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  1. #1
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    Looking for a high-speed folding bike

    Greetings, I am looking for a folding bike that would be appropriate for long-distance rides, such as centuries. I currently have a Downtube Mini that is absolutely perfect for commuting, taking aboard public transit, and storing in the office. However, even when I am really cranking on the bike, I don't seem to exceed 10-11 mph. Unfortunately, this means I can't participate in long-distance rides because 100 miles at 10 mph would equal 10 hours, and obviously no one rides for 10 hours straight at maximum speed with no rest or meal breaks.

    Are there racing-type folding bikes available that I should investigate--ones that would support riding at an A (or at least B) pace? It would be even better if they were in the $500 range (that is, similar to a Downtube). I'd really like the bike to fold, so I can still store it in my closet and take on trains. It can have large wheels, though, as I'll continue to rely on my Mini for commuting.

    Thanks for your suggestions and advice.

  2. #2
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Choice #1:

    54T chainring + faster tires + multi-position handlebar will make your DT-Mini average 14+ and give you more than one riding position

    Choice #2:

    Bike Friday (far from $500 though)

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by 14R View Post
    Choice #1:

    54T chainring + faster tires + multi-position handlebar will make your DT-Mini average 14+ and give you more than one riding position

    Choice #2:

    Bike Friday (far from $500 though)
    how much a 54T chainring will cost? and is it easy to install chainraing? do you also need to get a longer chain when you upgrade to a 54T chainring?

  4. #4
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    If you go to gaerlan.com and go to the parts section, they go up to a 60T chainring,

    juan162

  5. #5
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Urbanis View Post
    Greetings, I am looking for a folding bike that would be appropriate for long-distance rides, such as centuries. I currently have a Downtube Mini that is absolutely perfect for commuting, taking aboard public transit, and storing in the office. However, even when I am really cranking on the bike, I don't seem to exceed 10-11 mph. Unfortunately, this means I can't participate in long-distance rides because 100 miles at 10 mph would equal 10 hours, and obviously no one rides for 10 hours straight at maximum speed with no rest or meal breaks.

    Are there racing-type folding bikes available that I should investigate--ones that would support riding at an A (or at least B) pace? It would be even better if they were in the $500 range (that is, similar to a Downtube). I'd really like the bike to fold, so I can still store it in my closet and take on trains. It can have large wheels, though, as I'll continue to rely on my Mini for commuting.

    Thanks for your suggestions and advice.
    One, I would work on cadence and a more aerodynamic position to go fast than 10-11 mph. The gearing should be able to take you past that threshold.

    For centuries, I would get a bike that can be optimized more for fit. With your budget, the Downtube NS will leave you with some money for a different stem, saddle, and chainring. The big can be upgraded pretty easy afterwards.

  6. #6
    747 Freight Pilot bicycleflyer's Avatar
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    It can have large wheels? ... Then why not consider a 700C wheeled road bike. It would be cheaper, faster, and lighter than any folder. You said yourself that you still have the mini for commuting. As for storing it you can remove the wheels because they will have quick release skewers.

    I have a Bike-Friday "Pocket-Rocket". It is fast and I wouldn't hesitate to take it on a long ride either, but I still love my Rivendell full sized bike. My Bike-Friday is only used when I travel.

    If you must have a folder, then Bike-Friday is not a bad way to go. They have been used on long distance rides like 400K and 1200K randonees. But they cost more than 500. You might could find a used one somewhere.
    Flying an airplane is really very simple...Push the stick forward, the house gets big. Pull the stick back, the house gets small. Keep holding the stick back, the house gets big again.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Urbanis View Post
    ... However, even when I am really cranking on the bike, I don't seem to exceed 10-11 mph...
    What do u mean by "cranking?". What gear are u using on ur mini? Are u using 4 all the time? Switch to a 5 or 6 unless u r out of shape.

  8. #8
    Senior Member GTALuigi's Avatar
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    hmm... at $500 you wont find much that are decent.

    but if you are willing to go into the $1000 then get the Mu SL

    it's perfect out of the box.

    once you get used to it, you can get it packed up and folded to go under 10sec

    super light weight 8 kg
    9 speed
    Mu SL Gone in 10 sec!
    Matrix The perfect commuter bike for all terrain!

