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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 01-01-14, 08:19 PM   #1
uprightbent
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Folder converts who didn't "need" a folding bike

I'm curious how many folding converts are out there who didn't really "need" a folder due to a small apartment or commuting situation. I'm drawn to folders due to their cool engineering and practicality, although one could argue I have plenty of space for a full size bike. Maybe it's the ability to pack down one in my trunk, or carry one in my car wherever I travel without a rack and such? What are some of the unseen benefits to a newbie considering one for his main ride?
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Old 01-01-14, 10:32 PM   #2
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I kinda fit that profile. I had been riding recumbents for a couple years, so was already accustomed to small-wheeled "different" bikes when I started looking at folders. The ability to fold it down and toss it in the trunk appealed to me, but I didn't really need the feature. Honestly I just liked the style and "differentness" in an upright bicycle, plus it seemed a little easier to carry up and down stairs unfolded compared to a regular bike. I've since moved to a smaller car (Fiat 500 Abarth), which is a direct result of discovering folders. The type of bike came first before I needed it, then I bought a little car I wanted because I knew I could put a folder in it.

The only "unseen benefit" I can think of is the same one that comes with 'bents: People find them interesting - almost "logical" - after they encounter it, and want to ask questions. With 'bents you get the surprise that a bicycle can be comfortable; with folders you get "Wait. I can buy a bike that folds down into a little space?" In both cases you often see a look in their eyes like "Why aren't all bikes like this?" It's fun.
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Old 01-02-14, 01:40 AM   #3
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I don't think you need a folder for commuting, mixed transportation or apartment space but they have benefits in certain situations. I find that a folding bicycle does provide flexibility in situations where a normal bicycle might not be welcomed, like throwing it in the trunk of a small car with no rack.
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Old 01-02-14, 08:29 AM   #4
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I'm also mostly in that category. I have used my folder once on a train when they wouldn't allow non-folders, but it was almost a fluke.

When I built my last folder, I did it to make it packable (in a suitcase) and not easily foldable. I haven't actually packed it yet, but hopefully will soon...

And, for example, while I've never ridden a Brompton and am somewhat turned off by it's gearing choices, it's fold is just beautiful.
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Old 01-02-14, 09:38 AM   #5
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I'm also mostly in that category. I have used my folder once on a train when they wouldn't allow non-folders, but it was almost a fluke.

When I built my last folder, I did it to make it packable (in a suitcase) and not easily foldable. I haven't actually packed it yet, but hopefully will soon...

And, for example, while I've never ridden a Brompton and am somewhat turned off by it's gearing choices, it's fold is just beautiful.
Oh that reminds me...I kept hearing "Brompton" on the recumbent and Rivendell forums. That's the phrase which got me looking at folding bikes.
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Old 01-02-14, 10:10 AM   #6
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I'm a bike geek and love the freak bikes, so I am naturally attracted to folder. Just didn't really have an excuse for one until recently.

I try as much as possible to bike commute. For a while, that had been a 19mi ride o/w on rural and urban streets, and bike of choice was 26"-wheeled traditional dd frame dedicated commuter.

New work situation is 45 mi away and while I do want to do that commute a few times, not on a regular basis, so commute is now bike-bus-bike. If I want to stick with commuting, I either park a beater bike at the work end, or bring a folder.

As it turns out, through the winter, I am keeping a beater locked up at the work end bus stop. Part of the downside of folder ownership is proprietary or non-standard parts. No studded tires in 18" size for my Birdy, so the beater has studs, so does my commuter.

I don't need a folder... but I like it a lot better than the other option and will stick with a folder. No worrying about a bike locked far away, even a beater I won't mind losing. No worrying about an uber-commuter bike locked at a bus stop when I'm at work. No fiddling with locks or leaving the bike out in the rain.

Recently, I had to go to San Francisco on business. Birdy packs down to fit into a standard Samsonite suitcase I already had. Got a hotel a few more miles away from the office for cheaper money and rode every day to work on a familiar bike. No hassles with rental bike in who knows what state of tune, or parking it outside.

Folders are fun casual and commuter bikes. Others use them for much larger rides. I don't see a lot of downsides to them, and am only finding more and more uses where the folder works where a full-size bike wouldn't. Stuffing it in a car is the easiest thing, bus drivers don't mind folders like they do full-size bikes, travels with me on a plane w/o hefty oversize/bike surcharge.

And everyone loves them, thinks they are cute.

