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  1. #1
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    First time folder, would love advice on models as well as retailers (in Toronto)

    Hello! I've been doing some research on folding bikes for the past few days and am very excited about purchasing one for the daily commute to work. Before I go ahead and pull the trigger however, I'd love to get some feedback/advice if I could.

    I'll be using the bike for daily commuting (about 6.5 km/4.25 miles one way), however the roads won't be ideal. The reason I need the bike in the first place is because public transit hasn't quite gotten around to my workplace yet, so that might give an indication of the type of area I'll be cycling through. I'll also need to take the bike on the bus with me as well, so the folded size of the bike is somewhat important (I don't want to crush anyone's feet! =D ). I'm also 5'2" and a bit over 100lbs., so I'm looking for something easy to handle (especially since I haven't ridden a bike in years and years). I'm a bit concerned about the smoothness of the ride and was wondering if anyone has any tips about minimizing bumps along the way. And um, being a girl, I don't think I'll be very good with any mechanical work the bike might need, so an easily maintained bike would be lovely. =)

    So far, I've been eyeing the Bromptons, Dahons and the 2007 Giant Halfway, but haven't test ridden any of them, yet. Does anyone know of some good retailers in Toronto that carry these bikes? I know that Curbside Cycle has some Bromptons, Urbane Cyclist also seems to carry a good variety of Dahons and I think D'Ornellas has a Halfway, but I was hoping that there might be more retailers about so that I might be able to shop around a bit. I'd appreciate hearing about anyone's experiences with these retailers and also any suggestions concerning other dealers would be more than welcome. Thanks! =D

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    Hi Jenns.. I met the urbane cyclist reps at the toronto expo.. they appeared to be rather nice and helpful.. they state they are the stockists for Dahon .. They did have the new Curve from Dahon as well as MU SL both nice bikes.. the latter being lighter of the two.. also the Bike Friday Tikit was being displayed ... being from GTA myself Id think a smaller more practical bike is right for you.. maybe the curve.. the TTC does get crowded at times.. go and test the bikes out at their store.. probably after the feel etc.. you be able to choose what suits u best.. prices are going to go up soon due to spring being round the corner... lucky its still cold so getting one now may save u some $$$. Also another dealer was Dukes ... he had Dahon 06 models like Helios going cheap..

  3. #3
    Senior Member keithnyc's Avatar
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    Jenns- Check out some of the webistes for Dahon dealers in the US who may be open to delivery in Toronto. The Dahon are great bikes and they seem to have very good support. As fireworkz mentioned, the Dahon '06 models are being discounted from their original price at many places, and are cheaper than the '07 models. Some of the unscrupulous dealers are simply moving their '06 inventory at the '07 price, so shop around. I got a good deal for my Dahon Speed '06 at brandscycle.com
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  4. #4
    Senior Member keithnyc's Avatar
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    Jenns- Check out some of the webistes for Dahon dealers in the US who may be open to delivery in Toronto. The Dahon are great bikes and they seem to have very good support. As fireworkz mentioned, the Dahon '06 models are being discounted from their original price at many places, and are cheaper than the '07 models. Some of the unscrupulous dealers are simply moving their '06 inventory at the '07 price, so shop around. I got a good deal for my Dahon Speed '06 at brandscycle.com
    I don't give a damn 'bout a bad reputation
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  5. #5
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I'd stick with the Brompton, assuming you like the way it handles in a test ride.

    The Brompton is a little heavy, but is generally designed for this purpose. It folds very small and clean -- the chain is on the inside, so people (i.e. you and your fellow passengers) are less likely to bump into it. It's got fenders, which will also keep you clean. The hinges are just screws and the hub is low-maintenance.

    IMO the Tikit may be nice, but it's brand new. I'd wait about a year for things to shake out.

    By the way, why not ride a bike all the way to work? Chances are in Toronto, a bike will go about as fast as any bus.