  9. #9
    ...poet... timo888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vincentnyc View Post
    What do u mean by "cranking?".
    To crank=to pedal hard and fast

    Regards
    T

  10. #10
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    Thanks for everyone's feedback. I really like the idea proposed by 14R to mod my Downtube Mini (thus sticking with a bike I already have and enjoy and saving lots of money). I also have an 8H--would you suggest the same modifications (54T chainring, faster tires, and multi-position handlebar) to it? If so, I may mod the 8H instead--it's got the integrated rear rack, larger wheels, and may be better for touring anyway.

    Questions:
    1) I have no knowledge of tires--is there a particular brand you'd recommend for the Mini and the 8H?

    2) For the multi-position handlebar, are you recommending a butterfly bar or some other type (e.g., drop or moustache)? I found an article about them here: http://sheldonbrown.com/deakins/handlebars.html (again I'm no expert on this topic).

    3) Would installing a multi-position handlebar compromise the fold? My Mini folds with the stem and handlebar between the wheels. On the 8H, the stem and handlebar fold on the outside, so I suspect it would be less of a problem to do the mod on that bike.

  11. #11
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    Before buying a giant chainring, my suggestion is to get a smaller rear sprocket. By swapping out your 25t for 23t, you can buy some extra top-end speed. Then, when you do choose to get a bigger chainring, it won't be as big.

    The only place that seems to have the 23t in stock is www.biketoolsetc.com (you'll have to call them, its not on the site)

    For the Mini, you definitely want Schwalbe Big Apples. At 70psi, nothing will roll as nice.

    On the 8H, you won't need as big a chainring due to the larger wheel size. Again, start with the 23t sprocket and see if that works (you won't need a new chain)
    Internal Gear Hub Guru
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  12. #12
    jur
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    The Mini has 23T standard as rear sprocket. Get a 53T chainwheel - I did and there is plenty top speed gearing and chainrings are widely found. You might even get a used one for nothing from a LBS.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  13. #13
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    K6-III, would you recommend the Schwalbe Big Apple tires for the 8H as well?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    The Mini has 23T standard as rear sprocket. Get a 53T chainwheel - I did and there is plenty top speed gearing and chainrings are widely found. You might even get a used one for nothing from a LBS.
    My 2009 Mini came with a 25t, so it may very well be a needed swap.

    As for the 8H, the Big Apples would be good-riding tires, but not the highest performance.

    For the ultimate combination, given that the 8H only has suspension on the front, you can run a 20x2.0 Big Apple in the rear and a 20x1.5 or 20x1.75 Marathon Racer in the front.
    Internal Gear Hub Guru
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    Previously owned hubs: Shimano Nexus 8 speed, Sturmey AW 3 speed, Shimano 3 speed coaster, SRAM S7 Drum, Sturmey XRF8 8 speed
    Tested hubs: SRAM i-Motion 9 speed, Sturmey XRD5

  15. #15
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    I just checked my Mini and it has a 25T rear sprocket.

    So from everyone's suggestions, here are the possible mods for the Mini:
    1. Install 23T rear sprocket (looks like I can get it here: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/s...her-parts.html)
    2. Install 53T or 54T chainring (any recommendations for sources?)
    3. Replace Kendas with Schwalbe Big Apple tires (http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/accessories/tires.htm).
    4. I'm not sure what to do about getting multi-position handlebars--I like the idea, but I'm concerned about compromising the fold (which needs to stay compact). Any recommendations?

    Possible mods for the 8H:
    1. Chainring--size? (Already has a 23T rear sprocket)
    2. Rear tire: Big Apple 20 x 2, Front tire: Marathon Racer 20 x 1.5
    3. Handlebars?
    Last edited by Urbanis; 10-11-08 at 09:44 PM.

  16. #16
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    I might be missing something really obvious, but if you are pedaling hard and only going 12 mph then there is something seriously wrong with your fitness and technique. Changing the equipment ain't going to fix the problem. Are you sure your speedometer is calibrated?

  17. #17
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTALuigi View Post
    hmm... at $500 you wont find much that are decent.

    but if you are willing to go into the $1000 then get the Mu SL

    it's perfect out of the box.

    once you get used to it, you can get it packed up and folded to go under 10sec

    super light weight 8 kg
    9 speed
    I took my Mu on a 70 mile ride, and it was barely doable. Maybe better now with Kojak tires. On top of the harsher ride (true of non-suspended Bike Friday models, too), there is less seat selection. Also, I wouldn't say "packed up." It doesn't fit in a legal suitcase and takes a long time to pack. It does fold in 10s and is light and svelt, though.

