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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 06-17-08, 02:01 PM   #1
veggie_lover
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Why are handlebars higher on folders?

I have owned a Dahon D7 for 9 months and just realized the handlebars are significantly higher than full size bike? Is this correct or do I need t adjust mine way down?
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Old 06-17-08, 03:03 PM   #2
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I have owned a Dahon D7 for 9 months and just realized the handlebars are significantly higher than full size bike? Is this correct or do I need t adjust mine way down?
It depends on you. I have 3 folders. My Boardwalk and my Brompton have higher handlebars wihich is what I prefer to use. That way, I can sit up and scan the traffic better for safety. My Piccolo is another story. While the handlebars are still up, the ride is slightly more leaning forward which is still rather upright, but in a more sportier, racing position. That is what most bikes (at least in North America) appear to be designed for. My Boardwalk has a non adjusting stem. The same with my Brompton. My Piccolo has a telescoping-2 piece-stem which allows me to fine tune the fit. If your bike has that, permit yourself to experiment what is the best height for you, rather than someone else's opinion.
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Old 06-17-08, 03:16 PM   #3
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It depends on you. I have 3 folders. My Boardwalk and my Brompton have higher handlebars wihich is what I prefer to use. That way, I can sit up and scan the traffic better for safety. My Piccolo is another story. While the handlebars are still up, the ride is slightly more leaning forward which is still rather upright, but in a more sportier, racing position. That is what most bikes (at least in North America) appear to be designed for. My Boardwalk has a non adjusting stem. The same with my Brompton. My Piccolo has a telescoping-2 piece-stem which allows me to fine tune the fit. If your bike has that, permit yourself to experiment what is the best height for you, rather than someone else's opinion.
Thanks for your insights. Why do folding manufacturers make the tall handebars when all other bikes have them lower? So far I have not found any problem so haven't tried lowering my telescopic one.
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Old 06-17-08, 04:08 PM   #4
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I think they're higher on folders as the bikes are ergonomically designed to be as many things as they can be and to fit a large gamut of differently sized riders.

Most mid-range folders are designed with the idea of them being used for short to mid range journeys across towns for more casual use than a 'sport' machine, so an assumption for comfort (and wearing everday attire) seems to be made making higher bars the choice for a comfortable, less exerting upright riding position.

If you look at any full-size bike with a similar design remit guiding it's function, (3 speed commuters, some of the 'navigator' style hybrids), you'll likely find they too have high bars on an adjustable stem, and perhaps also a shorter seat-to-bar distance than touring or sport machines.

Why they're so high on the Dahon Speed Pro? Well that's a mystery
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Old 06-17-08, 04:28 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by veggie_lover View Post
Thanks for your insights. Why do folding manufacturers make the tall handebars when all other bikes have them lower? So far I have not found any problem so haven't tried lowering my telescopic one.
Most folding bikes are made for the general public, who don't really want low bars. For short rides, an upright position is more comfortable. After 20 or 30 continuous miles, though, upright positions produce more discomfort for most (but not all) riders.

That's also why most folders are set up with a hybrid-like geometry, to appeal to a broad range of riders.


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Originally Posted by folder fanatic
It depends on you....
No, it depends on the manufacturer and whether they build any versatility into the sizing/fit.

E.g. the Dahon Boardwalk S1 does not have an adjustable handlepost. Either you like where the bars end up, or you are SOL. If you get a new Dahon Speed D7, you can at least adjust the handlebar height (but not the reach from the saddle to the bars). If you go with a Swift, you can flip and/or swap the stem, and get a little more versatility. If you get a Bike Friday, it's custom so you can get whatever you want.
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Old 06-17-08, 04:52 PM   #6
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They are also higher so you do not hit your knees while pedaling.
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Old 06-17-08, 05:08 PM   #7
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Most folders are not intended to be road bikes. They are meant to be the small wheel folding equivalent of utility and local transportation bikes. You certainly can get folders that are more like road racing bikes, but they are very expensive and you probably will never see one in a bike shop. Like another poster said, once you get past rides of a few miles, you start seeing the disadvantages of the sit up and beg riding position.
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Old 06-17-08, 06:17 PM   #8
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On the Dahon Curve, the handlebar height is adjustable, and you can make it as low or high as you like (within reason, of course).
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Old 06-17-08, 07:54 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Longfemur View Post
Most folders are not intended to be road bikes. They are meant to be the small wheel folding equivalent of utility and local transportation bikes. You certainly can get folders that are more like road racing bikes, but they are very expensive and you probably will never see one in a bike shop. Like another poster said, once you get past rides of a few miles, you start seeing the disadvantages of the sit up and beg riding position.


