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  1. #1
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    Review: Tern Link D8, 7-months

    REVIEW OF THE TERN LINK D8 (after 7 months of ownership)


    Overall, I regret purchasing the Tern Link D8. However, this regret is only 50% due to the bike and 50% due to misjudging my needs. (If curious about why it hasn't met my needs, then I explain why at the bottom. And if you take the time to read that part, I'd love any advice!)

    DISCLAIMER: I am a novice rider. I recently started biking after 20 years off. So please take my opinions with a grain of salt: more seasoned riders might have very different perspectives.

    And if anyone disagrees with any of my review, please speak up! I'm sure people will want to hear other perspectives (plus, maybe it will help me learn how to resolve the problems I'm having).



    Contents:
    -- Positive
    -- Mildly Negative
    -- Very Negative


    --------

    THE POSITIVE:

    The Fold:
    I've been very impressed with the fold. It's very quick (about 15s) and remarkably compact (do any 20-inch folders have a more compact fold?). And I find it quite easy to carry when folded (but I'm 6'1" and a weight lifter).
    Note that the D8 is pretty much the cheapest Tern/Dahon that has the high-quality N-fold. This was the main reason I bought it. As a novice biker, I didn't want to spend a lot of money until I had more experience (and thus more insight into my needs). But the D8's N-fold also provides a nice balance of longevity for price: components can all be replaced or upgraded, but the frame is the longterm investment.


    Appearance:
    It's a great looking bike. I love the black seatpost and stem, which seem to be very rare among the price bracket. I have the black with blue stripe and highly recommend it; the blue doesn't look great in pictures (looks kind of feminine and pastel), but in real life it's sharp, modern, and masculine (I think it's much better than the orange).


    Grips:
    Comes with ergonomic grips, which are nice.


    Gear Range:
    The gear range seems great for my predominantly flat city.


    Range of Accessories:
    There are a lot of accessories to choose from. (However, in the "Very Negative" section I discuss how all of my accessories suffer from design flaws that I don't feel should exist at that price point.)


    --------

    MILDLY NEGATIVE:

    Fit:
    Tern says that it fits up to 6'4", but at 6'1" with a 33" inseam the seatpost is a smidge too short for me (ideally I would set it just below the max marker). Again, note that I'm a novice rider so there is a chance that I'm slightly off; but most of us novices tend to already opt for too low, not too high, a saddle. I think there might be some options for a longer seatpost (like the suspension one?). However, the bigger problem (for me) is that it is already too aggressive of a position for my beginner taste. My hands and neck get sore, and I feel quite unsteady.


    Components:
    -- The metalic bend of my rear brake cable housing, where it attaches just above the rear wheel, is already rusting. Perhaps this is due to my inexperience with bike maintenance. And I do live in a coastal town. But after a mere six months, I'm surprised to see any rust.
    -- I'm not a big fan of the twist grip shifters, particularly as a novice rider who is gradually improving his balance and grip.
    -- My gears slip occasionally, but I blame (A.) my inexperience in correctly shifting and (B.) that the bike needs a tune-up (which I'm procrasting on since I might be selling it soon).


    Pivoting Handlebar:
    The center of the handlebar has a clamp that, when unclamped, allows you to pivot the handlebars up or down. This is intended to be part of the folding process, potentially making the fold a little more compact. Personally, I never ever do this step when folding: it has a negligible effect on the fold, but adds a lot of time. I would prefer that it was just a solid piece since, until I tightened the clamp to the maximum, the handlebars would occasionally slip a tiny amount during long rides.


    --------


    VERY NEGATIVE:

    Handlebar Stem Clamp:
    I have been having serious problems with the clamp at the base of the handlebar stem: it frequently pops open when (slowly) descending a curb, which is extremely dangerous. However, please note that this is NOT common: I have yet to read about anyone else having this problem. I mention it only to be thorough, and I think the main lesson is that it's a good idea to have a Tern dealer (or folder-proficient repair shop) nearby to help maintain the bike's unique mechanisms.


