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  1. #1
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    Folding Vs. Mini Velo for International Travler

    Hey all,

    I am a graduate student in the US that does research in South Korea during the summers and also travels domestic and internationally a fair bit. I am trying to decide between buying a folding bike or a mini velo makes more sense for me. I am new to both but experienced with cycling and touring generally.

    What I am looking at:

    Used Dahon Speed 8 that I found for sale in my area for $340. Its in good shape. Ill try and upload a picture! Hardly ever been used from the looks of it. I am worried that the 8 speed drivetrain might not be enough for me as I like to cycle cross country and Korea is HILLY! Can I upgrade this down the road when I get more $? Im pretty handy with bike repair.
    DAHON Bikes:*Speed P8

    A new Mercier Nano Mini Velo. I love these bikes. Always wanted one since first seeing them in Korea! Never ridden this exact model though and it looks to be on the cheap side. Also, not sure if this bike would cost just as much to fly with as a folder.

    So, what do others who travel internationally and are serious about riding their bikes do? I like the idea of having a real, stiff, full size frame with lots of gears like the mini velo has. However, if it costs the same to fly with it as a regular full size bike, of which I have many, then it doesnt help me much. I like the idea of a folder bike but am worried about the cost of a new one and the lack of gears of the used one I have found here. Also, they just dont ride as well as a mini velo or full bike.

    My hidden third option is to just fly to Korea and buy something used there that I can sell when I leave at the end of each summer. Sounds like a pain but probably the cheapest option. Maybe.

    Thanks in advance for reading all this. You guys rock!

    After googling a bit I found a site that describes how to upgrade the Dahons with a front DR fairly cheaply if I decide 8 speeds isnt enough. Still not sure though....
    Last edited by zeppinger; 05-13-14 at 05:56 PM.

  2. #2
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    The key for reasonable airline baggage cost is to meet the Length + Width + Height <= 62" specification that qualifies as standard rather than oversized checked baggage. Don't see how you're going to get close to that with a non-folding mini velo frame and wheels. And quite a few of the rules for trains and other mass transit systems specify that for special, less restrictive treatment, a bicycle must have a 'true folding frame'. You might find a sympathetic conductor who looks the other way, but I feel much more comfortable knowing my bike satisfies the rules and I won't be subject to getting bumped off.

    The Dahon already has a pretty wide-range gear set with a low gear of 32 gear-inches that should be adequate for quite a bit of hill climbing. It lacks a bit at the high end of the gear range for the downhills, but except for racing or keeping up with a fast group ride it's generally easy enough to just coast a bit more when descending. I'd try it for awhile as is before worrying about modifying it with a front derailleur - but it's nice to know that's an option.

  3. #3
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    The key for reasonable airline baggage cost is to meet the Length + Width + Height <= 62" specification that qualifies as standard rather than oversized checked baggage. Don't see how you're going to get close to that with a non-folding mini velo frame and wheels. And quite a few of the rules for trains and other mass transit systems specify that for special, less restrictive treatment, a bicycle must have a 'true folding frame'. You might find a sympathetic conductor who looks the other way, but I feel much more comfortable knowing my bike satisfies the rules and I won't be subject to getting bumped off.

    The Dahon already has a pretty wide-range gear set with a low gear of 32 gear-inches that should be adequate for quite a bit of hill climbing. It lacks a bit at the high end of the gear range for the downhills, but except for racing or keeping up with a fast group ride it's generally easy enough to just coast a bit more when descending. I'd try it for awhile as is before worrying about modifying it with a front derailleur - but it's nice to know that's an option.
    Great advice, but looking at the specs online, the Dahon comes out to 67 inches when folded not including whatever luggage you carry it in. So, I guess the Dahon doesnt count as a normal checked baggage either?

