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  1. #1
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    Newbie's entry to folding bikes

    Make that a newbie to bikes, period. This is my first post, and I am green to bikes in general. I am moreso leaning towards buying a bike more than ever, and specifically, a folding bike. I have a few nominees that I hope to get some feedback on. Most are entry level bikes. I plan to just ride this around the neighborhood for fun, and occasionally longer distances. I plan to get one for my SO (~5'7, 140lbs), as his birthday gift, and one for myself (5'2, 98lbs). I'd prefer to get us the same model, but if it must differ I suppose it's ok.

    I'm thinking since we're both starters, we can go for entry level bikes, such as:

    - the Citizen bikes- 16"
    - 2008 Dahon Boardwalk (only 25lbs?)- 20"

    But as I read further from this forum, I am also considering one that is pricer than the former bikes:

    - 2007 Dahon Curve D3- 16"

    My budget is nowhere near impressive, so I have to put a cap at roughly $350 per bike (sorry, poor college student here). I hear so many great comments about the Dahon Curve D3, so I may fork up $400 for it, and that's really pushing it. Any advice, or other suggestions would be highly appreciated. Thank you in advance and it's nice to meet you all!
    Last edited by itzme; 06-08-08 at 09:23 AM.

  2. #2
    The Metropolis, UK
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    D3 is a perfect little bike for college and easy to stow away. You can even bring with you into some cafes and bulidings given the relatively compact fold. Ride is reasonably stable and the 3 speed gears fit your purposes perfectly. Worth the extra few $'s and still quite cheap overall.

    Welcome to the forum itzme, people are very friendly in the folding bikes section. We have a few other students here including a rather troublesome UCLA one who covets my Brompton!

  3. #3
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    Go for the more progressive folder, I have a Boardwalk and with the money I am putting into it I could have bought something more expensive and ready to go.

  4. #4
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    The Downtube Mini is a very capable compact folder and offers 8 gears over the D3's 3. However it depends whether fenders and an extra $59 is an issue. Otherwise closest good quality budget option to the Curve D3

    Avoid the Boardwalk I agree.

  5. #5
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by itzme View Post
    Make that a newbie to bikes, period. This is my first post, and I am green to bikes in general. I am moreso leaning towards buying a bike more than ever, and specifically, a folding bike. I have a few nominees that I hope to get some feedback on. Most are entry level bikes. I plan to just ride this around the neighborhood for fun, and occasionally longer distances. I plan to get one for my SO (~5'7, 140lbs), as his birthday gift, and one for myself (5'2, 98lbs). I'd prefer to get us the same model, but if it must differ I suppose it's ok.

    I'm thinking since we're both starters, we can go for entry level bikes, such as:

    - the Citizen bikes- 16"
    - 2008 Dahon Boardwalk (only 25lbs?)- 20"

    But as I read further from this forum, I am also considering one that is pricer than the former bikes:

    - 2007 Dahon Curve D3- 16"

    My budget is nowhere near impressive, so I have to put a cap at roughly $350 per bike (sorry, poor college student here). I hear so many great comments about the Dahon Curve D3, so I may fork up $400 for it, and that's really pushing it. Any advice, or other suggestions would be highly appreciated. Thank you in advance and it's nice to meet you all!
    If I was you, I would get a 20"-wheel bike instead of a 16" wheel. There are more tires available and, IMO, they handle and ride better. I use a 16" wheel bike for multimode commuting and travel. Anything else, I use the 20" wheel folder.

    If you want something from a dealer -- there is probably a local Dahon dealer -- then going by the prices at BikeFold I would go with something like this. If you look around, you can get better prices than that.

    Otherwise, I would go with a Downtube if you are intested in becoming a little handy with bikes. Regular maintenance is really straightforward. Most areas have short courses on bike maintenance.

  6. #6
    The Metropolis, UK
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    If u did go for a Downtube 20" try the Downtube 8H which has the same 8 speed hub as the mini.
    http://www.downtube.com/product532.html

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand View Post
    If I was you, I would get a 20"-wheel bike instead of a 16" wheel. There are more tires available and, IMO, they handle and ride better. I use a 16" wheel bike for multimode commuting and travel. Anything else, I use the 20" wheel folder.

