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  1. #1
    Lao
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    Dahon vs Mezzo vs Brompton vs Birdy

    I have looked around on different sites to see which bike would fit me best. Although I know that testriding is the best way of telling whether a bike suits you or not I have limited options in doing so. Therefore my question is following:

    Say you would want a bike with maximum wheel size of 16". Which of the following bikes would generate the most comfortable ride on short rides and on long rides. Wich folds most quickly and wich one gets smallest?
    Dahon Curve XL or SL
    Any Mezzo
    Brompton
    Birdy Frog

    Bonus questions: What's the weight of a Mezzo, how come the Birdy frog is heavier than its' larger siblings and wich one is best suited for touring?
    (I know that in principle none of them are well suited for touring although I've seen many claims that it goes perfectly well with touring on a Brompton so is there any big differences that makes the Brompton more suited than the others?)

  2. #2
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    I like the Curve XL/SL when combined with a thudbuster seat post and Big Apple tyres. In it's current stock configuration there's no way I'd ride a Curve; just too harsh a ride over rough ground.

    I've found the steel frame on a Brompton makes a lot of difference in terms of ride quality. The combination of steel frame and rear suspension generally makes for a comfortable ride. Never ridden a Birdy/Frog or a Mezzo. I'm sure the Birdy is extremely comfortable and good fun whereas I very much doubt I'd get on with a Mezzo given the lack of suspension plus narrow tyres and aluminium frame.

  3. #3
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    I use my Curve SL almost everyday for my short commute and have ridden it over 25 kilometers a bunch of times- the longest ride was 100 kilometers. It`s a great bike - fast, fun and folds small. I am still riding, and like, the Marathon Racers that came with the bike, but that`s probably only because I ride on good roads.

  4. #4
    Lao
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    Quote Originally Posted by owenfinn View Post
    I use my Curve SL almost everyday for my short commute and have ridden it over 25 kilometers a bunch of times- the longest ride was 100 kilometers. It`s a great bike - fast, fun and folds small. I am still riding, and like, the Marathon Racers that came with the bike, but that`s probably only because I ride on good roads.
    Not to mention; it looks really good. =) But that sounds great, 100 kilometers and it still feels like a good ride. The Dahon is the cheapest and the easiest bikes for me to test so that is nice.

    Is there nobody here that have tried the Frog and have something to say about it? (The threads I have seen is about the old version with 12" wheels.)

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    I would say Brompton, but I'm biased

  6. #6
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    I can speak to a similar list of choices. My wife and I were both looking for folders. I chose the Birdy Alivio, and my wife chose the Brompton 6 speed.

    My Alivio is actually a modification designed by B-fold in Manhattan. It's a 9-speed, finished in a matte gray that suits the (IMO) sophisticated design of the bike. The Froggy may be a more aggressive bike (25 degree handle bars, fatter tires on 16 inch wheels, heavier. . .) which might have some advantages if you are interested in rougher terrain/travel. I believe the folded dimensions of the two bikes are similar.

    The Alivio, struck the best balance for me as an urban, commuter, errand bike, but also, most capable of longer hours and more miles on tour. It is a very comfortable ride (suspension, 18" wheels) and the adjustable-height handle bar is an important feature. I'm 6' 1" and like to sit upright on crowded city streets, but assume a touring posture on paths and roads.

    The Brompton is a beautiful, precision bike, with design priorities given to its small folded size and intuitive folding "process." Of all the bikes, it is easiest to fold, and has the tiniest footprint. These matter for my small-ish wife. It's somewhat lighter, but not that much compared to the aluminum Birdy. I find the Birdy is about as easy to carry as the Brompton, and after the Brompton it's one of the smallest folded bikes in spite of its larger wheels. After several weeks of use, I am just now getting "smooth" folding and unfolding the bike. There's a learning curve with the Birdy. If "ease-of-folding" is an crucial consideration, don't be discouraged, but it does take some time.

