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  1. #1
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    Getting my first folding bike - suggestions about some brands/models?

    Here we are, the bane of every forum: the newbie asking for advice.

    I just got rid of my car almost 7 months ago and am easing more and more into alternative modes of commuting and getting to stores, etc. I'm moving soon and my commute will be longer (not sure how long yet, few miles at least). I live in rural Westchester NY, so a bike that can climb well is right on top of my list of priorities, but I'm not sure exactly what I should be looking for in terms of gears. (the last bike I owned was a beach cruiser and the last bikes I road on loan was a nice pricey racing bike and a beefy 21 speed mountain bike). I'm partial to something that can take a beating if I choose to do some off roading, so I'd prefer something with a suspension, but most of the folders I've read up on from quality manufacturers don't have much of that for a bike in my price range - $300 with fenders, rack, suspension of any kind, 20" wheels, no more than 30 lbs., and easy enough to fold for a mulitmodal commute. The ONLY folding bike at a shop near me is a 2010 Giant Halfway. Seemed strong, overpriced, inadequately geared, and I'm really not sure about those half forks. From here on in, my purchase will be based on web crawling and your much appreciated input. Oh, and I'm about 5'8" 140 lbs., might have up to another 40 lbs. of gear with me, but usually 10 lbs.

    So far, here's what I'm checking out:

    Starting out cheap, a new Raylight Ambassador
    http://www.raylight.ca/ambassador.htm
    Aluminum-alloy frame
    Shimano 6-speed
    Adjustable seat height
    Adjustable handlebar height
    Foldable pedals
    Saddle with spring cushion
    20" aluminum wheels
    Front and rear V-type brakes
    Front and rear fenders
    Net Weight 26 lbs
    Fold-up dimensions: 32"x26"x14"

    Found one on ebay starting at $100 new.
    I figure if it falls apart, I'll at least have a comfy seat to put on the sidewalk while waiting for a ride.

    ********************************************************************

    Tobukaeru 20" folding mountain bike - 21 speed
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...#ht_3588wt_913

    Frame : 26" FOLDING FRAME W/750LB SHOCK
    Fork : SUSPENSION FORK
    Derailleur Shift : SHIMANO RS35 RAPID FIRE
    Front Derailleur : QILONG NON INDEXED TYPE
    Rear Derailleur : SHIMANO TX31 SIS GEAR
    Freewheel : TRIDIAMOND 7SP INDEX 14-28 T
    Chain Wheel : 24 x 34 x 42T
    Crank : 165 MM COTTER LESS OVERSIZED TYPE
    Chain : KMC 1/2 x 3/32 110L
    Handle Bar : 580W HI-RISER TYPE
    Stem : 3PCS TYPE
    Brake Levers : 3 FINGER TYPE
    Brake Arms : V/BRAKE TYPE
    Rim : 26" X 1.5 X 1.15 MM 14G X 36H, DOUBLE WALL
    Front Hub : OVERSIZED NUT TYPE W/ 3/8 AXLE
    Rear Hub : OVERSIZED NUT TYPE W/ 3/8 AXLE
    Tire : 26 X 2.125 MTB
    Pedals : FOLDING TYPE W/REFLECTOR & BALL BEARING
    Saddle : PVC TOP MTB TYPE
    Seat Post : 25.4 X 300 MM W/INSERTION MARK
    Box Dimention : 40 x 15 x 35 inches
    Weight : 38 lbs (included box)

    I can't really find any info on Tobukaeru. Anyone ride one of these? Is this one of the companies associated with Dahon??
    IF it's made as good as it looks, I'd get it even though there's no rack. Might be near the top of my price range, but I haven't yet found this kind of front/rear suspension in any other low priced folder. Near the top of my weight range too.

