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  1. #1
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    Folding Bikes Overseas...

    Hi all,

    So, I'll be studying abroad in Seville, Spain this Fall and was thinking that I should have a bike out there. At first, I thought about getting a bike out there, but then I thought about folding bikes. In theory, I could buy it here in the states, pack it in my luggage (using a large dedicated suitcase, of course, and probably disassemble the bike more than normal) and then have it with me in Spain. Not only that, but I'd also have a bike to bring with me to other countries I visit while abroad, and a fold-up bike can be brought in the house I'll be staying in (less chance of getting stolen).

    Any thoughts about this? Is it remotely feasible to pack a 20" folding bike into a large piece of luggage if it were broken down into a million parts? Would a 6' guy look strange on a tiny bike like that, even in Europe? (obviously, bikes are pretty commonly used out there). What about getting a folder out there?

    Of course, being a college student, there's one other condition on a bike: it's gotta be cheap. Less than $200, and even that's pushing it quite a bit (I probably wouldn't pay that much unless I was 100% sure I could pack it) I found a Dahon D7 Boardwalk locally on craigslist for $75, but sadly it was taken by the time I found it . Hopefully this $85 5-speed Dahon I found about 200 miles away is still available, though it looks more like a 16" model.

    Thanks!
    Brian/spongebue

    PS: If anybody in the MN/WI/IA area has a folding bike they'd like to sell, I'm all ears

  2. #2
    Senior Member megavovan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spongebue View Post
    Hi all,
    Is it remotely feasible to pack a 20" folding bike into a large piece of luggage if it were broken down into a million parts?
    Yes

    Quote Originally Posted by spongebue View Post
    Would a 6' guy look strange on a tiny bike like that, even in Europe? (obviously, bikes are pretty commonly used out there).
    You will turn heads, but what's the big deal? Hott ladies will probably ask you about your bike?


    Quote Originally Posted by spongebue View Post
    What about getting a folder out there?
    I have no idea. If it were me, I'd buy one in the US.

    Quote Originally Posted by spongebue View Post
    Of course, being a college student, there's one other condition on a bike: it's gotta be cheap. Less than $200, and even that's pushing it quite a bit (I probably wouldn't pay that much unless I was 100% sure I could pack it) I found a Dahon D7 Boardwalk locally on craigslist for $75, but sadly it was taken by the time I found it . Hopefully this $85 5-speed Dahon I found about 200 miles away is still available, though it looks more like a 16" model.
    Two thoughts:
    1. Get a single speed model, because on cheap bikes gears are funky and you don't want to mess with them abroad - use your time wisely.

    2. For $200, new, you can get Dahon Boardwalk single speed. I picked up mine in Performance bike for $212 OTD. Here is a thread about mine.

    edit:
    3. If you're willing to go down to 16" wheel size (I'd stay with 20" myself) then you have plenty of options for low-end 16" new. Also there are a couple bikes (20") for $200 with speeds new on Amazon, like a Schwinn bike, but something tells me they are of lower quality than Dahon.
    Last edited by megavovan; 07-06-09 at 09:33 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by _beaver_
    ...if i am cruising along on the road about 20 or so & some roadie on his bike zips by me real close while looking at me with a smirk.... race is on!!

  3. #3
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  4. #4
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    'Would a 6' guy look strange on a tiny bike like that, even in Europe? (obviously, bikes are pretty commonly used out there).'

    I go to Spain a lot, visiting cyclists are required to make the sign of the bull (two fingers jabbed in the air) at every armed policeman they pass.

    There are a lot of cycling fans in Seville, and quite a lot of folding bikes. There's even a Brompton-only shop in Madrid.

    You'll be fine. Take a big lock, though, if you leave it anywhere, even inside a bar. And sun-block.

    A cheapy Ubiquitous Chinese Bike (UCB) bought in Europe is another answer - ok if you can wield a wrench. The Ez-Fold costs peanuts in Europe - has 16" wheels, and a very light magnesium frame like the Kirk classic bikes of old. Most of the other steel UCB's are quite heavy.

    There are a lot of Dahons on ebay.es too if you want to buy out there.
    Last edited by snafu21; 07-06-09 at 11:19 AM.
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by snafu21 View Post
    A cheapy Ubiquitous Chinese Bike (UCB) bought in Europe is another answer - ok if you can wield a wrench.
    That "Silver Folding Bike" looks suspiciously like my Citizen Tokyo. If the quoted price is in US dollars, it is more expensive than buying from Citizen here. If pounds or euros, it is a good deal more expensive.
    Actually, a Tokyo might be too small for a 6' guy. A Miami is a bit more expensive, but might be the least expensive bike that would fill the bill.

