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  1. #1
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    Dahon Mu XL Sport v Airnimal Joey v Tern Verge/Eclipse S11i

    I already have very good road and mountain bikes (Trek Remedy 7 and Madone 5.2 respectively). However, the primary reason I want a folder is that it will allow me to ride a bike down the (rather steep, 1:6 to 1:7) road in the morning, keep it in the office without taking up too much room, go more than 500m away for lunch/dinner and also be able to get some exercise (especially if I'm eating dinner out but have to go back later), then after work either ride it home or throw it in a bus/cab on the way back if I'm too tired and/or it's too late.

    A less important reason for getting a folder is that I may want to take one abroad for casual inter-city travelling, although realistically, I can see that I will only take my MTBs or the road bike overseas, and not a folder (since if I go to cities etc. that will usually be with wife and kid in the future which means we will have a lot of crap to carry).

    I test-rode the Mu XL Sport (around US$950 after discount) up a relatively steep slope and down a similarly steep one. Actually felt OK on the slopes, and liked the Alfine 11-speed hub. Main problems were that:

    1. Frame was relatively flexy (though I am spoilt by my other bikes).

    2. The installed V-brakes were not inspiring, though I suppose they can be changed (no disc brakes possible though).

    3. Not entirely convinced by the catches which are meant to support the important bits like, well, the handlebar, the body... etc. being all plastic!

    4. Not entirely convinced by Dahon's proprietary parts.

    Of course, it is a relative bargain, since for the price of my other options alone I can buy the Dahon AND spend US$1300-1500 on a Merida XT Edition Big Nine 29er that I can do XC rides/races on and that I have been intending to get for some time.

    Next up, the Airnimal Joey. It looks good with 24" wheels and (it seems) a few more easily available parts. With front and rear disc brakes, Alfine 11, and a folding commuter assist set-up which will allow me to easily wheel it once folded, it will set me back around US$2000. I should be able to ride one again and properly (only managed to wheel it) but I definitely expect it to be a better ride than the Dahon, though obviously it should be, at that price.

    Also looking at the Tern Verge (20") and Eclipse (24") S11i. Again, Alfine 11, and they look good, better than the Dahon but with similar but better fold (maybe the best of the lot). But for around US$1900 and US$2400 respectively they're very expensive for what are still mass-produced folding bikes, even if they come with integrated hubs and lighting and are likely to be better quality than the Dahon, but probably not as stiff as the Airnimal. They also seem to have quite a few proprietary parts, just like Dahon, though I have read about the supplies getting better. I haven't managed to ride them and knowing the shop I'd get them from, I probably never will, even though I have a good relationship with them. Also, the idea of spending that much money on this when I can get the Merida with XT kit for around 60-70% the price is rather galling (the Airnimal seems different/special enough to me). In fact, I got my Remedy 7 on sale for around that price!

    The question is really:

    a) Go for the Dahon and save the but take the risk that I'll have to junk the Dahon in in a few years, and/or that I may find it unsafe while going downhill? Seemed OK on the short test ride, but safety is of course important.

    b) Go for broke with the more expensive Airnimal or Tern and suck it up to spend more money on the Merida?

    I am leaning towards 1. as that will be better for just riding around casually from the office. What is stopping me (apart from not having properly ridden or folded the others) is:

    - If I am going to take it abroad (for casual inter-city travelling) I may feel pretty silly lugging an extra 50lb worth of suitcase (bike inside) on holiday just to ride what is definitely a far inferior bike (Dahon) around. Obviously only I can assess the importance of this.

    - Probably slightly more dangerous on my steep downhill morning commute than the other 2 - but probably not THAT much worse, especially if I upgrade the brakes?

    I've looked at some of the reviews (inc. video) of the Terns and looked at almost every Joey or Mu review within the first 3 Google pages. But I would like some input from anyone who may be able to compare the Joey or one of the Terns (not necessarily the Alfine models) downhill/uphill, and maybe even to the Dahon Mu:

    - Which is the most stable and least fleixble? How do they flex, if at all? Do the Terns flex less than the Dahons? Is the Joey the least flexy of them all (I assume it would be as no side frame joint)?

