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  1. #1
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    best folding bike for nyc streets

    i'm looking to get a bike primarily to get around nyc. I plan on taking it on the lirr during rush hour.

    I was wondering if anyone can let me know their impressions of the various folding bikes and how they stand up in nyc.

    I don't mind the weight of a bike as much as if it can fold so i can take it on subways, buses, etc.

    I plan on riding them, but not really sure how a test ride can compare to everyday use. so any help would be welcomed.

    i've read just about every post on here and the more i read, the more confused i am as to my decision.

    I don't mind upgrading parts and putting some $$ into a bike, especially if i can improve the ride and comfort.

    If you have a great setup, i'd love to know about it.

    Thanks in advance, and i hope to be riding along side you all soon.

    btw> I've had mongoose and other bmx bikes along with cannondale and giant road bikes, but i'm a newbie to folding bikes.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by bestfoldingbike View Post
    i'm looking to get a bike primarily to get around nyc. I plan on taking it on the lirr during rush hour.

    I was wondering if anyone can let me know their impressions of the various folding bikes and how they stand up in nyc.

    I don't mind the weight of a bike as much as if it can fold so i can take it on subways, buses, etc.

    I plan on riding them, but not really sure how a test ride can compare to everyday use. so any help would be welcomed.

    i've read just about every post on here and the more i read, the more confused i am as to my decision.

    I don't mind upgrading parts and putting some $$ into a bike, especially if i can improve the ride and comfort.

    If you have a great setup, i'd love to know about it.

    Thanks in advance, and i hope to be riding along side you all soon.

    btw> I've had mongoose and other bmx bikes along with cannondale and giant road bikes, but i'm a newbie to folding bikes.
    Greetings. I grew up riding the D.C. metro, but never implemented a folding bike. It's been a while since I've been on NYC's subway system, but I can't imagine it's any less crowded. For crowded city commuting via bus or rail (maybe the line you ride regularly isn't all that crowded) you want the smallest fold possible. To that end, you are hard pressed to beat Brompton or Strida. There are other bikes that I have absolutely no experience with, like the CarryMe and A-bike, etc. Even the Strida I haven't been able to try out (I have a friend over seas who has one and keeps me informed on his experience which is so far positive. They're also not as expensive.), but all are available in NY for you to give a go. I liked the Brompton's fold, but there were some things I didn't like in terms of fit and components. It handled for the most part like a reasonable bike and wasn't as squirrelly as a Dahon Micro I tried. I pedaled a Downtube a few 100 yards, but not enough to get a good solid opinion of it. It was inexpensive and looked like you could scrap the parts and add some proper components to end up with a nice bike, but the fold is not all that compact. None of the bikes I've seen from other manufacturers (Dahon, Downtube, Bike Friday) get small enough to pack into a crowded subway car. The only folding bike I own to date is a Bike Friday tikit, and its fold is also not very compact. The CarryMe and A-bike don't look very interesting to me, so I've never tried looking too hard for one. Maybe they're good, too.

    Initially I had a lot of enthusiasm for these folding bikes, but they have a lot of limitations I'm finding. The niche they fill very well is exactly what you are intending to use it for, but be sure to keep your other bikes.

  3. #3
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Get a Brompton and a bag.

    I'd also check with the LIRR and find out if bicycles are allowed on the train during restricted hours. This page is unclear if folding bikes can be taken on the train during restricted hours.

  4. #4
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I have researching and test riding. For me the Brompton is the hands down winner for several reasons. With compact fold being high on the list.

    I would suggest you head on down to Bfold in NYC and have a talk with David. I haven't purchased mine yet, but that will be coming along soon.

    Aaron
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  5. #5
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    For multimode commuting you really need to have a small-wheeled bike that can fold fast. When I say small I'm talking about the sub-20" size; most of dahon's bikes are nice riders bit a bit bulky for day-to-day train use.

