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.