    - Folding size is not as important as weight and ease of transport once folded. The Joey looks easiest to roll around at the moment, if slightly larger (going by some folded dimensions). is this correct?

  2. #2
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    Ride quality seems to be a priority of yours...
    Have you considered a Bike Friday tikit?
    It rides great, it rolls well when folded, and you can customize the build.

  3. #3
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YW_Slayer View Post
    I already have very good road and mountain bikes (Trek Remedy 7 and Madone 5.2 respectively). However, the primary reason I want a folder is that it will allow me to ride a bike down the (rather steep, 1:6 to 1:7) road in the morning, keep it in the office without taking up too much room, go more than 500m away for lunch/dinner and also be able to get some exercise (especially if I'm eating dinner out but have to go back later), then after work either ride it home or throw it in a bus/cab on the way back if I'm too tired and/or it's too late.
    Why are you only considering these three?

  4. #4
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    I think you should give Dahon a better look over, because I think some of your impressions regarding quality are probably a little inaccurate. I get that, as the leading folding bike brand, they're an easy target, but in fairness, I think they make very good quality bicycles.

    Although I haven't looked at the Mu XL Sport, I have looked at the Mu P8 and own a Mariner, neither of which have plastic hinge latches. Yes, there are plastic pieces associated with the mechanism, e.g. plastic safety locks which keep the hinge latch from being accidentally opened. It's definitely not a mission critical part that, even of it were to fail, would affect the integrity of the bike.

    Aside from that, though, you seem dismissive of Dahon quality in general, and I'd just point out that with more than 30 years of refining the folding design, they've been at it longer than just about anyone, and have been continuously manufacturing longer than Brompton. Of course that does not necessarily mean they make good products, but absent evidence to the contrary, it should give them some credit.

    None of which is to take away from the quality of the Airnimal or the Tern; Airnimal looks like a good product and Tern, well, given that Josh Hon, the son of the founder of Dahon and that company's front man for 20 years, claims that Tern has right to use Dahon technologies and that the bikes are built in the same factories as Dahon, it's not surprising to find them sharing design features and be of similar build quality, even if better finished and equipped.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by YW_Slayer View Post
    ... I test-rode the Mu XL Sport (around US$950 after discount) up a relatively steep slope and down a similarly steep one. Actually felt OK on the slopes, and liked the Alfine 11-speed hub. ...
    Where are you located? Are you sure the Mu XL Sport that you rode has an Alfine 11-speed? The current specs on the Dahon website (www.dahonbikes.com) list an Alfine 8-speed. Previous Mu XL Sport models had a "premium" Nexus 8-speed hub.

    -HANK RYAN-
    Norman, Oklahoma USA
    DISCLOSURE: I have an ownership interest in an independent bike shop that is an authorized dealer for Raleigh, Dahon, Tern & Brompton.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the replies.

    I am located in Hong Kong. I think the Dahon I rode had Alfine 11, but I can't say that I shifted past 8. I will have a look at it again.

    I am only looking at those because I had a look at quite a few others and removed them from the list:

    - BF Tikit - This was at the top of the list due to custom build (disc brakes and Alfine options) and the Hyperfold. But then I rode (and not scootered) an S size model. I know it was too small for me, but it felt REALLY REALLY squirmy. It could have been the shop floor but I wasn't terribly impressed (conversely, I was far more impressed by the Joey which I scootered in the same shop). Also very expensive.

    - Birdy - Very expensive, not too keen on the odd 18" wheel size.

    - Other bikes - Not terribly interested in another bike with chains (includes the Airnimal Chameleon) as I have enough. I would prefer a hubbed bike and these 3 fit the bill. I know there are a few other hubbed bikes out there but I have a day job and a wife and kid and can't spent my whole life researching folders! Would much rather ride them... having said that, does anyone have any other suggestions? HK is folding bike central.

    HGR, Chadster, I hear what you all say about the Dahon and the plastic locks. I just have a few more doubts, since it seemed that I could probably get a stiffer bike (though that will cost more) and at the end of the day I am just somewhat concerned about longevity of, and spare parts for, the plastic locks. I'm not necessarily the type who will steer away from a brand just because it's big or the biggest (I have 2 Trek bikes after all!), or popular in town. The other attraction is that the Mu seems like pretty decent value.