  18. #18
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    I might be missing something really obvious, but if you are pedaling hard and only going 12 mph then there is something seriously wrong with your fitness and technique.
    Gee, thanks.

    To that point, however, I think upping the gearing as previously suggested, improving the tires, and riding in a more dropped, aerodynamic position by lowering the handlebars would help increase my speed. I'm a city commuter, so I like to ride upright so I can see what's happening in traffic (in NYC, you have everything on the streets--pedestrians all over the place, vendors pushing their carts, cars parked in bike lanes, etc.). But I could try riding in a more tucked position on the Greenway.

  19. #19
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    Do you have the correct seated position? http://www.downtube.com/Bicycle_Fitting/

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Urbanis View Post
    Gee, thanks.

    To that point, however, I think upping the gearing as previously suggested, improving the tires, and riding in a more dropped, aerodynamic position by lowering the handlebars would help increase my speed. I'm a city commuter, so I like to ride upright so I can see what's happening in traffic (in NYC, you have everything on the streets--pedestrians all over the place, vendors pushing their carts, cars parked in bike lanes, etc.). But I could try riding in a more tucked position on the Greenway.
    Yeah...in traffic I won't want to ride anything faster than 10 mph cuz of pedestrians, taxi, etc. I think I avg. 7-8 mpg. But on the greenway, I could go up to 15 mpg w/o even sweating. What gps system are u using? U sure it is working properly?

  21. #21
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    I'm not using a GPS system; I'm just calculating average mph based on distance and time.

  22. #22
    Junior Member BeachBiker's Avatar
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    Better purchase and mount a simple bicycle computer for a more accurate reading!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Urbanis View Post
    I just checked my Mini and it has a 25T rear sprocket.

    So from everyone's suggestions, here are the possible mods for the Mini:
    1. Install 23T rear sprocket (looks like I can get it here: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/s...her-parts.html)
    2. Install 53T or 54T chainring (any recommendations for sources?)
    3. Replace Kendas with Schwalbe Big Apple tires (http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/accessories/tires.htm).
    4. I'm not sure what to do about getting multi-position handlebars--I like the idea, but I'm concerned about compromising the fold (which needs to stay compact). Any recommendations?

    Possible mods for the 8H:
    1. Chainring--size? (Already has a 23T rear sprocket)
    2. Rear tire: Big Apple 20 x 2, Front tire: Marathon Racer 20 x 1.5
    3. Handlebars?
    I'd get the sprocket from www.biketoolsetc.com, as QBP is currently out of 23t sprockets. Even though the 19t sprocket would otherwise be a good idea, it is not dished and will only do more to ruin the already bad chainline on the Mini.

    If you really feel that the gear range is not tall enough on the 8H, you can swap out the 46t chainring for a 48t, but you don't want to raise it much more than that. Definitely don't go bigger than 49t.

    Another biggie would be clipless pedals, which could let you spin at a higher cadence, perhaps removing the need for such a big chainring.
    Internal Gear Hub Guru
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    Previously owned hubs: Shimano Nexus 8 speed, Sturmey AW 3 speed, Shimano 3 speed coaster, SRAM S7 Drum, Sturmey XRF8 8 speed
    Tested hubs: SRAM i-Motion 9 speed, Sturmey XRD5

  24. #24
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I used folding bikes exclusively for about a year, and did several tours, numerous "metric centuries" (60+ miles) and an "imperial" century (100 miles) on folders.

    In general, I do not recommend most folders for century rides, but it can definitely be done, and it's OK if you meet a few critical requirements:

    You find the folder to be very comfortable on longer rides.
    The century you're going to do is flat, OR the folder has very wide gearing.
    You're sure your folder is in excellent mechanical shape.
    You don't make any major changes to the bike (or change bikes altogether) shortly before the century.

    There are only a few high-end folders/separatables I'd recommend for 100 miles. A well-fitted and properly geared Bike Friday; just about any Moulton; maybe a Pacific Reach. Others can be used but only if you really, really, really aren't bothered by road buzz and don't need a wide gearing range.

    I would point out that I do a lot of distance riding and vastly prefer 700c bikes, but that might not fly 'round here...

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Urbanis View Post
    I'm not using a GPS system; I'm just calculating average mph based on distance and time.
    wel...there is ur problem right there. u dont have the correct reading. u gotta stop for red lights, pedestrians, etc. if u do a tour like the century, i assume the road is close and you should have no problem with your mini.

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