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Is a folding bike worth buying?

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Is a folding bike worth buying?

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Old 01-20-19, 11:12 PM
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MDITKIN
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Is a folding bike worth buying?

Hey guys! I just tried to commute (1.7 miles each way) on Saturday for the first time on a bike. It didnt go so well due to being incredibly out of shape, but I'm working on it. I'm currently using a cheap mtn bike until I get my tax return and can afford to invest in something more suited to my needs. My wife and I love to hike, but doing trails on a bike doesn't really interest me, as a bicycle is more of an alternative to a car than a recreational thing for me. We both want new bikes (price cap of around 400 each, and we will need a trailer for our 2 small children), and my question is if folding bikes are a viable option. We tend to travel frequently, and being able to fold them up and put them in the trunk of a car would be awesome. I also have to keep my bike in the break room at work to keep it from being stolen. Will something with 20 inch wheels be hard to ride?
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Old 01-20-19, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by MDITKIN View Post
Will something with 20 inch wheels be hard to ride?
Smaller wheels roll faster than bigger ones so you will be ok, especially if your commute is just shy of 2 miles. That's 10-15 minutes just rolling along.
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Old 01-20-19, 11:29 PM
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Awesome! That's what I was hoping to hear. Any recommendations in that price point? I've seen the citizen gotham 7 comes in just under that.
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Old 01-21-19, 12:21 AM
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What I think: Two bikes and a trailer are going to take up your whole trunk and the kid seats (if they are trailer sized kids) already take 2/3 of your back seat. If your trailer has a stroller conversion buy it, and buy regular bikes and a trunk or hitch rack.

I have 3 kids, one 4.5yo and 2yo twins, and we have a full size truck and a minivan, both of which fit the seats 3 abreast and leave room for stuff. But I still have a hitch rack.
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Old 01-21-19, 12:59 AM
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The more research I do, the more I think you are probably right. We are planning on upgrading to a suburban soon, but what's the point if the entire cargo area is unusable because of the bikes. I'm having a really difficult time settling on a bike. $400 is a big investment for me right now, so I dont want to end up with something I dont like.
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Old 01-21-19, 01:02 AM
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Yeah a folder sounds like a great idea. I want a rad folder though, with assist:

https://www.radpowerbikes.com/produc...lding-fat-bike

https://www.radpowerbikes.com/produc...mini-step-thru

The ability to fold up and stow in your trunk is just awesome. I'll have to do a bit of research on which is better, standard or step thru.
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Old 01-21-19, 01:14 PM
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A folding bike is definitely worth looking at. 20" wheels are not an issue; the gearing has to be slightly different, and tires wear out a little faster, but a well designed folding bike can be as good as anything.

I'm not sure what you'll get for $400. I think my current folding bike cost a bit more than that.

I am fond of Downtube bikes (that's a brand). They are primarily an on-line seller (and the owner/ designer is a forum member).
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Old 01-21-19, 03:37 PM
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For a folding bike, I'd be concerned how well the trailer is able to attach to it, since they are probably designed for traditional geometry frames.

Nothin wrong with an old mountain bike (might be a lot wrong with a cheap (i.e. Walmart/Target) bike tho), I say ride that into the ground to give you plenty of time for good decisions. Switching from knobby to slicker/urban tires is the #1 difference-maker you can do to a mtb to ride around the streets (and still be able to ride smooth trails) and doesn't cost much.

