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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 03-29-12, 09:59 AM   #1
Purpleorchid
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About to go look at my first folder (Brompton)

Greetings...first time poster here. Last Thursday, I was surfing for a kids bike towing apparatus I saw the last time I was visiting Portland, and came across the Clever Cycles website. In one of the store interior shots, I saw this little folded bike and thought to myself "wow, how cool! what bike is that?". I did my research and found out it was a Brompton...I was hooked. I have been researching folding bikes and Bromptons everyday for a whole week! I tried to go to my local bike shop which was listed as a dealer for Bromptons but sadly they don't have any on display.

Coincidentally, we are heading to Portland for the weekend! So I told my husband that I want to go to Clever Cycles to check out the Brompton. I think I want the M6R. If I like the ride, and they have the model/colors I want, I may end up bringing one home with me! No bike rack needed LOL!

I've read about Bike Fridays and Dahons and Terns but I keep coming back to the folding art of the Brompton. Although I do admit I watched a video of the IF Mode bike and I am in love with that design too, but doesn't seem to be a practical bike for me. I wouldn't be able to put any racks/bags on it...and the kickstand for it is $85. If it was a little more practical, I would totally buy that one instead.

This bike would not be for commuting, just casual riding with the family. I have no need for a folder either, I just loved the design of the fold when I first saw it.

Of course, if I'm going to buy any bicycle, I will need to test ride it. Any tips on what to check out for when I test ride any folding bike?

I'm so excited for this weekend!
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Old 03-29-12, 01:58 PM   #2
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Brompton uses a Front block, that their bags clip Onto, rather than a pannier pair.
Touring bag is the volume of 2 small bags.

If you feel a need for more luggage, seatbags from Carradice. or get the rear rack option.
a good sized backpack can stand on top of it , placed upright, and far enough back to not kick it
pedaling.

Bike Friday is manufactured in Eugene, few hundred miles upstream of Portland,
served by Bus And Train and I-5.
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Old 03-29-12, 07:42 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Purpleorchid View Post

Of course, if I'm going to buy any bicycle, I will need to test ride it. Any tips on what to check out for when I test ride any folding bike?

I'm so excited for this weekend!
Test ride: If you have never ridden a folding bike before, for the first few minutes the bike will feel strange because of the small wheels, don't let that put you off, ride it a bit more and the feeling soon passes. What at first feels skittish or squirrely soon feels responsive and precise, it just takes time. You sort of have to relax and trust the bike, if that makes any sense.

If you get the chance, test other bikes too and compare what you like and dislike.

Best of luck and happy hunting.
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Old 03-29-12, 08:10 PM   #4
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I test rode my first folding bike (Brompton) last fall and I loved it. Yes it is different than riding a non folder but you get use to it pretty quick. The two things that I noticed for myself is, one it felt weird when I came to a stop and put my feet down and couldn't feel the top tube between my legs. Normally I rest a bike between my legs and this frees up my arms to go into a bag or something. Second, maybe some people do it but I didn't and that was stand while I was riding up a hill. I am so use to riding my single speed riding in a standing position is second nature, on the Brompton, it just didn't feel right.

All in all I really liked it and I am very picky. It was only the fourth bike I liked right away on a test drive and I can tell you I have tried hundreds of bikes. I use to work at a bike store, so I had access to many bikes, plus I would ask customers if I could try their bikes. The Brompton is nice and I am still contemplating buying one this year but they are expensive.

Good luck on your test ride, it just may be the bike for you.
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Old 03-30-12, 07:47 AM   #5
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Put short bar ends on a Brompton. It makes standing climbing feel much more natural.
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Old 03-30-12, 11:20 PM   #6
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Well, I test rode three folders today: Brompton M6L and H6L as well as a Tern (can't remember what model, but it was the "low end" of the Terns that had the more solid latches (the $800 model).

The first ride was the M6L. It was awesome! It felt so much easier to ride than my Trek mountain bike. The Trek was always a chore to pedal, but this was effortless! Next up was the H6L. I couldn't tell the handlebar height difference b/c the seat was also higher than when I rode the M, so it kind of negated the effect. The last bike was the Tern. It was easy to ride, but they had mtn bike handlebars, so didn't feel like the same ride. It felt like "just a bike" to me, whereas the Brompton felt free-er.

I didn't buy a bike since they didn't have the colors and configurations I wanted. So it gives me time to try out other bikes.
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Old 03-31-12, 07:59 AM   #7
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And you didn't think to stop and take pics of all the bikes you tried and post them here.
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Old 03-31-12, 01:51 PM   #8
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No, my first pic post is reserved for my new bike, not some random test bikes. I think I'm going to order a bspoke Brampton once I get home from Portland. I went to another store near the hotel today and they didn't have the color/config I wanted either.
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Old 03-31-12, 03:20 PM   #9
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If you're going to go on family rides you might want to look into getting bags, a front basket and/or the rear rack option. That way you can easily carry water, sunblock, and other stuff for the family.