    Accessories:
    I paid a lot of money for many accessories. And every single one of the accessories suffers from at least one design flaw. The accessories are still useable -- and even still great accessories. But I think their price is way too high to have these design flaws. Were they 30% cheaper, I wouldn't bat an eye at the flaws.

    1. -- "Carry-On Bag": this has 2 flaws in my opinion. First, attaching the shoulder strap (which cinches the wheels together in the fold) pops at least one side of my rear fender off. It's easy to refit it afterwards, but I do worry about the longterm bending/stress. Second, the under-the-saddle bag interferes with lowering the seat during the fold; not a major issue, but for the price it should have been designed better to interfere less (e.g. should have been longer and thinner).

    2. -- "Biologic Commute Bag": This is the greates bike accessory I've ever seen, so it's design flaw really irritates me. It's hard (i.e. no wobbling or sagging), waterproof, padded inside, and firmly clips/unclips to the rear rack in 1-2s. Unfortunately, it's designed so that the clip is the primary attachement and then the shoulder strap (secured through the rack) provides a secondary attachment to ensure that the bag won't fall off if the clip pops open while riding. Yet this secondary attachment, the shoulder strap, does NOT work: all it does is slip off the top of the bag and dangle into your wheel (i.e. the pictures are BS). There are a dozen ways they could have easily solved this problem (e.g. two small "belt" loops on the top of the bag). I've taken to twisting it through the bags closure so that hopefully it keeps the bag from being unnoticed it comes unclipped and falls off. Other minor problems are that the two side pockets are pretty crappy (cheap mesh and should have been sturdy pockets with overhanging flaps to keep rain out) and the reflective stickers on the back apparently fall off the first time they get wet (mine haven't happened to get wet yet).

    3. -- Front "Luggage Truss": this is the metal thing you attach to the front, to which you attach a bag that snaps to it or a Kanga Rack. I have two small gripes. First, my front brake lines consistently get pinched in its crevice and I worry that, longterm, the sharp edges might cut into or wear down the brake line. Second, when the Carry-On bag is put over the folded bike, the Luggage Truss kind of juts out into it and I worry that, longterm, it will wear a hole in it.

    4. -- "Kanga Rack": the strap that comes with it isn't designed to hold an object much wider than a lunchbox (beware of pictures from deceptive angles). I'm sure that using your own bungees or straps works fine for bigger objects, but I was disappointed when I realized how small an item the strap was designed for. (I expected to use the Kanga Rack regularly. But the Biologic Commute Bag is so great that I only use that and quickly took off the Luggage Truss.)



    -------------------------------------------

    My Needs & the Tern Link D8:

    I just recently began (relearned) riding after 20 years off. I'm an American living in a beach city in Chile, South America.

    Overall, the main issue is that I currently lose motivation to ride not from lack of energy nor interest, but because I get stressed and nervous about riding. THAT is what I want to try to reduce: I want the riding to be less stressful.

    Chile is an odd country because bikers are encouraged to ride on the sidewalk, not the road. They have even tried to pass laws REQUIRING bikers to stick to sidewalks. As bizarre as this is to us Americans and Europeans, there are some valid reasons for it. Chilean drivers have little reason to respect, let alone yield, to bikers. The legal system minimizes driver liability (e.g. there are no punitive damages), so they face little to no penalty for knocking bikers around. As a result, Chilean drivers are extraordinarily irresponsible (40mph typical in 25mph residential streets, texting and talking on the phone more prelevant than in the US, and 90-year-olds driving everywhere). And then there is the fact that the streets here are far more narrow than in the US, and the sidewalks tend to be much wider.

    Thus, I use sidewalks a lot (among the quiet residential streets, and to get to the long beach bikepath). Unfortunately, the sidewalks lack "ramps" and the curbs are much larger than US ones (some are a good 50% larger). So when riding during busy driving hours (and thus trying to stick to sidewalks) I have to go up and down curbs every 30s-1min. On top of that, many sidewalks (and streets AND some of the bikepath) are poorly maintained and border on mountain biking. With a folder with 20-inch wheels, this is problematic -- especially as a novice. I've gotten decent at riding up curbs (the Tern Link D8 is pretty nice for it, since it's light enough that I can pop up it's front wheel pretty well), but it's still stressful. Unfortunately, I'm finding that the 20-inch wheels (and no suspension) are pretty poor for the bumps everywhere; every day I ride I end up having a moment where I say, "Phew, that was a close one!" where I hit one (of a million) unnoticed bumps or, worse, have my wheels slide along an edge (like from an elevated sidewalk tile).

