Hi all - got such helpful feedback when i was looking for a bike for my son that I thought it only fair to share the results of my folder adventures (plus this can be a cautionary tale about the dangers of folder exposure). Background is i'm returning to cycling after years off because of child and general disgust with limited options for riding in NY metro area after living in the mountains of north central pa for many years. also have very bad memories of affixing bikes to racks, rack to car, etc. leaading to thoughts of more compact bike so, I stumble on this forum, end up buying a used swift from a member, fall back in love with biking as a result (that bike is incredibly fun to ride and I enjoy it at least much as my old high end road bike) and start looking for a bike fo rmy child (4'2" and sprouting but with short arms relative to height). Tried a kent for him (because Yan was honest and careful when I emailed about not saying that mini could be modified to fit a child of that height). kent was big disappointment - the frame seems really nice for the money and it's a cute looking bike in red (other parts were, as others have noted, not so hot) but since neither stem height nor stem orientation can changed, it was totally too big and unsuitable for my son. Shipped back, awaiting refund. meanwhiie, bought a used dawes on ebay (yes, I know - pics, in due course). it looks fairly old, has 16" wheels, a frame fold like dahon and has a sturmey 3 speed hub. No model name on it so hard to figure out vintage. And, amazingly, it pretty much fits him - need to cut seat tube and see if I can swap stem to reduce reach a bit but, even if I can't do that, it should fit within a couple of months. success and that's now two folders. No need to find a rack. As for # three, well, I've been popping over bumps in our local park and on bike trails and, as much as I love the swift, it doesn't feel like it could handle off road without different tires and some other changes so....I just got a downtube 8H (the front suspension only - thought i'd try suspension as my old mountain bike is NS but FS seemed overkill - plus adding a hub to that makes it very expensive by comparison). Like most other posters, I'm very impressed with the quality and adjustability of the bike and am glad I went for the hub (did I mention that my swift has had more chain drops, especially when folding it or trying to get it in the car than I have ever experienced in my life? I love the bike but I'm sick of wearing chain grease). The DT position feels very stretched out, which is odd for me as I'm tall (5'8", 31-2 inseam) and tend to ride larger bikes (55 cm road bike, 22" seat tube mountain albeit with swapped out stems to shorten the reach). I'm playing around with the positioning - any thoughts from the forum on seats, stems, etc.? didn't have much time today when the bike came so I need to actually ride it more for further impressions but I think we're going to have a long and happy relationship. at least until the next folder comes along...I'm hoping I've reached bike stasis though - does it happen?
One more thing - just to avoid learning the hard way - what's your experience with the front suspension bikes on mild off road (fire roads, that sort of thing)?
thanks for all the helpful info - this is a really friendly forum.