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  1. #1
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    Lightest/smallest/fastest folding bike?

    I am trying to abandon my daily drive to work. The plan is, I will ride my bike to the train station, carry my bike on the train, rid ethe train several miles, get off the train and ride my bike the rest of the way to work.

    The train station is a couple miles from my house, but it's on a hill. The other train station is less than a mile away from my job.

    I plan on putting an electric motor on the bike as well. I will likely lose interest in riding the bike if I have don't have a motor.

    So, what's the best folding bike to convert to electric and then carry on a train? Something that quickly and easily folds to a pretty small size, and is light enough that I will be able to add a motor and batteries and still easily carry it...

    Oh yeah, and I'm about 220 pounds.

    I was dead set on a folding mountain bike with 26" tires, but bike style and tire size is no longer important. I am only concerned with weight, folded size, and the speed and difficulty of folding...

    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
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    All folding bikes are bigger, heavier, and more difficult to fold than is ideally convenient. None of them are easy to carry, but a few are just bearable. Adding an electric assist will push those few bikes for which carrying is bearable into being completely unbearable. Trust me when I say that carrying that motor around will be a lot more work than pedaling for a few miles.

    I suggest that you forget about a folding bike altogether. Take your vehicle of choice (full size bike, electric full size bike, etc) from your home to the train station and leave it there. Then walk the half mile to work. It will be easier than lugging a folding bike with you and way easier than lugging an electric folding bike.

    However, if you insist on having a vehicle for the last half mile and you insist on a motor then I suggest you look into a motorized folding scooter. There's no point in carrying around the pedals, drive train, etc of a bicycle if you aren't going to use them. Even if you're going to use them part of the time, carrying them the other part of the time just isn't worth the extra effort.
    Last edited by makeinu; 11-15-07 at 05:06 PM.

  3. #3
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    Do you think a motorized folding scooter will go the 2 miles (uphill) to get me home from the train station? Even in the snow?

    Leaving a bike at the train station isn't an option. There are all sorts of thefts at the train stations around here...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saltydawg View Post
    Do you think a motorized folding scooter will go the 2 miles (uphill) to get me home from the train station? Even in the snow?

    Leaving a bike at the train station isn't an option. There are all sorts of thefts at the train stations around here...
    I think the scooter should make it. I also think that in the amount of time it would take you to fold something, you could secure a bike pretty darn well at the train station (cable through all the removable parts; ulock through the frame, rear dropouts, and wheels; a big beefy motorcycle chain; and a big bag made out of thick thick canvas to cover it all up....maybe lock a decoy bike next to it too).

    You might want to read this thread:
    Possible New Commute - I need your opinion

  5. #5
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    No, you don't understand... Cars get stolen from the train stations around here. I don't think a chain is going to stop a thief who wanta my bike. Especially if he knows it has a motor.
    E-Bikes haven't really hit this area yet. When I get mine, I'll be the first person I know with one. If a thief sees it at a train station (where there are no security guards) then it's as good as gone.
    The way the train stations work here- there are no security, no personell at all. There is a machine that sells tickets. You get on the train, and there is no attendant (no personell at all). Every once in a while a cop will board and ask everyone to show their ticket. Whoever doesn't have one gets hit with a huge fine.

    This system has lead to a lot of thefts at the train stations since there is no personell there.

  6. #6
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    1.) Where do you live?

    2.) I find it hard to believe that anyone would need a motor to go less than 3 miles on a bicycle. Even up a hill.

    3.) Does the bike have to be folded to go on the train?

    4.) At 220 pounds, forget about the weight of the bike. It's not important relative to your weight.

  7. #7
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    Here's a folder w/ a motor that recently sold on ebay:
    http://cgi.ebay.com/Xootr-Swift-Bion...QQcmdZViewItem

    But I, and possibly hundreds of others around here, feel one of the great benefits of cycling is losing weight/getting in better shape. Biking the whole way unassisted may be tough at first, but after a bit, the muscles get stronger, some tonnage slips off and soon your riding faster and enjoying it more. Read through threads on different folders posted here, lots of choices that would work on a train.
    Good luck.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saltydawg View Post
    The train station is a couple miles from my house, but it's on a hill. The other train station is less than a mile away from my job.

