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  1. #1
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    Recommended Folder coming from a Litespeed

    Hey guys,

    So it looks like I'm gonna be in the market for a foldable bike soon and here's my situation. I currently ride an '06 Litespeed Siena which I've had for nearly seven months now and absolutely love; only problem is that I just recently accepted a job in Seoul, South Korea and will be making the move this coming August. After doing some research on the transportation system which mainly consists of trains and subways, I think that my Litespeed is going to be too cumbersome and therefore may have to(breathe, breathe ) sell her in order to afford a comparable folder. After looking at the different options, I'm thinking either a Bike Friday Pocket Rocket or PR Pro, a New World Tourist, or possibly a Dahon Speed Pro, but the weight of both the NWT and Speed Pro have me worried a bit. Regarding my riding purposes, I'm still a newbie having only joined this wonderful sport seven months ago, but I continue to push myself more and more and currently ride between 120-150 miles per week with my local club and we usually averages around a 17 - 20mph pace. So would any of the choices listed above be comparable to my Litespeed and my riding requirements or do you possibly have another suggestion(s)? Thanks a bunch for the help and I look forward to your input!

    --Matt

  2. #2
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Uh, why would you have to sell the Litespeed? Do they not allow bikes on the trains over there? And would they allow folders?

  3. #3
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    From what I've heard from a friend of mine already over there, they don't usually allow bikes on board the trains. With a foldable, I'd be able to ride it to the train station, fold it and place it in its case, and then once I arrive at my destination, unfold it again and go about my ride. I just figured it would be much more efficient and reduce the probability of creating a problem especially since I plan to hop around Asia while I'm over there and hopefully with the bike in hand.

  4. #4
    Member, Schmember DaFriMon's Avatar
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    Bikes like Airnimal, Bike Friday, some high end Dahons, or a customized Swift, might give you a ride not too far off from a road bike like the one you have now. I won't say it will be fully as good, but it could be very close.

    Other bikes, like Bromptons, some other Dahons, or Birdy, could give you a fast, convenient, compact, fold, that's good for commuting on trains or buses.

    If these factors are equally important to you, then two bikes might be the answer. Maybe keep the Litespeed for your recreational rides, and get a folder for commuting? If you're willing to accept lower performance for your commute, you have a lot of choices between about $300 and $600. Or sell the Litespeed, and get two folders.
    You're right, I do have more bikes than I need.

  5. #5
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Yeah, I dunno. Are you commuting? Or you just want to take your bike on the train, to ride in the countryside.

    Bike Friday will be the best option if you want drop bars. I recommend you give them a specific budget number to target, otherwise they'll spec out a $2,500 bike.

    Swift is the best "budget" option. $700 for the bike, $50 for a set of decent tires. Rock solid ride. I regularly do 125 - 150 miles per week on mine, 300 when on tour.

    IIRC Airnimals don't fold, they're "separatables" (i.e. pack into a suitcase).

    I doubt any true folding bike will hit the combo of low weight, smooth ride and high efficiency as a ti road bike, though.

  6. #6
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    You can't use a Bike Friday as a multi-mode commuter unless you can get your hands on a Tikt. Also, you won't be able to use a Swift.

    The only options I see for you are high end Dahons or the Birdy (also OEMed by Bianchi as the Fretta in Japan). Of these two options, the Birdy/Bianchi Fretta will be more expensive, but a very good ride. (I average 20MPH, and find it's fine for group rides, centuries, you name it.) The only downside other than the cost is that it takes 10-15 seconds to fold, and that's with a lot of practice. Some people have built them up with Tune + Stronglite or simply XTR parts and have gotten them under 8Kgs. They also make a titanium frame Birdy in Japan, but that one will set you back $3000.

    I used to own a Mu SL, too. That is a much easier fold (you can do two things at once and do it in 5-10s with practice). It's not the greatest frame and has a flexy stem, but rides very close to a rode bike.

    Even a very experienced ride like you will need to to adapt more to not having drop bars than to being on a folder. The world speed record was once set on one of these bikes (the Moulton). They are, in my opinion, as fast as a road bike. The jury is still out as to whether they are as efficient.

    We're I you, I would simply stopover in Narita and pick up a Binachi Fretta for $1000. If you don't like it, you can probably sell it for more than a $1000 outside of Japan. And, yes, you can put drop bars on it if you need to.

