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silverwolf 06-19-10 06:08 PM

Overcoming Typical Folder Problems
 
I test rode a Dahon today and while it was a good bike noticed a few problems:

1- It seems like anyone over 4'5 would look like a Russian bear-on-a-unicycle, and it proved true today on a 16" bike for me. Is there anything to do but grin and bear it? Do the 20"ers make you look a bit less ridiculous looking?

2- The small wheels seem to make it twitchy, not too much, but noticeably. I couldn't "sit-n-spin" for the whole test ride, is it something you adjust to or do you always need to hold the bars securely? Same with cornering. I am at the opposite end of the spectrum with my other bike with 29s, so maybe it's just an adjustment?

3- On the same token, what about bike trails, paths, and riding through grass and ground with holes and such in it? Basically, lightweight off-road duties. In an emergency, I may need to do this and walking isn't as attractive, paticularly when I already am carrying a backpack. I wasn't able to do so on the test ride of course.

4- What about bearings? Wheel bearings in particular. The wheels, even with gearing to match the road, will be rolling at least 3/4 faster than a typical 26 or 29 inch wheel, does this decrease bearing service life? About what intervals are reccomended for bearing service and replacement?

Foldable Two 06-19-10 06:34 PM

I'm 6'3", have been riding 20" wheeled folders since 2005 and am long passed worrying about how it looks. Ditto for my wife who is 5'8" and a bit more concerned about how others see us.

They aren't twitchy, they are just far more maneuverable than full sized bikes.

Have recently ridden our BF Pocket 8's on a Nature Trail in Missoula, MT and 8-10 miles on the C & O Canal Tow Path. Zero problems with the unpaved terrain, including riding across some grassy areas in DC. Wife is 65 and has never ridden an off-road bike and had no problems. Big holes obviously can cause problems for 20" wheels, however.

We've had zero bearing problems with our previous Dahon D7's or either set of our current Fridays. The Crusoe and NWT are our normal daily rides.

Lou

kegoguinness 06-19-10 06:44 PM

--Twitchiness you get used to; in fact it's nice to have such a responsive bike.
--Fit: get your folder properly fit and you won't look like a circus bear (or at least you won't feel like one)
--off-road: folders do not MTB's make, but they are fine (tire choice of course plays a major role) for unpaved trails, etc.
--no bearing problems for me, either. I am a near-daily folder user.

folderster 06-19-10 07:54 PM

1) You can't blame looking silly on a bike. That's up to you. I'm 6' and if someone made fun of how I looked on my bike I would help them change their mind.

2) It's just a different feel, a different center of gravity. I've come to actually prefer the handling of 20" over larger wheels.

3) You aren't on a mountain bike, but so long as your bike is well-adjusted, in good shape, tires are good, you can do most trail surfaces just fine. My wife does a few miles of gravel and dirt in her daily commute on a six year old bottom of the line Dahon without any trouble.

4) Never had the problem.

jmaher 06-19-10 08:28 PM

I'm 5''8" and people keep stopping to tell me how cool the bikes look (Brompton & Birdy). I think it's all in your viewpoint.

I think they are a little twitchy compared to other bikes but I'm not sure it isn't a good thing.

Short runs over grass, etc are fine.

Jim

JulianEdgar 06-19-10 09:15 PM

Quote:

1- It seems like anyone over 4'5 would look like a Russian bear-on-a-unicycle, and it proved true today on a 16" bike for me. Is there anything to do but grin and bear it? Do the 20"ers make you look a bit less ridiculous looking
Grin and bear it

Quote:

2- The small wheels seem to make it twitchy, not too much, but noticeably. I couldn't "sit-n-spin" for the whole test ride, is it something you adjust to or do you always need to hold the bars securely? Same with cornering. I am at the opposite end of the spectrum with my other bike with 29s, so maybe it's just an adjustment?
Twitchiness depends a lot on individual bike's steering geometry. There's a huge variation between different makes and models.

Quote:

3- On the same token, what about bike trails, paths, and riding through grass and ground with holes and such in it? Basically, lightweight off-road duties. In an emergency, I may need to do this and walking isn't as attractive, paticularly when I already am carrying a backpack. I wasn't able to do so on the test ride of course.
I'd suggest that for adequate comfort you need a folder with front and rear suspension.

