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  1. #1
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    Time to replace Brompton?

    I love my Brompton for its compact size, ease of folding, reliability, and the way it rolls when folded, but I'm wondering if it's time to try something different. The issues I have are that it is heavy (I added rear rack for better rolling when folded, and installed a heavy and not most efficient Schlumpf Mountain Drive to achieve my preferred gearing. It now weighs 30 lbs.) and I prefer a bike with at least 12 gears, including super low-end gears for climbing steep hills.

    So, given the following criteria, what bikes would you guys recommend I look at?

    1) As light as possible.

    2) Rollable when folded, or, if not, then light weight is especially important.

    3) Designed with minimum 12 gears, including super low gears. Speed is not issue.

    Bike is kept in car trunk and used to commute 18 miles a day with multiple folding and unfolding to take in and out of stores and office.

    Appreciate any suggestions - thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Depending on your budget and location, I think a Bike Friday Tikit might work. They're not super-light, but you can get them with as many gears as you like, they're rollable (although not as easily as a Brommie). But my 14-speed Tikit climbs hills amazingly well. The down side is the expense and the size - they're large when folded. But the fold is similar to what you're used to. Get the hyperfold model and these bikes fold in maybe a couple of seconds.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein View Post
    Depending on your budget and location, I think a Bike Friday Tikit might work. They're not super-light, but you can get them with as many gears as you like, they're rollable (although not as easily as a Brommie). But my 14-speed Tikit climbs hills amazingly well. The down side is the expense and the size - they're large when folded. But the fold is similar to what you're used to. Get the hyperfold model and these bikes fold in maybe a couple of seconds.
    I`d look at a tikit for sure.
    °Empty drums make a lot of noice... (Old Hungarian proverb).

  4. #4
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    I don't really see how other bikes can be convenient when taking in and out of shops. I have a 20" and 16" Dahon and in some ways they roll better than my Brompton (with rack), however the rolling is a sort of balancing act that requires attention and the folded size is cumbersome, it's not a happy situation in shops and buildings generally. The Brompton is really too heavy but I have the option to use it as a cart and wheel into shops or to fold completely and carry it, and put the luggage over my shoulder (I added a shoulder strap to the folding basket). So for me I figure bikes other than the Brompton will require locking outside some shops which means the additional weight of a 1.6Kg lock, the combined weight being heavier than the Brompton.

    One option would be to be to use an S-RF5 (W) hub on the Brompton combined with the derailleur for a 10 speed setup, and lose the Schlumpf. The hub is only a little heavier than the 3 speed. If that gearing works for you you could upgrade the rear triangle to ti and the overall weight of the bike would be reasonable-ish. I've said it many times elsewhere that the notion of offsetting the weight of high tensile steel with titanium is ridiculous, Brompton are resting smugly on their laurels and are yet to bring their product into this century, but the utility of the fold is unique.

    I'm not sure about gearing options on a Mezzo, they're light and compact so might fit the bill?

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Len & Tamara Rubin likely would still appreciate some major investment capital
    to get the all Ti framed Brompton like UFB project past the prototype
    stage...

    N+ 1 ?

    I Have a M3L, 3 speed & Mountain drive.. It works for me.. 54,15t..

    I've seen the Brompton 6 speeds, where the 44 was the big chainring
    of a double.. 2nd chainring smaller..

    Even a custom made clamp on front derailleur clamp-on allows one
    to fit braze on FD's.. add a 3rd lever..

    shifting, greasy finger FD option too..

    then N+1,


    I got a Bike Friday 20" wheel , Rohloff hub, disc brake..

    i don't fold the Pocket Llama in daily use,
    until packing for a trip, it is a Mini-Velo.. small wheel
    frame , low, makes it easier to mount.. and park.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 07-17-12 at 08:26 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member alhedges's Avatar
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    I agree with most of what Chagzuki said. A tikit is compact enough to take into the office, but if you want to take a bike into *shops*, I think the Brompton remains the best choice. And, realistically, a Tikit with a rack is going to weigh around 28 lbs, which is not much less than your 30 lb Brompton.

