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  1. #1
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    Should I get as light a bike as possible for commuting?

    Hi guys,

    Iím having difficulty choosing my first bike. I want to start commuting to work, itís about 8 miles, with several stops at traffic lights and two sets of stairs which I need to climb. There are also some slopes. Iíve tested the route with a borrowed Brompton and didnít find it comfortable.

    There are so many choices for a foldable bike, and I donít know if I should just go for as light as possible. Iíd need to add fenders, a rack, and carry my 5 lb laptop, so weight is a concern. My LBS is having a sale on several Dahon models Ė the Jifo, Mu P27, Dash P18, and Jack D24. The Jack D24 is the cheapest of the lot, and reportedly very comfortable, but is also the heaviest. I honestly donít think I need more than 8 speeds. They are also selling the 2014 Dahon models, like the Horize which weighs 11.5kg and costs about $75 more than the Jack.

    I read that the Xootr Swift Folder is light and a good bike, but unfortunately it is not available in my country to test. Iím reluctant to order it online without trying.

    How comfortable are the lighter Dahons in terms of vibration? Is it easy to change the tires to fatter ones in the future?

  2. #2
    Thunder Whisperer no1mad's Avatar
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    Moved from Commuting- you'll likely get more helpful and informed feedback in this forum when it comes to folding bikes, no matter the intended use .
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
    Community guidelines

  3. #3
    Member aidzbelty's Avatar
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    Hmm, methinks this should be in the folding bike section..

    [EDIT]: oops, too late its already there..

    anyway, to redryder74 - if you are not comfortable with the brompton when you tried it then put the 16" folders out of the list since it will be the same thing.. what are you more concerned about with the weight - the 8 mile route or the two flights of stairs? because if I have to choose I would go with the Jack since it has bigger tires so that means the ride wouldn't have much vibration compared to other models, and those 2 flights of stairs wouldn't be a concern as long as I'm not running upstairs with a 30-pound bike..

    why not try those models you mentioned in your LBS - that would help you with your decision..

  4. #4
    Bicycle Rights MattCycle's Avatar
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    I can't speak to commuting per se but the Steel Arc rack is incredibly heavy. The Arc lite is aluminium and weighs half as much.

  5. #5
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    Is the ride mostly flat or will you need gears for hills?
    Will you want disc brakes?
    A singlespeed folder will drop a lot of weight.
    Carrying a bike upstairs gets old fast so I say get a light bike.
    Budget is good to know as well.
    There are lots of tradeoffs so we need to know more about you and the intended rides.

  6. #6
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    The short answer is yes. 11.5kg becomes 14 with your gear in short order, and anything above that gets pretty tiring to lug up-and-down stairs. In your situation I would make 14kg my upper limit for weight, ideally shooting for 12 or 13.

  7. #7
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Alot of Dahons have alloy frames and forks which can give a harsh ride,but wider tires can help. I swapped the stock 1" tires on my old Mu SL for some 1.35" tires,and they greatly improved the ride without adding much weight.

    C'dale BBU('05 and '09)/Super Six/Hooligan8and 3,Kona Dew Deluxe,Novara Buzz/Safari,Surly Big Dummy,Marin Pt Reyes,Giant Defy 1,Schwinn DBX SuperSport,Dahon Speed Pro TT,Brompton S6L

  8. #8
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    Thanks guys. My budget is about $700USD. I have some hilly terrain in my commute so gears are needed. Size of fold is not a concern. I'm new to bikes, so forgive me if this is a stupid question. Is it possible to change the tires on any 20" foldable to a fatter type?

    Unfortunately I can't test ride the bikes on my commuting route, otherwise I could just try them out on the stairs. I have tried a 12kg brompton, and it was just about ok to carry. Not light but acceptable. Like I said in an earlier post, there was too much vibration riding on the brompton. Then again, I don't have much experience cycling and I haven't tried any other brand of foldable bike on my route.
    Last edited by redryder74; 01-20-14 at 04:42 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member gregjones's Avatar
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    Once you add a rear rack, a water bottle, a lock and cable, maybe a basket and a tool kit the weight of the bike will skyrocket. My 23 lb commuter can get to 36 pounds in a heartbeat if I need everything for a big store trip. The you get to add your load......you've already listed a laptop. If you pick-up a 2ltr soft drink on the way home, that's another five pounds.

