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Old 09-29-17, 09:49 AM   #1
jefnvk
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Things to look for in a used folder

Hi all-

I hope this isn't a question that has been asked over and again by folks new to this subforum, but a search didn't turn up much. If it is, just point me towards the best thread and whack my knuckles for not looking better!

I've been toying with the idea of getting a folder for a while now. I often find myself downtown Detroit after work and would like something I could keep in my trunk to get around town. Also, one of these days I'd love to turn my after work bike ride along the river into a kayak downstream, lock up the boat at the end, and ride the folder back to my car trip!

Knowing the futility in asking "which used bike should I get?", I am looking for information on anything in particular to keep an eye out for (either good or bad) in the CL $100-200 range. For example, having played around with C&V I know French bikes are sized/threaded considerably differently than anything else, any peculiarities like that to watch out for in the folding world? Also, as a larger guy (215#) is there a way to easily determine if I am overweight for a particular bike I may come across?
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Old 09-29-17, 09:55 AM   #2
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worn out stuff?

Brompton has remained backwards compatible.. so New Pieces on my Mid 90's Mk 2 fit.


the Steel seatposts on those are 1.25" diameter. .... so strong enough for those over 200#
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Old 09-29-17, 10:09 AM   #3
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Make sure components are easily replaced rather than proprietary. As things wear/are worn, you will want to replace so make sure compatible parts are readily available. If you want to upgrade to discs, make sure the bike will accommodate. Check for obvious things like cracks, rust, etc. I always figure if the frame is good the rest is eventually getting replaced anyway. Just take into account cost of replacements for components and new wheels or whatever when you are bidding. You don't want to buy used and spend more than a new version to bring it up to your desired level (well, maybe you do, if it's a classic or you just love to tinker). I've probably put more into my Bike Friday, bought used, than I would have paid for a new one but the cost was spread out over time which was more manageable for me and it gave me the time to figure out what I wanted to change. I would not have known to order it the way I ended up configuring it. And there's some emotional satisfaction/attachment to bring an older one back to life.
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Old 09-29-17, 10:33 AM   #4
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There are a lot bikes out there with low-quality hinges and latches. If they look like stamped steel, pass. If there is play in the hinges, you may have a replacement, or difficult repair, in your future.

If something catches your eye, post a photo on this thread and the opinions will flow.
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Old 09-29-17, 11:29 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linberl View Post
Make sure components are easily replaced rather than proprietary.
...
And there's some emotional satisfaction/attachment to bring an older one back to life.
That was my biggest concern, not knowing much about these things. When you say easily replaced, do you mean with components that one would find on a standard bicycle, or is there a separate group of common parts for foldersI should learn about?

I've done a few C&V rehabs, I also find joy in bringing something back to life! In digging through some of the old threads, I found this, if I could find an old Peugeot folder I'd snatch it up in a heartbeat (even knowing of all the oddball French stuff!): https://www.bikeforums.net/folding-b...ding-bike.html

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There are a lot bikes out there with low-quality hinges and latches. If they look like stamped steel, pass. If there is play in the hinges, you may have a replacement, or difficult repair, in your future.

If something catches your eye, post a photo on this thread and the opinions will flow.
Will make a note of inspecting the hinges. I don't have my eye on anything in particular right now, but it seems from reading a bit that Dahons are regarded as decent quality to price options, and they generally pop up frequently on my local CL. Probably looking at a single/3-speed to keep it simple, the areas it would get used are fairly flat.
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Old 09-29-17, 11:50 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
That was my biggest concern, not knowing much about these things. When you say easily replaced, do you mean with components that one would find on a standard bicycle, or is there a separate group of common parts for foldersI should learn about?

I've done a few C&V rehabs, I also find joy in bringing something back to life! In digging through some of the old threads, I found this, if I could find an old Peugeot folder I'd snatch it up in a heartbeat (even knowing of all the oddball French stuff!): https://www.bikeforums.net/folding-b...ding-bike.html



Will make a note of inspecting the hinges. I don't have my eye on anything in particular right now, but it seems from reading a bit that Dahons are regarded as decent quality to price options, and they generally pop up frequently on my local CL. Probably looking at a single/3-speed to keep it simple, the areas it would get used are fairly flat.
Yes, make sure it takes standard bike parts. Some bikes, like Brompton rely on a fair number of proprietary parts. That's not bad, but it is limiting and may be more costly. You want something that takes standard cassettes, chains, BB, cranks, wheels, seatposts, etc. Also consider the size of the dropouts...Dahon is usually 74mm which means only certain wheels will fit, but there are an adequate # of options because of how prevalent Dahons are. Obviously the more availability of parts, the better the price competition. The Dahon Mu Uno is very highly regarded and opens you up to some nice modifications from what I've read. https://www.bikeforums.net/folding-b...on-mu-uno.html
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Old 09-29-17, 12:38 PM   #7
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Though any proprietary part in case of Brompton can be acquired from any Brompton dealer

AAAnd in some cases there have been a number of aftermarket CNC operating companies

making replacement parts , lighter, shinier, more appealing to the buyer willing to pay extra to not use the original plastic parts.. such as the chain tensioner..




