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  1. #1
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    Folder for peak hour London bound trains

    Hello
    I'll be joining the London rat race again soon and am planning to buy a folder. I'll use the bike for my 5 mile ride to the train station, taking on the peak hours (ie packed) Chiltern line and then riding to work in central London. I'm in the US at the moment and so can get a good deal on a Dahon Helios P8 (£280ish) or Speed P8 (£225ish) compared to the £560 or so for a Brompton L6.
    The only major disadvantage I can see between these bikes and a Brompton L6 is the difference in folding size. The relative folded sizes are:
    Brommie: 22.2" x 21.5" x 9.8"
    Dahon: 23" x 33" x 11"

    So, do any peak hour train commuters have thoughts on whether the smaller size of the Brommie is worth the extra cash? Is the larger Dahon folded size an inconvenience or is it still easily manageable on the train?

    Thanks a lot!

  2. #2
    Life in Mono
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    I do a similar commute to you and use either a Brompton or a Strida3.
    I couldn't imagine using anything that doesn't fold as small as either of these. On the London Commute Bromptons seem to out number all the other folders by a wide margin. The Brompton folds amazingly small but even so I usually have to leave it by the door - unless there is a luggage or bike space (without people sitting in it .... yes my commute IS that tight !!)... as even the brompton is just too big to bring to the seat and wont fit in the overhead luggage space.

    This is where the strida comes into its own - its light and narrow enough to put in the overhead luggage space (also £200ish which helps). As for cycling the brompton is slightly faster but only just - although the Strida is a single speed, my door to door journey time is identical as although the brommie is faster on the flat and down hill, its slower to fold, heavier and is a pain to carry along corridors.

    I guess your final choice will depend on carriages used on your line, how full they are, and the luggage spaces.

    Whatever, more into fold the better ... See you at Paddington,
    Si

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by shazzz
    Hello
    I'll be joining the London rat race again soon and am planning to buy a folder. I'll use the bike for my 5 mile ride to the train station, taking on the peak hours (ie packed) Chiltern line and then riding to work in central London. I'm in the US at the moment and so can get a good deal on a Dahon Helios P8 (£280ish) or Speed P8 (£225ish) compared to the £560 or so for a Brompton L6.
    The only major disadvantage I can see between these bikes and a Brompton L6 is the difference in folding size. The relative folded sizes are:
    Brommie: 22.2" x 21.5" x 9.8"
    Dahon: 23" x 33" x 11"

    So, do any peak hour train commuters have thoughts on whether the smaller size of the Brommie is worth the extra cash? Is the larger Dahon folded size an inconvenience or is it still easily manageable on the train?

    Thanks a lot!
    I agree with the poster above that the Brompton would be your best choice. I would avoid the Strida because you'll be doing 10 miles on a single speed bike with low pressure tires. This may be too much and it certainly is the wrong choice if you have to deal with hills.

    Form what I understand, London trains are smaller than New York City trainsit making the larger folder more difficult to commute with. I still think it's possible to use the Dahon 20' inch folder but you'll have to remove the rear rack to make the package smaller. The trains are also packed so where you board will make a big difference on whether the bike gets in the way.

    I think another option to the Brompton would be the Dahon Presto. It's about 4 lbs lighter and this is very important when carrying the bike through the tubes.

    I'm glad you noticed the 20' inch Dahon is just slightly wider than the Brompton but much more taller. Regardless, go with the Brompton just to be safe.

  4. #4
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    i don't commute via folding bike yet, but when i do one thing that will be important to me is to find a bike that folds very easily and quickly. does one brand fold easier and more efficiently than the other?

  5. #5
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    [QUOTE=Dahon.Steve]I would avoid the Strida because you'll be doing 10 miles on a single speed bike with low pressure tires. QUOTE]

    Have you seen or tried the Strida3 ? I was worried, hearing about the older models, but - this one really DOES hold its own ... dont knock it !! I run tyres same on both bikes c55psi. My brompton has the 3 speed Sram gears - I find 1st is a bit low, 2nd is a bit high so I tend to switch between the 2, top is really an overdrive. I expected to miss the gears when I got the Strida but surprisingly didn't ! .

    I guess all folding bikes have their Pro's and cons - and BOTH mine have both! But the more people that cut their overall journey by linking with trains the better. My jouney time went down from a variable 1 1/4 to 2 hours by car to a pretty consistent 1 hour door to door.

    Christmas Greetings to all and may 2005 unfold nicely ;-) .... Si

  6. #6
    Señor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simple Simon
    I run tyres same on both bikes c55psi.
    I checked out the Strida website because of this group. Found out that Strida is supposedly offering new
    "metal wheels" which will allow riders to pump tires up to 90psi as opposed to 50psi for the nylon rimmed wheels, allowing more durabilty for longer rides. Don't know the particular ETRTO size however, whether 349 or 305. Still, I'm not a big fan of aluminum - unless they're soda cans.