    I didn't need a lot at the store last week so I only took one basket. I came the long way because it was a nice day and there is a horrible hill that I'm working on getting better at climbing. It was exceptionally hard so I weight the bike and load when I got home--47 pounds.

    This is with a "23 pound" bike.
    Current Bike Stages--Click PR Logo
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  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    You want to Jump in on Jur's Titanium Swift group Order?


    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...one-interested

  11. #11
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    If the frame can fit fatter tires and many do, then yes new tires will help a lot as well as a comfy saddle.
    My Strida was ok with 1.5" tires and a common saddle but when I swapped in 2" Big Apple tires and a springer saddle it became a Cadillac.

    Since the Swift is not an option, I would try to get an aluminum framed Dahon with 20" tires and a regular road derailler.
    Stay away from geared hubs, they are heavy but clean.
    A regular derailler drivetrain is messier but can be swapped for lighter stuff later.
    Beware lots of Dahons and Terns have some funky forward of axle derailler that can't be swapped out for better stuff.
    There are also lighter 20" wheelsets to add later.
    You want the lightest frame possible because that is what will finally limit you if you want to drop weight swapping parts.

    You never told us why you need a folding bike.
    Where will this be folded and stored?
    Non folding bikes are usually lighter and always cheaper.
    Maybe a minivelo or cargo bike would work?
    Last edited by ttakata73; 01-20-14 at 07:55 PM.

  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    My budget is about $700USD.
    but unstated is you are not in the US, where are you looking?

    I read that the Xootr Swift Folder is light and a good bike, but unfortunately it is not available in my country to test. I’m reluctant to order it online without trying.
    See: http://www.bikefriday.com/bicycles/pre-loved#99827
    # 30027 POCKET COMPANION selling at $795
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-20-14 at 08:03 PM.

  13. #13
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    Well, I need a foldable bike for the usual reasons – limited space in the apartment, not safe to lock up the bike outside office, occasionally need to transport the bike in the car. I’ve got 2 more newbie questions if you don’t mind.


    1. For an 8 mile ride, does it make much difference between a steel or aluminium frame? Steel is heavier but some say it is a more comfortable ride.
    2. There are some parts of my commute which are very narrow and I’m still a beginner cyclist. For example, I may have to ride slowly and share a lane with pedestrians and cyclists coming the other way. Is it easier to navigate these spaces with a 20” wheel or a 26” / 700cc wheel?

  14. #14
    Member aidzbelty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redryder74 View Post
    Well, I need a foldable bike for the usual reasons – limited space in the apartment, not safe to lock up the bike outside office, occasionally need to transport the bike in the car. I’ve got 2 more newbie questions if you don’t mind.


    1. For an 8 mile ride, does it make much difference between a steel or aluminium frame? Steel is heavier but some say it is a more comfortable ride.
    2. There are some parts of my commute which are very narrow and I’m still a beginner cyclist. For example, I may have to ride slowly and share a lane with pedestrians and cyclists coming the other way. Is it easier to navigate these spaces with a 20” wheel or a 26” / 700cc wheel?
    1. I go with aluminum for being lightweight, but it will be a stiffer ride than steel which is okay since I just wear padded gloves to ease the vibrations to my palms.

    2. That depends on where you at - in my area only bikes with 24" tires or less are allowed to use the sidewalks. Since you wanted to get a folder for the usual reasons above mentioned, I cannot see much difference on which bike you would get other than getting used to the steering because of the wheel size.

    In here, I would love to use that money to buy something like this (it's manufactured by Tern):

    http://www.mec.ca/product/5032-826/m...10+50002+50209

  15. #15
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redryder74 View Post
    Well, I need a foldable bike for the usual reasons – limited space in the apartment, not safe to lock up the bike outside office, occasionally need to transport the bike in the car. I’ve got 2 more newbie questions if you don’t mind.


