Hi all -
Brand new to this forum and hoping to get some good opinions and input on this question.
I'm planning to buy an "entry-level" Bike Friday primarily for riding in and around the Chicago area, and I'm trying to decide between the 24-speed Pocket Companion and the now-discontinued 8-speed Pocket 8. Here are some of the questions that are on my mind:
- Practically speaking, do you really get 24 different gears on a 24-speed, or are there some that are virtually identical and serve more as a convenience / "stepping stone" as the chain moves across chainrings or sprockets or whatever you call them?
- Outside of racing or really extended touring (where you maybe want to maintain an absolutely steady cadence), my impression is that the biggest advantage to the 24-speed is more about the breadth of the gear range (highest vs. lowest) rather than the steps in between. Is this true?
- In short, if I'm not racing and will be biking primarily in the Chicago area, do I really need 24 speeds?
- Most friends I've asked about this take a sort of "the more the merrier" attitude about gears -- especially when there's only a $100 difference between the 8-speed and the 24-speed. So ... are there any disadvantages of extra gears? I'm fairly lazy, so my concerns about the 24-speed are:
- It will require more basic maintenance.
- If not maintained (and even if), it has more stuff that can to break down.
- I'm also fairly lazy when it comes to changing gears, and I don't see myself using more than a few gears anyway -- and rarely the highest or lowest, regardless of whether it's an 8-speed or a 24-speed. I know changing gears isn't really a hassle for most people, but I also know from past biking experience that my personal inclination is to change gears as infrequently as absolutely necessary.
- My biggest concern with the Pocket 8 is not having a low enough gear if I run up against a major hill (not something I expect in Chicago, but I may want to bike in Ireland next summer). I have heard that the Pocket 8 is geared a bit on the high side and that it might make sense to replace the 53T chainring with something smaller -- e.g. 48T or even smaller yet. Is this a good idea? Is it something I should have Bike Friday do for me? What's the right size and is there any drawback to doing this (outside of the reduction in the high gear)?
- All that said, is the entire folding bike market moving or moved to 20+ gears? If I decide to trade up in a couple years (or give up biking), will the Pocket 8 have $0 resale value, or a bigger discount relative to the Companion than the current $100 difference in prices?
Hope you all can help - I'd really welcome some informed opinions.