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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 05-18-12, 11:12 AM   #1
gregdconsulting
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fBike

Does anyone recognize the new fBike as a copy of something else or a rename? I saw one in person today and spoke to one of the founders of the new company. He said they import the bikes from China and they are at the low end, $249. I assume they are just a rebrand of some common Chinese bike.

http://fbikedirect.com/

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Old 05-31-12, 11:53 AM   #2
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My work takes me often to China, typically 2 or 3 times per year. When you travel in China, you see all sorts of ‘transportation appliances,’ ranging from buses to bicycles. One of the most common is the folding bicycle. They are literally everywhere, in all major cities and even in rural areas, folding bicycles have carved out a definite niche in the Chinese transportation ecology. They are simple, affordable, compact, durable, and defensible. In a country that is tightly packed and bustling with activity, folding bicycles play a major role.

And so, it was about 2 years ago when I first suggested to two friends, “Hey! We should import and sell folding bicycles. What do you think?” On seeing a sample, they agreed. The seed was planted. The work of germination lay ahead.

During those intervening 2 years, I visited at least a dozen bicycle factories in China looking for the right blend of quality, style, and price. Some of the factories built junk. Others were building cutting edge carbon, titanium, and aluminum frames. Neither of these extremes suited us. We were looking for a good, solid, utilitarian transportation appliance. Something you could ride from the dorm to the classroom, from the train station to the office, or from the boat to the grocery store.

The fBike is built off of a standard Chinese hinged top-tube folding design. It is, by far, the most common and most widely used frame design for folding bikes in China. (Other folding mechanisms such as Bike Friday’s and Brompton’s vertical folding ‘clock frames’ are not common.)

But from the outset, we knew that an off-the-shelf Chinese bicycle would not suit our US customers. Our customers are generally a bit taller and heavier than the typical Chinese customer. So, we extended everything, added some reinforcements, and then shipped our prototype off to the international testing laboratories of SGS where the fBike was subjected to the full battery of tests specified by the US Consumer Products Safety Administration (16CFR Part 1512:2011). A word of advice: don’t administer these tests to your favorite ride; they are brutal! The fBike passed with flying colors. A perfect score: 100%.

Next, came the really difficult part: designing a logo, picking colors, and placing an order for our first container load. With the help of John Barleycorn, we made it through these trials. Voila…fBike is born!

That is the story of the genesis of the fBike; a highly evolved bicycle design, reasonably priced, and proven; a great transportation appliance. Buy one! You’ll see.
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Old 05-31-12, 02:15 PM   #3
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Why don't you list a mailing address on your site? Many of us have a personal rule about buying online from a site that hides their physical location....
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Old 05-31-12, 03:35 PM   #4
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Steel frame bike at 30lbs is quite an achievement. Normally they are 32-37lbs.

@Hendo252: according to fbike blog they are located in Boston, MA:
http://fbikedirect.com/blogs/news

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Old 05-31-12, 05:50 PM   #5
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The fBike is built off of a standard Chinese hinged top-tube folding design. It is, by far, the most common and most widely used frame design for folding bikes in China.
It looks like a Dahon Boardwalk. From your comment, I can't tell if you're saying Dahon's design isn't protected.

Taking the most cynical view I can imagine, you're really saying 1) it's common in China to use proprietary designs without regard for legal consequences. And, 2) Dahon's design has was widely ripped over so long a period that it's now the most commonly-found design on the street.

Again, that's where my cynical mind jumps to. If Dahon's design isn't protected, I apologize for suggesting fBike is a rip off. I'm just saying ubiquity in China doesn't proves legitimacy. That's all you seemed to address.

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Old 05-31-12, 05:56 PM   #6
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I just checked the blog and see they were at a festival in Boston, but that doesn't mean they have an address. Why don't you post the address if you have it.
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Old 05-31-12, 06:37 PM   #7
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Not to say the design is not a copy but it does not look like Dahon Boardwalk (just look at the rear triangle). Greenzone bikes look like Dahon Boardwalk but this one is quite different.

