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  1. #1
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    Folding Bike for a tall guy

    Hi all,

    I was looking to find some information about folding bikes, and I was lucky enough to come across this forum! I'm right now a grad student who goes to school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I used to live right around campus, but this year I am actually going to be commuting from a 6 mile distance from campus. Since it it a pretty unsafe bike to school, and classes for me this semester are starting early in the morning, I am going to be driving to campus.

    It is a pretty large campus, however, and I'm also cross-registered with a course on the other side of the city right in the middle of the day, so I was planning on buying a foldable bike to get around the city/campus. However, there are so many different options and prices (and I have not ridden a bike in a looooong time) that I'm unsure of what to buy!

    I'm a 6'2", 180 lbs male. My ride will involve getting around campus (which can take up to 15 minutes between classes right now walking) and going to the other side of Cambridge (which is about a 2 to 2.5 mile ride each direction). My ride would be pretty much flat, and I can't imagine ever going more than a 1% to 2% grade. Oh, and ideally I would like to keep this in the price range of $500 or less.

    Any thoughts on what would be appropriate model? Thanks so much for your time and help!

    Swavo

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    Welcome,I like the Dahon Speed Uno, it is a single speed but with the track dropouts could be upgraded to a internally geared hub, ie 3,5,7 or 8 speed in the future if needed. http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/current/speeduno.htm The Raleigh 20 is a favorite here also for modernizing or riding as is. Check Craigslist or Ebay for those since they havent been built for quite a while.
    Speed Uno
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  3. #3
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    Speed Uno
    Dawes Kingpin 2speed

  4. #4
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    Speed Uno is a great option. Another option if you want to play it safe and get a bike with gears is the Dahon Eco 6. Also at thorusa in your price range. http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/current/ecoc6.htm

    I got a Boardwalk with no gears and couldn't even go up a speed bump so had to upgrade! Of course, I'm not as physically fit as I used to be but if you want to a bike with gears, I would also look at the Eco 6 or Speed D7 (higher price but a REALLY good bike)

  5. #5
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Unless your legs are short for your height you are going to need to look at 20" wheeled bikes and possibly need to add a thudbuster or swap the seat post out to get the leg extension you need. I am 6'-2" with long legs and have had a few issues with the new generation of folders fitting outside of the Brompton. FWIW I quite often ride a Raleigh Twenty with a modern seat post.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  6. #6
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    Where will you park the bike when you are in class ? Folding bikes, especially nice ones as suggested above, are very attractive to thieves and are vulnerable when locked up in public view. You need to take this into account when making your choice, do you in fact need a folder, might you not be better with an old full sized clunker which would be less likely to get pinched ? This has the additional advantage of negating your concerns about your height / weight on a folder, although I don't think that this is really an issue here.

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    Thanks for all the input everyone! I decided to stop by a bike store with a couple of the options you guys suggested to give them a test drive. I got to try the Speed Uno and I was a big fan of it. I also tried the Mariner to compare it to a higher end model (in terms of cost and performance I definitely prefer the Speed Uno).

    Dynocoaster - Do you know how much the R20 weighs?

    Diode - That was definitely a point of thought/concern. Luckily I have an office on campus, so I should be good most of the time, and it seems like it is light/small enough that I can bring it to the classroom when I'm on the other side of Cambridge.

  8. #8
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Swavo, the stock Twenty weighs in at a solid 40#, or just a bit under, they can be lightened up pretty quickly by swapping out wheels, stem and seat post.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

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  9. #9
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    i had the same problem-i am 1.89 and i found only bikefriday who taylormade a bike for me. i gave them my measurements online, chose the components and the models, then i flew to eugene and picked it up from the factory. excellent service. the bike is great, i could not be happier.

    the only thing that is not great is the fold. it is not really a folding bike. i would say it is a bike that disassebles and folds a little bit. a bike that can be packed into an airline conforming case.
    i do not care. i still love this bike. it is extremely beautiful and the ride is great:

  10. #10
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    Shame you can't swing a Brompton. Best fold in the business and it rides great. But you're looking at $1200 plus for a geared version.
    2002 Novara Ponderosa HT MTB
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    Unless your legs are short for your height you are going to need to look at 20" wheeled bikes and possibly need to add a thudbuster or swap the seat post out to get the leg extension you need. I am 6'-2" with long legs and have had a few issues with the new generation of folders fitting outside of the Brompton. FWIW I quite often ride a Raleigh Twenty with a modern seat post.