    I've had lots of opportunities to compare the two B's. No doubt that the Birdy is a more enjoyable ride, but there is no dismissing the unique niche that the Brompton occupies. When shopping, I've found that the Brompton is the "gold standard" of popular, high-end folders whereas, in the US, the Birdy is a respected but more rare, uh, . . .bird.

    Note that I've said nothing about relative value. In my shopping I considered everything from a mid-range Dahon to a $2200 Bike Friday, and can't say that the price differential justifies more expensive bikes. And yet, I'm not the sort to frequently upgrade and the pro-rated price "delta" over many years led us to get the bikes we wanted rather than the one's we "needed."

  7. #7
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    Just come back from riding my Brompton, which is still quite new to me and I'm still getting used to. I'm really surprised how smooth and comfortable the ride is, it actually beats my 20" Dahon despite that having massive tyres and thudbuster, I think. The one thing I'm not keen on, however, is the amount of flex in the handlebar stem, which strikes me as the only thing preventing this from feeling like a design with no compromises. I'd imagine the S bar largely does away with this problem so for those who are happy with the riding position offered by the S-type I reckon it's a near-perfect design. Having said all that the bike I'm riding was manufactured in 2001 so perhaps there's been some slight improvement in the stem flex issue. . . and if that's the case then I'd have to get hold of a more recent model. Of course if there were less flex in the handlebar and stem I may find the ride somewhat harsher. . .?

  8. #8
    PDR
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    My Sister and Father both have M-Types (he actually wanted an S-type but there were none in stock at the bike dealers). I have the S-type and love the riding position

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by wandt View Post
    I would say Brompton, but I'm biased
    i would say curve sl, but i'm biased, too (ha, ha, ha).

  10. #10
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    I have the Brompton M6R (6 speed M Type) and I have been using this for the last 2 months or so for commuting to work; folding/unfolding it twice a day both at work and at home. What I can say is this bike is solid and still feels like new despite using it last winter and occasionally in rainy weather. No creaks, no unwanted play from the hinges whatsoever. The ride is also solid and the only noise that have grown louder through use are those clicking sounds coming from the shifter levers resulting from road vibrations. This happens on my road bikes too so this is very minor. The only problem I ever had was the slipping seat post but this was rectified by sanding the post where it meets the clamp.

  11. #11
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    More Brompton riding confirms earlier findings that the stem flex isn't to do with the flex in the M handlebar (which is flexy) but rather due to lack of stiffness lower down, either in the frame, stem, or both. It's the fact that the M-bars are higher that amplifies this flex. For me this is a serious design issue. I get the impression that it's the quill section of the stem where flex occurs most, thus Brompton need to switch to an Ahead system to maintain a thicker diameter of tube at this stress-point. But due to the nature of the company it'll probably be 10 years before this happens.

    I wonder if removing the plastic section from the top of the headset and buttressing the stem clamp against the headset would improve things at all.

  12. #12
    PDR
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    My 2009 lightweight S-Type does not suffer from excessive flex. I've just sat on the bike and pushed and pulled on the bars.... stem flex is minimal... there is some flex in the alloy S-type handlebars if you really push and pull, but I suspect it is designed that way to make the bike more comfortable to ride? Anyhow, my Brompton, is far stiffer, quieter, easier to fold and much better made than those 2 Dahon MU SL's I previously had (weak, creaking noisy bikes with lousy frame hinges and clamps).

  13. #13
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    When the hinges on Dahons are working properly then there's less flex than with the Brompton I own. But I think I experienced what you did with a 2008 Dahon Curve: the frame hinge wouldn't close properly, i.e. there was always some amount of play and this translated to the handlebars (obviously). A ridiculous design/manufacturing problem that seemed widespread on a lot of 2008 bikes, which deserved all such frames to be recalled. But all the other Dahons I've ridden have been solid.

    The M handle seems like quite a good design to me as it flexes more vertically than any other direction, thus working quite well as a suspension mechanism.

    Not only does a longer stem(+handlebar) amplify flex from lower down, it also functions as a longer fulcrum with which to exert force, so that also will create more flex in the head tube region. I don't think the M bar is really the main culprit.

