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Folding Bikes Discuss the unique features and issues of folding bikes. Also a great place to learn what folding bike will work best for your needs.

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Old 03-06-11, 03:23 PM   #1
nstone
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Folder recommendation

I want a folding bike. Here are my reasons:

1) I want to tour, but not just to and from my apartment. The expense and inconvenience of traveling by train, bus and plane with a full size bike is discouraging. A folder is the obvious solution.

2) I ride a full-sized fixed gear. I'd like to have a free-wheel, multi-speed - something at least close to a road bike - as well that won't take up too much space in my small apartment. Ideally something that I can take on the train for rides further afield. I'd be just as happy with a 3-speed hub as with a 9-speed derailleur as long as the bike can handle longer rides at a decent speed (maybe 17 mph).

I've looked at all of the big names. Bike Fridays are, of course, very nice, but they're quite expensive and don't seem to fold very easily. The Swift Folder felt like a big bike and is pretty versatile, but the fold, although fast, isn't very small and I generally prefer steel over aluminum frames. I recently test rode a Brompton and was shocked by the ride quality. However, I'm not sure how well it's suited for long rides/tours. Dahons seem harder to travel with and nerdy (I am an image-conscious cyclist). As you can see, I'm pretty indecisive.

Any advice? Obviously every folder has advantages and disadvantages, so I appreciate any input on these bikes or suggestions for others to consider.
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Old 03-06-11, 03:33 PM   #2
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Bike Friday was my first thought, how much do you want to spend?
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Old 03-06-11, 03:44 PM   #3
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I'm trying to rationalize selling off my Brompton, as I just made a commitment to get a Pocket Llama.

the Brommy is a Mx2, UK AW3 speed , significantly I've upgraded the rear latch ,
replaced frame shim, around the seat post. new brake shoes, and added a blinkie/reflector on the rear rack.
and got an extended seat post.
It has a Bottle Dynamo. but I just use the blinkie and a battery headlight I can put in my pocket..
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Old 03-06-11, 03:50 PM   #4
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The more I look at these bikes, the more I'm willing to spend. No way I could afford a custom Bike Friday, but maybe one of the stock models. My max is probably about $1,400. I'd like to spend as little as possible without getting something that I'll just want or need to replace in a few years.
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Old 03-06-11, 03:55 PM   #5
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This looks like a good deal on a Tikit http://cgi.ebay.com/frame-just-I-mea...item3cb5cff245
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Old 03-06-11, 03:58 PM   #6
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I've been commuting on my Bike Friday Tikit Hyperfold (5 sec. fold) for about 6 months and love it. It accommodates a folding, full-size rear rack (I have the standard BF) and front pannier racks. The Tikit comes with a "quick cover" (spandex/ nylon) which folds into an attached pouch. It is often mistaken for a musical instrument when carried indoors. I routinely carry 25-30 lbs. on my back and it has proven comfortable for me. It isn't the lightest available, but it absorbs the road and is solid. Turning corners at speed with no hands should reflect its stability (and my insanity). As far as touring, you could probably do better. This bike serves the urban commuter and "light" tourer a bit better. Other BF models may fare better strictly for touring, but do not fold as fast or as compact. Check out "http://bike.jaxed.com" as an alternative search engine. Good luck.
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Old 03-06-11, 04:07 PM   #7
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Have a look at 14R's Brommie - just up your alley.
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Old 03-06-11, 05:04 PM   #8
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Have a look at 14R's Brommie - just up your alley.
Sweet ride. How's speed on a Brompton? What about the six speed hub? Tikit looks cool, a little Brompton-esque.
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Old 03-06-11, 05:12 PM   #9
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Sustained rides at 17 mph may be asking a bit from a folding bike since most folding bikes do not give a very aerodynamic seating position and those that do either don't fold quickly or really aren't set up for touring. If the quick fold is not that important, you should look at a BF. It should meet the other parameters.
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Old 03-06-11, 05:31 PM   #10
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nstone,

ALL folding bikes that will give you a road bike feel will come with a cost: They will be from a small inconvenience to a complete pain in the ass to pack and travel with. That includes Bike Friday, Xtoor, Birdy, modified downtube, Dahons, etc...if playing the mechanic is just as much fun as riding for you, I suggest any of the mini-velos from Dahon like the smooth hound or the Dash X20



If spending 30 minutes to one hour putting your bike inside internationally accepted luggage + 20 minutes or so assembling it back together upon arrival is a big turn off for you (like it is for me), you might be stuck with limited options:

Moulton:



http://www.moultonbicycles.co.uk/models.html

Or any bike with S&S Couplings:



http://www.sandsmachine.com/fbplist.htm


These options will still require lots of money AND spending time to put things together before riding. but it will be faster than the options presented previously.

If you want something out of the box that can cruise at 14-16 mph and go 18-19 on "training mode", you might want to by a Brompton and modify it like I did.



