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  1. #1
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    test ride impressions

    I took a trip to College Park Bikes in College Park, MD today and test rode a few bikes. Here are my impressions:

    Tikit- Very solid bike, although it had some stem flex. Rider position was way over the front wheel, which was a little scary. The fold was small and fast. However, I was surprised to find out the fold was also very finicky: if my timing wasn't just so when unfolding then the stem latch wouldn't catch right. I was also surprised to find out that the bike was very inconvenient to wheel around. Although Bike Friday presents the ability to roll the folded bike as a selling point, it seems that it's the least rollable folder I've ever used.

    Mobiky- This one was used and had a lot of loose parts. The fold was very quick and it had a nice long wheelbase, but the rider position was way over the front wheel like the tikit. I'd be interested in trying a well tuned new one, but the folded bike was just too big and heavy to be very useful and although it rolls when folded you have to steer it like when rolling a regular bike.

    Mu SL- The best of the bunch. It was built like a rock, very solid everywhere. Also extremely light, extremely fast, and (to my surprise) extremely comfortable. I was expecting the stelvios to give a rougher ride then the fat kendas on my Downtube, but they weren't rough at all. I jumped curbs, and tackled every pothole I saw as fast and as hard as I could, but the bike remained comfortable. Not sure if the bike was so comfortable because of the pantour hub, but my Downtube has a front suspension too and I don't think it helps much (of course, a cheap suspension fork is not a pantour hub). Rider position was much further behind the front wheel than any other bike here except the Speed P8, which quelled my fear of a face plant. Braking was also excellent, but the front wheel did lose traction when I took a sharp turn with hard front breaking...not sure if this was because of the pantour hub too. Finally, the fold, while not the smallest, was very quick and convenient. The latches were very well made (much better than the Curve D3 I tried last year) and quick and easy to use (not finicky at all). The bike also rolled well (no better than my Downtube, but much better than any of the other bikes listed here).

    Airnimal Joey- Nice bike, but not as fast nor as comfortable as the Mu SL. The rider position was also less behind the front wheel than the Mu, but not as bad as the Tikit or the Mobiky. I was expecting this to ride better than the Mu, but as far as I could tell the Mu SL was a better bike in every way. Obviously, this doesn't fold very well either (it's a packing bike).

    Speed P8- I took this out to compare it to the Mu. Even with wide Big Apple tires it was not as comfortable as the Mu SL. It was also slower and just didn't feel as rock solid. Not sure if the difference should be attributed to frame design, build quality, component quality, or something else entirely.


    Overall I was very surprised with my feelings about these bikes. I was expecting the Tikit to be the best fold, the Airnimal to be the best ride, the Mu SL to be the least comfortable, and the Speed P8 to be the most comfortable. Instead I felt that the Mu SL was the clear winner in almost every category with the best fold, the best ride, and the most comfortable. Quite frankly I'm baffled at what a great bike the Mu SL is and, in particular, how different various fold-in-half bikes can ride (Speed P8, Mu SL, Curve, Downtube, etc).
    Last edited by makeinu; 12-28-07 at 07:18 PM.

  2. #2
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu View Post
    I took a trip to College Park Bikes in College Park, MD today and test rode a few bikes. Here are my impressions:

    Tikit- Very solid bike, although it had some stem flex. Rider position was way over the front wheel, which was a little scary. The fold was small and fast. However, I was surprised to find out the fold was also very finicky: if my timing wasn't just so when unfolding then the stem latch wouldn't catch right. I was also surprised to find out that the bike was very inconvenient to wheel around. Although Bike Friday presents the ability to roll the folded bike as a selling point, it seems that it's the least rollable folder I've ever used.
    Hey Makeinu - I'm glad you got some test rides in on a bunch of different folders. I was surprised by your comments regarding the Tikit.

    I checked my bike and in my normal riding position the front wheel a lot more forward of my centre of mass than my Dahon. I'm riding a large Tikit - perhaps you were on a bike that was too small for you? I certainly don't have the feeling of being too close to the front wheel or risking going over the bars during hard braking. In fact one of the things I like a lot about the Tikit is the fact it fits like a normal size bike and I am stretched out vs. a much smaller cockpit on the D7.

    I'm also surprised by your comments on rolling the Tikit. I've carried a folded D7 a fair distance and I've tried to roll it as well - neither was a great solution. I've also tried to roll a Brompton using the wheels on the rear rack, but I found that only worked well for a short distance in a straight line. By comparison I've rolled the Tikit through a crowded mall, outside over curbs, up ramps, down stairs with ease. I haven't spent as much time trying to roll the D7 & Brompton so perhaps I'm missing something with those bikes that would make them easier to move about folded???

    I think your issue with the Tikit stem being finicky when unfolding the bike is due to a technique problem. When you hold the bike by the stem and seatpost to flick the folded rear triangle out the stem latch pulls naturally into the correct position every time without having to think about it. Did your test Tikit have the new or old cable/latch system? I don't have any stem flex in my Tikit, but I have the stem at its lowest position - not sure what it would be like if the stem was fully extended. I'm happy I was able to get a choice in frame size - rather than deal with a one-size-fits-all scenario. I like the large diameter and stiffness of the D7 stem, but not how it folds [requires dealing with 2 QRs + adjusting the bar rotation, the stem height and stem rotation - highly PITA].

