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Folding Bikes Discuss the unique features and issues of folding bikes. Also a great place to learn what folding bike will work best for your needs.

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Old 07-08-17, 04:15 PM   #1
rsanchezsaez 
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Best introductory folding bike. A Brompton?

Hi!

I知 new to the forum and new to biking in general.

I知 planning to get a folding bike for work commuting and the occasional casual weekend beach trip. I like how folding bikes look and I think I壇 enjoy riding them. I知 57鋳 and thin. Actual foldability is not crucial, but it痴 a nice bonus.

Any recommendations for a $600 budget (hitting $500 would be even better)? I致e been doing some reading on these forums, but I知 overwhelmed by the variety. I wish something like The Wirecutter was available for bikes. Dahon comes up often, but even there are too many models. I like the looks of a curved frame over the straight ones.

I知 in West L.A. in case that helps.

Thanks!

UPDATE: I think I'll double my budget and get a new Brompton instead.

Last edited by rsanchezsaez; 07-10-17 at 04:30 PM.
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Old 07-08-17, 05:53 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by rsanchezsaez View Post
Hi! I知 new to the forum and new to biking in general.

I知 planning to get a folding bike for work commuting and the occasional casual weekend beach trip. I like how folding bikes look and I think I壇 enjoy riding them. I知 57鋳 and thin. Actual foldability is not crucial, but it痴 a nice bonus.

Any recommendations for a $600 budget (hitting $500 would be even better)? I致e been doing some reading on these forums, but I知 overwhelmed by the variety. I wish something like The Wirecutter was available for bikes. Dahon comes up often, but even there are too many models. I like the looks of a curved frame over the straight ones.

I知 in West L.A. in case that helps.

Thanks!
Welcome to the forum and welcome to cycling!

Some thoughts from another person that is 5'7" and commutes to working on a folding bike.

COMPANIES
- Dahon is the largest folding bike company with a large range of models and prices. I own a Dahon Curve "D8" myself.
- Tern split off from Dahon and has a smaller range of bikes that seem to be more performance oriented
- Brompton and Bike Friday occupy the higher end of the market, and both offer custom built bikes from their factories. These are both out of your price range unless you get really lucky finding a used one.
- Downtube and Origami are two online US bike companies with new bikes in your price range. Their owners participate in these forums so hopefully will give you some advice as well.

Definitely go to the folding bike shops in your area and test ride a few bikes. This will help to eliminate any models or configurations that just won't work for you. Maybe you'll get lucky and find something in your price range. This will also help you find a bike shop with friendly and competent staff to work with for repairs and upgrades if you end up ordering your bike online.

On the Los Angeles Craigslist I see 60 folding bikes in the price range of $150 to $600. Some Dahons, Terns and even a Bike Friday that is for someone really small and light. A whole bunch of Chinese bikes too.

My experience...when I returned to cycling 5 years ago, after 10 (or so) years away, I bought a $400 folding bike from a big name Canadian bike company Norco/Fiori. They have lots of experience making bikes, but they only periodically dabble in folding bikes. So while the bike was well made and was not well thought out from a folding perspective. The handlebars were high, the fold wasn't as compact as it should be. I rode that bike for 4 years before getting a Dahon Curve D3 used off of Craigslist. Now while the bike has cheap grips, rims and pedals, the frame was really well made and the folding latches high quality. Folds nice and small. The original Norco had 20" tires, but the Curve has 16". Now the reason why I am mentioning this is that out of the gate I wanted to spend about $500 for a folding bike and I achieved that, but only after riding it a few years did I realize that I wanted a bike with
- a smaller fold, so I could take it on international trips
- smaller wheels, so make the fold even smaller
- handlebars lower than the seat, so that I am aerodynamic and can go fast
- 8 gears so that I can tackle a wider range of hills
- internal hub so that I didn't have to clean and adjust a derailleur

With the Dahon Curve, since it is from a large company there are a lot of Dahon and third party parts for it. So I was able to upgrade to a lower handlepost, and find internal gears that fit the narrow rear dropouts. I also bought a Crius Smart which has a good parts and accessories market, even though the bike itself is hard to find in North America.

My point is that this bike may be a stepping stone to your next bike after a few years.

I hope this helps you with your search. Let me know if you have any questions.

