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Old 11-29-07, 05:03 PM   #1
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Newbee from San Diego looking for folder

Hello Everyone

I recently found an urge to buy a folding bike and I need help choosing one. I love the idea of having a bike in the trunk of my car that I can take out and go riding whenever I feel like it. Some things I'm particularly looking for in a bike are comfort, durability, something requiring low to no maintenance, and one under $500. Ohh yeah, a slick, cool looking bike that will turn heads wouldn't hurt either. I imagine my rides will usually be short, leisurely joy rides around the park, lake, neighborhood, town, etc., with the occasional longer ride (possibly even a 15 mile ride to work). I am 6 feet tall and 155 pounds.

I recently found out about folding bikes and they've been on my mind ever since. The idea of being able to get away from it all (on a bike), even if just for a while sounds really good. Being from San Diego, I realized that people drive EVERYWHERE, even if they can walk. I also like to walk and find a certain sense of beauty and relaxation when walking. I want to recreate those feelings with biking. Plus, in that always curious mind of mine, I love being able to explore new places and to head out into the horizon whenever I feel like it.

All advice is appreciated, thanks.
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Old 11-29-07, 05:31 PM   #2
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You've come to the right place for advice. Ppl here are very friendly and very free with advice.

I would encourage you to do a search in this subforum, as your sort of question comes up very regularly. There is a wealth of info already. (Having said that, the search function doesn't work for me. Dunno why.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by oncenterstage
Some things I'm particularly looking for in a bike are comfort, durability, something requiring low to no maintenance, and one under $500. Ohh yeah, a slick, cool looking bike that will turn heads wouldn't hurt either. I imagine my rides will usually be short, leisurely joy rides around the park, lake, neighborhood, town, etc., with the occasional longer ride (possibly even a 15 mile ride to work). I am 6 feet tall and 155 pounds.
Comfort - that depends on the bike fitment - it must fit you, ie the saddle height must be just right, fore-aft must be right, handlebars must be right inside your comfort zone. Are you a regular rider or a newbie? that will determine whether you want an upright or more forward leaning posture.
Durability - Most bikes would not really be a problem for the sort of riding you have in mind. You can even buy a cheapie and upgrade some of the parts for better performance.
Under $500 - there is a good range to choose from by Dahon (although I am leery of the handlepost hinge) and also Downtube.
Low to no maintenance - hub gears are usually lower maintenance than derailer equipped bikes.
Slick, cool looking bike that will turn heads - you're talking about a Downtube Mini here. There is a monster thread here on that bike. The Dahon Curve also fits right into that desciption. I have some doubt on both counts whether they'll be good for 6'.
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Old 11-29-07, 06:21 PM   #3
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Hello Everyone

I recently found an urge to buy a folding bike and I need help choosing one. I love the idea of having a bike in the trunk of my car that I can take out and go riding whenever I feel like it. Some things I'm particularly looking for in a bike are comfort, durability, something requiring low to no maintenance, and one under $500. Ohh yeah, a slick, cool looking bike that will turn heads wouldn't hurt either. I imagine my rides will usually be short, leisurely joy rides around the park, lake, neighborhood, town, etc., with the occasional longer ride (possibly even a 15 mile ride to work). I am 6 feet tall and 155 pounds.

I recently found out about folding bikes and they've been on my mind ever since. The idea of being able to get away from it all (on a bike), even if just for a while sounds really good. Being from San Diego, I realized that people drive EVERYWHERE, even if they can walk. I also like to walk and find a certain sense of beauty and relaxation when walking. I want to recreate those feelings with biking. Plus, in that always curious mind of mine, I love being able to explore new places and to head out into the horizon whenever I feel like it.

All advice is appreciated, thanks.
Hello and Welcome!