With about $1100 for the Brompton and about $500 on upgrades, you can get really close to what I got. Mine is currently for sale on e-bay, with 37 people watching it. All homework and labor done, but might not be a perfect fit for you (if you don't like red, for an example). It is NOT the fastest bike, but it is the only hassle free bike to travel AND keep up with the roadies, spandex and carbon fiber characters. This bike is less then 90 seconds from being ready to go. Anywhere.

Good luck on your final decision, please come back and let us know what you end up doing. Others can benefit from your selection process using the search feature in the future.

Last edited by 14R; 03-06-11 at 05:34 PM. Reason: added links
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Old 03-06-11, 06:00 PM   #11
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Good input. I'm not wild about Dahons. The up-market models are generally made of aluminum and if I'm getting an aluminum bike, I'd probably save a few dollars and go with the swift. Couplers are great for airline travel, but don't solve the issue of space in my apartment and also look like they require a pretty costly travel case. I'd get a moulton if I could afford one, I hear nothing but raving about them.

That's an interesting Brompton, especially with those TT bars. Nice to hear that someone could keep up with the spandex folk on one. Did you get what you wanted out of it?
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Old 03-06-11, 07:05 PM   #12
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That's an interesting Brompton, especially with those TT bars. Nice to hear that someone could keep up with the spandex folk on one. Did you get what you wanted out of it?
Yes, this bike is a dream. The only thing that could replace this bike (IMO) would be a Moulton. As soon as I bring the bike specific cash flow up to a level, I am going to buy another Brompton and upgrade it really close to what I have done to this one.

On a side note, what about a steel Mini Velo with S&S Couplers? Soma came up with one recently, BD is coming with 2 in May:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/somafab/5414940260/


The final product will be inferior to my Brompton, but you can save some money if you have the luxury of time to wait 'till May + S&S instalation.
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Old 03-06-11, 10:07 PM   #13
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Over the years I've been trying to refine my fly-cycle package ( in order of purchase )

Ritchey Breakaway Cross : a 700c splitting frame cross/light touring bike.
Airnimal Rhino : 406/20" folding MTB
Dahon Smooth Hound : 406/20" splitting frame touring bike
Moulton/Pashley TRS30 : 406/20" splitting frame touring bike
Brompton S6EX : 349/16" folding bike.

The biggest problem with the first 4 bikes is that major disassembly is required to get them into a 62 linear inch package. Typically this involves spending the best part of an hour at each end breaking down and reassembling the bike : removing the forks - for fit and the derailleur and cranks for protection.

If you can live with that , the Ritchey Breakaway concept might suit you, but the Cross frame is a bit unstable when loaded with only rear carriers - perhaps the Dahon Tournado might be a better option ( for both the standard case is over 62" ) http://www.dahon.com/bikes/2011/tournado

For short break and business relaxation these days it's only the Brompton, which folds instantly into a regulation case, that I can be bothered with.
Sure it's got twitchy handling, but that's quickly adapted to and soon forgotten about.

However if I was to do another New Zealand tour of 3 weeks - then I would take the effort of packing the TSR30, as it's the most accomplished handling of all the bikes.

Last edited by IslandHopper; 03-06-11 at 10:16 PM.
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Old 03-06-11, 10:46 PM   #14
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Easily fitting into a suitcase is important to me too. I have traveled with the Mini, the Birdy and the Moulton APB. The Moulton was by far the most work, major disassembly was involved. At the end of that exercise I became convinced I wouldn't do it again with a Moulton overseas. The Birdy was quite OK, as was the Mini.
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Old 03-07-11, 03:58 AM   #15
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A steel Swift? It will pack into a "standard" size suitcase if you don't mind doing a little surgery at each end. I'd think it would be up for some touring -- the only gotcha I've run into is heel strike with some panniers.

That said, all the suggestions above make sense as well.
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Old 03-07-11, 06:12 AM   #16
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Sounds like a lot of these folders don't fly so well. An hour of work on both ends seems like a bit much for a bike designed for convenience. I could take apart a full-sized bike in the same time (albeit without avoiding an oversize baggage charge).

Considering the apparent inconvenience of traveling with a non-Brompton folder, a mini-velo with couplers is an appealing option. Maybe it would have more a full-size feel than a folder (definitely has at least more of a full size look)? The Soma that 14R brought up looks fabulous, but $1,200 plus around $450 for coupler installation is a bit much.

Sounds like the Brompton wins convenience by a long shot, but this mini-velo suggestion is intriguing.

