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  1. #1
    Bike Nerd Mr. Jim's Avatar
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    Talk to me about 16 vs 20 and other stuff

    Greetings, long time BF member, first post in folding bikes. Let me explain why i have jumped from commuting/touring up to here.

    I have had dozens of bikes, been carfree most of my life and currently am down to two bikes. My lovely Surly LHT and an older Fuji I use for a beater bike. I bought the LHT after much thought and research into the perfect bike for commuting with some long distance touring thrown in. It worked great for both

    UNTIL

    I got laid off, changed jobs, cities, and apartments. My new place is much smaller, I got rid of three bikes, keeping only my favorites. However lugging my LHT up and down a narrow flight of stairs has gotten old quick, I even pulled my touring racks from it to lighten it up, still a hassle. I decided a folder might be the answer. I love doing new bike research so I plunged right in. Now I have some questions, but first answers to common things you guys are gonna ask me.

    I'm 5'8" 170 lbs. I typically ride a smaller frame than normal due to a short torso (scoliosis)

    New commute is flat and less than a mile, same for the grocery store and local restaurants, I'm keeping the LHT for longer stuff.

    I know bikes (but not folders), I prefer acceptable quality, mid range components are ok for my riding.

    I have done searchs on this forum and read everything pertinent back for about 12 pages now on the folding forum.

    I have looked at most available folding bikes websites and compared models.

    Now my questions for you.

    How different is the ride from 20's to 16's? I have ridden a Giant with 20 inch wheels, no 16's around to test out. The Giant was amazingly quick and agile. Liked the bike, not a huge fan of the shop itself, long story there.

    How clumsy are common 20 inch wheeled bikes to lug up narrow stairs (Dahon spd 7, Downtube Nova, Citizien Gotham etc)

    Are 16 inch wheeled bikes that much more compact? (excluding the Brompton, I know that one is)

    I would love to hear a review from an actual owner of a Citizien Tokyo 16, regarding ride and ease of lugging about.

    Now my criteria, ease of folding, portability, decent ride quaility and ability to go get groceries in that order.

    That said, yes it appears the Brompton wins . I'm kinda looking for an alternative since a new one is out of reach and used are rare and overpriced in the states. I have friends in Great Britain and am exploring getting a used one brought over as luggage possibly next month, but not sure if that is going to work out. I was (with their help) able to locate several in the London area for around the $400 dollar price point, some were obviously stolen of course and we'll avoid those.

    BF has never let me down and I know no one can answer all my questions so please help out with the ones you can answer. BTW brand new Brompton speced to my taste with the front bag ran about $1400
    Jim
    my bikes
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  2. #2
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    The dahon curve has 16" rims and is very compact but not quite as compact as the Brompton. I have the curve in my car and definitely smaller than my MuXl. The curve has a 3 speed and weighs about 25# Thor has one of the last 2009 with an 8 speed hub and they weigh around 22# and for $699 are a good deal. http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/2009/curvesl.htm.
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  3. #3
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that most folding bikes are not particularly light. E.g. a standard Brompton (16") starts out around 25 lbs. Bromptons also happen to have the most compact fold.

    Obviously it'll be easier to manage, as a folded bike is less bulky. But you won't save an awful lot of weight by getting a folding bike, unless you plunk down a significant chunk of change.

    Didn't you keep this in mind when you moved?

  4. #4
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    I have a Brompton, a Birdy and a Surly Cross Check. The Surly is a great bike but I would not want to carry it up or down stairs either. From my perspective the Birdy is the better ride of the folders I have or of the two inexpensive Dahons a friend has. That gives you a 20 - 18 and 16 comparison. Now if you asked which one I would rather carry up and down a flight of stairs the Brompton would win hands down. If your average ride is only a mile (or 2) I would go with the Brompton. The easy fold and ease of carry would sway me. More than the mile or two and the Birdy pulls ahead - it's also light and folds OK. I have no experience with the higher priced Dahons.

    Jim
    Last edited by jmaher; 06-16-10 at 04:03 PM.

  5. #5
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    One more thing - the Brompton and Birdy may not weigh less than the Surly (or maybe even as much as I have a well specked out Surly) but they feel it when being carried because of their compact shape.

