This weekend I made the trip out to Roy's Cycles in Brooklyn, NY. They are the only Downtube dealer in my area and they also have Dahon and Breezer, so this was the perfect opportunity to take the bikes out for a quick test ride and see which one I like best. This was fun!
Disclaimers: I know next to nothing about bikes, save for what I've been reading in these forums over the past week or two (thanks to all who have responded to my questions). I'm looking for a reasonably inexpensive folding bike for a commute that is a 5 mile ride + short subway ride.
First off, impression of Roy's Cycles. Nice bike shop. Repair center was VERY busy on a Sunday afternoon. Lots of people in line waiting for their bikes. Luckily the sales area is completely separate from the repair center. Salesman who helped me was patient and friendly.
I rode each bike very briefly on city streets and a parking lot. Salesman demo'ed the folding mechanism for me.
1) Breezer Zig7. Really liked this bike. Lightweight, comfortable riding position for me. Salesman told me this bike is made by Dahon for Breezer. Folds fine, holds together when folded. Comes with fenders and kickstand, but seems to stand up just fine when folded. It is wheelable when folded. Doesn't come with a rack, which would of course increase weight.
2) Downtube 9FS. This is not the bike I wanted to test, but it was the only one they had in stock - I wanted to try a 9 front suspension or 9NS. Tried it anyway. Very comfortable ride, you can definitely feel the effect of the suspension. Quality look and feel to the bike. I like the handlebars, the way they are offset and adjustable. On the other hand, this is a LOT heavier than the Breezer. The bike folds fine, but doesn't seem to stay together once folded, and this concerns me. I didn't try to wheel it around when folded.
3) Dahon Speed D7. This bike was OK, lighter than the Downtube but heavier than the Breezer. Didn't feel as comfortable to me as the other two bikes. On the plus side, this bike comes with fenders and a rack, standard. Folds fine, stays together when folded. Didn't try to wheel it around when folded.
So, now a question for you Downtube owners (especially interested in responses from 9NS and 9 Front Suspension owners). Do you have any trouble getting your bike to stay folded when carrying it or wheeling it around? If so, what's your solution? I'm going to bag the bike on the train, so that'll solve the problem there, but for a bike that is 25+ pounds (plus whatever else I'm carrying) it'd be nice to fold and wheel it a bit when necessary.