    Aaron
    Some bikes with 16-18" wheels are just fine. A Birdy is good for people up to about 6'5" and 240lb IIRC, has front and back suspension (no thudbuster needed) and weighs under 25 lb in basic form. If you are really lucky, you might find a 2nd hand one under $500. A Bike Friday Tikit would also be fine with the right tires. There are more of these in North America but they are better known here than the Birdy and have not been around as long so the chance of getting one under $500 may be less.

  12. #12
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    As it happens, I am 6'2" and about 185. I ride a 2006 dahon mariner I got on CL for a song. It's sizing and geometry are the same as the current speed and mariner, so I am confident when I say you will fit these just fine. I commute 8 miles a day on these kinds of bikes with moderate hills no problem. Unlike some folks here, I would recommend a bike with gears.

    The dahon Eco c6 is in your price range, and I bought one for a raffle for my workplace and got to check it out closely, and it is a good bike for the price and will fit you just fine.

    Hope this helps,
    Warr

  13. #13
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wernst View Post
    As it happens, I am 6'2" and about 185. I ride a 2006 dahon mariner I got on CL for a song. It's sizing and geometry are the same as the current speed and mariner, so I am confident when I say you will fit these just fine. I commute 8 miles a day on these kinds of bikes with moderate hills no problem. Unlike some folks here, I would recommend a bike with gears.

    The dahon Eco c6 is in your price range, and I bought one for a raffle for my workplace and got to check it out closely, and it is a good bike for the price and will fit you just fine.

    Hope this helps,
    Warr
    I am 6'-2" and cannot get enough leg extension on any stock Dahon bike...I know I have tried.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
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    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  14. #14
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    it depends what you are looking for:
    -easy fold: brompton
    if you are only biking in the city and want to take your bike inside anywhere you go, this is the best
    -touring: bikefriday
    if you want a bike that folds when you need it, can be packed into a suitcase, better ride, better riding position

    both can be used by tall people. bikefriday will tailor your bike exactly to your specifications. you give them your body measures and the measures of your favorite bike and you will have exactly the same ride as on your old favorite bike,whatever bike that is- mtb or road or tracking...

    brompton has announced new h-bars for tall riders. they will either fit your body or not.

    i had a birdy when i lived in switzerland. i sold it after 3 weeks of use. i could not use it freehandedly, it is not a stable and comfortable ride like on brompton or bikefriday.

    i am biased because of the beautiful looks of my bikefriday. i would just ride it because it is beautiful. in addition to that it is also a comfortable bike and it is fast. 26 inch or 700c tires are the most comfortable (rodrigues, comotion,surly lht deluxe) but they are still difficult to pack(remove crank, derailleur etc). i decided for 20 inch because it is a good compromise. even in the middle of nowhere in asia i can get hold of a 20 inch tire. 16 inch tires in se-asia? no way. what i also like on my bikefriday: all components are STANDARD- i can easily use any standard panniers, shifters, derailleurs, internal hubs and do any standard upgrade easily buying the components in any good bike shop anywhere in the world:

    http://bikinginasia.blogspot.com/

  15. #15
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    Used Brompton + a change to their telescoping seat post, will get you up to adequate saddle height .

    M bar is up to where it hits the ground when folded, down , so not much can be done about that.
    adding an Aber-hallo stem thingie, would, potentially, bring it up ,
    but then the handlebar end , really, hits the ground ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 09-29-11 at 07:02 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredfriday View Post
    i had a birdy when i lived in switzerland. i sold it after 3 weeks of use. i could not use it freehandedly, it is not a stable and comfortable ride like on brompton or bikefriday.http://bikinginasia.blogspot.com/
    I agree with the rest of your post but not so much about the Birdy

    I do agree that a Birdy is not for riding hands free. If that's important to someone, they should not buy a Birdy. Other than that, I don't agree with your general statement about it not being stable or comfortable.

    With hands on the handlebar, I find Birdys very stable in any normal use, certainly more so than the Brompton I tried. Assuming the Birdy is set up properly for the rider and the saddle and tires are equivalent, I have found the Birdy more comfortable than any other folding bike that I have tried and better than most other bikes regardless of wheel size.

