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  1. #1
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    Best folder for the... uh... heavier rider...

    Hello all,

    I'm in the market for a folding bike capable of putting up with my immense bulk... sad to say I weigh in the region of 120kg (I'm working on it...) and am 6 foot 2 tall, but due to an imminent house move I will soon be back on a bike-train-bike commute to work.

    I have done this previously with a Brompton M3L, with relatively few problems (other than breaking spokes on the back wheel quite often, which was a PITA but not that expensive to fix) however I sold my Brompton a while back after moving to my current place, and now can't really afford to buy a new one as they are just too expensive. I'm not really looking for a secondhand bike either, whatever I buy will have to put up with a lot of punishment carrying me so I don't want to be unsure of how much punsihment the mech and hinges have already had...

    I have test-ridden a couple of the B'Twin Tilt models in my local Decathlon store. They seem very sturdy and I suspect they may be less prone to breaking spokes since a) they are described on B'Twin and Decathlon's websites as being (the only) folding bike suitable for riders weighing 120kg and b) they appear to use BMW wheels, which I suspect may be tougher than road bike wheels. But I don't have any experience of riding on the road, and haven't yet found any reviews by actual owners of these bikes. Anyone here got one?

    Had a look at some of the cheaper Tern bikes in my local store, but the staff there didn't recommend them to me, said that the frame strength and build quality was not on par with the Dahons and probably would start giving me grief in less than 12 months.

    In any event, my requirements:

    Riding approx 5 miles per day, on roads, some hills
    Not very fit so single speed bikes are out of the question
    Up to around 500 to buy (new)
    Must be able to put up with 120kg without breaking (much)

    Any recommendations?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    At about half your weight I'm one to talk - but when loaded up I do regularly get up to around 100 kg on my (cheap) folder, around 15% over the maker's limit. And it all feels as stable as ever, although I don't hop over a lot of kerbs at that weight. The leverage working on the bars and seatpost sounds like the main problem at your size, and surely a lighter touch when riding can take the edge off that.

    Remember lower-priced folders often have 36 spoke wheels as opposed to Brompton's, what, 28? Maybe a hub gear rear wheel on the back might save a few spokes? Big Apple tyres seem to take quite a bit of stress off the bike too (and I believe they at least are rated to 130 kg - each).

  3. #3
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    well I dont have the answer.... BUT that little comment about Tern bikes from your dealer .... I sell both ... Both a great bikes.
    That comment from a dealer however clearly shows the ignorance and ist just plain stupid. Find another dealer they have no friggin idea what they talking about ... if it was an employee and you like that dealer otherwise talk to the owner and have him talk to that person .... what a fool ....
    thor

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by brakemeister View Post
    well I dont have the answer.... BUT that little comment about Tern bikes from your dealer .... I sell both ... Both a great bikes.
    That comment from a dealer however clearly shows the ignorance and ist just plain stupid. Find another dealer they have no friggin idea what they talking about ... if it was an employee and you like that dealer otherwise talk to the owner and have him talk to that person .... what a fool ....
    thor
    So in your experience are the Terns as reliable as Dahons? The Link D8 looks good if it would be up to my weight, would welcome some views from anyone else who has one?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lummox View Post
    ... they appear to use BMW wheels, which I suspect may be tougher than road bike wheels...

  6. #6
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    Ha ha, whoops.

    BMX of course...

    Had a look at the Tern Link P9 yesterday... looks like a lovely bit of kit, even if it does totally exceed my budget. But then it does seem to have a good spec, and wouldn't be a bike I'd want to upgrade the brakes, tyres, gears etc (which I'd probably end up doing if I bought one of the cheaper ones)... decisions, decisions...

  7. #7
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lummox View Post
    Ha ha, whoops.

    BMX of course...

