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  1. #1
    Senior Member ajam0153's Avatar
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    Folding bikes on Metra (Chicago)

    Hi i'm new to this forum so I apologize if my question has been posted before. If so please forward me to that post..thanks
    Basically, I am thinking about commuting to school(UIC) Starting this fall. I don't have a folding bike at present but I am looking to invest in a Brompton since they fold to a very compact and manageable size. I will be boarding the BNSF line around 6:30-7:00am from Downers Grove all the way to union. I'm hoping to hear from people who ride Metra who have experience with taking their folders on the train during rush hour. The Brompton would be a massive investment for me and I don't want to regret it. how do the conductors/passengers respond to your folder?
    Thank you all.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    I used to ride to Lombard daily on Metra, but no longer live in Chicago. Here are some things to keep in mind...

    • Folding bikes are the only bikes allowed on the train during rush hours.
    • Be prepared to not only fold the bike, but to put it in a bag. You can get a cheap Dimpa storage bag from Ikea for less than $10. It doesn't have to be fancy.
    • Even though the Brompton folds into a relatively small package, the train gets all kinds of crowded in the morning rush. I tended to sit downstairs in the first row so that I could keep the bike in front of me without feeling cramped.
    • Conductors are a mixed bag. Some will love your folder. Others will hate it. Be nice, and even the ones that are irrational will eventually warm up to you and your bike.
    • Passengers, for the most part, are fine with the folding bikes as long as you don't accidentally bump into them with dirty tires and chain.


    Good luck with the commute. I had a blast riding Metra when I lived there.

  3. #3
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    What he said.
    Definitely bag it.
    "Cycling is for pleasure not penance"

  4. #4
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Lean against the wall and have the bike under your butt, behind or in between your legs. Most average americans will occupy more physical space than you, you will be fine.

  5. #5
    Senior Member ajam0153's Avatar
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    Thank you all for responding. I've only riden on fixed frame bikes until now and i have never taken a bike on a mass transit system. But recently I was able to test a Brompton, Bike Friday, and some dahon models. of the three I like the brompton the most. But I don't want to make that investment and regret it because of the stupid train.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    I should note that while the Brompton does fold into a great package, I didn't have any issues with my larger Giant Halfway or my Bike Friday Tikit. I also remember seeing other folders on the Metra (Schwinn, Dahon, Birdy). Unfortunately, never saw a Brompton outside of the bike shop.

  7. #7
    Senior Member ajam0153's Avatar
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    I have been meaning to ask someone about the tikit. I know it is one of the quickest folding bikes, but how compact is it? and how is the hyper-fold tension cable holding up? Does it stretch and loosen up overtime and if so can it be tightened? I have not had the pleasure of riding a tikit yet, but I really like how they use the most amount of standard/normal bike components (hubs, crankset, headset, etc.) compared to dahon and brompton.

  8. #8
    Senior Member ajam0153's Avatar
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    Hey Guys, so I went into to the store today with the intention of riding the tikit and the brompton and walking out with on of them. Turns out that that place stopped carrying the hyper-fold tikits due to a recent incident that one of their customers had with the tikit. Basically the one of the pedals snapped off completely, causing him to shift forward violently and taking the load of the rear wheel. this loosened up the hyper-fold cable and caused the handlebars to fold. But the guy is okay. I was kind of upset both for the guy and not being able to ride the tikit. So i decided to walk out with a red brompton. I will post my experiences with the brompton especially on metra for anybody who might be interested.

  9. #9
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    I take my Brommie every day on New Jersey Transit. I love it nearly as much as my kids. They are jealous of it, I think.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajam0153 View Post
    I have been meaning to ask someone about the tikit. I know it is one of the quickest folding bikes, but how compact is it?
    It's a bit more than 150% the size of the Brompton in folded volume.

    and how is the hyper-fold tension cable holding up? Does it stretch and loosen up overtime and if so can it be tightened?
    The cable is huge: about a half-centimeter in diameter: it doesn't stretch. The lock nuts holding it in the rear triangle can be tightened without any problem. Certain parts need to be replaced once every year or two years, notably the bearing where the cable enters the front fork, and the rear latch may require some occasional care to keep it in good working order.

    Basically the one of the pedals snapped off completely, causing him to shift forward violently and taking the load of the rear wheel. this loosened up the hyper-fold cable and caused the handlebars to fold. But the guy is okay.
    Holy cow. A pedal snapped? Sorry to hear that. Those pedals are pretty reliable. I guess a sudden lurch forward could cause the stem to collapse, but he'd be definitely going head over heels anyway at that point. I wonder if BF has a record of that happening.