  14. #14
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    Just curious: When testing various bikes I noticed different degrees of "front-end" flex. But I don't understand the significance of some of the posts here. That's not a critique of the posts, but my inexperience with folders. For example, the Brompton flex feels to me like it's part of the ride design, and I'm not clear about what people find as a problem. Is it a steering or control issue? A matter of rider's energy conservation? If comfort, explain how?

    The Dahon I rode (Mu Sport) seemed to flex less. But I associated that with the 20" tires over the terrain I was on (uneven city street.) Again, I gave the benefit of the doubt to the design engineers for getting the ride they had in mind instead of getting stuck with whatever turned out. I notice no flex with the Birdy, or at least I can't distinguish between what's a frame/handlebar issue and what gets sucked up by the suspension.

  15. #15
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    The flex I don't like is when I pull on the bars (i.e. climbing or pulling away from traffic lights) and feeling the give. I can see the bar moving quite some millimeters (not just the bar but the top of stem/handlebar clamp. I'm guess the frame flexes quite a bit and I imagine that's something I'm liking about the way the Brompton rides.

  16. #16
    Lao
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    Thanks for your sharing everybody. It's nice to read about your experiences with the bikes.

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinOne View Post
    My Alivio is actually a modification designed by B-fold in Manhattan. It's a 9-speed, finished in a matte gray that suits the (IMO) sophisticated design of the bike. The Froggy may be a more aggressive bike (25 degree handle bars, fatter tires on 16 inch wheels, heavier. . .) which might have some advantages if you are interested in rougher terrain/travel. I believe the folded dimensions of the two bikes are similar.

    The Alivio, struck the best balance for me as an urban, commuter, errand bike, but also, most capable of longer hours and more miles on tour. It is a very comfortable ride (suspension, 18" wheels) and the adjustable-height handle bar is an important feature. I'm 6' 1" and like to sit upright on crowded city streets, but assume a touring posture on paths and roads.

    The Brompton is a beautiful, precision bike, with design priorities given to its small folded size and intuitive folding "process." Of all the bikes, it is easiest to fold, and has the tiniest footprint. These matter for my small-ish wife. It's somewhat lighter, but not that much compared to the aluminum Birdy. I find the Birdy is about as easy to carry as the Brompton, and after the Brompton it's one of the smallest folded bikes in spite of its larger wheels.

    I've had lots of opportunities to compare the two B's. No doubt that the Birdy is a more enjoyable ride, but there is no dismissing the unique niche that the Brompton occupies. When shopping, I've found that the Brompton is the "gold standard" of popular, high-end folders whereas, in the US, the Birdy is a respected but more rare, uh, . . .bird.

    Note that I've said nothing about relative value. In my shopping I considered everything from a mid-range Dahon to a $2200 Bike Friday, and can't say that the price differential justifies more expensive bikes. And yet, I'm not the sort to frequently upgrade and the pro-rated price "delta" over many years led us to get the bikes we wanted rather than the one's we "needed."
    The thing about the Frog is that it is supposed to be about 30 % smaller than the ordinary Birdy of today (and I believe the Alivio is of standard size). I shall try a Birdy (18"), a Brompton and a 20" Dahon tomorrow and get a feel of the size. On the pictures of the Curve it seems small enough while the 20" Dahons probably are to large. The Frog I think is a little bit smaller than the Curve but a little bit larger than the Brompton.
    On the forehand the Birdy or the Frog are my two favourites. The only problem is that they are about twice the price of the Curve XL. But as you write, you don't buy new bikes that often.

