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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 07-01-08, 03:30 PM   #1
Nrb9
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Smallest folder with 20"+ wheels?

I am looking to purchase a folder to use on my 9 month travel expedition. I would like a bike that has at least 20" wheels. Here are a couple of my questions regarding the different types of folders:

1.) Which bike(s) fold down to the smallest size?
2.) Which bike(s) tend to be the easiest to fold?
3.) Which bike(s) tend to be the lightest?
4.) Which bikes tend to be the most durable (I will be traveling through various different terrains)?

Thanks for any helpful advice any of you folding veterans have!
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Old 07-01-08, 04:55 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Nrb9 View Post
1.) Which bike(s) fold down to the smallest size?
2.) Which bike(s) tend to be the easiest to fold?
3.) Which bike(s) tend to be the lightest?
4.) Which bikes tend to be the most durable (I will be traveling through various different terrains)?

Thanks for any helpful advice any of you folding veterans have!
1) Brompton - pretty much no contest. Wheels are 16" though (ISO 349) 20" = ISO 406 or 451mm)
2) Bike Friday Tikit - ultrafast but not very small. Also 16".
3) Dahon Mu 25th anniversary is one of the lightest you can get off the shelf at around 8kg; Non special edition Mu's are still pretty light, as are their Helios range. Other bikes can be lightened with careful part selection
4) Something steel. Aluminium can't be easily welded if you break something in the middle of no-where. Here's where something like an original Swift (not the aluminium Xootr version) starts looking like the bike you might think about getting.

I'd advise you spend a few evenings having a browse around some of the threads - you questions come up pretty often and there's sure to a a lot of useful info already in the pages as well as the helpful replies you'll undoubtedly get below.

Oh and welcome - I'm sure you'll choose well.
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Old 07-01-08, 04:59 PM   #3
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Thanks for your input Little Pixel! I have been eyeing the Bike Friday NWT - Do you have any opinion on the NWT vs. the Tikit?
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Old 07-01-08, 05:09 PM   #4
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I don't own either of the bikes... but based on what I've read on these forums the NWT is hands down the better bike. The Tikit is designed for multi-modal commuting. The NWT is designed for riding. If you're looking to tour by bike, the NWT would likely be the better bet.

--sam
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Old 07-01-08, 09:04 PM   #5
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I own a NWT and have used it for touring. The ride is good, load carrying is good, and has a steel frame with standard parts. But do not be fooled. This is not a bike that folds small, neat or fast. It does break down into a suitcase very nicely for check in.
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Old 07-01-08, 11:10 PM   #6
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Why do care so much about wheel size? 16" folders will be the smallest fold, and lighter.
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Old 07-01-08, 11:55 PM   #7
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Hi
I will also recomend ypu a NWT,I also own one and been touring full loaded on a bad routes and no problem at all,but is not folding fast and for pu t it on a suit case take you some time,because you need to remove the racks,fender etc,but I don t care I love it!!!
regards
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Old 07-02-08, 12:33 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Nrb9 View Post
I am looking to purchase a folder to use on my 9 month travel expedition. I would like a bike that has at least 20" wheels...

1.) Which bike(s) fold down to the smallest size?
2.) Which bike(s) tend to be the easiest to fold?
3.) Which bike(s) tend to be the lightest?
4.) Which bikes tend to be the most durable (I will be traveling through various different terrains)?
Hi,
IŽd recommend to take the birdy into consideration. It has 20" wheels and while it is not first in any of your 4 demands it ranks quite high in each point and its IMO a very good all-rounder and capable of going light off-road/mountain.
http://www.birdybike.com

Last edited by somnatash; 07-02-08 at 12:38 AM.
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Old 07-02-08, 09:12 AM   #9
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Thanks for all of your wonderful suggestions. I have tested a friends downtube which has 20" wheels and I really liked the ride. I realize that the smaller the wheels means the smaller the fold - but I don't want to be stuck pedaling like crazy in certain terrain! I am more concerned about folding size weight in case I find myself in the middle of a city and all of a sudden have to hope onto public transportation. It seems like the NWT would be fine in this situation?! I don't have a problem with taking the time to break it down to fit in my suitcase when I fly from point to point - I suppose this is inevitable if I plan to have all of the accesories attached.
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Old 07-02-08, 10:03 AM   #10
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Why not a Downtube 8H then? It's a good all-around bike and very affordable.
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Old 07-02-08, 10:50 AM   #11
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Question: If you are going on a nine month tour, what is the advantage of a folding bike, since you will be on the bike most of the time?