Last edited by bbmike; 06-01-12 at 09:57 AM.
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Old 06-01-12, 09:03 AM   #8
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fBike Direct is located at 196 Newton St. in Waltham, MA. Please, stop by and pay us a visit!
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Old 06-01-12, 09:08 AM   #9
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Looks like a cousin of Dahon Eco.
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Old 06-01-12, 11:11 AM   #10
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And how exactly can the general layout of a folding bike frame be adjudicated exclusively to a particular brand? How do we know that some of their (Dahon) models aren't built on frames that were designed by INDEPENDENT firms, and are available to other brands as well?

Dahon owns patents on certain specific components, such as some of their folding mechanisms but to say they have a claim to how a frame looks or is put together is ludicrous at best.

Rant off.
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Old 06-01-12, 01:42 PM   #11
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And how exactly can the general layout of a folding bike frame be adjudicated exclusively to a particular brand? How do we know that some of their (Dahon) models aren't built on frames that were designed by INDEPENDENT firms, and are available to other brands as well?

Dahon owns patents on certain specific components, such as some of their folding mechanisms but to say they have a claim to how a frame looks or is put together is ludicrous at best.

Rant off.
Ed
I was of the same view, until Apple sued Samsung over look and feel of their tablet. As it appears one can patent designs and quick google search reveals that it's been done to Dahon America as well:

http://www.bicycleretailer.com/news/...tail/5871.html
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Old 06-01-12, 02:04 PM   #12
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Dahon owns patents on certain specific components, such as some of their folding mechanisms but to say they have a claim to how a frame looks or is put together is ludicrous at best.

Rant off.
Ed
It's not ludicrous at all; design patents have been around for a long time. Ford couldn't just copy the body style of a VW Beetle, and put their own engine and a Ford logo on it; it would infringe on VW's design. This was the problem that Merc ran into, I think, but that the Dahon Curl didn't.

The design patent only covers "ornamental" aspects, though, not functional aspects. Think of the traditional Coca-Cola bottle - Coke didn't have a patent on the "bottles" generally,but they did (maybe still do) have a patent on that particular bottle design.
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Old 06-01-12, 03:17 PM   #13
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fBike Direct is located at 196 Newton St. in Waltham, MA. Please, stop by and pay us a visit!
Cool. Your price is pretty competitive. Congratulations on your start-up and I wish you success.

FWIW, it is helpful to have sizing dimensions for people ordering without ever riding the bike. I'd show the distance to the handlebar and the crank at some arbitrary minimum along with the distance at the maximum. That is, for many people, what is really important for sizing is reach and given that the seatpost and handlebar post seem to be at different angles, it will change according to the extension.
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Old 06-01-12, 05:08 PM   #14
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It's not ludicrous at all; design patents have been around for a long time.
It could be a matter of trademark too. Trademark is intended to protect the consumer from confusion when competitors creates their own twist of a popular item. Like, GM competing with Ford with a new model named "Galaxee."

The design of Ford's Galaxy might be part of the trademarked name, like a logo is. If GM reproduced the Galaxy but called it a Dorfungel, it would be as much of an infringement on Ford's brand awareness as if GM designed an entirely new car but called it the Galaxy.

I don't know if the Fbike is a near clone of anything. I was just trying to highlight that being popular in China doesn't mean anything. I hear the Rolex is the most popular watch in China too.
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Old 06-01-12, 06:07 PM   #15
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has braze ons,a couple of different colors. Looks like it has track dropouts also.
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Old 06-01-12, 06:59 PM   #16
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Does the fBike come with quick release hubs?
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Old 06-01-12, 07:34 PM   #17
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The first thing I'd do is change the photo on the website home page. With the super low saddle height and high handlebar, it looks like it's set up for an orangutan.

It should look like it's ready for a normally proportioned adult to hop on and ride.

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Old 06-02-12, 07:37 AM   #18
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The first thing I'd do is change the photo on the website home page. With the super low saddle height and high handlebar, it looks like it's set up for an orangutan.

It should look like it's ready for a normally proportioned adult to hop on and ride.
Yeah, and those artificial shadows make it look as it came from Mars!