    However, I thoroughly enjoy the Brompton, a rock-solid vehicle, although they are heavy. If I were to have peeves about it though, it would be that I find many of the components entirely too unique to this bike: brake levers (cheap feeling), the cranks and chainring (they are combined! You can't change rings without also needing to change the right crank arm), derailleur and brake cables (not standard size heads), plastic locking mechanisms, foam grips which feel good but easily tear, exclusive pedals, non-standard size front hub, etc. Yet the reason why I like it more than my Bike Friday is because of its compact size, and quick-fold. One day I will turn it into a single-speed, though. But if you want a bike for which replacement parts are readily available in the U.S., the B. may not necessarily suit you.

    London, however, is a different story.

  7. #7
    slower than you Applehead57's Avatar
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    I've spent a bit of time in London, the traffic is intense, damned intense.
    It's a safe place to walk and there is lots to see, but the traffic requires your complete attention.
    A folding bike is a smart choice, it will soon pay for itself. A zone pass isn't terribly expensive, but it adds up over the course of a year.
    Please take care of yourself. I'll be spending August in London, and I hope you're peddling happily.
    "Lack of opportunity does not constitute virtue". Diana Tickle.

  8. #8
    Fixed in Oz.
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    [QUOTE=Simple Simon]I do a similar commute to you and use either a Brompton or a Strida3.
    I couldn't imagine using anything that doesn't fold as small as either of these. On the London Commute Bromptons seem to out number all the other folders by a wide margin. The Brompton folds amazingly small but even so I usually have to leave it by the door - unless there is a luggage or bike space (without people sitting in it .... yes my commute IS that tight !!)... as even the brompton is just too big to bring to the seat and wont fit in the overhead luggage space.

    This is where the strida comes into its own - its light and narrow enough to put in the overhead luggage space (also £200ish which helps). As for cycling the brompton is slightly faster but only just - although the Strida is a single speed, my door to door journey time is identical as although the brommie is faster on the flat and down hill, its slower to fold, heavier and is a pain to carry along corridors.

    I guess your final choice will depend on carriages used on your line, how full they are, and the luggage spaces.

    Hi Simon,

    Thanks for your comparison of the Brompton and the Strida. I am curious, how much do you weigh? In your opinion which bike is stronger and do you think they carry equal amount of weight without problems. Also could you comment on maintainence issues between the two? Also is the Strida small enough to carry on a plane?

    Regards,

    Tairaku

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Cousins
    I commuted for six months on a Dahon Helios XX from Wimbeldon to Waterloo.

    This was a perfect size for the commute. Bromptons are smaller, but the size difference isn't really an issue, even on a packed train.

    Furthermore I got into several conversations with Brompton owners on the train. Many were a little jealous that I had a more 'proper' bike (larger wheels, derailleur gears, lighter) and also that I had paid roughly the same amount.

    Everyone in London rides Bromptons, simply because they are sold by all the major shops. Personally I find them too small and overpriced compared to Dahons.
    I'm glad we have someone who used the trains with a 20' inch folder. I've been saying for years, if you had the choice between a 20' or 16' inch wheel, you always go for the larger. Ben stated you can use the 20' inch wheel on British trains, so why not go for the larger Dahon?? The larger wheel is safer and more comfortable than the 16' inch wheel plus you get more gears. This is an easy choice as far as I'm concerned.

  10. #10
    Life in Mono
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    [QUOTE=tairaku]
    Quote Originally Posted by Simple Simon
    I do a similar commute to you and use either a Brompton or a Strida3. I couldn't imagine using anything that doesn't fold as small as either of these.

    Hi Simon,

    Thanks for your comparison of the Brompton and the Strida. I am curious, how much do you weigh? In your opinion which bike is stronger and do you think they carry equal amount of weight without problems. Also could you comment on maintainence issues between the two? Also is the Strida small enough to carry on a plane?

    Regards,

    Tairaku
    Hi Tairaku - my weight i thought it was under 200lbs but I just checked and its 210 ! - that's a damn fine christmas dinner I am not sure which is stronger, BromptonL3 or Strida3, both have lifetime frame guarantees so I haven't worried (I think they are both OK for 240lbs). But I have seen much bigger blokes than me on Bromptons (a strange sight). They are totally different frames and materials, both flex, but in different ways. The steel brompton feels stiff around the seat post, but the bars flex. The aluminium strida feels stiff around the bars but the seat flexes more. The Brompton feels overall stiffer but has a harsher ride. The Strida seems more flexible but absorbs bumps better, put it this way - I'd take the Brompton to climb a very steep hill, but the strida to hop down kerbs.

