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  1. #1
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    Help choosing a folding bike / Should I buy a Twenty?

    Hi all. I've been lurking around a bit and gathered some good information but this is my first post.

    I am currently in the process of trying to decide on a folding bike to purchase. My purpose for owning the bike is to ride from my house in the morning, take on the subway/train, ride from the train stop to work and then back again. I've been looking at some of the Dahon and Downtube models and I've been playing with the idea of getting a Raleigh Twenty and fixing it up a bit. I realize that the Twenty is larger and heavier than a Dahon, however I'm having a hard time getting a fix on just how large it is. Basically the train I ride on is shared by a lot of people going to the airport so luggage is not uncommon. If it could say fit in a reasonably sized duffel bag (i.e. blend in with luggage) this would be fine for the train. Is this possible?

    My main reason for looking at the twenty is ride quality (and a little bit of cool factor). I borrowed my friends Breezer folder for a few days which seems quite similar to the Dahon D7 models, ~$500, and I wasnt terribly impressed. It just had a cheap feel to it, sort of an un-solid feeling. I realize part of this comes with being light and folding well but It just didnt seem like something I would want to invest in.

    These are the main things I am looking for in my purchase:
    -Solid, comfortable commuter
    -Gears (3 min, Ideally 5 or so)
    -Something that I can fit in a reasonably sized bag

    I'm ok with the bike being a little heavy so long as I can still carry it comfortably while in the station for a few minutes. It can be locked up normally on both ends of the commute so this is the only time it needs to be folded.

    I've also considered doing the chaining a bike on both ends option but with maintenance (having to get the far bike back to my house) and the concern of a bike being damaged or stolen I'm really leaning toward folding.

    If I buy a Twenty with what upgrades would I get the most bang for my buck? I'm not really concerned with having a complex gear system or anything too fancy - just something that rides smooth. I think I would like to upgrade the handlebars so they can fold a bit nicer and maybe make things a bit lighter.

    I'm looking to spend somewhere in the $300 price range so nothing very high end. If I bought a twenty I would be willing to put about $200 of upgrades into it. Would this be able to buy me a nice commuter?

    I appreciate any help.

  2. #2
    smallwheelsonly
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    to begin answering some of your questions. first i'd like to say i owned dahons, bike friday, several unknown folders but my favorite is the Raleigh Twenty because there is just so many upgrades that you can do and it looks cool than the other U framed folders from the same era.

    my non folding Raleigh Twenty is 12.2Kg[27 lbs] after some upgrades I can bring it down to 10.9kg once im done with all the upgrades. at 12.2 its about same weight class of most current folders.

    the best bang for the buck upgrade are aluminum rims. i bought an old bmx and got the rims only and relaced them to the Twenty using the same hubs and spokes. the 3 speed hub is fine.

    bring the folding bike you indoors and still use a lock !

    -Twenty is Solid
    -has 3 gears[can be upraded if needed]
    -got a little bit of cool factor !
    -but the Twenty probably won't fit a reasonably sized bag

  3. #3
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    thanks for the reply. I think I am mostly sold on the twenty I just wish someone would say yes this can fit into a bag and this is the size it must be.

    Judging by this picture LINK contributed by another member, it looks like with the handlebars off, the twenty needs roughly 10" of length over a smaller folder. That Giant halfway is supposed to be 32" x 32" which would mean I would need about a 42" duffel bag for the twenty.

    Granted this is only a rough guess, but I would be ok carrying a bag of ~42".

    Also a question: On your twenty, you kept both the front and rear hubs?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by rossmcloch View Post

    Granted this is only a rough guess, but I would be ok carrying a bag of ~42".

    You would and WILL be disappointed if you think a Raleigh Twenty will fit into a duffel bag of any size. The fold on an R20 is rather unsophisticated. I know. I have one.

    If you want a folding bike for commuting, there are much better options out there. Sure, get the Twenty if you enjoy tinkering with bikes, but it takes a slight suspension of disbelief if you think it is a reasonable option given the other available options out there.