    Jim

  6. #6
    I... Don't care. nekohime's Avatar
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    Agility is better in 16in wheels, I think. As for lugging it up and down stairs, 16in bikes do have a more compact fold, but some 20in bikes (like the MuSL) are lighter than their 16in counterparts and may be easier to carry weight-wise.
    Wanna join my charity folding bike ride? Sign-up here!
    Quote Originally Posted by AEO View Post
    you should learn to embrace change, and mock it's failings every step of the way :p

  7. #7
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    I am a 65Kg weakling. I lug my 11.8Kg Vitesse D7 around without problems. It's much easier than lifting the 14kg Matrix I had up two flights of stairs, but even that wasn't much of an effort, when two bags of groceries weighs more.

    The bike's Arclite rack has a little 'spoiler' on the back for carrying. When the bike is folded, and the saddle is turned to face the rear wheel, it forms the other handle. I can carry mine with one hand under the saddle the 75 yards from the car to the apartment.

    Bromptons, they say, are easier to carry - the fold is more compact, but we have a thread going here which says they shove your head around at 1G, riding on rough paddocks. Ride a Brompton before you import one from Blighty?

    I've never ridden one though.

    An old guy near me in his 70's has a Dahon D7 and a Brompton, and gets them both up two flights of stairs to his apartment with little cussing.

    Also, the tyres fitted to the bikes make a huge difference to ride quality, as you know, and comparing bikes directly is made more difficult because of this.
    Last edited by snafu21; 06-16-10 at 04:24 PM.
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  8. #8
    Bike Nerd Mr. Jim's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, I am still considering a Brompton but may take another look at the curve. One thing I have heard is that many folders have a tendency to not stay folded when picked up, certainly the giant I rode is like that. Anyone know if the Curve has this tendency (probably easily fixed with a bungie cord) or not?
    Jim
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  9. #9
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    The Curve has magnets as do other Dahons.
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  10. #10
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    From the looks of things you want light, and for the lightest folder you can get easily in the states might be a strida LT ($600 usd)

    http://areaware.com/proddetail.asp?p...15&subCatID=79

    weighing in at 22lbs.
    the ride unlike other bikes is very unique and unconventional though which you might want to try it out first before you buy (people either hate or love the strida there's no inbetween), but after a day of riding for me it felt weird to get back on a normal bike. The bike is single speed which is ok for your short commute and flat terrain, also without gears means there is very little maintenance on the drivetrain because of the belt. and you can try fit a pannier on that tiny rack and later upgrade it with the metal racks they sell. While walking with it you don't really have to carry the entire 22lbs but more like roll it around. at least the LT version will not break your budget.

    Since this is like one of those weird not really common bikes like the brompton you might not see them for sale often on craigslist. I find lots of used Dahons though if you are going that route.
    Last edited by Azreal911; 06-16-10 at 04:44 PM.

  11. #11
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    This is from Thors site and looking at the middle picture, you can see the magnets on the front fork and rear chainstay.
    http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/technical/brommy.htm
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  12. #12
    Senior Member JulianEdgar's Avatar
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    Bromptons, they say, are easier to carry - the fold is more compact, but we have a thread going here which says they shove your head around at 1G, riding on rough paddocks. Ride a Brompton before you import one from Blighty?
    All other things being equal, which they may not be, the smaller the wheels, the poorer the ride quality - ie the more that bump accelerations get transmitted to the rider. That happens on all roads, not just rough paddocks. Many people are completely unworried by this, but others develop neck / shoulder / back pain from the harsh ride quality. On unsuspended small wheeled bikes I don't develop specific areas of pain but I find the ride tiring. The Brompton runs short-travel rear suspension that is better than having no suspension, but it still has a very harsh ride.

    I have a Brompton and a Birdy, and have ridden lots of Yeah folders (similar to Dahons). As a folder for carrying up stairs, the Brompton is fantastic, and it is a bike that changed my whole conception of what bikes can be. As a bike for riding, the Birdy is far ahead of the Brompton, but in comparison to the Brompton, its folded shape is much larger and more awkward to carry. I run modified rear suspension on the Birdy, and have fitted a sprung seat, and together with the standard front suspension, the ride quality approaches a good, large-wheeled bike.
    Last edited by JulianEdgar; 06-16-10 at 05:37 PM.

  13. #13
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    Magnets: the Dahon system is good, but not foolproof. The Brompton fold locks up super-solid when completed. I had a Dahon Speed P8 in bus luggage in its soft bag once--the driver, handling it, ended up having it open on him, severely pinching his finger in the hinge. He was right pissed at me. Not really Dahon's fault here--if he'd held it by the bag's handles he'd have been fine. But it does illustrate the difference.