Check out my Web site series on the World Of Folding Bicycles below:
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Old 11-29-07, 07:17 PM   #4
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Low to no maintenance - hub gears are usually lower maintenance than derailer equipped bikes.
Slick, cool looking bike that will turn heads - you're talking about a Downtube Mini here. There is a monster thread here on that bike. The Dahon Curve also fits right into that desciption. I have some doubt on both counts whether they'll be good for 6'.
Bingo! +1

I'm 6' tall and ride a Mini. It's the favorite of my 5 folders. For your application, it sounds perfect.
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Old 11-30-07, 10:07 AM   #5
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A Dahon 20" would do nicely. The Speed P8 is very classy or if too expensive the Speed D7.

I wouldn't worry about hub gears, I've never done more than occasionally clean/lube the chain on a derailleur. Some people reported problems with hub axle creep as the position is very critical whereas the tensioner on deraileurs takes away that hassle.
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Old 11-30-07, 11:01 AM   #6
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I'm up in Orange County. I've got a Downtube FS IX that would probably be similar to what you're looking for. I'd give to the chance for a test spin if you were ever in this direction, but my nephew has it at Camp Pendleton right now.

I've never owned a 16" wheeled bike. In terms of the fold size, they're hard to beat, that's for sure. It seems like there has to be issues on actually riding them, though. I just can't see how they'd ride as good as a 20", but many people really like them, so what do I know?? I like my 20" wheeled Downtube for what it is. You could throw it in about any car trunk without too much drama. I've had it literally from 1 end of the country to the other. There are some improvements that I would recommend if you're going to ride it a lot, but if you're not, then I'd say keep it absolutely stock.

15 miles would be about an hour ride for me on my Downtube. I'm not sure if people feel their Mini is slower than a 20" bike. If you can be in the saddle an hour, which isn't really that long, then either one would probably serve your purpose. I will say that if I were going to do that ride often, I'd probably get a dedicated commuting bike. Maybe not something expensive, but a full sized bike would probably end up more comfy and a bit faster. If you're only going to do it once a month or so, a folder would be fine.

I would also recommend a hardtail or NS model of the Downtube. From my experience, the full suspension thing is a little bit more of a gimmick than a necessity and it causes some other problems. I can't say that I'd recommend the hub. I've never owned one, but I'm not convinced the extra money is warranted vs. the cassette.

Good luck.
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Old 11-30-07, 11:55 AM   #7
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You would be very well served by any 20" bike like the Downtubes or Dahons. However, if you are not planing on winning the Tour the France or any cicling event, I would consider compromising a little bit of performance and include the 16"bikes like the Dahon Curve or the Downtube Mini on your list of potential candidates. For your current scenario, a 16" bike will not offer you a lot of advantages if compared to a 20" one. However, 16" bikes are A LOT nicer to pack and travel by plane, you can fit 2 on most trunks and (just based on this two examples) they do open a nice new tree of options for your future cicling plans.

For a little bit over US$500.00, you can have a Downtube Mini delivered at your place + some Local Bike Shop upgrades (like a more sophisticated saddle and upgraded stem for a more roomy cockpit). That would be my final recomendation for your budget.

Good luck on your final decision.
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Old 11-30-07, 01:08 PM   #8
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If you've got enough room in your trunk and are willing to pay a bit more...You'll likely fine the ride quality and performance of a standard Xootr Swift to be very nice. (My wife and I each have one and keep them in the trunk...all year around (probably not the best think to do...but it's what we do.)
http://www.xootr.com/xootr/swift/bikes.shtml
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Old 11-30-07, 03:09 PM   #9
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Speed D7 all the way.
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Old 11-30-07, 04:28 PM   #10
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Hey everyone

Thanks for all the great information. Keep the posts coming as I'm constantly finding out more and more about all the portables out there. The reality is that I'll probably only be using my bike at most once a week as a recreational/joy riding bike along paven, flat surfaces. A major thing about getting this bike is that I want to keep it in the trunk of my Honda Civic and not have to worry about it, ie. after leaving it in the trunk for a few weeks, I could take it out and it'll perform as well as if I have just ridden it before. Is it bad if I left the bike in the trunk of my car for extended periods of time?