Last edited by edelay; 07-08-17 at 09:35 PM.
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Old 07-08-17, 09:51 PM   #3
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Hey Edelay,

Thanks for your detailed reply, that really helps.

For your Dahon Curve, did you install the 8-gear hub yourself? Online I only see mentions of the D3 and D7 (Asia only). Do you think having a good number of gears is important? We have some steep hills where I live.
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Old 07-08-17, 10:49 PM   #4
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hi,

craigslist is your friend. I checked them and here's my recommendation

https://inlandempire.craigslist.org/bik/6196706545.html

https://losangeles.craigslist.org/la...200204957.html

https://losangeles.craigslist.org/ws...202481676.html

https://losangeles.craigslist.org/ws...200591588.html
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Old 07-09-17, 12:03 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by rsanchezsaez View Post
Hey Edelay,

Thanks for your detailed reply, that really helps.

For your Dahon Curve, did you install the 8-gear hub yourself? Online I only see mentions of the D3 and D7 (Asia only). Do you think having a good number of gears is important? We have some steep hills where I live.
I got the local bike shop to order a narrow Sturmey Archer X-RF8 internal hub for me and then build the wheel around it. So it was a D3 before the upgrade and I have named it a "D8" after doing that.

The number of gears you will need or want will depend on your riding style as well as how hilly your local terrain is. I like to go fast and maintain a nice spin or cadence, so I went with 8 gears. I use the full range of 8 gears on my generally flat commute. My commuting buddy rides an 18 speed bike and thinks I'm nuts for having "only 8 gears". My wife when she borrows this same bike she only uses 2 gears, but she could get by with just picking 1. I see people on my commute riding single speed bikes and 3 speeds without much struggle. Sounds like a multi gear bike will be needed for the hills you describe. Test rides at your local bike shop will help to determine how many gears you prefer. If you can, try to do part of your commute on the test ride.
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Old 07-10-17, 04:29 PM   #6
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Thanks again for the info.

I've been giving it more thought, and I'm considering just doubling my budget and getting a nice Brompton, I think I won't regret it, and those look absolutely stunning.

I've also asked for advice on an acquaintance bike-lover which rides and repairs expensive bikes, but he's very much against foldables:

"As a cyclist I have a bias towards "real" bikes from folding bikes, (...) The only time I suggest a folding bike to someone is if they have to take it on public transit. Otherwise normal bikes are much nicer and easier to ride. Don't let visual intimidation put you in a difficult situation.

(...)

I highly suggest test riding normal bikes and folding bikes before you drop any significant money on one.

(...)

The issue you will run into with a folding bike is that they are much heavier than normal bikes and do not handle as well as normal bikes, even compared to low end bikes. If you never use the folding aspect you will have a nicer, easier ride on a $150 normal bike than a $500 folding bike."

That's a bit discouraging, but I'm very stubborn and I cannot get foldable bikes our of my mind. Thoughts?
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Old 07-10-17, 06:05 PM   #7
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Depends on what he means by easier ride. My bike flys and I find full size road bikes the most difficult to ride.
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Old 07-10-17, 07:31 PM   #8
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+1 on what kid said. I bought my folder 6 months ago. I have everything from racing, mountain, tandem, and beach bikes. Hands down the 1st choice for me is my low end Dahon. With cheap mods it is faster than my mountain and beach bikes, also lighter. More responsive than my performance bike and more versatile. I been on forest trails, tow paths, nasty big hills, and more and the Dahon is the most balanced bike I own. As my Cannondale gathers dust my folder is now on it's 5th flight- another thing the other bikes cannot compete with.

No matter what you choose I think you will really like the difference.

Best of luck.
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Old 07-10-17, 07:48 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by rsanchezsaez View Post
"I highly suggest test riding normal bikes and folding bikes before you drop any significant money on one."
That's a bit discouraging, but I'm very stubborn and I cannot get foldable bikes our of my mind. Thoughts?
Definitely, go out and test ride a bunch of bikes, both folding and non folding. This help you zero in on which bike is for you or at least whittle it down to a (hopefully) short list of candidates.

