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Old 01-13-08, 03:23 AM   #1
Mr. Smith
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I also would like advice...

I am very interested in a commuter bike to take to work and shove in the corner of the office. I'd like it to be very reliable/durable, easy to fold (not interested in a bike that comes apart, ie Ritchey), reasonably light, able to be ridden while well dressed, designed for more than just pedaling a mile or two and therefore fast, obtainable in the U.S., and with cost of no more than $1500. I have ridden a Dahon Caio and found it to be a comfortable bike in the right vein of what I want, but unconvincing for a long lasting reliable bike. I am pretty familiar with the Dahon line at this point. Am I wrong in thinking a Dahon won't hold up? If you are adamant about a particular Dahon model you have lots of experience with and would like to recommend, please do. Otherwise I am mostly interested in exploring what else is out there.
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Old 01-13-08, 03:37 AM   #2
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You might take a look at the Xootr Swift. Doesn't fold very small but still you can easily prop it against a wall when folded and it then takes very little floor space. It is a bike that has won a very loyal following - see the monster thread in this sunforum. It folds very easily indeed and is one of the lightest ones out there.

They come in at $679 and use standard parts so easy to repair or upgrade.
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Old 01-13-08, 10:59 AM   #3
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$1500 gives you a wide selection of bikes. Xootr Swiftfolder, Bike Friday, Brompton, Birdy, Downtube all come to mind.

How small of a fold do you need? Do you need to sneak it into your office?

Where are you? I suggest test riding as many models as possible.
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Old 01-13-08, 05:43 PM   #4
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$1500 gives you a wide selection of bikes. Xootr Swiftfolder, Bike Friday, Brompton, Birdy, Downtube all come to mind.

How small of a fold do you need? Do you need to sneak it into your office?

Where are you? I suggest test riding as many models as possible.
The Xootr certainly is a popular suggestion, isn't it? The youtube videos I've seen on it don't show it folding up very small... Whatever I get doesn't have to fold that small, but more than the Swift. I was happy with the folded size of the Dahon Ciao I played with. My bike is welcome at the office, but I would like to be able to tote it onto a bus or train with reasonable ease as well. I live in the Phoenix metro currently. All the bike shops I've contacted have to special order anything I've asked about, so I need to be reasonably certain from recommendations and research. Anything I buy will likely be non-returnable. Many of the dealers here will order Dahon. I haven't investigated Birdy, Brompton, or Bike Friday, but their websites return no Phoenix area shops. Is there a trade-show that might come through town I should know about that might allow me to see some of these bikes?

From my own looking around the Bike Friday Tikit and Brompton M seem to be nice bikes. I'm not crazy about the derailur on the Tikit (or any bike) and thought a hub bike made more sense for this type of bike, but the Brompton's hub is a little lame for the price and too limited at only 3 speeds. An Alfine or Nexus seem more appropriate. As long as the maintenance of the derailur is low, it would be fine though. Youtube shows the chain popping off some of these bikes when unfolded. Is Dahon awful? That seems to be what I can get most easily. Can anyone comment on the Dahon Mu XL or Jetstream XP? Do any of the other companies have a Nexus or Alfine option?
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Old 01-13-08, 07:05 PM   #5
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Dahons are definitely not awful. Except don't get me started on the handlepost hinge - IMHO they are awful, but with savvy that can be solved. Dahons have a bit of torsional flex ie side-side movement of handlebars wrt saddle, but most folding bikes have this to some degree. There are some notable exceptions, the Swift being one, Birdy another. My first recommendation if you want an excellent fold would always be Birdy, but you need a good wad of cash.

You can order a Swift with a Nexus from Peter Reich, he builds custom Swifts all the time for remarkably little extra. (I know you have said you would need a smaller fold, but still...)
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Old 01-13-08, 08:26 PM   #6
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"and therefore fast" Speed is more a function of the quality of the components. If you have the ability any top quality folder can get up to very high speeds, almost as fast as racing bikes. The problem is stabilty and safety of small wheeled bikes operating at high speeds.

"ridden while well dressed" You need fenders and an enclosed chain. Consider Strida (belt drive). Single speed but I have no problem doing 40 mi of reasonably smooth road on a Strida 3. Hilly terrain might be a challenge for you.

Dahon has very good quality parts. The parts are no reason not to buy Dahon. If you want to drop some $$$ then go Bike Friday. I like the Dahons with a suspension hub on the front wheel like MuSL. Dahon has a dedicated forum, post questions there too.