    If you want something from a dealer -- there is probably a local Dahon dealer -- then going by the prices at BikeFold I would go with something like this. If you look around, you can get better prices than that.

    Otherwise, I would go with a Downtube if you are intested in becoming a little handy with bikes. Regular maintenance is really straightforward. Most areas have short courses on bike maintenance.


    I went to a bike store to check out their selection of folding bikes, and the guy that assisted me said the same thing. He said 16" wheels can't produce a ride as smooth as a 20", and it's more difficult to handle. They only carried foldable bikes from Dahon. I was able to check out the 2007 D3, and 2007 Speed. The D3 was $460, and the Speed was $450. The Speed has a steel frame, so it is quite heavy. He told me he can order the 2007 Vitesse for $450, which has similar specs of the Speed, but with an aluminum frame. The retail of the Vitesse is higher too, so I'm guessing it's the best deal of the 3? On the other hand, the Vitesse only comes in a baby blue, so I don't think it would be suitable for him. Yet, that may be the leading nominee for me Anyone has thoughts on the Vitesse?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mulleady View Post
    If u did go for a Downtube 20" try the Downtube 8H which has the same 8 speed hub as the mini.
    http://www.downtube.com/product532.html
    My bf is having a hard time digesting the fact that his bike is going to cost more than $400. He is considering the Downtube 9FS. How does that compare to 8H? How doesn the 9FS and the 8H compare to Dahon's Speed and Vitesse?

    Wow, I sound like I actually know something

  9. #9
    hcc
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    Quote Originally Posted by itzme View Post
    My bf is having a hard time digesting the fact that his bike is going to cost more than $400. He is considering the Downtube 9FS. How does that compare to 8H?
    The difference in price lies with the upgrade to an internal hub on the 8H compared to the rear derailleur on the FS. The internal hub is nice, but you may not appreciate the difference if you're just riding around for fun. I have the standard Downtube 9 (front suspension only) and it's fine for me. The derailleur can be swapped out for a internal hub some time in the future if necessary.

  10. #10
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by itzme View Post
    My bf is having a hard time digesting the fact that his bike is going to cost more than $400. He is considering the Downtube 9FS. How does that compare to 8H? How doesn the 9FS and the 8H compare to Dahon's Speed and Vitesse?

    Wow, I sound like I actually know something
    Well, I don't know the specific specs of all the bikes discussed. But before that, ask yourself if you plan on maintaining the bike yourself or plan on taking it to the local bike shop or doing any serious modifications to the bike. If you plan on taking it to the local shop then I would probably get the bike there which means a Dahon. If you believe that you are just going to use the bike as is and have fun, perhaps buying some accessories, then I would stick with the Dahon. If you enjoy tinkering, I would get the Downtube.

    I think that the Vitesse has a 7 or 8 speed internal hub in the rear. There have been several discussions on the merits of an internal hub versus a derailer drivetrain. I won't bore you with the details here, but you can find these discussions on the forum with the search tool -- Downtube: internal hub or 9-speed?. For a 20" bike, I personally go with derailer drivetrains. For a 16" bike, I go for internal hubs.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by itzme View Post
    My bf is having a hard time digesting the fact that his bike is going to cost more than $400. He is considering the Downtube 9FS. How does that compare to 8H? How doesn the 9FS and the 8H compare to Dahon's Speed and Vitesse?

    Wow, I sound like I actually know something
    The H has hub gears which are sealed in the rear hub and very durable. They can be also be changed when stationary which is useful. The 8H also has front suspension which smooths the ride somewhat. This is recommended over the no suspension NS version.

    The FS uses 9 pseed derailleur system and is more suited for off-road and trails with its front and rear suspesion although its fine on the road too. I prefer the 8H for road use and ocassional trail use. i have both and use the FS more for riding trails like the Grand Union canal towpath 19 miles into central London.

  12. #12
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mulleady View Post
    The H has hub gears which are sealed in the rear hub and very durable.
    Although I personally have had few issues with my SA 8 -- sixth gear is an animal a bit difficult to tame -- you might want to see Jur's posts on his experiences with the SA 8. Of course his experiences are just anecdotal and I suspect that Jur puts a lot more torque on his hubs than a mere mortal like myself, but it is something to consider with regards to repair and replacement.