At the end of the day you win either way. You get some exercise and some fresh air.
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Old 07-10-17, 08:26 PM   #10
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There are so many variables and idiosyncracies in folding bikes that I consider it imperative to try a bunch before you settle on one. In particular:

1. Speed of fold.

2. Ease of fold.

3. Quality of folding bits. Is there play in hinges, etc.?

4. Weight of bike.

5. Can you roll the bike in the folded or semi-folded position?

6. If you can, how easy is it to roll? Some are easy, some are not.

7. Quality of components.

8. Quality of frame.

9. How compact is the bike when completely folded?

10. If you need to carry the bike any distance (and this becomes an issue if you're in an area where a bike can't be rolled along unfolded - trust me, these situations do exist!), is it comfortable, and how far can you go?

11. How many parts are proprietary? The fewer the better, as you might be out of service if it's a critical part that needs replacing only by the manufacturer, for ex., the main frame hinge.

12. What kind of warranty on frame & folding bits? Some manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty against defects, others quite limited.

13. Is the fit comfortable for you, and if it's not, can it be modified (different stem mast, stems, etc.) to be a reasonable fit for you? Because if the bike isn't comfortable for you to ride, you will ride it only when you have to, as you instinctively know the longer you ride it, the more uncomfortable you'll get.

14. Is there a way to secure the entire folded bike together - straps, magnets and the like - or does it just flop around when you carry it?
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Old 07-10-17, 08:38 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by rsanchezsaez View Post
... I've also asked for advice on an acquaintance bike-lover which rides and repairs expensive bikes, but he's very much against foldables:

"As a cyclist I have a bias towards "real" bikes from folding bikes, (...) The only time I suggest a folding bike to someone is if they have to take it on public transit. Otherwise normal bikes are much nicer and easier to ride. Don't let visual intimidation put you in a difficult situation.

(...)

I highly suggest test riding normal bikes and folding bikes before you drop any significant money on one.

(...)

The issue you will run into with a folding bike is that they are much heavier than normal bikes and do not handle as well as normal bikes, even compared to low end bikes. If you never use the folding aspect you will have a nicer, easier ride on a $150 normal bike than a $500 folding bike." ...
As a bicycle rider with over 60 years experience and an independent bicycle dealer since July 2010, I strongly agree with the advice to test ride several bikes, if possible. Your friend's clearly-stated bias against folders is fairly common among cyclists, especially those who have not done more than short test rides on folders. I have a strong preference for small-wheeled (20" or smaller) bicycles. My experience has been that, for me, small-wheeled bicycles handle much better than "normal" bicycles in the areas where I ride (college campus, neighborhood streets, urban streets and multi-use pathways).

-HANK RYAN-
Norman, Oklahoma USA
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DISCLOSURE: I have an ownership interest in a company that is an authorized dealer for Brompton.
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Old 07-11-17, 09:58 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by rsanchezsaez View Post
Thanks again for the info.

I've been giving it more thought, and I'm considering just doubling my budget and getting a nice Brompton, I think I won't regret it, and those look absolutely stunning.

I've also asked for advice on an acquaintance bike-lover which rides and repairs expensive bikes, but he's very much against foldables:

"As a cyclist I have a bias towards "real" bikes from folding bikes, (...) The only time I suggest a folding bike to someone is if they have to take it on public transit. Otherwise normal bikes are much nicer and easier to ride. Don't let visual intimidation put you in a difficult situation.

(...)

I highly suggest test riding normal bikes and folding bikes before you drop any significant money on one.

(...)

The issue you will run into with a folding bike is that they are much heavier than normal bikes and do not handle as well as normal bikes, even compared to low end bikes. If you never use the folding aspect you will have a nicer, easier ride on a $150 normal bike than a $500 folding bike."

That's a bit discouraging, but I'm very stubborn and I cannot get foldable bikes our of my mind. Thoughts?
Yeah cry once and get the Brompton. I've owned folders for decades, but got my first Brompton last year and it's been a revelation - I just keep discovering more things that I can do, and places I can take it, over my other folders. If I could only keep one bike, this is it by a good margin. I've got mine tuned/rigged to ride as nicely/comfortably (w/air pressure tip the scale either way) as my equally expensive 700x32 gravel bike (on road) and I alternate between these two for exercise rides. Traveling, sightseeing, touring, utility, commuting, etc. - always prefer the Brompton (clicky)

Handling is subjective, after riding the B, my gravel bike feels like a truck. Weight? a 5lb lock on my gravel bike would equalize the two, yet still isn't half as safe as wheeling my B inside (you live in LA? make that a tenth as safe ). Equivalently outfit (i.e. bike lock on gravel bike) my pace is ~2-3% (<0.5mph) slower on the B by cycle computer or GPS - that's less than 10mins on a 50mile tour day... well worth all the awesome folded options.
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Old 07-11-17, 11:09 AM   #13
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Thanks everybody for the comments. I'm more and more tempted to get the Brompton.

