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Old 09-05-08, 12:34 PM   #1
dschwarz
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Can the DT Mini be outfitted as a Commuter Bike?

Hi all-

I'm looking for a folding bike for commuting to work. Previously I had narrowed my choices down to a Breezer Zig7 or Downtube 8H, but now that I am taking my daughter to Kindergarten every day, I realize that I'll be spending time each day on NYC MTA buses. Folders are allowed inside MTA buses, but I think that a 20" folder will be too big and clumsy to manage well.

So that leads me to 16" folders. Downtube Mini and Dahon Curve D3 are the top contenders. I'm partial to the Mini because of the 8 speed hub. Curve SL, Tikit and Brompton are out of my price range.

So let's say I get a Mini. I'm 5'5" so the bike is probably sized fine for me. I need fenders, a rack, and a waterproof trunk bag or pannier capable of holding my 15" laptop, lunch, and a change of clothes (no shoes).

Has anyone outfitted their Mini like this? if you add a rack or fenders does it interfere with the fold? Does the added bulk of these items negate any advantage in picking the Mini vs. the 8H? Any product recommendations for compatible fenders, rack, and bags?

Thanks!
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Old 09-05-08, 12:46 PM   #2
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Where are you in NYC? You really don't need 8 speeds in Manhattan or Brooklyn, not sure about the other boroughs.

The big difference between the mini and the Curve (aside from the gearing) is suspension and the fold; they both ride very well. The Mini has suspension and more speeds, the Curve is a little more solid and holds together better when folded. (Since I hate suspension bikes with a white-hot passion, this was an easy decision for me.)

Keep in mind that the D3 can be upgraded to a 7 or 8 speed hub later on, but I hear you need to get a new rear wheel to do it.

Even more important than gearing is that you can't get the SL in fire engine red.

Both are solid bikes and you can't go wrong.
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Old 09-05-08, 01:47 PM   #3
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Where are you in NYC? You really don't need 8 speeds in Manhattan or Brooklyn, not sure about the other boroughs.
I'm in Manhattan. The reason I like 8 speeds is that I am not in good shape yet, so if I had 3 speeds I'd be in low gear all the time. Also, when I leave town for a vacation, it'd be nice to pack the bike.

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Keep in mind that the D3 can be upgraded to a 7 or 8 speed hub later on, but I hear you need to get a new rear wheel to do it.
True- saw the posts on that. I'm not a bike hacker yet. I want to buy a bike, add some stuff, and get to commuting right away. The less hassle the better.

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Even more important than gearing is that you can't get the SL in fire engine red.
I agree, it is really nice looking. Dahon Red > Downtube Mint Green.

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the Curve is a little more solid and holds together better when folded.
This is the kind of info I'm looking for. Holds together = very important if I'm scrambling to catch the bus. Have you added fenders, a rack, etc. to your Curve, and how has that worked out?
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Old 09-05-08, 01:49 PM   #4
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have you seen a curve d3 up close & folded? i'm looking like you for a good bus folder and was finally able to see the curve folded and it's not really that smaller than a dahon speed 7 or other 20" folder. maybe 2 inches shorter in length when i had them side by side. and slightly shorter in height too. i can't remember if the mini was that much smaller than the curve fold or not though.
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Old 09-05-08, 02:13 PM   #5
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have you seen a curve d3 up close & folded? i'm looking like you for a good bus folder and was finally able to see the curve folded and it's not really that smaller than a dahon speed 7 or other 20" folder. maybe 2 inches shorter in length when i had them side by side. and slightly shorter in height too. i can't remember if the mini was that much smaller than the curve fold or not though.
Unfortunately i have to admit, before buying the Mu i have test ridden the Curve D3, it is a nice ride but not much smaller than the Mu which is a pretty compact 20" and smaller than the D7 or P8.

From Dahon's website it appears the Curve SL is much smaller than the D3... i still don't know how and i don't believe the Big Apple tires add 12cm/ 3.5" to the length when folded - according to Dahon's website,
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Old 09-05-08, 02:19 PM   #6
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have you seen a curve d3 up close & folded?
I have not, nor have I seen a Downtube Mini up close and folded. What got me thinking of a 16" folder versus a 20" folder was this post on The Inwoodist (scroll down to the bottom comment on the page)
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Old 09-05-08, 02:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dschwarz View Post
Hi all-

I'm looking for a folding bike for commuting to work. Previously I had narrowed my choices down to a Breezer Zig7 or Downtube 8H, but now that I am taking my daughter to Kindergarten every day, I realize that I'll be spending time each day on NYC MTA buses. Folders are allowed inside MTA buses, but I think that a 20" folder will be too big and clumsy to manage well.