    Anyway, if I can upgrade the Dahon brakes to better V brakes I'll probably end up going for that to save some money. On that basis, I can always buy the other folders later. Still, I intend to try and properly ride (not scooter) the Joey again first, just in case.

  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    After adding a Schlumpf Mountain Drive 2 speed Crankset to my Brompton M3L,
    I can climb most slopes.. low range is 1:2.5, 6 ratios in a row, no overlap.

  8. #8
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    Yeah, not keen on Bromptons for various reasons, though I do like the fold.

    Hank, thanks for the PM, I can't send any replies yet as I need a 50 post count to PM(!!!). But your advice and observations are appreciated and noted.

    On my short ride I have found that going uphill on the Dahon in 1st gear seems to be equivalent to the compact crank (I have a 28) on my Madone 5.2, so I can manage it in a pinch. I think I'm almost entirely sold on the Dahon (partly due to the price) unless the Joey really blows me away for some reason. And even if it does, I can always buy one later if I get the itch and have the money, then keep the Dahon in the office full-time!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by YW_Slayer View Post
    I already have very good road and mountain bikes (Trek Remedy 7 and Madone 5.2 respectively). However, the primary reason I want a folder is that it will allow me to ride a bike down the (rather steep, 1:6 to 1:7) road in the morning, keep it in the office without taking up too much room, go more than 500m away for lunch/dinner and also be able to get some exercise (especially if I'm eating dinner out but have to go back later), then after work either ride it home or throw it in a bus/cab on the way back if I'm too tired and/or it's too late.

    A less important reason for getting a folder is that I may want to take one abroad for casual inter-city travelling, although realistically, I can see that I will only take my MTBs or the road bike overseas, and not a folder (since if I go to cities etc. that will usually be with wife and kid in the future which means we will have a lot of crap to carry).

    I test-rode the Mu XL Sport (around US$950 after discount) up a relatively steep slope and down a similarly steep one. Actually felt OK on the slopes, and liked the Alfine 11-speed hub. Main problems were that:

    1. Frame was relatively flexy (though I am spoilt by my other bikes).

    2. The installed V-brakes were not inspiring, though I suppose they can be changed (no disc brakes possible though).

    3. Not entirely convinced by the catches which are meant to support the important bits like, well, the handlebar, the body... etc. being all plastic!

    4. Not entirely convinced by Dahon's proprietary parts.

    Of course, it is a relative bargain, since for the price of my other options alone I can buy the Dahon AND spend US$1300-1500 on a Merida XT Edition Big Nine 29er that I can do XC rides/races on and that I have been intending to get for some time.

    Next up, the Airnimal Joey. It looks good with 24" wheels and (it seems) a few more easily available parts. With front and rear disc brakes, Alfine 11, and a folding commuter assist set-up which will allow me to easily wheel it once folded, it will set me back around US$2000. I should be able to ride one again and properly (only managed to wheel it) but I definitely expect it to be a better ride than the Dahon, though obviously it should be, at that price.

    Also looking at the Tern Verge (20") and Eclipse (24") S11i. Again, Alfine 11, and they look good, better than the Dahon but with similar but better fold (maybe the best of the lot). But for around US$1900 and US$2400 respectively they're very expensive for what are still mass-produced folding bikes, even if they come with integrated hubs and lighting and are likely to be better quality than the Dahon, but probably not as stiff as the Airnimal. They also seem to have quite a few proprietary parts, just like Dahon, though I have read about the supplies getting better. I haven't managed to ride them and knowing the shop I'd get them from, I probably never will, even though I have a good relationship with them. Also, the idea of spending that much money on this when I can get the Merida with XT kit for around 60-70% the price is rather galling (the Airnimal seems different/special enough to me). In fact, I got my Remedy 7 on sale for around that price!

    The question is really:

    a) Go for the Dahon and save the but take the risk that I'll have to junk the Dahon in in a few years, and/or that I may find it unsafe while going downhill? Seemed OK on the short test ride, but safety is of course important.

    b) Go for broke with the more expensive Airnimal or Tern and suck it up to spend more money on the Merida?

