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Old 04-30-08, 10:51 PM   #1
driftwork
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Flamingo Bike FL-BP01-7 worth a look?

Hey Folks,

I live in Taiwan where Brompton dealers are rare and where the Bromptons themselves are very expensive.

However, Taiwan is the folding-bike capital of the world!

I happen to live very close to the factory where Flamingo Bikes are made.

www.flamingobikes.com

According to this forum, MERC bikes are actually re-branded flamingo bikes available in the UK.

I'm wondering if these bikes are worth anything at all.

Flamingo / Merc bikes seem to receive fairly good reviews by folks.

I'm wondering if anyone thinks these bikes are worth a look.

Thanks for any advice.
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Old 04-30-08, 11:00 PM   #2
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Yes! I have a Merc and it's a great value.

A lot of us are lusting after the newer models, including the BP01-7.

Since you live close to the factory, do you think you can buy one for me and ship it to California???
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Old 05-01-08, 01:43 AM   #3
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Lol SesameCrunch!
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Old 05-01-08, 02:29 AM   #4
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Flamingo Folding Bikes

Can you give me some details about your bike.

Is a Flamingo / Merc Folding bike just a cheap 'knock-off' of the Brompton?

or

Does it have some improvements?

Seems like people in the UK like their Merc-Bikes...........why?

Why not just buy a Brompton if you are living in the UK?

I'm wondering if their are any links to anyone that really provides a detailed description of their MERC / Flamingo bike?

Also, seems that the MERC Bike brand is dead now. I checked out their website and it seems like they haven't updated it and its 'falling apart'
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Old 05-01-08, 04:25 AM   #5
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According to what I have read mercs are much less expensive than a Brompton.
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Old 05-01-08, 05:03 AM   #6
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Flamingo bikes are alloy therefore a wee bit lighter and the newer models have v-brakes and less complictated drive systems which make them appealing to some people. I have a heavily modified Merc with brompton titanium parts which is a nice compromise. Bromptons are expensive because they are mainly built in London where rents and labour costs tower over those of Asian-built bikes. Hence the attractiveness of a Merc/Flamingo.
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Old 05-01-08, 05:05 AM   #7
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The Flamingo is not a cheap knock-off at all. It is actually a very well made bike with hub gears. These cost a lot to have incorporated in a Brompton in the UK as a special non-standard midification.

The model you describe has better brakes than the Brompton and most definitely better gears. Also, I like the way the brake cabling is routed through the frame internally, very neat. Another cool feature is the bike folds to be stood on 4 wheels on the carrier making for a much more efficient trolley system when pulling the bike along across various surfaces.

While some Bromptonites might not like the fact that the Flamingo copies the Brompton fold, it does not try to clone the whole look like the Merc did. Aside from that the Brompton fold is out of patent ages ago. This does not rip-off the Brompton look and has some really nice improvements that come as standard. Taiwanese companies like this do not make low quality products. Definitely worth a serious look.
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Old 05-01-08, 05:10 AM   #8
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I really like the 18 speed option too using the excellent Shimano Deore gear system mentioned once on another thread. Fair play to this company they are raising the bar on product development of 16" wheel folders and Brompton as great as they are should take note. See:
http://www.flamingobike.com/products...p?pid=60&cid=3
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Old 05-01-08, 05:46 AM   #9
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Hey Folks,

(...)

I'm wondering if these bikes are worth anything at all.

I'm wondering if anyone thinks these bikes are worth a look.

Thanks for any advice.

YES. They are good bikes, and if you buy 10 of them and bring to the US, you will sell 11.
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Old 05-01-08, 06:20 AM   #10
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I see the Brompton 'chassis' as something of a classic that's in the public domain now, that's now being tuned and reinterpreted by different people for different uses, much like the Lotus Seven or AC Cobra car.
Flexible tourer, urban commuter, travelling roadie, camping runaround...
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Old 05-01-08, 06:31 AM   #11
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LittlePixel you should set up a mod business like Steve Parry with all the skills & experience you have gained!

