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Old 02-28-08, 12:34 PM   #1
oncenterstage
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Downtube Mini Questions

Hi Everyone

I'm new to the world of folding bikes and I'm curious about a few things. I also made a post "Newbee from San Diego looking for folder" so if you can add your insights or advice please feel free.

From all the Downtube models available, why isn't the Downtube Mini the least expensive? I noticed their 2008 full suspension and front suspension bikes are all cheaper than the Mini. I'd imagine the Mini to be the least expensive due to it using less "materials" because of its smaller frame. Also, it doesn't have some of the things that the other models have, such as a front suspension, fenders, kickstand, etc.

How "maintenance free" will this bike really be? I ask because I don't know how to fix anything and I just want a simple, fun bike to ride around in without the hassle of having to lube it up, make modifications, change parts, etc.

I noticed that new for the 2008 model there is an adjustable stem. What exactly is the stem? Does this mean that that I can change the height of the bike to accomodate taller riders? (I am 6 feet tall, 150 pounds and curious if the bike will be too small for me)

As stated earlier, I finally got the chance to try out a folding bike--Dahon D7 w/20-inch wheels and was very impressed. It was extremely comfortable. Is there a big difference in comfort as compared to 16-inch wheels?

How would you compare the "fun factor" between a 16-inch vs a 20-inch wheel?

When people speak of short rides vs long rides and the comfort level, how many miles is considered short? Long? I am curious because on shorter rides, things like ride quality, smoothness, comfort, having suspension and good tires, etc. don't become much on an issue, correct? (I think I'm obsessing too much about these things although ride quality is very important to me)

Lastly, now that the 2008 model is out, how does it compare to the 2007 and earlier models? Is it much improved with quality control, parts, comfort, etc?

Thanks in advance....I'm very excited about getting a folder. It's almost springtime--the perfect time of year to get a bike and start riding around town.
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Old 02-28-08, 02:27 PM   #2
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My 2c

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Originally Posted by oncenterstage View Post
From all the Downtube models available, why isn't the Downtube Mini the least expensive? I noticed their 2008 full suspension and front suspension bikes are all cheaper than the Mini. I'd imagine the Mini to be the least expensive due to it using less "materials" because of its smaller frame. Also, it doesn't have some of the things that the other models have, such as a front suspension, fenders, kickstand, etc.
Small wheels are difficult to market. Just as economies of scale work against folders in general, they're also working against the smaller wheeled variety. I don't know this for a fact, but I imagine that Downtube sells considerably more 20" bikes then they do Minis, which allows them to amortize more of the production costs. For the same reasons I also imagine the parts Yan sources from elsewhere (such as the 16" rims, a size which is most often found on children's bikes...which typically don't use quality parts) are more expensive. Despite requiring less materials, the fact of the matter is that the Mini is considerably more niche than it's bigger brothers and, thus, commands a premium.

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How "maintenance free" will this bike really be? I ask because I don't know how to fix anything and I just want a simple, fun bike to ride around in without the hassle of having to lube it up, make modifications, change parts, etc.
Although I don't have a Mini, I have a VIIIH and I can vouch for the fact that the 8-speed internal hub is pretty darn maintenance free. In fact, in my opinion it is much more maintenance free than most people even like to admit. People will tell you you need to lube the chain, but I think that's a bunch of bull (a habit held over from people used to using derailleur equipped bikes).


I'll leave the rest of your questions for someone that actually owns a Mini.

Last edited by makeinu; 02-28-08 at 02:36 PM.
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Old 02-28-08, 02:33 PM   #3
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Depending on your leg length, the Mini seatpost may be on the short side. What's your inseam? I'm 5'10 and the seatpost is about an inch past the max. I also put on a longer stem to increase seat-to-bar length.
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Old 03-03-08, 09:22 AM   #4
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I am 6' tall and habitually ride my Mini with the post hyper-extended by two inches or a little more. 32" inseam. I weigh 165 lbs. I have ridden the bike about 2500 miles like this. The longest single ride I've taken was 15 miles, farthest I've ridden in a day probably about 40 miles.

