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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 07-22-09, 03:05 PM   #1
Bootyology
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Folding bikes and acceleration (new bicyclist advice)

Hello all,

I'll try to keep my concern brief, and encapsulated in bite-sized and chronological points; a story.

1. I just got a Downtube 8FS. First bike I've had since i was a child. Good bike, i feel.

2. My buddy has one of those hipster fixed-gear road bikes.

3. We bike over a few new york bridges... switch for fun at certain points. I notice that his bike obliterates mine in terms of what I called "efficiency" at that time. All the force i put into his pedals just... launches me forward. With mine, i have to put in a fair amount of energy to get going.

4. Today I go to bike shop #1, and try out a Dahon Speed p8. It's slightly better, but i can tell the problem is still there. The bike salesman explains that small wheeled bikes simply cannot go as fast because of the circumference of the wheels. I don't believe him.

5. I walk a couple blocks away to shop #2, a folding bike specialty shop. The dude tells me that the problem is "give". A bike that folds in half will absorb the energy and just kill your acceleration. I sort of believe him.

6. He has me test out a Xootr Swift. I feel that it was better in this respect by a noticeable margin.

7. He then has me test out a Mezzo bike. WOW. noticeable difference above the xootr. I still don't think it's quite as good as my friend's hipster bike, but I leave thinking i'm either going to switch to a full size or get the Mezzo despite it being way, way over my budget.


I'm asking for people to comment on folding bike acceleration. Is this something you acknowledge and just sacrifice for convenience? Or do you think i'm talking a whole bunch of nonsense? If not, which folders have the best acceleration?

I'm new to this business, so thanks for reading and for any advice you might have.
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Old 07-22-09, 03:20 PM   #2
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Remind me again... the Downtube 8FS is a full suspension bike? If so, the suspension will also absorb some energy and make a bike feel a little more sluggish. Another important thing is... tires. Tires can make a significant difference.

If you search the forum you'll find some great discussions on wheel size and what not. I'm not expert enough to say whether it makes a difference, but I've found the discussions both illuminating and entertaining.

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Old 07-22-09, 03:27 PM   #3
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my mistake, it's an 8FH, which is a full suspension. But i felt that the Dahon Speed P8 suffered from the same sluggishness" making the problem more about the fold than the suspension.
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Old 07-22-09, 03:29 PM   #4
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Suspension, folding frame, gearing all take a toll on efficiency. Plus, the FS weighs about 29lbs. Your friend's fixie is probably under 20. Tires are also a big factor - you got fat knobbies on your FS, your friend probably has skinny 23mm tires. These are the reasons why you feel a difference in pedalling efficiency.

It has very little to do with size of the wheels, although people argue about it forever.
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Old 07-22-09, 04:23 PM   #5
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Try the new MU Uno.
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Old 07-22-09, 05:24 PM   #6
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why the uno?
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Old 07-22-09, 05:34 PM   #7
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I know nothing about the technicalities of wheel size and frame efficiency. But I do know that I regularly and effortlessly dust other cyclists on my modest Speed P8 and will do so red light after red light in city riding.

It is almost comic-I am older than most of them and overweight and only a casual commute cyclist. I am not a speedy guy. The serious riders seem to get annoyed and get in front of me after I've stopped at the next intersection, but then I putt-putt right by them again while they are trying to catch up.

Conversely, they lose me on green lights--I reach top gear on the Speed P8 fairly quickly and they are able to go much faster after a distance of about a block. If I could gear up one though I think I could keep up fine. But it doesn't feel like an acceleration issue.

I was attributing the fast initial acceleration to my small wheels and the gearing but maybe I am wrong.
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Old 07-22-09, 05:43 PM   #8
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You just got a bike, first one in years. Your cycling buddy is faster. You blame it on the bike.

Oooooooookay.

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Old 07-22-09, 05:47 PM   #9
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if you read what i wrote, we switched bikes and i was comparing the efficiency and feel of the 2 bikes, not our performance relative to each other.
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Old 07-22-09, 06:12 PM   #10
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My 2 cents on what to consider in this scenario:

1. What size gearing were you running? If you buddy's fixed gear was running say 70 gear inches did you try to accelerate with the folding bikes geared at 70 gear inches (plus or minus a couple)?