Reppans, which gearing do you have? I can't decide between 3 and 6.

Also, what you said about taking it inside it's a big deciding factor. Stolen bikes are a huge problem in L.A., and carrying a huge U-lock is not very appealing.

Last edited by rsanchezsaez; 07-11-17 at 11:12 AM.
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Old 07-11-17, 11:34 AM   #14
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Mine's an M6R with -12% chainring. It's hilly here in the Northeast and I use the bike for touring. I'm in the greater NYC area and so theft is big concern - it's one of the main reasons I quit touring decades ago on traditional bike, and only restarted because the Brompton/T-bag was convenient enough to take inside.
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Old 07-11-17, 11:38 AM   #15
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How does the 6 gearing system works exactly? Why does it need two levers? Could you possibly show some pictures of the gearing so I can imagine how it works? I know that the 3 gear one is an internal hub with a single lever.

Also, is it easy to change the chainring after the fact? It's quite hilly around my area too.
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Old 07-11-17, 12:01 PM   #16
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It's a hybrid 2spd derailleur (close ratio)/3spd internal gear hub (wide ratio) design. You can see it as 3speed with a high/low for each. It does require a double shift between 2>3, and 4>5, when sequentially going through the gears - it's just one those quirky Brompton things that you get used to and becomes 2nd nature.

Here's a good explanation/video
https://www.nycewheels.com/brompton-...e-gearing.html

OEM/optional gear ratios
https://brompton.zendesk.com/hc/en-u...es-and-ratios-

Yes you can change the chainring later (50 tooth stock, 44 OEM option, 39? DIY) you'll just need a chain breaking tool to remove links (by 1/2 the change in teeth).
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Old 07-11-17, 12:17 PM   #17
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Thanks! That really helps.
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Old 07-11-17, 12:48 PM   #18
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really really take a testride !
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Old 07-11-17, 02:54 PM   #19
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Personally, I am not convinced a test ride will mean much. For a person that hasn't ridden for a long time, they have nothing to compare with. To me, the main issue is not to get a horrible clunker that is going to put you off riding altogether.

Also, the 1st bike may very well be replaced later as it would be a learning step. But a Brompton is a likely keeper. So I would also recommend a Brompton.
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Old 07-11-17, 03:35 PM   #20
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I really like the Dahon Speed lineup.

Steel frame, which means super strong!

I recommend the Speed Uno for a gateway bike.

For around 300 bucks.

Single-speed is so fun.

So lightweight!!!

Last edited by mtb_addict; 07-11-17 at 03:39 PM.
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Old 07-11-17, 05:14 PM   #21
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Personally, I am not convinced a test ride will mean much....
I disagree. When I demo a bike for someone - no matter what type of bike it is - I'm asking them questions that help them zero in on whether the bike will suit their needs and whether it fits them well. I think most folks are able to determine within a few minutes into a test ride whether a bike is a potential candidate. Before the test ride, I ask them to consider questions like:

---Does the gearing match your intended usage?

---Is the reach to the handlebars too far, too close (what I like to call "cramped in the cockpit"), or just right?

---Is the saddle comfortable? If it isn't, what would you prefer as far as comfort?

---Is it easy to mount and dismount the bike?

---Are the controls (brake lever & shifters) easy to use and intuitive?

---Are the brake levers easy to modulate? And for smaller folks, are the brake levers too far from the handlebar and would you prefer a shorter reach?

---Do the pedals work with whatever shoes you have on now, or would you prefer a different type of pedal?

---Is the bike easy to steer and brake?

---Is the riding position comfortable? If you prefer an upright riding position, does it meet your needs? If you prefer a riding position more forward/hunched over the bars, does it meet your needs?

In addition, if I'm showing two bikes in the same size but different models/makes, I will go over both, then say something like: "I've ridden these two bikes, and I have an opinion about how each one rides. They do ride differently, but I don't want to prejudice your test rides with my opinion, so what I'd like you to do is compare the ride on each and see what you think, and we'll compare notes afterward."