If you are handy consider BikesDirect.com, you have to put the handlebars, pedals, seat, and front wheel on, but that's pretty easy. Or consider your local CraigsList. You might get lucky and get a good deal on a bike that the seller has either maintained or just had tuned up for sale; or you might end up having to learn a little bike mechanics to fix a few things. But that's all stuff you want to know to take care of your bikes long term anyways. People with $400/bike budgets are usually not the kind of people that can just drop $20-100 bucks to have a local bike shop deal with every little problem that comes up.
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Old 01-21-19, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
For a folding bike, I'd be concerned how well the trailer is able to attach to it, since they are probably designed for traditional geometry frames.
Not really a problem, I think. The hitch attaches under the axle nut or QR lever. Itís not like there are different trailers for different tire sizes. The kids just get to sit a little more upright.
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Old 01-21-19, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by MDITKIN View Post
The more research I do, the more I think you are probably right. We are planning on upgrading to a suburban soon, but what's the point if the entire cargo area is unusable because of the bikes. I'm having a really difficult time settling on a bike. $400 is a big investment for me right now, so I dont want to end up with something I dont like.
First, for a trailer, buy used. I bought a Burly two-seat trailer for about $150 used on eBay. It wasn't new, but now eight years later it's in about the same shape as when I bought it (and now my kids are too old). If you were in SLC / Sandy UT I'd let it go for $50 but I don't have time to deal with shipping to Tx.

For bikes, you tend to pay for frame construction, components, and extras. Folding is an extra, so a folding bike of equal price to a non-folding one will probably have to sacrifice something in either frame construction or components. So if you want to be able to get the best components you can get for $400 on the best frame you can get for $400, skip folding. If folding is necessary for you, you'll have to accept lower quality in other areas to maintain the same price range.

I don't think I would buy a bike for $400 new. For $400 you can get a great used bike though. Really, a $400 bike that is ten years old, purchased new for $1000 is going to be a better bike than a $400 bike purchased new, even with modern updates.

Once you buy a bike expect to pay a little to outfit it too. If you're going 1.6 miles each way you can probably get away with using a backpack. But flat repair kit, pump (or CO2), saddle pouch for the repair kit, bike lock, new tires (used bikes often come with worn out tires), bottle cage... those are necessities. Lights may be a necessity if your commute takes place after dark. And you may decide that you would prefer having a rack and pannier.

First things first; start out simple. If the existing mountain bike you have is working well enough, just ride it. Nobody will steal it, or if they do you won't care. Work on getting lights, a flat repair kit.. those sorts of things. Later on when you find the perfect $400 deal on a bike you can migrate the equipment over. And that way you're not in a rush to buy the first thing that comes along.
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Old 01-21-19, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by daoswald View Post
First, for a trailer, buy used. I bought a Burly two-seat trailer for about $150 used on eBay. It wasn't new, but now eight years later it's in about the same shape as when I bought it (and now my kids are too old). If you were in SLC / Sandy UT I'd let it go for $50 but I don't have time to deal with shipping to Tx.

For bikes, you tend to pay for frame construction, components, and extras. Folding is an extra, so a folding bike of equal price to a non-folding one will probably have to sacrifice something in either frame construction or components. So if you want to be able to get the best components you can get for $400 on the best frame you can get for $400, skip folding. If folding is necessary for you, you'll have to accept lower quality in other areas to maintain the same price range.

I don't think I would buy a bike for $400 new. For $400 you can get a great used bike though. Really, a $400 bike that is ten years old, purchased new for $1000 is going to be a better bike than a $400 bike purchased new, even with modern updates.

Once you buy a bike expect to pay a little to outfit it too. If you're going 1.6 miles each way you can probably get away with using a backpack. But flat repair kit, pump (or CO2), saddle pouch for the repair kit, bike lock, new tires (used bikes often come with worn out tires), bottle cage... those are necessities. Lights may be a necessity if your commute takes place after dark. And you may decide that you would prefer having a rack and pannier.