    Can you describe when, specifically, weight is an issue? And are there times when you don't need the 12 speeds? There are people with two Bromptons; one a fully featured model like yours, and the second usually being a rackless two-speed for when weight matters...the latter weighs around 22 lbs or so if you don't opt for titanium.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by alhedges View Post
    I agree with most of what Chagzuki said. A tikit is compact enough to take into the office, but if you want to take a bike into *shops*, I think the Brompton remains the best choice. And, realistically, a Tikit with a rack is going to weigh around 28 lbs, which is not much less than your 30 lb Brompton.

    Can you describe when, specifically, weight is an issue? And are there times when you don't need the 12 speeds? There are people with two Bromptons; one a fully featured model like yours, and the second usually being a rackless two-speed for when weight matters...the latter weighs around 22 lbs or so if you don't opt for titanium.
    To answer your questions, I would say I always need my 12 speeds - typically use them every time I ride. I'm the kind of rider who likes to maintain a cadence, and I prefer to climb hills slowly in low gears (I'm not a strong rider).

    What bothers me is the nagging feeling that I'm working too hard to go up hills. Part of it is that I think in the lower gears the Schlumpf Drive creates so much torque that if I'm not careful to pedal with very smoothly-applied pressure going up hill, then I get a "springy" feeling that feels like part of my energy is being wasted in compressing the suspension rather than all of it efficiently rotating the tires. It's hard for me to put into words. Add to that the nagging feeling that instead of minimizing the weight of the bike, I've been "forced" to go down a path that has maximized it's weight, first with the weight of the Schlumpf drive, trying give a bike 12 gears that wasn't designed for it, and also by adding the back rack which I felt was necessary because early on normal "parking" caused the back plastic fender to crack and I felt it was likely to happen again, plus the bike rolls so much better with the 4 wheels the rack provides.

    One intriguing bike an NYCeWheels rep has suggested is the Tern Verge X20 - a bike with 20 speeds weighing only 20.5 lbs (vs. my 30 lb. Brompton). I can't help wondering if such a drastic reduction in weight might make it tolerable to carry such a bike in and out of stores, and that the difference in weight PLUS the fact that it is DESIGNED with the gearing I seek might make the tradeoff (not rollable like Brompton) worth it for a huge boost in performance. BTW, When I say that I typically go into stores, I don't mean carrying it in a big store or mall and doing a lot of walking with it, but rather running into a 7-11 or deli or relatively small fruit and vegetable store to pick something up to eat, although I have been known to go into a Target and rather large Whole Foods store to pick stuff up. The Tern Verge X20 is VERY expensive, though, so I'd really have to be pretty impressed by the improved performance and sold on what it feels like to carry short distances to seriously consider it (and I'd probably have to sell my Brompton to afford it).

    The less expensive and only slightly heavier Tern Verge X10 (21.3 lbs. - hideously color-schemed IMO) has fewer gears than I want, but then if the bike is substantially lighter than my Brompton, and if the drivetrain doesn't suffer from lost energy like my Schlumpf-driven Brompton does, then I may not need quite the low range I have on the Brompton. All of this can only be determined through test-riding, which I think is my next step.

    Re Tikit - I had long conversation with BF rep about a number of their bikes, but we talked about so many different bikes and configurations that I don't remember exactly what conclusion we came to about it - have to review my notes. I'll revisit that as well.

    Thanks for everyone's comments.

  8. #8
    Senior Member kamtsa's Avatar
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    I think need to pay attention more to the gear range (min/max GI, see http://sheldonbrown.com/gears/ ) rather than the number of gears. A 2x10 gear bike that does not get low enough will not help you with steep hills.