A little more about my lifestyle is that I do like to remain active. I work out at the gym twice a week, and after I get a bike, the idea came to me that instead of running on the treadmill, I can ride my bike and enjoy the outdoor serenity and beauty that it offers, while also getting a good exercise, so I may be riding my bike more than I thought.

So, the things I want most are comfort, sleekness or "cool" factor of bike, durability, and low/no maintenance.....oh and the idea of small and compact is the reason why I want a portable in the first place so I definitely want a 16" or 20" wheels. I'm sure there are tradeoffs, but I wish I could have it all
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Old 11-30-07, 05:28 PM   #11
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I like the Dahon D7, got it for $320 on ebay new. It has 7 gears, but I really only use three or four . Very well built and lots of nice features.
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Old 12-02-07, 03:29 PM   #12
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Hey everyone

Thanks for all the great information. Keep the posts coming as I'm constantly finding out more and more about all the portables out there. The reality is that I'll probably only be using my bike at most once a week as a recreational/joy riding bike along paven, flat surfaces. A major thing about getting this bike is that I want to keep it in the trunk of my Honda Civic and not have to worry about it, ie. after leaving it in the trunk for a few weeks, I could take it out and it'll perform as well as if I have just ridden it before. Is it bad if I left the bike in the trunk of my car for extended periods of time?

A little more about my lifestyle is that I do like to remain active. I work out at the gym twice a week, and after I get a bike, the idea came to me that instead of running on the treadmill, I can ride my bike and enjoy the outdoor serenity and beauty that it offers, while also getting a good exercise, so I may be riding my bike more than I thought.

So, the things I want most are comfort, sleekness or "cool" factor of bike, durability, and low/no maintenance.....oh and the idea of small and compact is the reason why I want a portable in the first place so I definitely want a 16" or 20" wheels. I'm sure there are tradeoffs, but I wish I could have it all
I don't think you will experience any major problems with storing your bike in your car's trunk. I would have a pump with it to keep the tires properly inflated. And I would bag it completely to protect it from dirt, debris, scratices and dings when you place it in/out of the trunk.
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Old 12-02-07, 05:25 PM   #13
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After the updated information, I would suggest Downtube Mini or Dahon Curve as my final candidates.
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Old 12-02-07, 05:51 PM   #14
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The very best thing you could do at this stage is test-ride a Downtube Mini and a Dahon Curve - the 2 16" bikes that have now been suggested by several posters. During the test ride, concentrate on the quality of the ride, and how comfortable it feels. Bear in mind that certain parameters can be adjusted if they are not right off the bat for you, to avoid eliminating one or the other candidate erroneously. Such as saddles which are highly individualistic.

Dealer stock is probably low right now so you may have to resort to begging here for someone who lives in your vicinity.
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Old 12-03-07, 01:01 PM   #15
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Hey thanks for the informative responses........ahh so many choices but I kinda narrowed it down....still open to suggestions though...........now the issue on my mind is whether to go for the 16 inch or 20 inch wheels.....I like the idea of riding a 16 incher because they look compact and sleek and then was really leaning towards a 20 incher because I hear they are much more comfortable and the ride will feel much more smooth than a 16 incher, considering I am 6 feet tall....................................and then now (according to the posts) it seems as if I should go for a 16 incher.........hmmm I'd love to hear of the experiences of ppl around my height and weight who have had different bikes and what they think of them......ahhhhh the dream of the perfect bike
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Old 12-03-07, 01:38 PM   #16
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I have to say, the 16" guys make a pretty good argument for the little wheels. You wrote later in the thread that the bike was more for running about the beach and less for a 15 mile ride to your job. Taking that into account, the 16" looks better and better.

