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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 10-07-17, 06:18 PM   #1
JustsayMo
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Buying a folder without test riding it... Newbie questions

I have a lot of bikes but NO folders. My last three bike purchases have been customs, Waite (track), Teesdale (road) and Comotion (tandem). My mountain and touring bikes are stock frames that I've specked to my liking. Right now those bikes are spending a lot of time on the hooks as they are too bulky to take along but I'm missing out on riding opportunities because of it, that has me looking at folders.

I'm not expecting the same level of performance or fit but I would like to be able to ride comfortably for 1-4 hours and cover a respectable percentage of the distance I get with my other bikes for the time spent in the saddle. Being that a necessity of bike riding is to 'have a bike to ride' I figure this is an avenue worth exploring.

I'm hoping some of you can steer me in the right direction.

It appears to me that there are some good values in the $400 and up range that would suit my needs (paved rural and city roads with some hauling capability). Am I correct about that or do I need to spend more? I'm hesitant to spend more as it appears I won't have the opportunity to ride the bike prior to purchasing it.
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Old 10-07-17, 07:22 PM   #2
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Take a look at the Bike Friday Pocket Rocket.
https://www.bikefriday.com/folding-b...pocket-rocket/

They are semi-custom built to your specs, and the company is quite responsive. The company also sells suitcase trailer kits if you wish.

They have smaller models such as the Pakit for a quick fold, but it all depends on your overall goals.

https://www.bikefriday.com/folding-bikes/bikes/pakit/

But, if you like road bikes, then I'd encourage at least considering the Pocket Rocket.

Oh, on road or off road? I believe the Pocket Rocket (and others) come with a choice of 406 or 451 tires (Packit uses smaller wheels).

Tandem?
https://www.bikefriday.com/folding-b...andem-twosday/
https://www.bikefriday.com/folding-b...family-tandem/
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Old 10-07-17, 07:52 PM   #3
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I've never ridden one, but Bike Friday seems like the gold standard for folders capable of being ridden long distances. They will cost you far more than $400. You might want to consider an entry-level folder like an Origami Crane. I bought one online without ever having ridden it. The cost is around $400. It has been fine for my purposes. I keep it in the trunk in case the opportunity to ride presents itself. I took it for a short tour (hauling the suitcase/trailer like Bike Friday has too) in August and was able to ride over 60 miles one day and 50+ on back-to-back days. I added bar ends so I have more hand positions, but it interferes with the fold a bit. Some people have reported Ergon grips work with their fold. I switched to Schwalbe Big Apple balloon tires to help absorb road vibrations since the smaller wheels tend to have a bit of a harsher ride than a full-size bike. Read through this forum and you'll find lots of recommendations in your price range.
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Old 10-07-17, 09:29 PM   #4
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I own two folders, one electric, the other not. Finding a folder in a LBS in my neck is like finding a unicorn in a haystack.

70 miles away is an LBS specializing in ebikes, where I test-rode several before spending several times what my standard folder cost. I dont think Id buy any ebike without a test ride, there are many nuances to them wich are different than standard bike nuances and dont translate well in terms of just published specifications.

My standard folder was about $300 online, with a 30 day no-quibble return policy which seems fairly commonplace at that level of bike. I have enjoyed it immensely and have had no remorse. I like them both and ride them both, but if I had to give one of them up...lit would be the ebike!

(My next folder will be a Downtube 8H belt drive/ igh. but thats likely a way off)

Good luck with your search....theres certainly a lot of good product to pick from.
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Old 10-07-17, 10:33 PM   #5
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Obviously you know bikes and I'm guessing can work on them to some degree if you own a few. You can pick up a used bike friday - either on craigslist or through BF pre-loved program. My BF was $550 used, there's one on craigslist near me in the Bay Area right now for only $550. As long as the frame is good, as you know the rest can be replaced with either stuff you have laying around or through purchase. If you buy a pre-loved BF from them, it will come after having been fully overhauled. Now, if you buy new, they have a 30 day guarantee to try the bike but I don't know if that applies to the pre-loved units. A BF will give you a ride closest to the bikes you currently own as long as you get the right size (custom sized). You might also post on the Bike Friday Yak and the Facebook BF community page with what you are interested in purchasing, along with sizing info, and see if anyone has something they would consider selling.
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Old 10-08-17, 12:26 AM   #6
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Bike Fridays are good bikes, but they're really more of a break-apart travel bike, not a convenient folder. I think the OP is better off buying a new or recent-used Dahon.
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Old 10-08-17, 12:45 AM   #7
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Bike Fridays are good bikes, but they're really more of a break-apart travel bike, not a convenient folder. I think the OP is better off buying a new or recent-used Dahon.
It depends on the OP's goals, and which Bike Friday.

