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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 04-14-11, 10:12 AM   #1
TheGreatWhatsIt
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The Big Man's Build

Let me preface this with, I'm a complete noob. The price of gas is making a change in my commute necessary. I live in NW Indiana and work in Wood Dale, IL. I found a train situation that will work for me except Metra doesn't allow full sized bikes on the trains during morning and evening rush hours in and out of town respectively. I have to make a time tight station change in Downtown Chicago (Van Buren to Union) and 2 miles from the Wood Dale station to the office.

Now I'm 6'4" and around 350 lbs so finding a folder has been well... interesting. I think have two choices A) Island Hopper, a seemingly small company out of Florida, that I don't see any one here talking about or B) a Montague with beefier ("Touring") wheels.

I'm basically sold on the Paratrooper with the wheels replaced. I'm looking for any advice on where to buy or what kind of wheels to replace the stock wheels with. Does anyone have an opinion on how easy the conversion will be? Could I do it myself or have the shop do it?
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Old 04-14-11, 10:16 AM   #2
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Find a reputable shop with a good wheel builder and have them build up a set of bomb proof wheels for you.

With a decent rim and decent spokes a smaller wheel a smaller wheel will build up stiffer and stronger than a larger wheel with a comparable spoke count and components.
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Old 04-14-11, 11:06 AM   #3
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C) Bike Friday .. they have a heavy rider frame build, on like the Pocket Llama,
I just got.. , Vic got a heavy rider Tikit, in orange..
Hecho in Eugene Oregon, USA, abundant drive train choices.
their Hyperfold Tikit is particularly fast folding, as they use a cable to link
the front mast to the one the seat is attached to.
folding the seat mast forward sets the action in motion.

badda-bing, badda-bang.
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Old 04-14-11, 11:09 AM   #4
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Every city has a handful of reputable wheel builders that can do this for you. While I think wheel building is straightforward, considering the loads that you'll be putting on the bike, I'd have a set professionally done.

Mind you, if you got a bike with 20" wheels, the wheels would be much stronger; although given the design of most folding bikes, you'd put more stress on the frame. It might be cheaper to get a Bike Friday which will come with hand-built wheels.
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Old 04-14-11, 11:15 AM   #5
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I am building up a set of 36 spoke Rhynolites for my touring folder... figure that these could support at least three times my weight and are as strong as the best tandem wheels we build.

Overbuilt because I got a great deal on the rims and will be nice when I am towing my trailer as they don't get much stiffer or stronger than this.
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Old 04-14-11, 02:18 PM   #6
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I'm not super comfortable with finding a wheel builder, especially in an area I'm not real familiar with. But I guess a post in the main bike forum might get me some leads. Does anyone have any concerns about transferring the Montague quick release gadget that's part of the front wheel to the custom wheel?
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Old 04-14-11, 04:57 PM   #7
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Raleigh 20!
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Old 04-14-11, 05:15 PM   #8
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350 might be a bit high even for a Heavy-Rider-Optioned Pocket Llama. Highest weight I've seen listed for a single Friday is 275, but since the Tandems Max is something like 350 lbs, a single bike with a tandem style frame might do the trick, however, it would likely come apart, not fold.

Suggest you call them and ask about options: 1-800-777-0258
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Last edited by Foldable Two; 04-14-11 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 04-14-11, 05:31 PM   #9
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I recall Bike Friday posting on their website a video in which they talk about a bike they built for a 340 lb rider. Lou is right: Give 'em a call.
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Old 04-15-11, 08:08 AM   #10
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Bike Friday will certainly do custom bikes for heavy riders at this weight. But their "standard" $50 heavy rider upgrade stops at 260 pounds on all bikes, 280 on the Llama. See here.

I think the video in question is this one.
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Old 04-15-11, 09:28 AM   #11
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Good Digging, feijai. Video explains it all - will be a bit expensive for a first timer, I fear, so the Montague solution might be a first good step.

Hopefully, if OP keeps up the cycling, his weight will be less of a factor as time goes on.

