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  1. #1
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    Folding commuter, possible electric conversion later

    I post a message in electric bikes section, no reply yet.

    I want a commuter for a hilly trip of 15 km each way daily. 30 km a day. My priority is a folding bike not an electric one but I think buying or adding later an electric motor to help me climb the hills and when retıurning home wiped out on some days. I will favour pedalling but having an option of not being limited to it when I want to is nice. I only consider Brompton Nano or Bionx PL350 motors.

    Anyway as my priority is the bike itself I try to choose one between Brompton (neat size folded, cute thing overall I do not know why), BF Tikit (I know non motorizable but I love its quick fold anyway), Dahon Mu P8 (I am not sure anything about this bike, if it will be too bulky when folded, does it have accessories, is it enjoyable, it just seems plain and unattractive to me in pictures), GoBike (seemingly an out of business Canadian), and Birdy (folded, not as small as Brompton but close, also I do not favour Aluminum, but everything else seems fantastic with this bike, including that I can add Bionx to it later).

    What would you suggest for a hilly area, 30 km daily commuter for me (I am 43 yrs and can get in shape in a couple of weeks/months, let it be months )

  2. #2
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    Those are all great bikes. I think they would all do the trick for you.

    I have a question though... why does the bike need to be a folder? Will you be riding the train or bus as part of your 30 km commute? Or is it a space issue at home and work?

    And as long as you're looking at electric folding bikes, you should also consider the Pacific Reach DC.

    --sam

  3. #3
    Pedaling fool ShinyBiker's Avatar
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    I would recommend the Downtube full suspension. I own one and it is a solid folder. Uses standard, not proprietary, bike parts. I have never electrified it, but found this thread about this guy that did it:

    http://endless-sphere.com/forums/vie...4cc4d60710e114

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lalato View Post
    Those are all great bikes. I think they would all do the trick for you.

    I have a question though... why does the bike need to be a folder? Will you be riding the train or bus as part of your 30 km commute? Or is it a space issue at home and work?

    And as long as you're looking at electric folding bikes, you should also consider the Pacific Reach DC.

    --sam
    I will only board a passenger boat for sea transit that takes about 15 minutes. Actually they allow boarding full sized bikes without folding. I need foldablity in such cases when I am not in the mood to ride so I can take the bus back home or when the weather turns foul etc. Basically if I get tired I can hail a cab if I like to. Remember I am 42 and I am not in great shape, but I am looking forward to loose 30 pounds in the long run, pedalling will help much in that too.

    The reason for electric assist is also basically the same. I can throttle when I feel I am wiped out after work or climbing some hills , I am not into electric to be lazy about riding. I will check Pacific Reach DC, thank you.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShinyBiker View Post
    I would recommend the Downtube full suspension. I own one and it is a solid folder. Uses standard, not proprietary, bike parts. I have never electrified it, but found this thread about this guy that did it:

    http://endless-sphere.com/forums/vie...4cc4d60710e114
    Many thanks, it's an interesting bike for its price. At that price, I can spend more to customize it to my liking with some quality parts. And the link is interesting as well. However I intend to spoil myself getting a Brompton or a Birdy.

    I like the Brompton for the riding position, folded size, and looks. Nano motor might just be enough if I choose to add it later.

    I like the Birdy for its reported ride quality (almost always Birdy is found to be a better ride) and option to add the Bionx 350 motor which is excellent. Birdy+Bionx is very expensive though, Brompton + Nano is better priced. If I drop out the electric motor then it's between a Tikit and Brompton and Tikit is better value in that case.

    It's though, even without test-riding a folder I want to buy 3 or 4 !!!!!

  6. #6
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    I do have a pl 350 in stock ... thats comes with a completely built up rear wheel and I do have Mu P 8 or Speed P 8 in stock as well ..... and many other bikes from Dahon ....
    If you dont like alloy, than the Speed P 8 is the ticket ( lets noit even go why and why not alloy is better or not ) I have both .... The advantage is that you get both bikes with the originla rear wheel... you only have to change the tire *I even incude an extra sprocket cluster ..so in case you want to go without the hub motor you can easiliy switch around * buy an extra tire and tube and its even easier ( and you could use that one as spare parts IF needed) I suggest to get a big apple for the bionox wheel as t will suspend the heavier rear wheel nicely.

    I only sell the PL 350 and PL500 with the light ( but expensive) batteries .... On my test MU P 8 with the PL 500 motor I have a Pletscher System rack and a pletscher Sport case , where I hide the battery . all of this can be easoly detached or used individually ... and the battery is not on the top tube and looks funky ..its also more stealth as the battery is hidden ....

    The PL 500 Motor is for checkup at Bionix but will be back soon. the origonal regeneration % was set too high and gave me a little problem. The 500 has a lot more high end speed the 350 has plenty enough and maybe more torque at the bottom ....

    Having it on a folder makes a lot of sense. I can take most of the bits off ( the controlls and cables dont bother me ) and fit all into the trunk of my miata ( MX5 )

    There is somewhere a report from a CA guy with a MU and a pl 500 .... worth looking for...

