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Old 07-18-17, 02:56 PM   #1
abl292
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Cycling novice. I'm in Los Angeles & want to start riding for leisure/exercise. More

Hi everyone,

Hoping to get some advice from the fine folks here. A couple of years ago I had a back injury (lumbar) that messed me up for a while and I have not been good about being active instead of sedentary [edit: I mean sitting with no exercise, not sitting on a bicycle ]

I'm considering getting into cycling for leisure and exercise, with the possibility of multi-modal commuting sometime down the line (bike + public transit, or bike + car). One important thing I want to note off the bat is that I'm not able to store a bike inside my small apartment. The garage in my apartment complex may not be possible either. There are only square or round pillars and chaining a bike to one would obstruct vehicle movement (think of it more as a tight carport rather than a big parking garage). In the near future, the trunk of my vehicle might be the only option.

I'm looking for bike recommendations - Craigslist, online shops, etc. are okay in addition to bicycle shops in LA. Please let me know if I need to provide any additional info. Thank you!!

______________________________________________________________________________________
Your level of experience with cycling
Very minimal. I know how to not fall over but I'd definitely call myself a novice.

What's your price range, and have you considered second hand?
Ideally $300 and under just to get started. I figure that would mean Craigslist or other second hand options, which are fine. Would consider increasing the budget if it were truly worth it.

What's your intention with the bike - commuting, fitness, touring, sport, etc?
At first, weekend leisure riding in my neighborhood -- paved streets, etc. Later on possibly bike commuting to work, or combination of biking and public transit. I work in downtown Los Angeles and currently take the LA Metro from the Hollywood area.

How far will you be riding, and how often?
Since I'm such a novice, I figure I would maybe ride a couple of times a week, definitely less than 5 miles.

Riding conditions: roads, pavement, trails, single-track, off-road? Flat or hilly? Traffic and weather.
Los Angeles - residential neighborhoods and city streets, so pavement but probably less-than-ideal road conditions. Sometimes hilly depending on area. Weather is generally good for biking.

Your location (even approximate) can help other locals familiar with your conditions, too.
Los Angeles metro area - primarily Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silverlake, Echo Park, and DTLA.

Other details
I'm 6'1 and 170 lbs. As I mentioned earlier, I'm trying to become more active to prevent injuries (lumbar disc herniations and nerve issues a couple of years ago).
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Old 07-18-17, 04:03 PM   #2
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You have provided a lot of information for us to make recommendations. There will likely be many. I have just completed a search for a new folder for my 70th birthday. Since I already have 4 folders, I knew what I did not want in a new bike. My budget had a self-imposed limit of less than $2000.

First - craigslist is great if you can look at a bike and assess what it will need to make it road worthy for you and your needs. That's not as easy as it might seem. However, you can test ride and get a good feel for the bike's handling. That's important. Price is often negotiable, too. There's a good chance that you can re-sell on craigslist with no loss. LA is a huge market for cyclists and your selection is probably much greater than most other parts of the county.

Second - A new purchase is, well, a new bike... new chain, new brakes, new tires, etc. The cost will be higher than used, but it's new. To fit your budget you might look at Downtube, Origami, Dahon (from ThorUSA), SoloRock (my final choice), and eBay cheapies.

Third - wheel size - If you are going to do multi-mode commuting you should give serious thought to 16" wheels. The larger 20" wheels make for a larger fold and a heavier bike to lug on/off public transport. The folding time may differ by a few seconds, but more importantly is the chain grease exposure to fellow passengers, the space the bike occupies when folded and the weight of carting up the steps or pushing it between stops.

Fourth - gearing. You mention hilly roadways. Someone else can help there. I live in southwest Florida and the only hills we have are the overpasses. Otherwise, everywhere is delightfully flat and 3 gears are plenty: one for windy days, two for normal riding and three for I feel like a breeze in my face.

Take a look at what's available on craigslist and compare those to new bikes and come back with questions. There are so many knowledgeable folks here that you'll get the best advice available... for free!!
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Old 07-18-17, 05:36 PM   #3
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Solorock Spin 3, 16" folder with 9 speeds...think I'll get one ; )
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Old 07-18-17, 05:42 PM   #4
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Read the FAQ first and provide the essential info please.
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Old 07-18-17, 05:53 PM   #5
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If you're going to check out the LA Craigslist, ignore the guy selling Dahons from Glendale. He seems to specialize in selling almost new bikes at expensive new prices.