  6. #6
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    fireworkz: Urbane Cyclist seems to have a good reputation and their Dahon prices look reasonable. I googled Dukes and saw that they have a Helios '06 for $790. That's a bit more than the one in stock at Urbane Cyclist, who carries one for $750 (although I'm not sure if they're the same year?). I was also wondering if Dahons come with standard fenders. Many of the models I was considering (Vitesse D5, Speed P8 and Helios) seem to be fenderless. And thank you for all the great info!

    davewnyc: Thanks for the advice! I hadn't considered the option of looking south of the border, but will definitely keep this in mind when it comes time to make my purchase. Is there a way to differentiate between '06 and '07 models? Not being all too familiar with bikes in general, I probably wouldn't know the difference. =/

    Bacciaqalupe: I'd love to get a Brompton, however it's considerably more expensive than a Dahon or Halfway. Do you think it's worth the extra money for what it offers? They seem to start in the low $1000's, which I would be willing to pay if I knew that it was the best option at that pricepoint. As for biking all the way to work, I think it might be somewhat impossible, unless I want to collapse when I actually get to the office (it's just over 21 km/13 miles from my new place to the office)! =D Thanks for your input!

  7. #7
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    At 5'2" and 100lbs, I would think light and small is important. Here's what I would suggest -
    A Downtube Mini:

    Cute as a button.

    It's a 16" wheel-size bike. Folds very small into a carry bag. Weighs 24lbs. Has a rear suspension to absorb shock. Has an 8 speed internal hub, so there's no external derailleur to get you all dirty. It's on sale right now for US$399, but you'll have to pay US$80 for shipping to Canada. Still pretty cheap for the package.

    The only thing is - I don't know how bad the roads are that you'll be riding on. If they really have a lot of potholes that you can't avoid, then 16" wheels are not optimal.

    There's a huge thread on it here - Review of Downtube Mini with internal hub

    Good luck choosing!

  8. #8
    Senior Member psykoocycle's Avatar
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    Hi Jenns,

    Are you the one on craigslist looking for the birdy? If you are looking at this post with a weird look, never mind my question.

    I also live in Toronto, and have been waiting to get a folding bike. For the price and knowing the streets you travel. I'd recommend a downtube.

    Brompton: Most compact fold, but pricey
    Dahon's: higher end is expensive, lower end is okay, but still pricey
    Giant Halfway: looks great, but not too crazy about the price and weight
    Birdy: Someone in Guelph is selling one for $1500, most compact fold, reasonably light and full suspension but part and upgrade support leaves you wanting (like Dahon). I heard they ride very well!

    I've always wanted an Dahon MU SL, but not exactly practical as the street car rails and asphalt snakes will eat your skinny minny tires. Need at least 1.5 width to prevent the tracks for swallowing your bike.

    I'd recommend getting a downtube, even I'm thinking about getting one on my way to New York in May. They are reasonably priced, have good parts support (by that I mean you can purchase parts a you local bike store that will fit the bike), and I hear they have a solid feel. There is a Downtube NS IX selling for $300 on craigslist, I believe he is at Dufferin and King. There is also another guy selling a halfway for only $350.

    I'm hesitant to buy a bike over $500 to ride around Toronto. After all, we used to be #1 city in the world for Bike thefts, before Amsterdamn usurped us.

    Sorry, can't help you with Dukes, Urbane Cyclist... as I don't have any experience with them. Good luck, if anything get one of the used ones on CL.

    Often people new to bicycles, will get a top end one and waste their money, the bike collects dust. I recommend get a starter folder at first, cheaper... and then upgrade if you decide you love folding bikes!!

  9. #9
    Senior Member psykoocycle's Avatar
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    Downtube 9speed no suspension:

    http://toronto.craigslist.org/bik/296528237.html

    Giant, halfway. Its a steal at this price, even I was thinking about getting it:

    http://toronto.craigslist.org/bik/292971526.html

  10. #10
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    I'm with sesame on this one, at your size, the DT Mini is your best bet. Internal Hub too, so easy maintenance.

