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  1. #1
    Member Dan Smith's Avatar
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    Folding bike, low gear, comfortable, for a duffer

    I love my current bike, the EasyRacers EZ-1 low-end recumbent, but it's just TOO DARN BIG. Have to disassemble it to get it in our Escort wagon and even then it's a tight fit. For the price of a rack big enough to hold it, I can buy a second bike. So that's what I want to do. I want a bike I can toss in the trunk and take with me on trips so that IF I see a nice opportunity to ride, I can ride.

    I'm a lazy, middle-aged, recreational rider. I take the bike out on nice days and ride around for fun. I do want a decent bike with good, trouble-free gears so riding isn't a misery. Light weight's not important, durability and being trouble-free are. My current bike's lowest gears are 21.4, 25, 28.6" and I use the 28.6 a lot, the 25 sometimes, and I'm glad to have the 21.4 although I use it rarely. I HATE working hard going uphill; I just want to take my time and go really slowly. I want to be sure that the bike I get has low enough gears so I won't feel dismayed by the prospect of riding uphill.

    Any suggestions for folding bikes? I'm more concerned with avoiding terrible mistakes than getting the absolute best most optimum choice. My nightmare is dropping a bundle on a spiffy new bike and getting somewhere and finding that some tricky little widget that makes it unfold is stuck or rusty or fell off and got lost...

    Oh, right. Price. Yeah, I'll spend $800 if I absolutely have to but I'd really like to keep it under $500.
    He said: "This front wheel wobbles." I said: "It doesn't if you don't wobble it." --Jerome K. Jerome

  2. #2
    Donating member Richard D's Avatar
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    Apart from old Raleigh Twenties (and cheaper clones) the post popular folding bike over here seems to be the Brompton - but I don't know what price it would be over in the states - they're not cheap. They fold very small with hub gearing. There's a few specialist folding bike sites on the web - A to B or something similar rings bells.

    Richard
    Currently riding an MTB with a split personality - commuting, touring, riding for the sake of riding, on or off road :)

  3. #3
    LET
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    Senior Member LET's Avatar
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    I ride an older Raleigh Twenty and love it. Riding position is upright which while not aerodynamic, is extremely comfortable. I also experimented with putting a different rear sprocket on the rear hub ($11 investment) with 4 more teeth. It really moved the gear ratio down. I've got another sprocket on order with fewer teeth to raise it up above the standard range. The bike is bullet-proof and can carry a lot of weight. (Plan on spending about $150 for a good bike and then update the wheels to aluminum rims, new brake pads, etc. It's easy to keep the price in the 400-500 range when complete.
    My judgment is impeccable, I married my wife. Her judgement, on the other hand, is highly suspect. . .

  4. #4
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    see
    http://www.atob.org.uk/price_tag.html
    and
    http://www.atob.org.uk/USA_Price_Tag.html
    Brompton is optimised for regular commuters who need to fold/unfold the bike several times a day. It is OK to ride, but not as good as the Birdy, which would be my choice for a car carry bike. Giant may be the easists to locate in the USA.
    For ease of riding and convinience, its hard to beat a hub gear. The Shimano or Sachs 7speed hub are both good.
    The important thing is to find a US dealer who knows folding bikes. In the UK we have quite a few who understand folders.

  5. #5
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    The Dahon Speed Pro has a 21 inch low gear. It's a 24 speed with an 8 speed derailler and an internally geared 3 speed hub. It can be had for about $600 shipped here in the states. Realistically, I don't know how well it would "walk" up hill in the lower gears. The small wheels and very upright fork angles would be a little twitchy.

    I have a Dahon Boardwalk 6 that lives in the trunk of my car. It only has a 37 inch low. I like it but my max distance on it is about 25 miles because my rear end gets tired. My biggest complaint is the flexibility of the straight handlebars and the lack of any hand position options. You just cant pull and stomp all that hard on the steeper uphill stuff. Gearing on the boardwalk six is a little limited.

    Folding is simple. And so far it has held up reasonably well. Dahon design has come a long way in the last 15 years and their current offerings are very credible.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    I think that an old Moulton would be a great folder if you could find one.
    Mike

  7. #7
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    The Brompton is WAAAAAY over priced in the United States costing almost $1,000.00 dollars for a simple 3 speed. The high price is due to the high value of the British Pound Sterling which adds about 1/3 to the cost. Furthermore, once you include shipping and the VAT, you can clearly see why the price is so high.

    Forget Birdy unless you live in Germany. The Birdy is a fine folding bike but the US distributor is barely adequate. Service for the Birdy in the US is horrible as bike shops don't want to touch it due to all the non-conventional parts.