    With that then it comes down to a few options - go 16" and get a bike that's still very usable. Brompton's do have the best fold but not everyone likes the ride. There's also the Mezzo, the BikeFriday Tikit (which has an awesomely fast fold) or the Dahon Curve or Downtube mini. In that raft of bikes there's a lot of variation and prices too. I'd recommend trying a few before making the leap.

    Smaller than that there is the Strida - though the fold which is more like a stroller (tall and narrow rather than squat and compact) and ride a lot more different to a 'normal sized' bike than those mentioned above. Personally I see Stridas as short-range machines and not something I'd ever want to ride more than a mile or two on. Other people will disagree I'm sure.

    Smaller again any you getting into the territory of strange - scooter looking bikes like the A-bike and Carry me. Again - not long range they're for a very specific task and if your idea is to ride a fair distance as well as using the train then I think they aren't really what you're looking for.

    One last thing - if you do test drive a 16" bike - the steering will feel funny for a few minutes - it's a smaller wheel and there is less gyroscopic force keeping it in the same direction, so it might feel a bit squirrelly. This feeling goes very soon as you get used to the bike and then you are just ready to enjoy the inherant repsonsiveness as you nimbly make your way through the traffic. So I think I'm saying don't dismiss a bike because the steering feels funny - it's an adjustment that's easily made and one that's maybe comparable to driving a van for the first time after only driving a compact car - nothing you can't quickly acclimatise to...

  6. #6
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    I think that you should consider the Dahon Mu P8 and the Swift. You can probably find them for a test ride at any number of shops. I found the people at NYCE wheels to be very helpful. I bought the MUp8 and I love it. The Swift was a close second in my mind. I think that either is a good value.
    Herb

  7. #7
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    Also put the Birdy on your list.

    Small fast fold: Chain to inside when folded: Full suspension tuned for road use: light weight for a folder: Fast: Durable: Lots of fun to ride.

    David

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    I learned how to ride a bike on a folder so it brings back great childhood memories.
    I just bought a used Gekko microbike and will be using it to get around the city.
    I would get a bag because you never know when you need it. why?
    I got a ticket for "bulky article" for a bike in the subway when I was a teen. there's not much
    sympathy for bicycle riders here. note, be extra careful if you're in the Columbus Circle station.
    Saw a guy on a bike get a ticket in there just last week.
    the bag for my Gekko looks like a massage table bag, you see that a lot in this city.
    Just say it's a massage table.
    Can't comment on the other bike recommendations, I'm poor.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bestfoldingbike View Post
    i'm looking to get a bike primarily to get around nyc. I plan on taking it on the lirr during rush hour.

    I was wondering if anyone can let me know their impressions of the various folding bikes and how they stand up in nyc.

    I don't mind the weight of a bike as much as if it can fold so i can take it on subways, buses, etc.

    I plan on riding them, but not really sure how a test ride can compare to everyday use. so any help would be welcomed.

    i've read just about every post on here and the more i read, the more confused i am as to my decision.

    I don't mind upgrading parts and putting some $$ into a bike, especially if i can improve the ride and comfort.

    If you have a great setup, i'd love to know about it.

    Thanks in advance, and i hope to be riding along side you all soon.

    btw> I've had mongoose and other bmx bikes along with cannondale and giant road bikes, but i'm a newbie to folding bikes.
    Although I personally didn't discover folders until after I moved from NYC, as a long time LIRR rider let me remind you that there are rush hour trains and there are rush hour trains. What I mean is, I'm sure you know that some rush hour trains seem to have just enough seats for everyone, while others don't even have enough room for you to lift your arms to read the newspaper.

    If your rush hour train is the latter then the Carryme from Pacific Cycles is really your only choice. Anything else will leave you cursing if the train leaves you behind and crying if you manage to squeeze your bike on board. The same goes for taking NYC buses, but you don't really ride those do you (riding your bike would be far quicker)? Unfortunately, a bike like the Carryme will be a bit of a challenge on the potholed streets of NYC. However, it shouldn't be a problem if you're just using it to commute and not to meander to random destinations. Familiarity with the road goes a long way towards mitigating the effects of large potholes or other unsuitable terrain.