  11. #11
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    You might want to consider ease and quickness of folding. People who have a lot of practice, and have the moves down well, can fold a Brompton in a few seconds. I've even heard of people dismounting and running to catch a train, while folding the Brompton on the fly.

    I don't know how the other bikes are in this respect. I've heard that some are rather annoying. If you are doing it multiple times each day, it seems to me that something very easy and beautiful to fold would be a major plus.

    Personally, I think I would be put off the whole project of using a folding bike if it were not breezy to fold and unfold, especially if I were going on and off public transport with it, and taking it with me indoors.

    The Brompton is also very small and easy to carry. Some of the other bikes seem a bit more cumbersome and unpleasant to take along.

    Bikes like the Brompton form a balanced and neat package. It solves a lot of security problems, and makes you more freely mobile, when you can keep the bike with you wherever you go -- even into shops or theatres or libraries or bookstores.

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    Since you're a bit on the short side (no offense intended), folded size/weight will probably factor into your enjoyment of the bike.

    The Downtube mini might be an option, like Sesame suggested.

    Another would be a basic Brompton (C3? I think?).

    Whatever you look into, try to get a chance to try it hands-on first. Ride the bike for a few miles, even if you have to rent it for the day. Fold it down and physically practice the act of carrying the folded item through the front door of your house, work... wherever you would actually be taking the bike regularly. Many of the 16"-wheeled bikes are not wildly lighter than the 20"-wheeled ones, but I think the smaller folded size will agree with someone whose own physical frame is a bit smaller.

  13. #13
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenns
    I'll be using the bike for daily commuting (about 6.5 km/4.25 miles one way), however the roads won't be ideal. The reason I need the bike in the first place is because public transit hasn't quite gotten around to my workplace yet, so that might give an indication of the type of area I'll be cycling through. I'll also need to take the bike on the bus with me as well, so the folded size of the bike is somewhat important (I don't want to crush anyone's feet! =D ). I'm also 5'2" and a bit over 100lbs., so I'm looking for something easy to handle (especially since I haven't ridden a bike in years and years). I'm a bit concerned about the smoothness of the ride and was wondering if anyone has any tips about minimizing bumps along the way. And um, being a girl, I don't think I'll be very good with any mechanical work the bike might need, so an easily maintained bike would be lovely. =)

    So far, I've been eyeing the Bromptons, Dahons and the 2007 Giant Halfway, but haven't test ridden any of them, yet. Does anyone know of some good retailers in Toronto that carry these bikes? I know that Curbside Cycle has some Bromptons, Urbane Cyclist also seems to carry a good variety of Dahons and I think D'Ornellas has a Halfway, but I was hoping that there might be more retailers about so that I might be able to shop around a bit. I'd appreciate hearing about anyone's experiences with these retailers and also any suggestions concerning other dealers would be more than welcome. Thanks! =D
    Internal hubs are easier to maintain.

    Given that you have not done a lot of riding, I would stick with one of the cheaper bikes ... < $500 USD

    There is a thread on the Dahon Curve. I have not ridden one yet; but one reviewer wrote that it had a magnetic lock that helped keep the bike folded whereas I believe that the DT Mini does not. I get the sense from both people that experienced the bike that it was a positive purchase for them. But perhaps you should ask directly.

    My wife and I have experience with Brompton/Merc bikes. She is a bit taller and heavier than you, but she likes the bike for putzing around town. Definitely a good muti-mode commuter. She does complain that the bike partially unfolds once in a while. My complaint is the ergonomics (I am 6', 195 lbs) and gear range.

    I have test ridden several Birdys. I like the ride much better than a Brompton or any of the older small Dahons. But they don't seem to be as good as the alternatives when it comes to carrying stuff. Disappointingly, Birdys with internal hubs are not sold in the US. I consider that a negative for such small wheels.

    People have different opinions regarding wheel size. Personally, I am not a fan of bringing bikes with 20" wheels onto public transportation on a regular basis. I find it cumbersome; although it is doable.

