I asked for some help regarding folding bikes a little over a month ago, and I thought I would post an update as a bit of thanks for the comments. In particular, I want to thank Hank (HGR3inOK) for his help at his local shop. Very friendly and knowledgable, and I'm about due to go see him for the first tune up. Also, there wasn't a whole lot in the way of impressions for the Joe bikes on the internet, so I figured I would add in my thoughts for the next person googling for a 26" folder.
Here are a couple of shots of the bike, my house doesn't have the best of lighting, but this is basically fresh from the shop (including warning pamphlet still attached!):
I'm no expert on bike reviews or anything, this being my first bike in over a decade, but I am very pleased with the Joe. I've been riding it to and from school pretty much every day (about 2 miles each way, a nice quick ride), as well as around the local streets for exercise. It feels solid, I don't feel any of the flexiness I've heard people who complain about folding bikes mention. The build quality just seems really nice. The hinge is nice and thick, and I haven't ever worried about it being loose. The Big Apple tires make most bumps not terrible, and it seems pretty quick to get going on the streets (although I am coming from a borrowed 40lb Huffy cruiser as a reference, so there's that to consider). The gears shift quickly and easily, and around Norman, OK I haven't had to really use much outside of gears 3-8 in the second front gear (if that makes sense, I'm not too up on the gearing terminology). According to Endomondo, my max speed so far was ~25mph, with the gears set to 2nd front/8th rear.
The hand grips are very nice, by the way. Comfortable and cushy, and they let your hands rest more perpendicular to the bars, which is easier on the wrists than the Huffy's grips that made me turn my wrists out.
It doesn't fold as small as the 20" folders, which I guess is a given, but it's been perfectly suitable for my needs. I stash it in my (small) lab space at school during the day, and carry it inside to leave it in the garage at night. When I'm running late for a lab I teach, I can just ride the bike there and take it inside with me. Very convenient, and the included t-tool makes folding it down to the narrowest size quick and easy (it also helped me make some brake adjustments once). I've also had pretty much everyone that sees it comment on how cool the folding feature is, and they mention that it looks very nice.
Really, I couldn't be more pleased. And best of all, I made it the entire month of September without getting gas (had to fill up in early October). Apparently my commute to school was the bulk of my driving time.
Nice! so in a year you'll find out that you've more than paid for that bike instead of paying for gas which just goes up in smoke. Also you'll find that you have more stamina and go even faster as you keep doing this daily. Full sized folders never have a problem with flex because their handlebars are connected to a shorter stem unlike those gangly longer ones on the smaller wheels bikes. Your bike probably feels exactly like a full sized bike and feels super stiff which is great for really putting the pedal down when you are late to class .