    I am leaning towards 1. as that will be better for just riding around casually from the office. What is stopping me (apart from not having properly ridden or folded the others) is:

    - If I am going to take it abroad (for casual inter-city travelling) I may feel pretty silly lugging an extra 50lb worth of suitcase (bike inside) on holiday just to ride what is definitely a far inferior bike (Dahon) around. Obviously only I can assess the importance of this.

    - Probably slightly more dangerous on my steep downhill morning commute than the other 2 - but probably not THAT much worse, especially if I upgrade the brakes?

    I've looked at some of the reviews (inc. video) of the Terns and looked at almost every Joey or Mu review within the first 3 Google pages. But I would like some input from anyone who may be able to compare the Joey or one of the Terns (not necessarily the Alfine models) downhill/uphill, and maybe even to the Dahon Mu:

    - Which is the most stable and least fleixble? How do they flex, if at all? Do the Terns flex less than the Dahons? Is the Joey the least flexy of them all (I assume it would be as no side frame joint)?

    - Folding size is not as important as weight and ease of transport once folded. The Joey looks easiest to roll around at the moment, if slightly larger (going by some folded dimensions). is this correct?
    $980 US for a folding bike with an Alfine 11 hub is really cheap.

    Folding bikes tend to flex more on the hinges compared to a solid bike, plus its longer steering stem. I suspect that you're probably standing on a climb, torquing the long stem. Tern fixes this by including an oversized stem hinge as well as the frame hinge to reduce the amount of flexing by a certain amount compared to the Dahon. Dahon Mu bikes themselves are relatively stiff to begin with. Quality of the Mu bikes I say are quite good if you take good care of it following the supplied manual. If you don't, you'll likely let the hinges wear out prematurely. The hinges are made of metal alloy and as long as you keep them well adjusted, they won't wear out. I have a Mu SL (a lighter version of the Mu XL sport) and I had taken it on off-road tours with Big Apples as well as road and had abused it as much as my cross bike and my former full suspension BMC Fourstroke marathon bike with equal punishment. Aside from the paired spoke wheels needing some repairs (which were NOT designed for off-roading), the frame held pretty well. I did have to perform a warranty repair on the frame hinge awhile back, but it is currently doing well.

    Joey will fold slightly larger than the Terns and Dahon, but do you really need a 24" folder? When I choose a folder, I'm more concerned about tire availability and 20" wheels have the most selection by far! Tires give the bike more options of where you can take it and ride it.
    Trek 5000 carbon road bike
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  10. #10
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    Could it have been an Mu 360?
    http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/current/mup360.htm
    Dahon Jifo
    Dawes Kingpin 2speed

  11. #11
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    On reflection, I think the Dahon is probably an Alfine 8 premium (or something similar).

    Anyway, I've ordered it but have asked them to change the brakes to better ones (they will put the same Avid Vs on that 2 of the owners use on their tandem) and also the SPDs. The savings over the other bikes were too attractive to pass up, plus like I said, my wife can always use the Dahon later in life!

    Thanks for the feedback guys.

  12. #12
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    Got it. Upgraded brakes to Avid Single Digits (though using the SRAM levers). It is a Nexus 8 hub but I think it will do the trick.

    I do feel the stem is slightly flexy when caning it along the road, but I suppose it's not really for caning.

    Will do the full downhill run from home to work tomorrow (6 mins generally) and see how things go.

  13. #13
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    I have owned a Dahon Mu xl sport and it never failed me. I rode it in the snow, in the woods, rode it all though out the winter. And the only I ever had was that in the winter if you kept it outside overnight, the hub gear would freeze. I Abused this bike to no end. I would stand on the seat with with one foot in the air and keep on biking. The Dahon NEVER broke and survived 3 years with my torture until one day about a month ago someone stole it. My bike was never to be see again. I will never give up on looking for my bike. If by any chance you see you happen to see a dahon mu xl in the hartford/farmington valley area in Connecticut Please, please PLEASE REPLY TO THIS!!!!!