I beg to differ , (the red bit), while I would love to have a Bike Friday Pocket Rocket Pro , you can achieve something similar with a modded Raleigh 20, maybe not as light but still quite fast. On mine, I have drop bars with a headstem that angles down for "sporty" riding or I flip it over for a more upright position when touring.
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Old 06-18-08, 04:53 AM   #10
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1) They're higher because, in general, the seat-bar distance is a little shorter, meaning the you'd feel cramped on low bars

2) They're higher because one of the target markets for folders is people who don't ride at the moment, and want something practical to get them riding more. Few of these people want low bars (frankly, not many regular non-racing cyclists benefit from drop bars)

3) They're higher because the bike is intended so suit everyone from 5'1 to 6'3. On a regular bike, that would be several frame sizes. On a folder, all that adjustment has to come from the stempost and seatpost. Therefore, if you're, say, 5'6, and you have the bars at their highest point, it could well be that you have them sensibly set for someone a lot taller.
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Old 06-18-08, 06:44 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
No, it depends on the manufacturer and whether they build any versatility into the sizing/fit.

E.g. the Dahon Boardwalk S1 does not have an adjustable handlepost. Either you like where the bars end up, or you are SOL. If you get a new Dahon Speed D7, you can at least adjust the handlebar height (but not the reach from the saddle to the bars). If you go with a Swift, you can flip and/or swap the stem, and get a little more versatility. If you get a Bike Friday, it's custom so you can get whatever you want.
Downtubes are also very adjustable with respect to the handlebars.
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Old 06-18-08, 07:32 PM   #12
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I started out on my Dahon Vitesse D7 with the bars several inches higher than the seat, but now have them an inch or so below it. As you get more comfortable with the bike and want to cut wind resistance, you are likely to do so as well (assuming you have a telescoping handlebar and can vary the height).
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Old 06-19-08, 03:34 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post

......No, it depends on the manufacturer and whether they build any versatility into the sizing/fit.

E.g. the Dahon Boardwalk S1 does not have an adjustable handlepost. Either you like where the bars end up, or you are SOL. If you get a new Dahon Speed D7, you can at least adjust the handlebar height (but not the reach from the saddle to the bars). If you go with a Swift, you can flip and/or swap the stem, and get a little more versatility. If you get a Bike Friday, it's custom so you can get whatever you want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
It depends on you. I have 3 folders. My Boardwalk and my Brompton have higher handlebars wihich is what I prefer to use. That way, I can sit up and scan the traffic better for safety. My Piccolo is another story. While the handlebars are still up, the ride is slightly more leaning forward which is still rather upright, but in a more sportier, racing position. That is what most bikes (at least in North America) appear to be designed for. My Boardwalk has a non adjusting stem. The same with my Brompton. My Piccolo has a telescoping-2 piece-stem which allows me to fine tune the fit. If your bike has that, permit yourself to experiment what is the best height for you, rather than someone else's opinion.
Clarification: I meant that the selection and purchase of the model in question is depended on you. After the purchase, you should be able to fit the bike providing you bought the right bike in the first place. All my bikes (except for the Boardwalk) were test ridden and fitted to me at purchase. And I looked for the option to have a telescoping stem & seat post on my present Piccolo and a telescoping seat post only on a future Brompton at purchase in order to fit many people that might use my bike over the years. That depends entirely on me negotiating the order at purchase!

Except for the frame itself, no bike is written in stone. You can swap parts/accessories as you wish to or as the need arises. My Boardwalk is proof to this. I really enjoy changing and upgrading the drivetrain, brakes, and other parts to what I want, rather than what the bike designer chose. I did kept the stem as it is steel and far more hardier than the aluminum one offered-even though it is non adjustable.

Last edited by folder fanatic; 06-19-08 at 03:54 PM.
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