  5. #5
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I have a 20 an would not consider it a compact enough fold for daily transit use. Occasionally on non full trains...maybe. Also how do you plan to QR the handle bars? The 20 I have has the chopper style bars and they DON'T rotate down very easily even with the bolt completely out.

    Aaron
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  6. #6
    hipster traffic dodger ChiapasFixed's Avatar
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    save your pennies and get a Tikit, or a Brompton. They were designed for the exact purpose you are describing.
    A Dahon would be a slightly cheaper, although a bit less practical, alternative.
    IRO Mark V Pro, home made bamboo track bike, eddy merckx corsa extra, Airnimal Joey, UGADA Tikit

  7. #7
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    I think one ride on a Breezer isn't enough. Is there a local shop that carries different brands of folders? Get down there and take some test rides.

    --sam

  8. #8
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    ok perhaps the twenty is not the best option.

    I agree that the brompton is a nice product but it is just more money I am willing to spend on a 20" commuter bike.

    Of the cheaper options which would people agree is the superior manufacturer?

    I've riden a dahon mariner d7 and it felt pretty much the same as the breezer - just sort of a cheap feel to it.

    It turns out there is a downtube dealer not far away so I will probably stop by and give one a try this week.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rossmcloch View Post

    Of the cheaper options which would people agree is the superior manufacturer?
    Downtube is actually a good choice. Their internal hub models are bargains. If this is your first folding bike, you may want to order a cheap folder to test out the waters. I hear the Flying Pigeon (sold on ebay) 20" folder is a quality bike for the price (under $200). If you don't like the bike, you could sell it and re-coup most of your money.

  10. #10
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    Downtubes also "feel cheap" when stock, but they are highly upgradeable, so maybe they will work better for you.

    If the trains you board are always full, you will want a 16in wheeled bike. That gives you curve, strida, DT mini, tikit, brompton. I'd go smaller than 16in--like carryme--if the roads you ride are smooth and you don't have to worry about wheel-swallowing potholes. If the trains aren't full, like the Metro in LA, you can get away with a bigger folded size or even an R20 (but you cannot bag an R20). I know that I don't even have to fully fold my brommie to get it on the Metro; I just leave it on park and there's lots of room. But ymmv--you have to assess your commuting style and see what is right for you.
    Wanna join my charity folding bike ride? Sign-up here!
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    you should learn to embrace change, and mock it's failings every step of the way :p

  11. #11
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Personally, Raleigh 20s seem like a time and money sink to me. I know that others have had success with them but from what I gather, doing work on the bike is never as easy as it looks.

  12. #12
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    My metro (wash dc) sounds fairly lenient compared to one where you need 16" wheels. I carried the 20" breezer on partially folded, not in a bag and no one looked twice. Also, regular bikes are allowed after rush hour which is sometimes when I'm commuting anyway. To be honest I think I could get away with a R20 just fine 99/100 times but I'm not sure I want to risk that one time where I would essentially be stuck riding back home and driving to work. If you have the bike in a bag no one can really say anything so it gives me that guarantee. I guess with the R20 I would just have to risk it.

    I definitely want 20" wheels. There are too many hills and bumps around my house for a 16" model. I still really like the twenty and I may just buy one to play with anyway. Does anyone have folded dimensions of one? How hard would it be to put on a handlebar that I could fold or remove?

    I guess I need to shop some more.

  13. #13
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    i guess you pretty much decided on what to get. just my 2 cents - since you're going to use it for your commute, getting a 20 will eat up much of your time working on it than commuting. from what i noticed here in the forum, the people who have 20's are those that have another forders in their garage. 20's to them are a second folder that you work on right after you had your commute in another folder. so it's like a second car that you want to fix and upgrade. unless this is your second folder then it's not really advisable to buy one. as what the others mentioned - there are so many options out there.....

    thanks,
    vic

    PS. i myself have a citizen tokyo and a dahon boardwalk D6 that i plan on upgrading. but my tokyo is still my primary commute bike for now.

  14. #14
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    I think my current plan is to buy a twenty to tinker with, try it out, and hopefully it will make a good commuter for me. They seem too fun to not try out.

