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  1. #1
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    Please help me choose a folder

    I'm looking for a folder that is $500 or less, and 25 pounds or less. I also want it to be small enough to fit in the trunk of my car, but still have room for other stuff.

    I plan to ride the bike occasionally, not daily. Rides lasting 30-60 minutes. For fun and exercise, not racing or training. I'm 5'5" tall, so I would like something that fits someone that size.

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

  2. #2
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    what kind of terrain do you plan to bike on? (smooth roads, bike trails, mountain biking, etc)

  3. #3
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Assuming that you are not looking for any technical bike (very fast bike for road performance, compact bike for trail roads, expedition races or the eco-challenge) I believe a Dahon Curve or a Downtube Mini would be a really nice fit.

    I am personally leaning towards 16" wheeled bikes instead of the most popular 20"wheel size. The ability to pack your bike for travelling using airport-legal luggage without the need of a degree in engineering or the patience of a monk is a big turn on to me, and having your bike with you more often is more important to me than being able to ride it on rough terrain. In other words, 16"wheels, for my kind of ride, is just perfect.

    This is the downtube mini:



    It has more gears than the Dahon, and most of the components can be upgraded from your local bike shop.

    and this is the Dahon Curve (basic model, 3 speed, called D3):



    It's cheaper, comes with fenders and rear rack, it has a more sophisticated folding mechanism and it comes with some devices to help keeping it folded once folded. This model only comes with 3 speed though.

    For size idea, I'm 5'9", and this is my Curve D3:



    Most people will point you towards the conventional 20" wheeled folders. The riding feeling of those are a little closer to what you are used to (if you ride 700c road bikes or conventional 26", "mountain bikes"), they behave better than 16" bikes on rough terrain and some brands (like Bike Friday and Dahon) make some super fast models that you can keep up with road bikers (assuming you could keep up with them on regular bikes as well).

    Good luck on your decision. Please come back and let us know what you end up getting. The most important thing, in my opinion, is to have a chance to ride the bike you want before making the commitment to keep it. They are both good products and you can always return your Downtube if you are not satisfied with it (never heard of anyone actually doing it, it's a pretty sweet bike with several enthusiasts around this forum. I personally already had 3).

  4. #4
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    'ey 14R

    How is the handlebar / handlepost stiffness on the Curve? It's ridiculously flexy on my Dahon Mariner D7.

  5. #5
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    How big is your trunk? Will you need to fold for any other reason?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu
    what kind of terrain do you plan to bike on? (smooth roads, bike trails, mountain biking, etc)
    Mostly paved bike trails and relatively smooth roads.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pm124
    How big is your trunk? Will you need to fold for any other reason?
    Trunk is mid sized USA sedan. I don't think I will need to fold for any other reason, but I can't say for sure.

    Last year I bought a cheapo folding bike from walmart.com which has 20" wheels. I think the bike is too heavy to lug around, it is probably in the 30-40 pound range. In addition, it takes up a lot of space in my trunk, and barely folds flat enough to get in there.

    I also have a Rans Tailwind recumbent which has 20" wheels, so I am used to riding with smaller wheels.

  8. #8
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    Thank you 14R. I doubt that any of my local bike shops will have many folders to test ride, but I will call around. I'm definitely willing to buy off of forum member recommendations without test riding.

    With 3 gears on your Curve D3, do you feel as though you have a low enough gear for hill climbing and a high enough gear to not get passed by senior citizens? That would concern me.

    I'm not against the idea of 16" wheels at all.

    Thank you for your suggestions.

  9. #9
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    Wow, this original post could be from me -- same height, same budget, same requirements, and newbie. (But I'm female; MequonJim I assume is male.) Even before reading 14R's great post, I narrowed it down to the Downtube Mini and the Dahon Curve through online research. I haven't done any test riding yet, but I think the Curve is available here.

    Not wanting to hijack the OP's thread, but hopefully he'll be interested in the answer too: Is one of these significantly easier to fold and/or carry? According to the specs, the weight seems about the same, and the Curve's folded size is longer (Mini 10"x20"x29", Curve 13"x24"x26"). I like that the Curve has fenders.

    (Size and ability to camouflage is a bit more of an issue than weight for me, since I'll be carrying the bike up stairs and into a fancy office building elevator, and stashing in a small shared space -- but MequonJim might have other needs, so general thoughts on size/fold/carry would be awesome. BTW, I'll be on road, mostly 5km/3mile trips. )

  10. #10
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MequonJim
    Thank you 14R. With 3 gears on your Curve D3, do you feel as though you have a low enough gear for hill climbing and a high enough gear to not get passed by senior citizens? That would concern me.

    I'm not against the idea of 16" wheels at all.