    The low gearing 6sp Brompton has a hi/low ratio of 300% that with 44T chainring gives 30-90 GI. You can compute what is the GI for each combination of your current bike and determine what gear range you need. The Tern verge X20 spec is 28 - 93 GI which is about the same as a low gearing 6sp Brompton.

    Some products that have large high/low ratio are SRAM Dual Drive and Rohloff but they add to the weight.

    And, if you will find the perfect folder, I will also get one ;-)
    Happier than a camel on wednesday.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    I have a reduced gearing Brompton - I had hills and wind in mind - and find that the lowest gear is pretty capable for most hills. Usually if I can't make it up a hill, it's me, not the bike, and I'm not so sure a lower geared bike would have necessarily made much difference.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by kamtsa View Post
    I think need to pay attention more to the gear range (min/max GI, see http://sheldonbrown.com/gears/ ) rather than the number of gears. A 2x10 gear bike that does not get low enough will not help you with steep hills.

    The low gearing 6sp Brompton has a hi/low ratio of 300% that with 44T chainring gives 30-90 GI. You can compute what is the GI for each combination of your current bike and determine what gear range you need. The Tern verge X20 spec is 28 - 93 GI which is about the same as a low gearing 6sp Brompton.

    Some products that have large high/low ratio are SRAM Dual Drive and Rohloff but they add to the weight.

    And, if you will find the perfect folder, I will also get one ;-)
    Yes, Kamsta. The way I think, there are three factors to consider: 1) Amount of gears, 2) Low and top gear inches, and 3) Evenness of spacing between each gear. In general I prefer bikes with lower gears than the average bike comes with and so I'm prepared to customize the chainrings if necessary to achieve my goals.

    My Brompton is a pre-wide-range 6sp. It didn't have quite low enough gear for me. At first I changed the front ring to the 44T, but felt the need for even lower gear and didn't love lowering of highest gear, so then I went back to the original chainring and added a second "granny" front chainring which I switched to manually. I got the range I wanted, but it was a bit of hassle to have change manually (used foot to move from large ring to small, but had to stop and use stick to move it back at top of hills), so that led me to try the Schlumpf. I don't think I would have liked the newer wide-range 6sp version because I find the spacing between gears to be perfect and wouldn't want them to be much wider.

    I'm assuming that the lighter the bike, the less low the low gear needs to be. Going to test-ride the Tern 10x. Light weight and may be able to customize to have acceptable range.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerrys88 View Post


    To answer your questions, I would say I always need my 12 speeds - typically use them every time I ride. I'm the kind of rider who likes to maintain a cadence, and I prefer to climb hills slowly in low gears (I'm not a strong rider).

    What bothers me is the nagging feeling that I'm working too hard to go up hills. Part of it is that I think in the lower gears the Schlumpf Drive creates so much torque that if I'm not careful to pedal with very smoothly-applied pressure going up hill, then I get a "springy" feeling that feels like part of my energy is being wasted in compressing the suspension rather than all of it efficiently rotating the tires. It's hard for me to put into words. Add to that the nagging feeling that instead of minimizing the weight of the bike, I've been "forced" to go down a path that has maximized it's weight, first with the weight of the Schlumpf drive, trying give a bike 12 gears that wasn't designed for it, and also by adding the back rack which I felt was necessary because early on normal "parking" caused the back plastic fender to crack and I felt it was likely to happen again, plus the bike rolls so much better with the 4 wheels the rack provides.

    One intriguing bike an NYCeWheels rep has suggested is the Tern Verge X20 - a bike with 20 speeds weighing only 20.5 lbs (vs. my 30 lb. Brompton). I can't help wondering if such a drastic reduction in weight might make it tolerable to carry such a bike in and out of stores, and that the difference in weight PLUS the fact that it is DESIGNED with the gearing I seek might make the tradeoff (not rollable like Brompton) worth it for a huge boost in performance. BTW, When I say that I typically go into stores, I don't mean carrying it in a big store or mall and doing a lot of walking with it, but rather running into a 7-11 or deli or relatively small fruit and vegetable store to pick something up to eat, although I have been known to go into a Target and rather large Whole Foods store to pick stuff up. The Tern Verge X20 is VERY expensive, though, so I'd really have to be pretty impressed by the improved performance and sold on what it feels like to carry short distances to seriously consider it (and I'd probably have to sell my Brompton to afford it).