    If your rush hour train is the former then you should be able to manage with something like a Dahon Curve, Brompton, Tikit, or Birdy. If you can afford it then the Birdy will offer the best compromise between cycling performance and folded size and will be the bike for you in this case. Otherwise the Curve will be the low cost alternative, while the Brompton will offer the smallest fold and the Tikit the quickest/most-convenient fold. While not necessarily the most comfortable, any of them should be suitable for riding around the city (and if you want to ride rush hour trains getting anything bigger won't really be an option).
    Last edited by makeinu; 03-16-08 at 10:54 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu View Post
    Although I personally didn't discover folders until after I moved from NYC, as a long time LIRR rider let me remind you that there are rush hour trains and there are rush hour trains. What I mean is, I'm sure you know that some rush hour trains seem to have just enough seats for everyone, while others don't even have enough room for you to lift your arms to read the newspaper.

    If your rush hour train is the latter then the Carryme from Pacific Cycles is really your only choice. Anything else will leave you cursing if the train leaves you behind and crying if you manage to squeeze your bike on board.
    This is the best advice so far.

    I've ridden some LIRR trains during rush hour and they are packed with people standing everywhere similar to a packed bus! There is no where to put a bicycle including folded one the size of a Dahon Curve or Brompton. Being able to put the bike in the overhead rack will become so important or you'll be standing from now on in the vestibule of the train. No matter how tired you are, you'll have to stand if you can't put the bike in the overhead rack.

    Maybe a Strida might work also work in the overhead rack that's it. The CarryMe is not the type you would want to ride all the time and it's just a utility bike not ment for upgrading. Get another bike for weekend joy rides but you really need a folder that can be placed overhead.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    This is the best advice so far.

    I've ridden some LIRR trains during rush hour and they are packed with people standing everywhere similar to a packed bus! There is no where to put a bicycle including folded one the size of a Dahon Curve or Brompton. Being able to put the bike in the overhead rack will become so important or you'll be standing from now on in the vestibule of the train. No matter how tired you are, you'll have to stand if you can't put the bike in the overhead rack.

    Maybe a Strida might work also work in the overhead rack that's it. The CarryMe is not the type you would want to ride all the time and it's just a utility bike not ment for upgrading. Get another bike for weekend joy rides but you really need a folder that can be placed overhead.
    I personally would not even want to take the overhead racks into consideration. No matter what size bike you have, if the train is empty enough that you can hoist your bike up to the overhead racks then it's probably also empty enough to leave the bike on the floor somewhere (which is far easier than hoisting). Alternatively, if the train is packed enough that the only room available is in the overhead rack then you probably won't be able to push your bike through the crowded vestibule and over the heads of the other passengers to get it up there. Others may, of course, disagree. In particular, I believe that forum member "rhm" has posted pics of his Downtube Mini (which he rides in NYC) on the overhead rack of an LIRR train.

    Although the OP sounds like he just might be the kind of guy who would be happier riding a Birdy and changing his schedule to catch a less crowded rush hour train than darting around potholes on a Carryme. The Xootr Swift also seems to be a NYC favorite for taking on the subway, but I imagine all the loose bits flopping around might be a burden while trying to take a nap on the LIRR.

    Your Mileage May Vary
    Last edited by makeinu; 03-16-08 at 10:58 PM.

  12. #12
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Birdy or Brompton.

    Birdy rides better, but is heavier and takes longet to fold.

    Brompton can fit into internationally accepted luggage without any disassembly, so in the future, if you feel like getting into an airplane taking your bike with you, Having the Brompton may be the difference between 30 seconds or 30 minutes before having your bike ready to go.

    I love my Brompton, and I ride in cities similar to NYC (Crazy traffic, busy subway, etc...)

  13. #13
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    I went through a similar dilemma, but am on the bike my entire commute and only occasionally go on the train. However, I have boarded the L during the morning commute, which is only surpassed by the 4 and 5.