2. I have personally always found fixed gear bikes to be snappier at accelerating. To loop back to #1 I would try your test while riding another friend's full-sized derailleur-equipped bicycle.

Last edited by mup24; 07-22-09 at 06:13 PM. Reason: Fixed typo
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Old 07-22-09, 06:15 PM   #11
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In general, folding bikes accelerate faster than large-wheeled bikes. Not much, but a little bit. Suspension and wide / low PSI / treaded tires generally slows you down though. So does rider position; the more upright you are, the more drag you generate, especially at speeds over 15 mph.

And since you're on a bicycle instead of a motorcycle, you are the engine here.

Therefore, it's probably the suspension, the tires, your position and your fitness that is affecting your acceleration and overall speed.

In my experience, you can set up a folding bike to be about as fast as a road bike. However, you may need to spend more and/or deal with a slightly less comfortable ride.

Some of the bikes will feel more efficient than others; and the unsuspended bikes will actually be a little more efficient. But last I checked bike shops don't put cyclometers on their test bikes, and subjective measures are notoriously inaccurate, so you really can't tell which unsuspended bikes are really faster than the others.

So if you really need speed and a modicum and comfort, and folding is not important, look at some standard road bikes. If you like the fold, Swift or Mezzo should be fine.

But don't be too shocked if you get a new bike and your fixed gear friend smokes you anyway, for awhile at least.
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Old 07-22-09, 08:02 PM   #12
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It really is an unfair comparison. Your friend's fixed gear is going to have lower weight, lower rolling resistance, more efficient transmission and greater frame stiffness than yours.

These are the things you trade off (generally speaking, at equivalent price points) for being able to fold a bike up into a nice small package.
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Old 07-22-09, 08:14 PM   #13
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mezzo shop in NY

Can you give the name of the shop in NY that carries the Mezzo?
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Old 07-22-09, 08:40 PM   #14
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http://www.bfold.com/ on east 13th st.
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Old 07-22-09, 09:07 PM   #15
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Thanks! Bfold doesn't list the Mezzo on their on their web site list of bikes they carry. I guess they are new. I was planning on buying a Swift, but I will look at the Mezzo too. Nice to know they carry both.
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Old 07-22-09, 09:14 PM   #16
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The most interesting thing to me is your impression of the Mezzo, way better than the Swift, right? That is really weird.

Other than that, probably the biggest 'factor' is bike 'feel'. Some bikes 'feel' just a lot better than others, and some of this 'feel' translates into actual numbers, but not all. The most readily called to mind 'feel factor' is tyre pressure. Even seasoned pros think that harder pressure tyres are faster than optimal pressure tyres, but tests show different. So you can't trust the feel 100%.

So my Swift 'feels' a whole lot faster than my Birdy (which is not that dissimilar to a Mezzo) but actual testing reveals only a small difference.

I rigid bike will feel a lot more responsive than a mushy one, but it ain't necessarily much faster. Likewise, a light bike will feel a lot faster than a heavy one, especially if the wheels are nice and light, but the overall picture may not be that different.
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Old 07-22-09, 10:14 PM   #17
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I mentioned the Uno because it is light weight and a SS.
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Old 07-22-09, 11:03 PM   #18
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The most interesting thing to me is your impression of the Mezzo, way better than the Swift, right? That is really weird.

Other than that, probably the biggest 'factor' is bike 'feel'. Some bikes 'feel' just a lot better than others, and some of this 'feel' translates into actual numbers, but not all. The most readily called to mind 'feel factor' is tyre pressure. Even seasoned pros think that harder pressure tyres are faster than optimal pressure tyres, but tests show different. So you can't trust the feel 100%.

So my Swift 'feels' a whole lot faster than my Birdy (which is not that dissimilar to a Mezzo) but actual testing reveals only a small difference.