    I plan on putting an electric motor on the bike as well. I will likely lose interest in riding the bike if I have don't have a motor.

    So, what's the best folding bike to convert to electric and then carry on a train? Something that quickly and easily folds to a pretty small size, and is light enough that I will be able to add a motor and batteries and still easily carry it...

    Oh yeah, and I'm about 220 pounds.

    I was dead set on a folding mountain bike with 26" tires, but bike style and tire size is no longer important. I am only concerned with weight, folded size, and the speed and difficulty of folding...

    Any suggestions?
    First, you're posting in the wrong section. You should post in the Electric Bike section of this forum. Those folks know the type of equiptment you'll need to get up those that hill.

    By the way, Dahon makes a 26 inch folding bike and you can attach an electric motor. The whole thing can be lugged onto a train because the bike can be folded. The Bionx electric system is a lightweight electric motor but it's expensive.

    Here's a 26' inch folding electric bike.

    http://www.greenspeed.us/bionx_monta...ctric_bike.htm

  9. #9
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    Jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, but never jam today - Dadaist manifesto

    Light weight, fast, small, folding, self propelled, negotiate snow, all while supporting ten times it's own weight.

    If you're not interested in riding a bike, why do you want one? Taxi to station, walk to work. The price of an electric folding bike pays for a lot of taxi rides.

  10. #10
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    1: I live in Salt Lake, Utah
    2: I don't absolutely need a motor to make it up the hill. But I need the motor to keep me motivated. I know myself, and I know without the motor I'll say "screw it" and just drive to work most of the time. But with the motor, I'll probably ride. And who knows, I might even pedal some of the time.
    3: Yeah, the bike has to be folded to go on the train.
    4: I know the bikes weight isn't important relative to mine, but I'm worried about the weight of the bike because I'll have to carry it up onto a train. Also, I'll have to load the bike up with batteries, motor, etc, so I'm trying to keep the weight down.

    I already have a thread in the electric bike forum. Lots of excellent info there. But it's about motors and stuff. It;s not about which bikes are the lightest and smallest... I figured this would be a better place to find the actual bike, and the e-bike forum would probably have the best info on converting it to electric...

    No way I'm paying for a taxi everyday. I'd just keep driving before I started paying for a taxi everyday. What I pay for a bike, I'll eventually save in gas/parking. I'm currently spending $25-$50 per week in gas, depending on how much I drive during lunch, and spending another $75 per month for parking.

    Those folders you guys posted look good though...

  11. #11
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    Saltydawg,

    I know you want to simply by a machine that does it all in one lump sum, but I feel you'll get much more for your money if you progressively hone in on the best tool for the job. Here is my suggested progression:

    Phase 1: Since physical fitness is an issue, the best thing to do is to start walking the half mile to work. This will give you a much better control over the pace of exercise than trying to carry a heavy electric bike. Drive to the station from home. I know you are worried about theft, but I'm only talking about doing this for a month or two. The money saved in gas should pay for a lo-jack (or a GPS child locater inserted into your dashboard by a mechanic) and a car boot (might be expensive, but you can resell it). If you check on the lo-jack often then the worst that could happen is a broken car window, but the money you'll be saving in the long run on replacement batteries for an electric bike makes it worthwhile (batteries are expendable). Alternatively you might try parking at a nearby store and offering the clerk $25 bucks a week to keep an eye on the car. Or combine the two methods (give the clerk $25/week and stuff the $10/month GPS child locater cellphone between the seat cushions just in case....forget about the car boot). If this level of paranoia isn't good enough to keep your car safe for a few months then I don't see how your car could possibly be safe at your home a mere 2 miles from the train station.

    Phase 2: Stop parking your car at the train station. Drive to within a mile of the train station and park somewhere safe. Walk the rest of the way. So, in total, you'll be walking one mile to the train station from home and half a mile from the train station to work. Once you are comfortable with this your physical fitness level should be average.

