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  1. #1
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    26" folding bikes

    I've been thinking about picking up a folding bike, because of the San Francisco BART's stupid rule that you can bring your bike on any train on any time of the day except during rush hour. BUT, you can bring a folding bike onto the train with you.

    They probably mean those little 16' wheel things, like bromptons or bike fridays or whatever. Personally, I don't really want to mess with those, I want to comply with the stupid BART rule without having to make any concessions on ride quality. I couldn't care less how small the bike folds up, so long as when the bart staff tries to prevent me from bringing my bike on the train, i can tell them with a straight face that it's a folding bike, therefore allowed.

    I've seen a couple of people riding the trains with 26" folders, which piqued my interest. From doing a little googling, the Dahon Matrix or Montague Paratrooper look like good commuter options for me -- basic mtn bike / city bike type set ups. I haven't found much in the way of user reviews, though.

    Anyone got any experience with these? Or know of any other brands I should look at?

  2. #2
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    I think there are few more companies that make 26" folders. However, I think many of the better 20" folders feel and behave just like a big bike. Here's a good general review of the most common folders out there:

    http://www.transalt.org/features/foldingbike.html

  3. #3
    Patrick A
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    How about http://www.folding-bike.com

    They have some 26" bikes on there, and they seem reasonably light and inexpensive. I've never seen one in person; be interested to see one. They also have the aforementioned Dahon Matrix on there.
    Last edited by Patrick A; 03-08-04 at 08:11 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by howling.fantods
    They probably mean those little 16' wheel things, like bromptons or bike fridays or whatever. Personally, I don't really want to mess with those, I want to comply with the stupid BART rule without having to make any concessions on ride quality. I couldn't care less how small the bike folds up, so long as when the bart staff tries to prevent me from bringing my bike on the train, i can tell them with a straight face that it's a folding bike, therefore allowed.

    I've seen a couple of people riding the trains with 26" folders, which piqued my interest. From doing a little googling, the Dahon Matrix or Montague Paratrooper look like good commuter options for me -- basic mtn bike / city bike type set ups. I haven't found much in the way of user reviews, though.

    Anyone got any experience with these? Or know of any other brands I should look at?
    The Montague is not a folding bike but a bike that will collapse for easy storage. You might have problems with the Montague as the conductor may think your're trying to being a regular bike on the train. I would NOT get that bike.

    The Dahon 26 inch Matrix really folds well and you can tell that its a REAL folding bike. I test rode the the Dahon Espresso and didn't really choose it at the time but they improved the bike over the past 3 years. The Matrix is awsome and I wish I had the money to buy one.

    Don't get a 16 inch wheel unless you intend to being the bike aboad a bus or have an airplane or boat. I would not shy away from a 20 inch wheel bike like the Speed 8 or Speed pro. Give it a shot and ALWAYS test ride before you buy.

    I have two Dahon bikes and regret buying the Piccolo (16 inch model) I don't regret buying the Speed 8 but it worked for me. What I worry about is trying to get the Matrix aboard a bus which may not work! (Matrix is too big a package) If Bart is a LightRail, I don't see you getting into trouble. Bring a cover or a garbage bag with you in case the driver makes trouble. You may have to stand along side of the bike all the time. I think you'll be alright but see if you can borrow one and try to board the train with it. If there are no problems, you'll be fine. We have a lightrail in New Jersey and I've seen people bring the Boardwalk 6 (20 inch Dahon) with no problems

    Good luck.

  5. #5
    Senior Member ollo_ollo's Avatar
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    I was recently given a 20" wheel Columbia trike that folds up for storeage, think that would pass the straight face test on BART? Don
    visit my homebuilding blog: www.monoplanar.blogspot.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    The Montague is not a folding bike but a bike that will collapse for easy storage. You might have problems with the Montague as the conductor may think your're trying to being a regular bike on the train. I would NOT get that bike.
    interesting. from looking at their site, it looked like the folding mechanism isn't that dissimilar from like the matrix.

