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  1. #1
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    Folder or Road bike

    Hello all. Newbie here that has not ridden bike in a long time. I have a little dilemma. I want to get back into biking for fun, commuting, exercise, and sometimes...long distances (like some charity runs 30-40-50 miles). I am really liking the folding bike because I can commute to NYC with it on the bus, take it with me in the my RV, and store it much easier in my house. However, I wonder if a road bike would be better for the longer distance runs. I see that riders on folders are riding long rides as well, so I am pretty sure I can still get a folder and ride some long rides. I really want to use the bike all the time (run to stores, visit friends, commute). Can anyone give me any advice? Should I be looking at a road bike instead, or with a quality folder like Brompton or other high end options work for the longer distances.

    Any help would be appreciated. I would love to hear from some that have ridden long distances on their folder if possible.

    Thanks in advance,

    JT

  2. #2
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    Hi,

    My budget folder is fine for about 15 miles a day,
    up to 20, but 30 miles is about its absolute limit.

    But it is set up as a day to day practical bike.

    My road bike is a different proposition and it is
    a mile muncher in comparison, ~ 35 miles on it
    feels about the same as ~ 20 miles on the folder.

    The folder I don't want to go over 20 miles much,
    the road bike I will be shortly doing my 50+ age.

    rgds, sreten.

    Both bikes together cost less than half the price of a Brompton.

    Both have new good tyres, pedals (toeclips road), saddle
    (shorts with the road), modded bars, fit well* and are fast.
    (Well for a duffer like me, max, 18mph folder, 27mph road.)

    I routinely tank along on the road bike at speeds I haven't
    a prayer of doing on the folder, and relatively breeze up hills.

    The road bike is 30% faster average speed according to the computers.

    * The folder is more upright, even with the added bar-ends,
    compared to the lower and further bullhorns on the road bike.
    Last edited by sreten; 07-21-13 at 08:58 PM.

  3. #3
    lowlife bottom feeder BassNotBass's Avatar
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    People have done long distances on many different folding bikes but the most popular are Brompton (quick and efficient fold) and Bike Friday (not as convenient a fold as a Brompton but more akin to a Rivendell than a Brompton as far as ride quality is concerned). However either of these will run you upwards of $1300 so what is your price range? I see that you spec'd "Walmart specials" as your bikes so you may be looking for something more "entry level".
    If your price-range is less than $600, my advice is to go with a steel frame as opposed to an aluminum (properly "aluminium" if the masses are correct) one because although alu frames are usually lighter, in the realm of low-cost frames that low-price bias means that the hinge design is probably lacking which is a major point of weakness in a "fold-in-half" frame design.

    So in order to offer any relevent advice I'd have to ask... what is your price range?
    I plan on living forever... so far so good.

  4. #4
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    Depends if you want to ride fast.
    For real high speed road riding the Bike Friday, Moulton (separable), Tern Verge, and Dahon Vector come to mind because they can be set up like a real road racing bike.
    They are high end bikes that can do almost anything but they will be big and annoying on a bus ride.
    The other folders are for more relaxed riding, but they can still cover many miles.
    I think if you really got into fast/long road riding you would buy a second bike for that purpose.
    For now though I think a folder is more in line with what you plan to do.
    If you are going on the bus, the Brompton is at the top of the list for its small folded size.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    To be honest, it sounds like you need two bikes: one for commuting, and one for longer, cycling focused rides.

    You have less flexibility on a folder: you can upgrade less, have few options, etc. So, put more money into getting the best folder you can afford.

    Road bike: there should be a lot used options out there, and as long as it's half decent, a good LBS should be able to help you get it into the shape you want as your time and budget allow. Options can come later and should be fairly straightforward, provided you don't choose or do something exotic.
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

  6. #6
    Senior Member bargainguy's Avatar
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    First off, welcome aboard!

    I have a bunch of folders and a bunch of road bikes. While the higher-end folders come closest to a road bike - much more so than the Brompton, for ex. - there is no free lunch. You can get a relatively inexpensive road bike on the used market, or pony up for a fairly expensive folder which will allow those 30-50 mi. rides in relative comfort. I'd suggest riding a bunch of folders before making any choices.

    Folders are definitely an acquired taste and have their own foibles which can be dealbreakers. I'll give one small example. I owned a Giant Halfway for a couple years. Incredibly quick fold, but weighed 30 lb.+ and oh yeah, the dealbreaker was that the saddle position was so far back - almost over the rear wheel - that I kept doing unintentional wheelies. No joke. Fine in some respects, but I never got used to that, so I sold it.