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    Thanks all, your thoughts are greatly appreciated and I'll be sure to look into all suggestions there (since you were nice enough to make 'em, it's the least I can do )... well, except for the part about the ladies... I already have a girlfriend, (-->) sadly (<-- don't tell her I said that)

    Now, to go a tiny bit further on packing a 20" bike in a suitcase: I should have clarified, I mean a large piece of standard luggage. I don't remember the exact dimensions, but it should be right around that 62 linear inches mark that airlines will charge you at. No special carriers or anything. Now, with that in mind, will pretty much any old folding bike do that, or does it have to be a certain style? Obviously, with the one-way charge of oversized luggage ($175) costing more than my MSP-ORD plane ticket round trip, not to mention the bike itself, I'd like to watch myself on that one. British Airways is a bit more lenient with its baggage sizes, but I'm not taking them for my whole trip (3 airlines, 3 stopovers, 2 tickets, lucky me )

    Thanks again, guys, keep up the good work! Nice to see such an active forum like this when you're in need of advice...

  7. #7
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    My Bike Friday packs into a suitcase that meets airline standards. You can find the dimensions on the Bike Friday website, and then use those dimensions to compare to your own suitcases. I don't know, however, how much disassembly would be required for a Dahon or Ubiquitous Chinese Bike.

    If I were as lucky as you are to spend the fall in Seville, I'd just use the Sevici bikes. Less hassle, and you still get to see the city by bike. http://www.sevici.es/

  8. #8
    Senior Member gringo_gus's Avatar
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    one other thing to bear in mind - if you buy a US specific model - say a bike friday, or Xootr Swift, you might be able to sell it at a little profit in europe when you leave. My advice would be to put it on the UK ebay, and you'd need to work out how to handle shipping, but it should be doable (I just shipped a folding bike from UK to Italy).

    Both Xootr's and Bike friday's fit in suitcases, btw...
    it aint the size of your wheels, its the rhythm of you cadence. And I got powergrips too.

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    Don't sweat over bringing a bike with you, youre type of travelling is going to work well with buying a bike while over there. Spend €100, get a good used bike, and dont waste a lot of time worrying about these details. Sell it when you´re done for 100€.

  10. #10
    Senior Member alhedges's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimBeans83 View Post
    Don't sweat over bringing a bike with you, youre type of travelling is going to work well with buying a bike while over there. Spend €100, get a good used bike, and dont waste a lot of time worrying about these details. Sell it when you´re done for 100€.
    +1

    I lived in Europe for several years, one of them studying, and having a bike was absolutely critical for lots of social interaction. I.e., we rode our bikes everywhere.

    Since you don't already have a bike, I would do as Jim suggests and just buy one once you're there. Although lots of 20" folding bikes can be packed in luggage and taken on a plane, since you are going there for a semester you will probably have two *other* bags filled with books and clothing...and carrying three bags, one of which will weigh almost 50 lbs, through an airport and into a strange city, is not the ideal way to travel.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by tulip View Post
    If I were as lucky as you are to spend the fall in Seville, I'd just use the Sevici bikes. Less hassle, and you still get to see the city by bike. http://www.sevici.es/
    Price of hiring Sevici bikes in GoogleEnglish translation:

    http://translate.google.co.uk/transl...hl=en&ie=UTF-8
    “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live." - Mark Twain

  12. #12
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    Forget the hassle of taking a bike with you, for the cost of the suitcase you would need you'll be able to go to a local market and pick up a bargain, use it and then sell it or give it away when you go back. New bikes aren't cool with young folk in continental europe, what you want is something really old & used, with that nice patinia - not modern retro, 50 euros should see you fine, just dont be fussy about if its ladies model, a basket can be really handy.

  13. #13
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    On your budget, you'll be better off buying a used bike once you get there. A good packable folder will set you back at least 3-4 times your budget. And they're no lighter than a regular bike: my Bike Friday Tikit, for instance, weighs 26 pounds, since the tubing has to be larger to compensate for the lack of triangular bracing.

    You can probably bring a regular bike into your lodgings if there's no secure place to lock it up. When I lived in Berlin, I carried a 35-pound city bike, with full fenders, rack, generator lights, etc., up three flights of stairs every evening (and down every morning). You get used to it. Just make sure it's not too dirty before bringing it in, and put it in your bedroom. Alternately, buy a good U-lock and cable lock in the States before going (see http://www.sheldonbrown.com/lock-strategy.html), and use them to secure your inexpensive used bike.

    And if you travel in Europe, you should be sure to check the special rates for sporting equipment on flights. Luggage allowances are much lower than in the US or for transcontinental flights, but sporting equipment is often free or much cheaper than regular overweight fees. British Airways allows 1 free piece of sporting equipment on most flights, and I just booked an SAS flight from Paris to Norway with a $54 charge for my bike (versus the $200 it would cost in overweight charges, based on my bike's packed weight). Many trains, though not high-speed ones, can also be taken with a small extra charge for a bike.

  14. #14
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    I agree with the posters who suggested that you buy a used bike and just use it while there. You would not have any trouble finding one anywhere in Spain --- I live in a small town and there are ~5 bike shops selling used bikes there.

    This being said, OP said he wants to be able to take his bike while travelling in Europe. For that, yes a folding bike is a good choice and on internet you can find instructions on how to fit them in large luggages. Watch out for the weight though.

    In Spain, you can easily find cheap, low-end folding bikes. Brompton clones and such go for few hundred Euros. Larger, more bulky ones for ~100 Euros.

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