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  1. #1
    Conquer Cancer rider Boudicca's Avatar
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    Baffled by the choices

    I've been lurking here for a while, and am now completely baffled by the choice out there. So where do I start to look? May I tell you what I want, and what my priorities are, and seek your advice.... 9I have two road bikes and a hybrid right now and ride something like 100-150 miles a week.)

    Primarily I want a bike that I can take with me on business trips so I can get some exercise when I'm on the road, even if it's just going round the Central Park loop a few times first thing in the morning. If I can also use it for a short commute to work that's a bonus, and if it's good enough to think of using for supported/credit-card touring that's a double bonus, but I may be asking for too much there (an internal hub would work just fine for the business trips, but is probably less fine for touring).

    So I think the main considerations are weight and packability. I'm talking 2-4 day trips right through the fall and winter, so I don't want to spend large amounts of time packing and repacking a bike, and I'm going to want to fit all or most of my bike/other gear inside the case with it because of these silly airline rules about one sub-50lb piece of luggage per trip. Is that even possible, and where do I start? What size bike and what size wheels? How much should I be ready to spend?

    And what equipment is essential to take with you and a folder on a short trip like that? A pump, helmet and patch kit, presumably, but is there other stuff that I need to be thinking about? Is it worth getting clipless pedals, or do most of the bikes come with flat ones? What about clips?

    And any other advice for the foldie noob?
    Zero gallons to the mile

  2. #2
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    You should state how tall & heavy you are also.

    It's not a surprise that you are bewildered. There is a lot to consider and to choose from in the world of folding bikes.

    For the recreational travel riding that you're describing, and assuming you're 6' and under, many here (including me) have suggested the Downtube Mini or Dahon Curve as a good choice. They're not for riding centuries or Time Trialing, but they're excellent fun bikes with good travel characteristics. Oh, and they're great values also.

    There's a lot of info comparing the Mini and the Curve on this Forum. A search would yield much for you to read and consider.

  3. #3
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    How important is performance?

    What is your budget?

    How fast does you packing need to be?

    Are you going to use your folder for multimode commuting or sneaking the folder into buildings? From your first post, I think your answer is no. But might as well confirm.

    Your physical dimensions are helpful too. Especially if you are in the "tails" of the population.

  4. #4
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    There are a lot of choices, but actually quite few that are good for commuting and traveling in the performance bike category. There needs to be a quality, well proportioned folder that folds easily and into a small package, that requires minimal disassembly when packed into a suitcase, and is reasonably priced. And it should have good carrying capacity for luggage.

    As SC points out, the mini and curve are fun and pack well, but they are sloow. They also have limited carrying capacity.

    Performance touring/commuting bikes from Dahon are outstanding at folding, have moderate carrying capacity, and are fast, but they could be built a lot better. These bikes are good if it really is just a back up machine that won't be ridden 10,000 miles a year. They are also very inexpensive for what they are.

    The Birdy offers the best of all worlds, but is very expensive for what it is. (It's fast, has great carrying capacity, no frame hinge to fail, and folds small. It looks like it can be fit into it's custom suitcase without disassembly).

    Bike Friday is a custom bike that can ride very well, but folds poorly and takes longer to fit into a suitcase (unless you simply get a bigger suitcase).

    The Brompton is small, fits into its custom case with no disassembly, has moderate carrying capacity, but rides like a Huffy.

    The new 2008 Reach IF may solve all of these problems, but is heavy. I'm not sure whether anyone know how much it costs.

    Hope that helps.

  5. #5
    Conquer Cancer rider Boudicca's Avatar
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    I am 5'8", and 150 pounds, give or take an inch or a pound or two so most things would probably fit me moderately well. And no. no sneaking into buildings. I will check into a hotel with a suitcase, and if the hotel doesn't like the idea of a folder riding up and down with me in the elevator at 6am, I will just find another hotel. Performance is one of the "what if" questions. If I do decide to tour with this bike, then I will want one that can cope with it. If it's just the ride on the trip bike it doesn't matter that much. Weight does matter though. I don't want to be humping excessively heavy suitcases around strange towns.

    And I admit I'm lazy -- probably far too lazy. So a bike where I can buy a custom suitcase with all the relevant bits of padding and trim already in place is going to have a certain appeal, especially as I'm aiming at plane travel rather than train or car. (And I also admit that's a really silly factor to be taking into consideration).

    As for cash I don't really have a budget. If I need to spend more for a custom build I will, but I suspect I can get something that will do at least some of the things I want it to do without doing so.

    From what pm says, Birdy or Dahon might be options. Or Curve? Oh, just a minute, Dahon is Curve?