It would seem to me that a full size touring bike that breaks down into managable pieces such as the Dahon Tournado http://www.dahon.com/us/tournado.htm would be a better choice. Actually, any steel framed road bike can be modified to fold up with specialized fittings.
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Old 07-02-08, 10:56 AM   #12
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Non folder and small, I would get a Smooth Hound from Dahon.
http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/2007/smoothhound.htm
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Old 07-02-08, 11:18 AM   #13
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but I don't want to be stuck pedaling like crazy in certain terrain!
You won't be pedaling any faster on a smaller wheeled bike than on a larger wheeled bike. The gearing is setup differently so the top and low end might be a little different, but the main gears work the same.
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Old 07-02-08, 02:40 PM   #14
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Question: If you are going on a nine month tour, what is the advantage of a folding bike, since you will be on the bike most of the time?
Yeah, if most time on the bike - maybe S&S couplings are a good idea.
Actually we don't know much about your 9month travel expedition so even by taking your questions as a hint a recommendations could go wrong. Perhaps you first like to tell a little bit more about your trip.
? How often will you use multi mode/alternative transport (bus,train, airplane) or the trunk of a car, how quick must you change?
?will you need to take all your luggage on the bike, will you use a trailer/the suitcase as a trailer?
?will you go heavy off-road or light or only streets?
?...

PS: I envy you a bit for such a long trip
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Old 07-02-08, 02:43 PM   #15
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One consideration is that tires available in a particular size. ERTO 355 (Birdy), ERTO 349 (tikit, Brompton), and ERTO 451 (BF Pocket Rocket/Pro) have considerably less tires available than ERTO 406 (BF NWT). In fact, if you are considering touring, Scwalbe just announced that it is releasing the Marathon Supreme in ERTO 42-406. Although it is going to cost you an arm and a leg.

I am pretty happy with my NWT. It isn't a fast or small fold. But it rides well, tours well, and packs relatively quick. You do have a reasonably priced option in the Swift which easily accepts the SRAM Dual Drive if you need wide gearing. I would consider it a real competitor if the Dual Drive is what you want.

I recently noticed that Thor is selling front derailer mounts for Dahon Mu/Speed bikes. If you are on a budget and you are a bit handy, I would suggest that as a possibility as well.
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Old 07-02-08, 02:45 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spikedog123 View Post
Question: If you are going on a nine month tour, what is the advantage of a folding bike, since you will be on the bike most of the time?

It would seem to me that a full size touring bike that breaks down into managable pieces such as the Dahon Tournado http://www.dahon.com/us/tournado.htm would be a better choice. Actually, any steel framed road bike can be modified to fold up with specialized fittings.
One of the advantages of a folding bike is multimode transport. For instance, if you want to rent a car for part of the trip, take a cab, or ride the train, the folding bike gives you more options. Another is that it is easier to bring the folding bike inside a hotel room.
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Old 07-02-08, 02:50 PM   #17
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I'm afraid that a Dahon is the only bike that meets 3/4 of your needs (save being sturdy). It folds well and quickly, has 406 wheels, and dual drive models are available. However, they are not super reliable.

A 20" Birdy would be perfect, but you can't get them very easily and they are horrifically expensive.

