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  1. #1
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    grad student new to the worold of folding bikes

    Hi guys! I've been researching like crazy all weekend trying to get my feet wet in the world of folders and I'm excited about the prospect of getting one for myself.

    A little background: I'm a 25 yo grad student (5'4", 115lbs) living in IL (so flatlands). I need something to bring me to and from libraries and town centers just a few miles away. Nothing beyond 10mi I would say. I'm pretty new to the biking world so I don't need the newest, craziest ride. I just want something that comfy and fun.

    My main reasons for getting a folder is storage space. I live in a tiny apt and I don't want to leave my bike locked up outside overnight.

    Couple questions:
    1. For people who have full size folders, when you all bike to a cafe or a library, do you leave it locked up outside? Is it folded when you lock it up? The only reason I ask is because my main destination will be libraries and I'm worries they won't allow me to bring my bike in with me.
    2. I'm a newbie when it comes to bikes so would I notice and/or care about the comfort difference between a 16" and 20" ride? I'm tempted to get a 16" but I'm worried when I take it out on the weekends just for fun I'll regret it. I would try these rides out in person, but the bike stores I've called locally don't carry folders.

  2. #2
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    Oops, I forgot to include my budget. I'd be willing to spend around 400$ though definitely not 500$. So far I've been looking at the Dahon D7 and the Dahon Espresso. I noticed a lot of people like the Downtube here...how are these next to comparable Dahons?

    Thanks!

  3. #3
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    IL being flat is actually a pretty great advantage price-wise, because it makes singlespeed bikes viable options even if you're not that "serious" about biking. Singlespeeds are much simpler, so they tend to be stronger, lighter, more reliable and cheaper than geared bikes of comparable quality.

    The Dahon Mu Uno is their current folding singlespeed, and a very nice one, but that's still a little expensive for you at $579. Before the Mu, though, Dahon made the Boardwalk S1. You should be able to pick up a 2008 or 2007 model, unused, for around $200.

    Spend the rest on accessories-- headlight, taillight, maybe a bottle cage or basket, bell, helmet, etc. These things add up, and especially things like lights really do make a difference in terms of safety. The S1 comes with a rack and fenders already, which is a nice touch not common on cheap bikes.

    I own a 2007 S1 and really love it. It's not anything you could call fast, but it's been comfortable and reliable from day 1.

  4. #4
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    pikamookie,

    welcome to the folder world. the only advise i can give you is to take your time in getting one. if there is a LBS in your area that sells folders go ahead and try one. if you have some friends who have folders try it yourself. there are so many choices out there and one thing you don't want to do is to just jump in and buy the one that you first saw. trust me once you have a folder you will never regret it. it is so much fun. i am also a newbie and just got a citizen tokyo. it is a 16 inches wheel folder with 6 speed and one of the entry level folder you can get. i went the craiglist route and got it cheap. i just had it for about 2 or more months and i am having a blast. i am now thinking of getting a nicer folder. when i say nicer this will cost you a lot of money. you're looking at more than $1K. but that will be down the road. still need to save up. by the way there is no difference between 16 and 20 wheeler folder. storing wise you have an advantage with the 16 inches. check out this thread regarding 16 and 20 wheels. good luck on your search.

    16 inch wheels vs 20

    thanks,
    vic

  5. #5
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    you can also check your local craiglist. sometimes they have nice folders for sale there.

  6. #6
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    I had Dahon D7 as my first folder. I loved it. Fitted in the back of the car, good build quality, flexible. Needed some fettling out of the box. I also had a Downtube IX FS full suspension. That needed less fettling out the box and the suspension gave it a ride quality out of this world. If I did it again, I'd buy a Downtube with suspension. Either will open up a new world for you. The D7 is an excellent bike, the DT a bit more specialised, but lovable. Whatever you buy, you'll want something else in a year's time. If you're tall, the 20" DT is the better option.

    s.
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by snafu21 View Post
    Whatever you buy, you'll want something else in a year's time.
    s.
    ha, ha, ha, ha...i am not even 3 months on my folders and i am at this stage now.

  8. #8
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    For 10 mile rides, I don't think you'll notice a difference between 16" and 20" wheels. Especially if the roads around you are in good shape. Maybe after 30 miles you'd notice.

    Dahon and Downtube are probably your best bet in your budget range. If you don't ride up hills, try to find a new Dahon Boardwalk S1, which has one gear and is around $200.

    I think there's a very good chance that if you bag up your bike, you can bring it into a library. However, the best thing to do is talk to the librarians and ask them about it. I don't think you want to get on their bad side, right?

    Also, sooner or later you'll probably have to lock up your bike outside. This will obviously be less frequent (and therefore safer) with a folding bike; plus the bike will take up less room at home.

    Regardless of the type of bike you get, I'd get a very solid lock and make sure your credit card will cover you in case of theft.