One option I really enjoy is the EZ Wheels. I fold up the bike excluding the handlebars and use it as a cart when grocery shopping, Brompton calls it "shopping cart mode." It is guaranteed to get lots of looks and tons of questions, especially if you live in a bike-friendly town like I do. It's also great because I never have to lock up the bike outside where it would inevitably be scratched, I take the bike inside and go shopping with it. Other Brompton owners who don't want to use their bike AS a shopping cart, still fold it up and put it IN their shopping cart so they don't have to worry about locking it up.

Last edited by MadCityCyclist; 03-31-12 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 03-31-12, 06:13 PM   #10
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EZ Wheels - absolutely
Bag - I can't decide between the T or C bag. The bag would be used for hauling picnic blanket, beach toys, SLR camera, etc to our local beach...or for rides elsewhere with the fam. I'm leaning towards the T simply because of the potential capacity, but I like the look of the C bag better.
Lights - I don't forsee myself riding past dusk, so I would probably get clip on lights later should the need arise. Can that rear option light be added on myself or is it a complete fender replacement (like going from no rack to rack)?
Rack - At first I wanted the rack, but now I'm not sure. I know I won't be cross-country touring, but I like that it makes the bike more stable folded up.

I still can't decide between M or H style.

Last edited by Purpleorchid; 03-31-12 at 06:14 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 03-31-12, 09:21 PM   #11
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The H type has a telescoping handle bar, but it only adds an extra 2.5 inches of height. It was designed for taller riders, so unless you're really tall you probably won't need it. I'm 6' tall and the M type suits me just fine.

I can't advise you on the Brompton rear light-I'm a Planet Bike SuperFlash fan and I use them on all my bikes. You may want to check your state laws and city ordinances, because front and rear lights may be required, even in daytime (it's a safety issue to make cyclists more visible to cars).

If you're only going for casual rides you probably don't need a rack, but it is very convenient because it means you don't always have to take a bag with you. If you stop somewhere and buy something, you can simply tie it down with bungee cords. For a beach trip you should definitely go with a bag, because it will keep a bunch of small items together.
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Old 03-31-12, 10:26 PM   #12
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Lights are not required during the day in Washington state. I looked up the Superflash and I like how they look. Where did you mount yours on your Brompton?

Knowing me, I'd always have some sort of bag. When I used to ride my bike more years ago, I would always have at least a seat bag for tire levers, patch kit, etc. So I would never ride without some sort of bag.
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Old 03-31-12, 10:39 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Purpleorchid View Post
Greetings...first time poster here. Last Thursday, I was surfing for a kids bike towing apparatus I saw the last time I was visiting Portland, and came across the Clever Cycles website. In one of the store interior shots, I saw this little folded bike and thought to myself "wow, how cool! what bike is that?". I did my research and found out it was a Brompton...I was hooked. I have been researching folding bikes and Bromptons everyday for a whole week! I tried to go to my local bike shop which was listed as a dealer for Bromptons but sadly they don't have any on display.

Coincidentally, we are heading to Portland for the weekend! So I told my husband that I want to go to Clever Cycles to check out the Brompton. I think I want the M6R. If I like the ride, and they have the model/colors I want, I may end up bringing one home with me! No bike rack needed LOL!

I've read about Bike Fridays and Dahons and Terns but I keep coming back to the folding art of the Brompton. Although I do admit I watched a video of the IF Mode bike and I am in love with that design too, but doesn't seem to be a practical bike for me. I wouldn't be able to put any racks/bags on it...and the kickstand for it is $85. If it was a little more practical, I would totally buy that one instead.

This bike would not be for commuting, just casual riding with the family. I have no need for a folder either, I just loved the design of the fold when I first saw it.

Of course, if I'm going to buy any bicycle, I will need to test ride it. Any tips on what to check out for when I test ride any folding bike?

I'm so excited for this weekend!
Bromptons are nice bikes; used by the well known couple (Laura C. and Russ Roca) of Pathlesspedaled. If you would have came about a week earlier during the Portland Bike Expo, you would have met them. As you may have already noticed, Portland is strewn with a bunch of bike shops that seemingly spread apart every couple of blocks like along Hawthorne Blvd, Burnside st, Ankeny etc... Clever Cycles, on Hawthorne Blvd, is one of the better known Brompton dealers in Portland for sure and I hope you enjoyed their Bromptons!

Dahon/Tern are predominantly 20" folders, with 16" models from Dahon only and some 24 and 26" wheels. The Tern Link C7 is probably the bike you tried.