Having had small things like calculators stolen in the office I do not think a $1000+ bike is safe.
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Old 01-13-08, 08:37 PM   #7
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you need a MU XL Sport
will be availabale in March.... Nexus redline 8 speed, trigger shifters, comes with fenders, chaingurad..... than you add a Cane Creek ST or LT seatpost to the bike and you have a fast smooth riding lightweight bike
will cost you around 950 for the bike and another 150 for the seatrpost... and you set

http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/accessories/seatpost.htm

sure I am biased being a Dahon dealer .... at least I am easy to find and dont shy away of posting here ..
lol

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Old 01-13-08, 09:17 PM   #8
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Nice to see the ThudBusters available again.

Just one thing, Thor, on the given page you mention 9 possibilities for the LT version by mixing elastomers... I count 6 - 3 for same color and 3 for mixed color.
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Old 01-13-08, 09:31 PM   #9
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There are actually 5 different colors of elastomers. White (softer for lighter riders) and purple (firmer for heavier riders) are also available.

Looks like white gray, blue and black are available for the ST model seat (dual elastomer model).

Appears they add the purple elastomer to the mix for the one elastomer, ST model.

The color combos on the ST handle weights from under 45 lbs to 250 lbs.

We have ST's on all three of our bikes, including my Dahon S1 (single-speed) - they work great.
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Old 01-13-08, 10:29 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by brakemeister View Post
you need a MU XL Sport
will be availabale in March.... Nexus redline 8 speed, trigger shifters, comes with fenders, chaingurad..... than you add a Cane Creek ST or LT seatpost to the bike and you have a fast smooth riding lightweight bike
will cost you around 950 for the bike and another 150 for the seatrpost... and you set

http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/accessories/seatpost.htm

sure I am biased being a Dahon dealer .... at least I am easy to find and dont shy away of posting here ..
lol

Thor
How much will the MU XL Sport weigh? Can the Mu SL be fitted with fenders?
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Old 01-13-08, 11:07 PM   #11
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Dahons are definitely not awful. Except don't get me started on the handlepost hinge - IMHO they are awful, but with savvy that can be solved. Dahons have a bit of torsional flex ie side-side movement of handlebars wrt saddle, but most folding bikes have this to some degree. There are some notable exceptions, the Swift being one, Birdy another. My first recommendation if you want an excellent fold would always be Birdy, but you need a good wad of cash.

You can order a Swift with a Nexus from Peter Reich, he builds custom Swifts all the time for remarkably little extra. (I know you have said you would need a smaller fold, but still...)
I noticed on the Dahon Ciao the alignment of the front tire went out rather easily. Usually when it was folded or unfolded it went out and you would have to realign the handlebars with the front tire. Is that a common problem or did the dealer just not tighten something sufficiently.

The Birdy seems nice and within the allowed price, but what makes it stand out better than a Bike Friday which is made stateside and probably a little easier to get?
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Old 01-13-08, 11:15 PM   #12
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"and therefore fast" Speed is more a function of the quality of the components. If you have the ability any top quality folder can get up to very high speeds, almost as fast as racing bikes. The problem is stabilty and safety of small wheeled bikes operating at high speeds.

"ridden while well dressed" You need fenders and an enclosed chain. Consider Strida (belt drive). Single speed but I have no problem doing 40 mi of reasonably smooth road on a Strida 3. Hilly terrain might be a challenge for you.

Dahon has very good quality parts. The parts are no reason not to buy Dahon. If you want to drop some $$$ then go Bike Friday. I like the Dahons with a suspension hub on the front wheel like MuSL. Dahon has a dedicated forum, post questions there too.

Having had small things like calculators stolen in the office I do not think a $1000+ bike is safe.
What is the reason that you say Dahon is a quality bike, but still recommend Bike Friday if money is not an issue? I'm just curious if it's the engineering of the fold, the components, the support of a semi-socialist business model (something commendable in my opinion and Oregon all the way) or is it just that Bike Friday beats Dahon no matter what?

My office is very small and highly professional, so my bike would be quite safe. There are more valuable items than a bike in the office as well to tempt thieves.
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Old 01-13-08, 11:25 PM   #13
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you need a MU XL Sport
will be availabale in March.... Nexus redline 8 speed, trigger shifters, comes with fenders, chaingurad..... than you add a Cane Creek ST or LT seatpost to the bike and you have a fast smooth riding lightweight bike
will cost you around 950 for the bike and another 150 for the seatrpost... and you set

http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/accessories/seatpost.htm

sure I am biased being a Dahon dealer .... at least I am easy to find and dont shy away of posting here ..
lol

Thor
Do you know what the price/availability of the Dahon Mu XXV will be?
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Old 01-14-08, 07:58 AM   #14
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"The Birdy seems nice and within the allowed price, but what makes it stand out better than a Bike Friday which is made stateside and probably a little easier to get?"

