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Old 06-16-10, 11:53 PM   #1
SunnyFlorida
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What's the average speed of a folding bike?

I'm looking for a second bike to supplement my beloved trike and I'm wondering if a folding bike might be the answer.

I'm assuming that a folding bike weighs less than the average 14 inch frame hybrid bike. Is that so?

I do like the bare bones look of it, strangely enough. Also, I like the fact that I can fold it up and put it away when company comes a calling. The relatively low-step frame is appealing too.

My only question is how fast can it go on 20 inch tires? It's not that it has to go at super sonic speed for me. However, I definitely don't want to go slower or at the same speed on the FB than I do on my trike.

My game plan is to use the FB for longer distances (5-10 miles) where bike lanes/paths are available.

I'm basically considering a Dahon EC0 3 or Eco 2 .

Both bikes have a short distance between the seat post and handlebars that I should be able to reach comfortably.

I'm a little on the small statute side and so the handlebar reach is an issue, especially when I see that most FB have fixed handlebars.
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Old 06-17-10, 01:03 AM   #2
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The speed of a folding bike depends mainly on the legs of the occupant, and the range of gearing present on the bicycle.

Tall people tend to have more leverage, shorter people tend to have less windage. People with more money tend to have more gears, or lighter bikes, or both.

I can get up to 22 mph on my mid-price Dahon D7, but I'm tallish and full of wind. The top speed before you spin the pedals off on the Eco looks to be about 18 Mph or so. I've seen 30 mph downhill with a gale behind me, then I got skeered.

Step-thru frames are very convenient, as are fold up bikes.

Folders with 16" or 20" wheels weigh from about 9 to 15 Kg, mine weighs 12 as does the Eco. My MTB weighs 12Kg too. My average on the flat is about 16 mph.

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Old 06-17-10, 07:02 AM   #3
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I can cruise around 12-13mph on my single speed strida (16 inch tires) but then I have a tendency to think i'm in spinning class when i'm on that thingy. I really have to update to those 18 inch tires when I get a chance

with the eco 3 that you are interested in, it looks like the 4th gear of that will be around the same gear inches as mine. but then you probably be able to squeeze out 1-2 more mph with the ability to up another gear and still be at a comfortable cadence.

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Old 06-17-10, 07:25 AM   #4
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First and foremost, pretty much any folding bike can handle 5-10 miles.

To elaborate.... There is a huge variety in types of folding bikes. Some will be designed for speed, some for comfort, and so forth.

When comparing similar bikes -- e.g. a "folding commuter bike" to a "non-folding commuter bike" -- performance is about the same. The folder will likely be more expensive and a little less comfortable, a situation that can be adjusted by using wider tires (which will result in a small performance penalty). A handful of very expensive folders (e.g. Moultons) will be on par with normal bikes in terms of both performance and speed.

The Eco3 is a low-end basic folder. It weighs 26 lbs, and will perform about as well as a $300 hybrid. You will not have any options to adjust the reach. As such, I highly recommend you do a test ride to see if it fits.
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Old 06-17-10, 08:59 AM   #5
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Thanks for all the quick feedback guys.

There's only two places, so far, that offer folding bikes here. However, I've visited both shops before when looking for a regular bike and I wasn't impressed with their general selection.

Something tells me that their folding bikes will probably be in some dark dusty corner along with the trikes.

Whatever the case, I'll see what they have. I just want to sit on one to get the general feel of it.

Before I go shopping I'm going to have a friend remeasure my normal arm reach to the handlebars on my trike (tough to do by yourself) just to get a ballpark idea

If I see the folding bike is doeable with a shorter arm reach, then I'll order online. I'll probably be researching a lot of folders before I order though.

Wish me luck.
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Old 06-17-10, 09:24 AM   #6
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> What's the average speed of a folding bike?


Would that be an African or European folding bike?
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Old 06-17-10, 09:26 AM   #7
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try downtube.com we just got our's and they seem to be a quality bike for a reasonable price.
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Old 06-17-10, 10:51 AM   #8
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According to my cyclocomputer, the average speed on my bike is 11.3 mph. That includes walking in the train station, and walking from the coffee vender to my office, and that kind of thing. Actually riding the bike, I can maintain a speed in the 15-19 mph range pretty much indefinitely, and for a short while I can hit 25 mph on level ground. On a downhill I've hit 36 mph.

