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  1. #1
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    another first-timer

    Hello folding community! I have recently grown increasingly interested in folders as my wife and I (a) live in an apartment with no room for one much less two full-size bicycles, (b) drive a small car with the same issues as our apartment on space, (c) are not tall (I have a 28 inch inseam), (d) really want to start riding bikes again. I have become particularly interested in the Downtube line because they seem like the best bang for buck under $500 folding bikes. I'm particularly interested in the 9FS, 9 front suspension and 9NS (I do most of my own automobile maintenance so I don't think the internal hubs would really be necessary) and I like that they already have a rack and rear fender. First question - does this seem like a reasonable decision or does anyone have a better suggestion? Secondly, I've never ridden a Downtube bike and I would have to drive across the state to try one out (their main shop is in the Philly area) - is there some other type of folding bike that would feel similar enough that I could likely find at a local shop and test ride to get a good idea of the feel? Third - for what reason would one choose to go full, front or no-suspension? Thanks ahead of time for any help!

  2. #2
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    Full suspension adds weight and servicing needs.

    If you have to carry it, weight isn't funny. But it adds comfort and urban kerb jumping. I have a IX FS. It's a fine bike, but not light, and the fold isn't tiny. But it's a free rolling bike, and my daily fitness run on it is 11 miles, with hills. Comfort is important if you're sat on anything for an hour.

    No qualms about recommending Downtubes, they're a lot of bike for the money, and you get almost instant help from the designer if you have a problem.

    If you got stairs to ascend, think about the weight. It could be the key to whether or not you get suspension.
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  3. #3
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    1) It's a reasonable decision. I don't own one so I can't comment specifically about them, but Downtubes have been lauded on these forums by many.

    2) Folding bikes seem to be pretty specific. Riding a Dahon, Birdy, Swift or Brompton will not tell you much about how a Downtube feels. One thing you could try is see if anyone with a Downtube is in your area. Maybe you can get a test ride that way.

    3) Depends on the type of terrain you plan to encounter on the bike, how much weight you're comfortable carrying, and rider preference. Suspension will help smooth out the ride and reduce vibration from the road. This can be helpful for many reasons... including reducing rider fatigue. Front suspension will smooth out the bumps if you have a lot of rough roads or cobblestones. Full suspension will do what front suspension does, plus it will give your butt some extra cushion. If you're looking for a light bike, then no suspension works... just learn to deal with the bumps in the way you ride the bike.

    --sam

  4. #4
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    Yeah, put where you're from in your sig, somebody nearby will probably offer you a ride.
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  5. #5
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    First and foremost, thank you so far for your thoughts and suggestions! In regard to the following:

    Quote Originally Posted by Lalato View Post
    One thing you could try is see if anyone with a Downtube is in your area. Maybe you can get a test ride that way.--sam
    -Would it be best to just start a new thread with something to the effect of "looking to test ride a Downtube 9NS in Pittsburgh, PA" in the title?

    In regard to the suspension vs. weight, I think the weight would be more of a factor for picking it up quickly for carrying it. Pittsburgh roads are not great but we'll probably be riding mostly for short periods of time. Does suspension make any difference on hills or would lighter weight be preferable in that case?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    You're in Pittsburgh... with a lot of killer hills. (I know, my wife's family is from there). Weight is definitely an issue for hills. Is it the biggest issue?

    No... gearing is the most important thing for hills. With low enough gears, you should be able to tackle those hills.

    As requesting a test ride... definitely make another post to that effect. You might also try contacting Downtube to see if they have a way of contacting current owners in your area. I know Bike Friday does this sort of thing, but I'm not sure if Downtube does. (Then again, Bike Friday charges a lot more for their bikes).

    --sam

  7. #7
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    Come over to London. You can try mine..
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  8. #8
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    Thank you

    Thank you for your help. I bought two Downtube 9NS bikes for my wife and I and we absolutely love them - they're comfortable, easy to fold, fun to ride and they look cool (people tell us that wherever we go)!

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