Lou
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Old 04-15-11, 11:44 AM   #12
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Good Digging, feijai. Video explains it all - will be a bit expensive for a first timer, I fear, so the Montague solution might be a first good step.
Actually I'm not sure why the Montague was brought up: the maximum rider plus luggage weight is 250 pounds even for the Paratrooper Pro.
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Old 04-15-11, 11:48 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by feijai View Post
Bike Friday will certainly do custom bikes for heavy riders at this weight. But their "standard" $50 heavy rider upgrade stops at 260 pounds on all bikes, 280 on the Llama. See here.

I think the video in question is this one.
Bike Friday can build a bike for anyone [who is reasonably going to ride a bike] as they can tweak the design and parts selection in house. You need to call them and discuss the specifics of your wants/needs. That's the beauty of working with people that design and build their own bikes in house for each customer.
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Old 04-15-11, 12:45 PM   #14
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I just looked-up Island Hopper (it seems to have been ignored, otherwise).
http://www.americanchaindrive.com/
(Click on left-middle image.)

The City Rider model has a 350 lb weight limit! However, from my experience, it might not be suited for someone who is 6'4". At 6'3"/203 I have a problem being comfortable on stock folders (a large frame Friday is obviously the exception).

However, doubt it will hold up very long under daily commuting by someone who weighs-in at the limit.

OP: What are your thoughts/feelings at this point?

Lou

Last edited by Foldable Two; 04-15-11 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 04-15-11, 12:52 PM   #15
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In regards to the Montague, I've been in email contact with Ryan at the company since I first started looking. He said any of their frames would hold up, he had concerns over the wheels. He suggested using using wheels with a 36 instead of 32 spoke count and a slightly wider than 1.5" width on one of the 20" mountain bike models would work best for me. So started this thread looking for a second opinion on a Paratrooper with beefier wheels.

Other manufacturers I emailed basically said "can't help you", except for Island Hopper from Florida that has a 350 lbs. rating on their folding bikes. Island Hopper doesn't seem to have a following and so other issues like customer support are a big unknown.

When I went to Bike Friday's site, I read the same info in the heavy build still only going to a max of 260 lbs. I didn't really bother investigating more at that point. I'm thinking that getting a Bike Friday build to fit would price it well beyond the Montague.

Last edited by TheGreatWhatsIt; 04-15-11 at 12:56 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 04-15-11, 02:40 PM   #16
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As the Bike Friday video shows - a 350 lb capacity bike is doable. Cost? Well, an economical custom built "Llama" would likely be in the $1,500-$2,000 range at best - more if higher-end parts are specified. (The Paratrooper sells at around $799.)

The up-side: A Bike Friday will fit you and it will last. Additionally, when parts do wear out (or break) you will be able to replace them with standard bike parts or even have the factory re-furb the bike.

You really need to think of it as an investment in both health and transportation. (Beats the price of a new, or even a used, car.)

Lou

Last edited by Foldable Two; 04-15-11 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 04-15-11, 03:23 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Raleigh 20!
The Raleigh 20 will support some very large framed people but they are not a quick or compact fold and stock models generally need some upgrades to the wheels and brakes.

The P20 is rolling on some Suzue hubs laced to 36 spoke Rhynolites and the only wheels I have built that might be stronger are some 48 spoke 26's that were for a guy who curbs out at 320.

But he could ride on my wheels and I would never have a worry about them.
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Old 04-15-11, 03:37 PM   #18
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I'm thinking that getting a Bike Friday build to fit would price it well beyond the Montague.
Probably.

I'd add $300+ for a good set of handmade wheels for the Montague ... prices vary across the county; but around here to get one of the people known for building great wheels to make a set would run above $300 easy. I can't remember what an ordinary shop would charge above the cost of part for building a wheel. I'm guessing $40-50. 2 Sun RhynoLites, 2 Deore Hubs, 72 14-15-14 spokes, plus two tires ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foldable Two View Post
Cost? Well, an economical custom built "Llama" would likely be in the $1,500-$2,000 range at best - more if higher-end parts are specified. (The Paratrooper sells at around $799.)