    (Final note: The Capreo groupo on the bike is the folding equivalent of Shimano 105. A lot of fanatics in Japan run Dura Ace on them. There are some links, but I can't search the forums for them.)

  7. #7
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Last edited by pm124; 04-18-07 at 10:54 PM.

  8. #8
    Junior Member speedsixdave's Avatar
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    Hey Matt,

    Well the king of compact bikes is, of course, the Moulton - www.alexmoulton.co.uk. Pricey, but about the best-riding bike in the world. Do try one if you ever get the chance. Not a speedy fold, but a proper bike.

    Your next-best bet is the Airnimal - rides like a road bike but goes pretty compact too. www.airnimal.com

    Or of course you could get S&S couplings retrofitted to your Siena, but it would probably cost as much as an Airnimal.

    You'll appreciate that the better and quicker the fold, the worse the ride. But life's full of compromises, no?

    Best of luck,

    Dave

  9. #9
    Senior Member Fear&Trembling's Avatar
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    After doing some research on the transportation system which mainly consists of trains and subways, I think that my Litespeed is going to be too cumbersome and therefore may have to(breathe, breathe ) sell her in order to afford a comparable folder.
    Matt, if you're going to aim for a comparable folder to a Ti Litespeed in terms of handling, the closest you will probably manage is a top-end Bike Friday i.e. a Pocket Rocket Pro, or an Airnimal Chameleon or possibly, a Moulton Pylon. The BF and Airnimal have larger wheels than the latter, but the Moulton is fully suspended.

    If you want to try to replicate the Litespeed riding position you will need drops (I'm assumng you know your current frame geometry and can make comparisons). Of the three, the BF is the most customisable in terms of the frame spec. BFs and Airnimals are great at packing down into a suitcase, but not good for multi-modal commuting on a daily basis as they take a while to pack/unpack (the Moulton is also a separable and whilst it breaks down quicker, it is more unwieldy as a package - usually two halves). That said, with the Airnimal you can do a partial fold quickly, which may be OK for the train. If you are not planning on multi-modal riding, and you have a bit of cash to throw at the project, I would consider all of aforementioned choices, but if you want something cheaper, that rides well, and can be adapted easily, there is always the Swift.

    If you are planning on a more regular multi-modal commute, you will simply not be able to get a comparable ride to your Litespeed as you will need a bike that folds quickly and takes up a small amount of space - on what I assume will be a crowded train? However, without knowing the nature of the train journey or the cycling part of your commute (length, road conditions etc), it is difficult to recommend a particular 20" or 16"/18" folding bike. That said, my preference would be for a 20" folder that you could customise for a sporty ride, but still folds down "reasonably" small (Dahon, or maybe even a Swift again). If you are in the Far East, you may be able to get hold of a R&M BD-1R (http://www.loro.co.jp/lcw/lcw-06bd-r.html) or a nice KHS too. If you are concerned about keeping the weight of the bike down - most folders can be put on a diet, but at a cost...

    If you want Ti beneath you, the Brompton or the elusive Dahon Ti model would remind you of the Litespeed in terms of frame material - but not much else...

    My personal choice:

    Last edited by Fear&Trembling; 04-19-07 at 09:28 AM.

  10. #10
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    I think that for a traditional road bike derailer setup, you are going to have a tough time getting down to the same weight as your lightspeed. If a 20 pound bike sounds fine, then the Bike Friday PR Pro or Airnimal Chameleon are your best bets (assuming you make the weight limits). Otherwise, you will have to add another pound and go with the plain jane Pocket Rocket. If you want something more of a touring bike, then you might consider the BF NWT (they will adjust for your weight) or Pocket Crusoe (again assuming you make the weight limit). We use them for travelling, centuries, and club rides.

    When I read your post, I did not get the sense that you wanted a multimodal commuter. But if you are then the Birdy is the best performer of the "small" folders in my opinion. But you will not get anything like your lightspeed at this size.

    S&S couplers or the Ritchey Breakaway are excellent options if folding is not needed.

    Are you close to a Bike Friday dealer or bike club?

  11. #11
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    I think you are probably over-rating the weight issue. Riding 17-20 average speeds with a group is fastish, but not so fast that you need to fuss about ounces.