So that leads me to 16" folders. Downtube Mini and Dahon Curve D3 are the top contenders. I'm partial to the Mini because of the 8 speed hub. Curve SL, Tikit and Brompton are out of my price range.

So let's say I get a Mini. I'm 5'5" so the bike is probably sized fine for me. I need fenders, a rack, and a waterproof trunk bag or pannier capable of holding my 15" laptop, lunch, and a change of clothes (no shoes).

Has anyone outfitted their Mini like this? if you add a rack or fenders does it interfere with the fold? Does the added bulk of these items negate any advantage in picking the Mini vs. the 8H? Any product recommendations for compatible fenders, rack, and bags?

Thanks!
Dahon 16" fenders will fit the Mini.

Your best bet for carrying a lot of stuff off your back is a seat post rack. I personally, never liked QR seat post racks since they tend to squirm about. But a screw clamp on version isn't particularly good for multimode travel. I have fit a nashbar front rack with the associated bag on the Mini. I suppose that it also means that the Nitto version would probably fit too. However, for your load, I think that the only alternative is a messenger bag or backpack.
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Old 09-05-08, 02:43 PM   #8
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Oh the front rack doesn't interfere with the fold.

You can also add a SQR block & bag on the top of your seatpost ... but you would not be able to insert your seat post all the way. Perhaps a better alternative is to find a saddle with loops and get one of the big Carradice saddlebags.
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Old 09-05-08, 03:04 PM   #9
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There are a number of people who have outfitted the Mini for commuting.

I once fitted a conventional Topeak rack and used my Topeak rack top bag with it; this did not interfere with the fold. I also used my Topeak seatpost clamp rack with same success. Sammyboy has put more stuff again. Rhm also uses his for commuting.
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Old 09-05-08, 03:07 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by superpants View Post
have you seen a curve d3 up close & folded? i'm looking like you for a good bus folder and was finally able to see the curve folded and it's not really that smaller than a dahon speed 7 or other 20" folder. maybe 2 inches shorter in length when i had them side by side. and slightly shorter in height too. i can't remember if the mini was that much smaller than the curve fold or not though.
+1
I would never plan to take a 16" folder on a NYC bus every day (especially while attending to a child) and I don't think anyone else around here takes one on a crowded bus every day either (too large).

Everyone around the forum knows that my favorite bike is this one:


and at 5'5" I don't think you could go wrong with the same for manhattan. In fact, that very person who posted on The Inwoodist (Urbanis) was considering one because he thought his Mini was too big right here:
Carryme or lock me?

From the description of your commute here (5 miles on the greenway followed by a a short ride on the path) it seems ideal. Just my 2c.

Last edited by makeinu; 09-05-08 at 03:38 PM.
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Old 09-05-08, 03:30 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by dschwarz View Post
Hi all-

... now that I am taking my daughter to Kindergarten every day, I realize that I'll be spending time each day on NYC MTA buses. .
How old is your daughter? Will you and your daughter be taking the bus to kindergarten? Or will you be escorting daughter to kindergarten by foot, and then catching the bus after you drop her off?

I ask because the logistics of carrying bike while escorting daughter might demand an even smaller bike, like the Mobiky Genius.

Regards
T
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Old 09-06-08, 04:44 PM   #12
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Does the downtube mini fold smaller/better than the curve d3?
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Old 09-06-08, 07:01 PM   #13
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I have not
Update; now I have. I went over to NYCe Wheels (84th and York) and the nice folks there let me look at a Curve D3, Curve SL and a 20" bike - I think the Mu P8. Here's a picture of two bikes. 20" bike is the "top" one.



The 16" bike definitely is smaller folded top to bottom and front to back, but the width is still about the same, and it's the width that really gets in the way on a bus.

Didn't get to ride either bike today due to the bad weather. NYCe says they will let me test ride and also test board a bus for a block or two with a bike before buying. If I buy a Dahon I'll definitely take them up on that.

By the way, the Curve SL is sweet - very light, looks nice, overall looks like a big upgrade over the Curve D3 - but if I was willing to spend almost $1K on a bike I'd be looking at the Tikit etc.
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Old 09-06-08, 07:09 PM   #14
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Thanks for the tip on the CarryMe and the link to those posts. Wow, that bike is small. I agree it would be far easier to maneuver on the bus. Looks like a great second bike, but I don't think I could make it my one and only bike. And right now, what I'm buying will be my one and only bike for awhile.
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Old 09-06-08, 10:18 PM   #15
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Update; now I have. I went over to NYCe Wheels (84th and York) and the nice folks there let me look at a Curve D3, Curve SL and a 20" bike - I think the Mu P8. Here's a picture of two bikes. 20" bike is the "top" one.



