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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 02-19-07, 11:10 PM   #1
makeinu
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what's the best folding bike for small apartments?

A lot of discussion around here seems to be towards folding bikes which are good for multimode commutes, packing into car trunks, or taking on aeroplanes; basically bikes made to be used in conjunction with other forms of transportation. However, some people just need to be able to fit their bikes in the coat closet and don't care very much about folded size or the bike not staying together.

Free from these requirements, folding bikes simply designed for storage seem to be lighter, cheaper, and more comfortable (by virtue of the more traditional geometries they often employ). Of these bikes, which are the best? Which offer the best performance? Which offer the best value for your money? Which are the best commuters/road/mountain/etc?

Dahon Espresso? Swift? Wally World? Bike Friday? Inquiring minds want to know.
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Old 02-19-07, 11:13 PM   #2
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Is there a way you can creatively store a regular road bike?
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Old 02-19-07, 11:27 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slvoid
Is there a way you can creatively store a regular road bike?
Well, in my current apartment I lock my old beater to a water pipe in the basement with a note taped to it that says, "If you need this bike removed then call me at 555-5555" (I'm not really allowed to put anything in the basement, but so far I haven't had any problems).

However, I'll be moving to a new apartment in the summer and I'm almost positive I wouldn't be able to do anything similar. The ceilings are really high, so I might be able to get one of those things to hoist a bike up on the air, but it would be a real eyesore.

I'm toying with the idea of buying a new bike for commuting 20 miles (each way). Do you think I'd be much better off with a regular road bike than a fullsized folder? Do you have any creative ideas for storing a regular bike?
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Old 02-20-07, 05:49 AM   #4
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Upright in a closet, hanging from the front wheel? (Who needs clothes anyway, all you need are knicks and jerseys.)

Hey slvoid, you still here mate?
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Old 02-20-07, 06:05 AM   #5
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Yeah, why wouldn't I be here?

I was gonna say, get one of those hooks and hang your bike vertically in a corner. All you need is about 2ft x 3ft of space.
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Old 02-20-07, 09:41 AM   #6
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slvoid, you live in NYC, land of the $1.2 million 400 square foot studio, and you still can't imagine why an apartment might be too small for a full-sized bike?


Quote:
Originally Posted by makeinu
Free from these requirements, folding bikes simply designed for storage seem to be lighter, cheaper, and more comfortable (by virtue of the more traditional geometries they often employ).
Well....

A light (aluminum) folding bike will be around 22 - 24 lbs, steel bikes will be 28+ lbs, so not much lighter really. In terms of component quality, a $500 folder is probably equal to, I dunno, a $400 or $450 bike, depending on the brand.

Comfort will depend on how you like to ride. My Dahon Mariner was very upright, and the handlebar height could not be adjusted without replacing some major parts. I actually find this position useful for riding on NYC streets, as I get a really good view of traffic.


Quote:
I'm toying with the idea of buying a new bike for commuting 20 miles (each way). Do you think I'd be much better off with a regular road bike than a fullsized folder?
For most purposes -- including 20 miles in city traffic, folding vs 700c won't make much of a difference.

Unless you're planning to drop $1500+ on a Bike Friday, a good folding bike will be fine for anything other than fast group rides and off-road. (I'm on the fence about centuries, although I did the MS Century on my Swift last fall.)

What will make a big difference is not just storing the bike in the apartment, but also when you're out and about. Any rusty old heap on the street is still a target for bike thieves in NYC (as I know from indirect experience...). You can store the bike under your desk at work, or inside your friend's apartment while visiting, or in the corner of a bar or whatever. Less time parked on the street = fewer opportunities for the bike to be stolen.


Based on what you're saying, I'd start off by trying a Brompton at Bfold on 13th Street. It folds small and fast, has built-in suspension, internal hub gearing, built-in rack, and can be wheeled around when folded. They're a little expensive ($700+) and word has it the brakes kind of suck, but it's the only bike that I think would really fit well in a closet.

Bfold also has Xootr Swifts and Bike Fridays, so you can give those a test ride. The Swift is an excellent bike but the fold kind of sucks. Bike Fridays are optimized for travel and high performance rather than commuting.

Dahons are OK, they fold smaller than a Swift but not as small or well as a Brompton. The lower-end Bromptons are affordable ($350ish iirc) but aren't very adjustable. Several LBS's in NYC have Dahons, so it's easy to do a test ride.
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Old 02-20-07, 10:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by makeinu
Free from these requirements, folding bikes simply designed for storage seem to be lighter, cheaper, and more comfortable (by virtue of the more traditional geometries they often employ). Of these bikes, which are the best? Which offer the best performance? Which offer the best value for your money? Which are the best commuters/road/mountain/etc?
I am having trouble thinking of a folder simply designed for storage. Are you talking about folders with full size wheels?
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Old 02-20-07, 10:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by invisiblehand
I am having trouble thinking of a folder simply designed for storage. Are you talking about folders with full size wheels?
That was my impression from the original post. Based on just the closet storage requirement, an older Montague BiFrame might fill the bill. I've seen them go for a couple of hundred dollars on eBay.
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Old 02-20-07, 10:42 AM   #9
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I have heard good things about Downtube (that's a brand) folders. You can get them on Ebay.