    Phase 3: Buy a cheap used mountain bike for $50 and start riding from your home to the station instead of taking the car. Lock up at the train station. Don't worry about theft. Think of it as an extended rental (which you could never get for such a low price). The experience is worth at least $50 because it will allow you to buy the right folding bike for you. On the other hand, you may find that the thieves at the train station aren't much interested in stealing bicycles. Either way it's a win win situation for you.

    Phase 4: If the bike finally gets stolen then you know that you need a folding bike. That's fine, the knowledge you'll have gained about your riding preferences will save you at least $100 in your folding bike purchase and the fitness level you'll have achieved will save you over a thousand dollars in bike weight savings (there is no cheaper way to save weight on an electric bike than ditching the motor), electronics, and battery replacements (enough to pay for the car boot, the lo-jack, the broken windows, and the stolen used mountain bike).

    I think if you consider the big picture you'll agree that this is much better than trying to buy a bike that includes everything but the kitchen sink.

    Think of it this way, if you want to get in shape then, one way or another, you will need to get to the point where a 2 mile bike ride is easy. There are many ways to get to that point. Why spend all the money on an electric folding bike when there are cheaper ways? Especially since, once you're in shape, the electric bike will be inferior to a regular bike (the lightest/smallest/fastest/most-efficient motor available is your body...an extra electric motor is just dead weight). Besides, I think that you'll have an easier time staying motivated if you take things one phase at a time.

    Feel free to disagree, but please post your situation in the Clydesdale subforum and the Commuting subforum. I'm sure you'll find many people in those forums with situations similar to your own and I doubt that many of them chose electric folding bikes as the solution.
    Last edited by makeinu; 11-16-07 at 06:50 AM.

  12. #12
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    Excellent advice from Makeinu.

  13. #13
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    Okay, here's the thing, I want to get in shape, don't get me wrong, but that is not the motivation for changing my commute. I just don't want to drive to work anymore. It's part helping the environment, and part relaxing on the train instead of driving, part saving gas money and parking money, and then it's also part getting excercise.

    Walking is out of the question. We get way too much snow in the winter for me to consider walking in it. I can easily tell myself I'll walk, but I know I'll end up driving more often than not if there is even the slightest hint of bad weather. However, an e-bike in rush hour traffic is as fast (or faster) than driving. So an e-bike and a good outer shell will do the trick.

    I will also need to bring the bike with me for transportation during the day (getting food on my lunch break, running errands in the general area after work, etc). So having the bike with me at work is ideal. And the only realistic way to have it with me is if it's folded up, next to my desk.

    It all just adds up- I need a folding bike, and I need an electric motor on it capable of going at least a little faster than I could pedal.

  14. #14
    Senior Member jnb-rare's Avatar
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    You're probably way ahead of me, but I would look at some existing, successful designs and figure it out from there. The Mu SL is going to be the lightest base. I really couldn't say how durable these might be for your weight plus the extra weight of the engine, and hitting the odd pothole at speed...

    http://www.jvbike.com/images/EPS/MuSL_800.jpg
    http://www.jvbike.com/bikes/gallery/Mu_P8_BionX.htm
    http://www.jvbike.com/bikes/js/Jetstream_BionX.htm
    http://www.jvbike.com/images/Dahon/J...RS_800x596.jpg
    http://www.jvbike.com/images/EPS/Mariner_800x560.jpg
    http://www.jvbike.com/images/Crystal...on_800x530.jpg
    http://www.jvbike.com/images/Birdy/B...ow_600x476.jpg

  15. #15
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    If you're spending $100/mo. for gas plus $75/mo. for parking, then a $2500 bike would be paid off in 13 months. A Dahon with a BionX system would cost that much looking at the jvbike links above (assuming you want a higher end Dahon model).

    One member here bought a Downtube and put a 500 watt Cyclone kit on it. Closer to a grand for bike and motor kit, but I don't think it comes with batteries. Might want to do a search on the Cyclone kit to see what others say about it's long-term robustness. One issue you may have is that you won't be able to carry a lot of stuff if your rear rack is used to hold the battery.