    Had a look at the Tern Link P9 yesterday... looks like a lovely bit of kit, even if it does totally exceed my budget. But then it does seem to have a good spec, and wouldn't be a bike I'd want to upgrade the brakes, tyres, gears etc (which I'd probably end up doing if I bought one of the cheaper ones)... decisions, decisions...
    One way to think of the cheaper vs. more expensive bike:

    The more expensive bike is like purchasing a car outright. The cheaper bike is like buying a car with a loan. You put some money down now, some down a few months from now (nicer brakes), some a bit after that (double crankset and front derailleur).

    The more expensive bike might be cheaper in the long run, but if you can't afford it, then it's not crazy to start with the cheaper bike and upgrade it. Just lay it out because you don't want to end up spending twice what the expensive bike costs upgrading a cheaper bike...
    http://Charles.Plager.net
    http://RecumbentQuant.blogspot.com

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elvis Shumaker View Post

    Remember lower-priced folders often have 36 spoke wheels as opposed to Brompton's, what, 28? Maybe a hub gear rear wheel on the back might save a few spokes? Big Apple tyres seem to take quite a bit of stress off the bike too (and I believe they at least are rated to 130 kg - each).
    I'm 220 and road a brompton all last year with no problems at all.... my only gripe was my feet kept hitting the roller wheels.

  9. #9
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    Did you have the original plastic caster wheels, or upgrade to the EZ wheels ones? I had that problem (have UK size 12, US 13 feet) and I found that the EZ wheels stick out less and didn't catch as much.

  10. #10
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    I used some roller skate wheels.... with pedal extenders ... still had a problem.

  11. #11
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    Lummox .. aboy the spokes count.... keep the wheels nice and tight, have them retrued after 200 miles from a good shop and even the lower count wheels , which happen to usually have much better rims and spokes will be fine .... lower end spokes have a really fast fatique cycle, they lengthen and get loose and than break, usually at the bend ...

    I dont compare Dahon and Tern and say whats better, in general. Just that the handlepost ( non adjustable) is stiffer with a larger surface area same as the main hinge .... that doesnt mean that Dahons are weak ... just that the Terns are stiffer. In honesty however I cannot feel the difference while normal riding. And again for a shop to say that they are lesser than brand D is ludicrous and makes you wonder what the reasoning is.

    thor

  12. #12
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    Bike friday has a heavy rider build option for their Pocket Llama.

    mixes in some details from their Tandems.

    but exceeds your price wish..

  13. #13
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lummox View Post
    Had a look at some of the cheaper Tern bikes in my local store, but the staff there didn't recommend them to me, said that the frame strength and build quality was not on par with the Dahons and probably would start giving me grief in less than 12 months.
    I can't imagine the Tern frames being any worse than the Dahons. The latter are well known for their fragility, as many a thread in this sub-forum--started by disgruntled Dahon owners--will attest. My Dahon "Speed" developed a crack in one of the frame welds and I only weigh about twelve stone.
    Last edited by Ekdog; 04-18-13 at 02:27 AM.

  14. #14
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    than you need to bring it to your dealer and ask for a warranty ......
    well known for their fragility is hearsay based on a handfull of cases where at least when they contacted me were solved. with one exception which is you, as you didnt want to pay freight or something along the lines.

    thor

  15. #15
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brakemeister View Post
    than you need to bring it to your dealer and ask for a warranty ......
    well known for their fragility is hearsay based on a handfull of cases where at least when they contacted me were solved. with one exception which is you, as you didnt want to pay freight or something along the lines.

    thor
    You sell Dahons, so it's not in your interest to recognise their shortcomings.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Lummox, if I were you, I'd get a Brompton (which is what I did) or have a look at the Terns. Josh Hon, the president of Tern and former vice president of sales and marketing at Dahon, has said he wants to make a break with the past and avoid some of the dismal mistakes that were made at Dahon, particularly the difficulty in getting parts. Here's what he said in a recent interview:

    We did quite a lot of things well at Dahon. But there were also some things that we didn’t do well enough, and in fact, some things that we did poorly. At Tern, we want to improve on the things we did well. But we’re going to really focus hard on the things that we didn’t do well. The single area that needs the most focus is service. I think many Dahon dealers would tell you that getting parts for service was pretty difficult and/or slow. We agree wholeheartedly. And that’s why we’re setting up service centers in Europe (Germany), Taiwan and the U.S. These service centers will stock all of the key custom components that are found on our bikes. Dealers who need to service a bike should order parts from the local distributor, but if the distributor doesn’t have the part available for whatever reason, we’ll be able to airfreight parts out within two days from any of the service centers. Service will also be a lot easier because of the streamlined product range. We have a lot fewer SKUs and custom parts. If there is a custom part, it’ll be used across the range. So, for instance, we’ve only got two types of frame joints and handleposts across the entire range, so stocking these parts will be much easier. It’s the In-N-Out Burger analogy: if you only offer hamburgers and cheeseburgers on your menu, it’s much less likely that you are going to run out of ingredients. As for differentiation, we’re not too concerned with that at this point. Anybody who rides one of the new Tern bikes will know how we are differentiated. We are that confident.

    You can read the whole interview here.
    Last edited by Ekdog; 04-18-13 at 02:17 AM.

  17. #17
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    Despite your notion I am very very much interested in any shortcomings from Dahon or Tern or anything else I sell. Dahon has improved their spare parts supply dramatically, but its up to the Importer in every country to order those, and than up to the dealer to order them from the Importer, If a dealer is lazy or doesnt care, than there is the Internet, where however sometimes ( at least in my case ) the true cost in freight needs to be added o the cost of the product. Unfortunately the US mail system diesnt give freebies instead charging pretty outrageous prices if I ship out of the country.

    But I am very interested about any shortcomings no matter what, and have solved many many warranty cases, where the local dealer wasnt interested to keep a customer, even out of the country. This extra service can be a huge pain in the butt, however as many people here and elsewhere will readily tell, is worth it. That also means that I probaly are the easiest dealer to find in case of a problem and that I get 100 times as many requests as the usual dealer would get. And I can assure you that despite this increased chatter the failure rate, or problem getting spare parts is astonishing small.
    Now if somebody wants to restore a 20 year old bike, than even I have to say sorry I dont have in most cases.

    Thor

  18. #18
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    I'm nearly as heavy as you Lummox, maybe more with my little dog on the back rack. Definitely more with a load of groceries.
    I broke 2 or three rear spokes on my Mu XL when I got it a few years ago- despite some attention to tuning. After I took it to my LBS the second time to have it tuned they said "We're gonna fix this for you." When I picked it up I was shocked to see that they rebuilt the wheel with 12 gauge spokes. I had to buy a new spoke wrench- and it's not that easy to find a 12 gauge spoke wrench. I know there is some controversy about how much if any stronger thicker spokes are, but I gotta tell you that thing has not budged.

    You might consider a bike with an internal gear hub, also, because the spokes will be shorter and the wheel that much stronger.
    As with all folders be careful about applying force to the handlebar; the long stem is more easily damaged. Consider riding it as short as is comfortable. Also consider the fat-tire route to reduce applied dynamic forces to the frame.

  19. #19
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    For a data point, I'm a 6', 120-110kg rider with a FTP right around 300w, and I ride an older Dahon Mariner D7 without problems.

    I don't post big mileage numbers on it, but I do ride it commonly for 3-5mile one way jaunts, often with a few extra kg stuffed in a Xootr Crossrack/Crossbag combo.

    Like Shumaker said upthread, I also believe that riding style can be key to getting the most out of folders. I also avoid dropping off curbs-- although I do periodically-- and also try to avoid hard sprints where I might really be reefing on the bars. I don't bomb rough patches on the roadway, preferrring to take the smoother lines when possible, but the stock Kenda 1.5 (Kwests?) aren't averse to exploring urban dirt paths along the river.

    I also stay up on maintenance, keeping things properly adjusted and lubed...and clean. I'm shocked to see what pitiful repair many leave their bikes in, and that can't help durability.

    So take my case for what you will; maybe it sounds like a boring way to ride, but truth is I enjoy my Dahon quite a bit, and it even inspired me to get a 20" wheeled minivelo, which may, BTW, be another option for the OP to consider.
    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

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