    Maybe I was lucky - both bikes came ready to ride. I've had the brompton much longer and done more miles - but not needed to replace anything yet (rear tyre and brake pads have seen better days)... Its hard to clean though. Although I haven't done anything to it yet, there is less to do on the Strida no gears, etc. and Its easier to clean - no chain .... incidentally I find a clean bike is essential not to p*ss off fellow commutors on a tight train.
    I took the Strida on a trip to germany, (less to risk than the Brompton - my 1st trip). It was hand loaded but still came out on the conveyor - minor scratches but otherwise no problems.

    Hope this answers your q's ...... Si

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    Hi shazz,

    I have been commuting in London for a few years now and have owned variously (in order of appearance)
    A brompton,
    Dahon SpeedPro,
    Bike Friday NWT,
    Birdy Red.
    A brompton again.

    On public transport I found that the Dahon and Brompton where best. The dahon is a lot bigger, but quite a neat package. The brompton of course is very neat and small but can be heavy. I prefer the ride of the brompton to most bikes - I find it both fast and comfortable. But then I've modified the handlebars, gears etc. Bromptons last very, very well and new parts are very cheap considering the initial outlay, so maybe a secondhand brompton is the answer. Or maybe a smaller dahon like the presto could work. Its quite a good setup for such a small bike. Very light too for struggling through crowded places.
    Due to a weird pricing setup, its actually 2/3 cheaper to buy and ship a dahon to the UK from Germany if you can't buy one while in the US.

    Sam

  12. #12
    Life in Mono
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    Interesting comments Sam, wide range of bikes ! - Please can you give more details (inc NWT and Birdy). And where do you put the Brompton and Dahon on the train, when its packed ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Simple Simon
    Interesting comments Sam, wide range of bikes ! - Please can you give more details (inc NWT and Birdy). And where do you put the Brompton and Dahon on the train, when its packed ?
    I've heard that you would place the folder in the location used for wheel chairs or luggage. Some trains have a section to place the bike in between the seats. You would not place the bike on the overhead luggage rack becuse if it should fall, the person below will need emergency care!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    I've heard that you would place the folder in the location used for wheel chairs or luggage. Some trains have a section to place the bike in between the seats. You would not place the bike on the overhead luggage rack becuse if it should fall, the person below will need emergency care!

    Not a strida - is so thin it fits that space perfectly and safely (ok I've only killed a couple of people this year ) I posted a pic of it (from mobile phone) on 'name your bike tread' First Official Folding Bike Thread!! :) Name Your Bike! .... I will try and do the same for the Brompton ... its normal patch is by the door/ fire extinguisher (a Brommie favourite gathering place - often get a brood ? (or whatever collective noun is ) here, when the train is full.

    You have to experience the peak hour london commute to appreciate it. All luggage space is full (of people), and the area around the doors have people standing ... I often get people 'tut' 'tut' ing whichever folder I take on.

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    Hi,
    I used to get a train which was standing only on the way home, so I usually just put the bike wherever I could. Usually I don't like to leave the bike near the door unless I can keep an eye on it, but luggage space works well. It you can bag the bike up, it often stops people getting upset with you for bring a bike near their nice suit. I used to find having a bike added to the stress of crowded transport, but after a while it became part of the routine.

    As far as impressions of the NWT go I really liked it and it is probably the fastest bike I have owned. I found the quality of the frame exceptional, and the handling very good. However, such speed comes at a price - it was a bit of a bone jarrer on london roads. I found the folded size to be okay, but I always got dirty folding the bike. Also it won't stand on its own or lock in position when folded which can be a pain.
    The birdy made a very good first impression - its a nice looking bike and the suspension is excellent. Its also probably the lightest folder out there for the price, which makes for easy carrying. However, the folded package is not that neat and the front fork sticks out quite a lot. Also the bike tends to scratch itself quite badly when folded, especially when the chain comes in contact with the aluminium rear swingarm.
    There is also a fatal flaw with the bike, known among birdy owners as shimmy which is due the the bottom heavy fork design. Over 25mph the front wheel develops wobble which increases in amplitude with speed. It can become very dangerous on descents. Due to this problem it is also impossible to let go of the handlebars at any speed. Its also very undergeared in my opinion unless you get the capreo model. Its a shame.
    Anyway, I hope this is helpful to someone.

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    Hi - thanks everyone for the really helpful comments.

    I have bought a Dahon Speed 8 here in America. It cost me $420 from EBay which seemed like a good deal. I figure that if it is too big I can probably sell it for a little more than I paid in the UK and get a Brommie. Having received it the other day I doubt this will be necessary though - it folds down to a pretty small package and looks cool too! I need to extend the reach by changing the stem but will do this once back in the UK.

    I'm looking forward to dodging those cabbies around the old smoke!

    Thanks again!!

  17. #17
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    Welcome home !

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