So while I still don't "need" a folder, I don't think I'll be without one in the stable for a while.
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Old 01-02-14, 12:50 PM   #7
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I think everybody who rides a bike (other than those hard core roddies, and mountain bike trailblazers) who would take the time to think on a FB's benefits could say that its a bike bought to serve a need. Many thousands of bikes are stolen each year. Travel with a bike on a car rack, stop somewhere at a restaurant, come back out and its been ripped off the rack. Go for a nice ride, lock the bike up to an outside bike rack so that you can go into a store or whatever building, come back out and the bike is gone. This type of scenario happens hundreds of times each day across the country. A bike that folds up and can be carried into a building, restaurant or wherever in my opinion is a need. I don't think anyone can say that they don't need a FB, unless of course they don't mind their bikes being ripped off.
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Old 01-02-14, 01:38 PM   #8
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The other big bonus of a folder that I read about -- repeatedly -- is the lower frame which you can simply pop a leg over. That increases with importance as your age increases. It also seems to top the list of important features for shorter women. Many buy the bikes for that reason alone.
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Old 01-02-14, 01:47 PM   #9
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+ I can park 2 bikes in the mud-room-entry, that would be more difficult if both were Big wheel .
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Old 01-02-14, 01:51 PM   #10
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The other big bonus of a folder that I read about -- repeatedly -- is the lower frame which you can simply pop a leg over. That increases with importance as your age increases. It also seems to top the list of important features for shorter women. Many buy the bikes for that reason alone.
An excellent point. The mixte as a "lady's bike" is receding somewhat, but it still carries enough of a stigma that many men won't ride them. A folder, OTOH, is just considered a "low frame", and at 51-years-old I can tell you I don't mind not having to swing a leg up high to get on one.
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Old 01-02-14, 05:28 PM   #11
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I have lots of space, but I picked up my first folder for about $36 (new!) on a whim during a trip to China -- zipping through Beijing on a bike meant that the usual street hawkers were less likely to bother blond me. It fit in my hotel room. I brought it back without even a box on United Air. After that I was hooked and quickly added several others to my existing pile of bikes.

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Old 01-03-14, 12:08 AM   #12
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An excellent point. The mixte as a "lady's bike" is receding somewhat, but it still carries enough of a stigma that many men won't ride them. A folder, OTOH, is just considered a "low frame", and at 51-years-old I can tell you I don't mind not having to swing a leg up high to get on one.
Oh man! At that age I was still riding (serious) road bikes. Next comes promenade bars and springs on your saddles. This prognostication comes to you from a guy who put a B67 on his mixte.
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Old 01-03-14, 05:25 AM   #13
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A folding bike is just easier for me to carry around and curl.
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Old 01-03-14, 10:42 AM   #14
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I didn't need a folder but always liked the idea of one. When my work and family commitments restricted my riding time I thought a folder would be good to have. I was riding the same routes close to home over and over again and figured that I could put a folder in the car and drive to other starting points. The folder (Xootr Swift) has made my other "normal" bikes redundant!
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Old 01-03-14, 11:01 AM   #15
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A folding bike is just easier for me to carry around and curl.
I'm seeing sliding a folded bike down the Ice and skating ahead with brooms..
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Old 01-03-14, 12:21 PM   #16
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I'm seeing sliding a folded bike down the Ice and skating ahead with brooms..
I needed a joke today, and that was a good one. Thanks!
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Old 01-03-14, 07:19 PM   #17
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I originally bought a folder to travel with. Now I find two will fit in the trunk so my wife and I can go places together to ride. I bought a third for guests because I felt it was practical. I use one daily driving to the gym, riding then lifting and stretching before heading to work.
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Old 01-03-14, 07:36 PM   #18
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Oh man! At that age I was still riding (serious) road bikes. Next comes promenade bars and springs on your saddles. This prognostication comes to you from a guy who put a B67 on his mixte.
No springs (I tried them: too heavy, too squeaky), but all my non-recumbent bikes have Brooks saddles and flat or sweptback bars. I'm not a fast rider.
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Old 01-04-14, 06:28 AM   #19
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I originally bought a folder to travel with. Now I find two will fit in the trunk so my wife and I can go places together to ride. I bought a third for guests because I felt it was practical. I use one daily driving to the gym, riding then lifting and stretching before heading to work.
I think these are brilliant uses of folding bikes. May not be "necessary", but anything that helps you ride more (particularly with family and friends) is a win.
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Old 01-04-14, 11:22 AM   #20
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One hazard with having spare folders around as guest bikes -- when packed up and bagged you may accidentally lose one for a while (this has happened to me -- I didn't remember where I had left it, was madly searching before I realized I wasn't looking for a bike, but a bag... and in the wrong garage, too)
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Old 01-05-14, 02:16 AM   #21
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. . . . What are some of the unseen benefits to a newbie considering one for his main ride?
(a) Easy packing/ traveling on airlines (b) When traveling, call a cab back to your hotel with the folding bike when you're too tired or don't feel like finding your way back to the hotel !
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Old 01-05-14, 10:42 AM   #22
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I'm drawn to folders due to their cool engineering and practicality, although one could argue I have plenty of space for a full size bike.
That could be said of all my bikes! While I do enjoy riding them, it`s the devices themselves (bikes) that I`m really in love with. I ride several thousand miles per year, but could certainly live with none- what a terrible thought, though. Same goes with my former addictions to revolvers and mechanical cameras- I did shoot film or lead through them, but that was mostly just as a justification to fondle them.