Could you make me a min 6 speed Bromptnesque folding bike that weighs under 9kg lol?
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Old 05-01-08, 06:52 AM   #12
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I'd say it's definitely worth a look.

I have the Merc - the old BP01-03 with the tubular frame. It is in general an excellent bike and is a direct copy of the Brompton as far as the casual observer would see it. I have ridden it near 3000 miles and my only problems came from the plastic chain tensioner and a handful of broken rear spokes. I've had one puncture only -a horrible thorn that went in through the side of the tyre after a thorn bearing twig got caught up in the front forks.

The new models have some excellent modifications:
  • Metal chain tensioner comes as standard. It could only be obtained as an upgrade on the original bike.
  • Vbrakes that will remove another disappointment of the original. The calipers of the old bike needed strong hands to pull up rapidly.
  • The opportunity to have seven gears if you need them. You can still have the SA three speed which is fantastically efficient and reliable if you don't need a lot of gears.
The new frame construction method makes a clear distinction between the Flamingo and the Brompton. It's the same shape in general, but not being a tube, it looks different and can''t be confused for a Brompton by the casual observer which the old tubed frame bike often is.

The greatest advantage of the Flamingo is that it is VERY good value for money. You get a lot of bike for a lot less than the price of a Brompton and in my view, even the old model Merc which I own is functionally equivalent of the Brompton in every way. Sure - a hand brazed steel frame would be nicer to own than an alu tubed one, and it might last longer too, but I saved a lot of money and the bike has not disappointed me.

I doubt that Grace Gallant will sell a single bike from the factory, but good luck in trying. I made an enquiry some time ago and they referred me to an export agent who refused to deal with me and referred me to Anita as their British agent. Anita is the lady that markets the bikes in Britain under the Merc brand name.


Re the Merc Brand.....

Anita is a small operator. She bought a single container of the bikes and was pretty badly mauled by Brompton lawyers. They intimidated her quite a bit I understand. She has only a few of the Mercs left and I don't know if she will order a new container. The fact that the new bike has a girder type frame may encourage her to continue since Brompton are much less likely to be able to say it is a knock off of their copyright design. The website is a mess. You are right. You can deal with her on ebay and will find her very responsive.

http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/123maddy/

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Old 05-01-08, 07:04 AM   #13
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LittlePixel you should set up a mod business like Steve Parry with all the skills & experience you have gained!

Could you make me a min 6 speed Bromptnesque folding bike that weighs under 9kg lol?
You'd have to weave the frame out of spider silk to get a weight like that.
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Old 05-01-08, 10:19 AM   #14
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I am in contact and have spoken to the Flamingo agent here in Taichung city. I'm going to call him tomorrow and see if I can cruise up there and have a look at some bikes. He told me that the HS-F2 is only going to be made available in October.

They also told me that Flamingo only currently has two shops in Taiwan where they sell their bikes.

They will actually be opening a shop here in Taichung in a couple of months.
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Old 05-01-08, 01:00 PM   #15
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I am in contact and have spoken to the Flamingo agent here in Taichung city. I'm going to call him tomorrow and see if I can cruise up there and have a look at some bikes. He told me that the HS-F2 is only going to be made available in October.

They also told me that Flamingo only currently has two shops in Taiwan where they sell their bikes.

They will actually be opening a shop here in Taichung in a couple of months.
If they are selling them retail, you'll certainly be able to get one. When I emailed them and the agent they referred me to, the talk was all about a container load. They didn't seem keen at all to send a single bike - not that surprising, it being a factory after all.

It would be great to know what they sell them for retail out there.


I'd avoid the HS52 like the plague myself. That derailieur arm is nearly on the ground. Make sure you don't turn right on it if you get one or it will soon be ripped off on the ground. The hub gear systems are a delight, I promise you. I especially like the three speed SA. it is very robust and reliable. It is also very efficient. The seven speed will be a little less efficient in some gears than the three speed is, but then you get a bigger range....