There are some serious hills in Hollywood, Silver Lake and Echo Park--I'm not a strong rider and know I would struggle on my Dahon D7.
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Old 07-18-17, 08:53 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by AccuNeal View Post
You have provided a lot of information for us to make recommendations. There will likely be many. I have just completed a search for a new folder for my 70th birthday. Since I already have 4 folders, I knew what I did not want in a new bike. My budget had a self-imposed limit of less than $2000.

First - craigslist is great if you can look at a bike and assess what it will need to make it road worthy for you and your needs. That's not as easy as it might seem. However, you can test ride and get a good feel for the bike's handling. That's important. Price is often negotiable, too. There's a good chance that you can re-sell on craigslist with no loss. LA is a huge market for cyclists and your selection is probably much greater than most other parts of the county.

Second - A new purchase is, well, a new bike... new chain, new brakes, new tires, etc. The cost will be higher than used, but it's new. To fit your budget you might look at Downtube, Origami, Dahon (from ThorUSA), SoloRock (my final choice), and eBay cheapies.

Third - wheel size - If you are going to do multi-mode commuting you should give serious thought to 16" wheels. The larger 20" wheels make for a larger fold and a heavier bike to lug on/off public transport. The folding time may differ by a few seconds, but more importantly is the chain grease exposure to fellow passengers, the space the bike occupies when folded and the weight of carting up the steps or pushing it between stops.

Fourth - gearing. You mention hilly roadways. Someone else can help there. I live in southwest Florida and the only hills we have are the overpasses. Otherwise, everywhere is delightfully flat and 3 gears are plenty: one for windy days, two for normal riding and three for I feel like a breeze in my face.

Take a look at what's available on craigslist and compare those to new bikes and come back with questions. There are so many knowledgeable folks here that you'll get the best advice available... for free!!

Thank you very much for the detailed reply! I wrote some responses below. On another note, I went to a local bike shop after work and they let me test out a Dahon Vybe 20" and a Brompton 16" folder. Pretty cool to try both sizes with a high end model and a more "regular" folding bike.

1. Will definitely keep an eye on Craigslist, although I'm inclined to get a new bike but stay within the lower price brackets.

2. I know you settled on the SoloRock (and I saw your great review post), but do you have any personal experience or specific feedback about the Downtube Nova, Citizen Seoul, or the Origami Wasp?

3. In the event that I only take the folder on public transit once in a blue moon, would you say having a 16" folder makes less sense than a 20", or would the smaller size be okay under any and all circumstances?

4. I don't have the experience or the strength to be able to ride major hills, but even if I did I think I would require something more than a single speed bike. I believe all the models I'm considering are 6 or 7 speed.
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Old 07-18-17, 08:53 PM   #7
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If you're going to check out the LA Craigslist, ignore the guy selling Dahons from Glendale. He seems to specialize in selling almost new bikes at expensive new prices.

There are some serious hills in Hollywood, Silver Lake and Echo Park--I'm not a strong rider and know I would struggle on my Dahon D7.
Appreciate the Craigslist tip. I'm always skeptical when looking at listings, so I will definitely keep an eye out.

And yeah - there are some crazy hills but I am too much of a novice to even attempt them.
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Old 07-18-17, 08:56 PM   #8
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Read the FAQ first and provide the essential info please.
I believe I provided the requested info, but I'll go back and re-read the sticky as well as the FAQs. Apologies if I broke any rules.
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Old 07-18-17, 09:11 PM   #9
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I believe I provided the requested info, but I'll go back and re-read the sticky as well as the FAQs. Apologies if I broke any rules.
No rules just that how heavy & tall you are, budget, country and so on.
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Old 07-18-17, 09:28 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by impact1400 View Post

I'm considering getting into cycling for leisure and exercise

possibility of multi-modal commuting sometime down the line (bike + public transit, or bike + car).

not able to store a bike inside my small apartment...the trunk of my vehicle might be the only option.

$300 and under just to get started.

Sometimes hilly depending on area. Weather is generally good for biking.

I'm 6'1 and 170 lbs. As I mentioned earlier, I'm trying to become more active to prevent injuries (lumbar disc herniations and nerve issues a couple of years ago).
Given your back issues, I suggest visiting a few local bike shops that specialize in folding bikes and going for a test ride. This will help you to determine if there are riding positions that are better or worse for your back. I'd imagine leaning too far forward to reach the handlebars would be bad for your back. As well, sitting bolt upright and having the road bumps compress your spine may be bad as well. Only test rides will help to reveal what may work or what to avoid.

