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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 03-02-08, 09:02 AM   #1
RangerScott
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Looking for advice

With the cost of gas rising, I'm thinking about buying a bicycle. I was thinking about getting a folding one, due to the fact I live in a rented room in a single family house (space is at a premium). I was looking at the Dahon Jack, seemed nice. But I would like some advice/input.

Is the Dahon Jack (or Dahon in general) a good bike??
Can the Dahon Jack handle trails??? (not hardcore but like the Great Allegheny Passage???)
One of the things I'm looking for is a "bug out" vehicle, could Dahon take that kind of punishment??? Any ideas on what modification a bike would need???
Is is comfortable??? So I can ride it to the Park & Ride, to the bus to get to work???

Any advice is greatly appreciated,
Scott
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Old 03-02-08, 09:32 AM   #2
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Consider if you will use public transportation. If so get a 20" folder like the downtubes
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Old 03-02-08, 10:47 AM   #3
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What's your weight? I'm a big guy and I researched folders and found out that low end ones tended to have a 225 lb weight limit, or something in that range, which means if I'm carrying stuff for work I'm at or over the limit. Presumably for bus commuting you want something that folds fast and small. Remember to include the cost of the carrying bag in your calculations.

Depending on your riding style and experience you may not feel comfortable on some folders - they may have a very upright riding position and low bottom bracket (pedals very close to the ground) so they would not be good on uneven terrain or longer rides - they are really intended for short urban use. Be sure to test ride a few and see how they feel. If you are used to stretching out and getting low on a full sized bike you may feel cramped on some folders, although some, like Bike Friday and Swift can replicate full sized geometry.

As an alternate or in addition to a folder, you could always buy a cheap used full sized bike and lock it outside.
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Old 03-02-08, 03:04 PM   #4
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Gee I never thought of that, I'm 185, with my backpack, ~220. According to Dahon, the max weight for the Jack is 230. I wonder if I can put my backpack on some sort of rack if that would help???

Thanks,
Scott
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Old 03-02-08, 03:39 PM   #5
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If you plan on riding the bus (presumably a bus without a front bike rack, but one where you would need to take the bike in the passenger cabin), then a 26" wheeled bike like the Jack is pretty much out of the question.

You might be able to swing it with a 20" wheeled folder if the bus is fairly empty (which it may very well be as I'm guessing you're in a fairly rural area), but I think most people with multimodal folding bike experience would strongly recommend 16" wheels or smaller for bus usage.

Unfortunately I can't comment on bike trails as I've never ridden on one and I don't know what a "bug out vehicle" is.

Last edited by makeinu; 03-02-08 at 03:53 PM.
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Old 03-02-08, 06:47 PM   #6
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Actually, I wasn't thinking about taking it on a bus. I can lock it up at the "Park and Ride". Hopefully, it won't get stolen. Any advice on locking down a folding bike??? I would think it would be easier (or more secure.)

Actually, I'm in the suburbs (fairly urban). BTW, A "Bug out bag" is the gear that you would take in the event of a worst case, wherein you would only have one trip "Out of Dodge." I didn't want to get into it here (about the coming darkness).

What I'm looking for is a happy medium: I can get around town and to the bus to get to work and get out of dodge when I have to. I estimate I have to ride ~200mi to safety (I estimate it would take ~4-5 days).

