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Old 06-20-08, 11:53 PM   #1
cherrypicker
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Taking the plunge: recommendations for good solid reliable 16-inch folder?

Anyone have any recommendations for a tough and reliable 16-inch foldable? I'm looking for something that will last a long time, have mostly standard parts (easily maintainable), and be fairly rigid and sturdy (not crazy about suspension). It doesn't have to have a lot of gears or be fast or terribly light -- just solid and reliable. I want a 16 because I'll be taking it on the train (probably in a bag) and commuting with it. It'll probably be ridden in the rain every so often.

As for height, I'm about 5'7''.

I've ridden enough bikes (in my younger days, mostly) to know that I always regret it when I get a cheap bike that creaks or rattles or makes other suspicious noises when I crank pretty hard on it. So, I'm willing to pay for quality -- I just don't want to go overboard. It would also be nice if it could handle riding off of a curb every once in a while.

From my research here and elsewhere, it looks like three good options for me are the Downtube Mini, the Bike Friday Tikit, or one of the Brompton bikes (I like the classic look of the B). Given the substantial price difference, I'm inclined to go with the Mini, but am hesitant to go with an aluminum frame (my guess is that steel is tougher and may provide a slightly smoother ride), and am also not excited about the rear suspension. Not sure what to think about the hub gears; they seem less efficient and harder to replace than a regular derailleur setup.

Much obliged for any tips.
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Old 06-21-08, 12:04 AM   #2
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For the money the Mini is hard to beat. Several people on the board here have them and seem quite pleased with them. I have a BF NWT and have considered the Tikit. Costs almost three times as much but has a quick fold and are hand built. BF would probably last a long time and them seem to keep a great resale.
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Old 06-21-08, 12:45 AM   #3
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Suspension on an aluminium frame mini bike is no deficit.
(Scroll down to RHM's Post)



(pic by RHM from the Pootle Thread)


People do quite long distances on them as you can see. Opinions on hub gears seem to differ wildly - some say they're more suitable for dusty conditions, and keeping grease off fellow commuters - others prefer the ease of maintenance of dérailleurs. Your choice. If you're commuting you may need to bag the bike anyway.

Also see the 16" wheel Dahons, there's plenty of quality choice there too.
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Old 06-21-08, 02:11 AM   #4
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> Suspension on an aluminium frame mini bike is no deficit.

I'd read about how it attaches to the frame via some plastic bushing rather than bearings. That kinda' rubs me the wrong way. Seems like it's built to wear out... One more thing that can potentially have problems or cause less stability. Maybe I'm being too picky though.

Thanks.
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Old 06-21-08, 04:02 AM   #5
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"Seems like it's built to wear out..."

Seems like you don't know.... :-)


The chain and sprockets will wear out before the suspension.. Then, you'll be forever getting punctures, lubing gears and cables and replacing brake pads and tires. You'll spend weeks cussing over saddles, frame hinges, pedal bearings, and discussing tire brands with the other propeller-heads on here. After that, no matter how light your bike already is, you'll start asking about replacing all the components in order to get the weight down even further..

Typically, whatever you get; a year down the line you'll want something else. Folders get you like that. People, myself included, always seem to need to own at least two. They're ADDICTIVE.

The suspension on a Downtube mini or any other bike will be the last of your worries... :-)


"Maybe I'm being too picky though. "

Yup. Just get one you like. Whatever you buy will be wrong. Get the nicest 'wrong' bike you can afford. If you keep it in good order you'll get a good price on it when you want to upgrade.

The mantra:

Try before you buy - you may not fit a 16" folder, or a 20" if you're much over 6 foot, or 'generously proportioned' . 16" wheel bikes are easier on trains, 20" are easier on the bum, especially off-pavement. Folders are not generally 'light', whether they're made of alloy or steel. Gears are nice, unless you're weird or live on a frozen lake. Hub gears go wrong and need maintenance. So do dérailleurs. Fat tires like Big Apples provide a degree of 'suspension' on hardtail bikes. A rear rack gets stuff off your back and eases fatigue. Buying a bike you can get bits for locally or with a phone call is a bonus. Get a bag or cover for public transportation. Suspension is a personal choice - good systems are unobtrusive when riding.

Orange coloured bikes make your hair fall out and turn your fingernails green. Avoid them.

"I'm looking for something that will last a long time."

Raleigh Twenty. Just replace the frame, wheels, tires and crankset every ten years. Should see you out.