    ********************************************************************

    Another Tobukaeru
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...ht_3017wt_1139
    Frame : 20" FOLDING FRAME
    Fork : SUSPENSION FORK
    Derailleur Shift : SHIMANO RS35 GRIPSHIFTER
    Rear Derailleur : SHIMANO TX31 SIS GEAR
    Freewheel : TRIDIAMOND 7SP INDEX 14-28 T
    Chain Wheel : OPC 44T
    Crank : 150 MM COTTER LESS OVERSIZED TYPE
    Chain : KMC 1/2 X 3/32 106L
    Handle Bar : 520W HI-RISER TYPE
    Stem : FOLDING 3PCS TYPE W/ QR
    Brake Levers : 3 FINGER TYPE
    Brake Arms : V/BRAKE TYPE
    Rim : 20" X 1.5 X 1.15 MM 14G X 36H
    Front Hub : OVERSIZED NUT TYPE W/ 3/8 AXLE
    Rear Hub : OVERSIZED NUT TYPE W/ 3/8 AXLE
    Tire : 20 X 2.125 MTB
    Pedals : FOLDING TYPE W/REFLECTOR & BALL BEARING
    Saddle : PVC TOP GEL MTB TYPE
    Seat Post : 25.4 X 350 MM W/INSERTION MARK
    Box Dimension : 35 x 15 x 28 INCHES
    Weight : 36 LBS (BOX INCLUDED)

    seems half decent, also a little weighty at probably 30-32 minus the box.

    ********************************************************************

    Gavin 6 speed 20"
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...ht_3129wt_1143
    Size: 20"
    Speeds: 6 speeds
    Color: Silver
    Frame: 7005 Aluminum Double Butted
    Fork: Suspension Fork
    Shifters: Shimano Tourney 6 Speed
    Rear Derailleur: Shimano Tourney TZ
    Crankset: Tec9 Alloy 48T 170mm
    Chain: Shimano
    Rims: Tec9 20" Double walled w/ CNC machined sides
    Tires: 20" x 1.75
    Brakes:Tec9 Alloy V-Brake
    Handlebar: Adjustable Telescoping
    Pedals: Folding Platform

    Hey, it just looks like a nice and clean design. And it weighs in at 25 lbs. But I can't find any folding bikes on Gavin's website. Anyone ride one of these??

    ********************************************************************

    Citizen is having a steep sale right now, so I'm looking at:
    Gotham II 7-speed 20" http://www.citizenbike.com/catalog.a...&product_id=24
    Miami 6-speed 20" http://www.citizenbike.com/catalog.a...1&product_id=1

    Only problem is neither have suspension standard, and the Gotham II is at the top of my price range minus the rack.

    ********************************************************************

    Downtube Nova 7-speed
    http://cgi.ebay.com/Downtube-Nova-Fo...#ht_682wt_1139
    FORK 20" steel threadless unicrown type,TIG welded
    HANDLEBAR Aluminum 560mm
    HANDLEBAR STEM Height adjustable aluminum 28.6mm (OD) 25.4mm (ID) 400mm
    HEADSET Integrated SEAT POST 30.4mm (OD) 550mm
    CRANK Prowheel 170mm with 3/32" 46T chainring
    CHAIN GUARD Prowheel Plastic double guard
    PEDALS foldable alloy 9/16" axle
    CHAIN KMC Z50 1/2"*3/32" 112L
    TIRES KENDA K177 20"* 1.2"
    RIMS Dino VP-20 alloy 20"*1.5" 14G*28H
    SPOKES & NIPPLES 14G*56pcs steel spokes, W/short brass nipples
    FRONT HUB JOYTECH 28H with quickrelease
    REAR HUB JOYTECH 28H 130mm rear quickrelease
    R/DERAILLEUR Shimano D-TZ50D
    SHIFTER(S) Shimano gripshift
    FREEWHEEL Shimano MF-TZ07
    FRONT BRAKE C Star 958DX aluminum V-brake
    REAR BRAKE C Star 958DX aluminum V-brake
    BRAKE LEVERS C Star 322DG