    The less expensive and only slightly heavier Tern Verge X10 (21.3 lbs. - hideously color-schemed IMO) has fewer gears than I want, but then if the bike is substantially lighter than my Brompton, and if the drivetrain doesn't suffer from lost energy like my Schlumpf-driven Brompton does, then I may not need quite the low range I have on the Brompton. All of this can only be determined through test-riding, which I think is my next step.

    Re Tikit - I had long conversation with BF rep about a number of their bikes, but we talked about so many different bikes and configurations that I don't remember exactly what conclusion we came to about it - have to review my notes. I'll revisit that as well.

    Thanks for everyone's comments.
    To me, it sounded like you are wanting a 20" GI low gear as a start; probably an 18" or a 16" to climb steep hills, because you are indicating to us that you were using a smaller chain ring than the 44T. I don't know what kind of hills you are climbing, but if you need anything lower than 25" GI, then I guess you have some nasty 10% to 22% grade hills in your area? If that's the case, none of the stock bikes are made to provide you with anything lower than a 20" Gear Inches (GI). Typically, a relatively strong rider can deal with a 28" or 26" gear on up to a 16% grade hill (that's steep) and that's why it's on pretty much most road bikes. To get lower, you really need a smaller chain ring and a 11-34 or 36 rear cassette combined to get you really low. I have a 21" GI low gear on my Dahon Mu SL, but I had to customize it with a SRAM 11-34 cassette and a 53/39 road double crankset up front to give me a 21" to 90" GI. I have a front derailleur attached with a ThorUSA gadget so I can switch between the chain rings using a shifter. The Mu SL only comes with a 9 speed and is the older version of the Tern Verge X10. With a 21" gear, I can literally spin up a 22% grade piece of cake. With a loaded trailer and panniers, I can manage somewhat. But anything lower than 20" GI, I would probably be better off walking than cycling. To get lower, I can replace the road double with a double compact crank 50/34 to go down to a 18" with a 82" GI high.

    Remember that it's not the number of gears, but what are those gear inches to you that will maintain a good cycling cadence without the gear redundancies found on 27 and 30 speeds bikes! Just because you have lots of gears do not mean you are going to use them. This is the most common fallacy for people who are wanting lower gears! Wrong approach. Best approach is to find your lowest gears that you like and approach it as a 1x9x2 or 1x10x2 system. I have a 1x9x2 system on my Dahon Mu SL (note that I do not mention that I have 18 speeds) and a 1x10x2 system on my Masi cross bike. The advantage of this system is that, I always have a good chain line, quick shifting without having to resort to those long cage derailleurs and it will NOT JAM on the up or downshift during stressful steep climbing sessions because I don't have to shift from one chain ring to another to go lower.
    Last edited by pacificcyclist; 07-14-12 at 08:56 AM.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member bhkyte's Avatar
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    Sounds like something like my conversion would be ideal for you.
    Dual drive mezzo.
    What about a birdie, zoot swift (light), dahon/tern with dual drive
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    Last edited by bhkyte; 07-14-12 at 10:00 AM.
    Dual drive Mezzo (GOLD), Dual Drive Mezzo with bullbars (black), White Brompton thingy with Dahon Androes stem and bull bars. Birdie (old sytle) 7 speed. Downtube NS8.