    Give it a shot and ALWAYS test ride before you buy.
    Always good advice, of course.

    Part of the thing i was hoping to hear, though, was about people's experience specifically with these types of bikes on the BART (which, as you guessed, is basically a light rail type system -- much more like the commuter lines in the NYC area than like the subway system. Better, actually, than like the LIRR and such for bringing on bikes, the BART has more open space. In face, enough open space that you can bring your regular bike on the bart anytime except for rush hour.

    Of course, rush hour is exactly when i want to be able to bring my bike on the bart...

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    Quote Originally Posted by howling.fantods
    interesting. from looking at their site, it looked like the folding mechanism isn't that dissimilar from like the matrix.

    Of course, rush hour is exactly when i want to be able to bring my bike on the bart...
    The folding mechanism is different from the Matrix. The Matrix actually folds in the middle making a smaller package while the Montague keeps the frame solid.

    These are some of the differences:

    1 When folded, the Montague looks like all you did was remove the front and rear wheels of a regular bike. The driver of the lightrail might think you're trying to bring a regular bike on board while trying to pass it as a folder. It's possible, they might not allow you to boad during rush hour because it's a large package and he might think you're trying to pull one over on him/her. Anthing to avoid problems during rush hour will work to your advantage.

    2. The Montague does not stick together in one piece like the Matrix. You're going to have problems carrying the wheels in one hand and the frame in another plus your personal luggage. The Matrix does not require you to take the wheels off so the bike remains in one piece even when folded which is much better in my opinion.

    3. When it rains, the last thing you want to do is put your hands on the wheels. With the Montague, you're always going to get your hands dirty and things can really get messy when those wheels are full of mud and road grit.

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    I own a Matrix and live in the Bay Area. The Matrix is a very durable,dependable bike. I highly recommend it over other 26" folders. Actually, a coworker went and bought the 2004 model (white) and he likes it also. One great thing about the Matrix is you can roll it when it is folded. My old commute from Livermore to Pleasanton Bart was great using the Matrix since it was a "full sized" bike. Also, being a "full-sized" bike, accessories were easy to find (bike racks, panniers, seatposts).

    I recommend Gaerlan.com for your purchase and tell them Walt sent you.

  9. #9
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    Have you asked anyone on the Dahon site ? The members who contribute to the forums do not work for Dahon and will give you an honest opinion . One or two do work for Dahon but most of us do not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by james Haury
    Have you asked anyone on the Dahon site ? The members who contribute to the forums do not work for Dahon and will give you an honest opinion . One or two do work for Dahon but most of us do not.
    The one thing I didn't like about the Matrix after reviewing it at a LBS were the front suspension forks. Other than those, the quality of the rest of the bike was fine.

  11. #11
    Listen to me powers2b's Avatar
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    I have a Fuij folding bike with 26" wheels. There is a quick release on the stem and seatpost that allows fast folding. The pedals even fold up.

  12. #12
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    Bike Friday makes a compact folding bike that is so small you can fold it up and slip it under the seat on the bus. I just got the flyer, and it doesn't look so bad. The price... whoooooo.... I hope it does come down in price, though!

    Koffee

  13. #13
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    Is the Dahon Matrix, folded, cumbersome on the train (subway)? I know the 20" foldies are great on the train, but are they adequate and comfortable and speedy enough to ride 12 miles through city streets (darting, dodging) and on multi-use trails (consistent speed)? I'm trying to make up my mind between a 20" or a 26" (Matrix).

    Thanks for your help.

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    I bicycle commute in Dallas, and the DART rules are exactly the same as BART. I purchased a Dahon Matrix 2004 model. I have no complaints about the bike, I have owned it for 5 months and ride it every day. When folded it can easily be rolled. It is not the smallest package folded-- it can be made smaller by loosening the handlerbar bolts and swinging the bars 90 degrees--this won't save much room and is in my opinion more trouble than it is worth.