    At the same time, I'm also considering buying a 'flying pigeon' as mentioned earlier in this thread as a more practical bike to ride around and get my feet wet with while I'm working on the twenty.

    This will allow me to figure out what I really need for my commute for a relatively low investment.

    I appreciate all the help, I'm sure I will need some more when I start working on these bikes.

  15. #15
    7ft of Cet-Bak Nightdiver's Avatar
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    Just FYI, the Breezer is just a re-badged Dahon Vitesse, with the basic parts package on it. So you're totally right in your observation that they're similar. I've found that the steel-framed Speed P8 is a nice solid ride, although maybe more than you'd like to spend.

  16. #16
    Senior Member stevegor's Avatar
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    Hmmm, where to I start?

    I have 3 non-folding R20s,
    One highly modded with Alu rims with hp tyres, 8 spd SA hub, drops, Selle Italia saddle, Shimano road calipers...scoots along quite nicely.....thank you.
    Another one with subtle mods and close to original, that's the wife's bike.
    The third one will be highly modded with Sachs 3x7 hub, 24" wheels, drops, pannier racks, etc etc, made as a tourer.

    I know it's madness to waste time and money on these bikes instead of buying a soul-less, character-lacking modern folder, I just like the look of the original better.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevegor View Post
    Hmmm, where to I start?

    I have 3 non-folding R20s,
    One highly modded with Alu rims with hp tyres, 8 spd SA hub, drops, Selle Italia saddle, Shimano road calipers...scoots along quite nicely.....thank you.
    Another one with subtle mods and close to original, that's the wife's bike.
    The third one will be highly modded with Sachs 3x7 hub, 24" wheels, drops, pannier racks, etc etc, made as a tourer.

    I know it's madness to waste time and money on these bikes instead of buying a soul-less, character-lacking modern folder, I just like the look of the original better.
    I have long desired a non-folding R20. How did you managed to end up with three?

    As for your viewpoint on modern folders, I would have to disagree. What is it about modern folders do you find soul-less and without character?

    I own a Brompton and I would say that it has as much if not more character than an R20 which I also own. The same can be said of many other modern folders currently produced.
    Last edited by ilovebicycling; 04-20-09 at 08:04 AM.

  18. #18
    hipster traffic dodger ChiapasFixed's Avatar
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    hmm, so the OP doesnt want a "cheap" feeling bike, but dosent want to spend the money to get a good one...
    on the other hand, he is happy to get a R20, and then spend twice as much as he would on a Tikit or a Brompton, not to mention many many hours, to upgrade it to something that may work somewhat, but not quite like, a modern folding bike??
    sheesh!
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    Just to compare the venerable ol' twenty with the Curve D3.

    The twenty was the first foldie I bought. I paid only 60€ for a good shaped bike. i used it to work. Went by train then 15 km on flat road.
    It's a stock twenty, nothing changed except the saddle; It's a really good bike on the road and easy to put in the train. I just felt sorry for those who banged the pedals when crossing the wagon.

    Then I bought the Dahon. I was looking for a real foldable. I like the Dahon a lot even if it's not a perfect bike.
    I can make the difference between both. The dahon is not so quick on flat road due to its Schwalbe Big Apple. Those tyres are just stunning, the suck every hole of the road. You ride on a matress.

    If you want a twenty go for it. You will sell it easily if you don't like it.
    If you want a good modern foldable, open you wallet, 'cause quality cost.

    Personnaly, I wouldn't buy cheap chinese bike. I prefer a brand who's go an rd team. Not just a copy machine.

    The pictures of the Twenty and the dahon

    Twenty vs Dahon

    Twenty vs Dahon
    Last edited by bentox; 04-20-09 at 07:45 AM. Reason: pictures won't load

  20. #20
    Senior Member stevegor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilovebicycling View Post
    I have long desired a non-folding R20. How did you managed to end up with three?

