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

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Old 02-26-08, 10:17 PM   #1
Abneycat
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New interest for a folder

Hey there. Yes, this is another one of those "bike recommendation threads" but i'm getting confused over these folding thingies.

I'm pretty much riding my Xtracycle 100% of the time now, my other bikes are off to their new homes soon. However, i'm finding that if the 'X has one weakness, its going anywhere its not being pedalled to!

I'd like to have a bike to take with me primarily on the Greyhound, in my girlfriend's car, and the C-train. Airline travel may only happen once every few years. A shorter budget for the folder as well, being a student and not wanting to spend too much on a bike that will be primarily an auxiliary option the budget is probably <$400.

The big thing i'd like the bike to be able to do is carry things. Having the ability to load some panniers on would be very nice. If racks aren't included, thats fine. Secondly, *if* a 26" folder isn't too big for convenience, i'd like that - but am not completely against a smaller option like a 20". Finally, capable of taking some hills.

So, i've researched a bit and come up with these:

Dahon Speed D7 (2007 model. Have seen some on eBay for $290) - the Speed seems like a nice bike at that price, possibly more value for the money than the 2008 Downtubes?
2008 Downtube 8H front suspension (I like the potential for the hub gear) or 2008 Downtube 9 front suspension
2007 Dahon Jack (26" option. I may go for this, if it isn't too bulky. $350 on eBay)

Has anyone got personal experience with any of these models, or feedback on the choices? I'm primarily asking because it seems that the Speed D7 is the only one around my area available for testing.

Any help appreciated,
thanks.
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Old 02-26-08, 11:13 PM   #2
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Here are some preliminary thoughts on the Jack:
Questions about getting the right frame size (Dahon Jack)

Fold is fast, and 5 seconds to fold it in half and go is not an exaggeration if you don't have to mess with the the handlebar or seat height.

The Jack has the requisite eyelets if you want to attach a rear rack. To attach a long front rack (as opposed to the short mini-racks from Nashbar), you'll need to use rubberized p-clamps or their equivalent.

Though I haven't attached any racks to this bike myself (thus grain of salt warning applies here), it looks as if, when folded, front AND rear racks would not make the fold ostensibly wider since it is the front and rear quick-releases resting against each other which determine the width of the fold; the legs of a rack would not extend beyond the width of the quick-releases. This assumes, however, you're going to fold the bike without the panniers and/or sundry bags attached. Racks would also make this bike heavier. As far as airline travel goes, you got me.

As with most folding bikes, including the ones you listed above, it would not be much trouble to attach full-sized rear racks, though front racks might be a different story. Also, for the bikes you mentioned, folding should not be a problem since you listed bikes which fold sideways; bikes which fold by putting the rear wheel under the frame would be more of a problem - i.e. Brompton, Birdy, Bike Friday, etc.

********

On another note, I won't be attaching my X to the Jack because I don't think the frame is rigorous enough. I thought about attaching it to a Peugeot mixte I rebuilt/overhauled, but after the overhaul, I like the mixte the way it is. I think I'll keep the X on it's current MB-6 frame. Just got a new Hebie bi-pod kickstand for it too because I'm tired of waiting for Xtracycle's version to come out.

Last edited by spambait11; 02-26-08 at 11:24 PM.
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Old 02-26-08, 11:45 PM   #3
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Its good to see that the Jack seems to be a decent bike.

The rear rack only should be fine for the Jack, could just use the panniers i've currently got which are perfectly adequate for going to visit someone in another city via bus/train. Being able to save on needing new tires and smaller panniers would be nice too.

I would guess that a bike of this size isn't really suited to hopping on a packed bus, and you probably wouldn't get it on a plane for free - but it should be fine for fitting in a car trunk, taking on the city trains, or on the greyhound right? I think thats the biggest concern at this point in time, the rest of the Jack looks really great.

Oh, and on the Xtracycle stand - I understand fully the stock stand is "okay" but it doesn't seem that its going to have a really long lifespan - wiggling a bit already. Too bad the Rocksteady is so expensive and doesn't mesh with the wideloaders.
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Old 02-26-08, 11:54 PM   #4
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Have you checked out the "REI's Novara Buzz Fly By - folding bike (by Dahon)" thread? If you have an REI nearby you could check it out. If you're an REI member (free) you save 20% until the end of March. That makes the Buzz $479.00 (the Dahon model is $900), just slightly over your budget but brand new and from a reputable store.
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Old 02-27-08, 12:09 AM   #5
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Have you checked out the "REI's Novara Buzz Fly By - folding bike (by Dahon)" thread? If you have an REI nearby you could check it out. If you're an REI member (free) you save 20% until the end of March. That makes the Buzz $479.00 (the Dahon model is $900), just slightly over your budget but brand new and from a reputable store.
I do like the look of the Fly By (especially the internal hub, but the whole bike looks like a good package!), but i'm not in the US, so the resultant cost would probably be over $575+ following the membership, shipping, tax and duty. Hoping to end up with a bike around $300-350, to fix the cost relatively within the $400 limit.
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Old 02-27-08, 02:03 AM   #6
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...but it should be fine for fitting in a car trunk, taking on the city trains, or on the greyhound right? I think thats the biggest concern at this point in time...
Car trunks are doable. Some trunks, like the one on my wife's car, will not accommodate the width of the handlebars in its folded state. To make it fit, I simply remove the front wheel and turn the bars sideways.

Our lightrail system would allow this bike on board folded.