    Given the poor condition of NYC streets and my need for a performance bike (2 hour total commute), I found that the Birdy was the only thing that worked for me personally. I don't find it particularly limiting relative to full size bikes (more comfy in fact) and the fold is great. However, train commuters that just need a bike to cover shorter distances and who don't overly value the ride will find that the Brompton is king.

  14. #14
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 14R View Post
    Birdy or Brompton.

    Birdy rides better, but is heavier and takes longet to fold.
    The Birdy is heavier than a Brompton?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by 14R View Post
    Birdy or Brompton.

    Birdy rides better, but is heavier and takes longet to fold.

    Brompton can fit into internationally accepted luggage without any disassembly, so in the future, if you feel like getting into an airplane taking your bike with you, Having the Brompton may be the difference between 30 seconds or 30 minutes before having your bike ready to go.

    I love my Brompton, and I ride in cities similar to NYC (Crazy traffic, busy subway, etc...)
    Why do you believe that the Birdy is heavier? My understanding is that it is significantly lighter than a Brompton.

    The Birdy fold is a bit less intuitive than the Brompton fold so it takes longer the first time but once you have done it a few times, it is very quick. A time of less than 10sec is not hard to achieve.

    David

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    Quote Originally Posted by energyandair View Post
    Why do you believe that the Birdy is heavier? My understanding is that it is significantly lighter than a Brompton.

    The Birdy fold is a bit less intuitive than the Brompton fold so it takes longer the first time but once you have done it a few times, it is very quick. A time of less than 10sec is not hard to achieve.

    David
    Birdy Speed - 22.7 lb (10.3 kg)
    Birdy City Premium - 26.2 lb (11.9 kg)
    Brompton - about 20-28 lb (9-12.5 kg)

    It's all in how you customize.

    http://www.r-m.de/fileadmin/medien/p...irdy_speed.pdf
    http://www.r-m.de/fileadmin/medien/p...Birdy_city.pdf
    http://www.brompton.co.uk/content.asp?p=2&l=1

  17. #17
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Smith View Post
    Birdy Speed - 22.7 lb (10.3 kg)
    Birdy City Premium - 26.2 lb (11.9 kg)
    Brompton - about 20-28 lb (9-12.5 kg)

    It's all in how you customize.

    http://www.r-m.de/fileadmin/medien/p...irdy_speed.pdf
    http://www.r-m.de/fileadmin/medien/p...Birdy_city.pdf
    http://www.brompton.co.uk/content.asp?p=2&l=1
    That is right ... but the 20-28 pounds is a little deceiving in that the standard configurations -- with the three speed hub and no titanium parts -- are closer to 28 than 20: I recall something like 26 pounds. I thought that the Birdy Yellow was about 24-25 pounds.

  18. #18
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    montague bikes

    I called the mta, they said a folding bike is allowed on all mass transit even during rush hour as long as its folded and doesn't block anyone else.

    I'd prefer a montague because they seem to be the closest ride that i'm used to. Of course, I don't want to get kicked off a subway, bus or train. Here are the folding measurements, do you think they would be satisfactory?

    Folds to 36" x 28" x 12"

    thanks

    Have you ever been told to get off because of your folding bike?

  19. #19
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    tickets for folding bikes?

    Can you really get a ticket for a folding bike if its properly folded? I'd like to find out the rules, the bike i'm looking at has the following dimensions when folded:

    Folds to 36" x 28" x 12"
    Last edited by bestfoldingbike; 03-17-08 at 12:48 PM.

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    one can get a ticket for anything nowadays.
    I'm just relaying what's my experience and what happened to me. quite an intro to
    the judicial system for a teen. Here's what's written on my summons "bulky article"
    note, it wasn't during rush hour nor on a weekday.
    Keep it hidden and you'll be OK. like anything you value and of value.
    I brought my Gekko home on the subway in the bag and no one noticed or commented.