FWIW, on my 20"-er, I'm not cramped in the least. It's not a big deal at all that it's a folder. I'm shorter than you, but it's at least a data point. Don't expect to be riding all folded up just because you're on a folder.
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Old 12-04-07, 04:37 PM   #17
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Hey thanks for the informative responses........ahh so many choices but I kinda narrowed it down....still open to suggestions though...........now the issue on my mind is whether to go for the 16 inch or 20 inch wheels.....I like the idea of riding a 16 incher because they look compact and sleek and then was really leaning towards a 20 incher because I hear they are much more comfortable and the ride will feel much more smooth than a 16 incher, considering I am 6 feet tall....................................and then now (according to the posts) it seems as if I should go for a 16 incher.........hmmm I'd love to hear of the experiences of ppl around my height and weight who have had different bikes and what they think of them......ahhhhh the dream of the perfect bike
I started out with 20" wheels, and now I am converted to 16" bikes. For the type of general riding I do on the folding bikes (on paved roads), there is no difference in ride/comfort between 20" and 16" wheels, and the smaller folded size is a bonus.

I now have 5 folders, and the 16" Mini is my favorite one. The construction is solid, the internal 8 speed hub is wonderfully convenient, the ride is great (after 15 minutes of getting used to the twitchier handling), the fold is small.

To settle your mind about 6 footers riding the Mini, here's a picture of one with a dashing 6 ft tall rider.


Here's a picture of it folded:


Here's a picture of it looking cool in its natural habitat:


If you don't mind external derailleurs, the 2007 Capreo model is available for $379 (after coupon). I think that's a great deal.
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Old 12-04-07, 05:00 PM   #18
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The Mini is a nice bike. I like it since it has the best gear range of the 16" wheeled bikes. Although at 6', you will probably have to diddle with the seatpost to get enough extension. Sesame used a wooden dowel to get a little more height. At first, I used the Sidetrak Butt Buddy; but now I simply built a telescoping seatpost. Sesame and I are both 6' tall. If you go with the Mini, I would also invest in a set of Schwalbe Big Apples.

However, I do think that all things equal, the 20" wheel bikes are more comfortable and sporty. Sticking with Downtubes for the moment, the wheelbase of the 20" models is quite a bit longer than the 16" models. My bet is that stock, the 20" wheel bike's cockpit is a better fit for you.

http://www.downtube.com/Folding_Bike_Comparison_Chart/

The 16" wheel bikes are obviously more compact. I generally recommend them to people who need to bring the bike onto public transportation, sneak them into their office, or can really take advantage of the compact fold. Otherwise, I imagine that your trunk is more than large enough to store a 20" wheel bike.

Internal hubs are fine, but my preference for 20" wheels is the more simple derailer. In my opinion, derailers are
  1. lighter
  2. easy to fix
  3. cheaper
  4. better shifting
  5. very reliable
  6. and ubiquitous.
Moreover, you will have a larger selection of quality tires to choose from if you go with the 20" ERTO 406 wheels.

I have not kept up with the Dahon models. But for the typical rider, they do quite well and have a better support network than Downtube. But if you like to tinker, the Downtubes are a better value in my opinion.
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Old 12-05-07, 02:42 PM   #19
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Ohhh boy....those are some amazing pictures wow....they are all really good and I love the look of the mini bike....it looks so compact, sleek, and cool.........but I have to admit 6 footers in those tiny bikes does look a bit funny at first.......I'm assuming a lot of people stare and laugh......just because that's not something you usually see.........but ohhh boy those bikes sure look like a fun ride.

I don't know but the more I look at how small the bike is with the rider on it, it looks almost too compact and somewhat uncomforable....is it? I can also see how the mini bike is good for short 1 mile commutes where comfort shouldn't be an issue, but I wonder how comfortable or unstraining on the body it is if you ride say 20 miles on it (10 miles each way).....can anybody comment?

Also, the last poster mentioned diddling with the seatpost for taller riders.........what exactly are my options to make it a more smooth ride? And about the schwalbe big apples......I assume they're tires?.....how much do they cost and are they easy to put on?
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Old 12-05-07, 04:26 PM   #20
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I have a Mini and I regularly commute with it. In fact I commuted with it for a few weeks every day. My commute is 57km round trip. If the bike fits your body while you are sitting comfortable on it, then the rest is a non-issue. Fit dominates all.