I'd imagine that lifting the bike could be an issue, so you might want to consider a bike that can roll while folded.

If you are not able to find a suitable bike in the bike shops for $300, the test rides will give you an indication of what might be suitable for you off of Craigslist. I see 96 folding bikes listed currently.

As far as bike mfr's go..Dahon is the largest mfr of folding bikes and there is a model or two in your price range new. The owners of Downtube and Origami post in this forum and the both have bikes that are in your price range. Tern, Brompton and Bike Friday are well known brands but are higher end and out of your price range new.
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Old 07-19-17, 08:09 AM   #11
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Thank you very much for the detailed reply! I wrote some responses below. On another note, I went to a local bike shop after work and they let me test out a Dahon Vybe 20" and a Brompton 16" folder. Pretty cool to try both sizes with a high end model and a more "regular" folding bike.

1. Will definitely keep an eye on Craigslist, although I'm inclined to get a new bike but stay within the lower price brackets.

2. I know you settled on the SoloRock (and I saw your great review post), but do you have any personal experience or specific feedback about the Downtube Nova, Citizen Seoul, or the Origami Wasp?

3. In the event that I only take the folder on public transit once in a blue moon, would you say having a 16" folder makes less sense than a 20", or would the smaller size be okay under any and all circumstances?

4. I don't have the experience or the strength to be able to ride major hills, but even if I did I think I would require something more than a single speed bike. I believe all the models I'm considering are 6 or 7 speed.
You did the right, first thing in taking test rides. Do have a preference for smaller wheels afterwards? Handling? Acceleration? Cornering? Stopping? Weight? If not, best to do it again.

No, sorry, I don't have personal experience with any of the models you mentioned. As I progressed through my buying/selling evolution seeking what suits me best, I have had several models of 20"ers, but they were all older bikes. I still have two Dahon Boardwalk 20" bikes. I thought they were the best for me for a couple months until, on a whim, I bought a like new 16" cheapie. My fondness for 16" wheels grew and craigslist bike searches were then limited to "folding 16". Buying, fixing, riding and selling became my new hobby. I say all of that as a prelude to this: riding folders can be addictive and your first one may be the first of more to come. Most good-condition bikes' resale prices drop to about half the new price (here in Florida) despite what people are asking on craigslist.

I have a strong bias toward 16" folders so my answer to your #3 is the smaller size is more than OK: faster acceleration, lighter, smaller fold, easier to port whether folded or not, pedestrians are more likely to smile instead of scorn as you approach. Hopping curbs is a no-no.

16" wheels with shorter spokes and tighter spacing are a bit tougher than 20" with longer spokes and slightly wider spacing at the rim. Standard offerings of gearing on 6/7 speed bikes 52 tooth chainring on the crank and 14 tooth top end rear cog. That translates to about (rough calculations not Sheldon Brown's gear calc) 10 MPH on a 16" and 12 MPH on a 20" bike in top gear when pedaling at 60 strokes per minute. My Spin3 has 52x11 top end and my speed is 15 MPH when cranking at 80 RPM. These old legs cant sustain 80 RPM for very long. I cruise around at 65-70 in 8th gear averaging 11 MPH on my daily 20 mile rides.
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Old 07-19-17, 08:23 AM   #12
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you're not going to get as good a folder for your budget as you could get with a full-sized bike. The buses and trains are pretty bike friendly in LA, if you could find the space in your apartment, you'd get much better components and gearing while still being able to use the buses and trains. Just something to think about. Some of those hills will be rough with seven speeds. When you're looking around for a folder, maybe do it with the idea of upgrading the drivetrain later. I wish I had biked more when I lived in LA. So many great rides there.
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Old 07-19-17, 08:32 AM   #13
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Yeah, I think LA trains allow you to bring bikes on at any time--without restriction to size and folding.

I no longer live in LA but it's my adopted hometown and I know the areas listed in this thread well. I grew up just a smidge outside of DTLA. I was checking LA Craigslist for awhile and still do occassionally because I was considering keeping a folder at my mom's for when I visit.