I know, I know, hyper-extending the seat post is probably a bad idea, but I have not found a workable alternative.

Rudi
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Old 03-06-08, 04:16 AM   #5
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try a longer stem this should help!!
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Old 03-06-08, 08:24 AM   #6
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I am 6' tall and habitually ride my Mini with the post hyper-extended by two inches or a little more. 32" inseam. I weigh 165 lbs. I have ridden the bike about 2500 miles like this. The longest single ride I've taken was 15 miles, farthest I've ridden in a day probably about 40 miles.

I know, I know, hyper-extending the seat post is probably a bad idea, but I have not found a workable alternative.

Rudi
A while back someone posted info about a product called the "butt buddy". I couldn't find the thread but found the seller's web site:

http://www.sidetrak.com/Catalog/components.html

According to the description, this seat adds 2 inches of height.
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Old 03-06-08, 09:10 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by JosephLMonti View Post
A while back someone posted info about a product called the "butt buddy". I couldn't find the thread but found the seller's web site:

http://www.sidetrak.com/Catalog/components.html

According to the description, this seat adds 2 inches of height.
Oh, yeah, I forgot about those! Price seems to have dropped, too; I guess I'll try it. --R
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Old 03-06-08, 02:46 PM   #8
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I have a 32 inseam also so I'm glad you replied. Why is hyper-extending the seat bad? I don't intend on making difficult modifications or upgrades to my bike......I want the bike to be simple............and the simplest solution is what I'm leaning towards.

Can someone please answer the question in my original post about the adjustable stem? Doesn't that make the bike a better ride for taller riders or did I misunderstand what the stem actually does?

And the butt buddy sounds nice...are those things easy or hard to install?

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I am 6' tall and habitually ride my Mini with the post hyper-extended by two inches or a little more. 32" inseam. I weigh 165 lbs. I have ridden the bike about 2500 miles like this. The longest single ride I've taken was 15 miles, farthest I've ridden in a day probably about 40 miles.

I know, I know, hyper-extending the seat post is probably a bad idea, but I have not found a workable alternative.

Rudi
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Old 03-06-08, 03:14 PM   #9
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I have a 32 inseam also so I'm glad you replied. Why is hyper-extending the seat bad? I don't intend on making difficult modifications or upgrades to my bike......I want the bike to be simple............and the simplest solution is what I'm leaning towards.

Can someone please answer the question in my original post about the adjustable stem? Doesn't that make the bike a better ride for taller riders or did I misunderstand what the stem actually does?
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And the butt buddy sounds nice...are those things easy or hard to install?
The stem is the piece that attaches the handlebar to the fork. On the 2008 model, you can raise the handlebar up and down to suit your riding comfort. In addition, you can change the stem length to give you more or less reach, again for riding style and comfort. These were not possible in the 2007 design.

On the seatpost length issue - when you say inseam of 32", do you mean that's the pant inseam length that you buy, or is that an actual measurement of you from your bare feet to your crotch? If it's your actual inseam (not pant inseam), then you won't have any problems with the existing seatpost. I have a 34" actual inseam and I extend the seatpost past the minimum mark by about an inch.

The reason people are nervous about extending the seatpost past the minimum insertion point is that you can ended up flexing the long seatpost and actually bend it. With your low weight, though, that's not much of a risk, either. I'm 6' tall and I love my Mini! It's my favorite folder out of the 5 I currently own, and I often say it's the last one I'll sell.
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Old 03-07-08, 11:14 AM   #10
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Why is hyper-extending the seat bad?
Well, using any product outside the manufacturer's guidelines tends to open you up to comments starting out "what kind of idiot are you to ..." especially if something goes wrong. For me, so far, nothing has gone wrong. I have hit bumps hard enough to blow out the rear tire once, and pop five or six spokes in the rear wheel (only one or two at a time, though). But I have not noticed much flex from the seatpost, and the seatpost still slides into the frame with no difficulty, suggesting no deformation has taken place. I'm cautious but not too worried.
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Can someone please answer the question in my original post about the adjustable stem? Doesn't that make the bike a better ride for taller riders or did I misunderstand what the stem actually does?
I don't have the adjustable stem, but I find the height of the older non-adjustable stem is just about right for me (or maybe an inch or two too high). If I had my choice, I would have the handlebar farther forward; but as far as I know, the adjustable stem allows you only to adjust the height, not the extension.

