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Bromptons or Other Small Wheelers for 70+?

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Bromptons or Other Small Wheelers for 70+?

Old 09-03-18, 08:35 AM
  #1  
sringlee
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Bromptons or Other Small Wheelers for 70+?

At age 70 and 72, respectively, my wife and I just bought Bromptons for use on Boston streets to supplement our larger bikes. Wife was having more frustration lifting her leg over the saddle and top tube and also feeling some uncertainty about the risks of hitting a pothole and falling over. Small wheel bikes with very low top tubes allow one to step, not climb, into the cockpit and also plant your feet more firmly and quickly if you do start to lean. They are more maneuverable when you do see a road obstruction ahead. While I am fine riding either my antique Raleigh Sports bike or the Brompton around town, she has come down firmly on the side of a small wheeler. I can imagine that Dahon, Tern, Birdy et al perform very similarly. Anyway, we want to keep riding and not suffer a crash that will take out a hip or a knee and it appears that a small wheeler might keep us more viable as aging riders. Thoughts from others?
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Old 09-03-18, 01:54 PM
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Riding safely is more important than which bike you ride.


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Old 09-03-18, 02:19 PM
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I have a Dahon, in addition to my full size bikes. I like it a LOT especially for crowed city riding. It VERY maneuverable, It balances really well, I can easily ride at really low speeds 2-3-4 mph, I can't ride a full size bike at 2-3 mph. It wouldn't be my choice for high speeds or steep hill climbs. But it will go 20 mph on flat ground, I've had it over 30 on the downhill runs and it's very stable, No worries. I'm not to 70 -yet - but it is very easy to get on and off, balance well at low speeds, so I could see how this could turn into a favorite bike as I get older.
As long as she is comfortable on it, then it's perfect! People will ride a bike the feel good on and that's the important part.
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Old 09-03-18, 02:40 PM
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If you already have seventy bikes ... sure, branch out with a foldable. Why not?
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Old 09-03-18, 02:47 PM
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If your wife - or any other rider - favors a certain bike for a certain task, I'm all for it. But small wheel bikes being particularly favorable for aging riders? I'm not buying it.

Lest you think I'm a big wheel bigot, I've been riding my Alex Moulton AM since 1984. I currently have and ride regularly a bikefriday tikit and a Dahon Curl. Folks coming from big wheels bike often comment that small wheelers' handling is 'frisky' or even 'flighty', but I've ridden small wheels for so long that big wheel bikes feel odd to me.

However, an upright bike's bottom bracket has to be at a certain height to mitigate pedal strike, and therefore the saddle will need to be at a certain height for leg extension...and therefore the rider will be pretty nearly the same height off the ground independent of the wheel size. And this leads us to ---> Center of gravity isn't meaningfully lower and it's just as far to fall.

Swing your leg over? Most - but not all - small wheel bikes have dropped 'top tubes', but those are still significantly higher than bikes like the Sun Streamway.

Going around potholes? Yeah, I'll take small wheels (frisky!) I gotta go through a nasty pothole? I'll take a Truebike.

I hope to ride my Moulton for 50+ years, but I've thought about what comes after. If it comes to a time that I don't feel secure and safe, my current thinking is I'll migrate to a crank forward bike
where I sit lower and can put my feet down with my bottom in the saddle. Maybe a bike like a Rans Fusion ST.

Some years beyond that, perhaps something with three wheels and finally, hopefully, going out recumbent.
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Old 09-03-18, 07:58 PM
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Consider a Bike Friday ?
i have a NWT, step through design is easy to jump on,
wheel size is a good balance between the small Bromptom wheel,
and 26/29 " wheels. Can get a pretty fate 20" tire to soak up road surfaces.
that said, I've had my eye on a Toyobike MiniVelo for a while.
want to ride one sometime.
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Old 09-07-18, 06:38 AM
  #7  
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I'm a Brompton convert (and have owned folders since '91).... in the interests of downsizing and simplifying my life, the rest of my bicycles will probably be sold/given away. However, keep in mind that there is no free lunch - the small wheels, while more portable and maneuverable at slow speeds, are less stable at high speeds, more sensitive/less comfortable to road imperfections, and have roll-over disadvantages in potholes and over debris. Once I was riding with open hand/palms on the bars and failed to notice a small pot hole - the wheel dropped into the hole and spun the handlebars out of my open grip and I went down hard.

