Old 08-11-06, 08:40 PM
Folding bike junkie!
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Thanks all for the kind words. I know that it takes all of us to make this a good place to be.

I just went out for a quick spin in succession of all 3 bikes in the photos. I wanted to get a back to back comparison of them all while it was cool enough I wouldn’t run down quickly because of heat.

Out of all three on my test loop the Brompton was clearly the fastest but had the narrowest gear range by far. I attribute the Brompton’s speed to its great bars and VASTLY superior tires. It has the Brompton “greens” which are some of the absolute fastest in a 349 size. They are 100psi tires and really fly.

Getting on either DT after the Brommie with these tires made them feel lethargic. My instincts tell me there is a lot of speed to be had with either DT with a simple tire change. Quite honestly the Brommie was almost as fast as my Swift on my loop. That was a surprise in some ways as my Swift isn’t slow but it does weigh more and the Big Apples are slower tires than the greens.

When it came to climbing hills the VIIIH was in last place and the Mini in first. The Mini had the best gearing for hill climbing. The low speeds didn’t seem to make the tires seem as slow and its light weight allowed it to fly up hills. This little baby is fast up hills.

In short order I sort of figured out how the bikes stack up against each other personality wise. The Brommie is like a Jag XKE. Fast, fairly nimble, and definitely comfortable. The DT VIIIH is more like a Honda Accord. Not as fast but well appointed and an excellent value. The Mini is like the Mini Cooper S. It almost feels like a toy (in the good sense) and was fun to play with and still pretty quick (but not fast).

In cut and thrust riding in the city the Mini would be a lot of fun especially with better tires. The VIIIH is a great all around bike; good at a lot of things but not really great at anything. The Brompton is definitely nicer than the ones I had but still has the so-so brakes. Nothing still touches its fold. Mini is close but if I had to fit a bike in a suitcase with no disassembly the Brommie/Merc is still the best choice.

I also want to point out that while the Mini may not be mini on the scale, its compact dimensions make it feel even light when you ride it. By comparison the Brommie felt heavier than the VIIIH even though it weighs less. I think this is primarily due to the fact it is longer. With weight further from the CG (center of gravity) it has a higher polar moment of inertia so it resists directional changes more.

Best ride quality of the bunch was the VIIIH, then Mini and then the Brompton. The Brommie has better rear suspension than the Mini but the tires are definitely harsher. The front fork and suspended seat on the VIIIH soak up a lot of bumps. Brommie would be better on a long trip but the VIIIH isn’t far behind. No way I’m going to be going on a long trip or ride more than about 7 miles at a stretch on the Mini. I am just too big of a guy but it is fun playing around on. This would be a great bike on a college campus or someone who lives downtown and would commute 3-4 miles to work each way.

Lastly the Brompton costs several times more but it might only be 20%-30% (at most) better in some areas and worse in others. Gearing wise the DTs totaly outclass the Brommie. So ultimately (for me) the DTs are a much better value. If you need that those areas where the Brommie is still king, you might want to pay the extra money. Alternatively you can consider the Merc too if you want the basic Brompton pluses at a lower price.
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