Birdy has a full suspension system which improves the ride from it's small wheels. To make it more compact Birdy uses hard to find 18" tubes and tires. BF is the more standard 20"(BMX), and 16" (kids bikes). The 20" BF are separable, not foldable. BF Tikit(16") can be rolled about on it's wheels when folded, Birdy must be carried. Birdy requires proprietary fenders and racks, full coverage fenders are very important for a commuter bike, I think BF uses standard racks ect.

Some Dahons have a front suspension hub and a thudbuster suspension seatpost, people who I have talked to have said the suspension hub does do something.

Birdy is Aluminum, search forums for Al vs steel discussions.

BF seems to have a worldwide community of users, I am not sure if that is hype.

As far as wheel size goes if you have access to a 20" bike in your area ride it around, you will notice that roads feel noticably rougher than on a 26 or 27" bike.
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Old 01-14-08, 08:21 AM   #15
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How much will the MU XL Sport weigh? Can the Mu SL be fitted with fenders?
MU XL Sport - 12kgs, and the Mu SL will accept fenders.

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Old 01-14-08, 08:34 AM   #16
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are all friday frames made in the US or are at least some made in Taiwan... not that it matters to me as long as they are made in a reputable company over there ?

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Old 01-14-08, 11:49 AM   #17
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I think that picking a commuter is a tricky decisions between
  1. carrying stuff
  2. performance
  3. folding size
  4. folding speed
  5. fenders
  6. moving it while folded -- i.e., rolling the bike

Is it correct for me to assume that your rides are over mostly flat terrain such that a super wide gear range obtained by a front derailer is unnecessary?

Note that the ability to roll the bike while folded helps compensate for a heavier bike.

The Brompton is great for carrying stuff and achieving a quick compact fold. I think that its ergonomics and performance qualities are not so great; but it is the case that some people find it comfortable. For my taste, I think that it needs a height adjustable handlebar and and ability to get a little more length. Its gearing is limited. My wife loved the fact that -- after installing the skate wheels -- it rolled well while folded with the front luggage bag still attached. My opinion is from owning both an older Brompton and Merc.

I have ridden the full-suspension Birdy several times. Very comfortable and nimble. I would describe it as sporty but not really a performance machine. Never with racks. But I recall that the rear rack can fold with the bike. You need to carry the bike when folded. This was the kiss of death for my wife. The fold is a bit bigger and slower than the Brompton.

There have been some reviews of the Bike Friday tikit. There are some movie clips on Youtube as well. I have never seen a tikit in person. It is reputed to be a FAST but not so compact fold that rides and rolls well. In my experience, Bike Friday has great customer support.

I use my Downtube Mini as a commuter for days that taking Metro is a possibility. I modified it to perform better and give me better ergonomics. To carry stuff, I use a Carradice SQR Bag mounted on the seatpost. I believe that some people have installed a Nashbar front rack for extra carrying capacity. I put on Big Apples for a much improved ride over the stock bike. It also has an eight speed internal hub which makes me happy climbing Arlington's hills. Performance-wise it does fine but really is not in the same league as my NWT. It rolls OK. The fold is relatively compact ... more like the Birdy than Brompton.

You can also use the 20" Dahons and Downtubes as commuters too. They generally fold quick and ride fine. You can get good performance with modifications or one of the high-end Dahons. There was just a discussion on comparing the ride of 16" and 20" wheels. I personally think that the 20" wheels perform and ride better. Moreover, I think that on average they take street imperfections better which is more beneficial while riding in the dark. It isn't clear to me how well they carry stuff in a commuter setting nor fold with racks. The great thing about Dahons is that there are a lot of dealers such that you can test ride the bikes and try out the various accessories.

If I was spending your money ...

Since you mention multi-mode transport, I would stick with the smaller wheels.

The Brompton is a no-go for me because of the ergonomics and narrow drivetrain. So I would spend a lot of time investigating the Birdy and Bike Friday tikit. If you wanted to save some bucks then you might consider the Mini. But I do not think that you will be able to match the performance of the Birdy nor tikit. I would not worry too much about the derailer; but I understand the preference for an internal hub on a small wheel.
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Old 01-14-08, 01:54 PM   #18
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I think that picking a commuter is a tricky decisions between
  1. carrying stuff
  2. performance
  3. folding size
  4. folding speed
  5. fenders
  6. moving it while folded -- i.e., rolling the bike

Is it correct for me to assume that your rides are over mostly flat terrain such that a super wide gear range obtained by a front derailer is unnecessary?

