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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 07-13-08, 12:00 PM   #1
Jrather
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Folding Bike for hilly commute?

Hey everyone,

I'm looking at getting a folding bike for a multimodal commute. I live in the northern suburbs of NYC but will be moving to the city in September. My job is up here so I'll be making a reverse commute. I'll be taking the commuter rail outbound in the morning to the closest station to the office and will then need to get from the station to work... about 4.5 miles. The issue is that the trip there is almost all uphill. If I get a folding bike, it has to be able to handle out of the saddle climbing. I'm looking at the Downtube bikes and they look real nice, but I'm concerned about how the suspension would affect climbing ability. I'm spoiled by my Cannondale road bike... it climbs like a mountain goat. Is this anything to worry about?
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Old 07-13-08, 12:49 PM   #2
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My first question would be... will the commuter rail line allow you to take a full-sized bike? If so, don't worry about a folder and take your road bike instead.

If not... then there are several folders that ride a bit more like a road bike. Some of these don't fold compactly, but you won't have to compromise your ride as much. That said, you shouldn't have any problems riding a folder unseated/standing.

Now... I have a question because I don't have hills near me. I thought the way to conquer hills was low gearing + leg power. Is that correct? If so, you shouldn't have any problem with the low gearing as most folders tend to be geared a little low to begin with.

--sam
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Old 07-13-08, 01:00 PM   #3
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yep thats right low gearing and leg power all the way , high gearing going up hill = H A R D
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Old 07-13-08, 01:15 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Lalato View Post
My first question would be... will the commuter rail line allow you to take a full-sized bike? If so, don't worry about a folder and take your road bike instead.

If not... then there are several folders that ride a bit more like a road bike. Some of these don't fold compactly, but you won't have to compromise your ride as much. That said, you shouldn't have any problems riding a folder unseated/standing.

Now... I have a question because I don't have hills near me. I thought the way to conquer hills was low gearing + leg power. Is that correct? If so, you shouldn't have any problem with the low gearing as most folders tend to be geared a little low to begin with.

--sam
See, that's the problem... the railroad prohibits non-folding bikes on peak hour trains in both directions. It used to be that you could bring bikes aboard reverse commute trains (outbound in the morning, inbound in the evening) but the policy was changed recently.

My concern wasn't so much with gearing as it is with the ability for the bike to take the power output. I'd be worried that the folding frame and the suspension would make the bike "mushy", for lack of a better word.

One other thing: is it possible to use clipless pedals on a folding bike? Would the bike still be able to fold if I were to, say, install SPD mountain pedals on it? Or are special folding bike-specific pedals necessary?
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Old 07-13-08, 01:53 PM   #5
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I think there was an earlier 'hilly commute' thread that I replied to.

I've been using the Downtube NS (no suspension) for a year and a half for an 8.5 mile RT commute (1 mile to station, 25 minute Amtrak, 3.25 miles to work). On the way home I have a 315 ft vertical gain in 1/2 mile with one section at 17% grade. I take the steepest section in 2nd gear and the rest in 3rd.

With the NS the gear inches range from about 30 to 87 (11-32 rear, 48T front, 20" wheel). No problems going up that hill; I've done this over 150 times.
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Old 07-13-08, 03:57 PM   #6
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Hey everyone,
...The issue is that the trip there is almost all uphill....
Uphill like that?

http://brompton.myblog.es/brompton/c...0/Curiosidades
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Old 07-14-08, 04:55 PM   #7
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Wow... yeah, my commute isn't THAT extreme! I'll need to go test ride a few folders soon.
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Old 07-14-08, 06:37 PM   #8
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I have a Dahon Cadenza, Dahon Speed TR, and previously a Brompton. They were all used for commute on mixed road conditions which include miderate hills. I love hammering in climbs, off the seat.

My past Brompton was terrible for hill climbing. There was way too much flex in the vertical stem; to cope, I would have to apply my leg force more gracefully. I since sold it because of this shortcoming.

My current Dahon Speed has similar shortcomings as the Brompton - excessive stem flex. The Dahon is however a far better bike than the Brompton. I haven't damaged it but I could image if I was very aggressive with the frame, it could possibly lead to cracking of the frame components (stem) or yielding of the hinges.

My Dahon Credenza is very capable in handling my hammering, for which I am very aggressive with torquing the handlebars in a climb.

If your hill climbing is lengthy and you enjoy hammering, I would recommend a folder with a short stem (Credenza) over all long one (Speed TR).
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Old 07-14-08, 09:14 PM   #9
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Wow... yeah, my commute isn't THAT extreme! I'll need to go test ride a few folders soon.
Check out the Swift if you get a chance. I haven't tried even close to every folding bike brand and model there is, but of those I have ridden (Dahon, Bike Friday, Downtube, Swift), it's the stiffest, and seems very sturdy. And I just like it.

I put an internal hub gear on mine so the range is now around 21-120 gear inches. Good for hill-climbing.
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Old 07-14-08, 10:26 PM   #10
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I'm very happy with my Dahon Mu P24 in hilly conditions.
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Old 07-14-08, 11:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jrather View Post
Hey everyone,

I'm looking at getting a folding bike for a multimodal commute. I live in the northern suburbs of NYC but will be moving to the city in September. My job is up here so I'll be making a reverse commute. I'll be taking the commuter rail outbound in the morning to the closest station to the office and will then need to get from the station to work... about 4.5 miles. The issue is that the trip there is almost all uphill. If I get a folding bike, it has to be able to handle out of the saddle climbing. I'm looking at the Downtube bikes and they look real nice, but I'm concerned about how the suspension would affect climbing ability. I'm spoiled by my Cannondale road bike... it climbs like a mountain goat. Is this anything to worry about?
The type of riding you do on a Cannondale would destroy a Dahon and probably damage most folders after a while. The long stem and not the shock was not ment to take that kind of punishment. Just get a folder with low gears and spin uphill.

The Swift might be one of the few exceptions and Dahon's full size folders might be able to take that kind punishment.
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Old 07-15-08, 06:22 AM   #12
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Dahon's full size folders might be able to take that kind punishment.
Not in my experience. Your mileage may vary.
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Old 07-15-08, 06:41 AM   #13
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My Swissbike LX handles hills fine. You just need to swap tires after you get it.
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Old 07-15-08, 08:26 AM   #14
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I would think a multi geared bike like a Bike Friday would be Tikit.
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