Airnimal folding bikes ( http://www.airnimalusa.com/ ) look great, but expensive and I think unfolded not much smaller than a regular bike.
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Old 02-20-07, 10:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by invisiblehand
I am having trouble thinking of a folder simply designed for storage. Are you talking about folders with full size wheels?
Yeah, what else could you do with a folder with fullsized wheels?
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Old 02-20-07, 10:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scooper
That was my impression from the original post. Based on just the closet storage requirement, an older Montague BiFrame might fill the bill. I've seen them go for a couple of hundred dollars on eBay.
I also recall that Fuji had a similar folding bike.
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Old 02-20-07, 12:03 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scooper
That was my impression from the original post. Based on just the closet storage requirement, an older Montague BiFrame might fill the bill. I've seen them go for a couple of hundred dollars on eBay.
Well, it doesn't have to have full size wheels.

What do you guys think? Do you get more for your money by purchasing a folder will fullsized wheels if you don't need a compact fold?

I would imagine that the answer will change depending on location, due to importation costs. For example, Dahons appear to cost quite a bit more in the UK while Bromptons appear to cost quite a bit more in the US.
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Old 02-20-07, 12:15 PM   #13
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"However, some people just need to be able to fit their bikes in the coat closet and don't care very much about folded size or the bike not staying together.
...which are the best? Which offer the best performance? Which offer the best value for your money? Which are the best commuters/road/mountain/etc." -makeinu

When I bought my bikes, folded size as well as the ability to stay together as I place it into my closet or some other similar tight space was and still is a very critial feature in my book and all my folding bikes can fit in these tight places. But some do better than others. As for much of anything else, it is a subjective opinion on my part. The best of all is my Brompton as for accomplishing anything I throw at it or place it in.

As for living space, I live in Southern California-which is very expensive. And the only thing I can afford right now is a tiny room with a tiny closet and meager other storage. So I don't buy regular non-folding bikes anymore or even folding bikes that are over 20 inch in wheel size.
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Old 02-20-07, 12:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by makeinu
Well, it doesn't have to have full size wheels.

What do you guys think? Do you get more for your money by purchasing a folder will fullsized wheels if you don't need a compact fold?
The other part of the original description included something about standard geometries as well.

Considering that these full-size folders use standard components, racks, tires, and such, I would say yes, they do represent a better value. From what I have seen, they can also take standard drivetrains--i.e. front derailer--whereas a lot of the small wheel folders cannot.

As a prior post mentioned, with some perseverance, you can find one of these folders on EBay or Craigslist for a relatively inexpensive price. Since they are standard size, new/replacement parts are commonly available.
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Old 02-20-07, 12:41 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by makeinu
However, some people just need to be able to fit their bikes in the coat closet and don't care very much about folded size or the bike not staying together.

Free from these requirements, folding bikes simply designed for storage seem to be lighter, cheaper, and more comfortable (by virtue of the more traditional geometries they often employ). Of these bikes, which are the best? Which offer the best performance? Which offer the best value for your money? Which are the best commuters/road/mountain/etc?

Dahon Espresso? Swift? Wally World? Bike Friday? Inquiring minds want to know.
Go to a bike shop and see the size of folding bikes. I would find it hard to believe that a 16' 20' or 26' inch bike would NOT fit into an empty closet. You may have to clear some space for a 26' inch wheel bike but that would be the best option if multimode transport isn't important.
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Old 02-20-07, 01:05 PM   #16
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folding bikes are not cheaper, they are more expensive.

You could chain a regular bike outside. With the right parts selection it is not as bad an alternative as you think.

Otherwise a 20" Downtube is probably a good starter bike. Upgrade or sell after a year.
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Old 02-20-07, 01:38 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
Go to a bike shop and see the size of folding bikes. I would find it hard to believe that a 16' 20' or 26' inch bike would NOT fit into an empty closet. You may have to clear some space for a 26' inch wheel bike but that would be the best option if multimode transport isn't important.
I didn't want to make this thread too much about my needs as much as about full sized folders and small apartments, but I might as well tell you what I am thinking about my personal situation.

