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Folding Bikes Discuss the unique features and issues of folding bikes. Also a great place to learn what folding bike will work best for your needs.

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Old 01-23-09, 02:28 PM   #1
taudep
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Folding bike for one-way commuting.

Hi All,
Where I live in Boston, they don't allow bikes on the trains. I'm looking for an inexpensive bike that could handle a 12 to 15 mile ride, and then folded up, tossed into a duffel bag to commute home on the train.
This bike is going to be for my girlfriend.
I've just started my research, so I'm up for suggestions, or ideas on what to look for. I'm not sure if folding bikes were really thought of for even 15 mile rides...

Thanks
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Old 01-23-09, 06:32 PM   #2
ChiapasFixed
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yes! there are a number of folders that can handle rides of 100 miles or more. some are even considered more comfy than full sized bikes! For example, i own an Airnimal joey, which does not fold as small as other bikes but comes with its own carrying bag which is fine on trains, subways, etc. it has 24" wheels and I have toured with it for weeks and done upwards of 80 miles a day.
Bike Friday, of course, is another great company with a range of folding bikes suitable for long rides. There is also the Swift folder, the Birdy, the Mezzo or Ori bikes, Moultons of course, and even a few of Dahon's models are ok too. Expect to spend upwards of 800 dolars for a suitable ride though, even used, these bikes are not cheap.
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Old 01-24-09, 08:12 PM   #3
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A folded up bike in a duffle bag is NOT FUN to carry around. Figure 24-26 pounds for the bike and bag. Best case scenario, you ride and wheel the bike all the way to the train platform, then bag it up and haul it inside the train car, leaving it in a luggage rack near the door. That might be OK. But if you have to fit it in an overhead luggage rack, for example, that's going to suck.

Reasonable choices in this scenario are the Strida and CarryMe (which are so unlike regular bikes when folded that you might just be able to get by without a bag). I haven't ridden either but I think the Strida is reasonable for a 12-15 mile ride. I don't know about the CarryMe.

You might also look at the Brompton...er., you said inexpensive, scratch that. The Downtube Mini may be an option (although it is heavier and larger than the above two options).
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Old 01-25-09, 03:04 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by taudep View Post
Hi All,
Where I live in Boston, they don't allow bikes on the trains. I'm looking for an inexpensive bike that could handle a 12 to 15 mile ride, and then folded up, tossed into a duffel bag to commute home on the train.
This bike is going to be for my girlfriend.
I've just started my research, so I'm up for suggestions, or ideas on what to look for. I'm not sure if folding bikes were really thought of for even 15 mile rides...

Thanks
Please give more details:
-motivation/goals (why one way?)
-road condition
-road traffic
-train congestion
-budget
-preconceived riding expectations/experiences
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Old 01-25-09, 07:35 AM   #5
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taudep, if you've got time, check out Harris Cyclery in West Newton. They carry a few high end folders (that you can test ride) that are commonly discussed here on the forum (Bike Friday, Brompton, etc.). They are relatively expensive, but I think they would give you a great frame of reference in terms of rideability and how the actual size of some of the bikes look and feel. This may help you understand some of what people say about different folding bikes, as a a matter of size preference, foldability and rideability. From there, you can figure out what may work best for your girlfriend.

I think most, if not all they stock is 16" wheeled folders--smaller wheels than the 20" variety.

The Downtube Mini (which Harris does not carry) comes to mind initially as a good combo of rideability, affordability and size. The Bike Friday Tikit's a cool bike, and the Brompton is also a good multimodal commuter choice, though these are more expensive relative to the Mini and others. Sounds like Strida or CarryMe could work well too, though I haven't ridden these.

Lastly, you may have seen it, but check out the search function on this forum--there's been a lot of detailed discussion about the merits and differences between all (or most anyway) folding bikes. It's a great tool.

Good luck!
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Old 01-25-09, 11:02 AM   #6
EvilV
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Originally Posted by dschwarz View Post
I haven't ridden either but I think the Strida is reasonable for a 12-15 mile ride. I don't know about the CarryMe.

You might also look at the Brompton...er., you said inexpensive, scratch that. The Downtube Mini may be an option (although it is heavier and larger than the above two options).
I think a lot of folks might balk at riding a strida 12 - 15 miles. I wouldn't, but I'm nuts. A lot would depend on the nature of the topography too.
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Old 01-25-09, 12:55 PM   #7
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Sounds like Strida or CarryMe could work well too, though I haven't ridden these.
Everyone knows I love my Carryme, but I don't think I'd choose a single speed bike for a 15 mile commute as I'd expect:
1. I'd want to make good time.
2. I wouldn't want to get too sweaty.
3. I'd be forced to cover a variety of terrain.