  7. #7
    lowlife bottom feeder BassNotBass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bargainguy View Post
    ... the dealbreaker was that the saddle position was so far back - almost over the rear wheel - that I kept doing unintentional wheelies. No joke. Fine in some respects, but I never got used to that, so I sold it.
    So you sold it based on a perk... dude, we need to talk.
    I plan on living forever... so far so good.

  8. #8
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    Test ride a few bikes to see which one is best for you.
    I have a roadbike and a Brompton as my main rides. I've
    taken my B'ton on the NJ Transit bus a few times to NYC.
    It's also very convenient to take in a car on roadtrips.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9AqWdqs7F4

  9. #9
    Senior Member alhedges's Avatar
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    I've ridden 80 miles on my BF and also ridden on charity rides where I had no problem keeping up. But...the bike (as I've equipped it) cost $1700 and the fold is inconvenient to regularly take on public transportation or into a restaurant (at least covertly). It's would be great for an RV and it's pretty convenient for putting in a car trunk. In 20-30 minutes you can pack it down into a suitcase for air travel, if that's of interest.

    The Brompton, on the other hand, folds quickly and very compactly - there's nothing better for using on public transportation. Of course it's even better in a car trunk or RV, and it takes maybe 5 minutes to pack it in a suitcase for air travel (after you've done it once, anyway).

    I've ridden 40 miles on my Brompton, which was perfectly fine...but it was a pretty leisurely ride - 10 mph, with lunch in the middle and other snack breaks. I wouldn't use it for a standard charity ride, although it is what I use on our Nite Ride.

  10. #10
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    I am willing to pay $1,500 as long as the bike is quality and will last.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ever1ast15 View Post
    I am willing to pay $1,500 as long as the bike is quality and will last.
    If you're willing to pay that much, then I would invest the time to go to a place like NYCE Wheels in New York (or LBS of your choice) that stocks a variety of folding bikes. Test ride a bunch and see which on you like.

    Then you have to decide on "form factor", and you have to be honest with yourself. If riding the subway, train, travel, etc. are really going to be a priority, then the Brompton is generally considered the best and most compact folder. And although I'm biased because I own one, it's a pretty damn fine ride. I've gone 30 km to 40 km on it, no problem. I've been on crushed gravel trails, and ascended some pretty mean slopes. And... it has a great bag carrying solution - I'm sure you've checked out the carrier block attachments online. This is quite important if you plan to commute or travel with it.

    If on the other hand, folding is really only an occasional thing, then you could save some money and go for some other brands. They're probably just as good, but the fold is not as small. Just be prepared to ask yourself this question.. if you're about to get on the bus/train/subway, or to haul this in the back of the car, do you think you would mutter to yourself, "I wish I had bought a smaller (or whatever) bike!". If you're that type of person who has troubling second thoughts (I know I am), then save yourself the agony and get a Brompton (or whatever) you think you want from the outset.

    If you do go the folder route, be prepared to spend a bit of money on accessories! Pick some nice colours...

    .... BUT like others have said, you probably don't want to do a long charity ride on it, and sooner or later, you'll run into situations where a full size bike is just more usable or appropriate. So, I still think you should prepare to get a second, full size bike. Like I said before, you have less choice when buying a folding bike, so it's worth to pay more upfront for the quality and function you want.
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ever1ast15 View Post
    Hello all. Newbie here that has not ridden bike in a long time. I have a little dilemma. I want to get back into biking for fun, commuting, exercise, and sometimes...long distances (like some charity runs 30-40-50 miles). I am really liking the folding bike because I can commute to NYC with it on the bus, take it with me in the my RV, and store it much easier in my house. However, I wonder if a road bike would be better for the longer distance runs. I see that riders on folders are riding long rides as well, so I am pretty sure I can still get a folder and ride some long rides. I really want to use the bike all the time (run to stores, visit friends, commute). Can anyone give me any advice? Should I be looking at a road bike instead, or with a quality folder like Brompton or other high end options work for the longer distances.

    Any help would be appreciated. I would love to hear from some that have ridden long distances on their folder if possible.

    Thanks in advance,

    JT
    I have ridden folders on long distance rides. The first was a Bike Friday New World Tourist to Queen Charlotte and beyond and to the Western States (Idaho, Oregon, etc..) and the current one is the Dahon Mu SL.
    The Bike Friday isn't a quick fold; more like a travel bike where you have to take apart a bit, where the Dahon is. The Bike Friday is "custom" fit just like my 2 road bikes (a carbon and a steel), whereas the Dahon and most other folders is a one size fits all.