I would agree with Mtroup, you will get better value from a used full size bike. If you're determined to go with a folder, just beware of the compromises that come with a folding bike.
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Old 07-19-17, 09:44 AM   #14
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My son has a small studio apartment in the Bay Area....he uses a Clug to store his bike so it doesn't take up much space. https://getclug.com/#hello There are also racks that are basically shelves that go on a wall and the bike rests underneath. If you go with a full sized bike, something like this might help. My son mounted his bike on the inside of the door to his closet (swing the door shut and the bike is invisible and out of the way).
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Old 07-19-17, 12:09 PM   #15
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My son has a small studio apartment in the Bay Area....he uses a Clug to store his bike so it doesn't take up much space. https://getclug.com/#hello There are also racks that are basically shelves that go on a wall and the bike rests underneath. If you go with a full sized bike, something like this might help. My son mounted his bike on the inside of the door to his closet (swing the door shut and the bike is invisible and out of the way).
Hey cool, a Vancouver company. Recognized the skyline in their video.
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Old 07-19-17, 02:46 PM   #16
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I hung my folder exactly the same way using a D cell Maglight plastic clip holder. The 20x1.5 tires fit perfectly into the round clamp.

Also on a super narrow road bike, with folding or removable tires and a flat type handlebar, you can easily store a bike in a very thin space like behind a couch or even folding bed. Just loosen the quill bolt and rotate the handlebar parallel to the frame, fold or remove the pedals and slip into that thin space.
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Old 07-19-17, 03:42 PM   #17
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You did the right, first thing in taking test rides. Do have a preference for smaller wheels afterwards? Handling? Acceleration? Cornering? Stopping? Weight? If not, best to do it again.

No, sorry, I don't have personal experience with any of the models you mentioned. As I progressed through my buying/selling evolution seeking what suits me best, I have had several models of 20"ers, but they were all older bikes. I still have two Dahon Boardwalk 20" bikes. I thought they were the best for me for a couple months until, on a whim, I bought a like new 16" cheapie. My fondness for 16" wheels grew and craigslist bike searches were then limited to "folding 16". Buying, fixing, riding and selling became my new hobby. I say all of that as a prelude to this: riding folders can be addictive and your first one may be the first of more to come. Most good-condition bikes' resale prices drop to about half the new price (here in Florida) despite what people are asking on craigslist.

I have a strong bias toward 16" folders so my answer to your #3 is the smaller size is more than OK: faster acceleration, lighter, smaller fold, easier to port whether folded or not, pedestrians are more likely to smile instead of scorn as you approach. Hopping curbs is a no-no.

16" wheels with shorter spokes and tighter spacing are a bit tougher than 20" with longer spokes and slightly wider spacing at the rim. Standard offerings of gearing on 6/7 speed bikes 52 tooth chainring on the crank and 14 tooth top end rear cog. That translates to about (rough calculations not Sheldon Brown's gear calc) 10 MPH on a 16" and 12 MPH on a 20" bike in top gear when pedaling at 60 strokes per minute. My Spin3 has 52x11 top end and my speed is 15 MPH when cranking at 80 RPM. These old legs cant sustain 80 RPM for very long. I cruise around at 65-70 in 8th gear averaging 11 MPH on my daily 20 mile rides.

I'll admit, my test rides were not nearly as deliberate as the process you described. Perhaps I'll have to try again. I did find that the brakes on the Dahon seemed week.

A number of the specifications on your Solorock make it sound pretty enticing. When you say "hopping curbs is a no-no," do you mean that the bike itself wouldn't be able to handle that kind of jolt? I'm asking because the streets here in Los Angeles would be a lot rougher than a paved bike path in a park or along a river, and there might be some curb-hopping or similar type of movements involved. I'm also thinking about how adjustable or "upgradeable" the handlebars and seat would be so I could potentially alternate between a more upright position or a slightly more forward position as necessary for my lower back injury.
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Old 07-19-17, 03:50 PM   #18
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you're not going to get as good a folder for your budget as you could get with a full-sized bike. The buses and trains are pretty bike friendly in LA, if you could find the space in your apartment, you'd get much better components and gearing while still being able to use the buses and trains. Just something to think about. Some of those hills will be rough with seven speeds. When you're looking around for a folder, maybe do it with the idea of upgrading the drivetrain later. I wish I had biked more when I lived in LA. So many great rides there.
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Originally Posted by tdonline View Post
Yeah, I think LA trains allow you to bring bikes on at any time--without restriction to size and folding.

I no longer live in LA but it's my adopted hometown and I know the areas listed in this thread well. I grew up just a smidge outside of DTLA. I was checking LA Craigslist for awhile and still do occassionally because I was considering keeping a folder at my mom's for when I visit.

