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  1. #1
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    Folding bike for a NYC roadie?

    I smacked myself upside the head this morning when I was on the forums here. I've been wanting to ride in to work from Brooklyn into Midtown Manhattan, but have been reluctant to even consider locking up any of my bikes,road or mtb, anywhere in Manhattan over the years, never mind my carbon fiber Kuota which never leaves my sight. I had never considered a folding bike because the one I rode over 20 years ago felt like a wet noodle and couldn't be taken seriously. It then occurred to me, everything else about cycling has changed, maybe folders had matured a bit.

    Anyway, what would be recommended for a roadie in NYC as a compromise? I am looking for something that would go into a bag that could be carried into an office that otherwise won't allow a bike. I'm not expecting carbon fiber road performance, but something that can move would be a factor. NYC riding is mostly flat, but the bridge is a climb. Also take into account the less than stellar road conditions. Gearing, wheel size, portability, taking on a plane all go into the equation. I just checked on eBay at prices, but I'd probably buy local, they don't appear to be outrageously expensive, which was a surprise.

    And I'm not jumping on the cycling bandwagon because of gas prices. I've been riding for a long time, and I commute on the subway anyway. The real impetus is watching the cyclists riding over the bridge from my train and wishing I could join them.

    And of course, my wife will just roll her eyes "what do you need another bike for? You already have 4!"

  2. #2
    Senior Member Caaah's Avatar
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    I use a Curve D3 by Dahon to get from Brooklyn to Midtown. It has the smallest fold of all the Dahons. I also considered the Downtube Mini, and the Brompton. The Mini didn't fold as small (however the 2009 model now does). The Brompton was just a little too expensive, but since you were willing to invest the money in a carbon fiber, you might not mind. I should mention that I'm in the middle of the recommended rider size for most folders, so I had my pick of whichever one. If you're over 6' or under 5' 3", though, some people have had trouble with the fit of certain bikes. Can't hurt to try a bunch out.
    Last edited by Caaah; 06-02-08 at 03:55 PM.

  3. #3
    jur
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    You are ripe for a Xootr Swift. Doesn't fold uber small, but does have a small footprint when folded, and it has the stiffest folder frame around, and goes like a bullet. Check my sig for my fast one.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  4. #4
    Senior Member Caaah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    You are ripe for a Xootr Swift. Doesn't fold uber small, but does have a small footprint when folded, and it has the stiffest folder frame around, and goes like a bullet. Check my sig for my fast one.
    Oh, yeah, I thought about that one too. And its made in Brooklyn!

    This is actually the first list I read. Its from Transportation Alternatives:
    http://www.transalt.org/resources/foldingbikes

  5. #5
    Senior Member Caaah's Avatar
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    Though I'm very sorry that this person didn't have this up for sale when I was looking for a bike:

    http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/bik/704085000.html

    :drool:

  6. #6
    eight spokes somnatash's Avatar
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    Welcome to the fold
    Quote Originally Posted by zacster View Post
    maybe folders had matured a bit.
    They have
    I am looking for something that would go into a bag that could be carried into an office that otherwise won't allow a bike.
    Like that?:
    http://www.dahon.com/intl/accessorie...ge/elbolso.htm
    http://www.bicycledoctor.co.uk/p_bromptonbbag.html
    http://www.birdy.com.au/bags_cases.htm

    I'm not expecting carbon fiber road performance, but something that can move would be a factor.
    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/images/dahon...-pro-tt-08.jpg
    http://bikesfortransportyeah.files.w...brompton-1.jpg
    http://www.bikeradar.com/road/news/a...nocturne-15820

    "The real impetus is watching the cyclists riding over the bridge from my train and wishing I could join them
    Ah! Like those boys, all small wheelers?:
    http://times-up.org/gallery/view.php?photoid=233

  7. #7
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    I'm a New Yorker and, like yourself, I rode my first folder in over 20 years just last week. (Once upon a time I owned a Bickerton!) Long story short, I chose a Brompton. After all my research, there were only a few folders that got really small when folded and were "real" bicycles - bikes you'd want to ride more than just a mile or two. When I say "really small" I mean small enough, IMO, to get past an office building guard without drawing undue attention (because, when folded and covered in a bag, the bike doesn't "register" as a bicycle - or even as an object large enough to warrant further investigation). I also wanted a bike small enough to check into a coat room of a museum or restaurant without making a scene, and small enough to bring into a bar and stick under a table. The Brompton fit the bill and, so far, I'm delighted with the ride.

    Anyway, the three bikes I narrowed it down to were the Dahon Curve, the Brompton and the Bike Friday Tikit. All seem to be good bikes - easily good enough for your commute and, I believe, perfectly capable of comfortably riding 30-50 miles or more. The Brompton folds into the smallest and neatest package, and folds/unfolds in 20-30 seconds; the Tikit is probably a better bike (ride/handling, but not significantly better than the Brompton, at least for commuting in NYC, IMHO), and folds in about 5 seconds - faster than any other bike! It's a bigger package than the Brompton when folded, however - and I thought that it's shape - when folded and covered - was a bit too odd to quietly go into buildings without drawing undue attention to itself. I didn't get to test the Dahon Curve.