    I have a 2nd-floor apartment and have lugged my Cross Check up & down the stairs for days at a time. I don't love it but it's doable. The Brompton handles is much easier to handle, but I still have to be careful not to bang it into doors and such, especially when I'm also carrying the front bag I use with it.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Jim View Post
    ... I'm 5'8" 170 lbs. I typically ride a smaller frame than normal due to a short torso (scoliosis) ... New commute is flat and less than a mile, same for the grocery store and local restaurants, I'm keeping the LHT for longer stuff. ...
    You might consider a "Garage Sale" Dahon Boardwalk if Thor has any left. See: http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/accessories/oneoff.htm I think you can find out a lot about what you like and don't like with this "basic" folder. It may be all you need for now. If you keep it in good shape, you should be able to sell it quickly on Craigslist for >$100.

  15. #15
    Bike Nerd Mr. Jim's Avatar
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    hmm the Garage sale Boardwalk looks like a good deal, might be a good introduction to folders.

    Thanks for the heads up on the magnets, really can't beat the deal on that boardwalk.
    Jim
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    1970s (or 80s) fuji touring with a Yakima Big Tow
    2008 Surly LHT with Axiom Racks and SKS Fenders (for sale)
    Mid 80's Cannondale Road Bike

  16. #16
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    Good call on the Boardwalk! Utah bikes has a SA 3 speed hub/wheel for $50. http://www.utahtrikes.com/PRODINFO-S...Wheel_Kit.html this way you can have a 3 speed boardwalk.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member
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    If you want to go crazy you can do an 8 speed also http://www.utahtrikes.com/PRODINFO-S...Wheel_Kit.html
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  18. #18
    Bike Nerd Mr. Jim's Avatar
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    Ok that sold me, i will continue to look into getting a brompton, but think I will snag one of those Boardwalks and a three speed wheel. Gives me a 3 spd boardwalk for under $200
    Jim
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    2008 Surly LHT with Axiom Racks and SKS Fenders (for sale)
    Mid 80's Cannondale Road Bike

  19. #19
    jur
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    Someone here once showed that with a shoulder strap that hooks around some bits, a folder can be supported by the shoulder and become very easy to carry. Maybe in the sticky backpack thread?
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  20. #20
    Bike Nerd Mr. Jim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    Someone here once showed that with a shoulder strap that hooks around some bits, a folder can be supported by the shoulder and become very easy to carry. Maybe in the sticky backpack thread?
    Yup, found it

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...=1#post8832736
    Jim
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    1970s (or 80s) fuji touring with a Yakima Big Tow
    2008 Surly LHT with Axiom Racks and SKS Fenders (for sale)
    Mid 80's Cannondale Road Bike

  21. #21
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    Believe it or not but the titanium single speed no rack, mudguards etc. Brompton weighs in at just under 9kilos or under 19 lbs. My S1E which is a single speed without TI is about 22lbs.


    As far as other folders not staying together when folded just carry a piece of Velcro with you as i did with my Dahons and strap it together,very effective.
    Last edited by ddez; 06-16-10 at 10:15 PM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    ^^^^

    ... and the velcro strap can double as a pants protector, or 'bicycle clip' as the English call them.
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  23. #23
    Senior Member GeorgePaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Jim View Post
    hmm the Garage sale Boardwalk looks like a good deal, might be a good introduction to folders.
    @Mr. Jim: I own a Boardwalk and I can assure you that there are good reasons why it is priced so low. The higher-end Dahons have better components and are much nicer. I'm planning to sell my Boardwalk this summer.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgePaul View Post
    ... I own a Boardwalk and I can assure you that there are good reasons why it is priced so low. The higher-end Dahons have better components and are much nicer. ...
    I have owned a 2005 Boardwalk D7. I currently have a 2008 Speed P8. The Speed P8 is significantly nicer than the Boardwalk, but it cost more. The Boardwalk, IMHO, is a good value at its normal price. Thor's Garage Sale price is, I believe, an excellent value.

  25. #25
    Bike Nerd Mr. Jim's Avatar
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    It is an excellent value, however I rode a boardwalk today and believe I would quickly grow disenchanted with it. I am still looking into getting a Brompton imported from England with one of my friends that travels quite a bit. For now I think i have gravitated back to this one.

    http://www.citizenbike.com/catalog.a...&product_id=24

    I know some folks on this forum have a poor opinion of the quality of these, would love to hear from an owner of this model.
    Jim
    my bikes
    Bike Friday NWT (coming soon)
    1970s (or 80s) fuji touring with a Yakima Big Tow
    2008 Surly LHT with Axiom Racks and SKS Fenders (for sale)
    Mid 80's Cannondale Road Bike

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