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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 08-05-08, 10:49 AM   #1
TheWarmth
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Full-size folding bike recommendations?

I want to get a new bike for relaxed riding around my neighborhood and along the Lake Shore Drive path. $500 or less is my price goal, but I want something nice that will last a long time. Folding bikes look great to me because I don't have a lot of space in my condo and my wife won't allow me to hang a full-size bike from the ceiling or anything like that. The salesperson at Rapid Transit in Chicago recommended the full-size Dahons that fold in half. I think that would work for me, but I haven't had much luck finding reviews and they didn't have one in stock for me to try. I was looking at the one called "Espresso" in the catalog.

Anyone have any suggestions? There seem to be a lot of brands that make bikes that fold in half. I'm a bit overwhelmed with all of the options and am having a hard time making a decision.

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 08-05-08, 11:18 AM   #2
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Dahon Mariner

I just got a Dahon Mariner 2008. So far it is great.
I live in a small condo and fold it up and stick it behind couch.
I really like it so far.
I am 6 foot 4 and it fits me fine.
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Old 08-05-08, 11:19 AM   #3
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A bike that just folds in half may not be much of a space-saver. I bought an old folder but have since found that it's more convenient just to leave it unfolded; it's small enough to carry, can be parked behind my desk at work and in my storage locker at home (also a small urban condo). I've taken it on public transit unfolded during off-peak hours. I think I'll be folding it when I lock it up outside, which I haven't done yet, but that might be the only time.

Don't buy anything that you haven't had a chance to try out in person, because that's the best way to find out how easy they are to fold and carry, and how little space they take up.
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Old 08-05-08, 11:36 AM   #4
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Espresso is the urban coffee-getter, easy upright ride, nice looks, well mannered town bike that folds.

Jack is slightly more radical with MTB forks and won't mind getting dirty, Matrix is a fully-fledged off-road MTB in a frock, and Cadenza - I'm not sure.

Lake shore path? Could be a Jack, for you, old sport. Whack on a pair of cheap knobbly tires, or keep the Big Apples and you're the King of Gravel, or Queen, as your preference dictates. Unless it's muddy.

I have a Matrix, with more gears than I need, love it to bits. One of the guys on here, he had a Matrix, it broke, already. Then he got another and that broke. Weeellllllllll....

There are a couple of Jack owners, think they're great.

At the bottom of the range it's a tough call between the Espresso and the Jack. Jack has slightly uprated components and tyres though, and is finished in black. It has a slightly larger top gear than Espresso ('faster') and Big Apple tyres, so you'll be cool on the Lake Shore.

Sum up? Espresso - town bike, very cool, stash it away in the car. Jack: MTB forks and uprated tyres - ok on single track, mild offroad and paths - etc, add a suspension seat-post if you wish, later.

Me- a 7 speed Jack would do me but I got greedy and got the Matrix. I only use 7 gears on it anyway....
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Old 08-05-08, 11:55 AM   #5
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Thanks, Snafu, that's a big help!
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Old 08-05-08, 12:29 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by TheWarmth View Post
Thanks, Snafu, that's a big help!
You're welcome. If you shop around, 2007 bikes are often available at a snigdifferint discount, depending where you live.


Matrix pix. Front suspension is nice but adds weight and servicing. Jack 2007 has the same Joe Murray designed frame. If your inseam is greater than 33" get the large size bike.


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Old 08-05-08, 12:30 PM   #7
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[QUOTE][I have a Matrix, with more gears than I need, love it to bits. One of the guys on here, he had a Matrix, it broke, already. Then he got another and that broke. Weeellllllllll.../QUOTE]

The Matrix in question broke because it was towing a trailer up hills with kids in it. i don't think it was made for that use in fairness. That wasn't the person's fault who bought it as their LBS told them it would be fit for this purpose.

On the whole the Matrix is a very good bike and the Expresso would also be a good budget choice.

Have you considered the potential of a 20" wheel folder as these perform very well and widen your choice on the $500 budget. Downtube do some lovely bikes at www.downtube.com which suit your purposes, offer a lot of bang for buck and are very well regarded on these forums.
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Old 08-05-08, 12:51 PM   #8
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You know I did ride one with 20" wheels that I liked, but the saleswoman told me that the ones that fold all the way up (as opposed to the ones that fold in half) are more prone to need servicing because there are so many small parts and things that can go wrong. However, the fact that they're so compact makes them more appealing to me than the Espresso or Jack. I can't remember the exact model that I rode, but I have it written down at home.

I did notice that the Downtube bikes are well regarded here, but there aren't any dealers in Chicago and I don't want to buy without trying.
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Old 08-05-08, 12:58 PM   #9
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"are more prone to need servicing"


hahahahaha!


Nuts. (Bikes with suspension forks need more servicing though. )

The 26" folders are not very compact when folded, but still fit in the trunk of a small car and take up much less space than a 'normal' bike'. The 20" bikes are much smaller when folded, useful if you have to carry it up stairs and such, or in elevators.

Ya gotta decide which fits your storage. In my condo, I'd put a 20" bike. Luckily, I have a garage at the mo, so there's space for the Matrix. If you got for a 20" bike the world's your oyster. There are a stack of good models.

Lake Shore Drive:


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Old 08-05-08, 12:58 PM   #10
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You know I did ride one with 20" wheels that I liked, but the saleswoman told me that the ones that fold all the way up (as opposed to the ones that fold in half) are more prone to need servicing because there are so many small parts and things that can go wrong. However, the fact that they're so compact makes them more appealing to me than the Espresso or Jack. I can't remember the exact model that I rode, but I have it written down at home.