    If you use wide tires then you can adjust the tire pressure for a smoother ride.

    EDIT: Note that my wife feels that the Brompton/Merc bikes are heavy and NOT particularly easy to carry. Although I installed roller blade wheels on the back such that she rolls the bike when folded. Without the roller blade wheels, she would almost never use the bike.

  14. #14
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand
    EDIT: Note that my wife feels that the Brompton/Merc bikes are heavy and NOT particularly easy to carry. Although I installed roller blade wheels on the back such that she rolls the bike when folded. Without the roller blade wheels, she would almost never use the bike.
    Can you post some photos of your roller-wheels for us to look at? Sounds really great!

  15. #15
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    You will not find anything better to transport while folded than a Brompton/Merc.

    Maybe a Strida?

    Not sure about the Strida as a bike, but check their wed site, it might be an option.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 14R
    You will not find anything better to transport while folded than a Brompton/Merc.

    Maybe a Strida?

    Not sure about the Strida as a bike, but check their wed site, it might be an option.

    Yes the Strida is on an extended sale... http://strida.yeahbike.com/buy.html apparently the 3.2 Strida + The carrying bag with free shipping @599$ US ---> Guess they are paving the way for the new Strida 5.. Also you can check out http://www.jvbike.com/folding.htm hes sells them out of vancouver ..
    I like the MU SL electric version he has..

  17. #17
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch
    Can you post some photos of your roller-wheels for us to look at? Sounds really great!
    Sure. Will do when I return home.

  18. #18
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 14R
    You will not find anything better to transport while folded than a Brompton/Merc.
    How does the Curve compare to the Brompton/Merc?

  19. #19
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch
    Can you post some photos of your roller-wheels for us to look at? Sounds really great!
    Here is a short blip about the type of screws needed from an old thread ...

    Quote Originally Posted by IH
    I installed a set of skate wheels but needed to buy a longer set of screws to securely fasten the wheels. (If you are wondering, I used M6x1.0 50 mm machine screws) Since someone is always getting rid of an old set of inline skates, this is a cheap upgrade. My wife has a much easier time moving the bike now.
    Here is a link to something quite similar if not identical ...

    http://www.foldabikes.com/CloseUp/bike/skateMain.html

  20. #20
    Seņor Mambo
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    I wouldn't let the internal hub gear argument weigh in my decision. People have been using derailleurs and cassettes for a long time on folding bikes without problems, and believe it or not, have not been getting twigs and leaves jammed on a regular basis in their derailleurs. The issue of bending your derailleur or knocking it out of alignment is also overblown - you ought to ask what these people are doing to their derailleurs, AND ask for real world examples, not hypothetical ones. The banal argument that internal hub gears produce a cleaner drive train is also overblown: you should ask them "cleaner than what?"

    If you're going the internal hub route, you'll also need a crescent wrench or socket wrench to remove your rear wheel, and should practice taking it on and off, pulling it back for the correct chain tension while the making sure the wheel isn't crooked in the installation, and tightening the axle bolts, all without the benefit of a bike stand to really see if that's something you'll want to put up with if you're stranded on the road.

    I'm definitely not against hub gears, but think their advantages need to be balanced out, and NOT at the expense of deriding derailleur set ups, which always seems discreetly implied with internal hub enthusiasts.

    Whatever you get, I think you ought to take a class on how to change a flat tire; many bike shops offer those classes for free. And because you're an, um, girl, you'll have loads of wanted and unwanted attention, so you might as well take advantage of it.
    Last edited by spambait11; 03-21-07 at 01:14 PM.