A 16" Birdy would meet all of your requirements but the wheel size. I tour a lot on mine, and just bring along a spare tire or two. (The tire serves to protect the bike when packed.) Also expensive, but nothing like the 20". The other advantage is that they are great off road and have good luggage/towing capacity.
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Old 07-02-08, 04:45 PM   #18
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Yeah, if most time on the bike - maybe S&S couplings are a good idea.
Actually we don't know much about your 9month travel expedition so even by taking your questions as a hint a recommendations could go wrong. Perhaps you first like to tell a little bit more about your trip.
? How often will you use multi mode/alternative transport (bus,train, airplane) or the trunk of a car, how quick must you change?
?will you need to take all your luggage on the bike, will you use a trailer/the suitcase as a trailer?
?will you go heavy off-road or light or only streets?
?...

PS: I envy you a bit for such a long trip
Yes! I should be a bit more specific. I actually can not predict 100% accurately where my adventure will take me. The travel is a part of an architecture fellowship. I plan to explore various places in South America (mountainous terrains in Peru, Chile, and Bolivia as well as congested urban spaces like Lima, Santiago, Rio, etc.) I also plan to visit spots similar to these in Eastern Europe, Northern Africa (Morocco, Egypt, Mali), India, Nepal, Vietnam, China, and Japan. I predict that I will find myself in various spatial circumstances and terrains. A main point of interest in my research is landscape and architecture so you can imagine the possible natural features I will encounter.

I do anticipate having to take various modes of transportation which is why I am more interested in a folder as opposed to a full sized bike.

I imagine that for the majority of the time I will have a 'home base' so I will not likely be traveling with ALL of my luggage loaded onto the bike. However, I will need to carry a number items with me throughout the days to conduct my research so I will need sufficient storage. (I would also like to have the option to pack the bike for short overnight trips).

I am not at all a verteran cyclist . I am hoping to use this as an opportunity to get into the sport a bit. My experience biking in New York City has taught me that it is a great way to explore new spaces. I'm hoping it will allow me to adventure into places that I would not necessarily explore on foot! Thanks for all your advice!

One last quick question: People have recommended the NWT as well as the Downtube. I notice the NWT is significantly more expensive than the DownTube. I assume there is good reason for this? If not then I should just got for the Down Tube?!?
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Old 07-02-08, 07:55 PM   #19
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One last quick question: People have recommended the NWT as well as the Downtube. I notice the NWT is significantly more expensive than the DownTube. I assume there is good reason for this? If not then I should just got for the Down Tube?!?
A person doing as much travel as ou are needs to look at folding bikes based on durability and proper gearing. You have to ignore folders that are the smallest or have limited gears. You're probably not going to board many buses or trains and when you do, most folders will do fine. In my opinion, Bike Friday with a Dual Drive or 8 speed hub is the best way to go. I've never heard a Bike Friday owner say he could not board a train because the package was too big. You're not looking for a commuting folder but a travel bike.
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Old 07-04-08, 01:02 PM   #20
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why not check out the Dahon Cadenza? It is a full size urban bike that folds.

http://foldingbikesusa.com/itemdetails.cfm?id=438
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Old 07-04-08, 10:35 PM   #21
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In my opinion, Bike Friday with a Dual Drive or 8 speed hub is the best way to go. I've never heard a Bike Friday owner say he could not board a train because the package was too big. You're not looking for a commuting folder but a travel bike.
I wanted a folding bike for touring purposes and chose a NWT with DualDrive. It is designed to be a touring bike and so fits front and rear racks that will hold regular sized touring panniers. I would shy away from a 9 month trip involving loaded touring on a bike with a hinge in the frame, too

The downtube is a fine bike, but I don't think it's designed to be a bike for longer term unsupported touring - I'm not sure you can fit a front rack, and the rear rack won't hold regular sized panniers (although it's possible you could pick up an aftermarket rack that would - I think Dahon makes one for their bikes, although I don't know if it fits the downtube).

The fold is not fast, nor is it compact - but I can fold it and put it in its soft bag in under 2 minutes at a fairly leisurely pace, and I can take it out of the bag an unfold it in less than a minute (getting it in the bag is a tight fit). Buses here have never objected to the bag.
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