  21. #21
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    +1 for Strida, and Carry-me (and possibly Tikit) .... based on the assumption that there will be parts of the journey where you will have the bike folded and still need to walk with it. eg inside trains, shops, along platforms and corridors etc. For the simple reason that these are both wheelable ... ie they are designed so you dont need to carry them when folded. Bikes weigh 19 to 30lbs - like a heavy suitcase, imagine carrying that without wheels

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    For NYC streets you need good tires. I recommend slicks like the Greenspeed Scorchers. They have very low rolling resistance so you can go fast or maintain a normal speed with less effort. They are also very cushy and absorb shocks and vibrations very well. They even make cobble stone streets bearable! There are also kevlar belted versions that should help with the little bits of glass that inevitably get embedded in your tires and eventually rub tiny slow leak holes into your inner tubes.

    I used to have Kenda Kwest semi slicks on my Bike Friday. The Scorchers are notably faster and a lot more comfortable. You just have to be careful riding over manhole covers in the rain. On pavement they feel very grippy even in the rain, you just have to look out for slick metal surfaces.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bestfoldingbike View Post
    I called the mta, they said a folding bike is allowed on all mass transit even during rush hour as long as its folded and doesn't block anyone else.

    I'd prefer a montague because they seem to be the closest ride that i'm used to. Of course, I don't want to get kicked off a subway, bus or train. Here are the folding measurements, do you think they would be satisfactory?

    Folds to 36" x 28" x 12"

    thanks

    Have you ever been told to get off because of your folding bike?
    From what I know about the LIRR, I seriously doubt you'd ever be told to get off no matter how big your folding bike is, but that's not the issue.

    The issue is will you be physically able to get on? Will you be able to stay at the front of the crowd as they flood the train as the doors are opened? If not, after the crowd swarms the seats in a feeding frenzy, will you be able to convince the passenger you just squeezed next to in the vestibule of the train to pick up and hold his briefcase in order to make enough room on the floor for your bike? The answer depends on how crowded your train is and only you know that.

    Quote Originally Posted by bestfoldingbike View Post
    Can you really get a ticket for a folding bike if its properly folded? I'd like to find out the rules, the bike i'm looking at has the following dimensions when folded:

    Folds to 36" x 28" x 12"
    I'm pretty sure you can get a ticket on the subway for just being a jerk. Although despite my guilt I can't say I've ever been nabbed on that one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Simple Simon View Post
    +1 for Strida, and Carry-me (and possibly Tikit) .... based on the assumption that there will be parts of the journey where you will have the bike folded and still need to walk with it. eg inside trains, shops, along platforms and corridors etc. For the simple reason that these are both wheelable ... ie they are designed so you dont need to carry them when folded. Bikes weigh 19 to 30lbs - like a heavy suitcase, imagine carrying that without wheels
    As long as you're curtious unfolded bikes are permitted on the subways 24/7. Also, due to the fact that the railroad permits nonfolding bikes on certain trains, you can roll unfolded bikes on the platforms without being hassled. So, assuming the OP isn't interested in taking his bike into shops, the Brompton might also be a good option.

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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand View Post
    That is right ... but the 20-28 pounds is a little deceiving in that the standard configurations -- with the three speed hub and no titanium parts -- are closer to 28 than 20: I recall something like 26 pounds. I thought that the Birdy Yellow was about 24-25 pounds.
    The "base" weight for the M3L is listed as 25 lb (11.4 kg) on the U.K. site.

    http://www.brompton.co.uk/content.asp?p=206&l=1&s=1

    So, you're pretty much on. The Birdy weights I got off the German site. (www.r-m.de) The strange www.birdybike.com site does not seem to be affiliated with Riese & Muller.

    I probably would have bought a Birdy if I could have purchased a Speed or City Premium. No one got back to me from birdybike.com, so I just gave up and bought the tikit.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu View Post
    I'm pretty sure you can get a ticket on the subway for just being a jerk. Although despite my guilt I can't say I've ever been nabbed on that one.
    heh heh, you've just made my day!
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

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