    After much comparison, I finally went with a 26 because I felt more confident over less than perfect roads, and in general felt more comfortable on a full sized bike. If you are planning to only use the bike for short commuting, I would lean towards a 20 inch folder because of the easy portability. The Matrix is easy to roll around folded, but it is pretty heavy and cumbersome to lift. I can usually throw it in a friends' trunk if the situation arises, but it is never an easy job. I can't imagine being comfortable on the Dallas roads (not always the best quality and full of very aggressive drivers) without a full-size bike, but these worries may not be a consideration for you. Others may have more to add, but the main drawbacks I find to the 20 inch wheels are the decresed effeciency over long distance (though the smaller wheel will acclerate more quickly) and the diminished handling over less than smooth terrain.

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    Thanks for the information, Anthony. We have agressive drivers here in DC as well (seems like alot are from Texas for some reason...) I am leaning towards the Matrix because riding in traffic takes alot of concentration and I don't have to think about the bike when I'm on a full size one--it just comes naturally after all these years. I'm glad to know that the Matrix rolls, folded, and that you are able to bring it on the DART. I checked the DC Metro rules, and they have no regulations about the size of folding bikes, so it looks like a Matrix will do the trick. I'll be sure to let you know when I actually get one (the bike shop is supposed to receive a shipment before Thanksgiving).

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    I don't know if you plan on throwing it into any car trunks, or if you just need to get it on and off the train, but fold one up at your LBS and see if it is managable for you. I love my bike, but it isn't light.
    Here's a shot of my Matrix. I want to switch out the suspension fork for a rigid one since I don't off-road. The Matrix comes with slick tires, so I'm not really sure what the point is of having a suspension fork. If you plan to put on fenders, beware that the disc brakes can make mounting difficult. I had to bend the support around the brake. It wasn't an easy job. On the back fender I just used 3 of the 4 supports and forgot about the one that would have need to be altered because of the disc brake. Three supports work fine. If you go with the Dahon make sure to check your frame latch tension every couple of weeks or you'll get a very clicking noise from the latch. My bike is stock with Freddy Fenders, PlanetBike front and rear lights, and, of course the bag and rack. The adjustable front stem allows everything from a pretty much straight up to a low, aggressive riding position.

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    Cool. Thanks for the info about the fenders. I'm not sure I'll put them on because I have a shower at work and I don't really care if I get dirty. I took fenders off of my Jamis Coda Comp because they wouldn't stay put. I'll definitely put a rack on, since I use panniers. I have a good set of lights, too. I agree with the suspension fork--I'm not a fan of them (my mountain bike racing days predate suspension forks, back in the Jacquie Phelan era).

    I'm looking forward to trying out the Matrix at the local shop in the next week or so. I'll give it a good testing to make sure it will work for me. I know it'll be heavier than my Jamis, but probably about the same as my Stumpjumper. Besides, I'm still a pretty strong chica!

    Happy riding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    The one thing I didn't like about the Matrix after reviewing it at a LBS were the front suspension forks. Other than those, the quality of the rest of the bike was fine.

    Has anyone replaced the fork on their Matrix with a non-suspension fork? I'm getting my Matrix today and I eventually want to replace the fork. Will any straight, mountain bike-type fork work?

  19. #19
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Want to really confuse the BART and their rulebook on 'folders'?
    Montague used to sell a 26" wheeled folding tandem. Folded into 3 sections, fit into a suitcase and was flyable on airlines without an oversize luggage charge.
    Foldable in less than 3 minutes (that's was a record setting time!) but by myself could fold it in under 15 minutes.

  20. #20
    meb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    The folding mechanism is different from the Matrix. The Matrix actually folds in the middle making a smaller package while the Montague keeps the frame solid.

