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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 04-10-08, 12:56 AM   #1
atom bomb
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LBS, do you want to sell folders?

Warning: rant.
I am a very enthusiastic potential folding bike customer. My local LBS has a medium tikit to ride, and can order BF's. Okay, I'll go test ride there. The sales person whined that a folder was nothing but a well engineered compromise, knew very little about the product, expressed a "why would you want one of these" attitude, and generally undermined my enthusiasm. And this is a $1000 bike, baby. What's especially troubling is that this particular shop was the home base of the MOST FAMOUS BICYCLE ENTHUSIAST THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN! (recently departed). Incidentally, the bike - although too small - rode nicely, and gives me confidence that a large frame tikit could be the ticket, but after this experience I SIMPLY COULDN'T order it from that shop. I just couldn't. Sorry.

LBS # 2 - same day, mind you - carries Dahon. This story can be economically told with full quotes.
"Do you have any folders in the shop?"
"None that will fit you."
"Okay, thank you, bye-bye"

I happen to know they have a Speed D7 and a Speed TT in there. I'm 6'4".
Thank goodness for this forum, all you fine people, and internet dealers.
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Old 04-10-08, 01:15 AM   #2
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Let them know.
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Old 04-10-08, 01:37 AM   #3
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Let them know.
A few years ago I had a similar bad experience at a shop when I enthusiastically inquired about recumbents. I calmly "let them know" .. and the experience went from bad to worse. Lesson learned. If bike shops don't know what to do with a person walking in the door that wants to try a bike, well God help 'em. Not me.
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Old 04-10-08, 01:41 AM   #4
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You are absolutely too tall for a folder. You can go to as many bike shops as you like until you find one that will tell you pretty lies but in the end reality will catch up to you. Not only are you too tall for a folder but you are too tall for most things in this world. including cars, beds, houses, chairs, clothing and women.
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Old 04-10-08, 05:33 AM   #5
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Too Tall Jones

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Not only are you too tall for a folder but you are too tall for most things in this world. including cars, beds, houses, chairs, clothing and women.
Yup, I finally realize this now. (You forgot the kitchen sink. Too tall for that as well.)
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Old 04-10-08, 06:06 AM   #6
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Let them know.
I do business with the Harris Cyclery sporadically ... say once a year. I am pretty surprised by their response. From the guys I have talked with, I am sure that they would be interested in hearing about your experience.
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Old 04-10-08, 06:46 AM   #7
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One place I got a price from on a Dahon Curve - the first guy expressed the opinion that folding bikes were a compromise and I wouldn't be completely happy with the ride. Fair enough; he knows my regular bike well, and how well it's adjusted for me. I think he was comparing it to that in his head. The other guy who works there agreed but thought the curve was a wonderful bike. Overalll, they gave me a good range of opinions. The first guy changed his mind when I mentioned I wanted it for a bike-train commute. Even within the same shop, different opinions are valuable. The trick is to get a shop where the employees feel free to disagree and tell you why - a rare thing.
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Old 04-10-08, 07:44 AM   #8
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If you want something done right then you have to do it yourself.

Unfortunately this means you're going to have to waste a lot of time researching, traveling, testing, etc, but in the end you'll have something which truly meets your needs, not just whatever happens to mesh with someone elses business plan.

Money can't buy this kind of help. People can't sell what they don't know
and no one knows you better than yourself.
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Old 04-10-08, 08:05 AM   #9
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If you want something done right then you have to do it yourself.
Too often this is true.

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Unfortunately this means you're going to have to waste a lot of time researching, traveling, testing, etc, but in the end you'll have something which truly meets your needs, not just whatever happens to mesh with someone elses business plan.

Money can't buy this kind of help. People can't sell what they don't know
and no one knows you better than yourself.
I am still surprised by the person's experience at the Harris Cyclery. Via e-mail, they gave me quite a bit of time and careful advice. They even directed me to other shops ... or more specifically directed me to a LBS.
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Old 04-10-08, 12:40 PM   #10
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1. Folders are a pretty new concept in the US, are quite the niche market, and basically require you to do most of the research yourself. Think of this as a feature, not a bug.

2. It's weird that the LBS guy used the word "compromise" as if it were a bad thing. All bikes are compromises. My road bike isn't ideal for riding on crushed gravel, isn't as fun as a cruiser for short distances, is inconvenient as a grocery getter, and sucks as a mountain bike. (Also, the engine has severe limitations...) But accepting all of these disadvantages is part of the compromise you have to accept when buying any bikes - mountain bikes and hybrids and cruisers and dutch bikes and, yes, folders, are all compromises of some sort; the key is just to focus on what you want the bike to do and compromise on the issues that are less important. And with folders you are often faced with the choice of having a folder or not having a bike at all...which makes the choice somewhat easier, really.

3. When mountain bikes were first going mainstream in mid-80's, there was a certain amount of resistance by enthusiasts and some shop employees, since the sine qua non of biking until then had been weight. Lots of people believed that this was going to be a fad, since they couldn't believe that anyone would pay over $500 for a bike that weighed 25 lbs and had fat tires. It's hard to see different paradigms when you are in your own.

