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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 10-14-09, 01:11 PM   #1
randya
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Downtube 8H

http://www.downtube.com/Font_Suspens...ding_Bike.html

I'm thinking of taking the plunge. pros and cons?

Thnx!

Last edited by randya; 10-14-09 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 10-14-09, 03:00 PM   #2
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Downtube's are highly regarded for the price. They're definitely not the top end of the folding bike spectrum, but you could do a whole lot worse with your money.

If you do a search on this forum, you'll find several threads that discuss the relative pros and cons of Downtube's line of folding bikes.

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Old 10-14-09, 04:00 PM   #3
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I had one. Thumbs up from me. Great value.
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Old 10-14-09, 04:42 PM   #4
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The long running Downtube thread is here.

Beware, I started looking at folding bikes because there was a review of the Downtube in Adventure Cyclist. I didn't buy a Downtube, but did buy a folder. Uh, several folders. They are addictive!

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Old 10-14-09, 10:12 PM   #5
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I bought one in as a commuter this June and have rode 1276 miles. It's good value for the money and I am pleased with it.

Pros:
Quick and responsive steering.
Very solid build and feels steady on road and MUP. However, because of the 20-inch wheels, I have never muster the nerve to ride hands free.
I am 5'8" 160 lbs and have no trouble standing to pedal uphill. Riding position is comfortable.
Gear range, with stock components, is from 34.4 to 104.8 gear inches. Sufficient for most terrains.
No flat yet but then I don't ride off road.

Cons:
Stock brake pads wear out quickly after a ride through heavy rain.
Rear fender too short. No front fender.
Crank lost ball bearings and became loose. LBS claimed that it cannot be repaired and had to be replaced.
Gear slip on 7th gear. Cable tension needs adjustment from time to time.
Stock pedals lose ball bearings and begin to creak, get stuck, & even throw foot off pedal. These pedals can also be slippery when wet. As a result your foot can slide to pedal on arch of foot and risk twisting your ankle. Replace ASAP.
Stock saddle can become uncomfortable during long rides.

In summary, this bike with new pedals and brake pads is good to go. New fenders can help too. Happy riding.

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Old 10-15-09, 06:11 PM   #6
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Thanks for the responses! After a bit more research I think the bikes I'm looking at still include the Downtube 8H, plus the Dahon D3 and Giant Halfway.

The Giant Halfway is a bit pricier and has a derailleur system, which I'm not crazy about, but I like the design.

I'm more interested in the internal hubs, I've had some experience already with an SA XRF3, which I liked, but not with the XRF8. edit-looks like Dahon switched from SA to SRAM hub in '09

I'm not too worried about having to replace parts like saddles, pedals or brake pads, but would like to know that the rest of the bike is sturdy. Bottom brackets of course can be replaced, but stock bottom brackets should be sturdy enough to last awhile.

Also, I'm not too crazy about the suspension fork on the Downtube, after owning a few suspension fork hybrids I'm more interested in a traditional fork.

Finally, I'm about 6'1.5" tall, which appears to be near the upper height limit for both the Dahon and the Downtube.

Any tall riders want to comment on this aspect of these two bikes? Any additional comments regarding the 8H suspension fork or bottom bracket?

Thanks again!

Last edited by randya; 10-15-09 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 10-15-09, 06:46 PM   #7
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I agree the front suspension is kinda useless, especially for big guys (I'm 6'0"). I don't ever feel the need for it, and on the 8H, it would bottom out often anyway. Plus, it adds a lot of weight. Truth be told, I eventually swapped it out.

The frame is very sturdy, no worries about that. The XRF8 hub has worked well for me. I'm using it with the Downtube Mini now. You do hear complaints about how fickle it can be, but IMHO, that's frequently a function of 1) improper adjustment, 2) people not knowing that you have to stop pedaling to change gears, and 3) inadvertant shifting of the grip twisters (which is easy to do). I have heard about longevity or reliability issues with that model hub, but don't have specifics, nor personal experience with that.

The wheels are ordinary, good for the price. The bottom brackets used to be a problem, but that was over two years ago. I'm sure he's shipping with sealed BBs now.

Downtubes are not Bike Fridays, but they're very good sturdy bikes. They're also easy to repair and parts are all standard and upgradeable.
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Old 10-15-09, 07:02 PM   #8
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the spot that looks weak on the 8H frame to me is the relatively long seat tube extension above the top tube, I've cracked a similar aluminum frame in this exact spot before; long seat posts definitely put a lot of stress on that seat tube-top tube weld joint.
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Old 10-15-09, 08:34 PM   #9
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I have a Giant Halfway. It's a solid bike, but I don't care for the hinge. It's possible to wear it out... and it's not something that can be replaced without replacing the entire frame. That said it would take some serious manhandling to wear it down (which is what happened with mine). I now have a Bike Friday Tikit which I like much better (but it's out of your price range).

Dr. Yan used to have non-suspended folding bikes, but it appears that he has abandoned those options. Still... it's possible that he might have one in the Downtube warehouse. You might try contacting him to see if he has anything available.

Another option in the inexpensive side of things is Citizen Bike... though I can't recall right now if they have any with IGH.

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Old 10-15-09, 09:42 PM   #10
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It's a sad day when $400 to $600 is considered 'inexpensive' for a folding bike. I could get a Brompton locally, but I can buy three of these other bikes for the price of one Brompton. In fact, maybe that's what I'll end up doing, since I need at least two for me and the wife...
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Old 10-16-09, 12:09 AM   #11
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another question, what about mounting fenders on the Downtube 8H or 8FH?
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Old 10-16-09, 12:21 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randya View Post
It's a sad day when $400 to $600 is considered 'inexpensive' for a folding bike.
You could always try ye olde craigslist. That's how I found my current bike at a good price.

