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Old 04-16-19, 08:20 AM
Mr. Grenade who likes pie
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Terminal City, Canada
Posts: 11

Bikes: Dahon Speed P8

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I'm a relative newbie when it comes to the folders, so I can't really give much advice, but here's my 2 cents:

Tern and Dahon are not the same company (or at least they weren't a few years ago when I checked), but they are related. Dahon was started first (in 1982) by Dr. David Hon, and Tern was started in 2011 by his wife and one of his sons. I don't know the exact details, but based on a post on a popular social media site it sounds like Tern took some of the design properties of the Dahon bikes and attempted to improve on them in other ways. I have no idea whether Tern is (or ever was) a better version of Dahon, or whether Dahon has caught up or surpassed them (assuming there was/is a difference), or whether they focus on different aspects of folding bikes (i.e., lightweight urban commuter cycles vs performance-oriented folders vs durable but heavier bikes for travelling), but I (personally) consider them roughly equivalent as far as price/options/quality goes.

Having said that: I have a Dahon Speed P8, and have had a few full-size bikes over the years, and I much prefer riding the Dahon in the city due to its size. It has 20" wheels with a very low overhang at the front and rear, so it's very easy to zip around buildings or vehicles or pedestrians, and due to the length it takes up so little room that most people don't complain if I bring it into a building or elevator or anything. Having said that, the 20" wheels do seem to make the ride a bit harsher, and I find it more difficult to maintain high speeds (increased rolling resistance, increased friction, reduced rotational inertia, etc.), but YMMV. I also don't know how common 24" tires or wheels are, but 20" wheels are commonly used on BMXs and most folders (and I believe some recumbent bikes), so you should have a decent variety of quality wheels/tires/fenders/etc to choose from if the need arises.

One other thing: I'm not that experienced with gearing, but I'd take a look at Sheldon Brown's comments on the subject and determine whether the increased range offered using two front chainrings and an 8-speed cassette (which is how I assume the Tern 16-speed is set up) is worth the increased complexity over just having an 8-, 9-, or 10-speed rear cassette and single derailleur. Personally, I like his opinions of the alpine gearing (high/low-range front chainrings, with the small chainring only working with the two largest sprockets, and the large chainring working with the entire range of the cassette), and there are enough hills where I'm at to warrant having an alpine/granny gear available on my folder, although I may attempt to find or assemble a cassette that does that without the need for a front derailleur. Personally, the added weight and complexity is not worth having the high/low range of a front derailleur. Keep in mind that 8-, 9- and 10-speed rear cassettes should all fit on the same freehub, so you could potentially upgrade an 8-speed folder to a 9- or 10-speed to get a bit more range and/or closer spacing, providing you also replace the chain and shifter (and rear derailleur, if necessary). These parts should be relatively cheap and easily available at just about any bike shop.

With all that, I am a tinkerer, so I'm not afraid to get in there and make modifications until something suits me. If you're not willing to do the work yourself and/or can't (or don't want to) pay someone to do it for you, then I'd recommend just buying the bike you want right off the bat. It is very easy to spend more on modifications and upgrades than you would getting the bike you want in the first place, especially if you have to pay someone to do the work, and even more so if you're buying a new bike. My bike was used and dirt cheap compared to other comparable folders, so it's perfect for me, but given that you're buying a new bike it may not be an option. However, do keep in mind that there are ways of making adjustments (such as converting a Node D8 or C8 to a 10-speed) if you find something that's 90% of the way there. However, as said before, try riding a bunch of bikes and see what you do/don't like about them, and then figure out what gets you closest to your goals.
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