    The largest folding bike company in the world is Dahon. They also offer more brands than any other company with the exception of Bike Friday. You really need to try out several bikes from Dahon and see which one satasifies YOUR needs. You need to try out Dahons in 16', 20' and 26' inch wheels. The biggest bang for the buck in my opinion is Dahon. Their higher end models match anything on the market.

    Brompton owners laud their 16' inch wheels but won't tell you how rough it is to ride over a pot hole on a Primo Commet 100 psi tire! Folding size is NOT that important unless you intend to bring it inside the bus. For the most part, everywhere you can bring a 16' inch wheel folding bike, you can also bring a 20' inch wheel bike.

    If you have money, look at Bike Friday which offer very good quality folding bikes. The service from the Bike Friday company is second to none. Service for your bike is so important and you WILL NOT get this from Birdy or Brompton in the US.

    The people at Bike Friday will customize a 20' inch wheel folder for YOUR needs and not the other way around. A Friday is a first class traveling bike and they are marketed this way on their web site. You can't go wrong with a Friday.

  8. #8
    Member Dan Smith's Avatar
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    Thanks to all who've replied. I don't think a Brompton or Birdy would do for me, I live in the U.S. and just don't want the hassles of being out of the mainstream.

    I'm interested in Mister]'s comments that the really low gears might not be very ridable on a 20" wheel bike. Maybe I should be considering the 26" models? Dahon has two, the Matrix and Espresso that look very reasonably priced... unfortunately their website doesn't seem to spell out what the gearing is, I have a query in... It DOESN'T need to be ultracompact or ultralight. But it should fit in my car's (small!) trunk.

    Will the local bike shop--a neighborhood place catering to kids and mostly stocking low-priced bikes, but they're really a nice place and have been very helpful to me AND my wife AND my son in the past--be able to service Dahons and Bike Fridays?

    Dahon's site implies that you CAN order one through ANY bike dealer even if they're not really a Dahon dealer--do I understand that correctly? (I live in the Boston area, but I didn't get hits on any Dahon dealers at all until I bumped the search radius up to 1000 miles and they were all in New York State--in other words, no local dealers). Bike Friday's site seemed to imply that apart from a very, very few dealers they just ship direct and that's that.

    Dahon.Steve's remark that "You really need to try out several bikes from Dahon and see which one satasifies YOUR needs" is nice, but I'm not sure how I do that! I don't think I can ask them to ship me, say, three bikes so I can send two back--or CAN I? Do companies let you do that? I wouldn't quibble paying shipping costs or a REASONABLE restocking fee...
    He said: "This front wheel wobbles." I said: "It doesn't if you don't wobble it." --Jerome K. Jerome

  9. #9
    horizontally adapted bentrox!'s Avatar
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    Dan, if you like your EZ-1 have you looked into S & S couplers? For $500 or maybe less, perhaps S and S Machine could turn your EZ-1 into a folder?

    http://www.sandsmachine.com/
    I'll gently rise and I'll softly call
    Good night and joy be with you all.

  10. #10
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    Bike Friday has an unconditional money back guarantee on ALL their bikes. You can test ride a custom made bike and send it back to the company if you don't like it. Just one problem. Once you get the custom made Friday home, I doubt you will ever return it back to the company.

    I'm sorry to hear that there are no Dahon dealers near you. In New York City, there are Dahon's at every bike shop just about. If you can't test ride a Dahon, give Bike Friday a call. Tell them what YOU need and don't be afraid about getting a 20' wheel bike. Seriously. I have a 20' wheel Dahon folder (Speed 8) and it's comparable to a very fast hybrid. The gears are low enough for me to cross the Brooklyn Bridge! Changing the tires to Schwalbe Servios and you go very quick.

    If you had a choice between the Matrix and Espresso. GET THE MATRIX! It's a nice bike and lighter. It's too bad you can't test ride one but give Bike Friday a chance.

    P.S. Riding a 16' or 20' wheel is rougher than a 26' wheel bike. You should seriously think about getting a quality suspension seat post like the Thudbuster or a Brooks Saddle with springs. I would consider this your most important upgrade on any small wheel folding bike.

  11. #11
    horizontally adapted bentrox!'s Avatar
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    Originally posted by Dahon.Steve
    Riding a 16' or 20' wheel is rougher than a 26' wheel bike. You should seriously think about getting a quality suspension seat post like the Thudbuster or a Brooks Saddle with springs.
    Or a Pantour suspension hub. More expensive, though.
    I'll gently rise and I'll softly call
    Good night and joy be with you all.