    1. For an 8 mile ride, does it make much difference between a steel or aluminium frame? Steel is heavier but some say it is a more comfortable ride.
    2. There are some parts of my commute which are very narrow and I’m still a beginner cyclist. For example, I may have to ride slowly and share a lane with pedestrians and cyclists coming the other way. Is it easier to navigate these spaces with a 20” wheel or a 26” / 700cc wheel?
    1. Aluminum frames are generally lighter. For a folder, this makes a difference when you carry the bike folded (but the couple of lbs difference shouldn't make a huge difference riding). If you ride in winter conditions where they salt, aluminum has an advantage over steel.

    2. Once comfortable on a folding bike, I think you'd have an easier time maneuvering on a folding bike than a full sized one (I certainly do).

  16. #16
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cplager View Post
    1. Aluminum frames are generally lighter.
    nope.

    Quote Originally Posted by cplager View Post
    If you ride in winter conditions where they salt, aluminum has an advantage over steel.

    only if the steel bike is not well-maintained and or not painted or powder-coated.


    from my personal experience, which has been re-enforced by reading the numerous accounts of others, aluminum folding bikes have a much shorter life as they are more easily subject to fatigue cracks and tube wallowing. if an aluminum frame cracks or the integrated headset gets worn and ovalized, then the bike is toasted.
    Last edited by smallwheeler; 01-21-14 at 03:30 PM.

  17. #17
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cplager View Post
    1. Aluminum frames are generally lighter.
    Quote Originally Posted by smallwheeler View Post
    Yup.

    Dahon Speed Pro TT 22lbs 11oz
    Mezzo D10 24lbs 11oz
    Brompton S6 25lbs 13oz

    Schwinn DBX 23lbs 12oz
    Novara Verita 25lbs 3oz

    Note: the components also matter. Bikes with cheaper parts are going to be heavier,IGH's are going to be heavier than derailleurs.

    C'dale BBU('05 and '09)/Super Six/Hooligan8and 3,Kona Dew Deluxe,Novara Buzz/Safari,Surly Big Dummy,Marin Pt Reyes,Giant Defy 1,Schwinn DBX SuperSport,Dahon Speed Pro TT,Brompton S6L

  18. #18
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Material properties anecdote

    steel needs less of it to be as strong as needed , Aluminum often needs more ,

    a cubic chunk of aluminum is lighter than the same dimensional mass of steel .

    .. and NB aluminum cracks when work cycle flexed too often ..

    aluminum frames are heavier to be stiff so they last.

  19. #19
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post
    Yup.

    Dahon Speed Pro TT 22lbs 11oz
    Mezzo D10 24lbs 11oz
    Brompton S6 25lbs 13oz

    Schwinn DBX 23lbs 12oz
    Novara Verita 25lbs 3oz

    Note: the components also matter. Bikes with cheaper parts are going to be heavier,IGH's are going to be heavier than derailleurs.
    wow.

    i provided you a link with the weights of 88 different bikes. the lightest, and coincidentally, the highest performing bikes on that list are made of steel.

    a dahon speed pro is lighter than a brompton s6, therefore, my argument is refuted. i stand corrected and henceforth, always defer to your superior powers of logic and reasoning. cheers!

  20. #20
    Senior Member ThorUSA's Avatar
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    lets say that a 700 dlr folding bike made out of alloy is lighter than a 700 dlr folding bike made in steel ...
    but the real difference in weight are the components
    Dahon and Tern have an advabntage cause they buy larger quantities than all others combined in components, hence they have usually better components on any price range than the competitors... better components means lighter weight

    in my limited experience ( :-) I see at least as many steel bikes break than I see alloy bikes with cracks ...

    old 30 year old experiences in alloy frames like harsh ride or breakage don't count anymore...

    steel rust ( from inside out usually ) alloy oxidates ( gets real fugly )

    The Dahon and Tern specific Neos derailleur is very robust ... and shifts great, and is protected.... ( I sold like 3 replacement ones all last year ) Also we have a converter where you can switch to regular mounted derailleur if you so desire ... Only caveat which I don't like on the neos is that the limit screws are a pain to adjust, and the wheel doesn't want to come out as easy ( for the first couple times )

    just find a bike you like .... rear carries out of alloy are not that heavy, nor are the sks fenders , if the bike doesn't already come with them

    Best Thor
    Having fun selling Terns and Dahons for a living. My personal website is also my business website, same as my profile name, therefore no link given to follow forum rules.