....
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Old 09-29-17, 01:11 PM   #8
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My advice: Don't buy a folder unless you can test ride and fold/unfold a few times. Any folder can look good or decent on paper, but it's real world function that counts. A few things to consider:

Does it fold/unfold easily, or is it a struggle?

Do the folding bits seem well manufactured, or are they cheap-feeling and probably won't last?

Once folded, does the bike stay folded with aids (straps, magnets, catches) or does it flop around in the folded state?

Can you wheel it when folded, or do you have to pick it up any carry it?

Does the chain stay inside the wheels when folded, or is it outside the wheels when folded? Important if you don't want grease staining clothing, car carpeting, etc.

Do the folding bits make noise when you're riding? Squeaks, rattles?

Is there too much play or a feeling of looseness to any major parts? Stems, handleposts, seatposts, etc.

Is it easily adjustable to your specific riding needs? Adjustable length stem, for ex.

Cheap folders are an exercise in frustration, because they often don't meet many of these criteria. Sometimes with folding bikes, you're not only paying for less total weight and better parts and frames, but better design and execution.
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Old 09-29-17, 01:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bargainguy View Post
My advice: Don't buy a folder unless you can test ride and fold/unfold a few times. Any folder can look good or decent on paper, but it's real world function that counts. A few things to consider ...
Yeah, anything I buy will be local, and will be from a reputable manufacturer. That is a good list of considerations, I did not consider things like the location of the chain when folded!

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Though any proprietary part in case of Brompton can be acquired from any Brompton dealer
While they look nice, I suspect I'd have a hard time fitting a Brompton (or BF for that matter) into my budget.
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Old 09-29-17, 01:26 PM   #10
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In your $100-200 price range, I'll give you one to look for and one to avoid:

Look for: Fuji (Marlboro) folding mountain bike. This was a promotional bike that you had to pay cash + 8000 Marlboro points - each ciggy pack was 5 pts., so what, half a lung? Anyhoo, the drivetrain and wheels are cheap, but the folding mechanism is ingenious (seatpost secures entire bike, which can't be ridden without it), and it's fairly easily to upgrade the drivetrain and wheels - there are posts here when people have done exactly that. My fave cheap folder, often goes for $50-100.

Avoid: Schwinn Loop. Had one earlier this year, and it's an abomination. I'm a mechanic, and for the life of me, the V-brakes were so cheap so as to defy adjustment. Hinges were cheap, frame was cheap and wobbly. A good example of what not to get.
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Old 09-29-17, 01:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bargainguy View Post
In your $100-200 price range, I'll give you one to look for and one to avoid:

Look for: Fuji (Marlboro) folding mountain bike. This was a promotional bike that you had to pay cash + 8000 Marlboro points - each ciggy pack was 5 pts., so what, half a lung? Anyhoo, the drivetrain and wheels are cheap, but the folding mechanism is ingenious (seatpost secures entire bike, which can't be ridden without it), and it's fairly easily to upgrade the drivetrain and wheels - there are posts here when people have done exactly that. My fave cheap folder, often goes for $50-100.

Avoid: Schwinn Loop. Had one earlier this year, and it's an abomination. I'm a mechanic, and for the life of me, the V-brakes were so cheap so as to defy adjustment. Hinges were cheap, frame was cheap and wobbly. A good example of what not to get.
I had a Fuji for about a year, and it was pretty cool. The only downside is that it is definitely not compact when folded.

The Schwinn is a good example of crappy hinges. If you see similar hinges and latches (yes, other folks use these same parts) you can assume that the whole bike is crap.
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Old 09-29-17, 02:27 PM   #12
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Heh, there is actually one of those that has been sitting on my local CL for a while, albeit a bit higher at $165. Thought about picking it up a few times, thinking it would be an interesting trial for an overseas touring bike that could easily fit into a Nashbar-sized bike bag.

But yeah, as @Pinigis mentions, it doesn't collapse that small. If I were doing that, I'd just keep a full size bike in the car (as I often did before I got a bike rack...). FWIW, there is one of those Schwinns out on MY CL too (you picked relevant options!), but if there is a constant stream of actual folding bike manufacturer options available, I'd prefer to just stick with those.
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Old 09-29-17, 02:49 PM   #13
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a 26" wheel folding bike does limit how small it can fold..

I resold my Mk2 Brompton, for $600, used, with several updated parts.. when I got the Newer one..
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Old 09-29-17, 03:24 PM   #14
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Of course the Fuji doesn't collapse as small, the 26" wheels pretty much dictate that. Don't know how big your trunk is or whether it would fit. But under $200, your choices are severely limited in a folder, and that's what I was getting at. Go up to $300 and I believe a new Origami or Downtube is a possibility, haven't checked prices lately.
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Old 09-29-17, 04:25 PM   #15
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What is your weight? Make sure the bike allows for that weight, ideally if the bike is old you may want to reduce the maximum stated if an aluminium frame bike as their strength weakens with age.