  16. #16
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    Wow, every single one of those folders looks awesome.

    A folder with a motor would be awesome, but it doesn't have to have a motor.

    I have nothing against buying a good folder, and then adding the motor myself...

    I am not worried about rack space. If I use the rack at all, it will be for holding batteries. I will wear backpack to carry stuff in...
    Last edited by Saltydawg; 11-16-07 at 01:34 PM.

  17. #17
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    Saltydawg, I should be getting my folder/motor installed by tomorrow so I hope to provide a full report. It's the BionX PL350 paried to the KHS Mocha. (I was going to put it on my Dahon Mu SL, but I now see how that really defeats the purpose of that bike.)

    Like you, the trip from my home to the train station is all downhill. I think it's about an 8-10% grade.

    BTW, someone provided a link to the Montague/BionX combo from greenspeed... I actually went there and test rode that up a very steep hill in Laguna Beach (anyone familiar with that area knows how hilly it can be). It performed like a champ on the road, but pretty heavy to carry!

    As for folding time, yesterday was a perfect example of how quick it can be. I was hurrying to jump on the train as I heard the conductor announce "all aboard". I picked up the bike in stride with one hand, unhinged the handle bar and swung it down, unhinged the frame and gave it a small swing as I stepped in. Sure, it wasn't quite as suave and smooth as I've described, but the point is it really took no time at all.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by v6v6v6 View Post
    Saltydawg, I should be getting my folder/motor installed by tomorrow so I hope to provide a full report. It's the BionX PL350 paried to the KHS Mocha. (I was going to put it on my Dahon Mu SL, but I now see how that really defeats the purpose of that bike.)

    Like you, the trip from my home to the train station is all downhill. I think it's about an 8-10% grade.

    BTW, someone provided a link to the Montague/BionX combo from greenspeed... I actually went there and test rode that up a very steep hill in Laguna Beach (anyone familiar with that area knows how hilly it can be). It performed like a champ on the road, but pretty heavy to carry!

    As for folding time, yesterday was a perfect example of how quick it can be. I was hurrying to jump on the train as I heard the conductor announce "all aboard". I picked up the bike in stride with one hand, unhinged the handle bar and swung it down, unhinged the frame and gave it a small swing as I stepped in. Sure, it wasn't quite as suave and smooth as I've described, but the point is it really took no time at all.

    Which one did you run to the train station with and quickly fold- the Montague/BionX combo or the KHS Mocha?

    Also, aproximately how heavy was that Montague/BionX combo?

    Thanks for the info man. I'm excited to read your report.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saltydawg View Post
    Which one did you run to the train station with and quickly fold- the Montague/BionX combo or the KHS Mocha?
    Neither--it was with my Dahon Mu SL.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltydawg
    Also, aproximately how heavy was that Montague/BionX combo?
    I don't know the exact weight, but I'd guess it was around 50 lbs. It was just the test model at the shop.[/quote]

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltydawg
    Thanks for the info man. I'm excited to read your report.
    I just got a call from the shop saying I didn't give them the key to the battery so they can't work on it just yet. Gonna look for it now...

  20. #20
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    Hey Saltydawg et al.,

    Decided to do a temporary install while I reordered the key so the bike shop was able to finish this afternoon. Here are my initial observations from my quick ride tonight:

    - The KHS Mocha is fairly light (maybe between 25-30lbs?--their website doesn't say) but I don't think I figured out how to fold it correctly. For some reason the handle bar sticks out a bit... The shop owner wasn't around when I picked up the bike and the guy filling in didn't really know either. Even so, the Mocha seems to be a slow folder to me. Apparently the pedals need to be positioned just so and the quick release/safety latches are a bit clunky. Also, the cables kind of "snag" on the frame's folding mechanism if you're not careful to move them. But other than that, it seemed to be a nice ride (but nothing compared to the Dahon). http://www.khsbicycles.com/09_mocha_08.htm

    - The BionX motor was awesome once I figured out that I needed to be very specific with my gearing. For example, when I come to a stop I usually leave the bike in a middle gear. Then when I'm ready to go I'll just put my legs into it to get up to speed. I found this wasn't such a good thing with the motor because it senses how much power you're putting into it and then boosts that depending on the power settings (35% to 300%). I literally did wheelies my first couple times--almost crashed into a wall, too. After figuring that out, it was really smooth and predictable. You still have to peddle but it's a regulated amount of effort you're putting in. Lastly, I gave the throttle a try... I probably freaked out the motorists who were going up the hill with me. And with the cush seat, it was a pleasure.