I did notice that the Downtube bikes are well regarded here, but there aren't any dealers in Chicago and I don't want to buy without trying.
I don't think the lady is entirely right advising you that a 20" folder is less reliable than a larger one. It all depends on the make.

Having said that and taking into account what Snafu said about the bargains to be had o 2007 bikes. Look at this:
http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/2007/cadenza.htm

The Candenza is a beautiful bike and the top end of the larger folders. It has great components looks good and I've test ridden it. The 2008 bike adds disc brakes and a hub gear but you will find the 2007 a bargain. I recommend Thor for service too even if you try the bike at an LBS. If you liked the ride of the Matrix you won't go wrong on the Cadenza.
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Old 08-05-08, 01:04 PM   #11
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So, if I decide to look into the 20" models more, can you guys give me any recommendations on those? As I said, I don't recall off the top of my head the one that I tried, but I can look it up when I get home.
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Old 08-05-08, 01:06 PM   #12
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Got stairs? Elevators? Do you commute on a bike? Or you just want a weekend warrior?
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Old 08-05-08, 01:08 PM   #13
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Cadenza looks nice! I once had a full-sized bike that folded in half - an olive green WW2 surplus British paratrooper bike.
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Old 08-05-08, 01:12 PM   #14
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Got stairs? Elevators? Do you commute on a bike? Or you just want a weekend warrior?
I'm in a third floor walk-up and don't have an elevator, so a lighter bike would be nice. I doubt I'll be commuting to work ... just evenings and weekends.
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Old 08-05-08, 01:16 PM   #15
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Cadenza is fairly light for what it is. Just over $500m is a steal for this lovely bike.

Good pics here:

http://www.chwhite.btinternet.co.uk/...n_cadenza.html

Last edited by mulleady; 08-05-08 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 08-05-08, 01:42 PM   #16
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so a lighter bike would be nice


Aluminium frame, 20" wheels, no suspension fork so less than 12 Kg.. Light, $500 tops...


Hmmmmmmm


How tall are you? Weight?

Here come the suggestions...

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Old 08-05-08, 02:09 PM   #17
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I'm about 5' 11", 150lbs (= 10.7142 stones if that helps you)
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Old 08-05-08, 03:23 PM   #18
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Cadenza all the way. At just over $500 grab yourself a beauty!

I wouldn't write off 20" but to get a truly light folder you will have too add big $'s.

The Cadenza is around 12kg which is light for a larger wheeled bike.
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Old 08-05-08, 03:36 PM   #19
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If you decide you want a full-size, the Cadenza is indeed lovely, just got a second-hand '07 as my commute bike, though I won't be switching over from my old hybrid until I get it serviced. Alleged weight of 12.4 kg, it doesn't feel any heavier than my Jetstream XP (11 kg) to me though, certainly manageable. From the brief rides I've had on it, very happy. Smooth ride even on 1.3" tyres and goes like stink too. You'd be wanting the 18" frame (I'm about your height). If you want to lug it up and down stairs, though, 20" models might well be a better bet. Mu SL would be the optimal for that, but also over twice your budget. Bike Friday also have a few models that might do the trick- again, pricey. Whatever you choose, bear in mind that it's never a bad thing to spend a bit more and get more gears/smoother ride/less weight depending on your needs, those features pay for themselves. If you enjoy riding the bike more, you'll use it more....
Keep an eye on eBay/Craigslist etc, a good second-hand buy will last you just as well, get you more bang for your bucks. My XP's three years old (previous owner got it in '05, though it's an '04) but apart from the usual nicks and dinks it's rock solid, not a speck of rust anywhere on bolts etc (the Cadenza does, go figure), and it should be good for years to come. And it was less than half the price of a new one.....
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Old 08-06-08, 07:05 AM   #20
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Mu P8
2007 models are apparently going quite cheap
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Old 08-06-08, 09:58 AM   #21
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Interesting thread. I am also (slowly) researching full-sized folders for commuting, with the ability to fold. Ideally ones that can take 700c wheels. I have seen S&S couplings and the BAB (breakaway bike by Tom Ritchey), which is good if pricy but these are not really īfoldersī.

There seems to be some interesting full sized bikes on their way from Pacific-cycles IF Cross comes in 700c, but no stockists listed yet. I also wondered if the Dahon Cadenza can take 700c wheels - it has an eccentric bottom bracket so crank height could be adjusted, but as this option is not listed I guess not.

I prefer 700cīs - 26" and 650cīs come close, but there is so much more tire and wheel choice in 700cīs (they also have rather a long racing pedigree ).
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Old 08-07-08, 01:00 AM   #22
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20" folders seem to be the most common, so you have more choices, in bikes and tires.Do not rule out 16" folders. Downtube Mini or Dahon Curve D3 are good.I believe the bike speed record is held by a 16" Moulton, so don't believe anyone who tells you they are not fast enough.
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Old 08-07-08, 05:05 AM   #23
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Cadenza looks nice! I once had a full-sized bike that folded in half - an olive green WW2 surplus British paratrooper bike.
So did I, and I wish I'd kept it.
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Old 08-07-08, 06:52 AM   #24
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full sized bikes

1) Make sure you need a full size 26-27", 20" is the most common for good reasons.
2) I see old montagues on ebay regularly.
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Old 08-07-08, 08:35 AM   #25
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After reading everyone's advice I think I'm leaning towards a 20" folder now. Full-size will be too much trouble to lug up and down the stairs and to store. I liked the feel of the 20" wheels better than the 16" when I tested them out last weekend. I've been eyeing the Mariner and Speed D7 on Kozy's website. Any thoughts? I may try to go there tonight.

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