I currently have a Surly crosscheck commuter (set up like a touring road bike with an internal hub and chainguard) and a Trek 1200 road bike.
I love cycling for commuting/errands and recreation.
I have been dating a woman who doesn't own a bike
I have considered buying a folder in the past, to take along on trips and to just have in the trunk of the car for when opportunity presents itself. I just haven't gone ahead with the purchase because it is a lot of money for something I'm not sure I will ride much
Now I am considering buying a folder so my date can ride it.
I have a couple folder questions first.
1.) I've been browsing threads and it seems that air-travel with a folding bike isn't really feasible considering luggage size and weight restrictions. Can anyone actually say that they have managed to really travel easily with a folding bike through an airport in the states? (easily is defined by not having to take the bike apart, argue with the baggage people, pay additional fees, or leave everything but the bike at home)
2.) I'm used to 700C wheels. How much will the ride degrade on 20 or 16 inch wheeled bikes?
3.) Please recommend specific bikes. I'm budgeting about $400 including setup, delivery, and accessories. A bit more than $400 is OK if you don't think I can meet my needs for that
-Has to look good enough that a 26 year old woman would not mind being seen on it .
-Must include rack, fenders, and some sort of chainguard
-Must have high-quality tires with some sort of flat protection, I don't want to have to spend $70 replacing junk stock tires
-Must be decent quality
-Will be ridden on bike paths and slowish streets with only a handful of easy hills.
-Must fit in the trunk of a compact car (ford escort)
-Should be easy to get parts/service at any LBS
-I'm a fan of suspension seatposts, but not a deal-breaker
-I'm guessing that any stock saddle will stink, but a decent saddle would be a plus
4.) Let me know if you think I should get a folder at all, or just buy a $350 comfort/recreational bike for her to ride. I'd get gift points for that anyhow.