Quote:

4- What about bearings? Wheel bearings in particular. The wheels, even with gearing to match the road, will be rolling at least 3/4 faster than a typical 26 or 29 inch wheel, does this decrease bearing service life? About what intervals are reccomended for bearing service and replacement?
Problems don't seem to occur in this regard.

snafu21 06-20-10 02:43 AM

i) One person's twitchy is another's 'nimble'.

ii) Looking silly is in the mind of the owner, unles they are wearing Rapha lycra shorts. In the USA, for example, wearing a baseball cap back-to-front immediately decreases the intelligence of the wearer by 50 per cent. I would suggest; get the folding bike, and ditch the baseball cap and lycra shorts, if you have either.

iii) Wheel bearing wear depends mainly upon the lack of lubrication by the owner. Think Teflon grease, regulary, and a weekly spoke tension check. A Dahon lube job takes 30 minutes for both corners. I do mine every six months. Bottom brackets on the D7 Dahons require the same amount of love.

iv) Potholes, breakdowns and grass can be mitigated by either taking taxis around the obstacle unless you have 'anti-cager' sympathies, :) or by fitting tyres with a higher volume of air at a lower pressure as a simple fluid-dynamics equation will prove. Many hard-riding folder-tifosi have evolved more advanced nervous systems; where pain, jolts, and rashes are something which only happens to other, lesser people.

v) Regarding holding the handlebars, this isn't compulsory, but a lack of control, and a subsequent loss of dental ornaments can result from riding without holding onto anything. I speak from experience. It cannot therefore be recommended, unless you are a circus performer. See note about baseball caps.

vi) 16" wheels, with a suspension frame are said by some to be exceedingly practical. For others, myself included, 20" wheels are the true hallmark of the discerning folding bicycle-ist.

vii) Most breakdowns can be fixed by waving your arms at other folderisti as they pass, or by carrying a credit card sized cellphone. An emergency toolkit for folding bicycles can thus be limited to a pack of marmalade sandwiches to enjoy until another folder rider comes along, and perhaps, a bag of M&Ms. Bananas are also useful in times of emergency, I find.

silverwolf 06-20-10 02:59 PM

Thanks for all the help. Good to know about the bearings having no problems.

Yeah, I'm not really concerned with how I look (despite never wearing a backwards cap or lycra :p) but figured I would ask anyway.

20" look nicer to me. I would like an old bike like a Raliegh Twenty; are they ridiculously expensive? I could spend about $75 on a real project bike (meaning a true beater in need of paint, tires, tubes, chain, cables, spare parts, etc). Or any other old bike really. Even something of less-than-great quality, just to play around with for a while before I decide on a really good one.

LOL at the breakdown advice snafu21, at least here in Houston there are barely any cyclists at all let alone folderisti. A tiny underseat bag with a multi-tool would probably do alright.

And thanks for the offroading advice, light trails and such should be fine. Being a folding bike I could just pick it up or even fold it down and carry it for really difficult terrain.

HGR3inOK 06-20-10 05:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by silverwolf (Post 10991300)
... I could spend about $75 on a real project bike (meaning a true beater in need of paint, tires, tubes, chain, cables, spare parts, etc). ...

Consider a "Garage Sale" Dahon Boardwalk from ThorUSA.com. See:
http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/accessories/oneoff.htm
It's a very good entry-level folder at, IMHO, a great price. :)

wahoonc 06-20-10 06:28 PM

I ride Raleigh Twentys.

I don't worry about how I look, actually the look on some faces when I roll by at a good clip is priceless :thumb:

The only 16" wheeled bike I can make fit is a Brompton...so I ride Twentys.

Mine does grass, gravel, pavement, sidewalks and some mild single track with no problems. I repack wheel bearings once a year whether they need it or not, but I have the old style bearings and cones.

Raleigh Twentys seem to sell for an average price of ~$175 depending on condition. I have seen one go for $300 for an excellent condition, looked like new. I have barely functioning ones go for as low as $25. Mine were in the middle, price and condition wise. If you buy a basic frame expect to spend MONEY to fix it up or hot rod one.

Aaron:)

snafu21 06-21-10 12:24 AM

^^^^

Yes, fixing up bikes costs dough. The cult US value for money bike is the Downtube FS - great ride quality, not over-priced, and holds its value.

The new Downtube Nova also looks desirable too, and currently they are on sale. Otherwise, a trawl of Craigslist might produce results.


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