Thanks in advance,
Scott
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Old 03-02-08, 07:05 PM   #7
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Well, if you find that the Jack fits your needs, I have to say it's a great bike. I really don't go off road on mine, but it basically handles and rides like any other bike and it's managed to take everything that I've thrown at it so far (mostly the streets of Brooklyn, and the greenway by my apartment that's fallen into a horrible state of disrepair over the years). One word of warning though, it's not the smallest folder out there.
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Old 03-02-08, 08:57 PM   #8
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If you don't bring the bike into the house,you don't need a folder.Get yourself a half decent cheap mtn bike(you can find them for $20-$50)and just lock it up outside at home.Because I don't know if it's such a good idea to leave a nice shiny new folder locked up somewhere for the whole day.Folders are meant to be quick adjust so everything is also quick removal.Unless you can 100% trust where you're gonna leave it,leave a $40 mtn bike instead.That way,if it does go missing,you're only out $40 and the ride will be much more enjoyable on a "real" bike.Now, don't get me wrong,I have a few folding bikes myself.It's just I've never ridden a folder that doesn't compromise in some way.Either in the comfort or how they ride.I find them WAY too twitchy for my liking.I don't know if that's because of frame angles or what.
If it's because of space limitations at home,just get yourself a cover for a bbq.If it's big enough you can put it over the bike to protect it from the elements and thieves(at quick glance it looks like a bbq)
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Old 03-02-08, 11:17 PM   #9
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Gee I never thought of that, I'm 185, with my backpack, ~220. According to Dahon, the max weight for the Jack is 230. I wonder if I can put my backpack on some sort of rack if that would help???

Thanks,
Scott
I'd be very surprised if you carry 35 lbs in your backpack. I once bought 15 lb of potatoes and carried them home in a back pack and it was far heavier than any load of books etc.

In general, stuff rides better on a rack than on your back because it lowers your centre of gravity which makes the bike more stable, and it's less tiring and sweaty for you. On the other hand, attaching stuff to a rack adds a couple of minutes to your commute. I don't know if Dahon's max weight recommendation is based on weight just on you, or if it counts weight on the bike rack. Putting the luggage on a rack is probably better for the bike, since the very long seatpost is probably one of the more vulnerable parts of the bike, and putting more weight on you, puts more strain on the seatpost.

EDIT: I didn't realize 'til just now the Jack is a full size folder. Even folded, it's going to be very bulky to carry in and out of the house. You may find life a lot easier with a normal bike you lock outside.

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Old 03-03-08, 12:21 AM   #10
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I didn't realize 'til just now the Jack is a full size folder. Even folded, it's going to be very bulky to carry in and out of the house.
You've never folded or carried a Jack in our life, have you?

The only way your assumption would have merit is if the OP lived in a house built for gnomes.

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Old 03-03-08, 01:26 AM   #11
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You've never folded or carried a Jack in our life, have you?

The only way your assumption would have merit is if the OP lived in a house built for gnomes.
I saw a Matrix folded at a shop, and that appears to be a similar bike. It was a little bigger folded than a 20" bike, but not that much. Any folding bike is a bit bulky and difficult to carry. I had problems with the magnets on the couple Dahons I carried around releasing and the bike swinging open. In any case, even a Brompton is no treat to carry. Want the experience? Go to the gym and pick up a 30 lb dumbbell and carry it around. Better yet, put a 30 lb dumbbell in a suitcase and carry that around.
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Old 03-03-08, 09:51 AM   #12
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I saw a Matrix folded at a shop, and that appears to be a similar bike. It was a little bigger folded than a 20" bike, but not that much. Any folding bike is a bit bulky and difficult to carry. I had problems with the magnets on the couple Dahons I carried around releasing and the bike swinging open. In any case, even a Brompton is no treat to carry. Want the experience? Go to the gym and pick up a 30 lb dumbbell and carry it around. Better yet, put a 30 lb dumbbell in a suitcase and carry that around.
You're right. There is a problem when a Brompton weighs almost as much as a Jack, and both are not fun to carry around. However, as far as stopping in front of your house, folding the bike, and carrying it inside, most will not have an issue, and that's what I thought was under discussion.


More to the point though, a Jack in particular is very low weight for what it is, and is no heavier to carry around or manipulate than a 16" or 20" folder; believe me, I was very surprised. I do admit that carrying one on a bus as opposed to a train (with it properly bagged) will most likely be an issue but I don't know for sure because I don't have to take public transit anymore.