Bought my folder with suitcases and car trunks in mind. Same thing, I guess. In the two years I`ve had it, it`s only been on two RT flights and a handful of trunk rides.
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Old 01-06-14, 06:26 PM   #23
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+1 on the many non-traditional benefits listed above, (carry into store, step thru, small storage, adjustable guest bike, no bike rack needed, easy to ride and less intimidating for a non-cyclist..... yes yes yes!).

I enjoy the interest shown by friends and strangers. I tell them everyone should have a folding bike in there trunk. If there car breaks down they can pop it out and unfold it like James Bond and ride away.

I've got an old Dahon off CL, just for that purpose.
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Old 01-08-14, 07:28 AM   #24
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Folders are the micro wave oven of the cycling world. You don't know until you buy one what they can do.

Posted elsewhere.


One often expands use after buying for commuting etc. I used to get unplanned lifts back from work and commute by train to uni.

Now I rarely use my bike as a multi mode commuter, but its there when I need to, and ..................................
Its offers so many options. Posted else where.....

Yes I will Meet you there later, I will put the bike
in the boot.

I feel like some exercise, ill meet you at the
supermarket.

No you don't have to meet me at the train station,
make it a local park.

Think I will go off campus at lunch time.

Its raining can I have a lift.

Sling the bike in the car boot, I might have an
explore.

While son is at acvity I will go for a ride.

I meet you for coffee, no I don't need to park.

I don't need to park in the hospital grounds......

I am getting on the nearest train carriage that has
seats left.

4 bikes in a car. No rack and four riders also.

I drop the car off for the mot.

I think I will leave the car here,bike back and pick
them up later save petrol /parking again.

Pedastianisted zone large carrier.

Its ok I don't need to lock up my transport.

I can get the bike through a pedasatian kissing gate.

I don't need a locker it can go in the porch,toliet,broom cupboard, window sill,behind door,

Terraced house, no problem.

Saves times locking up, you can ride right to your destination. This was great at uni when the train was late etc.
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Old 01-12-14, 01:19 PM   #25
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I didn't really need one, but there is a certain uniqueness, engineering, and practicality that appealed to me. I also like to have a bike with me when I travel, so being able to fly, etc. without needing a specific oversize bike box was part of it*. Of course in a vehicle, a folding bike fits pretty easily too.

The subway/metro system here in DC allows full-size bikes only during off-peak hours, so a folding bike makes multi-modal or one-way commutes easy. Although if you're familiar at all with WMATA, you might be best served if you print out the rule saying that folding bikes are allowed at all times, and keeping it with you (or bookmark the shortcut on your phone)! It's a relatively recent addition, and not all their employees are aware of it.

If you have a friend/relative in town who wants to casually borrow a bike they're also good options because they don't take much space to store, and they are usually set up fairly upright, "easier to use" (tend to be slower and heavier, so less nervousness on the part of a less experienced rider and also adjust easily for size, and low low top tube), and of course fun! No one looks strangely at someone wearing casual clothes on a folding bike - you don't need bike shorts.

The biggest downsides to me are the ride feel (I find bumps more jarring because of the smaller wheels), and to a lesser extent weight, and initial "twitchy" steering. The twitchiness is easy to get used to though, and if you're not climbing much the weight doesn't matter.

*disclaimer - so far I haven't flown with mine
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