    Search for "Tikit on trial" on youtube and you'll find a series of little videos where someone actually goes to various NYC office buildings to see if they can smuggle their Bike Friday Tikit in.

    Good luck!

  8. #8
    ret'd msgr ignant666's Avatar
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    If the bike absolutely has to go into a bag to get past security, the Swift is sadly probably out of the running; that's too bad, as it's probably the most "roadie" possibility, along with some Bike Fridays.
    It can get a lot smaller very fast, but is still pretty bulky & unlikely to get past the average NYC lobby guard.
    I have to go up to my office in the freight elevator with my Swift, but wouldn't give up the ride for any front-lobby entrance/exit rights in the world.
    If you've got to go through the front way, New Yorker is probably right that the Brompton is your best/maybe only bet. I would definitely buy one as a second bike if I could convince my wife to let me have more than one bike again (ie, probably next year).

  9. #9
    Senior Member alhedges's Avatar
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    I would agree that it sounds like the Brompton is the bike you need to look at. It rides decently and gets really small pretty quickly. There are better riding folders - if you are a roadie you might appreciate this http://www.jimlangley.net/ride/bikefriday.html - but the better riding folders tend not to fold as small or as quickly than the 16" folders that focus on folding.

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    While I agree that the Brompton folds the smallest, I think that if you are a real roadie, you'll want a folder that is more performance oriented like the Tikit. The one advantage you have is that you work in NYC, so you can actually try many of the folders out.

    Juan

  11. #11
    PDR
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    Surely a Dahon MU SL has to be a contender?
    http://www.dahon.com/us/musl.htm

    I bought mine last month and @ 19.4lbs / 8.7kg it is a good 10lbs lighter than my other folder. I’m VERY pleased with this Dahon, it is fast and I was able to keep pace with a guy on a race/road bike.

    Another contender may be the even lighter MU XXV
    http://www.dahon.com/us/muxxv.htm

    or how about the Speed Pro TT http://www.dahon.com/us/speedprott.htm
    It is heaver than either of MU’s though

    Brompton may have the compact fold but they can’t compete in terms of speed, components or the light weight of the MU SL

  12. #12
    Senior Member jwlunt's Avatar
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    I'd be inclined to have a chat with your friendly security guard first. I work in a posh office in Chicago and the guards are fine with my Swift. They've taken a liking to it so I now get greetings when I go in. Your guys may be different of course!

  13. #13
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    My two cents... I don't have experience with other bikes, but I commute from Woodside queens through Brooklyn to Wall Street/Broadway ~10-11 miles depending on the route. Lots of rough streets, etc. From what I have read, the Xootr is a good choice, but I went with the Birdy. Very good on the bumpy roads, fast - i keep up with all the road bike guys, and a relatively small fold. If a small fold is what you want, the brompton is the cheese. If you can get away with the Xootr, then everything I ready says it's a performance bike for a good price. I couldn't get one in my building, so it was out for me.

    Good luck.

  14. #14
    rhm
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    I ride my Downtube Mini from Penn Station to 69th & Madison almost every day, and have ridden it over to the Queensborough, Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, all the way down Flatbush Ave to Brooklyn College, &c, many times. And of course every day starts and ends with the 6 mile ride from or to my home to a train station in NJ, about 6 miles.

    Sometimes I do those rides on a Strida (on Monday, for example, I woke up to find the Mini had a flat tire, so I rode the Strida; and today I found I had left my Mini out in the rain all night, so the Brooks saddle was completely soaked; so I rode the Strida).

    I also have a Raleigh Twenty, which is a fine bike, but I wouldn't take it on public transportation, so I never commute on it.

    I even have a Kent Ultracheap folder, upgraded with a three-speed hub, which makes it a decent bicycle. I have commuted several times, but the ergonomics are poor, and I wouldn't recommend it unless you really enjoy tinkering.

    I have test ridden a Brompton, a Xootr Swift, and a Mobiky.

    Of all the folders I've tried, I'd have to give the Swift the highest marks as a bicycle, but as a piece of luggage it's not much better than the Raleigh Twenty. Both Mobiky and Brompton are beautifully engineered, but they are dulll as bicycles. I frankly don't understand what people like about the Brompton; the high price does not translate to high quality.
    Last edited by rhm; 06-04-08 at 08:22 AM. Reason: I bungled a sentence again!

  15. #15
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwlunt View Post
    I'd be inclined to have a chat with your friendly security guard first. I work in a posh office in Chicago and the guards are fine with my Swift. They've taken a liking to it so I now get greetings when I go in. Your guys may be different of course!
    That's excellent advice. With the exception of the pricey Birdy, none of the performance bikes actually fold into a small package. And the Birdy doesn't fold nearly as small as a Brompton. You might be happiest on a Swift or a Bike Friday, but they are worthless for getting into small places.

    Bike Friday is making a version of their foldable commuter called the Speeding Tikit. The earlier versions are not very useful for fast riding because of stem flex. However, my guess is that the Speeding Tikit will be totally useless on New York streets. Without suspension, 349 wheels find the bottom of potholes. And it doesn't fold to a small package.