    Its a lot of money, you need to make sure that you get somebody who knows a little abot it and is around down the road for questions .... best if you have a little time and get a bike all kitted up and test ridden over a couple days, checked and re checked .... and in this case the warranty of a certified Dahon Dealer AND Bionix dealer would be important ...( And I dont say that cause I am )

    you are combining two complex entities ... worth the extra money and little more time


    thor

  7. #7
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    I have a green birdy 8 spd on which I added a Bionx PL350. I have a similar commute 12 km each way. hilly , large steep hill at the very end on my way home. The birdy is great for when I meet up with friends and put it in their cars and then at the end of our evening I can pull it out and ride home. I had a Downtube 8fs but decided that the more elegant folding and better components of the Birdy made it a better candidate for adding the Bionx. I am very very happy with this choice. the Birdy fold is much better suited for this application with the extra weight the battery and motor adds. I think it is much easier than the side fold. because my Birdy was an older one it didn't have the attachments for the newer rack which would have allowed the back wheel to be folded. so now the back wheel is 'fixed', but it does still allow for some movement for the suspension. It still folds small enough and I have been able to fit it into every car trunk, etc. I have tried. The motor has been more than adequate for my needs. I went from almost no riding in 20 years to 3000km last year. I bought another pedal assist bike off of craigslist a couple years ago and it is no comparison to the bionx. Having the battery regeneration option is great, I use it going down hills to save wear on my brakes and to also give me more of a workout pedaling down hills. I had ridden around all day (easily over 50 km) and still had enough power left to easily ride up the hill at the end, because of regen on each downhill. Having tried a Brompton, my personal preference would be the Birdy as the front and rear suspension makes the ride so much more enjoyable, which makes a difference with all the extra weight. It also feels faster...

  8. #8
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    also, I am in a similar boat. When I got the Birdy/Bionx I was 43, decent but not great shape, lost 10 pounds last year w/o any real change to my diet. I use the pedal assist a reasonable amount but always pedal and just use the throttle to start on a hill. I have also been seduced by the compact folding of the Brompton, though if you want to add a motor both bikes will be heavy and the size becomes less of an issue than the somewhat awkward weight. So if that is the case I would always go for full suspension.

  9. #9
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    Thank you for your comments and feeedback.
    Yes Dahon's are very attractive for bang for the buck.

    elmergeorge, since folders are very attactive bikes for me, I change my mind everyday, and now I am fond of Birdy. It's fold is very tidy and after Brompton the best I liked so far. Birdy seems more versatile since it can be used on more surfaces and is definitely ridden with more fun, more comfortably or sporty. After its price, my only dislike about it is its aluminium frame. Does it feel OK ? I understand that full suspension wipes out the negative aspect of Aluminium, its rigidity. Otherwise Aluminium is OK right ? (Maybe better being rustproof)

    I intend to add Bionx 350 to the Birdy, maybe immediately or maybe weeks or months later after enjoying the bike as intended. With an expedition rack to place the Bionx and a frame bag for wallet cellphone and keys and stuff it would be a very good setup Motorized, even 23.5-pound Birdy will weight 41 pounds. Heavier but manageable anyway.

  10. #10
    Pedaling fool ShinyBiker's Avatar
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    Biont,
    The only issue with aluminum is that you've got to make sure that the dropouts fit whatever motor you'll be installing. Speaking from experience in installing a rear IGH, you don't want to spread the aluminum too much or you can strain the aluminum, thus it can crack later with the usual stresses of riding the bike. Steel is much more "bendable" than aluminum and is usually preferred.

  11. #11
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    My first thought was get two bikes. The reason is that always having the extra weight might take some of the pleasure off riding the bike. I just did some riding with a trailer that is a bit on the heavy side, and I feel some of the fun going away.

    I still think thor`s dea could work, unless you fnd it difficult to plan in advance what setup to use.

    I am guessing that a Brompton is not the geometry you want to ride in hills on a 15 km commute.

    Also I am thinking that if this was me I think would rather take the bus part of the way on the days the ride was too much instead of hauling the extra weight around "just in case".

    I say go for two bikes (maybe one of them second hand?) and make one of them a bike you enjoy riding with a fold that is acceptable on a bus and one w electric assist tha can be folded if needed.

    I seriousely lke both Brompton and tkit so I can totally see your problem.

  12. #12
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    my shopping experience

    I recently went through the same shopping process and have settled on a custom Swift folder from Peter Reich, the designer. It should arrive on Monday; yippee! It will have an Alfine hub, upgraded brakes, etc., and the alloy fork is strong enough for the motor to be added later. I have talked with two designer/suppliers of motors (Danny at Amped Bikes and Steve at WorldWide Electric) who strongly advise against aluminum forks. Steve also advises against any suspension system on the wheel where the motor is to be mounted. You also have to make sure that the width between the dropouts will accommodate the motorized wheel. I understand that most, maybe all, of the 20" wheel Dahons are too narrow. The Swift folder and Bike Friday, with steel alloy forks will work.
    With the upgraded components, the cost will be a bit under $1400, so it's on par with a Bike Friday, Birdy, etc.
    Good luck!
    Richard

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