The steel swift is cool, too. But they seem a bit hard to come by. I tested an aluminum swift and felt like it wasn't the most carefully built equipment (maybe you get what you pay for).
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Old 03-07-11, 08:29 AM   #17
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Quote:
Sounds like the Brompton wins convenience by a long shot, but this mini-velo suggestion is intriguing.
The Brompton packs in seconds. The Tikit and various Dahons pack in, I dunno, about 30 minutes for me -- I'm not good at it -- but Rob English does it in his video in 8 minutes including lots of talking. Other Bike Fridays pack in about that time too.

The Brompton also folds beautifully small: but the Tikit hyperfold folds beautifully fast. Most other Bike Fridays are not amazing at folding (they're really designed to pack and ride well), nor is the Swift. Though the new folding stem for non-Tikits helps matters. Dahons are inelegant folders though they're generally more compact than the Tikit and more elegant than other BF or the Swift.

But, and this is a big but, in my opinion the Tikit and *definitely* other BFs are better rides than the Brompton, especially for longer distances. Bike Friday's bikes are highly customizable and upgradable with standard parts: they can be sized to fit you properly, and they're much stabler. And in the US BF has an Apple-like customer satisfaction rating.

So given that you expressed interest in longer rides, before you pick up your Brompton, you should go check out a Tikit (at least) and ideally one of BFs "bigger" bikes.

Last edited by feijai; 03-07-11 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 03-07-11, 08:32 AM   #18
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I just came back from a business trip to San Antonio Tx. I brought my Dahon Mu P8. Rented a car and rode in Austin, and the Hill Country.. I could have used a lower gear on the hills, but the bike performed well. It fits in a suitcase, and folds quick enough. Great bike. If you need more gears look a other Dahon options. MU P8 weighs about 24 Lbs.
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Old 03-07-11, 08:44 AM   #19
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The real question now is Do you want to spend time playing with your bike before riding AND have a road bike replacement OR do you want a bike that is fun to ride AND ready in seconds, but will not win any road race?

If you choose the first, a steel Mini Velo, upgraded componentry (I would say Shimano 105's minimum and faster wheels) + S&S Couplers will make spandex people cry on fetal position wondering what happened.

If you choose the second, bid on my bike and be prepared to be touched forever.
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Old 03-07-11, 08:55 AM   #20
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If budget is an issue, here is an idea:

single speed steel frame for under $400



$400-$600 S&S couplers

Shimano ISGS501BL Internally Geared Hubs



Add Bullhorns, your prefered set of brakes...all under $1200.00

It will be an odd looking thing, but will work. Might look like something like this one at the end:

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Old 03-07-11, 09:29 AM   #21
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It depends what one wants and expects from a bike. Brompton and Tikit fold small and are great for commuting and some longer rides, from what I hear. But can you actually load them up and tour day after day? Not sure.

We were looking for a touring bike first, then a bike we can travel with easier than with a full size bike. BF's NWT fits the criteria. If you're going somewhere for a few days and think you may ride the bike once, you don't want to spend a hour setting the bike up, and an hour breaking it down for travel (although with practice it's more like 40 minutes), that's true. But if you're going to a destination for a few weeks and know you will be riding every day with luggage, that 40 minutes or an hour of initial set up really doesn't matter in comparison to comfort and reliability of a bike.

Bike Fridays are expensive, and we did go over budget to buy ours, but I'm so glad we did. We had a wonderful three weeks in France with them, rode just about every day with way too much luggage (almost 50 lbs each), and I can't tell you how many times we said: "that would have been a lot more difficult or impossible with a big bike".

Whatever you decide to get make sure to test ride it, and know the limitations. And make sure to post pictures when you get your folder.
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Old 03-07-11, 09:38 AM   #22
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My research continues. I should get paid for this. Instead, I just suggest (for those benefiting from this forum and actually saving money and time here) you to become a paying member. It is cheap.







ANOTHER CHOICE
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Old 03-07-11, 10:04 AM   #23
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Wow !! 6 S&S couplers : that will cost a packet ; but will certainly make packing easy :-)
On a full size bike 4 couplers on the frame would be enough to make a significant difference to the ease of packing.
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Old 03-07-11, 10:52 AM   #24
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These are interesting choices. Unfortunately, none of them apply to me:

I typically ride my bike in an urban environment that includes traffic, elevators, multi-mode commutes including subway, bus or taxi and (from time to time) a flat tire that I am better off getting a cab instead of fixing a tire. With a Brompton, I am in and out of folded mode in seconds. On top of that, there is always a chance that I will have my bike stolen. Replacing a $2000 modified Brompton is sad, but not as sad as a $4199 Rodriguez.
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Old 03-07-11, 11:52 AM   #25
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I have a deposit on a Bike Friday, it has their older design frame , front is a triangle: top and down tubes.

was trying to think .. By comparison how do you lock up a single Boom tube bike ? with out ordering it
custom spec'd with a hole in the frame to lock thru?

Have a Brompton, now , they have a curved BB Brace tube, that I can Lock thru,
so It's OK locked on the street to a bike rack.
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