    Trying out various folders would be best. You might want to try either borrowing a heavier bike, or loading your currentl bike with some extra weight to get a feel for what those couple of extra pounds means. Finding a folder that fits you in a good riding position, and is equipped with the componentry you desire is probably more important than a couple of pounds.

    Speedo

  12. #12
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedo
    I think you are probably over-rating the weight issue.
    Quote Originally Posted by Speedo
    Trying out various folders would be best.
    I agree on both points. A 20-pound bike is a small percentage of the overall weight including the engine unless you are a fairly light rider.

  13. #13
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by price042
    From what I've heard from a friend of mine already over there, they don't usually allow bikes on board the trains. With a foldable, I'd be able to ride it to the train station, fold it and place it in its case, and then once I arrive at my destination, unfold it again and go about my ride. I just figured it would be much more efficient and reduce the probability of creating a problem especially since I plan to hop around Asia while I'm over there and hopefully with the bike in hand.
    If you want to get on the train, need an actual folder. So the Airnimal, Friday, etc. won't work for you.

  14. #14
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    You can always wait till you move to Korea and buy a folder there. Folders are more widely accepted in Asia. Chances are it will be cheaper and you will have more of a choice,
    Juan

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    Excellent advice above, but I wanted to add a bit about riding and taking trains in Korea. There are very few cyclists in Korea compared with JP, CN, or TW. Vehicular traffic in KR is very hostile/competitive (Seoul is the worst), even more than TW, which is pretty hostile. Cyclists with right of way often get zero deference in KR. All Asian cities have trucks and buses belching blackest-diesel exhaust - have a mask handy. In Seoul, the nicest place to ride is the Han River bikepath ... about 30 km along the south side of the river. Second place goes to Namsan, a mountain park in the city center. Getting to either place with a bike is a challenge. When I teach in Seoul, I ride from the Uni to the Han R. just after sunrise, ride the bikepath, and return to the Uni before 8 a.m. After 8 a.m., all hell breaks loose on the roads. The subway system in Seoul is very crowded, as in sardine city, during rush hours. I have never seen another folder on a subway or train, or even a bagged bike, in Seoul other than my own, and I would never consider trying to do a subway or train at rush hour, much less with a bike.

    One of the newest treats in KR is the KTX, the Korean bullet train. It allows bagged bikes. Blast from Seoul out to Mokpo (on the SW coast) and ride to Pusan ferry-hopping along the south coast... a great one-week trip, then KTX from Pusan (SE coast) back to Seoul. If you only have a weekend, ride the KTX to Mokpo, then parallel the KTX line by bike back toward Daejon, and get on the KTX when time runs out. The best riding of all KR is on Cheju-do, the "Hawaii of Korea", a large island with strong Mongol influences between KR and JP. You can take your bike on a ferry from Yosu or Pusan to Cheju-do.

    Buy an electronic K/E dictionary. There's very little English in Seoul and Pusan (other than tourist hotels), and about nil outside those two cities.

    JP and TW are the most folder-dense countries in Asia, and there are good used folder markets there. Were I you, I would try to buy a used, high-end folder in JP or TW, or a new high-end Dahon in CN, and keep the Litespeed for zipping around Seoul before rush hour. The JP used market includes Birdies, Brommies, etc., and even Moultons.
    Last edited by maunakea; 04-19-07 at 06:15 PM.

  16. #16
    jcl
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    I heartily agree with Maunakea's opinions re: biking in Seoul. I spend quite a bit of time there and have never been tempted to take a bike out onto the city streets. The countryside and the Han River bike path are a different matter. The Han River bike path is very nice, especially during the weekdays when it can be quite empty.

    I have two folders, a Swift and a Bike Friday Pocket Pilot, and both of them are really wonderful bikes. For hopping on and off trains, I would opt for the Swift. It folds quickly, and would be fine on a subway in Seoul. Perhaps not at peak rush hour, but during the peak hours I don't think that any folding bike would be convenient; people are just packed in too tightly.

    As for the Dahons, I owned a Speed P8 briefly, and the proprietary parts make upgrading and doing some repairs a pain. I don't believe there is an active Dahon dealer in Seoul, and obtaining parts may be a huge headache.