  21. #21
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThorUSA View Post
    lets say that a 700 dlr folding bike made out of alloy is lighter than a 700 dlr folding bike made in steel ...
    [clip]
    in my limited experience ( :-) I see at least as many steel bikes break than I see alloy bikes with cracks ...
    The first point is what I was suggesting. I didn't address the second point, but it's important: Very few non-folding bikes fail and while one does have to be careful with the frame hinge on a folding bike, most last, shall we say, long enough. If you do ruin a folding frame, either it really is defective, you've ridden it a ton, or you are riding in a fashion that you really shouldn't be doing on a folding bike.

    To the OP, get the best folding bike you can afford now. Your use case makes sense. After you've ridden this one a bunch, you'll know better what you want next.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    I would not make weight an issue until you've found a bike you like to ride. Unless you're going to be carrying it as much as riding it, ride quality will win out. I commute on a full-sized, touring bike with fenders, front and rear racks, and a heavy IGH. The bike lives in my 2nd story apartment, so it goes up and down those stairs every day that I ride it. Heavy? Yes, but it's heavy for the 30+ seconds that I'm carrying it up the stairs, meanwhile the 40+ minutes of my commute are a very pleasant ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by redryder74 View Post

    1. For an 8 mile ride, does it make much difference between a steel or aluminium frame? Steel is heavier but some say it is a more comfortable ride.
    Steel vs. aluminum. I like steel for comfort, and I don't care about weight. I'm not going to weigh in on which is heavier because I haven't done the research. It does seem like whichever is heavier, the weight differences are often not that great. I feel like smaller wheels can give a slighter harsher ride, and aluminum can give a slightly harsher ride, but not everyone finds that to be the case, and there are ways to balance that out, regardless, usually with fatter tires, and sometimes some kind of suspension. To me, 8 miles is plenty long enough to make comfort a factor, particularly if there are opportunities for detours/side-trips. I have a spare bike that's tolerable for my 8-mile commute, but the more likely I am to meander on my way home, the more likely I am to take my more comfortable bike. And the reverse is true: If I have my back-up bike, a Dahon Boardwalk, I am far less likely to take the scenic route home. I could make that bike more comfortable, I imagine, but since I have a bike I'm happy with, I haven't bothered.

    Quote Originally Posted by redryder74 View Post
    There are some parts of my commute which are very narrow and Iím still a beginner cyclist. For example, I may have to ride slowly and share a lane with pedestrians and cyclists coming the other way. Is it easier to navigate these spaces with a 20Ē wheel or a 26Ē / 700cc wheel?
    I've only ridden a few small-wheeled bikes, but I find they vary greatly in ride characteristics, just like different types of larger wheeled bikes. The ride characteristics of a specific bike probably depend more on geometry than wheel size. As for what's better in your situation, if you want a folding bike for portability's sake, you probably want a 20" wheel. Just find one that rides the way you want. If you're worried about the bike's ability handle a specific situation, keep that in mind when you test ride.

  23. #23
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    Unless you're going to be carrying it as much as riding it, ride quality will win out.

    The OP mentioned climbing two flights of stairs daily. That's a lot of portaging, and I think requires that the bike not be a bear to haul around. I live in an upstairs apartment, and own a 30-pound Dahon Speed TR and 20-pound Dahon Helios. The Helios is crazy-easy to carry, while I definitely would not want to carry the TR up and down those steps several times every day. Especially if I was in a hurry.

  24. #24
    Senior Member badrad's Avatar
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    Definitely the weight of the bike has to be considered if at the end of the ride is a carry up several flights of stairs. I had the same problem, originally commuting with the Jack, and although folded, the end of each leg included a flight of stairs the bike needed to be carried. So the decision for the MuSL was an easy one. I always considered a difference of a few pounds did not mean much, but at the end of each 30k commute and then the the lifting, an extra 10 pounds really took its toll.

  25. #25
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    One thing that helps:

    Mount a strap on the bike that lets you carry a lot of the bike weight on your shoulders. It's still a large object that needs to be maneuvered, but this makes carrying the bike a lot more pleasant and can really be the difference between being willing to ride a folding bike or not.

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