Note that the ability to roll the bike while folded helps compensate for a heavier bike.

The Brompton is great for carrying stuff and achieving a quick compact fold. I think that its ergonomics and performance qualities are not so great; but it is the case that some people find it comfortable. For my taste, I think that it needs a height adjustable handlebar and and ability to get a little more length. Its gearing is limited. My wife loved the fact that -- after installing the skate wheels -- it rolled well while folded with the front luggage bag still attached. My opinion is from owning both an older Brompton and Merc.

I have ridden the full-suspension Birdy several times. Very comfortable and nimble. I would describe it as sporty but not really a performance machine. Never with racks. But I recall that the rear rack can fold with the bike. You need to carry the bike when folded. This was the kiss of death for my wife. The fold is a bit bigger and slower than the Brompton.

There have been some reviews of the Bike Friday tikit. There are some movie clips on Youtube as well. I have never seen a tikit in person. It is reputed to be a FAST but not so compact fold that rides and rolls well. In my experience, Bike Friday has great customer support.

I use my Downtube Mini as a commuter for days that taking Metro is a possibility. I modified it to perform better and give me better ergonomics. To carry stuff, I use a Carradice SQR Bag mounted on the seatpost. I believe that some people have installed a Nashbar front rack for extra carrying capacity. I put on Big Apples for a much improved ride over the stock bike. It also has an eight speed internal hub which makes me happy climbing Arlington's hills. Performance-wise it does fine but really is not in the same league as my NWT. It rolls OK. The fold is relatively compact ... more like the Birdy than Brompton.

You can also use the 20" Dahons and Downtubes as commuters too. They generally fold quick and ride fine. You can get good performance with modifications or one of the high-end Dahons. There was just a discussion on comparing the ride of 16" and 20" wheels. I personally think that the 20" wheels perform and ride better. Moreover, I think that on average they take street imperfections better which is more beneficial while riding in the dark. It isn't clear to me how well they carry stuff in a commuter setting nor fold with racks. The great thing about Dahons is that there are a lot of dealers such that you can test ride the bikes and try out the various accessories.

If I was spending your money ...

Since you mention multi-mode transport, I would stick with the smaller wheels.

The Brompton is a no-go for me because of the ergonomics and narrow drivetrain. So I would spend a lot of time investigating the Birdy and Bike Friday tikit. If you wanted to save some bucks then you might consider the Mini. But I do not think that you will be able to match the performance of the Birdy nor tikit. I would not worry too much about the derailer; but I understand the preference for an internal hub on a small wheel.
Thanks for all the help. I'm leaning toward the Bike Friday tikit. The Birdy is too hard to get and too heavy. I can get a lighter bike from Dahon for less money with similar features it seems, plus the odd size tires sound like a pain. Arizona has little annoying cactus spurs that puncture tubes constantly. I don't want to have to order special 18" tubes by the case. The tikit sounds like it was designed with my exact application in mind. If I go with Dahon, I'll buy the lightest bike they have and add fenders to make carrying it easier. No one here stocks anything but the cheapest Dahons. I'll have to special order and be stuck with a high end Dahon, so if ANYONE has experience with their high end bikes (ie Mu, Jetstream, etc.) I'd like to know about the experience. The rolling aspect of the tikit is clever. The Brompton is also difficult to get in Arizona and the 3 speed transmission is absurdly behind the times.
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Old 01-14-08, 02:07 PM   #19
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Thanks for all the help. I'm leaning toward the Bike Friday tikit. The Birdy is too hard to get and too heavy. I can get a lighter bike from Dahon for less money with similar features it seems, plus the odd size tires sound like a pain. Arizona has little annoying cactus spurs that puncture tubes constantly. I don't want to have to order special 18" tubes by the case. The tikit sounds like it was designed with my exact application in mind. If I go with Dahon, I'll buy the lightest bike they have and add fenders to make carrying it easier. No one here stocks anything but the cheapest Dahons. I'll have to special order and be stuck with a high end Dahon, so if ANYONE has experience with their high end bikes (ie Mu, Jetstream, etc.) I'd like to know about the experience. The rolling aspect of the tikit is clever. The Brompton is also difficult to get in Arizona and the 3 speed transmission is absurdly behind the times.
If you want a Tikit with an internal gear hub I'd call up BF and ask for one. They may or may not be close enough to having one available for your timeframe, but it can't hurt to ask.