  13. #13
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    Thank you everyone for your advice. Let me do a quick update: I finally brought showed my bf the Dahon Speed D7, and though he likes it but I guess he expected it to be somewhat smaller. It does look a tad longer than a regular bike when I sat on it. The bike shop we went to knows nothing of Downtubes, so we did not get the try them out.

    Now, we are down to the Dahon Speed D7 ($352 incl. shipping), or the Downtube Front suspension 9 speed folding bike (331.50 incl. shipping).

    The prices are similar, but which bike would perform better and is better worth the price? I fail to find their weights, so if anyone has that info I would also appreciate that. I read so many threads and people made quick decisions, so I feel somewhat embarrassed and slow for taking so long to make this decision. Maybe buy one of each?

  14. #14
    jur
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    According to the respective web site specs, the Dahon Speed D7 is 25.8lbs and the Downtube 26.5lbs. But there is usually some variance in those figures as specs/components change slightly, so it shouldn't be taken as gospel, only indicative. That sort of difference won't be felt.

    My own opinion about the Dahons in general is that they have a potentially dangerous folding hinge at the front; you have to know how it works and apply Loctite to the various screws before it becomes reliable. But this is my opinion only. Other than that, I think the Dahon might be slightly more refined than the Downtube all round wrt to components. I don't have a Downtube like that, but I do have a Mini; the Mini is an excellent ride and I would expect the same from the one you're looking at. (Although I swapped some stuff out to suit my personal preferences.)

    However if something breaks, you would have better service from Downtube - the owner, Yan Lyanski, has built up an excellent reputation for going the extra mile with his customers, something you can not get from Dahon, unless you bought from Thor (Brakemeister) who also is very helpful indeed. Thor would also ship the bike to you, as would Downtube.

    It's hard to go wrong with either bike - neither are duds, but there are issues to watch with the Dahon, so get to know exactly how the handlepost hinge works. On the Downtubes, componentry is generally less refined, but is has a slightly better gear range. Dahons tend to have better resale value. Personally, despite my criticism of Dahon and loyalty to Downtube, I would have a hard time deciding.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  15. #15
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    I have a D7 but love the looks of the Downtube. I agree with Jur about getting spares for Dahons, though disagree (so far) about the handlepost hinge. :-)

    Having access to spares and a good dealer is quite important - because bikes do wear. Either bike should be a lot of fun. Have a look at the Pootle Thread here to see both in their natural habitat..
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  16. #16
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    I'd consider the 202 wheel Downtube 8H I have one and find it a great ride.

  17. #17
    Senior Member The Chemist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mulleady View Post

    Avoid the Boardwalk I agree.
    Why? I've had a Boardwalk since January and have put 1300km on it since then (it's a daily commuter) and I love it. It's the best bike I've ever owned, as it is very maneuverable, light, and incredibly useful. I'd highly recommend it.

  18. #18
    actually it's silver
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    Downtube 8H here, too. It's about $100 above your stated price range, but well worth it, imo, because it is good right out of the box. In other words, you won't feel like you've got to spend money upgrading certain components right away; instead you can comfortably wait until something actually needs replacing and so make changes a step at a time.

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    Re: 16" vs 20" a word of warning - I'm a 120lb weakling and I went with the 16" because of that (I really doubt I could carry the 20" folders very far, too bulky).... I have to carry my Curve up to my 3rd floor apt after every ride and I can do it but if I was on the 4th floor it would be iffy.

  20. #20
    Building a better Strida
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    geeks, fwiw, most riders won't start obsessing over parts and saddles etc etc, and thus won't be making upgrades. I find it pretty rare around downtown to find a tricked out totally upgraded bike, considering the number of all weather beaters. Also, pretty much any brand new bike from a local bike specialist's mid-range to the walmart weekly special, will ride quite well even tho they are hundreds of dollars apart.

    Most of the frequent posters here have studied and made their bike a rolling work of art, science experiement or reseach project and sometimes, parts exhibitions... so don't get discouraged by just getting what you can afford and what is good enough for YOU. Some of us have obsessed about the bike so much that its A LOT better than what the bike was out-of-the-box, but only a handful of us can appreciate those upgrades.

    whatever you do, just make sure your folder has reliable latches and sturdy frame, and the ones you listed have those in spades.

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