Enjoy!
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Old 06-21-08, 04:33 AM   #6
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My view; the Mini is the winner. Bromptons fold smaller, but they also cost a lot more, and come with at best 6 speeds, and those speeds not covering as wide a range as the 8 speed on the Mini. The Tikkit folds quicker, but derailleurs on a 16"er tend to end up rather undergeared, and in the UK at least, it makes even the Brompton look cheap. Even in the States it's more than twice the price of a Mini. Top gear on the Tikkit is 77 gear inches, and personally, I can spin that out on the flat, whereas the Mini tops out at 103 gear inches, which lets me push it down the hills, as well as up.
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Old 06-21-08, 05:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
...whereas the Mini tops out at 103 gear inches...
Wha...!

* 305mm + 40mm = 345mm diam
* 345mm / 25.4 = 13.58"
* 46T / 23T = 2
* top gear = 3.05

* top gear-inch = 3.05*2*13.58 = 82.9GI

Where'd you get 103GI?
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Old 06-21-08, 05:44 AM   #8
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Is it 23t? I'd assumed (without checking) that it was the 19t
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Old 06-21-08, 06:02 AM   #9
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What about the Dahon Curve? Nicer looking (IMO) and very well made. In the UK, the 2007 model is £180 cheaper than the mini (£244 v £350+tax).
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Old 06-21-08, 06:32 AM   #10
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Is that the single speed, though? Or 3 speed? They only go up to 5.
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Old 06-21-08, 07:15 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cherrypicker View Post
Anyone have any recommendations for a tough and reliable 16-inch foldable? I'm looking for something that will last a long time, have mostly standard parts (easily maintainable), and be fairly rigid and sturdy (not crazy about suspension). It doesn't have to have a lot of gears or be fast or terribly light -- just solid and reliable. I want a 16 because I'll be taking it on the train (probably in a bag) and commuting with it. It'll probably be ridden in the rain every so often.

As for height, I'm about 5'7''.

I've ridden enough bikes (in my younger days, mostly) to know that I always regret it when I get a cheap bike that creaks or rattles or makes other suspicious noises when I crank pretty hard on it. So, I'm willing to pay for quality -- I just don't want to go overboard. It would also be nice if it could handle riding off of a curb every once in a while.

From my research here and elsewhere, it looks like three good options for me are the Downtube Mini, the Bike Friday Tikit, or one of the Brompton bikes (I like the classic look of the B). Given the substantial price difference, I'm inclined to go with the Mini, but am hesitant to go with an aluminum frame (my guess is that steel is tougher and may provide a slightly smoother ride), and am also not excited about the rear suspension. Not sure what to think about the hub gears; they seem less efficient and harder to replace than a regular derailleur setup.

Much obliged for any tips.
You're the same height as me. I have a merc and I am very satisfied with it. It has been tested soundly to a good mileage of over 3000 miles. I have written much on its advantages and foibles (which are very easily solved) PM me for more so I don't bore people again. Where are you located?
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Old 06-21-08, 07:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cherrypicker View Post
Anyone have any recommendations for a tough and reliable 16-inch foldable? I'm looking for something that will last a long time, have mostly standard parts (easily maintainable), and be fairly rigid and sturdy (not crazy about suspension). It doesn't have to have a lot of gears or be fast or terribly light -- just solid and reliable. I want a 16 because I'll be taking it on the train (probably in a bag) and commuting with it. It'll probably be ridden in the rain every so often.

As for height, I'm about 5'7''.

I've ridden enough bikes (in my younger days, mostly) to know that I always regret it when I get a cheap bike that creaks or rattles or makes other suspicious noises when I crank pretty hard on it. So, I'm willing to pay for quality -- I just don't want to go overboard. It would also be nice if it could handle riding off of a curb every once in a while.

From my research here and elsewhere, it looks like three good options for me are the Downtube Mini, the Bike Friday Tikit, or one of the Brompton bikes (I like the classic look of the B). Given the substantial price difference, I'm inclined to go with the Mini, but am hesitant to go with an aluminum frame (my guess is that steel is tougher and may provide a slightly smoother ride), and am also not excited about the rear suspension. Not sure what to think about the hub gears; they seem less efficient and harder to replace than a regular derailleur setup.

Much obliged for any tips.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cherrypicker View Post
> Suspension on an aluminium frame mini bike is no deficit.

I'd read about how it attaches to the frame via some plastic bushing rather than bearings. That kinda' rubs me the wrong way. Seems like it's built to wear out... One more thing that can potentially have problems or cause less stability. Maybe I'm being too picky though.