First things first; start out simple. If the existing mountain bike you have is working well enough, just ride it. Nobody will steal it, or if they do you won't care. Work on getting lights, a flat repair kit.. those sorts of things. Later on when you find the perfect $400 deal on a bike you can migrate the equipment over. And that way you're not in a rush to buy the first thing that comes along.
All great advice!
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Old 01-21-19, 08:57 PM
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I tried a Brompton for a couple days when they had an event. Absolutely hated it. Couldn’t imagine riding one every day. Try before you buy.
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Old 01-23-19, 12:25 PM
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I got a 1989 puegeot triathalon from my dad last night. It needs tubes/tires and a tune up, but it was free so I'm gonna get it going. It has shimano 105 components, and I've been in contact with a local bike shop. They said I should be able to get it in safe riding condition for less than 100
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Old 01-23-19, 12:54 PM
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Probably they won't need to do anything you can't learn to do yourself. If you want to tackle it yourself, look up youtube videos for

* change bike tires/tubes
* adjust bike brakes (caliper, not cantilever or V-brake or disc)
* adjust rear derailleur
* adjust front derailleur
* clean and lube chain or replace chain
* replace cables and housing (reattaching new cables requires knowledge of adjusting brakes and derailleurs)

and that should probably be everything you need to get it on the road. Tools/supplies needed are screwdrivers, tire levers (or careful use of screwdrivers to get old tires off, hands only to get new tires on), metric allen wrenches, chain lube, chain tool (or dremel cutoff wheel?), and cable cutter (or dremel cutoff wheel)

Some advanced things that might additionally be needed for a bike that old could be
* open hubs, clean out, replace ball bearings with fresh lube
* remove cranks, open bottom bracket, replace bearings with fresh lube
* open headset, clean out, replace ball bearings with fresh lube
(are you seeing a theme here?) More specialty tools are needed here (freewheel/cassette removal tool, chain whip, cone wrenches, crank puller, bottom bracket wrench, headset wrench)

But if the wheels and cranks and steering seem to turn ok (smooth, quiet, no play side-to-side), you may well be OK for that advanced stuff.
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Old 01-23-19, 01:05 PM
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I like mine.. (Own 3) I ride them instead of my non folding bikes ..

above post is describing a complete overhaul , no telling what needs replacing until you open it up..

My LBS has an $80 labor flat rate delux* tune up.. but that excludes parts cost.. overhaul is another story .. [but you don't live here, or plan to pass through]
* safety check adjustment tune up , no parts replaced, 1/2 that

Bike repair books , At the Library or Bought, give you an overview, vids just a task at a time..


* End of this spring, that deal ends, that price, it must go Up..
...


...

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Old 01-24-19, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
I tried a Brompton for a couple days when they had an event. Absolutely hated it. Couldnít imagine riding one every day. Try before you buy.
I have a Brompton and love it... for what it is good at. It does take some getting used to and I donít expect the same ride feel I get on my Rivendell. I also canít imagine taking it on a long tour. Thatís what the Rivís for. I needed a folder because I was teaching a class that required me to take a bus rather than a train home. Bus racks fill during rush hour in the bay area plus I didnít want to leave my nicer bike on a bus rack. Bought the Brompton because it folded the smallest and I like the history behind it. When I need to take the bus, they let me carry it on.

I would not have bought a folder unless I needed it for my commute. Now that I have it, Iíll probably always keep it. I like the ability to just chuck it in the car trunk and have it wherever I may go. I have also traveled with it a little although I wonder if it might be best to rent a bike wherever we travel to avoid the hassle and risk of checking a bike.

You pay a premium for the fold. That means you get lesser components than a regular bike for the money you spend. I wouldnít touch a $400 folder since you could probably get a better quality regular bike and neither is going to be very high quality. We bought my wife a very nice bike during an end of year sale for about $500. It is still more difficult to maintain than my bike with higher end components. The frame is solid so I may just swap in better components when sheís not looking!

Since your cargo areas might be filled with kids and cargo, have you considered investing your $400 into a trailer hitch and hitch-mounted rack?

john
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Old 03-02-19, 01:43 AM
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I will say yes.... but Fiets bob is right on all accounts.