    There is not a huge selection of bicycles for sale, folding or otherwise, in Seoul. Most of the selection seems to be limited to department store quality, or, if you are willing to drop a lot of cash, you can find imported Cannondales (mostly mountain bikes). There is a pretty hefty import tax on these foreign bikes, so you are far, far better off bringing your own.

    Here is a link to the Huffy Korea site - they sell Yeah Folders. I've seen these bikes in several department stores around Seoul.
    http://huffy.co.kr/

    Good luck!

  17. #17
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    jcl, when you are back in KR, try ferry-hopping along the south coast... start in Pusan, to Geojedo, and on to Yosu. Ferry, ride a loop or to the next ferry port, ferry, ride, etc. If you have time, continue to Cheju-do, where both the perimeter road and the various roads across Halla-san, food in coastal yogwans, and curiosity of the natives are peak.

  18. #18
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    Hey guys,

    I apologize for not responding sooner, but it has been an incredibly busy six days. I just want to say though that I truly appreciate all of the advice! You really expanded my options and gave me a great deal to consider. Initially after reading some of your posts, I had considered buying a case and taking the Litespeed with me, however, do to the fact that I will not be travelling by plane often and the fact that the case will weigh approximately 50+lbs. once the bike is inside, it would be a nightmare if not impossible to travel with. So after looking at my options, I'm gonna try to keep my Litespeed(put it in storage) and more than likely go with a BF Pocket Rocket(Pro). I will predominantly be using it to maintain my training moreso than a form of transportation, so the BF should be fine. And since I now know that the conditions in Seoul are not incredibly favorable for cyclists, I think it would be wise to invest in a trainer and a set of DVDs to keep me going, but will a BF size wheel work on most trainers or is there a model that may work better than others? Thanks again!

  19. #19
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Rollers will *probably* work. I don't think the standard rear-wheel-only ones will work at all on 20" wheels.

  20. #20
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Hmmmm, check out the Bike Friday YAK group regarding the trainer.

    -G

  21. #21
    Steel,Friction,Freewheels
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    Bag or Case... I like the Joey.
    Here is an independent review: http://www.wigglesworld.klebos.com/s...imal/index.asp
    I ride a retro variant called a Raleigh Five-Twenty. I'm a serious roadie and my 520 setup provides me road performance with portability. With a small adaptation to a standard trainer, I have made the 520 wheels fit for indoor workouts. The fact that the Joey's wheels are loose when folded becomes less of an issue when you utilize the available totebag. Sounds like commuter regulation may require the bag anyway.

  22. #22
    Member, Schmember DaFriMon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by price042
    . . . I think it would be wise to invest in a trainer and a set of DVDs to keep me going, but will a BF size wheel work on most trainers or is there a model that may work better than others? Thanks again!
    When I use a trainer, it's with a 700c wheeled bike. I understand that most trainers will not work with 20 inch wheels, but there are a couple of special models that will. One possibility is to buy a regular CycleOps trainer, and then buy this adapter to go with it. I've only read about it, and have no personal experience.

    As Invisiblehand suggested, try subscribing to the BF Yak mailing list, and ask the question there, or search their archives.
    You're right, I do have more bikes than I need.

  23. #23
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaFriMon
    When I use a trainer, it's with a 700c wheeled bike. I understand that most trainers will not work with 20 inch wheels, but there are a couple of special models that will. One possibility is to buy a regular CycleOps trainer, and then buy this adapter to go with it. I've only read about it, and have no personal experience.

    As Invisiblehand suggested, try subscribing to the BF Yak mailing list, and ask the question there, or search their archives.
    Just to emphasize, someone asked this very question in the past two/three months. There was some resolution to the issue ... I do not recall whether it was successful.

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    Hi again,
    As far as trainers go, I do believe you are fine on rollers. If you're looking for a resistance trainer (ie. not rollers, but a mag or wind trainer) I know minoura (and other large brands) makes a trainer that engages the rim instead of the tire and it can accomodate more tire sizes. I would check to make sure, but I'm almost 100% positive that it can take a 20" wheel. I know one of the trainer companies also make a 20" wheel adapter kit for their line of trainers, but I forget which brand. I am actually anxiously awaiting the possible procurement of a 20" wheel trainer! It was on craigslist in NYC and my brother is supposed to be getting it for me today. I won't get my greedy little hands on it until tommorrow, though.
    Juan

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