I'm considering buying a bikefriday tikit. However, the damn thing costs $1200 and even bike friday admits that it doesn't ride quite as good as their 20 inchers. The main appeal for me is the very quick fold and the fact that it is easy to maneuver. The only other bike that seems to have as quick a fold and as much ease of maneuverability is the Strida at $500. Although the tikit is obviously a better ride, it isn't superior in all respects (for example, it's heavier and bigger). As I thought about whether or not I really need or want the better ride afforded by the tikit I realized that I'm really looking for a bike to fulfill two separate roles. On the one hand, I want bike that I can simply use around the city to bridge the gap from transit stops. The city is only 10 miles across, so in this role I probably wouldn't be riding more than a mile at a time. On the other hand, I want a bike for my reverse commute to be taken on the commuter rail and commuter bus, perhaps even forgetting about the mass transit and riding the whole 20 miles.

The tikit seems like the best compromise between these goals, but why compromise? If I buy a Strida for $500 I could blow $700 on another bike without spending more than the tikit. I could probably just buy a regular full sized bike, but I don't really want to waste so much space in my apartment, I'm not going to start commuting 20 miles without a little training anyway, even a large folder could be taken on the bus/rail in emergencies/rain, and friends/family could occasionally squeeze the large folder on the bus when traveling with me around the city. So I'm thinking a Strida plus a full sized folder might be a better option for me than a tikit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by geo8rge
folding bikes are not cheaper, they are more expensive.
I was talking about full sized folders being cheaper than small wheeled folders.

Quote:
Originally Posted by geo8rge
You could chain a regular bike outside. With the right parts selection it is not as bad an alternative as you think.
I could chain it at the rail station or at work, but not in front of my new apartment. The streets are very crowded over there and the police would probably give me a hard time. I may be able to chain it somewhere in the building's parking garage without any trouble, but I'm not sure if I can get past the gate without having an opener (which they only give to people who rent spots).

How much more value do you think I would get buying a regular bike over a full sized folder anyway?

Quote:
Originally Posted by geo8rge
Otherwise a 20" Downtube is probably a good starter bike. Upgrade or sell after a year.
Would you commute 20 miles each way on a downtube? How about a regular bike of the same price?

Last edited by makeinu; 02-20-07 at 01:48 PM.
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Old 02-20-07, 03:59 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by makeinu
Would you commute 20 miles each way on a downtube? How about a regular bike of the same price?
I have had 5 Downtubes. 20 miles is nothing for them, including the Mini. There's a guy on here called Crankypants who's touring in Eastern Europe on the Mini. I routinely ride 40-50 miles on the weekend with my group on the DT front suspension. I have a DT that I converted into a recumbent in order to do a double century this year. They are sturdy bikes, not toys.
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Old 02-20-07, 05:55 PM   #19
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I regularly ride with my bro in law on my old Raleigh Twenty(I upgraded the drivetrain with a SRAM dual drive 24 speed). He rides a litespeed tuscany with ultegra drivetrain. The thing is crazy fast. I stay up with him no problem. Would I race him on it? I don't think so, but I can easily stay up with him. You can ride any distance on a 20" folder that you would on a full size bike. If you're planning to do alot of 50+ mile rides, I would suggest some sort of suspension, though. Even if it is just a pair of Big Apple tires.
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Old 02-21-07, 12:29 PM   #20
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Hello again makeinu,

Don't aplogized about your own needs. I think that this information provides a better insight about your unique needs and helps to better clarify those needs for all concerned. "... I'm considering buying a bikefriday tikit. However, the damn thing costs $1200 and even bike friday admits that it doesn't ride quite as good as their 20 inchers. The main appeal for me is the very quick fold and the fact that it is easy to maneuver. The only other bike that seems to have as quick a fold and as much ease of maneuverability is the Strida at $500. Although the tikit is obviously a better ride, it isn't superior in all respects (for example, it's heavier and bigger). "

You appear to be looking for specific features. Remember that the tikit is an untried, unproven bike and I tend to shy away from 1st year models until the "bugs" are worked out. I am not interested in being a paying sacrificial lamb for even a company such as Bike Friday. Strida has been around for some time. So has Brompton. It may not be "perfect" but it is the main bike in my fleet now. I find it comfortable and manueverable to what I want in a bike. I just made sure that I bought a simple, very basic "C" model and upgrade it to what I want. It is not light as a feather, but I do not expect it to be. I just like the construction and the extreme compact folding ability that this bike offers. I guess there is trade-off in everything-even folding bikes.
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Old 02-21-07, 01:26 PM   #21
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Old 02-21-07, 06:35 PM   #22
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makeinu-
I was going through the same process only about a month or two back. Although I live in a fairly large apartment (by NYC standards, that is), it IS an apartment nonetheless, so size was an issue (no matter what anyone tells you...). Anyway....
I narrowed my selection to the Dahon Espreso or the Dahon Speed D7, primarily because of price and rideability (for me, anything smaller than D7's wheel base of 20" was too small). So although the espreso was closest to a "normal" size bike, I chose the D7 because I got the best of both worlds. The rideability suited me nearly as much as the espreso, yet the storage factor of the D7 was much more compact than the espreso (especially for storing away in a place that could be closed, like on the top shelf or the bottom of my coat closet). The other factor was that the D7 was much easier to carry, fold and store when transporting through the subway (still a MAJOR mode of travel for me).
Hope this helps.
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Old 02-21-07, 10:27 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by folder fanatic
Hello again makeinu. . . Remember that the tikit is an untried, unproven bike and I tend to shy away from 1st year models until the "bugs" are worked out. . .
No, don't discourage him, let him get one so he can tell the rest of us what they're like.