  14. #14
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grace Hon View Post
    I have owned a Dahon Mu xl sport and it never failed me. I rode it in the snow, in the woods, rode it all though out the winter. And the only I ever had was that in the winter if you kept it outside overnight, the hub gear would freeze. I Abused this bike to no end. I would stand on the seat with with one foot in the air and keep on biking. The Dahon NEVER broke and survived 3 years with my torture until one day about a month ago someone stole it. My bike was never to be see again. I will never give up on looking for my bike. If by any chance you see you happen to see a dahon mu xl in the hartford/farmington valley area in Connecticut Please, please PLEASE REPLY TO THIS!!!!!
    sorry to hear about that, grace. do you have any pics of your bike? are there any special additions that you may have made or unique marks, scratches, or stickers, etc? serial number?

  15. #15
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    I feel like I owe an update, so here goes.

    The Dahon was a good bike, but the front AND rear tyres kept puncturing. Say 2 out of every 7 rides. Eventually the LBS (who did a lot of nutting on the tubes, rim tape, etc.) and I decided that this was because of the speed and gradient of my downhill commute. It may have overheated the rims and hence the tube, causing them to burst. But if I underinflated them then the high rotational speed might have equally caused pinch flats.

    I was also somewhat uncomfortable with the fact that going over bumps at high-speed meant that the screw holding the upper portion of the stem in place would loosen, requiring periodic re-screwing. This was easily accomplished by hand, but all of this added up to a rather discomforting feeling when your commute is down a steep road at 30-40km/h with a bunch of cars behind you.

    So I have moved it to another, flatter, environment (London!) which I occasionally visit. I have stored it with a friend, and ride it there sometimes where it will (and has had) a much happier existence. Having said that, I rode it around 6-7km in London and didn't really find it that enjoyable.

    I then bought a Tern Eclipse P24 in black and red. It is much more solid in every respect, has bigger wheels, and disc brakes which will obviously not overheat the rim. I have experienced no punctures so far, although for various reasons I have ridden it for less time than the Dahon. It is slightly bigger and more unwieldy, and won't fit in the boot of a taxi without it being tied down, but all that pales in comparison to the extra security and time which I have gained as a result. It also costs more, but at least I save in terms of inner tubes and time!

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the Dahon was a bad bike. I just eventually found it unsuitable for my purposes.

  16. #16
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YW_Slayer View Post
    The Dahon was a good bike, but the front AND rear tyres kept puncturing. Say 2 out of every 7 rides. Eventually the LBS (who did a lot of nutting on the tubes, rim tape, etc.) and I decided that this was because of the speed and gradient of my downhill commute. It may have overheated the rims and hence the tube, causing them to burst. But if I underinflated them then the high rotational speed might have equally caused pinch flats.
    Something's not right here. Were the tubes puncturing or popping? If there were small punctures,then it couldn't have been caused by overheating. And to be honest,I can't see you overheating the rims. Lots of folks ride loaded touring bikes and tandems down mountain passes without constantly blowing tires. I think you should've gotten a second opinion from another shop.

    Quote Originally Posted by YW_Slayer View Post
    I was also somewhat uncomfortable with the fact that going over bumps at high-speed meant that the screw holding the upper portion of the stem in place would loosen, requiring periodic re-screwing.
    Loctite will fix that.

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  17. #17
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    Punctures of various sorts. Some were caused by overheating (he rim was often painfully hot to touch due to braking) and some by the valve shearing off at the rim - again possibly due to the rotational speeds.

    Anyway, too late. I have a new bike which I much prefer for the purpose.

  18. #18
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    overheating the rims and blowing tubes is almost impossible ..... there used to be wild stories around with tandems and tubeless tires... where the valve stem ripped off after the tire glue got hot and the tire rotated... sure 10 % of the stories did actually happen. the other 90 % were regular flats but the owners liked to brag how fast they were going ... but that was on tandems and tubular or sew up tires...
    :-)
    the shop owner told you something he might have heard 20 years ago ..

    not that I don't want to congratulate to the Tern. nice bike indeed :-)

    Thor

  19. #19
    Senior Member ThorUSA's Avatar
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    oops wrong name .. old computer remembered the old one :-)

    Best Thor
    Having fun selling Terns and Dahons for a living. My personal website is also my business website, same as my profile name, therefore no link given to follow forum rules.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by YW_Slayer View Post
    ... But if I underinflated them then the high rotational speed might have equally caused pinch flats.
    Under-inflation and fast downhill runs while applying the brakes could cause the tire to shift on the rim and most likely drag the tube along with it causing the valve stem to tear. Not to say that pinch flats wouldn't also be a concern.