Why not do one folder and a nonfolder?
For you, a folder is fine. Go used. Try Craigslist. A used Dahon would be ideal. Downtube is good as well. I had a xootr swift...which was discontinued, but is great if you could get one.
For the wifey, you may want to get a normal bike...more bang for your buck.

Have you thought about just getting some "sleeper/beater" bikes?

Some of the steels bikes from the eighties and early nineties are overlooked for being out of fashion. However, these have a sweeter ride, and are more reliable than anything new in your budget.
Anything Trek, Specialized, Miyata, Marin, Gary Fisher, etc will likely be a superior ride.

At 1.8 miles, pretty much any bike works..... more importantly find something that brings you joy.
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Old 03-02-19, 01:47 AM
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Originally Posted by MDITKIN View Post
I got a 1989 puegeot triathalon from my dad last night. It needs tubes/tires and a tune up, but it was free so I'm gonna get it going. It has shimano 105 components, and I've been in contact with a local bike shop. They said I should be able to get it in safe riding condition for less than 100
If you're going this route, go to Youtube and your local library instead.
It will cost maybe$10-$25, and some time.

Congrats on the bike
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Old 03-02-19, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by MDITKIN View Post
The more research I do, the more I think you are probably right. We are planning on upgrading to a suburban soon, but what's the point if the entire cargo area is unusable because of the bikes. I'm having a really difficult time settling on a bike. $400 is a big investment for me right now, so I dont want to end up with something I dont like.
My family rented a full size SUV for a vacation that involved some off road driving. Aside from 4WD, which was fun, the most noticeable feature of the vehicle was its severe lack of interior cargo space. If you anticipate hauling people and stuff, get a minivan.
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Old 03-02-19, 01:55 PM
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Image 1)
and 2 ....
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Old 03-07-19, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
I'm not sure what you'll get for $400.
I'm pretty sure.

Originally Posted by alan s View Post
I tried a Brompton for a couple days when they had an event. Absolutely hated it. Couldn’t imagine riding one every day. Try before you buy.
No danger of finding a Brompton for $400 anyway. $1400 maybe. Used.

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Old 03-07-19, 11:42 PM
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I have a 2005 Downtube IX FS folder that the o.p. can HAVE. 20" wheels do NOT roll easier than larger wheels. But that does NOT mean that folders aren't very useful as alternatives to full size bikes for specific situations. I have two other folders besides the Downtube and at least five full size bikes and two tandems (was three). One 20" folder takes most of a car trunk when folded. The idea isn't to schlep folders around in your trunk. The Peugot has 27" wheels? That will limit tire choices. 1.6 mi. on a bike is such a short distance that I wonder if the o.p. is using gears correctly if they are getting winded. Some time spent around someone who knows bikes might be of benefit if this is all new territory. FWIW. Edit: 1986 Triathalon has 700C wheels so 1989 probably does as well. Both years came in several sizes. What size is this one? Is it the right size? It matters.

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Old 03-08-19, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
I'm pretty sure.



No danger of finding a Brompton for $400 anyway. $1400 maybe. Used.
For sure, $400 for a Brompton is unlikely. My point is that folding bikes arenít for everyone. I rode 50 miles in 2 days, and couldnít have been happier to return it to the shop and never ride one again. A $400 folding bike is going to be even worse.
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Old 03-08-19, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post


For sure, $400 for a Brompton is unlikely. My point is that folding bikes arenít for everyone. I rode 50 miles in 2 days, and couldnít have been happier to return it to the shop and never ride one again. A $400 folding bike is going to be even worse.
Most people know better than to purpose a folding bike for that kind of mileage. That said, there are people who do the kind of miles you did and much more on folders. People tour on essentially stock folding bikes. As I understand it, a set of front panniers with ~5lbs. on each side damps the steering quite nicely. My Giant Expressway can probably be found on sale for not much more than $400. It's a LOT better bike than many full size bikes.
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Old 03-09-19, 11:36 AM
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If you live in a place with a bike theft problem ,a folding bike can be brought inside with you..
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