    Seems good if I can find one of their models with suspension

    ********************************************************************

    2009 Dahon Jack 7-speed
    http://cgi.ebay.com/Brand-new-2009-D...ht_1508wt_1139

    Speeds:7
    Frame Size: M
    Gear Inches: 33" - 90"
    Distance: Seatpost to Handlebar: Min: 655 mm (25.5") Max: 665 mm (25.9")
    Distance: Saddle to Pedal: Min: 720 mm (28.1") Max: 955 mm (37")
    Folding Size: 34 x 94 x 79 cm (13.3" x 36.7" x 30.8")
    Folding Time: 30 sec
    Weight: 12.9kg (28.4 lb)
    Suggested Rider Height: 5'6" -6'
    Max Rider Weight: 105 kg (230 lb)
    Frame: DA Series, Joe Murray design, 7005 aluminum, custom-drawn Sonus tubing, patented Re-bar Technology
    Fork: Oversized, straight, integrated design
    Handlebar: 6061-T6 aluminum, riser, 31.8 mm oversize
    Stem: Dahon F.I.T. Stem, patented ATS technology, 6061-T6 aluminum
    Headset: Dahon Fusion, Zero stack, cartridge, conical spacer
    Grip/Bars Tape: Dual Density Kraton
    Saddle: WTB, Speed V
    Seatpost: BioLogic PostPump Seatpost, 27.2 mm
    Seat Clamp: Aluminum with high leverage lever
    Front Brake: ProMax V, aluminum, linear spring
    Rear Brake: ProMax V, aluminum, linear spring
    Brake Levers: ProMax V, aluminum bracket/aluminum lever
    Brake Cable & Housing: SIS, black housing
    Front Hub: Formula, aluminum, QR
    Rear Hub: Formula cassette, aluminum, sealed QR
    Spokes: 18/8 stainless steel
    Nipples: Brass nipples, black ano
    Rims: Aluminum, anodized black
    Tires: Schwalbe Big Apple, 26" x 2.0", RaceGuard puncture protection, 75 psi
    Shifter(s): SRAM 3.0 Comp, 7 spd
    Rear Derailleur: Truvativ IsoFlow, 38T, CNC alloy guard
    Crankset: Truvativ IsoFlow, 38T, CNC alloy guard
    Cassette/Freewheel: 7 spd, 11-30T
    Bottom Bracket: CH, chromoly axle
    Chain: KMC Z50, Narrow, Noiseless function
    Pedals: VP Alloy cage, resin body
    Cable & Housing: SIS-SP, black
    Kickstand: Aluminum, Dacromet bolt
    Clip System: Magnetix Technology
    Accessory: Reflective Trouser Strap
    Wheel Reflectors: Cateye
    Front & Rear Reflectors: Cateye

    This looks more like a full size bike and might be easier for me to make my way into the world of folding bikes. The frame definitely looks like it will last.

    ********************************************************************



    Other finds w/ less info:
    1971 Raleigh 3-speed which needs to be fixed up.
    2005 Dahon Speed P8, which also needs some cleaning and new tires.
    1994 Dahon Tailwind 20" 6-speed
    Dahon Classic III 20" 3-speed internal hub. cheap.



    That's it for now, feel free to get any of these if I've somehow found a great deal and submitted for everyone's viewing on the forum. They are auctions, after all. The more I look, the more I think I might have to up my price range to 4-500, unless I just wait a long time for a good deal to come a long. Thanks in advance!!

    -Eric

  2. #2
    Senior Member GeorgePaul's Avatar
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    I wouldn't do any offroading with a $300 folder.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgePaul View Post
    I wouldn't do any offroading with a $300 folder.

    Well, not any SERIOUS offroading. I've never really gone biking on trails before, and probably wouldn't attempt to with a cheap folder. But there are a lot of hilly country roads around me, and a fair amount of rocky unpaved roads. If I had a folder with aggressive treads, some suspension, and more of a mountain bike ride then I'd feel comfortable taking on these roads or even on brief short cuts (semi) off road.

    I guess what I mean to say concisely is that I'd love to find a cheap folder that can hold up to some wear and tear.

  4. #4
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    The 26" Jack is a good, alloy frame all-rounder, with a gear range fine for modest trail-riding, or burning down the boulevards . Top speed about 20 mph. I owned its brother, the Mk 1 24 gear Matrix.

    The fold is adequate for storage, and the bike will fit folded in the back of a VW Golf with the seats up. Alloy frame designed by MTB guru Joe Murray. Wheelsets and components are all good for the price of the bike. Very versatile scoot. The 2010 version is also available in 24 gears if you need them.

    As it comes the Jack is positioned as an urban street fighter, but a pair of not too wide trekking type 26" tyres transforms it into a weekend warrior. The low gear of 30" is ok on modest urban hills. The rear cassette is easily swapped if you need a little more low gear

    The other well-thought of do-it all bike is the Swiss Bike MTB range, of which I have no experience, which tend to be more expensive.

    20" wheels, even with suspension can be harsh on mild trails with tree roots and rocks. I regularly ride a 20" Downtube IX FS on my local trail, but it's not pleasant, where a Jack/ Matrix is. A suspension seatpost on the Jack and fatter tyres, if you get one would be useful.