  9. #9
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    On the flat. Not very long distances. Not too tall. Consider a Strida.

  10. #10
    Senior Member wrafl's Avatar
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    pikamookie, I have a '06 Speed D7 with over 2700 miles I am selling for $200.00, if you are interested PM me. Installed new slick tires with about 400 miles so far, suspension seat post otherwise the bike is almost stock. I am in Illinois also.
    Last edited by wrafl; 03-22-09 at 06:22 PM.

  11. #11
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    thanks for all the advice! I will continue to research and try to decide if I need a folder, and if i do NEED one, what kind, what wheels, what brands, yadda yadda yadda....

  12. #12
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    you need to convince yourself that you need one. but i am warning you - once you have one, you'll be hooked.

    that's what got me into this forum and that's what this forum got me into.....

    good luck on your search. whatever you get, it will be good...
    thanks,
    vic

  13. #13
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by havm66z View Post
    On the flat. Not very long distances. Not too tall. Consider a Strida.
    I support this idea, but with your budget, you won't be able to get a genuine Strida. There are, however, many clones of that bike which sell in the $200 range. These bikes are also very easily rollable. They look like umbrella folders, so they may not attract as much negative attention when entering a building. Finally, they do not have chains (and the grease associated), so they are cleaner.


  14. #14
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    Stridas and Strida clones make no sense to me here. Stridas are too expensive. The clones are too low quality and have difficult to repair or replace parts. And they're one gear, for heavens' sakes. Plus he specifically said he's not looking the "craziest ride", and crazy ride is the *definition* of a Strida. :-)

    Inexpensive Downtube or Dahon are the right picks here.

    Anyway, answers to pikamookie's questions:

    1. You'd really want to be able to fold it up and bring it in. Libraries are going to be an issue. Find out from them if you can bring one in if it's covered, for example.

    2. If you're a newbie, go for a 20". Inexpensive 16" bikes (Downtube Mini, Dahon Curve) don't have enough advantages for you and you've identified their disadvantages.

    I suggest: Dahon Speed P8.

  15. #15
    Senior Member gringo_gus's Avatar
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    whats the disadvantage of a DT mini ? Great bike, the only problem is I like mine so much I don't ride my others...
    it aint the size of your wheels, its the rhythm of you cadence. And I got powergrips too.

  16. #16
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gringo_gus View Post
    whats the disadvantage of a DT mini ? Great bike, the only problem is I like mine so much I don't ride my others...
    Can't argue against the Mini, except it exceeds her stated budget. It's a great value, though.

  17. #17
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    yes. what's the disadvantage of having a 16" wheel. from the bikers on this forum they came into conclusion that there is no advantages nor disadvantages of 20 to a 16 inch wheel. 16 wheel in fact has an advantage over the 20 wheeler in the sense that it is smaller when folded.

  18. #18
    jur
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    If you can get hold of a Dahon Curve or Downtube Mini, both 16" bikes, you will love them as thousands do. I have done some difficult and long distance rides on my Mini, plus even some light loaded touring, and I wouldn't hesitate to do so again.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pikamookie View Post
    Hi guys! I've been researching like crazy all weekend trying to get my feet wet in the world of folders and I'm excited about the prospect of getting one for myself.

    A little background: I'm a 25 yo grad student (5'4", 115lbs) living in IL (so flatlands). I need something to bring me to and from libraries and town centers just a few miles away. Nothing beyond 10mi I would say. I'm pretty new to the biking world so I don't need the newest, craziest ride. I just want something that comfy and fun.

    My main reasons for getting a folder is storage space. I live in a tiny apt and I don't want to leave my bike locked up outside overnight.

    Couple questions:
    1. For people who have full size folders, when you all bike to a cafe or a library, do you leave it locked up outside? Is it folded when you lock it up? The only reason I ask is because my main destination will be libraries and I'm worries they won't allow me to bring my bike in with me.
    2. I'm a newbie when it comes to bikes so would I notice and/or care about the comfort difference between a 16" and 20" ride? I'm tempted to get a 16" but I'm worried when I take it out on the weekends just for fun I'll regret it. I would try these rides out in person, but the bike stores I've called locally don't carry folders.
    Welcome!

    You have come to the right place when it comes to a bike that is capable of doing all you have requested or required above. I have 3 bikes in a small room. But since they are folding ones, they disappear inside, underneath, or behind something so my living place does not look like a bike shop!

    To address your concerns above, here are my answers:

    1. I never leave my smaller (16" wheel) folding bikes or my larger (20" wheel) one outside with any type of lock ever-especially at libraries or schools. These destinations are "bike theft magnets" and seem to attract the most unwanted attention. I always carry a cover for my bikes. You can see an example on my Flickr site at:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/world-o...7601331380862/

    I have another version just completed. If you like to see it, I will Private Mail you a photo of it at your request. This slipcover is another more recent version of the bike bag pictured above. When I cover the bikes in any fashion, I never been stopped at any door by anyone for the past 5 years that I have been using folding bikes.