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Old 09-07-18, 08:38 PM
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I am a full-time rver and have a Xootr Swift 20 inch wheel folder that fits in my car. I love it but those small wheels make for a harsher ride. I sit just as tall as on a full size bike so it is no better should I fall. If you want safety and fun consider a recumbent trike.
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Old 09-08-18, 01:44 AM
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Rowan and I are not 70+ but nevertheless, we're enjoying our Bike Fridays right now as Rowan recovers from his accident ...








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Old 09-09-18, 12:52 PM
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I have 1 Brompton & 2 BiFri, 16" 349 wheel & 406 20" wheel all IGH,
rarely ride my Derailleur bikes..

yes the step thru mount/dismount is nice..

71, next month..
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Old 09-15-18, 10:48 PM
  #11  
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I've given up my 700c bikes for Bike Friday 20" and now 16" bikes. I lose nothing in terms of rideability as they ride almost exactly like a full size road bike (the only folder with multiple frame sizes AFAIK). What I love is (1) the lower center of gravity - if you start to fall just put your feet down it it stops falling; (2) the nimble steering especially in city traffic, (3) the ease in carrying up stairs for a short person - I always smacked the wheels on my full size bike, (4) the convenience of popping in the car, on the bus, on the train, (5) the faster acceleration on small wheels from a stop, and (6) not needing to carry a lock with my Bike Friday pakit. Also, the 19 lb weight of my pakit is something I can deal with as a senior female. Hefting a full sized bike around when you're under 5'5" and it's heavy (to me) is not much fun. When I ride with my 30 year old son, he's way ahead of me by the end of the block, but I'm faster out of the gate, haha. Those tiny wheels really take off quickly. Smaller bikes are just less hassle, and they make you smile, too. For those who like a cushy ride, you can get a thudbuster seat suspension add on or use fat tires. I'm fine with a titanium seat mast, it soaks up the bumps just fine, but I also come from years of mountain biking where I learned to lift off the saddle and I do that without thinking about it. I like a good road "feel" even at 68. But then I also drive a stick shift car.

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Old 09-17-18, 02:23 PM
  #12  
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Looking for advice. First I just turned 74 last week. That said I am now finding it challenging to get my leg over the saddle of my Cannondale Touring 2 bike so I am looking for options. I thought about putting smaller rims on however then the brakes could be a problem plus the cost just not might make it economical So I was thinking of purchasing a folding bike for a couple of reasons. First transportability (we enjoy camping and my bike rack just broke) second I thought they would be easier to step over. I am not sure of the size to get however I do like to ride ten to 15 miles mostly on flat surface.
I am willing to spend up to 1000 dollars but not sure of what to buy or how to fit one to my size. I am about 5' 7" and 230. Unfortunately I am unable to find a dealer around where I live to even test ride one.
So any suggestions on brand and model will be greatly appreciated
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Old 09-17-18, 02:56 PM
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Tern D7e

Originally Posted by sringlee View Post
At age 70 and 72, respectively, my wife and I just bought Bromptons for use on Boston streets to supplement our larger bikes. Wife was having more frustration lifting her leg over the saddle and top tube and also feeling some uncertainty about the risks of hitting a pothole and falling over. Small wheel bikes with very low top tubes allow one to step, not climb, into the cockpit and also plant your feet more firmly and quickly if you do start to lean. They are more maneuverable when you do see a road obstruction ahead. While I am fine riding either my antique Raleigh Sports bike or the Brompton around town, she has come down firmly on the side of a small wheeler. I can imagine that Dahon, Tern, Birdy et al perform very similarly. Anyway, we want to keep riding and not suffer a crash that will take out a hip or a knee and it appears that a small wheeler might keep us more viable as aging riders. Thoughts from others?
I'm 72. I have a Tern D7e electric or battery. My state doesnt register e bikes. No category. Also, have Dahon D7 and Raleigh hybrid. I have a lot of knee scars all in my later years. Just ride slow and pay attention. A small wheel bike is more dangerous doing tight maneuvers and changing to/from street and sidewalks and lawn to high sidewalks. You have to know how or walk it. No tricks, its all procedural. I learned by falling.

Reason for the e-bike is grades and hills proliferate a lot of valleys and ridges. Got tired of the struggle in low gears. Now, I breeze up and enjoy the scenery instead of down shifting, pumping hard and peddle pushing techniques.

