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Folding Bikes Discuss the unique features and issues of folding bikes. Also a great place to learn what folding bike will work best for your needs.

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Old 08-03-07, 09:44 PM   #1
jschu
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A few questions

I'm completely new to the world of folding bikes. Before doing a bit of research, I had always thought of them as something of a novelty item, not a bike you could do serious riding on. Obviously, I was wrong. How feasible is a folding bike for long distance and/or hilly riding? I was thinking of getting a hybrid type bike, but a good folding bike seems to come at a slightly lower cost. Can you do decent speeds? Can you go up a reasonably steep incline without toppling over sideways from lack of speed? What about distance, are fifteen mile rides doable?

I've got a budget of up to 500 for a new bike, if anyone can recommend a folding bike in that range (or cheaper!) that could replace a road/hybrid type bike, I'd be mighty interested.
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Old 08-03-07, 10:05 PM   #2
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For the same quality bike, a regular sized bike will be less expensive.

The short answer to your questions is that they are more than capable hybrid bikes. So they can climb, they can go fast, and so on. For example, if you read through the forum, you will find more than a handful of people that finished centuries on their folding bikes.

The best thing for you to do is test ride a few bikes. Where are you writing from?

Regarding brands, you will be looking at a Dahon or Downtube.
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Old 08-03-07, 11:38 PM   #3
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Some of the Dahon or Downtube models will meet your budget. You can do distances with a folding bike. The most I have logged is 66 miles and I still have the energy to go for more. I average about 50 miles on my Speed D7 with an average speed of 15.8 miles everytime I go for a ride. One day I'll do a century before summer is over. The Speed D7 is faster than my other bike, Trek 700 multitrack and folders are fun to ride.
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Old 08-04-07, 04:35 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jschu View Post
Can you do decent speeds?
Yes

Most folding bikes in the $500 range will be about as fast as a $500 hybrid bike.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jschu
Can you go up a reasonably steep incline without toppling over sideways from lack of speed?
Yes

However, if you get a Dahon, you will need to be careful with your technique. Normally when climing people pull back on the handlebars; do that on a Dahon and you will fatigue the long handlepost, which may eventually crack it.

Most folders won't have gears as low as a typical hybrid, so it may be a little tougher to climb hills. However, most of the problems with climbing is not the bike as much as it is the engine....


Quote:
Originally Posted by jschu
What about distance, are fifteen mile rides doable?
15 miles isn't a "long" distance by the way, that's barely even a warm-up....


Quote:
I've got a budget of up to 500 for a new bike, if anyone can recommend a folding bike in that range (or cheaper!) that could replace a road/hybrid type bike, I'd be mighty interested.
As mentioned already, Dahons & Downtubes will be fine and will be about the same as a hybrid. The cheapest bike that comes close to road bike performance is a Xootr Swift, $700.
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Old 08-04-07, 06:30 AM   #5
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"Can you do decent speeds? Can you go up a reasonably steep incline without toppling over sideways from lack of speed? "

I find that a combination of light weight and gearing make small wheeled bikes go up hill faster on smooth surfaces. The smaller wheel base, and high center of gravity, on my Birdy and Strida cause them to 'wheely' on very steep hills. Downhill is more of a problem. Going fast downhill on a small wheeled bike can kill you as the bikes are less stable, and the front wheel gets caught in smaller holes. Do not race against larger wheeled bikes downhill. The Birdy front suspension is actually a safety device in my view, not as safe as a larger wheel, but better.

I used my Birdy on many 40+ mi rides and found it comfortable.
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Old 08-04-07, 10:04 AM   #6
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I've used my Birdy for 200 mile rides (2-3 days) and routinely log 200 mile weeks. I prefer the ride to a similarly equipped full size bike.

If you don't need a compact fold and can stretch your budget another $100, a Swift might work. Otherwise, Dahons and Downtubes (older models) are reasonably priced. I think that the Dahon Mu with SRAM X7 is the best value in your price range. However, it isn't particularly durable.
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Old 08-04-07, 10:10 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by geo8rge View Post
The smaller wheel base, and high center of gravity, on my Birdy and Strida cause them to 'wheely' on very steep hills.
I get less front wheel lift than on my last mountain bike, though I do get some on that bike path climb in Washington Heights (right before the entry onto the Pallisaides.) That's a very steep grade.

Might depend on the setup. Are you placed forward on the bike? Does your front hub fall before or after the bars when you are in your normal riding position?

Also, I'm not sure my wheelbase is any shorter than a full size bike. I'll have to check.
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Old 08-04-07, 12:01 PM   #8
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Really, it's whether you want the folding feature. I constantly found myself in places where I wanted to ride, and no bike! Now, I have my Dahon 'folder' in my car all the time. Or if I am traveling, for work, I always have it there. I just yank it out, flip the latch, and I am riding!
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