    So I'm thinking about selling my Tern Link D8 and getting a Montague Paratrooper. My thought is that the (A.) 26-inch wheels and (B.) front suspension will provide a more stable ride. I think I would swap the tires to wide Big Apples to add further stability (plus swap to a 2-inch rise handlbar for a slightly more upright position of about even with seat level [I'm 6'1"]). And the larger wheels + front suspension should make going up curbs much less stressful. I would miss the fast and smaller fold. But I currently only really fold when entering my apartment.

    Any advice is appreciated!

  2. #2
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    Thats a good review and not much i can say about the accesories except there was some problems with that truss being in the way of the fold on some of the models. I have no experience with either bags so i cant even say anything. But for the seat height thorusa would probably carry an extended post to go a little higher.

    In the end i think the bike wasnt made for the riding environment you are in and bigger wheels seems to be the only option for constant curb hopping. The montagues are actually a good choice because their bikes can be used for actual off roading. Just make sure you get the mtn bike versions and not their urban lineup. That way you can fly off curbs without worry. Oh and forget about the big apples and go for the fat franks they have a minor tread and are even fatter to asorb impact when you go curb hopping. Plus they look great in brick red
    Last edited by Azreal911; 08-06-13 at 07:52 PM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, I'm thinking that the Montague Paratrooper will be better for curbs and nonstop messy pavement. I do worry a bit about its added weight and whether I'll be able to hop up curbs as easily (a D8 is almost a BMX in that regard). But I guess the front suspension will soften any curb ascending mishaps.

  4. #4
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    Man, I'm sorry to hear the disappointment and frustration. I think you have a mixture of legitimate gripes, unnecessary worry, and user error, all overlayed on top of having the wrong bike for the job, unfortunately.

    I think that you're on the right track to consider replacing the bike rather than fretting about whether or not the reflective stickers on the rack bag are going to fall off if they get wet, and I think the larger wheeled bike notion is a good one, based upon the description of your ride. The front suspension you could probably go without, which would expedite maintenance and reduce weight.

    Without knowing your needs for the fold, I'd just say that the Montague is considerably less convenient than the Tern, and so you should think rightly on that before deciding to go that route. It might make more sense for you to go the Tern Joe or Eclipse (24") models, which have a more convenient fold for carrying up stairs, and would allow you to reuse your luggage accessories.

    Edit: +1 on Azrael's Fat Frank recco! Cushy tires!
    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
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    Former 16" Dahon Curve D3 owner. Current Dahon Espresso owner.

    6'4" 200 lbs. Was 185 when I was on the folder in '09 or so, but have been doing Martial Arts.

    I wouldn't take a 20" folder over a curb, especially with everything fully extended for someone of my height and weight. Performance on any mini folder, especially at my size, is a compromise. A folder is a different animal and ought to be approached as such, I think.

    V-Brake noodles do tend to rust. Easily replaceable.

    The qualms you have about the accessories are certainly valid, but I think most would anticipate those issues just from looking at the photos on the website.

    Big Apples are enough to do what you need to do. I run Town and Country 2.1"s on my Espresso, but mainly to give the bike a larger overall fit.

    My Dahon:

    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. Christopher Morley

  6. #6
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    Tern Link D8 frame failures and injuries!!!!

    PLEASE be careful riding this bike!!! People are now reporting that their Tern Link D8's are failing apart on them... litrally splitting in two!!!!!!! SO dangerous! Infact most have got injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to head trauma!!!!!

    I'm sure Tern are looking into it but it's best to be safe than sorry.