But you know, speed isn't what a folding bike is all about. For my purposes, the best feature of the folding bike is that I can fold it up and take it on public transportation. According to my gps, the fastest I've gone with that bike is 100 mph; apparently the NJTransit trains are limited to 100 mph. Yes, the bike goes 100 mph while I'm asleep! Of course, I'm not riding it at the time, but still... you can't do that with the non-folding model!
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Old 06-17-10, 11:07 AM   #9
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I find that any difference in speed between my full-sized bike and my break-apart bike can be accounted for by riding position (my "little" bike is full-on upright) and gearing (3 speed folder vs. a much higher range set up on my full-sized bike). Even with my smaller-wheeled, older, more upright bike with fewer gears, the difference in my commuting time is very small, but my wife has commented that when we ride together, I'm easier to keep up with on the folder.

In my experience, speed is more dependent on riding style, rider fitness, and bike geometry/gearing/weight than it is by wheel size/foldability of the bike.

But if it's important to you, you might want to pay look closely at the weight. I'm not sure that a folding bike will necessarily be lighter than a larger bike (I'm pretty certain that my ancient, break-apart bike is heavier than the hybrid I had last year). I had assumed that smaller, folding bikes would be, on the whole, lighter than a full-sized bike. The reality is that, like full-sized bikes, folders run the gamut, and I would say that in general they weigh about the same as a comparable full-sized bike. They are smaller, but often use extra materials to get the same amount of strength in a smaller package. Also they generally require extra material, and extra strong (and therefore heavier) parts at their folding joints. But, just like full-sized bikes, you can always go lighter by removing options and paying more for lighter components. I don't really think there's a weight penalty for folding bikes, but nor do I think their is necessarily a weight advantage, so if that's an issue, I would just pay close attention to the published weights of bikes you are considering.
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Old 06-17-10, 01:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feijai View Post
> What's the average speed of a folding bike?


Would that be an African or European folding bike?
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Old 06-17-10, 02:28 PM   #11
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> What's the average speed of a folding bike?


Would that be an African or European folding bike?
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Old 06-17-10, 03:02 PM   #12
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it goes decently fast.

key thing is to have a better aerodynamic body position than upright.
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Old 06-17-10, 03:23 PM   #13
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I assume that you are referring to a recumbent trike as the comparison? I am experienced on Greenspeed GT3 and GTR trikes, and have made three of my own trikes. The trikes have had from 27 to 81 gears.

I have owned Brompton (6 gears) and Birdy ( 24 gears) folding bikes, and have occasionally ridden full size bikes.

It needs to be said that in general, I am also a pretty slow rider.

I found the Brompton and the trikes to be similar in speed. But in my riding, the Birdy is clearly faster than any of the trikes, and also the Brompton.

My conclusion is therefore that if you buy a good quality folding bike with lots of gears, it will be faster than the trike.
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Old 06-17-10, 04:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SunnyFlorida View Post

Both bikes have a short distance between the seat post and handlebars that I should be able to reach comfortably.

I'm a little on the small statute side and so the handlebar reach is an issue, especially when I see that most FB have fixed handlebars.
They may be out of your price range, but if you really want a light, fast bike made for a small person, check out the Bike Friday petite models (http://community.bikefriday.com/node/1679).
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Old 06-17-10, 05:23 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SunnyFlorida View Post
Thanks for all the quick feedback guys.

There's only two places, so far, that offer folding bikes here. However, I've visited both shops before when looking for a regular bike and I wasn't impressed with their general selection.

Something tells me that their folding bikes will probably be in some dark dusty corner along with the trikes.

Whatever the case, I'll see what they have. I just want to sit on one to get the general feel of it.

Before I go shopping I'm going to have a friend remeasure my normal arm reach to the handlebars on my trike (tough to do by yourself) just to get a ballpark idea

If I see the folding bike is doeable with a shorter arm reach, then I'll order online. I'll probably be researching a lot of folders before I order though.

Wish me luck.
The ideas present before are excellent at giving a general feel of what folding bikes are like in the fit and handling department. But as you seem to point out above, nothing beats test rides on not one but several in various makes even a model range within any given make.