You can get Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires in 35-349 for the Tikit. They should be fairly flat proof, but they are not a fast tire.
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Old 01-14-08, 03:47 PM   #20
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[QUOTE=Mr. Smith;5980885]I'm leaning toward the Bike Friday tikit. The Birdy is too hard to get and too heavy. QUOTE]

The Tikit would probably be a nice bike for you but won't it be mail order just like the Birdy and isn't it just a bit heavier than the Birdy?

Also, I'm curious as to why are fenders an advantage in Arizona? I think of them in association with rainy climates.

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Old 01-14-08, 04:53 PM   #21
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Thanks for all the help. I'm leaning toward the Bike Friday tikit. The Birdy is too hard to get and too heavy. I can get a lighter bike from Dahon for less money with similar features it seems, plus the odd size tires sound like a pain. Arizona has little annoying cactus spurs that puncture tubes constantly. I don't want to have to order special 18" tubes by the case. The tikit sounds like it was designed with my exact application in mind. If I go with Dahon, I'll buy the lightest bike they have and add fenders to make carrying it easier. No one here stocks anything but the cheapest Dahons. I'll have to special order and be stuck with a high end Dahon, so if ANYONE has experience with their high end bikes (ie Mu, Jetstream, etc.) I'd like to know about the experience. The rolling aspect of the tikit is clever. The Brompton is also difficult to get in Arizona and the 3 speed transmission is absurdly behind the times.
Why do fenders make carrying the bike easier?

Perhaps a trip to California is in order ... relish the ocean breeze during some test rides
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Old 01-14-08, 05:18 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by invisiblehand View Post
Why do fenders make carrying the bike easier?

Perhaps a trip to California is in order ... relish the ocean breeze during some test rides
I suppose I transposed my words... The weight of the bike being lighter would make for easier carrying since Dahon offers no means to roll it along folded. The lightest Dahons are stripped so I was indicating I'd buy something like the Mu SL and add fenders to it.

I was thinking I might plan a weekender up to Eugene or I suppose California is closer. LA is a hop skip and a jump away and probably has folding bike retailers.
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Old 01-14-08, 05:26 PM   #23
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[QUOTE=energyandair;5981561]
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Originally Posted by Mr. Smith View Post
I'm leaning toward the Bike Friday tikit. The Birdy is too hard to get and too heavy. QUOTE]

The Tikit would probably be a nice bike for you but won't it be mail order just like the Birdy and isn't it just a bit heavier than the Birdy?

Also, I'm curious as to why are fenders an advantage in Arizona? I think of them in association with rainy climates.

David
I was thinking neither are all that light compared to some Dahons, but dealing with a German company seems more complicated than a company in Eugene. I'm not crazy about the design of the front shock assembly on the Birdy, though it most likely functions well.

The sweetspot in Arizona is definitely the winter and it rains enough, though not as non-deserts, obviously. It is very dusty, however, and bikes without fenders tend to leave black pants looking rather dingy. When it does rain that dust turns into a sandy mud, so if I get caught in the rain at some point I'd rather not have that all over me. In the summer I doubt I will be biking much.
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Old 01-14-08, 07:30 PM   #24
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[quote=Mr. Smith;5982196]
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Originally Posted by energyandair View Post

I was thinking neither are all that light compared to some Dahons, but dealing with a German company seems more complicated than a company in Eugene. I'm not crazy about the design of the front shock assembly on the Birdy, though it most likely functions well.

The sweetspot in Arizona is definitely the winter and it rains enough, though not as non-deserts, obviously. It is very dusty, however, and bikes without fenders tend to leave black pants looking rather dingy. When it does rain that dust turns into a sandy mud, so if I get caught in the rain at some point I'd rather not have that all over me. In the summer I doubt I will be biking much.
The lightest Dahons are light for a folder but they quote weight without pedals and in the case of the MU SL they have ultra light Stelvio racing tires and a very light seat. By the time you add pedals put on puncture resistant tires and possibly change the seat, the difference in weight to a Birdy or a Tikit will be much less.

Yes the Birdy front end certainly looks different but there are good reasons for this.
- Firstly, it enables them to provide the comfort of a front suspension yet because of its anti dive geometry the suspension won't dip under heavy braking. Having come near to going over the bars with heavy downhill braking on my mountain bike, I really appreciate this.
- Secondly, it provides for a more compact fold without the difficulties associated with hinges in the main frame (flexing, weight and/or weakness)

Thanks for the explanation re the fenders.

David

Last edited by energyandair; 01-14-08 at 09:01 PM.
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Old 01-14-08, 07:52 PM   #25
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Black Dog cycles in the US sell Birdys and get good feedback...
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