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Old 05-01-08, 01:22 PM   #16
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I was seriously considering the 3 speed merc that anita was selling on the bay. However, with current exchange rates it would have cost me a little over $800 (including shipping). Dang you weak U.S. economy!

Anita was really nice and would have shipped to the U.S. I ended up getting an brompton M3L from a U.S. retailer for about $100 more. I figured the Brompton has better base components and would hold its value better. Also, I have a local dealer who can service it, if need be. A good thing about the merc is that it comes with a front carry bag/block, carry bag and something else I can't remember.

I will post pix of my new M3L in a day or two.
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Old 05-01-08, 02:12 PM   #17
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I was seriously considering the 3 speed merc that anita was selling on the bay. However, with current exchange rates it would have cost me a little over $800 (including shipping). Dang you weak U.S. economy!
Yes - I've just been hiking in Spain and met about a half a dozen Americans who were very aggrieved about the cost of everything. I thought things were pretty cheap.

I can't see how the Merc came to $600 though. She will sell them at about 280 as long as its cash and not paypal which involves loss to her. Even if it was 300 through paypal that would come out around $600. Not sure how much it costs to ship the bikes, but surely it won't be more than 50, or $100.

Anyway, I'm sure you will enjoy your M3L, but you won't have the luggage system, fenders, rear rack or carrying bag, stand or lights and dynamo.

Aesthetically, a steel frame would be nice to have, but in the end it was the huge bargain buy that I got that made me go for a merc.

Let us know how you like it when you get it.
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Old 05-01-08, 02:49 PM   #18
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LittlePixel you should set up a mod business like Steve Parry with all the skills & experience you have gained!

Could you make me a min 6 speed Bromptnesque folding bike that weighs under 9kg lol?
[+1]

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Old 05-01-08, 03:13 PM   #19
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Apart from the plastic chain tensioner that EvilV pointed out I don't think the base components on a M3L are better than a Merc. Also the Merc would be just as easy to service at a LBS as a Brompton. Good luck with your new purchase though.
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Old 05-01-08, 05:58 PM   #20
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for the Sub-9kg bike I am pleased to announce that I have secured special funding from unnamed venture-capitalists to aid research into combining the elements of helium and magnesium into a crystal matrix that registers negative mass and actually floats. This crystalline base (Magneselium) can be ultraheated and then extruded much like aluminium and forms a whole new option for framebuilders and component manufacture.

Combine this with new honeycombed tyres, innertube technology based on cutting-edge prophylactic latex innovation, and new hollow-formed graphite bolts, and the mix of positive and negative mass meet head-on in a bike that actually weighs nothing at all. The added bonus being of the many obvious ones being it doesn't need to fold it at all - one merely attaches it to a string and allows it to hover gracefully behind you as you walk from your multimodal transport option, up the stairs to your office or around the grocery store of your choice.

Seriously though people - nothing would please me more than to spend all day like Mr Parry tinkering with bikes to make the ultimate folding bike... (hang on.. that... sounds... familiar... ) ...but I don't have the workshop space, jigs, tools, suppliers or welding experience, and I also have more than the smallest sneaking suspicion that it would be very hard to make a living at it, despite the obvious 100% dog-with-two-tails fun of it

PS. Mine could be lighter with aerohead rims, a non-susp hub, a less-durable rear hub, a carbon saddle and 4Ti crank brothers pedals. By then you're already way down the 'long tail' of lightness where every shed gram costs more and more.

The sub 9kg 6 speed would likely need some real weight-weeny drilling shenangans to exist - perhaps on the cranks and through bolt heads, skimmed down clamps - that sort of silliness. It probably could be possible but would also likely break all the time. Haha Things breaking off as you ride like a rose dipped in nitrogen lol...

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Old 05-01-08, 06:36 PM   #21
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Yes - I've just been hiking in Spain and met about a half a dozen Americans who were very aggrieved about the cost of everything. I thought things were pretty cheap.

