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Are folding bikes a better choice for age-related conditions?

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Are folding bikes a better choice for age-related conditions?

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Old 11-04-14, 02:31 PM
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ganchan
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Are folding bikes a better choice for age-related conditions?

I'm not QUITE old enough to qualify for this board yet, but time's a-wasting and I already have some hip stiffness, etc. to get me thinking about the future. I have a little trouble swinging my leg over my Raleigh Venture -- not painful, and not enough difficulty to be a real problem yet, but I find myself tipping the bike about 30 degrees in my direction to accommodate the reduced range of motion when mounting/dismounting. That got me thinking: Should my next bike be a folding bike? It might be a good "senior" choice for a couple of reasons:

-Step-through frame height on many models, so no leg swing
-20" or smaller wheels would keep rider closer to the ground (less of a height to fall from? lower center of gravity?)

I can only afford to own one bike at a time, but I imagine I'd be fine with a multi-speed 20" folding bike for zipping around the neighborhood on bike lanes....
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Old 11-04-14, 03:23 PM
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My height above the ground is exactly the same on my Bike Friday folding bike as it is on my other bikes. The height is determined by a need for the pedals to be high enough so they don't hit the ground on turns, a reasonable crank length for efficient pedaling, and the length of my leg when nearly fully extended - none of these are changed by using smaller wheels.

OTOH, you would be lower with a more horizontal body position such as on the crank-forward designs or even more with recumbent bikes. Many of these also have lower step-over heights. Folding bikes are great for being able to take them along on trips or for multi-modal travel - but I wouldn't recommend them for the reasons you cited.
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Old 11-04-14, 03:38 PM
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ganchan
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
Folding bikes are great for being able to take them along on trips or for multi-modal travel - but I wouldn't recommend them for the reasons you cited.
Fair enough. For the hip issue, I might bite the bullet and select a mixte or step-over model as my next bike. Mixtes are hard to find/test-ride in my neck of the woods, however, and the step-through models I liked at my LBS were all "enhanced" by pink accents, flower designs, etc.
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Old 11-04-14, 04:47 PM
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They are sure enough no cure for boredom, which is a killing disease amongst us seniors. My bike collection has expanded as well as the proximity of my riding.

Marc
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Old 11-04-14, 07:31 PM
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Try swinging your leg forward, over the handlebars. Sometimes we're more limber in one direction than in another.

Otherwise, nothing wrong with a mixte. Flower decals can be peeled off. A non-pink mixte can be ordered.

Folding bikes are, usually, rather low performance machines. They, usually, have very upright riding positions, rather low gearing, and noticeable flex in the handlepost and elsewhere. But there are exceptions. Dahon, for instance, makes some rather performant models, like the Mu. So does Bike Friday.

Still, if you don't need the folding feature, there's really no reason to get a folder.
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Old 11-04-14, 08:40 PM
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I've read for 40+ years that a small wheel bike with a drop frame has a lower center of gravity. Uh, I guess, theoretically, but once the rider gets on I suspect that disappears in the noise. I own several small wheel bikes, and for the reasons prathmann mentions, they don't feel any lower.

Originally Posted by jyl View Post
Otherwise, nothing wrong with a mixte.
In NA we're kinda hung up on drop frames being 'girl's bikes'. It seems to be a cultural thing; the pictures I see from Tokyo indicate a large percentage of the cycling population rides drop frames.

In
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Old 11-04-14, 08:55 PM
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Not sure what is wrong with tipping your bike to swing your leg over the top tube. Perhaps some exercise to extend your range of motion would help? Also a check to make sure your bike is an appropriate size and fits well. Not sure how a folding bike really helps - have a BF NWT, take it with me when I go to an urban area or city for commuting. Sure no top tube makes it easy to hop on, the smaller wheel size makes steering fairly sensitive - perhaps too quick turning for some. Another choice is to consider a recumbent?
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Old 11-05-14, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
In NA we're kinda hung up on drop frames being 'girl's bikes'. It seems to be a cultural thing; the pictures I see from Tokyo indicate a large percentage of the cycling population rides drop frames.

In
I would have no problem with riding a mixte. I think they are kinda cool and old school. I suspect I'll have one when I hit the late seventies or eighties and need to ride to the golf course or grocery store.
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Old 11-05-14, 11:29 AM
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Another way to look at it is: If you don't work at swinging that leg over the bike, there is the possibility that there may be a loss of flexibility and motion in that leg.
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Old 11-05-14, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by martianone View Post
Not sure what is wrong with tipping your bike to swing your leg over the top tube. Perhaps some exercise to extend your range of motion would help? Also a check to make sure your bike is an appropriate size and fits well. Not sure how a folding bike really helps - have a BF NWT, take it with me when I go to an urban area or city for commuting. Sure no top tube makes it easy to hop on, the smaller wheel size makes steering fairly sensitive - perhaps too quick turning for some. Another choice is to consider a recumbent?
That's the answer: just tip the bike way low and it should do the job. But to tip way down, you need a nice low weight carbon composite bike frameset that will cost thousands of dollars. LOL.