    Thank you for your suggestions.
    besides the hard core road bikers and triathletes using aerobars, I pass most of the other bikers while riding casually and all if I decide to go fast (again, excluding the roadsters. I do pass several road bikes, but they are not road bikers. They are average people like me, just riding expensive road bikes). Without any effort, I can average 14mph on my Curve. 16mph can be mantained, the real problem begins above that. On my Urban Bad Boy Ultra, I can go from 16 to 20 and maintain it. With the curve, going from 16 to 18 becomes a challenge. But please keep in mind I am no longer an athlete. My resting heart rate is on high 60s and I do not ride as often as I want. In other words: Currently, the weakest link is me, not the bike.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by MequonJim
    Thank you 14R. I doubt that any of my local bike shops will have many folders to test ride, but I will call around. I'm definitely willing to buy off of forum member recommendations without test riding.

    With 3 gears on your Curve D3, do you feel as though you have a low enough gear for hill climbing and a high enough gear to not get passed by senior citizens? That would concern me.

    I'm not against the idea of 16" wheels at all.

    Thank you for your suggestions.
    Since you'll be riding on smooth roads and you don't have any issue with 16" wheels then it sounds like either the Downtube Mini or the Curve D3 would be just what you need. Obviously the Mini and the Curve D3 are similar bikes. Let's look at some of the differences:
    -The Curve comes with a rack and fenders, which probably aren't very useful for the kind of recreational riding you'll be doing.
    -The Mini has more gears, which you're obviously concerned about.
    -The Mini is a bit lighter, especially if you go with the capreo version, and you said that weight is important to you.

    Sounds like the Mini would be more appropriate for your needs, especially the Capreo version (what do you need an internal hub for? you won't be riding in bad weather or banging your bike around on the train or airplane and a derailleur is lighter and more efficient). The only question is whether or not you should pay the $100 premium for the Capreo Mini or if you should go with the internally hubbed Mini.

    Quote Originally Posted by holymoly
    Wow, this original post could be from me -- same height, same budget, same requirements, and newbie. (But I'm female; MequonJim I assume is male.) Even before reading 14R's great post, I narrowed it down to the Downtube Mini and the Dahon Curve through online research. I haven't done any test riding yet, but I think the Curve is available here.

    Not wanting to hijack the OP's thread, but hopefully he'll be interested in the answer too: Is one of these significantly easier to fold and/or carry? According to the specs, the weight seems about the same, and the Curve's folded size is longer (Mini 10"x20"x29", Curve 13"x24"x26"). I like that the Curve has fenders.

    (Size and ability to camouflage is a bit more of an issue than weight for me, since I'll be carrying the bike up stairs and into a fancy office building elevator, and stashing in a small shared space -- but MequonJim might have other needs, so general thoughts on size/fold/carry would be awesome. BTW, I'll be on road, mostly 5km/3mile trips. )
    Sounds like you would be better off with the Curve. The fenders will help keep you dry if you ride through a puddle on the way to work and the rear rack will be useful for carrying your briefcase.

  12. #12
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    Which allows bigger tires? Fenders can always be purchased ( from Gaerlan or nashbar and modded with a bit of ingenuity) A nice seat bag from Rivendell can fulfill your carrying needs without a rack .I have found that wider tires on my classic 3 have made a big positive difference in the ride. I own Dahons and Yeah bicycles but the DT mini looks like a good bet to me.

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    Dahon's website lists the Gear Inches for the Curve D3 as 42"/56"/77"

    I can't find the same type of information at Downtube's website.

    To James H Haury, the Curve D3 has big fat tires on it right now. The site says that the fenders are made to accept the fat tires.

    I'm not sure that if I bought a Downtube Mini instead of the Curve D3, I don't know if I should spend the extra $100 on the Capreo version. Do you think it is money well spent?

    Thanks again to everyone for their help.

  14. #14
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    There are no user's review of the DT Mini with the Capreo system. But one thing that I forgot to mention is that the Mini comes with some kind of rear suspension, while the Curve benefits from the extra investment of a Thudbuster seatpost.

  15. #15
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Detailed review and discussion of the Mini here: Review of Downtube Mini with internal hub

    One poster mentions that the gear inches ranges from 25 - 75 inches.

    I like the 8 speeds on the Mini, but that Curve sure has a stylish top tube!

  16. #16
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    So they probably go about the same speeds on the flats (75" vs. 77") and if you have steep hills to climb, the DT Mini might be better with 25" vs. 42" minimum.

    I don't really have many steep hills.

    14R, do you ever have problems climbing hills with your Curve D3?

    I wonder what the gear inches are for the Capreo equipped DT Mini.

  17. #17
    Senior Member kgibbs51's Avatar
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    14R,

    Are there any comparative reviews of the Curve and the Mini? I like the Mini price but the styling is so so and the color is aweful (both when compared to the Curve).

    The 9speed Mini Capreo is also 1lb lighter than the 8speed. How is this achieved? I'm on the fence on this issue and really am waiting to see how the new Curve SL stacks up. Its a 5 speed but weighs 2lbs less than the Mini Capreo but $100 more.