    If you found it otherwise, I suspect that there was something wrong with the configuration of your bike for your size and preferred riding position. (eg wrong stem type or height) Other candidates might be poor tires (original Birdy Tires were awful), a poor seat or loose bearings in the front suspension or headset.

  17. #17
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    I'm roughly the same size, 6'1" 185lbs. I would recommend going to the local bike stores and test riding some folders if you can. Some ride/feel very differently than others when it comes to bigger people mashing on the pedals.

    In your price range of under $500, I would go for a used off craigslist Xootr Swift, Dahon Mu or Dahon Speed, as they ride nice and are pretty stiff feeling which is what us bigger guys need. The cheaper bikes such as Citizen or cheap ebay brands, either flex too much (poorly built for big guys) or are too small. The ones I rode, felt like I could easily rip the handlebar off if not careful. Same goes for the cheaper Dahon designs such as Boardwalk/Mariner/Eco, all felt too flimsy and small to me.

    As for new, I've read good things about Downtube folders, which are in your price range. But never ridden one so don't know for sure. Dahon Speed Uno is a nice cheap bike if you are ok with single speed. But you will have to add a front brake as it doesn't come with one.

    Forget about Bike Fridays/Bromtons/Birdys as they are double what you are looking to spend. Even used they are $7-800+.

    But don't take anyone's online word on whats best, go out and test ride some bikes and see for yourself.

  18. #18
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    The Raleigh 20 weighs about 30 pounds. not a light weight.
    Speed Uno
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by frank13 View Post
    Forget about Bike Fridays/Bromtons/Birdys as they are double what you are looking to spend. Even used they are $7-800+.
    Yes they are usually well above $500 even 2nd hand and you can't count on getting one at that price but its worth keeping your eyes open as you may get lucky especially as the weather gets colder.

    I just bought an older 21 speed Birdy in excellent condition for $400 so it can happen.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by energyandair View Post
    I agree with the rest of your post but not so much about the Birdy

    I do agree that a Birdy is not for riding hands free. If that's important to someone, they should not buy a Birdy. Other than that, I don't agree with your general statement about it not being stable or comfortable.

    maybe it has to do with my geometry. i have very long legs and long arms. i bought from a high value dealer in zurich. he seemed to be knowledgeable about bikes.
    when i rode the uetlibergstrasse downwards from uetliberg to zurich center the bike took up speed to 80 or 90. i had to hit the brakes because the front wheel was shaking and vibrating like crazy. it was extremely dangerous. when hitting the front brake at 90 the shaking got worse. i almost fell from the bike.
    i think it is a construction flaw that does not get noticed until you reach very high speed and you need to hit the brakes. in my opinion the front suspension system is dangerous.
    that was the reason why i sold the bike. the good thing is that i did not loose much.

    today i ride the bikefriday nwt. i can ride it freehandedly and i have ridden at very high speed without shaking or vibrating. the brakes are excellent even from 90-0. i feel very secure.

    i do not have extensive experience with bromies. i think they are good bikes.
    can you ride them freehandedly and how about high speed ?

  21. #21
    jur
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredfriday View Post
    maybe it has to do with my geometry. i have very long legs and long arms. i bought from a high value dealer in zurich. he seemed to be knowledgeable about bikes.
    when i rode the uetlibergstrasse downwards from uetliberg to zurich center the bike took up speed to 80 or 90. i had to hit the brakes because the front wheel was shaking and vibrating like crazy. it was extremely dangerous. when hitting the front brake at 90 the shaking got worse. i almost fell from the bike.
    i think it is a construction flaw that does not get noticed until you reach very high speed and you need to hit the brakes. in my opinion the front suspension system is dangerous.
    that was the reason why i sold the bike. the good thing is that i did not loose much.

    today i ride the bikefriday nwt. i can ride it freehandedly and i have ridden at very high speed without shaking or vibrating. the brakes are excellent even from 90-0. i feel very secure.

    i do not have extensive experience with bromies. i think they are good bikes.
    can you ride them freehandedly and how about high speed ?
    I have studied the phenomenon you describe; it can be experienced by all bikes, AFAIK. Some are more prone to do it than others. The Birdy is one of those which is more prone. It has to do with the way the front susoension compresses when turned sideways a bit; however this is not the only condition which will cause it. I have had it on a Raleigh Chopper bike in the 70s, and that was a fairly rigid bike. Motor bikes can also get it; they call it tank slappers.
    So The Birdy is not alone in this phenomenon.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

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