Where you put the handlebar is largely a matter of personal preference, depending on how you ride, how flexible you are, and so on. You can also get more extension by changing to a handlebar with more rise; somewhere's a picture of a member who did that.
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And the butt buddy sounds nice...are those things easy or hard to install?
Judging by the photos, easy. The seat comes off with a 6 mm allen wrench, nothing tricky about that.

By the way, I have so far failed to contact with the people selling the butt buddy, so haven't ordered one.

All in all I must say the Mini suits my needs very well.

Rudi
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Old 03-07-08, 12:06 PM   #11
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If I had my choice, I would have the handlebar farther forward; but as far as I know, the adjustable stem allows you only to adjust the height, not the extension.
The adjustable stempost lets you use a conventional mountain bike style stem on the bike. You can easily replace the stem with one which is longer or shorter if you want more or less extension. Here is a picture of my Mini with the adjustable stempost and a long stem (130 mm).

The adjustable stem has a quick release near the top which lets you raise or lower the adjustable part of the stempost. In the picture below I have the adjustable part as far down as it can go. You could easily raise it up a few inches more if you wanted to.

The Downtube Mini is a great bike, and I have been very pleased with mine.


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Old 03-07-08, 01:26 PM   #12
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One thing that I did not care for with regards to the adjustable handlebar post is that the angle of inclination is different from the regular stem making the reach shorter. So if you put on a 130 mm stem, you get less than 130 mm of extra reach.



EDIT: I am referring to the 2007 handlebar post.
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Old 05-01-08, 08:01 PM   #13
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Jur

Jur, how can it be that the mini is rated for up to 6'2" yet you, a 5'10" rider, still needs a longer seatpost? Are the advertised height ranges not accurate for many bikes or folding bikes or DT bikes?
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Old 05-01-08, 08:26 PM   #14
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Depends on leg length as well as personal preference - some people are OK with a lower than optimum seatpost while pootling along. I like to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the bike and my inseam is 34" (measured with book pressed up against perineum).

By the way, when considering riding with hyper-extended seat post, the problem is not that the seat post will bend or break, it is the frame that is threatened:

If the seat post is considered as a lever, the fulcrum of the lever at the seat post clamp, then the bit of seat post that is below the clamp exerts a powerful lever action against the frame.

For this reason, I am now using a telescoping seatpost to have a longer portion inside the seat tube.
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Old 05-02-08, 12:50 AM   #15
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I'd recommend the Mini 100%, it's a great bike. There is an excellent review on the Mini which also compares it to the Brompton in terms of folding size with pictures. It is a compact but very versatile bike. See:
Review of Downtube Mini with internal hub
Some would say it provides a better ride than the Brompton at a considerably lower price. Expert users like Jur have ridden the Mini off-road as well on trails, something the Brompton would struggle more with because its ride would be much rougher.

The higher price would be attributed to the higher sales and economies of scale of Downtube's 20" range as makeinu points out. Secondly it's a niche product in the same segment as the Brompton. This segment of the market tends to have a higher pricing point in terms of compact folding bikes. Also, it's arguably it's harder to tool and manufacture a hub gear system into 16" wheels and a smaller frame than on larger 20" wheel based folding bikes.

The example of childen's clothes is also a good one in that they have less material than adult clothes but cost a lot more because of market forces. In the end the Mini is till a competitive bike in the US and we only wish it could be available for purchase in the UK, and at a similar pricing point. If you want a fun bike with a compact fold for stowing and/or commuitng then pound for pound it's a winner and it 'boxes' well above its weight to use a fighting analogy.