I would add the best way to buy or select one is to buy from a good knowledgeable dealer even if you have to go some distance to buy. Online is excellent for the experienced buyer of folding bikes, especially people who work on their own bikes rather than taking them to bike shops. If you are new to folding bikes, it is better that you make a face-to-face transaction with a bike shop that will service it in case of problems. Whatever you decide, buy a good quality name brand one with a warranty. Online returns of any sort can be hell.

Last edited by folder fanatic; 06-19-10 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 06-17-10, 05:33 PM   #16
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If you get a Swift, fit good quality wheels (but still lots cheaper than roadie wheels), good narrow tyres, don't weigh the bike down with paraphernalia, it will be indistinguishable from a roadie.
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Old 06-17-10, 06:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feijai View Post
> What's the average speed of a folding bike?


Would that be an African or European folding bike?
Laden, or unladen?
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Old 06-17-10, 06:50 PM   #18
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it's a matter of weight ratios. a 25 pound folder could not carry a 250 pound coconut.

okay - maybe an African folder then...

or supposing two folders carried it together...
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Old 06-17-10, 08:28 PM   #19
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The cops around here put up the radar display and it flashes your speed when you're speeding. So far on flat level ground, 26mph on my Twenty, 28 mph on my Legnano, 29 on my tote cycle and 25 on my 1968 16" Schwinn Run-A-Bout.
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Old 06-18-10, 07:48 AM   #20
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... 29 on my tote cycle ...
How do you have that thing geared? I mean I'm sure part of it is that I'm a slow rider, but even so, I can't imagine a situation where my Tote/Cycle was my speediest rid. I've alternated between single speed and a 3 speed hub, but can't figure out how to get any more gears in it without losing the rear brake. I did see on Tote-Cycle modded with a full gear cluster in the back, but it had no rear brake.
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Old 06-18-10, 07:56 AM   #21
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Laden, or unladen?
...I...I don't know....Arrrghhh
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Old 06-18-10, 08:03 AM   #22
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If you get a Swift, fit good quality wheels (but still lots cheaper than roadie wheels), good narrow tyres, don't weigh the bike down with paraphernalia, it will be indistinguishable from a roadie.
Hmmm, I could challenge that, Jur, it depends on the engine........perhaps if we all meet, say in the UK and everybody brings their bikes, I'll bring my Specialized racing machine........ see what happens.
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Old 06-18-10, 08:45 AM   #23
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Don't misunderstand, with roadie I mean roadbike. So engine does not enter into it. My friend, you need to get a ride on a Swift.
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Old 06-18-10, 09:36 AM   #24
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Stevegor sed: ..perhaps if we all meet, say in the UK and everybody brings their bikes, I'll bring my Specialized racing machine........ see what happens.

You are all hereby dubbed Associate Members of the Hyde Park Folding Bicycle Society. (Waves arm, mysteriously.)

To qualify for full membership and the pies, just turn up for a meeting, and proffer the secret 'funny handshake'. You will be instantly welcomed.

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Old 06-18-10, 05:05 PM   #25
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Don't misunderstand, with roadie I mean roadbike. So engine does not enter into it. My friend, you need to get a ride on a Swift.
Don't I know that, or a real nice Moulton.

You see Jur, even though I ride the big bikes as well, wear lycra and have shiny non hirsute legs.... and sit in coffee shops on Sat mornings, my heart is with the little bikes, the hobbits of the cycling world. I love the way we can embarrass boof-headed bikies with our small wheels..... sometimes.
We will meet one day, maybe then I get to ride a Swift?


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Stevegor sed: ..perhaps if we all meet, say in the UK and everybody brings their bikes, I'll bring my Specialized racing machine........ see what happens.

You are all hereby dubbed Associate Members of the Hyde Park Folding Bicycle Society. (Waves arm, mysteriously.)

To qualify for full membership and the pies, just turn up for a meeting, and proffer the secret 'funny handshake'. You will be instantly welcomed.
snafu21,

Can I call you snaf?..... I have been longing vehemently for years to travel to the UK to visit my wife's family, when I get there my R20 is coming for a tour and I will take you up on that invitation.

Last edited by stevegor; 06-18-10 at 05:08 PM. Reason: Add
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