Another thing is to have a sports physical therapist type do a full evaluation of your muscle and joint movement. From there they can tell you what movement is lacking and what muscles need work. They can also tell you what muscles are more developed than others. A good thing to know.

I wonder how those bull riders get on their horses years after all that falling off the bull.

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Old 11-05-14, 12:20 PM
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I have a DaHon folder and like it a lot! Mine is the "Curve" model, which was (I think) before the MU was available. Mine sure is easy to get on but I don't notice any difference in center-of-gravity . . . but maybe I'm just insensitive?

Mine has 16" wheels so it folds pretty small but folding or un-folding is a five step process that you will want to practice to get it done quickly. I replaced the "foldable" pedals with SPD's, added a rack and pack but otherwise pretty stock.

Gears (8-spd) are by Shimano Nexus (Internal Gear Hub), brakes are Tektro V-Type. Frame, bars, seatpost, rims are aluminum, so not super heavy (23 lbs.).

Here it is in its all folded up mode.
Here it is (pre-rack & pack mount) in my cube at work.

Rick / OCRR
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Old 11-05-14, 12:59 PM
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I've often pondered that my folding Giant Halfway may be my sole bike in the future. There is no significant center of gravity advantage, but bike handling, storing, and getting aboard are greatly improved.

Never forget the "fun" factor. These bikes are simply a hoot to ride! My wife and I use ours mostly for travel but we enjoy the same cycling activities as we do at home on our larger framed bikes. We use MTB type seat post racks and saddle bags for light touring.

My advise is to try a few folders and see what you think. Pictured are my Halfway and mrs browngw's Expressway.

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Old 11-05-14, 01:19 PM
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One thing you can do . lay the bike down , step over it, then pull it up underneath you.


I Like my Bike Friday and Brompton* , the low step over is a Bonus.

*The BB height of this bike is pretty low, Pocket Llama significantly Higher ..

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Old 11-05-14, 02:11 PM
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I've often pondered that my folding Giant Halfway may be my sole bike in the future...
Yeah, over the last couple o' years we've done a greater and greater percentage of our riding on the folders.

I imagine I'd be fine with a multi-speed 20" folding bike for zipping around the neighborhood on bike lanes....
I've run across some cycling blogs and boards in China, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore where the cats do all their club riding, touring and even randonneuring on folding bikes. It starts to seem normal after a while.

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Old 11-05-14, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
OTOH, you would be lower with a more horizontal body position such as on the crank-forward designs...
In related news, the Electra website proclaims their crank-forward Townie is the best selling bike in the USA.
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Old 11-05-14, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
In related news, the Electra website proclaims their crank-forward Townie is the best selling bike in the USA.
I wonder if it's because some bikes are made for WallyWord and such under a different label. Maybe they're talking about best selling "crank-forward" designs of other makers. You can say anything with statistics(or as my sister-in-law calls it, Sadistics.).

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Old 11-06-14, 07:04 AM
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Yup. Unqualified. Right on the front of their website. I don't get those electras. Could anyone actually ride one for more than a half hour. Total butt weight. Hmmmm.
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Old 11-07-14, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by martianone View Post
Not sure what is wrong with tipping your bike to swing your leg over the top tube. Perhaps some exercise to extend your range of motion would help? Also a check to make sure your bike is an appropriate size and fits well. Not sure how a folding bike really helps - have a BF NWT, take it with me when I go to an urban area or city for commuting. Sure no top tube makes it easy to hop on, the smaller wheel size makes steering fairly sensitive - perhaps too quick turning for some. Another choice is to consider a recumbent?
+1

This is how I get on my bike, and I've been doing it long before I qualified to post here, probably all my life.

I don't think anyone hands out style points for how you swing your leg over a top tube.
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Old 11-07-14, 11:47 AM
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I just had a conversation with the Bike Friday office about this particular issue. Step through frames, like the Electras, typically have a "step over" height of about 18 inches. The top tube on a Bike Friday New World Tourist has a step over height of 18 inches at the seat ranging up to 20 inches at the head set. That's a couple inches lower than if I lean my road bike over at a steep angle.
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Old 11-07-14, 04:24 PM
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Since you asked, why not think along a little different line? What about a long wheel based recumbent, something like this:



This is the Sun EZ-Sport. Very easy to mount, easy to ride. This is not like the old granny trikes, folks young and old ride these and love them.
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