    So i decided to walk out with a red brompton.
    I think you'll be happier with a Brompton anyway if you're on the Metra all the time, particularly if it's packed. The Brompton has disadvantages, but that situation is exactly where it shines. If you're ever in DC I'd be glad to let you try my hyperfold.

  11. #11
    Senior Member ajam0153's Avatar
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    I put about 12 miles on it in the last 2 days, just to get a sense of how it feels on flat but slightly pot-holed streets of the city. It feels fantastic. But for some reason I feel like if the shop had a Tikit model T which eliminates the hyper-fold extension cable, I would have walked out with that one.

  12. #12
    Senior Member ajam0153's Avatar
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    Thank you for your offer. I don't usually travel outside of Chicago as I'm a student at present and can't afford (time/money) to travel. But if I ever do visit DC I will be sure to contact you.

  13. #13
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    Congrats!
    Now, time to post pics at the "Name your bike" thread.
    "Cycling is for pleasure not penance"

  14. #14
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    I've ridden my Brompton on the Metra a few times. Works excellently for that purpose. I think you'll find you made the right choice.

    The real fun starts when you realize you can catch the Blue to O'hare, gate check the Brompton, and fly anywhere in the world at no extra cost. Enjoy!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by atman View Post
    The real fun starts when you realize you can catch the Blue to O'hare, gate check the Brompton, and fly anywhere in the world at no extra cost. Enjoy!
    Forget O'Hare---Chicago is a major hub for AmTrack.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajam0153 View Post
    I put about 12 miles on it in the last 2 days, just to get a sense of how it feels on flat but slightly pot-holed streets of the city. It feels fantastic. But for some reason I feel like if the shop had a Tikit model T which eliminates the hyper-fold extension cable, I would have walked out with that one.
    Pics or it didn't happen!

  17. #17
    Senior Member ajam0153's Avatar
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    204579_123672131041342_100001956688416_160688_5750228_o.jpg204444_123672041041351_100001956688416_160687_6550200_o.jpgSorry Guys. I will post better images as soon as I get my hands on a decent camera.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    Nice bike. Congrats!

  19. #19
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    You will get to love it even more as time goes on. Had mine since early 2009. Used to have several bikes at one time but now my Brompton is all i have and need. Ive probably posted this before but a handy little trick (at least for me) is to stuff a large garbage bag in the frame tube where it folds. That way you always have a cover/bag and its not in the way when not needed. I have yet to be turned down entrance anywhere. Once or twice i was questioned and i said i could put it in a bag and that was fine with them and in i went.

  20. #20
    Senior Member ajam0153's Avatar
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    I posted some pictures on my Facebook page
    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/fb...6&l=6916d43b05

  21. #21
    Senior Member ajam0153's Avatar
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    I just replaced the stock casters on the rack with a set of inline skate wheels. Here is a video about it

  22. #22
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    Metra riders, where do you stow your bagged folders?
    Under the seat? or Next to your legs? or other?
    There used to be a guy on the North UP line that put his on the overhead rack. Must have been a Brompton, as that overhead rack isn't a very deep shelf.

  23. #23
    Senior Member ajam0153's Avatar
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    On cars without handicap access I always sit on the 1st level, so I store it between seats, but you can't sit there anymore because of the lack of leg room. On Cars with handicap access I sit on the first forward facing seat ( after the side facing seats where normal bikes go). The space here is big enough for the bike and my legs. As far as putting it on the rack, I've never tried or seen anyone else do it. I'm a bit reluctant to do that because the last thing I want is for it to fall on someone. But I guess If you have it fastened down it could be done. Sometimes when the train is packed I have to find someone who is willing to let me sit next to them with my bike on the lap ( I hate doing this). It doesn't always work.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    I used to pretty much do what ajam describes. I also carried bungie cord in order to strap it down in the bicycle/handicap area when I had no choice. I never had any problems with people messing with the bike while it was strapped down.

  25. #25
    Senior Member ajam0153's Avatar
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    Bad News guys. Got into a little accident with the brompton. 4way stop sign, made it half through the intersection when boom-sky-hood-ground, about 10 feet away from where i originally was. Both the pedals, saddle, saddle post, rear rack, rack stays, rear fender and the right side crank arm with the chainring needs replacing. And both the wheels need to be trued. Almost $300 worth of damages. but luckily had my helmet on and the frame and I made it through. I will never ride without a helmet.

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