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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 09-12-17, 08:27 PM   #1
dschwarz
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It's always something

0Hi all,

This summer I resumed daily bike commutes to work after an 8-year hiatus (finally got a job within commuting distance). It's a basically flat ride through Manhattan, a total of 5-8 miles roundtrip depending on the day. Half on North/South protected bike paths, half on East/West streets. It's been really great!

There's just one thing... my bike. Every few days there's something to adjust, or clean, or something broken that needs fixing.

What I have: 2007 Dahon D7 with Brooks Flyer saddle, MKS AR2 pedals, Big Apple tires, Ergon grips, Otherwise stock. Bike was tuned in June before I started daily commutes, drivetrain cleaned and shifter cable replaced.

What's gone wrong?

Last month: wobbly handlepost. 8mm wrench, tightened a nut, fixed that for now.
Last week: clicking in the drivetrain. Took off the pedals, regreased, tightened. No more click.
Today: chain deraillment. Not sure why. Also, a "chirp" has just started sounding when I'm going over bumps in the road.

So is this par for the course with a folder like this, or should I expect more reliability?

When I was in college and for a few years afterward, I had a non-folding Fuji hybrid bike. The thing was fairly bullet proof. I never did much more than put air in the tires day-to-day. Wish that were the case now!
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Old 09-12-17, 09:38 PM   #2
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I think out of the issues you listed, the first one with the loose handlepost can be attributed to folding bikes. Not an uncommon problem on folders where more stress is piled on long handleposts that doesn't translate to non-folders.

Drivetrain clicking was most likely a loose pedal, that could happen with any bike. Chain derailment, that could be a limit screw adjustment on the derailleur. Chirp, no clue, that could be anything.

There's no doubt that folders require more care and feeding than non-folders. It helps to be mechanically inclined because anything can come up and requires problem solving of a different sort.
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Old 09-12-17, 10:35 PM   #3
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I was doing a similar commute in Tokyo. My old Peugeot folder got a little rickety from the rides, the cutouts on the sidewalks are rather high, which jarred the bike, and required me to keep the headset tight and the hinge lever extra tight. As luck would have it, the bike was impounded by the city for being illegally parked, and they promptly lost it. I upgraded to a Birdy folder, which has no hinge (it folds vertically, the swing arm folds under).

The dual suspension tames the bumps, and prevents much of the jolting the bike and myself would have to endure. I can run narrower, high pressure tires, and still have a smooth ride. I had a long-time problem with the chain falling off, which was solved when I added a dual-ring crankset and derailleur.

Now it's the perfect commuter, 3 years of hard riding, with no issues. My old Peugeot might have fallen apart by now.
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Old 09-12-17, 11:14 PM   #4
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I do think folders require some maintenance but so do standard bikes. Do you do a quick pre-ride check for loose bolts, etc.?
While a few issues may be specifically folder related, most are just "bike" issues. I suspect you just rode your college bike and ignored the smaller problems. My millennial son rides like that - he just wants to get on and ride and so he does. I always give his bike a good look when he visits so I can remind him to get certain things taken care of before they become big issues. Maybe you are just more aware now and paying better attention? Is it possible in college you just didn't notice the clicks and clanks? Most college students just ride their bikes hard....

If it really bugs you, and your ride is flat, get a respect mini velocity fixie. You probably will have near zero work beyond lubing the chain and brake adjusts. It doesn't fold but it is very compact. https://respectcycles.com/p/bike

Last edited by linberl; 09-12-17 at 11:19 PM.
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Old 09-13-17, 01:32 AM   #5
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I've owned a good number of Dahons, and your experience is similar to mine. Handlepost and mid-hinge both have adjustable bits that shift around over time, and contribute to a general feeling that something somewhere is always ticking or creaking. It's just how they are.
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Old 09-13-17, 06:53 AM   #6
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Beating on my Dahon Vybe for about 9 months. Once a week check your bolts, QR's, and fasteners with a test twist (takes maybe 1 minute and I have dissembled and reassembled mine 7 times already for flights yet only rarely have to re-tighten). For creaks, mine was starting too and I thought it was just the front post. I lubed the main frame hinge joints and dabbed a little on the front stem lock and presto- no more sounds. These bikes and take quite a beating considering I am in the upper weight range (weigh 193 but commonly carry 20+ pounds on my back).
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Old 09-13-17, 08:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linberl View Post
I do think folders require some maintenance but so do standard bikes. Do you do a quick pre-ride check for loose bolts, etc.?
While a few issues may be specifically folder related, most are just "bike" issues. I suspect you just rode your college bike and ignored the smaller problems. My millennial son rides like that - he just wants to get on and ride and so he does. I always give his bike a good look when he visits so I can remind him to get certain things taken care of before they become big issues. Maybe you are just more aware now and paying better attention? Is it possible in college you just didn't notice the clicks and clanks? Most college students just ride their bikes hard....

If it really bugs you, and your ride is flat, get a respect mini velocity fixie. You probably will have near zero work beyond lubing the chain and brake adjusts. It doesn't fold but it is very compact. https://respectcycles.com/p/bike
I've seen too many complaints of people ordering from Respect Cycles and not getting their minivelo. Besides,... it's been proven to be a rebranded bike,...straight from China. I wanted one myself,...
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Old 09-13-17, 09:04 AM   #8
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Feel the same about my Dahon D7 but not too bothered by it because I have very few mechanical skills. I figure it's more about me than the bike itself. The shifting is abysmal but I live with it. It serves its purpose as a nifty little town bike.
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Old 09-13-17, 09:06 AM   #9
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A couple of things---one as we get older we get more picky---You cannot believe how many college student commuter bikes I have worked on that had all kinds of things wrong---they rode them anyway.