Thanks.
At the purchases of all three folders, I too went more for durability than price (although the sky was not the limit in my budget). Each bike was selected for the following features:

Steel frame: Besides what you pointed out above, when a bike component wears out or needs to be upgraded, you are limited to the hub spacings that the aluminum frame comes with. With the steel frame, you can Cold Press (expand or contract the forks) it to the width you want. That way, any hub can be used now or in the future. My Boardwalk S1 was worked on in this fashion. Please see my Flickr Web site and my Geocities Web site for more information on it's transformation. Another thing about aluminum is I am not sure how long the frame will last. Steel lasts. My old Phillips lasted up to now (about 40 years) until I gave it away earlier this year.

Curb Jumping: I do not do stunts like this on my bikes. But if I do, my Brompton is the bike I want to be on. The wing nut style clamps used to lock the frame is the strongest and the most reliable frame latches I ever saw.

Longevity: My Boardwalk passed it's fifth year now. My Brompton is going strong. I bought it in 2005 and it still looks new. My 16 inch Piccolo also looks great and is still looking good.

The tikit seems to be a nice bike, but one that is a very recent addition to the folding bike world. There is no test of time passage for it. Dahons are nice, do last long as far as the steel frame ones are concerned, and are considered affordable. I would not jump off curbs on one though. The Brompton is the most long lived (as far as it's reputation goes). And it is my favorite of the three.

I would test ride a tikit and a Brompton at a reliable dealer(s). I did and it helped greatly to select the models I have now. Plus you can study the construction of each bike to make a good informed decision that is best for you. Don't forget to visit my World Of Folding Bicycles series below:
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Old 06-21-08, 12:27 PM   #13
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I'll put a "me too" in for thinking the Merc a much better competitor in this comparison than the Brompton.
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Old 06-21-08, 05:08 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the responses folks. Very helpful. I now think rear suspension can probably be doable, but I'm still resistant to the idea of an aluminum bike. Also, I don't know what a "Merc" is.

So, I don't like to sit on decisions for very long, and went ahead and bought my new bike today!

I found a very reputable dealer within travelling distance from my area, and made the trip.

I test rode the Brompton and also the Tikit. From what I can tell, these are two top-of-the-line machines. Both rode like a dream. Very solid. The Tikit looks like a technical marvel. There's lots of welds and cables and pieces that fit together like you'd expect of high-quality finely-machined parts. The Tikit also seems to fold/unfold very quickly, and my guess is that it's more performance-focused than the Brompton.

However, I just could not say "no" to the Brompton. The Brompton exudes class and style. Well-engineered, simple, and classic good looks. The fold is, of course, excellent, and the bike even includes special tiny little wheels on the top of the back wheel that touch the ground when you tuck the wheel under the bike (very handy).

So, that's it. I put a piece of wood between my teeth, bit down, and handed over the credit card. Spent way more than I've ever spent on a bike, and more than I've spent on some cars. But I see many long and happy years ahead riding it.
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Old 06-21-08, 05:19 PM   #15
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Congrats, and now we want pictures.
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Old 06-21-08, 07:27 PM   #16
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What bike are you going to buy next?
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Old 06-22-08, 02:35 AM   #17
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Congrats to your bike

you wont be disappointed. Which model? And pictures please. And you know there are modifications to transform the brommi into



a race machine, right?
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Old 06-22-08, 08:45 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cherrypicker View Post
Thanks for all the responses folks. Very helpful. I now think rear suspension can probably be doable, but I'm still resistant to the idea of an aluminum bike. Also, I don't know what a "Merc" is.

So, I don't like to sit on decisions for very long, and went ahead and bought my new bike today!

I found a very reputable dealer within travelling distance from my area, and made the trip.

I test rode the Brompton and also the Tikit. From what I can tell, these are two top-of-the-line machines. Both rode like a dream. Very solid. The Tikit looks like a technical marvel. There's lots of welds and cables and pieces that fit together like you'd expect of high-quality finely-machined parts. The Tikit also seems to fold/unfold very quickly, and my guess is that it's more performance-focused than the Brompton.

However, I just could not say "no" to the Brompton. The Brompton exudes class and style. Well-engineered, simple, and classic good looks. The fold is, of course, excellent, and the bike even includes special tiny little wheels on the top of the back wheel that touch the ground when you tuck the wheel under the bike (very handy).

So, that's it. I put a piece of wood between my teeth, bit down, and handed over the credit card. Spent way more than I've ever spent on a bike, and more than I've spent on some cars. But I see many long and happy years ahead riding it.
Do not worry about what you spent on your new bike, Cherry Picker. I think you simply bypass the usual route most folding bike people do at their own first purchase (including myself). Most buy the cheap bikes, then ugrade to a better one at a later date. Unless you are going to fill up your residence with bikes, I don't think this is the way to go-although I already did this and will not trade my bikes for anything! Enjoy your new bike and be sure to post pictures.
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