--sam
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Old 10-16-09, 11:01 AM   #13
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on craigslist all you get is what's offered, not necessarily what you want. plus, used bike prices are through the roof right now where I live.

anyone got an answer to my questions about mounting fenders on the Downtube, or my concerns about potential failure of the seat post-top tube joint on the 8H?
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Old 10-16-09, 11:37 AM   #14
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I think Sammyboy (another forum member) may be able to answer these questions. Try sending him a private message through the forum. He sells Downtubes in the UK, but hasn't been too active on the forums lately. I think his website is velochocolate.co.uk.

As for craigslist... the trick is to expand your search outside your immediate area. It's a little trickier, but if you can find a seller that is willing to ship... you can get a great deal. Try this search in google...

folding bike OR bicycle site:craigslist.org

then click on options and choose Past 24 Hours. You can be more specific by putting downtube or dahon in there. You never know what might turn up.

Anyway... good luck with the search!
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Old 10-16-09, 11:56 AM   #15
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Quote:
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anyone got an answer to my questions about mounting fenders on the Downtube, or my concerns about potential failure of the seat post-top tube joint on the 8H?
No one here has ever heard of a failure there. You are right in that it's a stress point. It is the case for every folding bike design. Why don't you ask Yan if there's ever been a failure there?

Quote:
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another question, what about mounting fenders on the Downtube 8H or 8FH?
What is the question? Can you mount fenders there? If so, yes. Should you mount fenders there? Dunno, up to you.
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Old 10-16-09, 12:33 PM   #16
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What is the question? Can you mount fenders there? If so, yes. Should you mount fenders there? Dunno, up to you.
I guess I'll have to rephrase the question:

Why does the 8H only come with one fender, and does it have fender mount fittings on the front fork?

for the 8FH, same question for both the rear triangle and the front fork.
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Old 10-16-09, 04:58 PM   #17
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Why don't you ask Yan if there's ever been a failure there?
according to Yan there were some failures there before they increased the seat tube diameter, but personally I think it's too soon to tell how the new larger diameter seatposts will hold up (change made in '08).

So here's what I decided to do: I bought two '08 model Dahon Curve D3's today for the following reasons:

1. sale price on 08 model was too good to pass up ($475 ea. shipping included, from BicycleSource)
2. SA 3-spd is a proven hub and really all I need for gearing
3. no suspension
4. 16" wheels for compactness and light weight plus Schwalbe Big Apple Tires are better than Kendas
5. better pedals, grips and saddle than DT (I'll probably replace the saddles w/ Brooks anyway)

I sprang for an additional $90 for rear racks direct from Dahon as well.

Thanks again for all your input!
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Old 10-16-09, 06:33 PM   #18
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Quote:
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another question, what about mounting fenders on the Downtube 8H or 8FH?
I had both front and rear fenders mounted by my LBS without any hassle. The front fender is attached to the front axle and the front brake anchor.
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Old 10-16-09, 07:30 PM   #19
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Nice! Welcome to the fold!

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Old 10-17-09, 01:24 AM   #20
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I might still buy a Downtube 8FH to check it out, my wife is whinging about wanting more that three speeds now...

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Old 10-17-09, 01:28 AM   #21
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Nice! Welcome to the fold!

--sam
Oh, I already have a Raleigh 20 and a couple of Strida 3.0s. But I've been looking for something that's both more traditional and more modern for a while now, I guess reading David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries got me motivated to act on that.

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Old 10-17-09, 10:22 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randya View Post
So here's what I decided to do: I bought two '08 model Dahon Curve D3's today for the following reasons:

1. sale price on 08 model was too good to pass up ($475 ea. shipping included, from BicycleSource)
2. SA 3-spd is a proven hub and really all I need for gearing
3. no suspension
4. 16" wheels for compactness and light weight plus Schwalbe Big Apple Tires are better than Kendas
5. better pedals, grips and saddle than DT (I'll probably replace the saddles w/ Brooks anyway)

I sprang for an additional $90 for rear racks direct from Dahon as well.
Good choice. I like the Big Apples. Made a huge improvement, IMO, with the Downtube Mini.

Question, why go for the rear rack instead of of the front mount? (I believe that the 08' still has a klick fix front mount that attached directly to the head tube. If not, well then the answer is obvious.) I always found that carrying things over the front wheel improved handling on small wheel -- very low trail -- bikes.
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Old 10-17-09, 10:33 AM   #23
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I use the rear rack to carry my lock, my jacket and occasionally something like a six pack. I might spring for the front mount eventually, I think you're right, the bike has the klick fix mount.
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Old 10-17-09, 12:19 PM   #24
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I agree the front suspension is kinda useless, especially for big guys (I'm 6'0"). I don't ever feel the need for it, and on the 8H, it would bottom out often anyway. Plus, it adds a lot of weight. Truth be told, I eventually swapped it out.
Especially for small guys too. Mine is permanently stuck in the extended position and I don't like the geometry it creates. I know I could fix it, but I want this to remain a low maintenance bike.

Is the rigid fork sold at downtube.com a drop in replacement for the suspension fork or does it raise the hinge like this:

?

I'm talking about this fork:
http://www.downtube.com/product538.html
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Old 10-17-09, 12:30 PM   #25
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I think it's a replacement for the suspension fork, but you could email Yan and ask him, he responded really quickly to my questions.

btw, I did decide to spring for a 8FH, at some point I'll post some comparisons between the two bikes 8FH and Curve D3). I chose the 8FH over the 8H because I'm still concerned about the possibility of stress fractures at that seat tube-top tube joint on the 8H (if the frame was steel instead of aluminum I wouldn't be nearly as concerned).
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