    But thanks for all the input so far. Now that I have a little more info, it makes it that much easier to do a search.
    Zero gallons to the mile

  6. #6
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Focused on performance, my personal choices with say ... $2K budget

    If you want to pack the bike quickly ... Birdy would be my choice of bikes that I have ridden. Note that I have not ridden the Bike Friday tikit.

    If a 20 to 30 minute pack/unpack sequence -- takes a little practice but is straight forward -- then I would go with a Bike Friday NWT or Pocket Rocket. Note that I have gotten the pack/unpack sequence down to a science. Then again, I do all of the bike work for the two of us. So I get lots of practice. I repeatedly get the process done in less than 45 minutes for both bikes.

  7. #7
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Actually, if you are looking to save some bucks, I would go with the Swift folder. $1000 gets you a better bike than the performance Dahons, IMO.

  8. #8
    Conquer Cancer rider Boudicca's Avatar
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    OK, I said I didn't have a budget, but $2k is definitely more than I want to spend.

    Let's set a temporary $1k budget and see where we go from there.
    Zero gallons to the mile

  9. #9
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Only a few bikes can fit into checkable luggage. That should be your starting point. Bike Friday (you don't want to spend that much) Xootr Swifts, and regular Swifts are examples. There may be others but you have to check that as your first priority.

    My Bike Friday NWT takes about 20 minutes to take apart to pack into a suitcase. There isn't much room for additional stuff in there. It has folding pedals for when you carry it in the cloth case, but I remove them for the hard suitcase, and the last time I reassembled it I stripped my crank after I reinstalled them. I think if I had known better I might have got the MKS removable pedals (eg Urbane at QUeen and John carries them).

    Aside from Brompton, which has smaller wheels, most folding bikes have to be partially disassembled to pack for an airline.
    Last edited by cooker; 05-06-08 at 05:20 PM.

  10. #10
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    I test rode a Brompton at Curbside cycle near Bathurst and Bloor. I found it too upright and cramped and at risk of pedal strike.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooker View Post
    Only a few bikes can fit into checkable luggage. That should be your starting point. Bike Friday (you don't want to spend that much)
    You can get a New World Tourist for under $1,000.

  12. #12
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I suggest you pick up a pair of running shoes.

    As far as I know, only a Brompton will pack down into an airline-legal suitcase without any disassembly. Anything else will take 30+ minutes to pack or unpack. You then have to carry 40+ lbs of bike to the airport along with your regular luggage, and will also have to worry about our friends at the TSA tearing through your carefully packed bike.

    As to gear: helmet, tire, patch kit, multi-tool, pump. Clipless is fine, but then you have to bring shoes as well.

    Taking a folder on a plane is far from hassle-free. It's worth doing for a week-long cycle tour, but if you're going on a 3-day business trip and will only ride for an hour each morning, IMO it's not worth it. You're better off doing a bit of running or using the hotel gym instead. Or, if you keep going to the same location over and over, get a beater bike & leave it at the destination.

  13. #13
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Taking a folder on a plane *is* a hassle, but not more of a hassle than carrying check in baggage. I think that only the Brompton and Birdy pack into their custom suitcases without disassembly. Neither is airline legal, but you are highly unlikely to be charged. The Birdy suitcase has to be ordered from the Pacific dealer, I would think. Check with your local Birdy dealer. (http://www.pacific-cycles.com/news_d...&cat0=2&cat=27)

    I haven't actually seen it, but my guess is that the suitcase is pretty big. The catalog doesn't have dimensions. They are sold on eBay for about $700-800 new for an 8 speed. Light touring racks run about $30, and the rear racks run quite a bit more. The total luggage capacity for you would be close to about 100 pounds. But if you only went with the front rack (highly recommended), you are looking at 15 pounds max.

    All that said, you could probably fit most bikes into an uber large suitcase, like the Dahon Airporter.

  14. #14
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Oh, and by "performance Dahon," I meant the Mu P8 or SL. Both are fast, and the SL is significantly lighter than the Birdy, but they seem less reliable thus far.

  15. #15
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    Or, if you keep going to the same location over and over, get a beater bike & leave it at the destination.
    I did that for a while, but it didn't work out well. I consulted regularily to a small town and I asked the hotel there if I could store a bike there (a cheap used bike I bought locally). They agreed, but if they put it in a storage room it was a pain to have to ask them to retrieve it each trip, and the person on duty didn't necessarily have the right key or couldn't leave the desk, and when I locked it to a rail in the parking garage one time for a month, I came back to find it rusty and dented by a car.

    I took my Bike Friday on a week long trip last year, and that was great, but the advantage was that I flew part way and then rented a car. I unpacked and assembled the bike the first day, and then after that between rides I just fast-folded it and kept it in the car trunk.