I rigid bike will feel a lot more responsive than a mushy one, but it ain't necessarily much faster. Likewise, a light bike will feel a lot faster than a heavy one, especially if the wheels are nice and light, but the overall picture may not be that different.
+1

I'd just add that, for me at least, 'feel' is the most most important factor when choosing a bike. I don't ride competitively, or with others all that much. I ride as a mode of transport, fitness, and the simple enjoyment of being on a bike. So, when I'm heading out the only thing that really matters is my overall experience on the bike. If the bike I'm on 'feels' mushy I'm not going to enjoy riding quickly as much as I would a 'snappier' bike; even if the mushy bike is actually faster. This is why, I'll grab my Swift over my other bikes 9 times out of 10. It just 'feels' better, and I don't really care how fast it actually is, as long as I get to where I'm going on time.

So, if you are looking for a folding bike that 'feels' more like a hipster fixie, I'd suggest a lightweight fixie hipster folder . There are some excellent fixed Swifts hiding in the forums.
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Old 07-23-09, 12:51 AM   #19
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Yep, don't buy a bike that doesn't 'feel' nice.
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Old 07-23-09, 04:26 AM   #20
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well, i bought a swift folder for commuting purposes and while it's really a nice bike (quite impressive, actually, for a foldie), make no mistake as it simply cannot replace my fixie or my roadie. as mentioned, much of this is due to the tires, gearing (though i did compare with roughly similar gear inches), riding position (not as aero on the foldie due to wider bars, but otherwise reach and saddle height are pretty close) and drivetrain (1x8 on the swift sometimes results in ghost shifts and there's always going to be some cross chaining).

so, while i like the swift, somehow in the back of my mind i can't help but feel a bit disappointed that it wasn't able to replace my fixie or roadie.
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Old 07-23-09, 04:56 AM   #21
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As a Mezzo rider I am suprised that the OP stated the Mezzo was much more responsive than the Swift. However it is well known in these forums that some folders can be as fast as a good road bike. My modifed NS Downtube,(Dahon speed tt inspired), was so close in preformance to a road racing bike that I am unlikely to buy another over a folder. To almost the same extent I fell the same about my modifed Mezzo. Both bikes have bullbars,STI brifters and 1 1/8 slicks I think this makes the main difference. I have not found any other folder I have riden without drops or bullbars fast enought for my preferances.
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Old 07-23-09, 06:10 AM   #22
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I'd agree that if you want a 'snappier' feel to most folders, you're probably going to have to mod it in some way. Certainly true with my Swift.
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Old 07-23-09, 08:31 AM   #23
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I had understood that part of the appeal of ''fixies'' was that the simplified drive train was in its self much more responsive & immediate than any of the multiple gear options. Narrow section, high pressure tyres also seem to me to give a sense of livliness & speed.
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Old 07-23-09, 08:35 AM   #24
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As a Mezzo rider I am suprised that the OP stated the Mezzo was much more responsive than the Swift. However it is well known in these forums that some folders can be as fast as a good road bike. My modifed NS Downtube,(Dahon speed tt inspired), was so close in preformance to a road racing bike that I am unlikely to buy another over a folder. To almost the same extent I fell the same about my modifed Mezzo. Both bikes have bullbars,STI brifters and 1 1/8 slicks I think this makes the main difference. I have not found any other folder I have riden without drops or bullbars fast enought for my preferances.
bhkyte,
sorry to divert from the OP and pardon me but i just can't help asking this question. would i be able to change my boardwalk 20x1.5 tire to a thinner or smaller tire or do i need to change the rim also ?

TIA,
vic
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Old 07-23-09, 02:42 PM   #25
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bhkyte,
sorry to divert from the OP and pardon me but i just can't help asking this question. would i be able to change my boardwalk 20x1.5 tire to a thinner or smaller tire or do i need to change the rim also ?

TIA,
vic
You should be fine as far as I know(?),down to 1 1/8 inches, but then you are getting silly bellow this stage. Even the 1 1/8 Stevios have lots of dissadvantagers. I have currently stopped using them for a while, but I intend to refit some soon,but only on my faster Mezzo.
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