    These are some of the differences:

    1 When folded, the Montague looks like all you did was remove the front and rear wheels of a regular bike. The driver of the lightrail might think you're trying to bring a regular bike on board while trying to pass it as a folder. It's possible, they might not allow you to boad during rush hour because it's a large package and he might think you're trying to pull one over on him/her. Anthing to avoid problems during rush hour will work to your advantage.

    2. The Montague does not stick together in one piece like the Matrix. You're going to have problems carrying the wheels in one hand and the frame in another plus your personal luggage. The Matrix does not require you to take the wheels off so the bike remains in one piece even when folded which is much better in my opinion.

    3. When it rains, the last thing you want to do is put your hands on the wheels. With the Montague, you're always going to get your hands dirty and things can really get messy when those wheels are full of mud and road grit.
    The Montague folds with the triangle pivotting at the seat tube.
    It further collapses beyond there to save space. You don't have to take the wheels off.

    If not expressly barred-you could get two birds with one stone- add a folding tandem or a folding recumbent to you collection.

    Here’s a pictoral showing the folding process:
    http://www.gaerlan.com/bikes/monta/montafold.htm

    Gaerlan has the suitcase in case you want to pack so the train operator would never even know what’s inside.


    Not a 26, but here’s the lowest priced recumbent folder:
    http://www.bikeroute.com/Backsafer/
    Meets the folding requirement.
    FWIW, unfolded it would meet our subway 80” max limit for bikes outside rush hour here in the Metro DC area.


    Worksman made a folding tandem, not sure if they still do.

  21. #21
    meb
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    Oops-doublepost deleted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by velogirl
    Has anyone replaced the fork on their Matrix with a non-suspension fork? I'm getting my Matrix today and I eventually want to replace the fork. Will any straight, mountain bike-type fork work?
    Check with your LBS, not every fork will do. The rake needs to be the same or it will affect your handling. Make sure you get brake disc mounts if you that's what you have. I am going to replace my suspension fork as well. I think Dahon must assume that buyers demand a suspendion fork on any mountain bike frame. It doesn't make any sense to me to have a suspension fork on a bike that has tires that are only suitable for street riding.

  23. #23
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    Just acquired a 2004 Matrix. Based on my experience with the Dahon Vitesse, folding can take a minute, stuffing the folder into a Dahon bag (for airline travel) can take 20 minutes. As they say in Dhún na nGall, it's like stuffing 10 pounds of cac, into a 5 pound bag ;-) By way of explanation, I used Tempurpedic (1-inch viscoelastic mattress) to protect the bike from the gorillas. The Dahon Vitesse has so far survived rounds trips to Ireland and California.

    The Dahon bag for the 26" Matrix is larger but may not be large enough to stuff the Matrix and the Tempurpedic. The Matrix will need the Tempurpedic cushioning more than the Vitesse since it is more vulnerable (e.g. derailleur vs. Sturmey-Archer hub).

    Now the fun part. I'm upgrading the Matrix- Brooks Champion Flyer saddle with Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost (27.2 mm- so it can be borrowed from my mountain bikes), Power Grip pedals, longer bar (28") with riser, shifters to replace the twisters, Hutchison Gold Elite (cyclocross) tyres to replace the stock baldies, and of course a better suspension fork. (I'll leave the fork challenge to Harris Cyclery ;-)

    Last edited by Leo C. Driscoll; 12-05-04 at 06:05 AM.
    lowenherz

  24. #24
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    Just looked at the specs for Dahon's Zero G ($1K folder). It has a Manitou Skarab Fork. Since the Matrix looks like a cheaper-component clone of the Zero G, the Skarab is probably the missing suspension fork on the Matrix. You can check out the Manitou Skarab specs at http://www.orangebikes.com/technical...Skareb_eng.pdf.

    lowenherz

  25. #25
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    The frame is exactly the same as the Zero-G's, fyi. We should send in pictures to Dahon with my Matrix modified for road-only commuting and yours decked out to hit the trails.

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