  16. #16
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pm124 View Post
    All that said, you could probably fit most bikes into an uber large suitcase, like the Dahon Airporter.
    The Bike Friday suitcase is a tad over the official airline size limit but not enough that they notice or care.

  17. #17
    Senior Member sprockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boudicca View Post
    OK, I said I didn't have a budget, but $2k is definitely more than I want to spend.

    Let's set a temporary $1k budget and see where we go from there.
    From what I've read you're just looking for something cheap, that packs and rides okay, right? The Dahon Impulse is a good solution. It's nothing fancy but it's light and rides well. I'm 6'3" and over 200 lbs and it's a bit small for me but my gf is 5'6" and she likes it.

    Since you live in Toronto I have a solution for you. You could go to Uncle Jacobs at 355 Spadina; he is selling a folding bike called an Avenir (it's a Dahon Impulse rebranded for Raleigh.) I have one that I keep at my office for lunch time rides. It's a basic 6 speed with cheaper shimano and promax parts. It rides fairly well and I'd have no problem covering 5-10 km on it at a time. It'd make a nice way to explore a city if you're travelling, it's fairly light and at Uncle Jacobs they cost about $300. I actually got moine for $250 from him so there might even be some wiggle room there. Anyway there I have seen a set of step by step instructions for packing this exact bike into a standead Samsonite suitcase, just like a Bike Friday.

    this isn't the one I was thinking of, but it works too.

    http://www.gaerlan.com/dahon/pack.htm

    Another option for you is the Tikit from Bike Friday. I've never ridden one but if it's close to my Bike Friday Pocket Llama it'll run circles around the Avenir and it folds in something like 5 seconds. I'm not sure how it packs either. Last time I was at Urbane they had a few "Toronto" models that were made sopecifically for Urbane cycle and they were selling for $999 IIRC

    If you decide on the Avenir, you should know that they are brand new in the box and you'll need to take it in to get tuned up. I took it to Urbane Cycles on John st. just north of Queen st. and get the $70 tune up. They'll check the bearings, adjust the deraillers etc. That tune up is what validates the warranty with the manufacturer so it's important. Also, be careful to check your bike BEFORE you leave Urbane. Make sure it folds correctly still and rides properly. I've taken my bike there twice and the service wasn't the best. I know that they have some very experienced people there but they obviously didn't work on my bike. The reason I Went Urbane is because they also sell Dahons, Bromptons, Bike Fridays, and Avenirs.

    You could also try Bayview Cycle On Bayview just north of the 401. They also sell Avenirs so they would be familiar with them too. I've never had any bikes serviced there but I went there for a sale on winter gear (30% off!) and the owner was very nice, not at all pushy, seemed very knowledgable and friendly. I guess they have been there for over 30 years too, not too shabby! I know that I will be sending more of my business their way.
    Last edited by sprockets; 05-07-08 at 04:43 AM.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member sprockets's Avatar
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    Two more things:

    1. Dahon sells an "airporter" suitcase. It's not a standard size so you'll probably still get charged for oversized luggage, but it'd be a lot easier than the 31" suitcase packing job usually associated with travelling with your bike.

    2. There is a shop called Bikes on Wheels. It's on Augusta (one block west of Spadina, south of College st.) and also sells Dahons so they would have experience tuning them. They are close to Uncle Jacobs too if you decide on the Avenir.

    Really, your best bet is to go and test ride a few bikes to see how you feel about them. You'll have to decide if the Tikit is $700 more bike than an Avenir or not.

    Best of luck.
    Last edited by sprockets; 05-07-08 at 04:53 AM.
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  19. #19
    --End Transmission-- Klaw's Avatar
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  20. #20
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boudicca View Post
    OK, I said I didn't have a budget, but $2k is definitely more than I want to spend.

    Let's set a temporary $1k budget and see where we go from there.
    You could get a low end Bike Friday and upgrade later. At that price, I would probably go with the swift folder.

    If you decide that small compact and quick packing valued more, then I would test ride the Birdy and BF tikit.

  21. #21
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    I think the Downtube 8H should be considered. Great value for moeny. Capable of commute and touring. Curious why you would write off hub hears for touring as an 8 speed would cover the hole range. The Downtube just needs a smaller cog to lower the gearing and would provide a nice range of gears.

  22. #22
    Conquer Cancer rider Boudicca's Avatar
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    I'm definitely not writing off hub gears. But do they weigh more than the regular type?

    I'm starting to think I forget the touring idea, and aim at the travel bike alone. That way I won't worry so much if I decide to lock it somewhere for a little while. And, to answer a question from a while back, hotel gyms/running shoes are not an option there. I can't stand hotel gyms, and don't like the running idea.
    Zero gallons to the mile

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