I'm not considering a tikit or anything else for a while; I'm set for folders. Anyway, the tikit looks interesting, but it's not quite what I'd want it to be for either a city bike or a touring bike, yet. We'll have to see what variations they come up with.

If I were starting over again on a budget, I'd probably go with any of Dahon's 8 speed bikes, or a Xootr Swift. One of Bike Fridays more conventional models if I could afford it. Makeinu, your idea of combining a "full sized" folder" with a Strida, for when you need something really portable sounds like a good one. As far as I'm concerned, a good folder with 20 inch wheels is full sized, but I'm sure the ones with 26 inch wheels are fine too.
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Old 02-21-07, 10:41 PM   #24
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You can have indy fab build you a frame with ss-couplers and it'll ride good as hell.

I managed to fit 3 road bikes comfortably in my 400 sq.ft apartment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
slvoid, you live in NYC, land of the $1.2 million 400 square foot studio, and you still can't imagine why an apartment might be too small for a full-sized bike?



Well....

A light (aluminum) folding bike will be around 22 - 24 lbs, steel bikes will be 28+ lbs, so not much lighter really. In terms of component quality, a $500 folder is probably equal to, I dunno, a $400 or $450 bike, depending on the brand.

Comfort will depend on how you like to ride. My Dahon Mariner was very upright, and the handlebar height could not be adjusted without replacing some major parts. I actually find this position useful for riding on NYC streets, as I get a really good view of traffic.



For most purposes -- including 20 miles in city traffic, folding vs 700c won't make much of a difference.

Unless you're planning to drop $1500+ on a Bike Friday, a good folding bike will be fine for anything other than fast group rides and off-road. (I'm on the fence about centuries, although I did the MS Century on my Swift last fall.)

What will make a big difference is not just storing the bike in the apartment, but also when you're out and about. Any rusty old heap on the street is still a target for bike thieves in NYC (as I know from indirect experience...). You can store the bike under your desk at work, or inside your friend's apartment while visiting, or in the corner of a bar or whatever. Less time parked on the street = fewer opportunities for the bike to be stolen.


Based on what you're saying, I'd start off by trying a Brompton at Bfold on 13th Street. It folds small and fast, has built-in suspension, internal hub gearing, built-in rack, and can be wheeled around when folded. They're a little expensive ($700+) and word has it the brakes kind of suck, but it's the only bike that I think would really fit well in a closet.

Bfold also has Xootr Swifts and Bike Fridays, so you can give those a test ride. The Swift is an excellent bike but the fold kind of sucks. Bike Fridays are optimized for travel and high performance rather than commuting.

Dahons are OK, they fold smaller than a Swift but not as small or well as a Brompton. The lower-end Bromptons are affordable ($350ish iirc) but aren't very adjustable. Several LBS's in NYC have Dahons, so it's easy to do a test ride.
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Old 02-22-07, 06:09 AM   #25
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In general I found folders are heavier than standard bikes. My Halfway weighs more than my mountain bike by almost 8lbs.

The advantage of my folder though is:

*More practical : it has a integrated rear rack, good fenders, and a step-through frame

*more compact: I can fold it up and stick it between the couch and wall when I get home.

*less of a component theft magnet: There are no carbon fiber, suspensions, or other gadgetry that attract those with a allen key set and a desire to make a buck.

*more fun to ride!: upright positioning is comfortable for just strolling around.

Keep in mind my folder is a 20" not near as compact as some of the bikes out there....but it's a good blend of speed, comfort and onvenience. I say go find some bike shops in your area with folders of various wheelsizes, and try them all out. You may find that a 20" may have too high a gear for your tastes (or not low enough), or that a 14" may be the opposite. After all, if the bike isn't optimal for your riding needs, then why even care if it is tiny or not?

Bottom line, go try them out! I would have never bought a folder if I didn't get pestered to try one so often.
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