  21. #21
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    A 4.5 mile commute to start with is doable. After a few months of riding everyday, you'll be ready to step up to doing the full 13 mi. commute on a bike. As for bike shops, sorry, no recommendations. But if you find the bike you want is cheaper in Buffalo, just drive south a couple hours, pick up the bike, dirty it up a bit and throw it in the trunk and drive back. If they ask if you have anything to declare, just say no.
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    Jenns, I don't have as much experience as many of the others, but here is my take on the situation:
    1. Being that you're located in North America, I think you will get much more value for your money by buying a North American brand. Shipping bikes overseas isn't cheap and you don't get any extra value for your money. This would rule out brands like Brompton or Strida.
    2. Being that you're only 5'2" and 100+lbs, I wouldn't recommend a 20" bike. It's true that they aren't that much bigger than 16" bikes, but you'll probably have a hard time carrying even the smaller 16" bikes. This would rule out 20" bikes.
    3. Being that you're not an enthusiast, you probably won't appreciate custom builds or top of the line components. This would rule out high end brands like Bike Friday.
    4. Being that you aren't very mechnically inclined, you probably want the support of your local bike shop. This would rule out internet only brands like Downtube.

    As far as I know, this would basically leave you with the past and present 16" Dahon lineup. From the past lineup, there's the Presto and the Piccolo. You might be able to get a good deal on one of these. From the present lineup there's the Curve D3 and Curve SL. These bikes will offer a bit smoother ride, but you will pay a little more since they are the newest Dahon models. In my opinion, the Curve D3 is a better value for the money, but since you are so small you might be willing to pay extra for the Curve SL (which is a few pounds lighter).

    I will have a similar commute in the near future and I would have bought a Curve D3 if it weren't for the fact that I wanted to use my bike for more than just commuting (I bought the 8" wheeled Carryme for extending my walkshed when using the bus to get around the city and the 20" wheeled Downtube VIIIH for riding without the bus except as backup....I haven't decided which one to use for my 5 mile plus bus commute, but the Curve D3 probably would have been ideal). Let us know which bikes you test ride and what you think of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by spambait11
    If you're going the internal hub route, you'll also need a crescent wrench or socket wrench to remove your rear wheel, and should practice taking it on and off, pulling it back for the correct chain tension while the making sure the wheel isn't crooked in the installation, and tightening the axle bolts, all without the benefit of a bike stand to really see if that's something you'll want to put up with if you're stranded on the road.

    I'm definitely not against hub gears, but think their advantages need to be balanced out, and NOT at the expense of deriding derailleur set ups, which always seems discreetly implied with internal hub enthusiasts.

    Whatever you get, I think you ought to take a class on how to change a flat tire; many bike shops offer those classes for free. And because you're an, um, girl, you'll have loads of wanted and unwanted attention, so you might as well take advantage of it.
    This is the folding bike forum, not touring forum. I seriously doubt that Jenns, not being mechanically inclined, would change a flat on her automobile on the side of the road. She would probably call a tow truck. Once she has a folding bike, she can call a cab instead. No wrenches necessary.
    Last edited by makeinu; 03-21-07 at 07:33 PM.

  23. #23
    Seņor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu
    This is the folding bike forum, not touring forum. I seriously doubt that Jenns, not being mechanically inclined, would change a flat on her automobile on the side of the road. She would probably call a tow truck. Once she has a folding bike, she can call a cab instead. No wrenches necessary.
    Your example does not show why it's not a good idea to learn how to fix a flat - and I don't think learning how should be limited to tourers. But running with your hypothetical analogy anyway, changing a tire on a folding bike is less troublesome than a car, while your confidence that she has easy cab access has yet to be proved.

    Learning to fix a flat was ONLY a suggestion.

  24. #24
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu
    4. Being that you aren't very mechnically inclined, you probably want the support of your local bike shop. This would rule out internet only brands like Downtube.
    Good point.

    EDIT: Although it would be a good idea to learn how to fix a flat and do a pre-ride check.

  25. #25
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu
    4. Being that you aren't very mechnically inclined, you probably want the support of your local bike shop. This would rule out internet only brands like Downtube.
    Quote Originally Posted by spambait11
    And because you're an, um, girl, you'll have loads of wanted and unwanted attention, so you might as well take advantage of it.
    So, um, she can probably get lots of guys to help her with maintenance on the bike

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