairs, e.g., New York City)
    Terrain (pot holes/tow path vs. smooth surface)
    Folding speed/ease. (Important for getting on trains.)
    Cost.
    Touring use.
    Gearing needs. (Not all folders can be converted to fixed, and not all have a wide range of gearing.)
    Size, size, size. It seems people often recommend bikes that do not fold suffiently small for cafes, offices, boats, etc. Conversely, people who throw the bike in the trunk of their SUV for long road rides or probably don't need a small folder. (They would do better to get rid of the SUV, though.)


    My Birdy is my only bike, and only mode of transport other than skateboard and train. I tour on it with loaded panniers for miles, but also use it to get to work and leave it in my office. I go into cafes, and sometimes on trains with it. I ride on tow paths/packed dirt trails, and fly with it. The downside is that it takes longer to fold than a Dahon and the chain sometimes falls off if you bang it around when folded. I fold it at least 3-4 times per day, so that's important. The upside is that it fits everywhere, including in an airline legal suitcase, and doesn't have a frame hinge, so it can take more of a beating and will last longer.

    Here, concerns are folding size and cost. If I were giskard, I would get the Speed if it fits th 6'4" frame, but might also consider a Boardwalk, which will be cheaper and fold just as small.
    Last edited by pm124; 01-30-07 at 09:45 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member wubrew's Avatar
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    There is the link for most popular folder in action. Just remember you will be lugging it into and out of the train. That should certainly be the deciding factor. i.e. weight of folder, compactness so you can roll instead of carry etc.
    Folding bike video thread

  16. #16
    rhm
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    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    The Strida's problem for a taller person is that your knees may hit the handlebars on turns. You soon get used to this, and learn to cope with it (point your knees farther out, stop pedalling for tight turns, &c).

  17. #17
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    You can try a Brompton before buying if it's of interest, by hiring one for a week from here:
    http://www.bromptonbicycle.co.uk/ind...ries&NewsID=58

  18. #18
    To fold or not to fold?
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    I take the Mezzo on the hideously crowded North London Line every morning and hammer it on London's pot-holey streets every day as well. No problems at all. Almost as small as a Brompton but faster, stiffer and better gearing. Look much more go-faster. And fun. Can't recommend enough. Though I like my DTFS, it stays in the garage even when I'm not multimodalling around...check one out - Cycle Surgery branches certainly have them to try, I guess some of other big retailers do as well.

  19. #19
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    Thanks to everyone for the useful feedback. I had decided to try out a Dahon, probably a Speed D7 or a Vitesse, but now I've found out that I can offset the price of the bike against tax (which means the bike will effectively cost me just over half the retail price), I've upped my budget which brings me to considering the Dahon Impulse 24 and Mu P8.

    After reading all the blurb about biking in general, and the fact that I used to really enjoy cycling (I grew up in a rural area so getting around meant biking it) I'd like to get a bike that versatile and that I can also use at the weekends on a variety of roads and inclines for a day's riding - hence my interest in the Impulse.

    On the other hand, the Mu P8 offers a better and stiffer, lighter frame, hence I'm considering that, but then would it be a suitable bike for a day's riding on varied roads given that it only has 8 gears?

    I guess what it boils down to is that I need to choose a folding bike mostly to be used for commuting via train, but that is also versatile enough to be used for long periods on the road (steep hills etc). Is it worth shelling out nearly 500 for a higher-end Dahon such as the Impulse or Mu? Does having only 7 or 8 gears seriously limit what the bike can do? Would I be better off with just a Speed D7 or Vitesse D7?

    Decisions decisions... maybe I need to start a new thread?

    Cheers

    Johno

  20. #20
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    @ giskard: In my experience 7-8 gears can be plenty enough. One should remember that on a 21 speed bike with a triple chainset up front actually has several gears in it's range that are pretty much identical to others because there are so many possible combinations of front and rear cogs; What i'm saying is that 8 should be as usable - you just might not get as many small increments between the gears. But cars only have 5 and they do ok right?

    You can up the gear range so your bike is better at higher speeds or better-at-hills with a single chainring up front simply by getting a different sized chainring that suits your needs - flat urban, hilly touring etc. There are plenty of gear calculators on the web that will let you dial in your wheel size and the size of the cogs on your rear cassette so you can best find the ring that suits you. Just google 'gear calculator' or try the one on Sheldon Brown's site.

    Hope that helps and wasn't too jargony.

  21. #21
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    "...On the other hand, the Mu P8 offers a better and stiffer, lighter frame, hence I'm considering that, but then would it be a suitable bike for a day's riding on varied roads given that it only has 8 gears?

    I guess what it boils down to is that I need to choose a folding bike mostly to be used for commuting via train, but that is also versatile enough to be used for long periods on the road (steep hills etc). Is it worth shelling out nearly 500 for a higher-end Dahon such as the Impulse or Mu? Does having only 7 or 8 gears seriously limit what the bike can do? Would I be better off with just a Speed D7 or Vitesse D7?" -giskard

    Welcome!

    Before my discovery of how great and adaptable my old three speed bike is to all sorts of terrain that I have surrounding my house, I thought just as you do, more gears=more versatility. How wrong I was! My old three speed is more flexible and adaptable than my cranky 10+ derailleur equipped speeds road bikes ever were. My newer folding bikes that I have purchased since are modeled after that old bike (along with technological improvements) with three speeds, smaller 44-46t chainrings, and 13-14T rear cogs (see photos links below). I do admit my racing bikes were a bit faster. But the comparisons end there. I chose flexibility and adaptability to unforseen situations over speeds any day now. The Mu and Impulse seems to be what you want in a folding bike. I do recommend that you try it out first before you make your final selection. And please let us know what you decide.

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    Thanks for your and LittlePixel's feedback about the gears.

    I'm keen on the Mu P8 - it's a light and good-looking machine - but cannot find one anywhere reasonably local (nor indeed, anywhere in the UK!) that stocks it, whereas my local shop has a few Impulse P24's reduced from 579 down to 449, so this Saturday I'll hopefully be trying out a Speed D7 and the Impulse.

    Unless the Impulse is a serious disappointment, I'll probably end up getting one of those. I can't see how I'll get my hands on a Mu P8, which is a shame.

    Cheers

    Johno

  23. #23
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    For what you have described, the Mu P8 and Speed D7 are really your only reasonable choices! I had a Mu Sl, and the fold was very small. I did 110Km (70 mi) without a problem on the bike, and the bike performed as well as (or better than) my friend's full size road bike.

  24. #24
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    I tried a Speed D7 today and found it quite flexy on the handlebars and frames, esp. when climbing hills. It didn't inspire much confidence. I didn't try the Impulse 24 as it has hub gearing (neat design that - combining 8 speed derailleur with a 3-speed hub) which I've had bad experiences with in the past.
    So that leaves the Mu P8 which I can't get my hands on until end of March at the earliest.

    I'll keep you posted.

    Johno

  25. #25
    To fold or not to fold?
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    If you're waiting til March and thinking of spending 500 on a MuP8, worth taking the time to try out the Brompton and Mezzo )or even a second hand Birdy). The small wheels will make a real difference to your multimodal commute - there is a real size and luggability difference between 16" and 20" folders, and the Mezzo and Birdy won't subject you to the frame flex troubling you on the Dahon, as they don't have a hinged frame and won't give you any problems taking hills.

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