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  1. #1
    Ride heavy metal. Maddox's Avatar
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    Looking to get started in folding bikes - which to buy?

    Hi, Folding fans -

    I'm a C&V junkie who likes his road bikes old and steely. I had my eye on snagging a Raleigh Twenty that was for sale about 3 hours away from me, but it sold before I could get there.

    I found two bikes listed near me - wanted to get some knowledgeable input on the two models and what would suit me better.

    I'm looking for something I could stow under my desk at work for lunch runs, and could stow in my car when I didn't have it at work. There are currently two budget folders I'm looking at on my local CL - a vintage Amica ($45) and a less-vintage looking Dahon ($80).




    The Amica looks like it won't collapse down quite as small, and looks to have 20" tires and a coaster brake and front caliper brake.

    The Dahon looks to fold down much smaller, with 16" tires, but I'm not sure about what kind of gearing it's equipped with. Does it have an internally-geared hub or does it look like it has a deraileur? (I'd truly prefer a single speed, definitely an internally geared 3-speed over a deraileur bike)

    If you have any input on the usability of the two models or their components, or the bikes' value relative to the asking price, please help a fellow cyclo-fiend out.

    Thanks!!

  2. #2
    rhm
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    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    Putting it diplomatically, those old U-frame folders, like the Amica, are the reason the Raleigh Twenty seemed like such a great design. The wheels may be one of the 20" sizes, but they may just as likely be some obscure size that you'd have a hard time finding tires for. The hinge mechanism is weak, and will fatigue from riding; sooner or later the frame brakes in half. Funky, though!

    I dont know much about that Dahon, but I'd definitely chose it. 16" wheels are a hoot, and it's easy to put an AW or other IGH in it for a fairly zippy bike.

  3. #3
    Ride heavy metal. Maddox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    The hinge mechanism is weak, and will fatigue from riding; sooner or later the frame breaks in half.

    I dont know much about that Dahon, but I'd definitely chose it. 16" wheels are a hoot, and it's easy to put an AW or other IGH in it for a fairly zippy bike.
    That's kind of what I was thinking on both accounts. The Amica is probably heavier material, has less well-engineered features, and will be more of a clunker.

    The Dahon seems to be a good bike, I'm just skeptical as I can't find anything on the model. If anyone reading this has a link to a Dahon model database or IDing instructions, please share!

  4. #4
    Sumerian Street Rider khutch's Avatar
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    I really don't know what model or year that Dahon might be. If you can't get an answer here try the Dahon forum, it's on their web site. Generally when people post a picture like that there they get a response from someone who knows exactly what it is. At least occasionally someone from Dahon will respond as well with any owner's manual pdfs that they have, but that is hit or miss so no promises. I'd tell you to do the polite thing and search first but how do you search on a picture? Searching on a term like "identify" may turn up some threads asking similar questions and perhaps even with photos of the model that you have. I can tell you that I have seen photos posted there that look similar to that one, I'm just not familiar enough to say that any were exactly that one.

    Ken

  5. #5
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    Looks like a Dahon Stowaway. 1987-1990 or so. 3 or 5 Derailléur gears, probably on a twist grip. Some of the early ones had a rear drum brake. This one appears to have a coaster brake:

    http://www.mrmartinweb.com/images/bi...stowawaylg.jpg

    Most of the rolling bits are standard, cup 'n cone bearings etc. If all the fasteners are intact and there are no cracks near the seat tube, chainstays, and it it doesn't creak too much when you sit on it....

    They go for about £75-£100 in the Uk on Ebay, so $80 seems about right. Some have been stored on boats, or in garages and are corroded.

    As with any old folding bike if it's intact when you get it and all the hinges are OK, it's a bonus. You're looking for corrosion on cables, frame and spokes, excessive play in the handlepost, frame hinge, bottom bracket and cranks, grinding wheel hubs, (turn the bike upside down and give 'em a spin) and wear on the wheel rims if they have rim brakes. Cables corrode and stretch, anything with a pivot, including brake levers can wear and will need checking.

    With the old bikes, if they cost more than about 1/3rd they price of a new one they should be in reasonable condition, otherwise they eat money which can go to an almost maintenance free new scoot, unless you like project bikes.

    The hard to find bits on older Dahons are frame /hinge locking spares, handle and seat posts, and wheel hubs. Thor (brakemeister) has some spares, the guys on the Dahon forum are quite knowledgable too. The date is the first number in the serial number under the bottom bracket, as in A9xxxxxxx (1999) Later bikes , got a 'D' prefix, I think.

    If you're tall, check there is is enough cockput room, inseams of over 31" can suffer from knees hitting handlebars on some 16" wheel bikes.
    Last edited by snafu21; 04-30-10 at 12:56 AM.
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  6. #6
    rhm
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    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    Wow, that's the most informative post I've ever seen by Snafu! (Sorry, I usually look to your posts for levity more than serious content).

    But Maddox, let me add one thing... I think you will find your taste for C&V steel (which, you know, I share) will not mix well with a taste for folding bikes. Folding bikes have come a long long way in recent years. Some of the best folding bike designs on the market today have been around for many years (Brompton and Strida come to mind) but despite the obvious continuity in designs, the new ones are much better than the old ones. Dahon has radically changed their designs over the years; the one you're looking at is indeed an old one... but I'm not sure that makes it a good one (I don't know much about Dahons!).

    If you look at new folding bikes, you will see that a large number are based on the Raleigh Twenty. There's a reason for that. If you want a real C&V folder, hold out for one of those, or a Raleigh RSW-16 Compact (like what Aaron has). They are good bikes, and cool; and a heavily modified R20 can be a great bike. It's just that... well, they are not great folding bikes, and there is nothing you can do to make an R20 a great folding bike.

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