    2. I have both 16" and 20" bikes. I have found that it depends on what suspension system (if any) you have installed on the bike along with the right saddle. I always use a saddle that is a bit wider at the end with springs on the bottom. These saddles have very thin padding as the springs offer the best protection against bumps and vibrations felt on the road. For photos of these saddles, see my Flickr sites listed below. The best bike I own-the Brompton- seems to have the best combination that type of saddle (cruiser bike style) plus it's own rubber cone suspension system actually originally designed for the classic 1960s Mini Cooper car.

    Now for a downside of folding bikes. They are not as available as a more popular bike like a Mountain or a Road bike. So it might be a bit harder to find one. But don't despair, you have many options depending on what brand or make you choose to look at. I do recommend that you go to a dealer that carries the bike you want (there should be dealers in larger communities in your state) and test ride one or two. Just be aware that most dealer no matter where they are located, only carry one or two brands or makes. So be prepared to travel to at least a couple of places before purchase. But you will be rewarded with a bike that you will be happy with (and not stolen) for many years to come.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by vmaniqui View Post
    yes. what's the disadvantage of having a 16" wheel.
    Let's be specific: I'm stating the disadvantage not of 16" wheels (I own one remember) but of the DT Mini and Dahon Curve, as compared to (say) the Speed P8. I'd *presume* at least some of the following are true: the Mini and Curve have lower trail, a shorter effective top tube, a shorter wheelbase, or a rougher ride (even with the Mini's suspension) when compared to the Speed P8. The Curve's also a 3 speed. The person wants to do 10 miles; I'd presume that a P8 would be preferred by a newcomer used to "regular" bikes even given the 16"'s (small) folding size advantage.

  21. #21
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    For your price point, what you want is Kent Nexus 3 (3 speed Shimano internal gears) on 16 inch wheels. Come with a bag for USD $280 shipped CONUS.

    http://ridethisbike.com/products/Ken...lding-bike.htm

  22. #22
    jur
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    Quote Originally Posted by feijai View Post
    Let's be specific: I'm stating the disadvantage not of 16" wheels (I own one remember) but of the DT Mini and Dahon Curve, as compared to (say) the Speed P8. I'd *presume* at least some of the following are true: the Mini and Curve have lower trail, a shorter effective top tube, a shorter wheelbase, or a rougher ride (even with the Mini's suspension) when compared to the Speed P8.
    While I can't say for the Curve I can for the Mini:-
    Shorter trail - don't know, but I can ride the Mini no-hands without much of a problem and have had it at 74km/h, no exaggeration.
    Shorter effective top tube - wrong; I have measured it and it is 55cm, identical to every other folder I own
    Shorter wheelbase - wrong - I have measured it and it is almost the same as my other folders at very close to 1000mm
    Rougher ride - definitely wrong; the Mini has a very plush ride, which is improved much again by installing a rubber elastomer instead of the spring, and Big Apples which the Curve also has
    Shorter chain stay - you didn't mention this - but the Mini has the same effective chain stay as my other folders.

    Based on my experience with my Dahon Yeah, I call the Mini a much better all-round ride than the Yeah which would be very close to the Speed.
    Last edited by jur; 03-23-09 at 10:49 PM.

  23. #23
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    I'd second what Jur says. I'd also warn you that folders are very addictive.

    I got a Xootr Swift for $550 a while back after some grueling exams, and I'm now looking into getting a minifolder for multi-modal stuff.

    You might want to decide on what you like to ride: fast/slow, dirt/tarmac/potholes, and stuff like that. I like to ride really fast for short distances, so the Xootr was a great fit for me. I personally lock my bike outside when I'm at a cafe/bookstore, but if I'll take my seatpost with me if I feel that it's dodgy.

    The good thing about folding bikes, is that the theives aren't too educated for now. If it's not a Trek, Klein, Felt, or any fancy name, they'll probably ignore it here in SF.

    -matt
    ps. the Strida's ride was surprisingly nice (5.0). It's more of a zippy cruizer, but you'll definitely have a smile on your face. However, it might not work for your commute distance.

  24. #24
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    [QUOTE=mlau;8587098]I'd second what Jur says. I'd also warn you that folders are very addictive.

    i third that (if there is such a thing). see what i told you before - that's the second warning......

    thanks a have fun with your search,
    vic

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    Without a doubt I would go with a Carryme. I always lock my 20" folder outside and although I might be willing to take a 16" folder in it would make me miserable.

    At 5'4", 115lbs and for your intended purpose and price range, any other choice would be like walking around in your father's boots and overalls. You can try to drag around a Dahon into the libraries if you want, but IMO it would just be silly and pointless.
    Last edited by makeinu; 03-24-09 at 09:24 AM.

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