    I'm glad you liked the Mu SL - I like the fact it has a bigger cockpit than my D7. If I'm lucky my local Dahon dealer will get one in I can test ride. I did test ride a Dahon Speed TR recently which also has bigger cockpit than the D7 and liked it quite a lot. If I had to replace my Tikit with a different folding bike I think the Speed TR would be my choice based on what I've ridden so far, but the fold and how you move it around folded seems far more cumbersome than the Tikit. The 50-406 Big Apples are great tires though. If there was one thing I'd change on the Tikit it would be the availability of 50-349 Big Apples and room in the fork/frame for them.

    Were you just kicking tires or are you looking to buy a Mu SL?

    How did you roll the Mu SL?
    Last edited by vik; 12-28-07 at 08:21 PM.
    safe riding - Vik
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  3. #3
    Seņor Mambo
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    You forgot to test ride a Brompton and a full-sized folder.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post
    I checked my bike and in my normal riding position the front wheel a lot more forward of my centre of mass than my Dahon. I'm riding a large Tikit - perhaps you were on a bike that was too small for you? I certainly don't have the feeling of being too close to the front wheel or risking going over the bars during hard braking. In fact one of the things I like a lot about the Tikit is the fact it fits like a normal size bike and I am stretched out vs. a much smaller cockpit on the D7.
    Yeah, I was thinking that I should try a large, but Walter recommended a stock medium for me and when I told the clerk what I thought of my ride on the medium Tikit he recommended I try the Mu SL.

    They also had a large tikit, a NWT, a pocket tourist, and they're expecting a few more bromptons soon. So I may take another trip sometime in the future to try these out.

    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post
    I'm also surprised by your comments on rolling the Tikit. I've carried a folded D7 a fair distance and I've tried to roll it as well - neither was a great solution. I've also tried to roll a Brompton using the wheels on the rear rack, but I found that only worked well for a short distance in a straight line. By comparison I've rolled the Tikit through a crowded mall, outside over curbs, up ramps, down stairs with ease. I haven't spent as much time trying to roll the D7 & Brompton so perhaps I'm missing something with those bikes that would make them easier to move about folded???
    Well, the thing about rolling Dahons/Downtubes is that it isn't advertised so no one tells you how to do it. If the brakes are adjusted too tight then they rub when the handlebars are folded (which pulls on the brake cables), so you have to adjust them carefully. You also can't put the handlebars between the wheels. Some models are configured this way by default and some aren't, but I think you should be able to setup any dahon/downtube so the handlebars fold to the side, to the front of the seat, or onto the rear rack. Finally you might need to adjust the strength of the magnet. In all fairness, the Mu SL came apart a bit when rolling because the magnet was a tad too weak, but the clerk told me it was possible to adjust the magnet on the Mu SL (of course he may have been full of it). My Downtube doesn't have a magnet, but since the handlebars rotate laterally I can set them so that the front wheel pulling away from the rear creates a torque on the handlebars to turn it back (when I get a chance I'll post a pick of this); So pushing the bike by the handlebars automatically holds the wheels in parallel. In any case, it takes some adjustment, but once they're adjusted Dahons/Downtubes roll rather well.

    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post
    I think your issue with the Tikit stem being finicky when unfolding the bike is due to a technique problem. When you hold the bike by the stem and seatpost to flick the folded rear triangle out the stem latch pulls naturally into the correct position every time without having to think about it. Did your test Tikit have the new or old cable/latch system? I don't have any stem flex in my Tikit, but I have the stem at its lowest position - not sure what it would be like if the stem was fully extended. I'm happy I was able to get a choice in frame size - rather than deal with a one-size-fits-all scenario. I like the large diameter and stiffness of the D7 stem, but not how it folds [requires dealing with 2 QRs + adjusting the bar rotation, the stem height and stem rotation - highly PITA].
    The Tikit had an old latch system and perhaps I wasn't doing it right.

    I also agree that the Dahon's with rotating handlbars are a PITA, but the Mu didn't have bar rotation (and I didn't bother with it on the P8).

    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post
    Were you just kicking tires or are you looking to buy a Mu SL?
    I was looking to buy a Tikit, but I fell in love with the Mu SL.

    However, I'm still considering a Pacific Reach Swivelhead once it is released. The level of comfort provided by the Stelvio tires and the Pantour suspension hub of the Mu SL gave me hope that perhaps the skinny tired (451 rims), fully suspended Pacific Reach Swivelhead could be the bike for me. If not then I very well might end up with a Mu.

    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post
    How did you roll the Mu SL?
    Used the seatpost as a handle and pushed it in front of me.

    Quote Originally Posted by spambait11 View Post
    You forgot to test ride a Brompton and a full-sized folder.
    They were out of stock on Bromptons and I don't think they had any full-sized folders. Plus there is only so much time in the day.