The up-side: A Bike Friday will fit you and it will last. Additionally, when parts do wear out (or break) you will be able to replace them with standard bike parts or even have the factory re-furb the bike.

You really need to think of it as an investment in both health and transportation. (Beats the price of a new, or even a used, car.)

Lou
The question for me is whether using the Paratrooper as a multimode commuter makes sense. It remains pretty large when folding. The Bike Friday -- while not tiny -- will likely fold in a noticeably smaller package.

Anyway, good luck to the OP. Please let us know how it turns out.
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Old 04-15-11, 06:00 PM   #19
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A 20" un-dished IGH wheel would be totally bombproof for the OP's weight and would provide maintenance free operation. As other folks have pointed out a custom BF will not be the lowest cost option in terms of upfront purchase, but looking back after 10yrs the cost may be well worth it.

I started with a Dahon Speed D7 and ended up with a Tikit at twice the price. 4 years later the Tikit was a better deal on any evaluation criteria [cost/KM or cost/smile].
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Old 04-15-11, 07:48 PM   #20
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Quote:
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...The price of gas is making a change in my commute necessary.
Discounting completely the value of the fun you could have with it in your off-work time, ask yourself this:
  1. How much are you spending on gas commuting each week?
  2. How many weeks would it take for a custom Bike Friday build to pay for itself?
When you look at it that way, an "expensive" bike starts looking very economical indeed.

The Brompton I bought in September will pay for itself by this coming December in the cab and CTA fares it replaces. After that, it can pay for the Moulton I bought in January, the Swift I got for my wife in February, and ...
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Old 04-15-11, 09:02 PM   #21
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The Brompton I bought in September will pay for itself by this coming December in the cab and CTA fares it replaces. After that, it can pay for the Moulton I bought in January, the Swift I got for my wife in February, and ...
My wife got a good laugh out of your logic. Maybe because I've used it on her a time or two!

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Old 04-16-11, 05:45 AM   #22
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My recommendation for a big guy would be the Bike Friday. Personally I am probably going with a Brompton for my first go around, I need super compact fold and speed fold. I am 6'-2" 215#.

I looked at the the Island Hopper website. Couple of items come to mind, where are the bikes made and are the sizes of the pieces and parts standard? I have to wonder at the prices and the fact that nearly every one of the pictures is from the "wrong" side of the bike. I strongly suspect they are buying them by the container full from somewhere in China, most likely meaning no name parts. It folds with the drive train to the outside, meaning grease and damage, no listing of what the weights are, but I would guess in the mid 30# range, if not higher.

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Old 04-16-11, 11:20 AM   #23
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I love folding bikes, own 3 and a mini velo, so I feel traitorous saying this. But.

Maybe it is easier to buy three cheap non-folding bikes. One to ride to/from home to station. One to ride across town. One to ride from the destination station to your work. Leave bikes locked in town overnight, choose bikes that are no great loss if they are stolen.
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Old 04-17-11, 10:10 PM   #24
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I'm extremely interested in how Metra (the Chicago-area suburban rail system, maybe the largest in N. America??) bike policy will or will not evolve to deal with folders.

Please see my maiden posting just now on the "folding bikes" forum. I'll be back in the Frozen Prairie by the end of this week. Let's figure out out to communicate offline, if you're so inclined.

Thanks,

AP
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Old 04-17-11, 11:06 PM   #25
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Probably.

I'd add $300+ for a good set of handmade wheels for the Montague ... prices vary across the county; but around here to get one of the people known for building great wheels to make a set would run above $300 easy. I can't remember what an ordinary shop would charge above the cost of part for building a wheel. I'm guessing $40-50. 2 Sun RhynoLites, 2 Deore Hubs, 72 14-15-14 spokes, plus two tires ...
I charge $35.00 for standard wheels and my new wheels used $230.00 in parts (hubs were used) and if I had to pay myself they are a $300.00 wheel set so your math is pretty much on the mark.

Tyres and tubes add another $50.00 +/-

The Rhynolites are very easy to build up as they are very stiff and almost build themselves.
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