So the person test riding is guided into the fact that the ride is indeed different, and it's up to that person to determine how the ride differs on each. Without fail, the person who is test riding is indeed able to tell differences in ride quality, even if they've never paid attention to this before. All they needed is prompting to the fact and paying close attention to what's happening as they actually ride each. This dispels the notion that all bikes ride about the same, because as we know, they don't.

When it comes to test riding bikes, I think most people are more perceptive that you give them credit for. All they need is a little direction, and they're off and running.
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Old 07-11-17, 07:12 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by bargainguy View Post
I disagree. When I demo a bike for someone - no matter what type of bike it is - I'm asking them questions that help them zero in on whether the bike will suit their needs and whether it fits them well. I think most folks are able to determine within a few minutes into a test ride whether a bike is a potential candidate. Before the test ride, I ask them to consider questions like:

---Does the gearing match your intended usage?

---Is the reach to the handlebars too far, too close (what I like to call "cramped in the cockpit"), or just right?

---Is the saddle comfortable? If it isn't, what would you prefer as far as comfort?

---Is it easy to mount and dismount the bike?

---Are the controls (brake lever & shifters) easy to use and intuitive?

---Are the brake levers easy to modulate? And for smaller folks, are the brake levers too far from the handlebar and would you prefer a shorter reach?

---Do the pedals work with whatever shoes you have on now, or would you prefer a different type of pedal?

---Is the bike easy to steer and brake?

---Is the riding position comfortable? If you prefer an upright riding position, does it meet your needs? If you prefer a riding position more forward/hunched over the bars, does it meet your needs?

In addition, if I'm showing two bikes in the same size but different models/makes, I will go over both, then say something like: "I've ridden these two bikes, and I have an opinion about how each one rides. They do ride differently, but I don't want to prejudice your test rides with my opinion, so what I'd like you to do is compare the ride on each and see what you think, and we'll compare notes afterward."

So the person test riding is guided into the fact that the ride is indeed different, and it's up to that person to determine how the ride differs on each. Without fail, the person who is test riding is indeed able to tell differences in ride quality, even if they've never paid attention to this before. All they needed is prompting to the fact and paying close attention to what's happening as they actually ride each. This dispels the notion that all bikes ride about the same, because as we know, they don't.

When it comes to test riding bikes, I think most people are more perceptive that you give them credit for. All they need is a little direction, and they're off and running.
wow
thats right on target
I have the advantage to have quite a few of folders around to testride but thats so true. Give the buyer some responsibility to find the difference and voila... you have a happy educated camper,,, and most likely a sale

bargainguy ... what brands you sell ? I think I would be honored if we can talk about Dahon ..lol
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Old 07-11-17, 08:41 PM   #23
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Whoops - didn't mean to give the wrong impression. I'm not a new bike dealer, I'm a one-man used bike show, selling only bikes that I've found and nursed back to health myself. I only sell in person (no online sales) so I can assure that each bike fits the customer, meets their needs and is priced right. That's my business model.

Folders are not big in my area, so they only make up maybe 1% of my sales if that. Hybrids, road bikes and MTBs, in that order - that's what the people around here want.
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Old 07-11-17, 11:58 PM   #24
rsanchezsaez 
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Good advice all around guys, thanks again!

So I found a place that rents Bromptons around the area, and I think I’ll rent one for a day to see how it goes.

Recently I’ve rided three full size crappy bikes: one super heavy public bike, one cheap rental bike, and one cheap and out of order bike a friend lent me. The three of them were quite crappy experies, but even then, this reminded me of when I rode everywhere 10 years ago in a big city in Japan, and I decided to try and get back into that habit.

I’m trying to decide if I should look into a cheaper second hand Brommie or go for a new 2017 model. I love the new handbar and shifter improvements. In my position it’d be probably more sensible getting a second hand, but I can’t help myself when I see nice industrial design!

Last edited by rsanchezsaez; 07-12-17 at 01:07 AM.
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Old 07-12-17, 07:12 AM   #25
reppans
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At your size/weight, make sure the Brompton you rent has the standard suspension block (not firm block) and try different air pressures (I run 50-60 psi in Marathons).

I mistakenly first got the firm suspension block and ran 80+. That was rough.

Also try and get a rack version and play with all the wheel-while-folded options.
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