Bike Friday is a company out of Eugene, Oregon, the same with Burley Designs. They make predominantly custom folding 20" bikes with some smaller wheels. They are known for making custom bikes for people a wee bit more serious into the biking experience. It's a little pricier, but the bikes ride nicer. They have a showroom where you can test ride their bikes.

Whatever you decide, decide what you want and stick with it. There's no one bike that is the best, only one that fits you well and rides well is the one. One you decide on a folder, check out Burley Designs for their trailers. I have a Burley Travoy trailer that I use with my Dahon for commuting and touring and I love it!
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Old 04-01-12, 12:58 AM   #14
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I have the M3L, which I like a lot. I don't miss the rack, but I couldn't do without a front bag: the fact that I can put everything in there and then just take the bag off by pulling one lever is extremely convenient. (I have the "C" bag).

If you get the 6 speed (or the 3 speed), you may want to consider going for the -12% lowered gearing option (all they do is swap out the front chainring for a smaller one). A lot of people, myself included, find that the standard Brompton gearing is a little high. Meaning that you are often in a fairly low gear on flat road, and have fewer low gear options when it comes to going uphill. The reduced gearing option tends to balance this out. YMMV.
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Old 04-01-12, 03:27 AM   #15
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@madcitycyclist, the H bar is just a taller handlebar stem than the M and not telescoping.

@purpleorchid,
EZY wheels all round with the rear rack makes for the most stable folded platform and gives options to strap stuff down (but need to remove stuff before folding). That's why most Brompton owners end up with a bag or bags on the front, which to me is one of the best features of the bike as they are very neatly integrated and also act as a handle to pull the folded bike along.
As for lights, I find the ones attached to the rack too low. You easily attach a light to the top of the seat post as the post doesn't need to be completely down to lock the bike in folded position. The only tricky bit is finding clamps for the seat post's diameter of 31.8mm.

Quote:
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Lights are not required during the day in Washington state. I looked up the Superflash and I like how they look. Where did you mount yours on your Brompton?

Knowing me, I'd always have some sort of bag. When I used to ride my bike more years ago, I would always have at least a seat bag for tire levers, patch kit, etc. So I would never ride without some sort of bag.
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Old 04-01-12, 09:00 AM   #16
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Ooh...good point with the lights being too low. As for hacking standard lights to fit the pillar, a pack of sugru will address that problem seamlessley. If you don't know what sugru is, look it up. The handiest stuff on the planet!

Not knowing much about bike gearing in general, the Brompton brochure says the standard 6 speed gear range is 33.1"-100". The -12% version is 29.1"-88".

Then the 3 speed is 47.9"-84.9". The -12% version is 42.1"-74.7".

So based on numbers alone, I can't tell if the normal 6 speed or the -12% would be better for me. I don't plan to go super fast on the flats (got a 3.5 yr old just learning to bike, so it will be a while to really be able to go fast). And we live in a relatively hilly area, but the local bike trails are relatively flat, LOL.
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Old 04-02-12, 06:47 PM   #17
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Upgraded to Owner Status!

Yahoo! Over the weekend, I finally decided what color I wanted. So after checking out of the hotel, we went back to Clever Cycles in Portland to check out the Bromptons one last time. Rode an H6L again, this time with the seat at the same height as with the M test ride on Friday. I like the H ride posture better.

Anyway, so there it was, the raw lacquer H6L that I just test rode with eazy wheels, hub dynamo lights (wouldn't necessarily have ordered them if I did a bspoke order), firm suspension, regular seat, Schwalbe Marathon tires and luggage block right in front of me. The exact specs (minus the lights) that I would have ordered...staring me down at the store.

So it followed me home, along with a black/grey C bag. All our luggage, jogging stroller and new Brompton all fit in the back of the car! Love it!

I took some pics, but haven't downloaded them off my camera yet. But I have now been upgraded to "Owner Status"!!! I'm so excited! I just need to find my bike helmet...

Last edited by Purpleorchid; 04-02-12 at 10:11 PM. Reason: added "firm suspension" option.
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Old 04-02-12, 07:52 PM   #18
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That raw lacquer sure looks sweet. Congrats buddy! Now hurry up with the pics....or it didnt happen.
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Old 04-02-12, 10:08 PM   #19
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Here she is! My brand new H6L, raw lacquer...yet to be named. (Hope these links work)


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Old 04-03-12, 06:20 AM   #20
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Great bike! Kitted out nicely too. Love the raw lacquered look, I can't decide if it is steam punk, rat rod or just ultra sophisticated. Enjoy.

Wishing you many trouble free miles.
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Old 04-03-12, 06:36 AM   #21
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Yes, a handsome looking bike, hope you enjoy some class A pootling.
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