I am not limited to those distances either. Im am completely sure that I can spend literally whole days riding it with no 'effects' that I wouldn't get on my other bikes. In fact I am going on a 3 week holiday overseas and to stay in shape for a big ride in January, I am taking my Mini along and will train on it doing multi-hour rides.

Just one observation, my Mini is 5-10% slower than my other bikes, at this stage I am still not sure why this is so. I think tyres are a major reason. But it's not bothering me, it wasn't designed for speed.

You must be able to bear stares, smiles, boys calling out 'cool bike!' and be ready with explanations that 'no, the small wheels don't make it harder to pedal. It makes it more fun.'

IMHO YMMV.
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Old 12-05-07, 04:36 PM   #21
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I don't know but the more I look at how small the bike is with the rider on it, it looks almost too compact and somewhat uncomforable....is it? I can also see how the mini bike is good for short 1 mile commutes where comfort shouldn't be an issue, but I wonder how comfortable or unstraining on the body it is if you ride say 20 miles on it (10 miles each way).....can anybody comment?

Also, the last poster mentioned diddling with the seatpost for taller riders.........what exactly are my options to make it a more smooth ride? And about the schwalbe big apples......I assume they're tires?.....how much do they cost and are they easy to put on?
I have done 20-30 mile rides on my modified Mini. Works fine. But, IMO, the 20" does a better job.

Check out the Downtube Mini thread for the seatpost modifications.

The Big Apples do a great job for a smooth quick ride. You can hack the seatpost and put in a suspension seatpost; but it is overkill given the rear suspension. There are also saddles with springs.

Tires are easy to change ... thorusa.com and gaerlan.com sell the tires.
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Old 01-04-08, 02:36 PM   #22
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Hey everyone

I need to treat myself to something special this new year's and I've been dreaming about riding a nice foldable bike. I finally narrowed it down to either a downtube mini or dahon curve. I work in Sorrento Valley and went to the performance bicycle place off Sorrento Valley Road wanting to test drive a foldable bike, but was surprised they don't carry any in stock. Does anyone know of any places in San Diego to test ride foldable bikes? Or does anyone want to let me test ride their's?
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Old 01-05-08, 12:42 PM   #23
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Hey everyone

I need to treat myself to something special this new year's and I've been dreaming about riding a nice foldable bike. I finally narrowed it down to either a downtube mini or dahon curve. I work in Sorrento Valley and went to the performance bicycle place off Sorrento Valley Road wanting to test drive a foldable bike, but was surprised they don't carry any in stock. Does anyone know of any places in San Diego to test ride foldable bikes? Or does anyone want to let me test ride their's?
I bought one of my folding bikes in Oceanside. Perhaps it might be worth the shorter drive than mine to visit this shop and test ride one of the bikes there. Here is the address:

Folding Bikes West 220 Wisconsin, Oceanside, CA 92054
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Old 01-05-08, 12:46 PM   #24
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Hey everyone

I need to treat myself to something special this new year's and I've been dreaming about riding a nice foldable bike. I finally narrowed it down to either a downtube mini or dahon curve. I work in Sorrento Valley and went to the performance bicycle place off Sorrento Valley Road wanting to test drive a foldable bike, but was surprised they don't carry any in stock. Does anyone know of any places in San Diego to test ride foldable bikes? Or does anyone want to let me test ride their's?
I bought one of my folding bikes in Oceanside. Perhaps it might be worth the shorter drive than mine to visit this shop and test ride one of the bikes there. Here is the address:

Folding Bikes West 220 Wisconsin, Oceanside, CA 92054

and their webpage for Dahons: http://electricvehiclesnw.com/fbw/dahon.htm

I bought my Brompton from them over 2 years ago and could not be happier with the bike or the shop. Do stop by and see it for yourself. I had to travel over 90 miles from my residence to the shop.
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Old 01-08-08, 03:17 PM   #25
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Ok, I'll check this place out when I can. Are there any other bike stores in San Diego where you can try out a folding bike? Sheesh, they seem hard to come by. Or what if, say, I wanted to try out a downtube? I think I heard there aren't any retailers here in CA, weep weep.
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