    It seems like they are quite common here in Australia, I got one from a recycle yard for $15, another from a hippy/junk/antique show for $20 and the wife's very nice original bike for $100

    As for your viewpoint on modern folders, I would have to disagree. What is it about modern folders do you find soul-less and without character?
    I own a Brompton and I would say that it has as much if not more character than an R20 which I also own. The same can be said of many other modern folders currently produced.
    I am, like most Aussies, a stirrer, those comments were only made to ruffle a few feathers, so apart from el cheapo crumby stuff, I really like Brompton, Birdy, Bike Friday, Moulton, Swift and Pacific Reach. I have R20s because I spend my big cycling $$$$ on full size roadies, MTB and a tandem....maybe one day I might be like Jur and ride only SWBs??

  21. #21
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    Perhaps a Swift Folder?

    You could get a custom one from Peter Reich with a three speed hub, probably...

    Still not the tiniest, but Xootr does sell a duffel that it'll fit into.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiapasFixed View Post
    hmm, so the OP doesnt want a "cheap" feeling bike, but dosent want to spend the money to get a good one...
    on the other hand, he is happy to get a R20, and then spend twice as much as he would on a Tikit or a Brompton, not to mention many many hours, to upgrade it to something that may work somewhat, but not quite like, a modern folding bike??
    sheesh!
    I think you are exaggerating a bit. A Tikit or a Brompton is going to cost ~$1000. R20 in ok shape will cost ~$150 or less. Add a couple hundred dollars in basic upgrades and it should be a decent bike and still cost nowhere near the $1000 of a Tikit or Brompton let alone double. Yea it will take some hours but the bike will have more character because of it.

    I realize bicycles are expensive (and you pay a huge premium for the folding feature) but $300-$400 is a pretty large chunk of change (at least for me) and there is no reason why that should not be able to buy a decent bicycle. I'm not saying that it doesnt exist but the folding models I've ridden in that price range just did not feel worth the price.
    Last edited by rossmcloch; 04-20-09 at 05:22 PM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bentox View Post
    Just to compare the venerable ol' twenty with the Curve D3.

    The twenty was the first foldie I bought. I paid only 60 for a good shaped bike. i used it to work. Went by train then 15 km on flat road.
    It's a stock twenty, nothing changed except the saddle; It's a really good bike on the road and easy to put in the train. I just felt sorry for those who banged the pedals when crossing the wagon.

    Then I bought the Dahon. I was looking for a real foldable. I like the Dahon a lot even if it's not a perfect bike.
    I can make the difference between both. The dahon is not so quick on flat road due to its Schwalbe Big Apple. Those tyres are just stunning, the suck every hole of the road. You ride on a matress.

    If you want a twenty go for it. You will sell it easily if you don't like it.
    If you want a good modern foldable, open you wallet, 'cause quality cost.

    Personnaly, I wouldn't buy cheap chinese bike. I prefer a brand who's go an rd team. Not just a copy machine.

    The pictures of the Twenty and the dahon

    Twenty vs Dahon

    Twenty vs Dahon
    I appreciate the the pics. That Curve D3 seems like a fun bike.

  24. #24
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    Citizen Tokyo 16" Bike

    I am new to this forum, but learning.

    I noticed several postings regarding Citizen bikes. Most postings were negative, with a couple of satisfactories. I want to purchase a Tokyo 16 inch for the wife (5'2 and 110 lbs) and a Miami 20" for myself (6'2 and 190 lbs). We will use them when we travel in a small RV. Don't plan on doing a lot of heavy riding, but mainly around campsites and in the area where we park. Will these bikes hold up to the light riding we are going to do. We are trying not to put a lot of dollars in bikes.

    Charlie

  25. #25
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    yes it sure will be sufficient for your casual riding. i have a citizen tokyo and love it. it is one of the best bang for your buck bike. it is sturdy (steel frame) but quite heavy although i see that you will not be doing any bike lifting, nifty and gears work ok too and when i fold it it is so small in size. you can check CL and sometimes they sell folders for a decent price. i got my tokyo for about $100 at CL (and it's one of the wisest investment i had). i also was able to get a used dahon boardwalk D6/7 for a decent price. if you want to get a brand new bikes, they only sell citizen's online. some here on the forums have used citizens and they might be able to fill you in. but if the cost is of essence, then citizen are a way to go and you'll love it....

    thanks,
    vic

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