  13. #13
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    Pacificcyclist - thank you so much for your very thoughtful response. Despite having gone through a number of modifications on my bicycle (and even learning how to remove and replace the bottom bracket myself), I am really very far from being knowledgable about the ins and outs of bike mechanics and terminology. I followed everything you said pretty well, except this:


    Quote Originally Posted by pacificcyclist View Post
    Best approach is to find your lowest gears that you like and approach it as a 1x9x2 or 1x10x2 system. I have a 1x9x2 system on my Dahon Mu SL (note that I do not mention that I have 18 speeds) and a 1x10x2 system on my Masi cross bike. The advantage of this system is that, I always have a good chain line, quick shifting without having to resort to those long cage derailleurs and it will NOT JAM on the up or downshift during stressful steep climbing sessions because I don't have to shift from one chain ring to another to go lower.

    I've never come across descriptions of gearing setups as "1x9x2 or 1x10x2" (and therefore am a little lost when you add the part about maintaining a good chain line). Can you explain this in layman's terms? I think the "9" in "1x9x2" means you have 9 chainrings on the back wheel and the "2" refers to 2 chainrings up front, but what does the "1" refer to? How does this keep a good chain line. Sorry to be so dumb. [EDIT: I think I figured it out - 1 = Internal Hub, 9 = back derailleur, 2 = front derailleur, but still unsure what it is about your 1x9x2 system that keeps a good chain line, unless you mean that the reason you don't refer to your it as having 18 speeds is that you discount the two combinations that are extreme opposites on front and back, which makes sense. Think that must be what you are referring to...]


    Anyway, I had an interesting day trying out bikes today. Went to NYCeWheels and tried three bikes:


    Tern Verge X10
    IF Reach
    Dahon Formula S18


    Each of the bikes had good qualities, but other qualities as well that wound up not selling me on any of them (and made me really appreciate my Brompton). I discovered that it is quite difficult to evaluate bikes because you only get to try them with off-the-shelf seats and handlebars and gears that may not suit you (but that could be customized). For example, the Tern had a really hard saddle that I found uncomfortable. All three have straight handlebars that I found are not terrible comfortable for me. Also, I'm 6" tall and while I was able to adjust the seats to my height, the handlebars on the Tern and Reach were limited in height so I felt uncomfortably bent forward on them. The Dahon's handlebars felt too far from the seat for me - in fact I felt that a little on the other two as well I think.


    What I did learn was very much in line with what you said. I don't need lots of gears. In fact, 10 might be enough for me because I simply don't need really high gears that all these bikes come with. I am not into speed. In fact, it astonishes me that bikes come with such high gears. On the Tern and IF Reach I felt I'd be happier with one lower gear, two on the Dahon. It seems to me that would be achievable with some chainring customization.


    Anyway, all this is moot because the other important factor to me, portability when folded, were not satisfactory to me in all three. The Tern rolls only if you raise the seat post, but the rolling was very wobbly and tricky to control, and with the seat up, resting the bike down meant resting it on the front chainring (ouch). Also, I found that keeping the bike folded was a little precarious - magnets hold them together and several times when I lifted the folded bike it started to unfold. I was curious to see if I could live with having to carry, rather than roll, a bike if it was really light, but I discovered that carrying a 21 lb. package is no fun. Here my Brompton wins hands down. It rolls beautifully when folded and it even has a built-in handle like a vacuum cleaner if I leave the seat post up and rotate it facing backwards. The If CAN be wheeled (only forward, not backward) when folded, but it requires lifting the back end of the bike and it's quite heavy and a substantially larger package than my Brompton. Funny, I can't remember if the Dahon could be rolled when folded. Probably not satisfactorily. Anyway, while it felt the smoothest of the three to ride but, as I said, there was too much distance between seat and handlebar for me.


    Bottom line, I came away with a new appreciation for my Brompton, and for the need to compromise. The geometry feels just right for my body. The Schlumpf drive gives me the perfect gearing I want - 12 evenly spaced gears, none overlapping, including the low gears I want and a perfectly acceptable high gear. That said, I think I will remove it and go back to using 2 chainrings up front for a while. Having lived with the Schlumpf for a while now, I think having to get off my bike at the top of hills to manually move the chain back onto the larger ring may be a hassle I'll be more willing to live with in exchange for reduced weight and a more direct and efficient drivetrain.