Some folding bikes do not have high weight limits, in fact they wouldn't be suitable for a lot of men who enjoy extra pies or are taller than average.

This is especially true of performance models that are designed to be fast commuting bikes and go for a lightweight design.

It's often the naff slow models with step through steel frames etc that have the highest weight limit.

The weakest folding bikes have something like a 60kg (130lb?) weight limit up to about 125kg maximum (somewhere around 270lbs). As you can see its a huge range. The strongest (not necessarily most reliable) would have 20" wheels and a steel frame.

Buying used is always a bit of a risk. You need to be sure you don't get a heavily worn drivetrain as it will cost a lot to replace. The frame could have had a hard life and be close to failure which is especially true of aluminium and its fatigue limits. I personally prefer clearance and shop display models at a discount which also offer full warranty making as much use of any further discounts as possible. If you can service the bike yourself consider one of the direct sellers who often can do decent bikes at low prices. We have a few people on this forum linked to such brands like 'downtube', 'Origami' and there are many others out there. I personally think both Tern and Dahon are over-rated especially Tern and think they don't offer a particular competitive price for what they supply. I'd rather have a Origami or Downtube bike myself which could actually be less than the secondhand price of a Dahon or Tern despite being brand new and fitted with better components. I also think the Euromini Urbano is a good bike for its price although there is some disagreement about that on these forums but it does offer a lifetime guarantee on a its frame, a good 250lb weight limit and has good quality components plus is lightweight for its price.
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Old 09-29-17, 04:35 PM   #16
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There's a nice Bike Friday diamond frame (for big guys) near me for $600, but I guess that's still quite a ways over your budget :-(.
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Old 09-29-17, 06:47 PM   #17
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Quote:
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There's a nice Bike Friday diamond frame (for big guys) near me for $600, but I guess that's still quite a ways over your budget :-(.
I actually have yet to spend $600 on any bike

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But under $200, your choices are severely limited in a folder, and that's what I was getting at. Go up to $300 and I believe a new Origami or Downtube is a possibility, haven't checked prices lately.
I was more curious because I see the Dahons in that range quite regularly. One (Stowaway 3spd) on CL right now by me described in showroom shape with bag for $150 for example.

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Buying used is always a bit of a risk. You need to be sure you don't get a heavily worn drivetrain as it will cost a lot to replace.
I'm fine with buying used. I have actually never bought a new bike, and most of my purchases have been full rebuilds!
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Old 09-29-17, 07:20 PM   #18
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On the Dahon Stowaway - you said you're 215 lb., right? Are you tall as well? I'm not sure you can adjust the Dahon to your height, and I'm not sure it will handle your weight either.
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Old 09-29-17, 08:07 PM   #19
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I don't know what year the Dahon Stowaway is, but here is a link to the 1990 Dahon user manual. It indicates 250 pound weight limit.

http://dahon.com/wp-content/uploads/...ers-manual.pdf

I bought an old Dahon III with 16" wheels a while back. I didn't ride it long distances, but it was a blast on short rides. I gave it t a friend and have since bought a few other folders. I carry my Crane in the trunk because I work on the road a lot so I always have it if I have a chance to ride.
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Old 09-29-17, 09:14 PM   #20
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Quote:
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On the Dahon Stowaway - you said you're 215 lb., right? Are you tall as well? I'm not sure you can adjust the Dahon to your height, and I'm not sure it will handle your weight either.
I'm 5-10, but I've got short legs. 29" pant inseam.

I think theres four of them on CL by me right now, all in that price range, it was just an example of where I pulled the price range from. If they're a decent option maybe I'll check them out.
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Old 09-30-17, 12:22 PM   #21
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I don't know what year the Dahon Stowaway is, but here is a link to the 1990 Dahon user manual. It indicates 250 pound weight limit.

http://dahon.com/wp-content/uploads/...ers-manual.pdf

I bought an old Dahon III with 16" wheels a while back. I didn't ride it long distances, but it was a blast on short rides. I gave it t a friend and have since bought a few other folders. I carry my Crane in the trunk because I work on the road a lot so I always have it if I have a chance to ride.
Looks like 250lbs is actually the max weight,...
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Old 10-01-17, 04:00 PM   #22
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re Fuji

There was a post saying it's not the most compact of folds.
Actually it is one of THE most compact folding 26" wheeled bikes. Much smaller to fold than a Dahon expresso or simular.
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Old 10-01-17, 06:39 PM   #23
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For me, I don't want to lug a sack of potatos any distance. (old creaky bones.) So the bike must be easy to roll on its own wheel, or it has those itty bitty wheels. Also look inside the tubes. Maybe its rusty, an indicator that it has been out in the rain a lot. (You can repaint outside.)
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