The 16" bike definitely is smaller folded top to bottom and front to back, but the width is still about the same, and it's the width that really gets in the way on a bus.
I have to say that from the picture the Curve SL doesn't look much smaller, yes it is smaller but not by much.
I did the same thing before buying my Mu P8, the shop didn't have the Curve SL but I got a chance to compare the the Mu P8 to the Curve D3, the D3 is smaller (but heavier) and unfortunately both bikes are not super compact, yes they are cool but not tiny.... having said that, the Curve SL is probably better for commuters but the Mu P8 is more versatile. I have tried the Curve D3 and the Mu P8 on long flat surface and the 20" rides better IMHO. The Curve is sweet, not doubt, but 3 speeds are not enough if you travel a lot unless you are a roadie in a great shape. My problem with the Curve D3 is the weight, while it is not super heavy it is very far away from being easy to carry in subway stations.
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Old 09-07-08, 06:09 AM   #16
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I'd try to check the CarryMe and the Strida.
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Old 09-08-08, 06:01 AM   #17
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dschwarz,

My mini is my main commuter; it has fenders and lights and is in NYC almost every day. I have a seatpost rack and rack trunk that I use occasionally, i.e. either when I have a lot to carry or when I'm riding farther than usual. I also have a Dahon frame-mounted rack that fits the Mini well enough but does not, in my opinion, offer enough utility to justify itself; it takes up space in my basement in NJ and I'd be happy to pass it on. Next time I order anything from Nashbar I plan to order their front rack, but it has been out of stock for several months.

I am not a fan of messenger bags, but that's what I use when I ride the Mini.

It is in NYC with me, a I said, almost every day; if you would like to check it out, that is fine, let me know.
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Old 09-08-08, 10:16 AM   #18
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Bought a Mini yesterday

Thanks to all for your helpful replies. Yesterday I found a great deal on a 2009 Mini (!) on Craigslist, so I bought it. Took it out for a test spin last night, then commuted to work this AM with a backpack carrying my stuff. Initial thoughts:

1. Nice bike. I'm glad I went for a bike with >3 speeds
2. Needs some adjustment. The stem is a bit wobbly even with the quick release secured. Not sure how to fix that.
3. You all are right that it's going to be a pain to haul this thing on an MTA bus. Still, I think it's doable, so I'm going to give it a try
4. National Guard and PATH security didnt give me so much as a look when hauling the large black bag onto the train before 9:30am
5. Riding with a backpack full of clothes, shoes, and a laptop is Not Fun. I'll definitely check out some of the QR rack options posted above.
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Old 09-12-08, 09:03 AM   #19
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Following up on the thread, I can now provide some feedback for the benefit of others. Yes, it is possible to commute with the Mini on an MTA bus. I brought my daughter to school on Wednesday, took the M11 up Amsterdam Avenue. The bus was half full (almost all seats occupied but few or no standees). My daughter and I found two seats near each other, and I put the bike in the aisle next to me. The mini was not in a bag so it was clearly identifiable as a folding bike, the bus driver didn't give me any hassle. It takes up about the space of a person standing in the aisle. There's plenty of room for someone to walk past. However, getting in and out would be a challenge if the bus was more crowded. For those situations the CarryMe would be more suitable.
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Old 09-12-08, 09:25 AM   #20
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Quote:
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5. Riding with a backpack full of clothes, shoes, and a laptop is Not Fun. I'll definitely check out some of the QR rack options posted above.
If I'm going to ride my D3 more than 10 miles, I use a trunk bag. The one I have isn't in all that good shape, and I have heelstrike issues, but it's handy.

As I understand it, you'd need to lock out the rear suspension if you want to fit a non-seatpost rack on the Mini.(Edit: I'm talking about a rear rack.)
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Old 09-12-08, 09:59 AM   #21
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Following up on the thread, I can now provide some feedback for the benefit of others. Yes, it is possible to commute with the Mini on an MTA bus. I brought my daughter to school on Wednesday, took the M11 up Amsterdam Avenue. The bus was half full (almost all seats occupied but few or no standees). My daughter and I found two seats near each other, and I put the bike in the aisle next to me. The mini was not in a bag so it was clearly identifiable as a folding bike, the bus driver didn't give me any hassle. It takes up about the space of a person standing in the aisle. There's plenty of room for someone to walk past. However, getting in and out would be a challenge if the bus was more crowded. For those situations the CarryMe would be more suitable.
Hey dschwarz, can you take a picture of your 2009 Mini folded? I recently got a 2008 and I am thinking on getting a 2009, but the fold on the 2008 does not convince me. Are you holding it together with a bungie cord? Thanks in advance.
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