    Dahon's web site tells of a May release for the Curve SL but after talking with a few dealers I'm getting the impression that this may be July 2007 instead. Any thoughts on this?

  18. #18
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    As far as I know, there is no comparison between those two. I like the Mini too (and I even don't have a problem with the color) but I agree with you, the design is not as stylish and the folding mechanism is not as "cool" (even though it is an efficient mechanism).

    If I were you I woudn't wait for the SL. Dahon is well known for release delays and unless you have 3% body fat, anything less than 3 pounds can be achieved by a smaller breakfast in less than 2 weeks.
    Last edited by 14R; 04-05-07 at 10:17 AM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member kgibbs51's Avatar
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    14R,

    So you recommend the Curve over the Mini? I'm not sure if you've said you've owned both but I think you may have at some point.

  20. #20
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    I cannot make that recommendation, I never had a chance to ride a Mini. I'm a big fan of Downtube bikes for several reasons (price, upgradeability, customer service) but when it was time to buy a new bike I decided to go with a Curve. Main reason was the way it looks. I really liked the Scimitar-like frame! I almost bought a Mu when they first came out, and the Mini was like something that I wanted before it even existed.

    It's just a matter of time I will need a new folder (I like to have two, so I can ride with someone, and usually sell it overseas to renew the fleet). If I don't have the money to buy Merc or Brompton, I may consider the Mini. Since I travel with my bikes, the Capreo Version is not a good option for me. But I spoke with Yan more than once about that, it is just a matter of time for me to get one.

    14R.

  21. #21
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    I would love to see a review of the Mini with Capreo. It's a great drivetrain set up, and is about equivalent to the 105-level groupo according to Bike Friday. So, the Capreo Mini is an outstanding deal.

    The other consideration is that the non-Capreo equipment on the big Downtube is the worst stuff coming out of China. Some people have had bikes that were missing bearings on one side of the BB, had frozen parts, etc. So, the Capreo stuff will be a huge improvement, and well worth the $100.

    For what it's worth, my 24 pound Downtube NS required a new seat, tires, cranks, and bottom bracket to get to it's stated weight. (Yes, without the iron pedals, etc.!) Given that it was stocked with pedals and a seat that weighed close to 2Kg, it's a bit deceptive. I'm not sure how much more conservative Dahon is with weight, but I would bet that the stock Dahon, including pedals, is a bit lighter than the stock mini.

    Finally, both Downtube and Dahon have a *history* of terrible quality control problems. So, if you don't like fussing with rebuilding wheels, etc., that's a consideration. That all said, for what you get, the Downtube is a super bargain for builders.

  22. #22
    Senior Member kgibbs51's Avatar
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    14R,

    Because you travel the Capreo won't work? Explain?

  23. #23
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kgibbs51
    The 9speed Mini Capreo is also 1lb lighter than the 8speed. How is this achieved? I'm on the fence on this issue and really am waiting to see how the new Curve SL stacks up. Its a 5 speed but weighs 2lbs less than the Mini Capreo but $100 more.
    Internal hub drivetrains are typically heavier than derailer drivetrains.

    From a conversation with Peter Reich

    weight(Nexus 8 speed hub) = weight(DUAL DRIVE) + 1 lb. = weight(8 sp derailer drivetrain) + 2 lbs.

    Note, there was another recent thread that discussed internal hubs versus derailers.

    EDIT: Here is the old thread Internal Hub Weight vs. Conventional Rear Hub. Regarding the previous travel question, it might have to do with a derailer being messy and easily damaged during travel.

  24. #24
    Member, Schmember DaFriMon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by holymoly
    . . .Not wanting to hijack the OP's thread, but hopefully he'll be interested in the answer too: Is one of these significantly easier to fold and/or carry? According to the specs, the weight seems about the same, and the Curve's folded size is longer (Mini 10"x20"x29", Curve 13"x24"x26"). I like that the Curve has fenders. . .
    Actually, I've wondered about the stated folding size for the Mini. Looking at the picture of it folded in the middle of this page, it's hard to say which dimension is supposed to be 10 inches. You'd think that would be the width, but it doesn't seem possible from that picture. Maybe that bike is not fully folded. Mini owners might shed more light on this.
    You're right, I do have more bikes than I need.

  25. #25
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kgibbs51
    14R,

    Because you travel the Capreo won't work? Explain?
    Derailleurs are one of the most abused parts of a bike once it is packed, one of the most broken parts upon arrival, and at least another 10 minutes to tune up after each and every travel. I'm done with them on folders.

    One of the reasons I sold my Merc (and may consider buying another Curve or a Mini in the future instead of a Brompton or anoter Merc) is the absence of rear chain tensioner or derailleur. Trust me, it is just a matter of time to have a problem with one of those if you pack/unpack your bike often.

    14R.

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