  5. #5
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu View Post
    I was looking to buy a Tikit, but I fell in love with the Mu SL.

    However, I'm still considering a Pacific Reach Swivelhead once it is released. The level of comfort provided by the Stelvio tires and the Pantour suspension hub of the Mu SL gave me hope that perhaps the skinny tired (451 rims), fully suspended Pacific Reach Swivelhead could be the bike for me. If not then I very well might end up with a Mu.

    Used the seatpost as a handle and pushed it in front of me.
    Well as much of a Tikit cheerleader as I am what really makes me happy is when someone says they love a bike - regardless of which make or model...

    Just a caution about the Pantour. I've read lots of posts by dissatisfied owners regarding durability issues. I haven't followed the topic closely, but unless you are 100% on the Pantour I'd spend a little time investigating them. Try a search on www.bentrideronline.com there seems to be a few folks on there that have used Pantour hubs.

    I tried using the seat on my D7 to move it around, but the whole process of getting it setup seemed awkward and kind of a hack vs. the way the Tikit folds and the handle lets you roll it around - even with the cover on.

    Your posts have got me thinking that perhaps I'm painting all Dahons with the same brush due to my D7 experience. I'll have to go down to my Dahon dealer and fold/roll all the Dahons they have on the floor.

    I'd like to try a fully suspended folder and see what the ride was like. I like the look of the Birdy's, but they're even more rare than Tikits or Bromptons where I live!
    safe riding - Vik
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  6. #6
    Life in Mono
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    Thanks for your post Makeinu .. It is refreshing to hear such an open minded comparison, and always fascinating when 'group assumptions' (and loyalties) are challenged. No wool on you

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simple Simon View Post
    Thanks for your post Makeinu .. It is refreshing to hear such an open minded comparison, and always fascinating when 'group assumptions' (and loyalties) are challenged. No wool on you
    +1

  8. #8
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Dahons generally don't roll very effectively, so I don't think it's worth the effort.

    I'm a little leery of Dahons in general, but I do think the Mu and the fancier Speeds will be a good blend of "small fold" and "good performance."

  9. #9
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    I used to own a Mu, and my first impressions of the bike were also good. But after owning it for some time, I found the hinges to be unreliable and the ride was very harsh for me. Much harsher than an aluminum road bike at 120PSI. At 85PSI, I had a snakebite flat. That said, this is based upon my experiences on the harsh streets of NYC. It would be a great bike to have here in Thailand, where the roads are in great condition.

    I think that Dahon has the best attention to component selection and design detail, but they aren't conservative enough with reinforcing the bike. The welds look acceptable (nothing near those on my hand built Birdy, but unlikely to brake). I never trusted the stem or the hinge, though, and couldn't get over that. Nor the harsh ride, which only increases the force on all of the bits.

    It may be that the new bikes may have overcome some of these problems. They are easy enough to fix with adequate reinforcement, and reports are that they are improved. At the end of the day, I'll take a few additional pounds of reliability.
    Last edited by pm124; 12-30-07 at 01:04 AM. Reason: Mistake

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by pm124 View Post
    I used to own a Mu, and my first impressions of the bike were also good. But after owning it for some time, I found the hinges to be unreliable and the ride was very harsh for me. Much harsher than an aluminum road bike at 120PSI. At 85PSI, I had a snakebite flat. That said, this is based upon my experiences on the harsh streets of NYC. It would be a great bike to have here in Thailand, where the roads are in great condition.

    I think that Dahon has the best attention to component selection and design detail, but they aren't conservative enough with reinforcing the bike. The welds look acceptable (nothing near those on my hand built Birdy, but unlikely to brake). I never trusted the stem or the hinge, though, and couldn't get over that. Nor the harsh ride, which only increases the force on all of the bits.

    It may be that the new bikes may have overcome some of these problems. They are easy enough to fix with adequate reinforcement, and reports are that they are improved. At the end of the day, I'll take a few additional pounds of reliability.
    Just curious, how much do you weigh? I'm 130 lbs and wonder whether or should expect to have less durability issues than most.
    Last edited by makeinu; 12-30-07 at 10:43 AM.

  11. #11
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    I am surprised by the tikit rolling poorly. Perhaps it is balanced a little differently than other folders such that it takes a little practice. Mind you, I have never seen one in person. So I am just speculating. I am just recalling some of the Bike Friday videos with the tikit being rolled.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=I4Z2wDEPJQA&feature=related

    The Mu is one of the Dahon bikes where I do NOT feel a flex during normal riding. When I tried it at College Park, I liked it quite a bit.

    I did like the Joey better than the Mu however.

  12. #12
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu View Post
    Just curious, how much do you weigh? I'm 130 lbs and wonder whether or should expect to have less durability issues than most.
    I'm 50 pounds heavier, and usually carry a load of 20-30 pounds. I don't want to exaggerate it's shortcomings; I think it is a great bike.

    I'm sometimes horrified by the stuff I write on forums. "I used to..." Am I that dependent on word processors?

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