I would agree with Mtroup, you will get better value from a used full size bike. If you're determined to go with a folder, just beware of the compromises that come with a folding bike.
Definitely - I acknowledge there are limitations and compromises to be made. Thank you both for the LA-specific feedback!
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Old 07-19-17, 05:19 PM   #19
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I'll admit, my test rides were not nearly as deliberate as the process you described. Perhaps I'll have to try again. I did find that the brakes on the Dahon seemed week.

A number of the specifications on your Solorock make it sound pretty enticing. When you say "hopping curbs is a no-no," do you mean that the bike itself wouldn't be able to handle that kind of jolt? I'm asking because the streets here in Los Angeles would be a lot rougher than a paved bike path in a park or along a river, and there might be some curb-hopping or similar type of movements involved. I'm also thinking about how adjustable or "upgradeable" the handlebars and seat would be so I could potentially alternate between a more upright position or a slightly more forward position as necessary for my lower back injury.
I would not even consider trying to hop up a curb without first stopping and lifting the bike. The front fork is make from aluminum to achieve the 21 pound weight. I refered to the rear triangle in my review. I was wrong. It is actually a rear fork... a horizontal fork similar to a front fork but pivoting. There would be significant stresses placed on the front fork and the rear fork when dropping 8" from a curb to damage the bike. The bike manual specifically calls out for no curb jumping. Rough streets and wide separation between concrete sections of sidewalks are normal here and the frame gets a work out with my 190 pounds. I make a point of lifting my butt from the saddle when crossing streets and meeting the edges of sidewalks with uneven seams.

One of the gripes I have with the Spin3 is the handlebar height and lack of height to suit me. I do not like being bent at all if I can help it. I prefer upright rides and have modified my other bikes to accommodate my needs. Therefore, I have searched and (I think) found a suitable handlebar for me. It's been ordered, and on it's way with an expected delivery of Saturday. I will post some pictures with original and new handlebar along with tape measure results after installing.

As for saddles- I have a laundry basket half full of saddles. So far I have tried three different saddles with the third being best so far. The OEM saddle was good, but after adjusting to prevent forward sliding, it is too high in the horn. The second has a tapered horn is is more comfortable on the man parts, but could be better. The third has a bit deeper memory foam layer and she shape fits my sit spot pretty well. I only got 12 miles today because the storms moved in my direction. I'll finish my 20 miles in a few moments, but the 8 additional miles may not be sufficient to declare this one the 'keeper'.

Last edited by AccuNeal; 07-19-17 at 05:20 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 07-19-17, 06:14 PM   #20
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Accuneal, how tall are you?

I would avoid hopping curbs with folders in general. It's a bike with bits that separate and fold.
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Old 07-19-17, 06:27 PM   #21
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Accuneal, how tall are you?

I would avoid hopping curbs with folders in general. It's a bike with bits that separate and fold.
5' 8" of solid (yet a bit flabby) old (but very young minded) man.
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Old 07-20-17, 05:58 AM   #22
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If the Solorock's handlebar isn't tall enough for you, then it's not going to work for Impact, who is 5'11.
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Old 07-20-17, 07:36 AM   #23
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If the Solorock's handlebar isn't tall enough for you, then it's not going to work for Impact, who is 5'11.
6'1 actually, but your point still stands
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Old 07-20-17, 08:37 AM   #24
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I would recommend suspension to minimize risk of future back issues. I think that is the most important issue for the OP.

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Old 07-20-17, 09:54 AM   #25
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IMO the best way to protect your back, if you already have injury, is to pop up out of the saddle when you go over bumps. I learned this as a youngling riding rigid mountain bikes. It's a habit I have to this day. Bent knees standing on the pedals and slightly bent arms will do more to absorb shock than thudbusters or even front shocks. I lift at every corner transition on the MUP and whenever I see potholes, etc. And the bike weighs a lot less that way, which matters if you are dragging it on public transportation.
Don't worry about the L.A. streets...Bay Area streets are awful, and 20" wheels are fine. I would not go 16" if you have lots of potholes, though. Pop some Big Apples on a 20" and you get some added suspension along with better pothole protection. I've ridden my friend's Brompton here and the 16" wheels are miserable on the streets - fine on the well-paved MUPs - so think about where you will be riding in terms of routes. And if you go with 16" wheels for the fold, then put Big Apples on for sure, or you'll knock your teeth out =).
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