However, to be completely honest I can't think of a reason to do a one way commute either. I think I'd rather:
-Take the train both ways.
-Ride both ways.
-Ride half way both ways.
-Alternate the above.
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Old 01-25-09, 01:51 PM   #8
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my Joey is fine to carry around folded, in its carrying bag with shoulder strap, at least for relatively short walks like up and down subway staircases, through the supermarket, or bus station. For longer distances, well i just unfold the bike!
one thing to consider for multi modal commuting is how manageable the folded package is. for example, although my GF's bike friday folds a bit smaller than my Joey and actually weighs a full kilo less, it is a bit unweilde to carry because of its shape. the Joey folds into a nice square with the front wheel velcro strapped to it, and goes neatly into its square bag
Im happy!
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Old 01-25-09, 04:01 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by dschwarz View Post
A folded up bike in a duffle bag is NOT FUN to carry around. Figure 24-26 pounds for the bike and bag. Best case scenario, you ride and wheel the bike all the way to the train platform, then bag it up and haul it inside the train car, leaving it in a luggage rack near the door. That might be OK. But if you have to fit it in an overhead luggage rack, for example, that's going to suck.

Reasonable choices in this scenario are the Strida and CarryMe (which are so unlike regular bikes when folded that you might just be able to get by without a bag). I haven't ridden either but I think the Strida is reasonable for a 12-15 mile ride. I don't know about the CarryMe.

You might also look at the Brompton...er., you said inexpensive, scratch that. The Downtube Mini may be an option (although it is heavier and larger than the above two options).
I am not familiar with the Boston area transit except for my sister's own experiences when she lived there back in the late 70s/early 80s. I don't want to blow your ideal of a folding bike you can just toss in a bag and go anywhere without a second thought. But the reality is something more like the above when I take one of my folders with me. When one of the bikes go with me on board any train or bus, I have to make some allowances-even bagged. I have to be mindful of other passengers and be careful not to damage them or the vehicle as I enter/exit. I usually prefer to be in the easy access areas usually reserved or intended for the disabled/senior people. The reality is I have to go somewhere else (usually to the back). The weight of any of my smaller wheeled 16" bikes is kept around 25 pounds. While I can and do allow to carry it up aisle stairs or ramps, I try to limit the doing this activity as I do grow tired when I have to do it too much. My bikes are usually set up to ride at least 15 miles in moderate terrain (some hills) and limited wet weather (except for the Brompton as it is fender-less). If I have to take the bike more than a few feet at a time, I use my folding luggage cart-another thing to carry and remember not to leave behind-to tow the bike behind me.

So if you are interested in a real folding bike, go to a good dealer of Dahons, Bromptons, Bike Friday tikits, or similar and bring your girl to test ride one before purchase. The price of Bromptons and other high end folders might be daunting, but will be worth it provided you are aware of their positive and negative points.

For me personally, I would not be without a folding bike. I can go out at night without being bothered by weirdos (I am female) and not be depended too much on private cars-even in Southern California.
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Old 01-26-09, 09:04 AM   #10
taudep
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Thanks all for the replies. I'm underway with my research.

I just learned that a friend has a Dahnon folding bike, so checking that out and the feasability of carrying it. I think the luggage cart thing is a definite necessity. We'd probably have to conger up some special way to carry/roll the thing...

Thanks again.
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Old 01-26-09, 11:14 AM   #11
rhm
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I ride a Downtube Mini and take it on the train every day; it's well suited to that purpose. I would not recommend one to someone much taller than myself (6'). I've ridden it 15-25 miles many times, and have no complaint about that. I have also ridden a Strida as much as 15 miles, but that's a bit less pleasant.

Check with the train conductors whether a folded bike has to be in a bag; I have not bagged mine once. The bike is a lot easier to manage when it's not in a bag. There's a way to wheel it along in front of you, holding it by the seat; roll it right onto the train, then pick it up and put it into the overhead luggage rack, and finally remove the seat post. Plenty of room for it on NJ Transit trains, even more on standard Amtrak trains. Note, on Amtrak it is not "allowed" to do that, but I did it, and the conductor saw me, and did not hassle me about it.

There are several variables to consider when taking a folding bike on a train:
--If you want to enjoy your train ride, you need to get a seat.
--If your bike makes you slower than the other passengers, you will not get a seat.
--If you make other passengers unhappy, the conductor will throw you off the train.
--If you make the conductor unhappy, s/he will throw you off the train.
--There are many rules about what you can and can't do, but only one of them matters: if the conductor wants to throw you off the train, s/he can throw you off the train.
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