    If you're goal is to find an alternate mode of transportation that's eco-friendly, this is definitely one way to take care of that. I have no doubt you'll ride it everywhere you can. But if it's also to lose weight, it probably won't help too much in that department. That throttle has got "cheater" written all over it, LOL. But you know what? I feel a by-product of owning a bike is probably that you'll be walking around a lot more than if you were getting around in your car. And you do have to carry it around (as well as your backpack, bag, etc.) which accounts for some more calories burned.

    That's my 2 cents. I'll try to post a video or something in the electrics section.

  21. #21
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    Not sure it's available outside the UK, but there is the nano motor which is only about 2kg so by dumping the battery the bike returns to almost its weight without the electrics. It also installs in the front wheel so by swapping wheels you have a very versatile package. It can't go in the Dahon range though.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  22. #22
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    Salty, on the motor side of things the cost of properly setting up a lightweight system is going to be pretty high. You'll likely want lithium to complement the need of having an easily lifted folding bike, which starts at around $400CAD. The best motors to pick from in that category are the Nano/Brompton Nano, the BionX 250/PL250/PL350's would suit the application well, my particular preference for a folding bicycle would probably simply be the PL250. These aren't powerful motors at all in contrast to what others will put out, but they'll be more than enough to help level out your physical output and keep you from becoming overworked.

    There are other lightweight options to choose from such as those that use the bicycle's own drivetrain (Cyclone, Currie, eLation), these allow you to utilize the gearing on your bicycle too, which works out to good efficiency and performance - but these kits *do not* have the same sort of hardiness against the elements that a motor such as BionX will, and I would not personally suggest them for use in winter. Another reason that I would suggest a hub motor over a frame motor in this case, is that if you're working with a tight weight budget as you might be on a folder, the hub motor supports its own weight whereas the frame motor sits upon the bicycle and acts to put force downwards on the tubing itself.

    I don't have any personal experience with the Nano system, but i've nothing but praise for the BionX. These kits are very well made, very user friendly, and they're designed in a way that encourages exercise as opposed to using your e-bike like a lazy old scooter.

    I do have some input though: a half mile isn't a terribly large amount of distance to pull on a normal bike, let alone an e-bike, and batteries don't care if you've gone 2 miles or 40. 600 charges is 600 charges, and batteries lose charge on their own, they don't wait for you to go 2 miles 20 times.

    I don't personally feel that the situation really warrants the e-bike, but ultimately its your decision and i'll just provide input . You may also find that you'll be limited by some of these folders when it comes to doing errands, if you're already close to the carrying capacity. I would try and find one that has a good weight rating on it so that you can have a rack and some bags too if you want them. Potentially, you could run something like a Mu SL + PL250 and have a system weighing in at about 33lbs, but the weight limit on the system would be quite low.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abneycat View Post
    Potentially, you could run something like a Mu SL + PL250 and have a system weighing in at about 33lbs, but the weight limit on the system would be quite low.
    I just wanted to comment on this combo... I orignally wanted to go this route but you really do negate the Mu's weight advantage by putting on another 16 lbs (as others have mentioned in previous threads). I feel you reduce advantages such as folding ease and usage, extreme portability, and just the overall fun of bombing around town. And without modifications, the battery can only fit on the rear rack which further messes with the bike's balance--all 16 lbs are at the back wheel which is probably why I was able to do wheelies so easily on my KHS. I suspect it'd be even easier on the Mu. I plan to permanently mount the battery on the frame to help with this.

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