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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 04-21-09, 09:26 AM   #1
sharpaa
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Balance

Is there a rule of thumb regarding the height of the seat post in relation to the handlebars? I just got my first folder and having a heck of a time with balance. I have ridden bikes all my life with no problem, but can't go three yards on my folder without doing a header to the pavement. I'm assuming that my positioning of the seat and bars is off, as I have no other explanation for this very embarrassing problem.
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Old 04-21-09, 09:59 AM   #2
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What is the name and model of your folder? How big are your wheels? How long is the handlebar stem? Is the handlebar stem securely and tightly seated?

Most folders are made to be ridden in an upright position with your handlebars level with or higher than the seat. Start by adjusting your seat first. A common problem is having the seat way too low so adjust your seat to where your leg is almost straight. It should have a very slight bend in it when your pedal is at it's lowest point.

Then adjust your handlebars to be level with your seat . Make sure you don't feel too stretched out or too cramped which can affect stability.

Smaller wheels can be a little "squirrelly" if you don't know how to handle them so go to a safe place with no traffic like an empty parking lot and practice riding your bike.
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Old 04-21-09, 10:23 AM   #3
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Balance

I have a 20" Citizen Tokyo. Not the best available, but the only one I could afford. I will make your suggested adjustments and let you know if that helps. I think I had the seat too low. Thanks.
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Old 04-21-09, 10:27 AM   #4
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Assuming you can adjust the handlebar height without any trouble, I'd set it so the bars are about 1" higher than the saddle. Saddle height, as you probably know, needs to be set based on the length of your legs.

20" wheels are generally more responsive than 26" / 700c. In most cases, you'll get used to it after a few days.
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Old 04-21-09, 10:35 AM   #5
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OK, raising my seat helped a lot. I went 10 yards before bailing. Also, it seams that there is too much play in the steering of the bike. Is there something I can tighten to eliminate this loosy goosy feel?
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Old 04-21-09, 11:01 AM   #6
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I have a Citizen Tokyo (16" wheels). Which model of Citizen bike do you have?

If you have a Miami, on the lever that you pull down to fold down the handlebar stem there is a nut that you can use to tighten the lever for a snug fit which helps with steering. (It helped me!)

If you have a Gotham, I don't know exactly where the nut is but take a close look and try to figure out where you need to tighten it.

If you're still having problems then you need to take it to a local bike shop to have them tighten and tune up your bike for a small fee.
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Old 04-21-09, 11:20 AM   #7
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I have a 16" Tokyo like yours. I said it was a 20" my error.
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Old 04-21-09, 11:25 AM   #8
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I think that if you've done all the adjustments already (seat, handlebars, etc.) then all you need to do is take it really slowly and get used to the different ride feel of your SWB (small-wheeled bike). SWBs will generally be a lot more responsive than your normal-sized ones, so take this into account when steering. Use tiny tiny hand motions instead of the larger ones you use to steer your big bike.
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Old 04-21-09, 12:11 PM   #9
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yes. a lot of adjustments on your part. just a slight movement and you will see how responsive the folders are. just go around and practice riding your bike and once you get used to it, you'll have fun.....

thanks,
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Old 04-21-09, 12:19 PM   #10
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I would seriously consider taking it in to a reputable shop to have it looked at. If the bike is that hard to control, I'd suspect something's amiss mechanically.

A quick test you can do yourself. Press the front brake and push the front of the bike forward and back. You shouldn't feel anything wiggling or rattling at all. Really jerk it back and forth. If it is loose, it's a pretty quick adjustment. Most bike shops should be able to do it in 5 -10 minutes.
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Old 04-21-09, 12:34 PM   #11
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I would seriously consider taking it in to a reputable shop to have it looked at. If the bike is that hard to control, I'd suspect something's amiss mechanically.
Does sound like a loose headset.
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Old 04-21-09, 12:38 PM   #12
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I did the brake, back, and forth test and there is nothing lose, no rattles, etc. Knowing now that the steering is so sensitive compared to a regular bike is a big help. I am now able to ride down the hallway (I live in an apartment with a long hall) without losing control. I really appreciate all your help. I'm on my way to get a helmut so I can advance to the parking lot to practice!
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Old 04-21-09, 12:43 PM   #13
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One of the advantges (and disadvantages) of most folding bikes is that it's easy to adjust things. I raise the handlebars and lower the saddle when I'll be doing a lot of stopping (lights, stop signs, etc) and reverse this all for long, straight rides (or heavy wind).

I find that a good compromise position is seat and bars at the same height.
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Old 04-22-09, 07:14 AM   #14
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Welcome to a new Tokyo. My Mom always said that when the Flacks get in a line, the line gets longer behind them. Seemed that way too - we'd go ride a roller coaster and get right on, but when we got off, people would be waiting to ride.
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Old 04-22-09, 01:10 PM   #15
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I don't know much about your particular bike, but many folders have a short reach and narrow handlebars, making them feel a little twitchy. A set of bar ends gives a more natural hand position, increases the reach slightly, and makes it more comfortable and easier to control. Check they won't interfere with the fold.
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Old 04-22-09, 01:21 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sharpaa View Post
I did the brake, back, and forth test and there is nothing lose, no rattles, etc. Knowing now that the steering is so sensitive compared to a regular bike is a big help. I am now able to ride down the hallway (I live in an apartment with a long hall) without losing control. I really appreciate all your help. I'm on my way to get a helmut so I can advance to the parking lot to practice!
I wouldn't describe 16" folders as being "so sensitive", but rather that people who do a lot of riding are very sensitive to small differences. IMO the differences in handling shouldn't even be noticeable to someone who doesn't ride enough to own a helmet.

If there's nothing loose then why did you say "it seams that there is too much play in the steering of the bike. Is there something I can tighten to eliminate this loosy goosy feel"? I agree that it sounds like you have a loose headset. Folders seem to be prone to this kind of headset problem because this area requires a bit more maintenance than on a normal bike and the nonstandard configurations can sometimes confuse the mechanics responsible.

Take it to a bike shop and tell them that's what you think the problem is: "loose headset". And if I were you I wouldn't just have them fix it, but tell them to show you how to do it.

Last edited by makeinu; 04-22-09 at 01:27 PM.
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Old 04-26-09, 06:12 PM   #17
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Update

I was able to adjust the seat and handlebars to a position comfortable for me, bars a bit higher than seat. My balance was so bad because the seat and bars were way to low. In response to not having a helmut, I gave mine to my grandson when I moved. I was averaging about 20 miles a day on my Giant when I moved and needed something smaller. I have folded and unfolded my bike several times, and can do both in about 15 seconds. I have been stopped several times by people asking me about the bike, and they are amazed there is such a thing as a folding bike. I am very happy with my Citizen Toyko, and this 63 yr. old grandma keeps up with the best! Thank you all for your suggestions and support.
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Old 04-26-09, 06:18 PM   #18
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