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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 02-24-09, 09:10 AM   #1
rhm
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YFB, a $0.99 ebay folding bike

You may recall a few months ago I had a problem when my Downtube Mini's rear rim wore out and I was unable to find a 16 x 1.5 aluminum rim drilled for 28 spokes. No one, including Downtube, sells a rim of that dimensions. I later discovered that one can get a whole wheel from Niagara Cyclery, but first I looked at the cheap folding bikes on ebay and found this one, which I picked up for $0.99 plus $80 shipping. I can't find them on ebay right now, but I'm sure they'll reappear, at which point I'll put in a link. Anyway, my $80.99 got me two rims of the desired specifications and a pair of fenders that I assumed would soon find their way onto my Mini. There was also a wide assortment of other cheap Chinese bike parts, most of which I would not dream of using. But soon I found myself considering using the frame....

I call it YFB, "yellow folding bike," because it has no name on it anywhere. It is truly a generic bike.

I happened to have a number of parts lying around, so when I decided to upgrade and ride the YFB I already had suitable wheels, brake levers, and crank for it. Here's what it looks like now:

Note the integral rack which, on account of the long wheel base, does not actually cause heel strike issues when loaded.
The rims are Alex aluminum rims, wrapped completely in yellow reflective tape; not a perfect job, but good enough. The hubs are Shimano Nexus; a dynamo on the front, an Inter-4 (4-speed) on the rear; both have rollerbrakes. The original rear wheel had a bandbrake, so installing the rear rollerbrake using the same braze-ons was pretty straightforward:.

The rear reflector has been converted to an LED light with a wire running under the fender, held in place by a C-shaped piece of steel spring (the wire bead from an old tire). The front headlight is an old steam regulator from a domestic radiator, now containing a bright LED and reflector, all held together with duck tape (I know, I know, I'm working on a better solution).

YFB came with a steel 31.8 mm seat post which I cut off at the bottom and inserted a 29.8 post I found in a dumpster a couple years ago. It telescopes, technically, but I don't have quick releases on the clamps (recycled from Razor scooters). The lower clamp serves to help me put the seat at the correct level. So when I fold the bike, I pull the seat out all the way:

I have the gears set up for 30.1, 37.4, 45.2, and 55.4 gear inches respectively, which is similar to, but a little higher than, gears 1-5 on my Downtube Mini. Quite frankly, I don't like the Nexus Inter-4 hub as well as the Sturmey Archer; the steps between the gears are just a little too big for my taste. But it works reliably.

The rear suspension is surprisingly easy to adjust, and I have it tightened down to the point that it doesn't bother me at all. The long wheelbase is surprisingly comfortable. Just don't ask what it weighs!

I have been commuting on this bike for over 2 weeks now, putting about 200 miles on it so far. I'm still getting to know it; but initial impression: not bad! Once I have my Mini back on the road, I'll compare them more closely.

Last edited by rhm; 02-24-09 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 02-24-09, 09:38 AM   #2
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which dynamo are you using on the front? I presume nexus, but you didn't state specifically.

PS - Nice looking bike.
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Old 02-24-09, 09:42 AM   #3
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which dynamo are you using on the front? I presume nexus, but you didn't state specifically.
Yes, that's a Shimano Nexus HB-NX60 front hub. Got it on ebay a year or two ago, surprisingly cheap even after shipping from the Netherlands.
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Old 02-24-09, 11:27 AM   #4
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Good looking bike. Am I correct that the bike came with the IGH hub in the back? Or did you upgrade? If it came with it, that's a great deal.

I know you said it's heavy, but any estimate of total bike weight?
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Old 02-24-09, 11:35 AM   #5
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...Am I correct that the bike came with the IGH hub in the back?...
No, the original hub was a steel hub with single speed freewheel and band brake. Pretty much junk; I only wanted the rim.
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I know you said it's heavy, but any estimate of total bike weight?
I dunno, man, I'm not sure I even want to know, really. Maybe I'll weigh it one of these days. I wouldn't be surprised if it's pushing 40 lbs, though. I only notice the weight when I have to toss it up on the overhead luggage rack on the train.
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Old 02-24-09, 11:46 AM   #6
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how did ur downtube mini rim wore out? how much did u bike on ur dt mini in term of milage?
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Old 02-24-09, 12:08 PM   #7
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I was thinking the same exact thing: How did the DT Mini's rim wear out?
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Old 02-24-09, 12:44 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by vincentnyc View Post
how did ur downtube mini rim wore out? how much did u bike on ur dt mini in term of milage?
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I was thinking the same exact thing: How did the DT Mini's rim wear out?
The bike and rim had about 4700 miles on it, most of which is calm brake-free pedaling, but I do 3 or 4 miles of heavy NYC traffic every day, rain or shine, ready to hit the brakes any time I need to... which tends to be a lot... like, pretty constantly. Since I ride every day, there usually isn't time to clean dirt off the rims and brake shoes, which would help.
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Old 02-24-09, 01:13 PM   #9
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...but I do 3 or 4 miles of heavy NYC traffic every day, rain or shine, ready to hit the brakes any time I need to...
when did u first start to bike with ur mini dt in nyc? and was it both rim that got wore out or just one rim and which rim...front or rear?
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Old 02-24-09, 01:20 PM   #10
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when did u first start to bike with ur mini dt in nyc? and was it both rim that got wore out or just one rim and which rim...front or rear?
May 2007. Rear rim, as mentioned in first line of thread.
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Old 02-24-09, 01:52 PM   #11
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man, that bike looks amazing.

im almost afraid to ask, but how much does she weigh?
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Old 02-24-09, 08:38 PM   #12
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Pretty good job! Nice touch of yellow tape on the rims with roller brakes.

The lack of replacement rims for the Mini must rank as a fatal shortcoming, since rear rims tend to wear quickly. (I have stopped using rear brakes for that reason.)

Velocity have a 28H 305mm rim in their catalog. I vaguely recall you had no joy from them...?

Looks like quite a long wheelbase - what is it?
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Old 02-24-09, 10:29 PM   #13
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$80 shipping? for a FOLDING bike? hmmm
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Old 02-25-09, 07:24 AM   #14
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...I'm almost afraid to ask, but how much does she weigh?
You and me both, babe. But okay, I got out the bathroom scale and determined that, depending where exactly on the scale I stand, the bike weighs anywhere between 35 and 41 lbs. Which reminds me... I made a "head badge" for it. Check it out:

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... The lack of replacement rims for the Mini must rank as a fatal shortcoming...
Yes, but I wouldn't single out the Mini on that score; Dahon Curve, Citizen Tokyo, and indeed YFB all have this shortcoming. Clearly there are factories in China producing these rims; the problem is getting them imported as such.

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...I have stopped using rear brakes for that reason....
I'm impressed! But I just can't do that. When I want to slow down, I squeeze with both hands. Reprogramming my brain to use coaster brakes, or one hand only, would be a non-starter.

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Velocity have a 28H 305mm rim in their catalog. I vaguely recall you had no joy from them...?
Correct, I emailed their US representative and got a very friendly email back saying, with regrets, that they are no longer making 305 rims.

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Looks like quite a long wheelbase - what is it?
39" at the front of the dropouts, 40" farther back. The handlebar-to-seat measurement (i.e. effective top tube length) is 23.5".
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Old 02-25-09, 08:28 AM   #15
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Lesson learned

The eBay seller may have learned their 0.99 lesson, here is a new folder. It's close enough to be by the same company but now it is $129.00 with free shipping. Also 20 inch wheels.
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