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    I am actually in this exact situation (down to wanting a mini velo or folder, maybe one that's both like a Midtown Mini), though in my case I'm military and mostly travel to and from Japan. Looking forward to what is said in this thread!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Winfried's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
    I am a graduate student in the US that does research in South Korea during the summers and also travels domestic and internationally a fair bit. I am trying to decide between buying a folding bike or a mini velo makes more sense for me.
    Get a folder, as it'll be cheaper on a plane (mini-velos are pretty close to a full-size bike), and can be taken on any train/bus.

    If you need a lof of speeds, get a model with two chainrings such as those:
    DAHON Bikes USA:*Visc P18
    DAHON Bikes USA:*Vector P20

    Verge P20 | Tern Folding Bike and Folding Bicycle Accessories | Worldwide

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
    Great advice, but looking at the specs online, the Dahon comes out to 67 inches when folded not including whatever luggage you carry it in. So, I guess the Dahon doesnt count as a normal checked baggage either?
    Not if you just do the normal fold.

    But there may be ways to do some additional disassembly for packing it small enough to fit in a suitcase that complies with the airline rules for regular size checked baggage. That's the case with my Bike Friday - I can fold it to take on a train or bus in a minute or take about 15 minutes to remove the front wheel, handlebars, saddle, and pedals and then fit it in an airline-suitable case.

  7. #7
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    Not if you just do the normal fold.



    But there may be ways to do some additional disassembly for packing it small enough to fit in a suitcase that complies with the airline rules for regular size checked baggage. That's the case with my Bike Friday - I can fold it to take on a train or bus in a minute or take about 15 minutes to remove the front wheel, handlebars, saddle, and pedals and then fit it in an airline-suitable case.
    Great point! Can you tell me how or show me a link? Do you mean taking off the front wheel? The back wheel?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
    Great point! Can you tell me how or show me a link? Do you mean taking off the front wheel? The back wheel?
    I'd suggest doing a search of the web for ideas about your particular Dahon. On my Bike Friday model I remove the front wheel (and also remove the QR skewer to make it narrower), remove the handlebars (mine are drop bars that are split in the middle for packing), remove the pedals, and remove the seatpost&saddle. Then the rest of the bike can fit in a suitcase that complies with the airline rules and the removed components fit around it inside the suitcase.

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    By folding sideways in half the length becomes girth , as the front portion is now along side the rear portion .. it doesn't go away.


    OTOH, Brompton Folding the rear directly under , the width is only increased by a bit,, the front portion of the main-tube-fork turned backwards ..

  10. #10
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    I own a bike friday, I fly with for light tures and my really heavy toring bike for.expeditions,I just gott a mercier and I love it I upgrade some parts I use it for go to work.every day and for the money you are not doing nothing wrong.The frame.is not flexing like some.folding bikes.About flying when you fly from Europe you are always.allow to take only 23kg so always need to buy an extra luggage no matter what you take a bf on a suitcase or my heavy bike in a box.And the mercier is much smaller than a regular bike but I don t know if I can pack it on my suitcase samsonite need to try
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  11. #11
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    It seems you only want to spend what a Dahon would cost;
    but it looks like a more expensive Bike Friday might fit your
    requirement(s) - gearing, ability to upgrade, etc. I've squeezed
    2 different folding bikes in a standard Samsonite hard luggage.
    A Tobukaeru with 20in. wheels and a Citizen Tokyo with 16in.
    wheels. Both bikes fold in a similar way to the Dahons. Both
    required a bit of disassembly; wheels, seatpost, etc.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUQN...6zPoymgKaIoDLA


    2013 Citizen Tokyo in a suitcase by 1nterceptor, on Flickr

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
    Great advice, but looking at the specs online, the Dahon comes out to 67 inches when folded not including whatever luggage you carry it in. So, I guess the Dahon doesnt count as a normal checked baggage either?
    I manage to pack a Dahon into the Brompton B&W case. It requires quite a bit of disassembly, creative juggling and the bike barely fits, but it is doable.

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