    Quote Originally Posted by YW_Slayer View Post
    ...Some were caused by overheating (he rim was often painfully hot to touch due to braking) and some by the valve shearing off at the rim - again possibly due to the rotational speeds.
    I seriously doubt that enough heat was generated during braking to cause the tube to fail regardless of the rim being too hot for you to touch. If your rims ever got hot enough to weaken the tube then your brake shoes probably would have first turned to mush and your brakes would have failed.

    Quote Originally Posted by YW_Slayer View Post
    Anyway, too late. I have a new bike which I much prefer for the purpose.
    That's good to hear. Hope you enjoy it.
    Last edited by BassNotBass; 12-09-13 at 08:50 PM.
    I plan on living forever... so far so good.

  21. #21
    Junior Member
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    It was more the possibility that the heat from the rims overinflated the tube, rather than the heat causing the tube itself to fail. Several times, the rips on the tubes were near or around the valve, but those usually were from times when the tyre was somewhat underinflated (hence giving rise to what BassNotBass mentioned as a possibility).

    BTW, the shop owners didn't tell me to buy a new bike. I just got sick of dragging it back to fix punctures (IGH tyre changing is a real no-go land for me) and with various measures having been tried. In the end, I was the one who insisted on buying the Tern. Although it's easy to diagnose faults over the internet, I can't see how anyone else would have recommended anything else, particularly when dragging it to other LBSes would have been more bother than it was worth.

  22. #22
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brakemeister View Post
    overheating the rims and blowing tubes is almost impossible
    I don't think that's true, particularly with rim brakes on smaller wheels (but even with larger wheels). If the rim is too hot to touch, that isn't going to do good things to the tube (particularly if it's patched) or the tire.

    For most applications rim brakes are fine. Riding down at high speed on mountains may very well be one that isn't.
    http://Charles.Plager.net
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  23. #23
    Senior Member ThorUSA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cplager View Post
    I don't think that's true, particularly with rim brakes on smaller wheels (but even with larger wheels). If the rim is too hot to touch, that isn't going to do good things to the tube (particularly if it's patched) or the tire.

    For most applications rim brakes are fine. Riding down at high speed on mountains may very well be one that isn't.
    AS I said .... Tandems were the culprit in years past .... We built a tandem with a 150 teeth front sprocket ..went 175 km fast behind a Porsche with a modified rear spoiler .... The stoker was a blind !!! frenchman .... talking about ...cohones ... and we built all 30 Tandems and organized two years a race with the tour de france ( seeing Captains and blind stokers , hour before the peleton , 1/2 behind the tour feminine ... ) yes there are stories to tell..lol
    Anyhow on sew up tires the tube is sewn into the tire ..tubeless is not the real word really as they do have a trube.. ..but the problem indeed was when the rim heats up the glue which held the tire on the rim started melting and than the tire rotated and ripped the valve stem off the tire ...

    But this was extreme stuff ... normal tandems again dont usually have this problem, especially not with good tubes and regular tires. the tire might rotate but the tube stays put ...

    This is one of these things which do happen, but more likely almost urban legend stuff for 75 % of all stories :-)

    Never heard of any folder to have that problem, as aerodynamics really slow you down at high speeds :-)

    Best Thor
    Having fun selling Terns and Dahons for a living. My personal website is also my business website, same as my profile name, therefore no link given to follow forum rules.

  24. #24
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThorUSA View Post
    Never heard of any folder to have that problem, as aerodynamics really slow you down at high speeds :-)
    I've gotten my folder over 40 mph and could push it further if I wanted. Of course, I don't have a usual folder...
    http://Charles.Plager.net
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