It takes a little more to get the bugs out of a folder---they also will always have more clicks and creaks because they have so many joints.
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Old 09-13-17, 09:23 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by tds101 View Post
I've seen too many complaints of people ordering from Respect Cycles and not getting their minivelo. Besides,... it's been proven to be a rebranded bike,...straight from China. I wanted one myself,...
Maybe this: https://www.tokyobikenyc.com/bicycles/mini-velo ???? Twice the cost but still inexpensive.
That totally sucks about respect cycles. I expected it to be from China or somewhere because of the cost but
had no idea people weren't getting delivery on purchases.
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Old 09-13-17, 09:25 AM   #11
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You don't need all those gears (of a Dahon D7) a for a short flat commute. Stick that folder in a closet for weekends and a spare. Then get yourself a bulletproof old single speed beater and don't worry about no stinkin clicks and chirps.
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Old 09-13-17, 10:35 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
Maybe this: https://www.tokyobikenyc.com/bicycles/mini-velo ???? Twice the cost but still inexpensive.
That totally sucks about respect cycles. I expected it to be from China or somewhere because of the cost but
had no idea people weren't getting delivery on purchases.
This definitely works: https://www.tokyobikenyc.com/bicycles/mini-velo
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Old 09-13-17, 11:03 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the good comments. No doubt you're right:

- Folders generally more troublesome than standard bikes; hinges, high seatpost + handlepost, more to go wrong
- I'm a lot more mechanically inclined than I was in my early 20s, more apt to notice things that have gone wrong with a bike
- I do check my hinge clasps and safety catches every ride. I don't check the bolts nearly as frequently. Probably ought to start doing that.
- Fully loaded with me + all my gear, my bike is within 10lb of the weight limit. That has to have an effect.

It is true that the optimum number of bikes to own is n+1, where n = the number of bikes you own now. With that in mind, and also mindful of the fact that I live in a small Manhattan apartment, I'm seriously considering a non-folding bike for at least the winter commuting season. Single speed might be OK, but I think I'd be more comfortable with an IGH. Even a 3 speed would be nice. Or just say to heck with it and use CitiBike all winter. Decisions, decisions...
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Old 09-13-17, 11:34 AM   #14
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A 3-speed IGH in a Manhattan apartment? You're gettin' a Brompton, mate.
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Old 09-13-17, 12:07 PM   #15
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Thanks for all the good comments. No doubt you're right:

- Folders generally more troublesome than standard bikes; hinges, high seatpost + handlepost, more to go wrong
- I'm a lot more mechanically inclined than I was in my early 20s, more apt to notice things that have gone wrong with a bike
- I do check my hinge clasps and safety catches every ride. I don't check the bolts nearly as frequently. Probably ought to start doing that.
- Fully loaded with me + all my gear, my bike is within 10lb of the weight limit. That has to have an effect.

It is true that the optimum number of bikes to own is n+1, where n = the number of bikes you own now. With that in mind, and also mindful of the fact that I live in a small Manhattan apartment, I'm seriously considering a non-folding bike for at least the winter commuting season. Single speed might be OK, but I think I'd be more comfortable with an IGH. Even a 3 speed would be nice. Or just say to heck with it and use CitiBike all winter. Decisions, decisions...
If you've got convenient bike share access, and your route is flat - bike shares bikes are heavy - I'd do that in the winter. Why wreck your own bike???
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Old 09-14-17, 07:24 AM   #16
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Fair point about the bike share. Much more practical. (But I miss out on the fun of shopping for a new bike!)

Today the folder proved it's worth as I had to do a multimodal commute subway + bike, folded it in half to squeeze on a fairly full train today. Got a couple of looks, but far fewer than if I was trying to roll a full size bike onboard.

Figured out the chirp, too. It's fender rub. Big Apple 20x2.0s just barely fit with the SKS fenders, so I have to do some adjustment to take care of that.
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Old 09-14-17, 07:55 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by dschwarz View Post
0Hi all,

There's just one thing... my bike. Every few days there's something to adjust, or clean, or something broken that needs fixing.

Last month: wobbly handlepost. 8mm wrench, tightened a nut, fixed that for now.
Last week: clicking in the drivetrain. Took off the pedals, regreased, tightened. No more click.
Today: chain deraillment. Not sure why. Also, a "chirp" has just started sounding when I'm going over bumps in the road.

So is this par for the course with a folder like this, or should I expect more reliability?

When I was in college and for a few years afterward, I had a non-folding Fuji hybrid bike. The thing was fairly bullet proof. I never did much more than put air in the tires day-to-day. Wish that were the case now!
Maybe you're just going through an unlucky streak. I swear I can go for a few weeks fixing things on a weekly basis... wobbles, squeaks, creaks and then I'm good for months.

I had this cheap Norco mountain bike in the 80's, which I rode for 8 years and I don't recall fixing things more than a handful of times.
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Old 09-14-17, 08:19 PM   #18
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I'll echo what everyone said, it's normal on folders.

Also, it's a decade old folder—I bet it never had a major setup since leaving the shop. Now's the time.
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Old 10-25-17, 08:06 PM   #19
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Update: New chain, new cassette (thanks thor), and the drivetrain feels brand new! Headset adjustment, and the chirp is gone!

Now the bike is riding reliably and totally dialed in... for now.
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