    Last up might be a closer look and test ride of a Tikit as well (If memory serves, I think they are comparably small and wheelable when folded, albeit a little awkwardly - not as easily as the Brompton, but also more customizable in terms of gearing).
    Last edited by Jerrys88; 07-15-12 at 06:37 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bhkyte View Post
    Sounds like something like my conversion would be ideal for you.
    Dual drive mezzo.
    What about a birdie, zoot swift (light), dahon/tern with dual drive
    bhkyte - thank you for mentioning the Mezzo. I had forgotten about them (and they were not around when I bought my Brompton). I did investigate them a little about a year ago but need to give them a closer look. It appears they have a similar fold to the Brompton and may therefore roll when folded as well. That handlebar/stem does look odd!
    Last edited by Jerrys88; 07-14-12 at 08:46 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    @ Jerry: Did you see the Tern rear rack with built in wheels for easy rolling the bike? Scroll down toTrolley rack http://www.thorusa.com/accessories/racks.htm Not small but rollable.
    °Empty drums make a lot of noice... (Old Hungarian proverb).

  16. #16
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by badmother View Post
    @ Jerry: Did you see the Tern rear rack with built in wheels for easy rolling the bike? Scroll down toTrolley rack http://www.thorusa.com/accessories/racks.htm Not small but rollable.
    The Tikit folding rear rack has a "skate wheel" which seems to be performing much the same function. At a guess, it's probably paired with the front wheel (which, without this rack, you need to balance the bike's weight on when rolling it while folded).
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    Quote Originally Posted by badmother View Post
    @ Jerry: Did you see the Tern rear rack with built in wheels for easy rolling the bike? Scroll down toTrolley rack http://www.thorusa.com/accessories/racks.htm Not small but rollable.
    Thanks, badmother - I was not aware of that. Of course, now we're talking about adding weight back, but still worth considering. I wish I had taken notes on each bike I tried because by the time I tried the third bike I sort of lost track of what the first one (Tern) had felt like. If I try it again (knowing now that a rolling rack is available) I wonder if I could bring my own saddle and have them put it on for me. As I mentioned, the saddle was really hard (I went for a ride today and my butt was SORE from it), making it difficult to evaluate the rest of the bike. I think I found the handlebar a bit low and its height is unadjustable. Another difficulty in evaluating bikes is that I've gotten so used to the Brompton, anything else feels strange at first, but not to say I wouldn't become comfortable with it with a little time. Still, eager to look at Mezzo and revisit the Tikit. If all else fails, I'll be happy to hold on to my Brompton. The issues I've stated in this thread are really minor compared to the convenience and all else about the bike. Incidentally, riding my Brompton today I realized that I could easily dispense with the 2 very lowest gears, so a 10 speed would be sufficient if it had the right range.

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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein View Post
    The Tikit folding rear rack has a "skate wheel" which seems to be performing much the same function. At a guess, it's probably paired with the front wheel (which, without this rack, you need to balance the bike's weight on when rolling it while folded).
    Another item I didn't know about - thanks, Neil.

    Don't know why these racks have to cost so much. A lot of people consider $200 a budget for a bike!

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    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerrys88 View Post
    Another item I didn't know about - thanks, Neil.

    Don't know why these racks have to cost so much. A lot of people consider $200 a budget for a bike!
    This is why I haven't upgraded to that rack. I'm content to balance on the front, freely rotating wheel when I need to roll while folded. I didn't pay much more than $200 for the front and rear Tubus racks on my non-folding touring bike.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerrys88 View Post
    Pacificcyclist - thank you so much for your very thoughtful response. Despite having gone through a number of modifications on my bicycle (and even learning how to remove and replace the bottom bracket myself), I am really very far from being knowledgable about the ins and outs of bike mechanics and terminology. I followed everything you said pretty well, except this:





    I've never come across descriptions of gearing setups as "1x9x2 or 1x10x2" (and therefore am a little lost when you add the part about maintaining a good chain line). Can you explain this in layman's terms? I think the "9" in "1x9x2" means you have 9 chainrings on the back wheel and the "2" refers to 2 chainrings up front, but what does the "1" refer to? How does this keep a good chain line. Sorry to be so dumb. [EDIT: I think I figured it out - 1 = Internal Hub, 9 = back derailleur, 2 = front derailleur, but still unsure what it is about your 1x9x2 system that keeps a good chain line, unless you mean that the reason you don't refer to your it as having 18 speeds is that you discount the two combinations that are extreme opposites on front and back, which makes sense. Think that must be what you are referring to...]


    Anyway, I had an interesting day trying out bikes today. Went to NYCeWheels and tried three bikes:


    Tern Verge X10
    IF Reach
    Dahon Formula S18


    Each of the bikes had good qualities, but other qualities as well that wound up not selling me on any of them (and made me really appreciate my Brompton). I discovered that it is quite difficult to evaluate bikes because you only get to try them with off-the-shelf seats and handlebars and gears that may not suit you (but that could be customized). For example, the Tern had a really hard saddle that I found uncomfortable. All three have straight handlebars that I found are not terrible comfortable for me. Also, I'm 6" tall and while I was able to adjust the seats to my height, the handlebars on the Tern and Reach were limited in height so I felt uncomfortably bent forward on them. The Dahon's handlebars felt too far from the seat for me - in fact I felt that a little on the other two as well I think.


    What I did learn was very much in line with what you said. I don't need lots of gears. In fact, 10 might be enough for me because I simply don't need really high gears that all these bikes come with. I am not into speed. In fact, it astonishes me that bikes come with such high gears. On the Tern and IF Reach I felt I'd be happier with one lower gear, two on the Dahon. It seems to me that would be achievable with some chainring customization.


    Anyway, all this is moot because the other important factor to me, portability when folded, were not satisfactory to me in all three. The Tern rolls only if you raise the seat post, but the rolling was very wobbly and tricky to control, and with the seat up, resting the bike down meant resting it on the front chainring (ouch). Also, I found that keeping the bike folded was a little precarious - magnets hold them together and several times when I lifted the folded bike it started to unfold. I was curious to see if I could live with having to carry, rather than roll, a bike if it was really light, but I discovered that carrying a 21 lb. package is no fun. Here my Brompton wins hands down. It rolls beautifully when folded and it even has a built-in handle like a vacuum cleaner if I leave the seat post up and rotate it facing backwards. The If CAN be wheeled (only forward, not backward) when folded, but it requires lifting the back end of the bike and it's quite heavy and a substantially larger package than my Brompton. Funny, I can't remember if the Dahon could be rolled when folded. Probably not satisfactorily. Anyway, while it felt the smoothest of the three to ride but, as I said, there was too much distance between seat and handlebar for me.


    Bottom line, I came away with a new appreciation for my Brompton, and for the need to compromise. The geometry feels just right for my body. The Schlumpf drive gives me the perfect gearing I want - 12 evenly spaced gears, none overlapping, including the low gears I want and a perfectly acceptable high gear. That said, I think I will remove it and go back to using 2 chainrings up front for a while. Having lived with the Schlumpf for a while now, I think having to get off my bike at the top of hills to manually move the chain back onto the larger ring may be a hassle I'll be more willing to live with in exchange for reduced weight and a more direct and efficient drivetrain.