Two other things: the low-tech velcro strap that comes with the bike holds the Jack together very well so no need for magnets, and the Matrix is probably heavier in general because of the fork. I will also reiterate that all this relates to the Jack specifically which the OP mentions by name.
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Old 03-03-08, 10:03 AM   #13
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Any folding bike is a bit bulky and difficult to carry.
Not the Carryme, but the Carryme's a far cry from the Jack, of course.
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Old 03-03-08, 02:39 PM   #14
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You're right. There is a problem when a Brompton weighs almost as much as a Jack, and both are not fun to carry around. However, as far as stopping in front of your house, folding the bike, and carrying it inside, most will not have an issue, and that's what I thought was under discussion.


More to the point though, a Jack in particular is very low weight for what it is, and is no heavier to carry around or manipulate than a 16" or 20" folder; believe me, I was very surprised. I do admit that carrying one on a bus as opposed to a train (with it properly bagged) will most likely be an issue but I don't know for sure because I don't have to take public transit anymore.

Two other things: the low-tech velcro strap that comes with the bike holds the Jack together very well so no need for magnets, and the Matrix is probably heavier in general because of the fork. I will also reiterate that all this relates to the Jack specifically which the OP mentions by name.
You're right, the 26" bike folded didn't look like getting it into a hatchback or a doorway would be a problem, just cumbersome to try and carry for more than a few yards. I wouldn't want to take any of those things through a grocery store for example.

A strap makes more sense than the magnets to me, and I didn't notice that used when I watched the Matrix get folded. The dealer I was talking with on Dahons said he can seldom get the magnets to line up right so they tend not to hold the bike shut. Perhaps he was just a poor assembler.

Folding bike weights are a little disappointing to me. I suppose if they could be lighter they would be, but my wife certainly can't handle nearly 30 lbs easily. She can hardly roll her tikit on the front wheel without the thing tipping over. If only they made one out of hopes and dreams...
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Old 03-03-08, 09:03 PM   #15
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I didn't realize 'til just now the Jack is a full size folder. Even folded, it's going to be very bulky to carry in and out of the house. You may find life a lot easier with a normal bike you lock outside.
You've never folded or carried a Jack in our life, have you?

The only way your assumption would have merit is if the OP lived in a house built for gnomes.
Well, since I mentioned in the quoted part that I hadn't realized the Jack is full-sized, it's a no-brainer that I've never been near one. However, I owned a similar bike called a Bazooka Dakar for a few months in 2005 or so until it was stolen. It was bulky when folded. Even my Bike Friday is a bit awkward to carry in and out of the house.

Dakar


Jack

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Old 03-03-08, 10:12 PM   #16
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Even my Bike Friday is a bit awkward to carry in and out of the house.
Words cannot express how disappointed I am in you.

It's time you got a Jack.
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Old 03-04-08, 08:03 PM   #17
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You get used to hauling a folded Jack around. It's really not too bad... and it's really not all that awkward (at least no worse than a loaded suitcase).

Also, I find that I only really fold it when it's going into its "parking space" inside my apartment. Otherwise, if I'm moving it around, it's unfolded and I'm rolling it. It really does only take the 5 seconds that they advertise (maybe another 2 for folding my pedals down).
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Old 03-04-08, 11:37 PM   #18
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Words cannot express how disappointed I am in you.

It's time you got a Jack.
Honestly - go to your door and check the doorframe, or go to the room where you store your bike and check the wall. No paint dings? I'd be surprised.
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Old 03-05-08, 12:45 AM   #19
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Honestly - go to your door and check the doorframe, or go to the room where you store your bike and check the wall. No paint dings? I'd be surprised.
Door frame is fine, but I do have dings on the wall (home office closet). Folding pedals help a lot in terms of reducing width.

But I know Bike Fridays are bulkier than most to carry around because they're not held together well and the removed stem can inadvertently flop around and snag on things. Bikes that can fold without having to remove anything, and which can be held together fairly securely, have a clear advantage in this regard.
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