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Folding Bikes Discuss the unique features and issues of folding bikes. Also a great place to learn what folding bike will work best for your needs.

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Old 11-25-13, 06:19 AM   #1
cluttonfred
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Affordable, lightweight, rugged folding bike for newb?

Hi, all. I am an out-of-shape (5' 10", 205 lbs) middle-aged guy looking to get a folding bike to ride a couple of hilly, pothole-filled miles to and from work each day to get a little excercise. I am interested in a folding bike not because I need to fold it everyday but because I am serving overseas in Africa and the bike needs to be 1) easy to have shipped here; 2) easy to ship on to my next post; and 3) easy to throw in the back of the car when necessary.

I was initially very attracted to the simplicity and low maintenance of a single-speed folder, maybe even one with a coaster brake, but I am now thinking that a fairly hilly, up-and-down commute will make me regret not having multiple gears. Still, I would love to hear the arguments for or against a single-speed bike given my intended use. Ironically, there also don't seem to be many suitably single-speed folders in my price range..

In terms of affordable folders ($300-350 would be my absolute maximum, less would be better), here are some of the candidates so far. Weights are WITHOUT rack and fenders, whether they are included or not.
  • Dahon Boardwalk S1 ($300, 1-speed, no suspension, 27 (?) lbs, with rack and fenders)
  • Downtube Nova ($299, 7-speed, no suspension, 24 lbs, no rack or fenders)
  • Origami Cricket ($299, 6-speed, full suspension, 29 lbs, with rack and fenders)
  • Origami Cricket 7 ($349 7-speed, full suspension, 29 lbs, with rack and fenders)
  • Origami Crane 7 ($309, 7-speed, no suspension, 25 lbs, with rack and fenders)
  • Citizen Gotham 1 ($321, 1-speed, no suspension, 27 lbs, with rack and fenders)
  • Citizen Gotham 7 ($341, 7-speed, no suspension, 28 lbs, with rack and fenders)

I would love to hear from anyone with personal experience with these bikes and/or these companies in terms of quality and customer service. I'd also welcome any suggestions from experienced riders on which of these bikes, or some other bike, would suit my needs.

Cheers,

Matthew

Last edited by cluttonfred; 11-25-13 at 06:32 AM.
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Old 11-25-13, 11:56 AM   #2
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I rock an older Boardwalk 1 with some upgrades. Really, whether single speed works for you depends on your fitness and the terrain.

For me, it didn't work, so I retrofitted a Sachs 2-speed kickback hub. Still coaster brake, though.

As far as comfort on poor roads goes, with the sprung saddle that Dahon used to use, my old Boardwalk is quite comfortable (as far as upright bicycles go anyway, I prefer a recumbent). Looks like they don't use it now, though.

Last edited by bhtooefr; 11-25-13 at 11:59 AM.
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Old 11-25-13, 02:01 PM   #3
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If your commute is hilly, I would suggest that you consider multiple gears. A suspension will help to make the potholes more bearable, but it will also add a little weight, and you should really endeavor to avoid the potholes in the first place.

Any bike on your list will easily handle a multi-mile commute, but again the single-speed may become tiresome quickly. Any of these should also help to change your status from out-of-shape to lean-mean-fighting-machine!

I am the owner of the Origami Bicycle Company, so my opinion on any individual bike would be terrilby biased, but if there are any specific questions about our products, I am willing to answer.
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Old 11-25-13, 03:36 PM   #4
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If you don't need the gears today, rest assured you will need them some day soon. My wife has a Giant Expressway 2 which is a really nice riding good quailty folder.

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Old 11-25-13, 10:20 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by cluttonfred View Post
  • Dahon Boardwalk S1 ($300, 1-speed, no suspension, 27 (?) lbs, with rack and fenders)
  • Downtube Nova ($299, 7-speed, no suspension, 24 lbs, no rack or fenders)
  • Origami Cricket ($299, 6-speed, full suspension, 29 lbs, with rack and fenders)
  • Origami Cricket 7 ($349 7-speed, full suspension, 29 lbs, with rack and fenders)
  • Origami Crane 7 ($309, 7-speed, no suspension, 25 lbs, with rack and fenders)
  • Citizen Gotham 1 ($321, 1-speed, no suspension, 27 lbs, with rack and fenders)
  • Citizen Gotham 7 ($341, 7-speed, no suspension, 28 lbs, with rack and fenders)
"affordable" might be the only criteria that the bikes on that list can meet. but, "affordable" should also include how much the bike is going to cost you after you buy it.

this disclaimer sticker appears on top tube of the dahon boardwalk:



i'm reasonably sure that the other bikes you've listed are not designed or built for any sort of rigorous usage. something to keep in mind.
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Old 11-26-13, 03:28 AM   #6
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Do you have any other bikes to suggest, smallwheeler?
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Old 11-26-13, 09:37 AM   #7
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I am afraid your budget does not meet the stated needs in a folding bicycle.

You need a
-rugged
-multigear (internal gear ideal)
-shipped to Africa

I don't think your price point bikes would be upto the task of hilly terrain, un-improved roads and low maintenance.

If it is an absolute MUST than I would look for the widest tires (or add them) biggest gear range, steel frame, and learn how to work on my bike.
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Old 11-26-13, 09:46 AM   #8
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In the publishing industry, when talking about print manufacturing, we say: cheap, fast, quality -- pick two. Same thing here: affordable, lightweight, rugged -- pick two. And if you're already worried about your weight, I'd say don't worry too much about the weight of the bike, especially considering the bikes you list. Most are around the same weight, within 4lbs of each other.

Smaller bikes are not the best to get all wild and out of the saddle from; all the joints and folding points are not friendly with out of the saddle mashing while putting considerable force on the bars. So I would advise gears to make hills tolerable and ridable. And as a new rider, you'd appreciate the suspension, although if you're really concerned with the weight of the bike, dumping suspension would be the easiest way to get rid of a few pounds.

So for the bikes you listed, I'd suggest you consider them in this order:

1) Cricket 7
tied for 2) Crane 7, Nova
3) Gotham 7

Cricket 7 for suspension and affordability; Crane and Nova get the nod for weight; Gotham is heavier and does not have suspension.
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Old 11-26-13, 02:34 PM   #9
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Thanks, all, for the suggestions. I went ahead and ordered an Origami Cricket in the basic 6-speed model for $299. I'll let you know how it works out. Cheers, Matthew
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Old 11-26-13, 02:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cluttonfred View Post
Do you have any other bikes to suggest, smallwheeler?
honestly, if i were in your situation, i would'nt buy a folding bike. i would buy a bike locally for cheap. a 3 -5 speed bike with durable tires and tubes. a bike that will serve your needs and be easily repairable with spare parts that can be found locally. when it comes time to move to a new location, you can sell the bike or give it away to a local resident. the benefits are, you will have a bike to ride that is suitable and comfortable and you can still be able travel light without having to pack another suitcase with a folding bike in it.

who knows, you may be able to find a donated pashley mailstar.



or something like this:

a rugged steel bike, with common, easily replaceable parts that with be available locally.



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