    If you do a search in the forum for Jack, you'll find some quite good reports. They're available mail order, and often 2008/2009 bikes are cheaper on closeout, although this seems more rare in the States where prices seem to remain 'Jacked' up. From your height, you're a 'M' in Jack/Matrix sizing. The bike will take a seatpost rack if you need to lug stuff around.

    There are plenty of Dahon Jack videos on Youtube. If you need the suspension, and you may not with trekking tyres, then the Matrix has a front suspension fork. The Dahon has a five year frame warranty. The other Ebay bikes you mention are built to a price with low-spec components with the exception of the Downtubes which do well in reviews on here.

    You have to choose how versatile a bike you want. Others will disagree, but a day on unpaved roads on a 20" wheel bike can be harsh. If you live in the sticks, think mud, rocks and tyres with bumps on them. Also think regular lube and wheel bearing attention.

    ----

    Edit: I just spent the afternoon in the country, about 20 miles down old railroad tracks, woods and paths. Stuck some 26" x 2" MTB tyres on my road bike, (no suspension) and had a great afternoon. Suspension not an issue, bike very comfortable - I checked the tyre pressure when I got back, it was just 15 psi. A Jack will do the same if you like the bike.
    Last edited by snafu21; 06-12-10 at 10:20 AM.
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  5. #5
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    Thanks snafu, from what I've been reading in other threads you give some consistently good advice.

    If I had the money, I'd buy a couple of them outright, keep the one that works best as an all around commuting bike, and modify the rest.

  6. #6
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    Ta. Have a look around, the cheap folders tend to be just that but Craigslist and Ebay often turn up gems.
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  7. #7
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    I also got my wife a Jack d7 for a destination folder by car. Only thing I've changed on there is the handle bars with a 4 inch rise instead of the 1 inch rise they came with. Now the bike rides like a city cruiser with pretty much no weight on her arms which she doesn't like. Else everything else on the bike is pretty good. Just don't expect to hide it in tight spaces though because in the end it's a 26 inch folding bike. The 7 gears doesn't sound like alot but the range on that should easily tackle the hills in most cities unless you live in san francisco then I find it easier to push the bike up 45 degree inclines .

  8. #8
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    Speed Uno
    Dawes Kingpin 2speed

  9. #9
    BikingYupik BikeKraft's Avatar
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    .Didn't notice any sale going on at Citizen. Is there?
    a driver's test is not an IQ test

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    Yup. Pretty steep sale.

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    So I tried to buy the '05 Dahon Speed P8, but I was outbid on it at literally the last second.
    Part of me still really wants the '09 Jack, mostly for the 26" wheels...

    But then I saw 2 other bikes:

    First, I will try and snag a 2003 (?) Dahon Helios XL, Nexus 7 hub, with a thudbuster seat post (still one of the strangest things I've seen). I've never had a bike that didn't shift via derailleur, but I figured I'd give this bike a try. The gear range is actually more substantial than I had thought it'd be. I think it's something like a 242% range, 35" to 85".

    If that fails, I will go after an '09 D7 that's being sold at a slight discount.

    I also saw an '08 Speed TR and it really has everything I need, but it's waaaay too much money for me. Someday, maybe.

  12. #12
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    D7. They are fine bikes:

    D7..jpg
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  13. #13
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    Nice view, where's that at?
    Reminds me of the ocean view in San Diego. I was staying in a hostel around the corner from the beach, bought a beach cruiser from someone and rode it up and down the board walk all day.

    That is, until I caught the front wheel on a fence post stand in the middle of the night and rode my fist and knee into a wire fence for 10 yards.
    And then my friend was hit by a car on it (he was fine), which severely warped the front wheel.

  14. #14
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    Speed Uno
    Dawes Kingpin 2speed

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    Thanks for those links! I'm going to make a decision within the next couple of days about what I'm going to get.

    If I had my druthers, I'd also be getting one of the many older folders that I've seen for sale as fixer-uppers. But now I've got TWO MTB's from my girlfriend and my roommate that need to be taken down, cleaned, lubed, greased, and rebuilt as they haven't been used in years and were never looked after.

    It's a shame when people leave bikes outside in east coast weather.

  16. #16
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EAPellow View Post
    Nice view, where's that at?

    Lee on Solent, UK, South Coast today, view of Solent, looking west. Island in right of screen is Isle of Wight.
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

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