    Last up might be a closer look and test ride of a Tikit as well (If memory serves, I think they are comparably small and wheelable when folded, albeit a little awkwardly - not as easily as the Brompton, but also more customizable in terms of gearing).
    Basically you're right. I have 2 extreme opposites divided into 2 zones for which the 4 to 5 cogs nearest to the rear derailleur would mate with my largest chain ring to give the highest gearing I can get and the last remaining cogs closest to the rear hub flange mated with the smallest chain ring to give me the lowest. This way, I don't need a triple and also keeping the chain line angle in reasonable angles. I've been touring and riding long distance this way now and I love it. I just vary the pedal cadence to vary the bike speed in most gears. Apparently this year on my tours, I am seeing a number of people doing this way too -- abandoning their triples by going double by removing the 3rd large chain ring and keeping only 2 up front and customizing the cassette at the rear to give the 2 opposites. One benefit -- no more chain tatoo or at least minimizing it! Downside is I need to do a lot of double front and rear shifting riding on rolling hills, but you get used to it anyhow.

    Brompton is a unique bike, but it's already heavy as it is with 6 speeds, so I don't see a reason why you need to remove the Schlumpf drive -- 25 to 30lbs ain't gonna make a difference lifting it across the train station compared say to a single speed Dahon Jifo 16 which is a heck a lot lighter. I've researched into wheeling bikes as well with all the gadgets out there, but you see they all have compromises and are not meant for extended wheeling. The Tikit is heavy as well and is not well balanced when being wheeled either. Which is why I tow my Burley Travoy trailer with me sometimes to work. Why? It's simple. I simply fold my Mu SL or Speed Uno and strap to it and then drag it like a carry on. It goes in elevators and escalators quite well. It's light and very easy to pull with its big wheels and I can really walk or run really fast with it. There are no balancing issues. If I shop in the supermarket, I have a pair of "Mommy Hooks" and simply hook the grocery bags to it while my lovely Dahon sit quietly folded on the cargo tray.
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    I would sell the schlumpf and buy a ti fork or rear frame.

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    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    I like chagzuki's last suggestion. There may also be other parts that can be replaced by lighter versions. I don't know if this will get you the weight you want to be at, but it might put off the sale of your Brommie for a few more years.

    That said, I have a Bike Friday Tikit, and I used to use it all the time for grocery shopping. Just put a pannier on your front rack, and you're good to go. It does take a little getting used to, but once you've got it, it works decently. Unfortunately, you always have to balance it... so your arm will get a workout if you have to roll it around for an extended period of time. My goal while rolling it was to get in and out as quickly as I could so it didn't bother me much. As others have noted, you have a lot of gearing options on the Tikit and semi-custom sizing (Small, Medium, Large).

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    Thanks for your suggestions, chagzuki and Lalato. All reports I'v ever read say that the cost/benefit of ti parts is rather limited (you don't get a lot of weight reduction and it costs a lot), but it is something to think about. Lalato - yes, what I remember about the Tikit is how unwieldy I found balancing it while rolling it - a big difference between that and my Brompton which I can literally push across a room and let it roll by itself. The rear rack with rollerskate wheel to improve the Tikit's rolling looks interesting. I shirk at the cost, but then my Brompton rack cost me about the same. A Tikit with about 10 gears and a rear rack with the rollerskate wheel could be a good option - I'll investigate further. In the meantime, I have renewed respect for my Brompton!

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    My take on it is if you have a rack, then you shouldn't need to carry your brommie around and therefore the end weight shouldn't matter that much. Also, the rack adds weight, so you either settle for a lighter bike to carry around or a heavier bike to roll around. Sounds like you already have everything you need in a bike but just had a moment of doubt. I wish I had a Brompton.

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    I looked for ways to lighten my Brompton. Anyone using marathon/mararthon plus tyres could lose a lot of weight by switching to Primo Comets with a tyre liner.
    I switched the SA gear cable outer for a standard gear cable outer and that saved 30g. Perhaps on a six speed both cables are of the SA variety?
    The new type of folding pedal nut and washer should save around 20g.
    I installed (with some trouble) a cartridge bearing headset which is 60g lighter than the steel type and lighter than the Brompton alloy type.
    Some bolts can be switched out for ti equivalents.
    When I built a rear wheel I opted for 14g spokes which saves quite a bit of weight.

    So there's a few things that can be done which in combination are significant.

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