    NOW.. People say one size fits all is fine with some people and that in general, it is. If you want to ride longer distances and be more efficient, a custom fit will make you more comfortable and more efficient (speed and distance wise) on a folding bike. The Bike Friday is one of the best bikes for that. But they are not without problems; the latest recalls have concerned some people.

    Thankfully, the Dahon Mu SL is setup in a way that gives me a comfortable riding super upright position, in expense of greater aero drag. In fact, I just came back from a tour with my Masi touring bike of the same distances and destinations that I did with my Dahon Mu SL and here are my observations.

    The Masi is a 700c equipped with 37c fat tires which is equivalent to Big Apples on my Dahon Mu SL.

    1, On the flats and on the drops on my Masi (I can get pretty low), I consistently go much faster than my Mu SL.

    With the same effort and 2 front panniers and 2 expandable panniers at the rear, I can cruise between 28 to 33km/h comfortably. If I push it trying to catch a ferry, then tops 35km/h cause my biggest chain ring on the touring bike is 36T. With the same effort on my Mu SL, 25km/h is it unless I draft someone at the rear. So you will consistently be a bit slower on the folder than on a full size road bike. With my carbon road bike however, I can easily maintain 33km/h and push it up to 42km/h no problem. So as you can see, the fitter you are rider wise, the faster you will go on a full sized road bike set up for drops.

    The upside with folders is that, they are much easier on the hills.

    2, Rougher ride.. A folder will always give you a slightly rougher ride compared to say a carbon or steel road bike running 700c tires. Bigger wheels provide a smoother ride as well as reduced rolling resistance.

    3, More effort over long distances. In my experiences as well as some others who helps promote Brompton and Dahon bikes admit personally that folders are a bit more work. The compensation is the convenience of the fold.

    You'll wonder why people like Russ Roca and Laura Crawford are now back to riding a 700c Salsa Vaya to tour. If their Bromptons are so great, why then they are riding a Vaya?!? Also, the queen of Dahon has now abandoned her Speed TR and is selling it.

    In my opinion and unless you REALLY need the convenience of the folder, I say go for a full sized bike because for $1500, you can get a decent carbon bike that rides well and will fit you better than a folder and will make you go faster, so your charity ride will end faster.
    Trek 5000 carbon road bike
    Masi Speciale CX touring bike
    Dahon Mu SL (performance hybrid road bike)
    Dahon Speed Duo (slow poker shopper or coffee getter bike)

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BassNotBass View Post
    So you sold it based on a perk... dude, we need to talk.
    Hmm...this set-up has a certain appeal. Some are more comfortable in an upright riding position and willing to sacrifice aerodynamics in the bargain. Similarly, others are willing to give up the possibility of a dynamo front hub for the weight reduction and more compact fold of the single wheel design. Add the benefits of a shorter braking distance, although sacrificing some control, and this could be the right bike for some people.

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I am willing to pay $1,500 as long as the bike is quality and will last.


    consider a Brompton and a Bike Friday Tikit.

    The BF has a lot of component options, the way they fold is wider and a bit bulkier,

    but the seat height adjustment remains the same.

    Brompton folds smaller, the telescoping seat post is part of the reason..

    they share the same 349 high pressure 16" wheels , that have some pretty fast tires available to fit.

    many people customize their bikes, saddles and grips are just part of the options..

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ever1ast15 View Post
    I am willing to pay $1,500 as long as the bike is quality and will last.

    Hi,

    For that sort of money you can buy two bikes that fit all of
    your needs, (probably less if your realistic about what is
    actually needed). Chucking money at a problem rarely
    ends up with the cost effective solution that is best for
    you, you should know exactly what your paying for.

    rgds, sreten.

    I'm a fan of cheap basic bikes that do the job needed.
    They need adjusting properly, but so did all bikes
    when I was young, and you were expected to DIY.

    My 150 folder is great for what it does do, I like riding it, but
    in no way would I shell out 1K for a folder that allegedly does
    "road biking" that I can totally stuff on my 200 road bike.
    Last edited by sreten; 07-22-13 at 05:59 PM.

  16. #16
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    I got a very cheap folder and am very happy with it. My only concern is that I can not load it as much as my touring bike. Also I find that 40 miles is about as much as I can go in a day.

    My suggestion to you is to try out a lot of folders. When I was looking I asked people on the street if I could take thier bike for a spin. Most people said "yes". I also got very honest answers about the pros and cons of specific bikes. I noticed that you have "walmart bike" in your profile. You do not have to spend a lot to get a good bike. I got mine for $200 bucks including the carry bag.

    Welcome to the Forums! John

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