If the dude at Rock the Bike could fit his full-size Xtracycle in the luggage holder of a Greyhound bus (albeit with some disassembly), I have high hopes for the Jack. (BTW, when transporting this bike while folded, it's a good idea to use the included velcro strap to keep the Jack together.)


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Oh, and on the Xtracycle stand - I understand fully the stock stand is "okay" but it doesn't seem that its going to have a really long lifespan - wiggling a bit already.
My kickstand mounting plate broke off after a couple months of steady use. Xtracycle warrantied it and sent a chainstay mounted Greenfield kickstand in its place. Still not the solution I'm looking for though.


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Too bad the Rocksteady is so expensive and doesn't mesh with the wideloaders.
That and the fact it's more than 1/4 of the price of a new Free Radical kit.
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Old 02-27-08, 02:15 AM   #7
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Well, it seems like i'm really being drawn towards the Jack. There's a small chance that Bow Cycle might have some to try out. I guess since the Espresso and the Jack share exceptionally similar frames (they might be the same?), there's a possibility that the Jack wouldn't be hard to fit a triple to.
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Old 02-27-08, 10:25 AM   #8
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Well, it seems like i'm really being drawn towards the Jack. There's a small chance that Bow Cycle might have some to try out. I guess since the Espresso and the Jack share exceptionally similar frames (they might be the same?), there's a possibility that the Jack wouldn't be hard to fit a triple to.
The frames do look remarkably similar. The Expresso has a hi-ten steel fork though.

The Jack's rear wheel hub can only accommodate 7-speed hubs. If you want 8-9 speeds, you'll need a new hub/wheel.
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Old 02-27-08, 11:07 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Abneycat View Post
I do like the look of the Fly By (especially the internal hub, but the whole bike looks like a good package!), but i'm not in the US, so the resultant cost would probably be over $575+ following the membership, shipping, tax and duty. Hoping to end up with a bike around $300-350, to fix the cost relatively within the $400 limit.
Sorry, I thought your "Location: Base of the Rocky Mountains" indicated you were in the U.S. You might want to clear that up.
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Old 02-27-08, 01:26 PM   #10
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We have Rocky Mountains here too.. But i'll specify that
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Old 02-27-08, 02:50 PM   #11
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Yeah, as soon as I posted, I thought "Maybe the Canadian Rockies?" If you're in Vancouver, the Bellingham, WA store is not far away. If you're further east, there are stores in Spokane, WA and Missoula, MT. Just tossing it out as a maybe - I know the Base of the Rockies is spread out and you may be closer to the Artic Circle for all I know.
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Old 02-27-08, 08:13 PM   #12
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Calgary in particular. Well, I went in to Bow Cycle today and tried out the Speed D7 and Helios (I didn't even know the Helios existed). They didn't have the Jack, which was a bit disappointing, but hey. In fact, aside from the Helios, all they really had were varying models of the Speed.

My impression was that the Speed D7 was fairly "meh". It would work fine, but when the rack is the most interesting part of the bike, it isn't exhilerating. At $290 off ebay though, it would be a very good value, its not exciting but its a very functional and complete sort of bike for the cost.

The Helios was pretty interesting, a more enjoyable and responsive ride: but it was over budget, and wasn't "complete", meaning it would push budget over even more.

Too bad it seems to be impossible to try out a Jack.
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Old 02-28-08, 02:50 AM   #13
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The 2008 Downtube is a much better bike than the jack. once those hub gears are tuned it rides superb and you can even change gears at lights when stationary. Very good front suspension too and I bring my on crowded overland trains in London folded.
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Old 02-28-08, 10:07 AM   #14
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The 2008 Downtube is a much better bike than the jack.
Do you say this from any kind of personal experience?
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Old 03-02-08, 01:37 AM   #15
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Just to be curious, since i'm still looking into the Jack but haven't managed to get on one to try out yet, does anyone have any other "under $500" folders/brands they can suggest looking at that I might've missed? Seems like Dahon and Downtube are the only ones worth looking at out there in that class.
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Old 03-02-08, 11:18 AM   #16
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Just to be curious, since i'm still looking into the Jack but haven't managed to get on one to try out yet, does anyone have any other "under $500" folders/brands they can suggest looking at that I might've missed? Seems like Dahon and Downtube are the only ones worth looking at out there in that class.
Those are the two most common that pop up on this site for value oriented offerings. The Xootr Swift is often revered on this forum as being a really nice bike (though I've never ridden one) and is marginally over that price point. The thing that always appeals to me in looking at these things are bikes that are engineered so that the frame is continuously formed without any joints. You will always have a stiffer more solid ride on a bike with no big joint in the frame as apposed to one that has a joint in the frame. Those big joints also add some weight. It may behoove you to double your price and look into a Bike Friday or for only a little more money the Swift or any other bike with no frame joint because that attribute is likely to perform better over time and offer a more solid feeling ride. Check eBay and Bike Friday's pre-owned area and you may do better on the price, too. When shopping for anything I tend to look at the pricier options as a better value if they are reviewed as much better products and likely to hold up longer. That goes for anything from TVs to Kitchen Knives to bikes. I cringe when I think of how many cheap watches I burned up over the years when if I had originally bought one good one that was more expensive, it would have actually saved me a lot of money. That's not to severely downplay the quality of the bikes you mentioned, just that I tend to doubt your grandchildren will be riding them. They very well may be able to ride your Bike Friday or Swift. My 2 cents...
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