    The only bike that has worked for me in NYC is the Birdy. I've owned a Downtube and a Dahon Mu Sl. I find that the Birdy is faster than the Mu Sl on most surfaces and won't fall apart underneath you. (Though you probably aren't worried about that if you ride a carbon bike.)

  16. #16
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    i need to get rid of my dahon vitesse d5. this bike here:

    http://www.foldingbikes.biz/html/dahon_vitesse_d5.html

    if you're interested, shoot me a PM and we'll discuss. I have a bag for it too.

  17. #17
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    After some time you can fold a Brompton in about 15 seconds. The nice thing about them is that you can take them on mass transit and no one will bat an eye. Regarding your main concern, I had exactly one incident at my former office at 1 Penn Plaza. The security guy told me to go see the manager who took one look at the folded Brompton then inquired as to which front desk joker thought it was a problem.

    It seems like you have enough fast bikes. If you're looking for something that can be carried discretely into your office (and other establishments) it's hard to go wrong with the Brompton. It's surprisingly quick with the 6 speed option and great to zip around town to do errands, all without worrying about carrying a chain and lock. If you want real speed, you can order one with Ti parts, slicks, and different gearing. It will cost you a pretty penny though.

    ...or you can just buy a cheap beater, make it look ratty, and not worry about it being stolen!

    David Lam at bfold.com carries a bunch of different folders and that's all he focuses on. He'll definitely be a good person to talk to. Go visit him at his tiny shop at 13th, between 2nd and 3rd I think.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacster View Post
    I smacked myself upside the head this morning when I was on the forums here. I've been wanting to ride in to work from Brooklyn into Midtown Manhattan, but have been reluctant to even consider locking up any of my bikes,road or mtb, anywhere in Manhattan over the years, never mind my carbon fiber Kuota which never leaves my sight. I had never considered a folding bike because the one I rode over 20 years ago felt like a wet noodle and couldn't be taken seriously. It then occurred to me, everything else about cycling has changed, maybe folders had matured a bit.

    Anyway, what would be recommended for a roadie in NYC as a compromise? I am looking for something that would go into a bag that could be carried into an office that otherwise won't allow a bike. I'm not expecting carbon fiber road performance, but something that can move would be a factor. NYC riding is mostly flat, but the bridge is a climb. Also take into account the less than stellar road conditions. Gearing, wheel size, portability, taking on a plane all go into the equation. I just checked on eBay at prices, but I'd probably buy local, they don't appear to be outrageously expensive, which was a surprise.

    And I'm not jumping on the cycling bandwagon because of gas prices. I've been riding for a long time, and I commute on the subway anyway. The real impetus is watching the cyclists riding over the bridge from my train and wishing I could join them.

    And of course, my wife will just roll her eyes "what do you need another bike for? You already have 4!"
    I'd suggest a Birdy as well. I've been living/riding on the UES in NYC and commuting out to LI for the last 4 years on a number of different bikes and of all the folders I've tried, the Birdy feels the most like a normal road bike (Haven't ridden a Curve or a Mu SL though). Minuses for the design:

    It doesn't fold very easily but it's manage-ably small.
    The suspension is reverberant.
    The stock components are lackluster.

    Buy a stock one and hop it up. I've got a Birdy green with a 9spd 105 Octalink crank on it I'd consider letting go, to the right rider of course (still set-up as a 7 speed. Tha make sense?).

    Danny

  19. #19
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    I just tried out my new Xootr Swift today.
    I felt a little cramped, but I've got short stubby legs and a long torso.
    It doesn't fold small, but it's very light (to me at least) and it's way stiff.

    If you're a roadie, you'll love it.

    I haven't tried a Birdy, so I can't comment on it.

    Try them both, and let us know what you think!

  20. #20
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    Brompton recommendation

    I'd strongly recommend a Brompton. I have other folding bikes (Dahon, Bike Friday) which ride well, and they're good bikes for folding into a car trunk. The genius of a Brompton is the quick compact fold, the fact that it is locked together when folded, and most importantly, the crankset and chain are on the inside. You are MUCH less likely to get chain grease on yourself and others with a folded Brompton, and that's an important consideration in a crowded city or transit.

    I shudder to think about taking my Dahon on the subway when the frame is swinging out and leaving a swipe of black grease on someone's leg. On the other hand, I don't think twice about taking the Brompton on the subway, except maybe at the height of rush hour. I also find that I can carry the Brompton into shops and put it behind some potted plant or display near the front door and have never had an objection. Store security guards often seem amused and interested, and they usually offer to watch the bike.

    Another consideration is the Brompton panniers (S Case and Touring Pannier). They clip on and off in seconds and offer a handy way to carry your gear other than a backpack.

    If you're not sure about Brompton cycling capabilities, the Brompton Forum is largely Brits and Europeans who put in many more miles of commuting and touring than I'd ever do.

    As I said, I'm not totally biased, and I use a Dahon Speed 8 also for long rides through the city when I don't anticipate folding or mass transit. However, the Brompton is the one folder that I'd keep over the others.

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