I can't see how the Merc came to $600 though. She will sell them at about 280 as long as its cash and not paypal which involves loss to her. Even if it was 300 through paypal that would come out around $600. Not sure how much it costs to ship the bikes, but surely it won't be more than 50, or $100.

Anyway, I'm sure you will enjoy your M3L, but you won't have the luggage system, fenders, rear rack or carrying bag, stand or lights and dynamo.

Aesthetically, a steel frame would be nice to have, but in the end it was the huge bargain buy that I got that made me go for a merc.

Let us know how you like it when you get it.
Thanks, EvilV.

I remember it being about 400 pounds or a little over when all was said and done. The Merc was an ebay auction at about 330 or 350 pounds, buy-it-now. Didn't know about the all cash deal, but that sounds a little risky. I messaged Anita in advance and it would be 70 pounds to ship to the U.S. Even though her auction, did not say it was ok for Americans to bid on it, she would let me do it. At current rates, 400 pounds = $788 USD. My brompton ended up at a little under $900.

Peace of mind about having a local dealer and, perhaps, honor any warranty issues on a new bike made my choice easier. Again, if I had to make the choice 2-3 years ago with the price being $200 or $300 cheaper, I'm pretty sure I'd have gotten the Merc.
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Old 05-01-08, 06:46 PM   #22
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How is the Merc for torsional flex? To me that is the first parameter which makes or brakes a deal for me. I had a Dahon Helios for a week before I got rid of it due to that.
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Old 05-01-08, 09:02 PM   #23
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How is the Merc for torsional flex? To me that is the first parameter which makes or brakes a deal for me. I had a Dahon Helios for a week before I got rid of it due to that.
I thought it was a pretty stiff bike. And I thought that the Dahon Speed flexed like a wet noodle. I recall that the Helios flexed quite a bit too.
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Old 05-02-08, 01:30 AM   #24
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Peace of mind about having a local dealer and, perhaps, honor any warranty issues on a new bike made my choice easier. Again, if I had to make the choice 2-3 years ago with the price being $200 or $300 cheaper, I'm pretty sure I'd have gotten the Merc.
Actually - that's really important. A friend of mine who is a bit of an optimist, refused my advice that loading his laptop, lunch, and other work related paraphernalia into the front luggage system and then pounding down potholed roads was a bad idea. I said he should put at least the laptop into a backpack so it was protected from the trauma of road bumps since the front is completely unsuspended. Anyway, after a short while of commuting he managed to wrench out one of the bolts that secure the luggage mounting block onto the steerer tube. This broke the block and caused him to have to return the bike to Anita. I thought that he'd abused it myself, but anyhow, she had to get the steerer tube repaired somehow (probably a 'helicoil' as we call them here - you drill the damaged hole a little larger and tap it, then screw in a threaded tube with the original sized thread on the inside). Anyhow - you couldn't have done that so easily across the Atlantic.

I know she'd have supported you fine by posting parts, but a damaged frame? Not so easy. She certainly posted me a new plastic chain tensioner, and then when that broke too at about 1800 miles and eleven months on, she sent me the aluminium one - all gratis.

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Old 05-02-08, 04:11 AM   #25
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How is the Merc for torsional flex? To me that is the first parameter which makes or brakes a deal for me. I had a Dahon Helios for a week before I got rid of it due to that.
This is not something I've ever tested for before now, but I grabbed the saddle and pushed sideways while pulling on the handlebar. There is a little bend torsionally, but I need to push and pull quite hard to make it happen. I'm never aware of vague steering in riding the bike - it feels pretty stiff and goes exactly where you point it, though it does have sensitive steering and felt twitchy when I first rode it. I now have absolute confidence in what it will do.

I did the same test on the TSR30 and found that had next to no movement in the same plane. That bike is built like a bridge though and has an extra long steerer tube linked to the upper and lower webs of the main cross beam. It has to be a much stiffer design by its very nature than a single tube one.





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