  12. #12
    Mr. Cellophane RainmanP's Avatar
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    If I were going to purchase a serious folder, one that most closely emulates the ride and feel of a true road bike, I would get a Bike Friday, but they run $1500-2000. Barring that I would go with the new Giant folder or the new little folder by Joe Breeze. Both seem sturdy, seem to fit reasonably well, and are within your price range. Giants are well-made inexpensive bikes that I think are underrated.
    If it ain't broke, mess with it anyway!

  13. #13
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    I think Bike Friday makes the best folding bikes in the world but you have to pay for it.

    I like the Giant folding bike as well. Someone did a review on the bike and foolishly changed the gears and it started to drop the chain. The Giant Halfway is lowed geared and you must accept that because changing cogs will give many problems.

    As for the Breeze folders, I would stay away. I like the Breeze town bikes but his folders look like cheep bikes from China. The quality of his folders really disapointed me but since these are first generations, lets hope they improve with time.

  14. #14
    Carfree Retro Grouch hayneda's Avatar
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    Dahon.Steve,

    I'm considering getting either a Dahon Speed 8 or Helios 8. What do you think about the two compared?

    Looks like the componentry is essentially the same, with the only difference being the AL frame on the Helios. Have you riden either and can you comment on the ride quality?

    Thanks,
    hayneda
    Bikes are either fixed or broken

  15. #15
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    Personally, I doubt that you could tell much difference between the two riding them. The three pound difference will be most noticable when you have to carry it. I have a friend at church who has a Speed 8 and he is very happy with it.

  16. #16
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    They are basically the same bikes with the same gearing. As the poster said above, the difference is the weight. One thing is certain, both bikes really need the Thudbuster suspension seat post. If your short on cash, get the Speed 8 and the Thudbuster. The small 20' inch wheels really are a rough ride compared to a 26 inch wheel.

    As for ride quality, I can only comment on the Speed 8. The tires on the Speed 8 are very well made by Richie but they are slow. They're more like Cross tires and you really need to look at Schwalbe Servios. But to run at a higher PSI, you're going to need a suspension seatpost regardless of which model you use.

    Now for the weight.

    If you think you're going to carry this bike alot, the Helios makes more sence. I find there should be very lettle reason why you would want to carry a folding bike a long distance since either one gets heavy fast. You should roll the bike on train platforms and fold up before boarding.

    There is a hardcase for the bikes if you intend to board an airplane. Dahon also sells a bag you can use if you intend to Board an Amtrack train or Grayhound bus. Most of the times, folding the bike will be enough and won't stop you from taking public transport but the issue is much different on interstate travel.

    These bike grab attention fast. My Speed 8 is over a year old and people still stop me and give compliments. The new Models are even better than mine.
    Last edited by Dahon.Steve; 08-07-03 at 04:17 PM.

  17. #17
    meb
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    My folder is a Z-bike. 16”, 3 spd, adjustable rear suspension, rear drum, front caliper, 28lbs, comes with its own carrying bag. That suspension is very confrotable, and customer support has been great. $110-160.
    Downside: 29-44 gear inches, low quality crank, weak rear drum brake, at 5’ 11” the max seat heat is slightly low (bad choice for someone 6’ or taller). I’ll upgrade crank and gear ratios. I’m planning on converting this to a swb folding recumbent and ordering a second to keep as upright.

    Since you have the EZ-1 consider the S&S couplers, that $500 someone earlier estimated sounds way high on a conversion. That conversion would add a little over a 1 lb to your bike.

    Backsafer is a cwb recumbent folder $500, not much different from the EZ-1- has a chiropractor designed seat.
    At $1400 the Phaser is probably the lowest priced swb folder on the market.

    Handy bike is a 6” solid wheel ultra compact single speed $300.

    There is a 26” 21 speed full suspension AL folding mtbike for $200 on several places on the internet.

    20” electric folders: ETC had some 50lb single speed electric folders for about $400, 3 speeds for $500 (their website recently disappeared). There are 50lb 7 speed Currie electrics for about $600 (Currie’s controller/motor/sprockets were designed for 26” bikes so their folder tops out at 13 mph under electric power). The preceding have lead acid batteries. Panasonics has a 35lb Al frame NiCd battery for about $1300. Dahon for around $1400 has a 5 speed electric using the SRAM/SPARC system (a 5 speed internal gear hub plus 2-100W motors built in) with the lightweight Al frame with choice of NiMH/NiCd batteries.


    Two folder directory sites:

    http://www.nordicgroup.us/fold/

    http://www.totalbike.com/directory/M...Folding_Bikes/

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