So, you can have your Bromptons (which I traded) and Fridays for the flats with your flashy jackets, I'll take my lowly Tern e-bike up a steep hill or two and pass you up no sweat. By the way, I'll pass you up on the flats, too, and I only have 7 speeds and no clips.

Last edited by lkoyanagi; 09-17-18 at 04:03 PM.
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Old 09-17-18, 05:50 PM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by Fastbikeman View Post
So any suggestions on brand and model will be greatly appreciated
The Dahon VISC D18 Tour comes to mind for your parameters and stated budget.




One size frame. @ 230#, you're at the upper rider weight for this bike (and most folders). That's kind of no big deal, but don't load it up with 50# of touring gear and ride it down staircases. Lacking a local dealer, thorusa.com is the national distributor for the USA if that's where you're at.
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Old 09-26-18, 10:52 PM
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I ride a Brompton for commuting and errands. I got it for the portability because I needed to take it on a bus. My wife likes to borrow it because she likes how low the bar is so she can get on and off the bike so easily. If I didn’t need the smallest portability, I might have considered the Bike Friday. You have to get used to the ride of the Brompton’s 16” wheels. I found the Bike Friday’s 20” wheels to be a nicer ride. I do like being able to chuck the Brompton in a car if I think I might need a bike wherever I’m going. I find that folders are a bit more work to pedal than a full size bike. Not at the start but definitely once you get rolling. Brompton just release an electric if that is of interest. It jumps the weight from 27# to 40# which matters when you’re lifting it into a car.

john
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Old 09-30-18, 10:48 PM
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[QUOTE=surlyprof;20588101]
I ride a Brompton for commuting and errands. I got it for the portability because I needed to take it on a bus. My wife likes to borrow it because she likes how low the bar is so she can get on and off the bike so easily. If I didn’t need the smallest portability, I might have considered the Bike Friday. You have to get used to the ride of the Brompton’s 16” wheels. I found the Bike Friday’s 20” wheels to be a nicer ride. I do like being able to chuck the Brompton in a car if I think I might need a bike wherever I’m going. I find that folders are a bit more work to pedal than a full size bike. Not at the start but definitely once you get rolling. Brompton just release an electric if that is of interest. It jumps the weight from 27# to 40# which matters when you’re lifting it into a car.

john

BROMPTON OWNED NOT
I owned a normal Brompton two years ago. I thought I was happy. I thought I was an Englishman. Had it converted to electric since it was hard to pump. It was great, but continued to be unstable making slow speed turns and maneuvers. I gave it my all and I had to keep it, because it was so expensive. But it got the best of me and Im an experienced rider of folding bikes.

I traded it in for a newly arrived Tern eLink with the Chinese motor as it was about $1,000 less than the Bosch on an upgraded model. It has 20" wheels that I'm used to, on top of that it has 2.25" width tires, totally opposite of the Brompton's about 1.50" width tires. I found the Brompton to be twitchy and hard to steer. I had to be vigilent of particles, debris, and indentations and small ridges on and in the road.

The Tern frame is heavier to withstand trail riding and has lower pressure tires for a better ride and maneuverability and stability on very rough and slippery surfaces. I'm all about safety at my age. I ride on streets exclusively.

I'm not an Englishman and dont pretend to be. They grew up with Brompton bikes, it's in their blood. I'm thoroughly American and am strong enough to carry a heavier safer bike and I just place it in and out of the car trunk.

I'm tickled pink that Tern had the guts to build a high quality motorized foldup bike for Americans.

My Tern did not come with a throttle so, I had the shop install one.

Since owning the Tern, I developed a riding style at slow speed maneuvers. Believe or not, you can't just sit and maneuver any bike slowly, let alone a small foldup bike, just as you can't just pump the pedals down on uphills. It's all wrong, if you do.

Les

Last edited by lkoyanagi; 09-30-18 at 10:55 PM.
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Old 10-16-18, 11:52 AM
  #17  
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Wrecking on a small bike.

69 years old here! I have a couple of folders - Dahon, Tern & Giant. The past June, I was riding my Giant Expressway One, 406 wheels, down a slight downhill grade at a good clip - 20+, when I t-boned a medium sized dog. I went straight over the bars and landed directly on my head. Very minor abrasions as the head took most of the blow. I cracked my SMITH Mips helmet and sustained a moderate concussion. Dog and bike came out OK.