4. I think it's a really cool time to be looking at folders because there is so much variation and so many different designs - I think it's kind of how it must be looking at safety bicycles in 1890 or road bikes in 1960: there are lots of competing designs, but no one has settled on the best ones yet.
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Old 04-10-08, 03:43 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by atom bomb View Post
A few years ago I had a similar bad experience at a shop when I enthusiastically inquired about recumbents. I calmly "let them know" .. and the experience went from bad to worse. Lesson learned. If bike shops don't know what to do with a person walking in the door that wants to try a bike, well God help 'em. Not me.
Did you have a full gray beard and funny sunglasses when you asked about the recumbents? Were you wearing sandals with socks?
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Old 04-10-08, 03:53 PM   #12
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Did you have a full gray beard and funny sunglasses when you asked about the recumbents? Were you wearing sandals with socks?
Lol!
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Old 04-10-08, 05:07 PM   #13
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Sounds like there might a potential business training bike shop employees in "consultive selling".

The salesman's first question should be: What kind of riding are you planning on doing with your new bike?

Then he/she (the salesperson) should SHUT UP & LISTEN!

This approach also takes a good knowledge of your products and their best applications.

(Some of this stuff doesn't erase even after 8 yrs of retirement....lol)
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Old 04-10-08, 05:53 PM   #14
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Did you have a full gray beard and funny sunglasses when you asked about the recumbents? Were you wearing sandals with socks?
Yes, and a tie-dyed tee shirt. Oh, but no socks with the sandals. Here's a movie about my sandals:
http://www.geoffadams.com/bikes/baron.html
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Old 04-10-08, 05:58 PM   #15
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lets give some bike shop employees a break .... most likely the work for 7 bucks and their own love about bicycles makes them keep on workin for too little money too long hours...
No.... I dont excuse mediocarcy but everybody has a bad day once in a while .... if the behaviour stinks than just ask for the boss and if you get attitude... than look for some other place.... but again some of the guys are workin very hard for very little money ...

thor
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Old 04-10-08, 06:09 PM   #16
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I don't buy the employees or the bike shop, I am buying a bike-be it folder, cruiser, roadie, fixie, etc. I myself do not patronize any one shop. Because of being an exclusively 100% folder owner now, I have to travel sometimes close to 100 miles one way from my house in order to communicate and purchase the unique folding bikes I now own. The closest bike shop that handle anything that is not a mountain bike is located just 10 miles away. So, especially in parts of the United States, expect to have problems finding the right shop that at least knows what the hell they are talking about. And when you do, make sure you patronize them to keep them in business!
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Old 04-10-08, 06:20 PM   #17
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lets give some bike shop employees a break .... most likely the work for 7 bucks and their own love about bicycles makes them keep on workin for too little money too long hours...
No.... I dont excuse mediocarcy but everybody has a bad day once in a while .... if the behaviour stinks than just ask for the boss and if you get attitude... than look for some other place.... but again some of the guys are workin very hard for very little money ...

thor
Thor,

I understand what you are saying - I started out sweeping a factory floor and packing trailer furnaces for $1.15/hr....but,

It isn't bad behavior, it's simply technique. Even someone making minimum wage in a bike shop will have more fun and success selling (and likely success in life) if he/she learns to ask that one question, and then listens to the answer.
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Old 04-10-08, 06:44 PM   #18
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Atomic,

Regarding height:

You can get a telescopic (two-section) seat post for a Dahon. You can put it on a Swift too but don't tell them . I couldn't find it on the Dahon site, but here is a link to a site that sells them (http://www.deanwoods.com.au/store/prod1653.htm). BTW Thor sells them too ... http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/accessories/seatpost.htm.. in his folder friendly online store...

I am tall as well (not as tall as you) and I use these on all my folders.

Also to increase the cockpit space put a drop bar on your bike. I did this with my Dahons and Swifts. Bike Fridays seem to never shy away from drop bars either!

- Jakub
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Old 04-10-08, 07:01 PM   #19
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Thor,

I understand what you are saying - I started out sweeping a factory floor and packing trailer furnaces for $1.15/hr....but,


Do, by chance, happen to have a long gray beard?
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Old 04-10-08, 07:13 PM   #20
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Oh I agree full heartedly ..... just my point is that we all need to look away once in a while and take things not all too serious...

In a way I profit from any shop employees bad behaviour .... but I had my moments as well... lol

Now what are you planning to do with that bike ?
lol

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Old 04-10-08, 10:10 PM   #21
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6'4"! I don't know what to say. Sometimes I think the average height of people in the cycling industry is 5'5", if even that much. I'm 6'2" and feel I'm started to be phased out.

Next, I think you're lucky that a bike shop had a folder of any size to demo. I don't know how customizable the Tikit is, but the BF NWT I have was made for a taller person. You can always order a BF over the phone. As far LBS's go I think you almost have to cut them some slack on your height. The best bet is probably for you to search LBS's for an employee who is 6'4" or taller and only deal with him. At least he'd be aware of height issues. Shorter people, whether nice or not, haven't had to deal with height problems and it just doesn't enter their thinking.
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Old 04-10-08, 10:29 PM   #22
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Also- that particular employee may be brand new, and you might have a completely different experience with them after they've been there for a while. Or that particular employee might be let go in a few weeks for not fitting in with the shop.

Don't ever let a bad experience with one employee ruin a shop for you, especially one that many other people (myself included) have had positive experiences with. If you find this happens with multiple employees, or happens once with a manager or owner, by all means, take your business elsewhere.

As someone who's worked in retail a long time, I know that even the best of shops can make mistakes in hiring, and that even the best employees can have rocky starts.
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Old 04-10-08, 10:51 PM   #23
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Do, by chance, happen to have a long gray beard?
Actually, you'd think so, but no I don't.

That was 1958 when I was a junior in H.S. - so I am 'only' 65 at present.

....and, to stay on thread, I was 6'4" back then - so I understand OP's problem very well - just 6'3" (barefoot) now.

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