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Old 05-02-08, 07:18 AM   #16
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Pine Cone:

Just wondering if you've had a chance to ride your mini around Seattle. I'm considering it and would love to bring it when I visit my brother there. I've lived in town (Fremont+Capital Hill) and remember well using the full range of gears on my mtn bike to get up and down the hills. Do you find the 8spd works well? I guess this question works well applied to any hills actually, not just Seattle's.
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Old 05-02-08, 07:58 AM   #17
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Wait... are there rack braze-ons on the mini? If (when) I buy one, I don't wanna have to use a seatpost mounted rack, as I will be carrying groceries on it.
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Old 05-02-08, 08:33 AM   #18
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Wait... are there rack braze-ons on the mini? If (when) I buy one, I don't wanna have to use a seatpost mounted rack, as I will be carrying groceries on it.
Yes, there are. However, you'd have to be creative to mount a rear rack on the Mini due to the hinged rear triangle (for the rear suspension). The rear triangle will move relative to the frame when going over bumps.

I've seen some creative solutions to this, I just can't remember which post. Someone used a "flexible" attachment to the seatpost, while bolting the rear rack on. I hope that person will respond to this thread and explain what they did.
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Old 05-02-08, 09:42 AM   #19
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Wait... are there rack braze-ons on the mini? If (when) I buy one, I don't wanna have to use a seatpost mounted rack, as I will be carrying groceries on it.
I tested out the Nashbar Front Rack -- that mounts on the cantilever studs -- on the Mini over the weekend. It worked find and has a 15 pound carrying capacity.

I have also used a Carradice SQR bag on the Mini. Also worked well. However, the mount will interfere with the fold.

The Mini is not particularly good at carrying stuff.
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Old 05-02-08, 06:13 PM   #20
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Someone used a "flexible" attachment to the seatpost, while bolting the rear rack on. I hope that person will respond to this thread and explain what they did.
That person is responding...





Shown here is that the rack is mounted on a little plate, but that was not necessary per se, I did it to get vertical clearance for the rack top back to go under the saddle bag.

The top mounting straps are included in the seat tube clamp - unscrew the clamp nut, extract the QR bolt, put the straps in and screw back together.

When the rear suspension moves, the rack moves vertically and the straps swivel at the seatpost clamp.
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Old 05-02-08, 06:27 PM   #21
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^^^^

The good Doctor Jur does not disappoint! Another well-devised solution!
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Old 05-02-08, 08:57 PM   #22
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I thought I read that a person could tighten a bolt on the rear suspension to essentially "turn off" the suspension?
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Old 07-30-08, 06:21 PM   #23
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hey Jur, just curious (as you seem to really know the Mini )... I'm probably going to get one and I'm wondering what types of mods (as inexpensive as possible?) you'd recommend; I'm thinking Big Apples and fenders (maybe rear only?) Thanks! (and anyone else is free to reply as well, of course!)
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Old 07-30-08, 06:45 PM   #24
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I replaced the stem (because the 2008 one is HEAVY) but assuming you get the 2009 one, it hasn't got a stem. I also did the handlebars (because I like them flat and because it wasn't compatible with a standard stem). This was an inexpensive thing to do; stems and bars can be had for $10 or even less each if you look out for good prices.

I put on Ergon grips; these are pricey though. Ones from BBB (called Ergo) are much cheaper and give the same comfort. Some neato small bar ends will give additional hand positions.

I installed Big Apples (from Thor) but ran the original tyres for quite a while. Nothing wrong with them except a but slower, but the Mini won't break speed records anyway. (To be sure, I set my record of 74km/h on the original tyres.)

I got some really inexpensive 16" mudguards (fenders in the US) from a local ebayer. The front is fixed with just the fork fixing, I didn't install the stays as it is hardly necessary for such a dinky guard. The rear was easy to install with just the front fixing point and the stays. I elected not to put in a 3rd fixing point, again it is hardly necessary. I did move the stays so that they are closer to the top of the mudguard instead of near the back.

Of course IMHO the most important mod is the Nirvana suspension mod - replacing the spring with a rubber cylinder. Bruce Metras came up with this idea first by installing a Birdy elastomer on his Mini. I used a rubber doorstop.
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Old 10-04-08, 11:52 PM   #25
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Does anybody knows what is the diameter of the Mini's handlebar? Thanks in advance.

Will this one work?
http://jensonusa.com/store/product/S...Ea70+Stem.aspx
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