Takeaways:
  • Just because you are on a small bike doesn't mean you can't wreck big
  • Small wheeled bikes are twitchy at higher speeds
  • Rider has a high center of gravity on a small bike
  • A relatively small obstacle can cause over the bars flip
I posted a more detailed account of my crash, with photos of my helmet, earlier. One piece of advice I got was that 20mph is too fast on a small wheeled bike! Heck, I go 35 on some downhills!

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Old 10-18-18, 11:01 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by fitlerbend View Post
Takeaways:
  • Rider has a high center of gravity on a small bike
If the BB, bars and saddle are in about the same place, I don't see how that could be. Explain?
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Old 11-08-18, 03:27 AM
  #19  
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Now that you mention it...

Now that you mention it, I really do like the fact that I don't have to do the horse mount thing when getting on my Brompton. Very convenient, very nice!
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Old 11-08-18, 07:32 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
If the BB, bars and saddle are in about the same place, I don't see how that could be. Explain?

looks like your a good bit farther from the bike
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Old 11-08-18, 07:48 AM
  #21  
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What bugs me the most about my BikeFriday New World Tourist is the lack of a top tube. Makes it a PITA to try lean against a pole to lock it. And it is twitchy at high speeds. 20" wheels also give a harsher ride. These days, it sits in my basement as a backup commuting/errand bike.
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Old 11-08-18, 10:59 AM
  #22  
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Now, 71..

My Pocket Llama had a heavy Rider option , a 2 tube triangle..
using the build jigs for the front of their tandems..
I like that it is functionally a step-through..


I have since, changed saddle pedal, bars, stem .
(the company swapped some , before shipping)
I added mudguards , a front Pannier rack,
Pannier load Mass on Front wheel = no twitchy descents ..

wired head and tail lights ,
thorn resistant tubes..
And an Xooter Crossrack, for a back of the seat post, rear pannier size bag..

Abus Bordo Granit 6500 pouch is where you see the bottle cage..

bottle cage, now, is behind the seat tube..
with the tail light mounted there.. as well .























...

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Old 04-02-19, 09:07 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by sringlee View Post
At age 70 and 72, respectively ...

Wife was having more frustration lifting her leg over the saddle and top tube ...

Anyway, we want to keep riding and not suffer a crash that will take out a hip or a knee and it appears that a small wheeler might keep us more viable as aging riders.

Thoughts from others?
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/starting.html

If you combine low bicycle weight with lowered seat height, mounting and dismounting might be a lot easier. The lower the seat, though, the more difficult on the knees.

The ability to confidently stand on just one foot is pretty important to bike safety, I think.

Really good stable foot platforms (your footwear) allow you to stand on one foot for a very long time, which increases your chances of not getting an injury, due to falling while addressing the vehicle.

If things have progressed where there's poor stability while standing on one foot (generally, the left foot, since most folks mount from the left side of the vehicle) it might be more helpful to seek out help and training the muscles to work more effectively as a platform.

Crank-forward makes more sense to me, than does a smaller frame, to completely avoid difficulties getting on and off the bicycle. I haven't tried one myself, so I'm just supposing that'd be the case.

A great cheat (to avoid discomfort more than to increase safety) is to leverage the curbside elevation differential -- mounting the bicycle vehicle (in the roadway) from the vantage height of the sidewalk (some inches above the roadbed). I do that all the time in the city, where possible; and that's generally my standard postion for adjusting (both!) my rear view mirrors.

I tend towards slipping off the back of the saddle to dismount, especially on the 20 inch fixed gear bicycle (but it's become my habit on a few different bikes -- probably sub-optimal on some of them when I 'forget' I have a rack and cargo, back there!)

I'm starting to think about using the adult recumbent delta trike, but that would be a surrender as they're not well accomodated by the motorists here (I've done it and take more heat, doing so -- some motorists are so misinformed they say (in plain English) that they think I'm disabled (mentally) riding that thing in the road: they just assume that they already know what's going on, when it is clear to me they have no idea what my (three-wheeled) vehicle even _is_. Weird.)

When I have had hip or knee problems, nothing beats the recumbent delta trike. When I had another (severe) medical difficulty, it was a life-saver, for grocery runs. That's why I won't sell it, though I rarely ride it in my usual state of health.

Last edited by mue; 04-02-19 at 09:36 PM. Reason: add sheldon brown on starting and stopping (link)
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