  17. #17
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    I have an older(2004) Frog (I think the wheels are smaller than the newer frogs) which I just use for errands within a three block radius, it is a fun bouncy ride, but tiresome for longer distances. I have a Green 7 spd Birdy which I added a Bionx to and commute 24 km a day that I love. and a 24 speed Birdy blue that i use for trails. I also have a Brompton M6 and 3 which I use for neighbourhood rides, to get groceries(I can wheel it in and use it as my cart) and when I want to be able to take my bike in with me, I've never had a problem sticking it under a restaurant table bagged. For my size; average, 5'6" , I don't really notice flex,and the Birdy/s is/are the most comfortable and responsive but the Brompton is just a genius convenient bike. If I were living in a city doing multi-modal travel and could only get one I would probably choose the brompton just for it's flexibility, ease, and its pretty good though not as comfortable ride...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by elmergeorge View Post
    the Brompton is just a genius convenient bike. If I were living in a city doing multi-modal travel and could only get one I would probably choose the brompton just for it's flexibility, ease, and its pretty good though not as comfortable ride...
    I agree entirely ----for most people, of most sizes, in most cities. Manhattan is one exception, and there may be others. In spite of being very bike friendly, my groceries, hardware stories, and other everyday places tend to have squeezed aisles and even the Brompton pushes the limits of space and patience. Thinking of the last several restaurants I've been to, none would accommodate a Brompton under the table. However, there are still other benefits to the Brompton's folded size.

    I hope this doesn't distract from the direction of this thread, but IMO when thinking about a folder, don't assume that you always have to keep it at your side. Evidently, many people turn to folders because of security concerns, but appropriate locks and chains still have their use. Locking up a folder does not wipe out the other benefits (for me, the chief benefit is getting on any bus or train with the folded bike,) so assess your security needs when figuring budget and overall use---much the same way that you'd consider a helmet, and accessories such as lights etc.

  19. #19
    Lao
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    Quote Originally Posted by MartinOne View Post
    I hope this doesn't distract from the direction of this thread, but IMO when thinking about a folder, don't assume that you always have to keep it at your side. Evidently, many people turn to folders because of security concerns, but appropriate locks and chains still have their use. Locking up a folder does not wipe out the other benefits (for me, the chief benefit is getting on any bus or train with the folded bike,) so assess your security needs when figuring budget and overall use---much the same way that you'd consider a helmet, and accessories such as lights etc.
    True. My main reason for getting a folder is to get in to the apartment and occationally get it on a bus or train or so, not to bear with me at all times. And as you say, lock, lights, helmets, mudflaps and so on will higher the price even more. But I have that in mind and some of it can be bought later on.

    Due to unforseen circumstances my meeting with the local dealer was cancelled and I have to wait another couple of weeks to try the bikes...

  20. #20
    To fold or not to fold?
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    Use the time to find a Mezzo to test as well. Have just got mine out of store after 2 years off road, and am all over again delighted with its smooth responsive ride. My D9 has a replacement Capreo hub, which improves the gearing of the stock version. But you might want to track down the Oribike/Mezzo D10, which has the ten speed option, as well as folding just as small and looking very very nice...
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  21. #21
    Lao
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    The problem with Mezzo is that I haven't found any dealer in Sweden so I think I have to rule out that option...

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    Sorry about hijacking the thread but apparently I cant thank Matt in a private message until I've made 50 posts, so thanks Matt for the Mezzo reply.

  23. #23
    To fold or not to fold?
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    No worries Jon - apologies for it being almost 3 years late!
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  24. #24
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    I have a Mezzo D9. I am extremely happy with it. I bought a 2010 pre owned. Great deal. I am using to go to work . Distance ridden 19 miles with hills. It's amazing how confortable these bikes are!

  25. #25
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    +1 on Brompton.. though Bike Friday's Tikit, shares the same wheel, 349- 35
    and several tire companies supply a high pressure tire for that rim size.

    Tikit in bike Friday manner folds the seat mast down,
    so saddle height stays adjusted.
    rear wheel folds to be along side the frame.

    Fold width and length is greater, but when folded the front wheel is used
    to roll on, walking.
    and, frames are made in 3 length/sizes.

    Brompton, telescopes rear seat mast down, and folds rear wheel
    straight under,
    then the front wheel is in a hinged subsection of the frame,
    folded volume is smaller.
    One size, with many ways to adjust to fit the rider..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-30-11 at 10:08 AM.

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