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Old 06-04-12, 08:01 PM   #19
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Cool. Your price is pretty competitive. Congratulations on your start-up and I wish you success.

FWIW, it is helpful to have sizing dimensions for people ordering without ever riding the bike. I'd show the distance to the handlebar and the crank at some arbitrary minimum along with the distance at the maximum. That is, for many people, what is really important for sizing is reach and given that the seatpost and handlebar post seem to be at different angles, it will change according to the extension.
Thanks for the suggestion, we'll add those dimensions shortly.
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Old 06-04-12, 08:02 PM   #20
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Does the fBike come with quick release hubs?
At present, the fBIKE does NOT have quick release hubs. Consider it part of our theft deterrent package! [grin]
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Old 02-10-14, 10:30 PM   #21
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I know this thread is really old but I just didn't catch your reply and maybe you don't even come to this forum any longer. Yes it is ludicrous the assumption that the frame design used by fBike is some kind of Dahon "ripoff".

Some of you guys get so sensitive when ever an upstart company makes something that resembles your favorite brand, and right away you yell "Ripoff!" Of course I'm not referring to blatant copies like some of the Brompton "clones"; that's something else but let's exercise a little common sense here.

Rant off - Hopefully for good this time about this topic.

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It's not ludicrous at all; design patents have been around for a long time. Ford couldn't just copy the body style of a VW Beetle, and put their own engine and a Ford logo on it; it would infringe on VW's design. This was the problem that Merc ran into, I think, but that the Dahon Curl didn't.

The design patent only covers "ornamental" aspects, though, not functional aspects. Think of the traditional Coca-Cola bottle - Coke didn't have a patent on the "bottles" generally,but they did (maybe still do) have a patent on that particular bottle design.
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Old 02-11-14, 08:45 AM   #22
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Of course I'm not referring to blatant copies like some of the Brompton "clones"; that's something else...
Exactly how? Once intellectual property protection expires, the design belongs to the world. There is no 'right kind of people' that are above these laws and rules.

Case study: During the last, mismanaged decade of their existence, the original Schwinn bicycle company was supported by profits from their Airdyne exercise cycle. When the intellectual property rights protection expired on the Airdyne, several competitors brought to market lower cost-to-produce, lower profit margin 'blatant' copies. Schwinn cried 'ripoff'...all the way to bankruptcy court.

You can continually innovate (like DaHon), you can become a low cost producer (like fBike), or you can sit on your behind and wait for someone to put you out of business (like Schwinn and ___________).
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Old 02-11-14, 10:02 AM   #23
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Re-read my posts tcs. I believe we stand pretty much in agreement on this issue. Most definitely if the patent rights to a certain design expire, then it does in fact become "public domain". I just found it funny that some people equate bikes that "look like a Dahon", to be a "ripoff" of that company's designs. Totally different circumstances all together.



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Exactly how? Once intellectual property protection expires, the design belongs to the world. There is no 'right kind of people' that are above these laws and rules.

Case study: During the last, mismanaged decade of their existence, the original Schwinn bicycle company was supported by profits from their Airdyne exercise cycle. When the intellectual property rights protection expired on the Airdyne, several competitors brought to market lower cost-to-produce, lower profit margin 'blatant' copies. Schwinn cried 'ripoff'...all the way to bankruptcy court.

You can continually innovate (like DaHon), you can become a low cost producer (like fBike), or you can sit on your behind and wait for someone to put you out of business (like Schwinn and ___________).
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Old 02-11-14, 10:16 AM   #24
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I am just smiling about some of the statements... or how I undersand them ... which might be three different things all together..

So its ok to copy a Dahon ..but its not ok to copy a Brommy ?

but I digress ... no problem ... its a pretty good design, worth copying, :-)

now a serious question, the owner said that they changed the design for a heavier taller rider in the US. Can you elaborate how and where and what dimensions are changed, versus a Dahon Speed frame

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Old 02-13-14, 08:02 PM   #25
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I'd imagine some changes were extended seat post and stem..and a steel frame for a heavier weight (more durable)?
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