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).
-- Mildly Negative
-- Very Negative
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.
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).
Comes with ergonomic grips, which are nice.
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.)
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.
-- 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).
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.
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.
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!