    Have a look at the official Tern forum for the reports of the D8 splitting in half!! It's frightening! I did have a Link D8 but luckily I sold it before I knew anything about the frame failures.... I have half a mind to get intouch with the buyer to warn them!

    Tern Link D8 frame shearing in two | Tern Folding Bike and Folding Bicycle Accessories | Worldwide

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SyPhillips View Post
    PLEASE be careful riding this bike!!! People are now reporting that their Tern Link D8's are failing apart on them... litrally splitting in two!!!!!!! SO dangerous! Infact most have got injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to head trauma!!!!!

    I'm sure Tern are looking into it but it's best to be safe than sorry.

    Have a look at the official Tern forum for the reports of the D8 splitting in half!! It's frightening! I did have a Link D8 but luckily I sold it before I knew anything about the frame failures.... I have half a mind to get intouch with the buyer to warn them!

    Tern Link D8 frame shearing in two | Tern Folding Bike and Folding Bicycle Accessories | Worldwide

    LOL. Where do I even start w/ this... Do you think this and your only other post will incite the hysteria you're looking for?

  8. #8
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    Just wanted to add my 2 cents:

    I've had the Link D8 for a little over a year now, and find it very hard to review. Its good points are outstanding, while its bad points are off-putting. To summarize upfront, I don't necessarily regret buying the bike, but if I knew then what I know now, I am not sure I would have purchased it.

    THE GOOD: it is incredibly convenient for my bike/light rail commute, through which I probably ride 12 miles round-trip per day. I've ridden the rail with full size bikes, and I feel much better about boarding with my D8. Coming from road bikes, I was apprehensive about the upright riding position, but came to like it, especially for city riding, when it really is beneficial to keep your head up. The ride is surprisingly nice. The wide bars seem to mitigate a lot of the twitchiness one would expect from this design. I'm not sure if new models come with the BioLogic rack and fenders, but this equipment was persuasive in my purchase. The fenders work as they should, and the rack is really great. I bought the BioLogic Commute bag, and like it quite a bit. The whole set up makes it very practical for general work commuting purposes. Comparably affordable--but see below.

    MINOR GRIPES: The brake pads, but this is to be expected. I replaced them immediately with Kool Stop dual compound, which are great. The seat: I think one generally expects to replace the seat on a bike in this price range. The stock seat wasn't uncomfortable, but felt flexy and ephemeral.

    THE BAD: The bottom bracket. After a few rides in moderate rain, the bottom bracket started acting up. I generally ride rain or shine, so I replaced it with a midrange Shimano sealed unit. The hubs: after a few more moderately wet rides, the back wheel bearings felt as if they had sand in them. I thought I had a broken bearing. It turns out that the ineffective seal had let in water and grit. Overhauling solved the problem, but I am not sure most can do this themselves, in which case it is a trip to the LBS and more money spent. The rear derailleur: the indexing is really finicky. I feel that I am constantly adjusting it (on the plus side, it is relatively easy to do this while riding). The creaks and squeaks: on a non-folding bike it is hard enough to chase down the source of a squeak; on a folding bike it is exponentially more difficult. After a year with the bike, I think I have finally identified most of the sources, and carry a tube of Park Polylube in my bag. If you are a little bit handy with bikes, the frequent adjustments and light smearing of grease won't be a big deal; if you are not, you may be supremely annoyed.

    THE BAD BAD: the catastrophic failure of the frame. One of two threaded pins that form the hinge of the bike broke while I was riding it. Fortunately, this resulted only in noise and a feeling of looseness in the frame. I want to stress that the bike did not break beneath me, I was not injured, and I got to my destination without realizing what had happened. When I went to tighten the bolt, it just kept spinning. This is when I realized it was broken. I took the bike to the shop where I had purchased it and Tern ended up replacing the frame. Sounds good right? Only sort of. The whole process took over a month, and even worse, Tern's five-year warranty DOES NOT cover labor. So, cost of broken hinge pin? Probably $1. Cost to me for LBS to swap parts, etc.? Over $120. I am really irritated about that. Given the amount of time and money I have put into the bike, I might have been better off spending more for a Brompton.

  9. #9
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    outrageous...

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