Perhaps we need to know what the OP wants with a folder. Travelling? Riding the subway? There are also S&S Coupled Break-Apart bikes.

One can crunch the Pocket Rocket down to about half the size in a couple of seconds, but it is a bit of a pain to get into the suitcase. The TiKit and PaKit are Bike Friday's quick fold models.

Brompton also has a pretty quick fold.
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Old 10-08-17, 01:44 AM   #8
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I seem to be going against some advice here but for me one of the great aspects of folding bikes is you can adjust sizing for any rider so easily. So one folding bike for example can be used by a whole family. Even for the same rider you can adjust it differently for a different style of riding moving the handlebars or saddle up and down as required (depending on model). Even a personal injury where you have stretched a muscle can be compensated for to a degree by changing saddle height to help relieve that muscle slightly so the height of the leg as you peddle can go higher or lower. This can also be achieved with a huge variety of different folding bikes. The main limitation are some models have limited saddle height adjustment and almost no handlebar height adjustment if the handlebar stem isn't telescopic. Ideally you want a bike with the full range of adjustments. Pretty common on 20" wheel folding bikes.

As for other elements like comfort this can be achieved/improved by changing saddle and tyres and even to a lesser degree hand grips and peddles. Careful adjustment of tyre pressures can help too. A pressure that is hard and unpleasant for a light rider can be just right for a heavier rider so adjusting the pressure to your weight can give you just the suspension you need especially with larger profile tyres can make a much more pleasant ride.

So my advice would be buy a folding bike blind if you have to but perhaps use your other bikes to gauge a few select upgrades, maybe buying another saddle you like already on another bike.

20" wheels or above can give pretty decent ride but go below 20" wheels and you probably do start getting into some big compromises where you need to try the bike because ride quality and size adjustment could be more limited, it depends on the bike though.
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Old 10-08-17, 01:51 AM   #9
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I second the opinion that the o.p. may not be well served by Bike Friday offerings. They may possibly offer a quick fold model but it will cost scads of money. I own two folders: a Giant Expressway 1 and a Downtube FS IX. The Giant Expressway is the successor to the Giant Halfway which was an amazing folder, but sadly it had some significant design flaws and was replaced with the Expresssway. I got my Expressway as a warranty settlement for a Halfway that experienced catastrophic frame failure. I've ridden it 10 miles at a time (20mi round trip) and there is the possibility of mounting a FD which I don't know that Dahon's have.

An Expressway is an excellent alternative to a Dahon in the ~$500 arena. My Downtube hasn't been ridden in years. I found it rather heavy but the suspension does work very well when you learn that the secret is to set it as firm as possible in the initial pre-load.
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Old 10-08-17, 04:49 AM   #10
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The OP needs to read the FAQ to answer pertinent questions.
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Old 10-08-17, 05:24 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonzo Banana View Post
I seem to be going against some advice here but for me one of the great aspects of folding bikes is you can adjust sizing for any rider so easily. So one folding bike for example can be used by a whole family. Even for the same rider you can adjust it differently for a different style of riding moving the handlebars or saddle up and down as required (depending on model). Even a personal injury where you have stretched a muscle can be compensated for to a degree by changing saddle height to help relieve that muscle slightly so the height of the leg as you peddle can go higher or lower. This can also be achieved with a huge variety of different folding bikes. The main limitation are some models have limited saddle height adjustment and almost no handlebar height adjustment if the handlebar stem isn't telescopic. Ideally you want a bike with the full range of adjustments. Pretty common on 20" wheel folding bikes.

As for other elements like comfort this can be achieved/improved by changing saddle and tyres and even to a lesser degree hand grips and peddles. Careful adjustment of tyre pressures can help too. A pressure that is hard and unpleasant for a light rider can be just right for a heavier rider so adjusting the pressure to your weight can give you just the suspension you need especially with larger profile tyres can make a much more pleasant ride.

So my advice would be buy a folding bike blind if you have to but perhaps use your other bikes to gauge a few select upgrades, maybe buying another saddle you like already on another bike.

20" wheels or above can give pretty decent ride but go below 20" wheels and you probably do start getting into some big compromises where you need to try the bike because ride quality and size adjustment could be more limited, it depends on the bike though.
I second this as the greatest advantage of a folder. We have entry level Dahons in the OPs price range. Took them on a 35 mile ride along Cape Cod yesterday and about 10 miles in the wife complained about leg pain. She road a few miles on a road bike side by side with her bike and I saw a big difference on the saddle height.

I readjusted her seat post by about 6 inches and she rode complaint free the remainder of the ride.

My buddy kept complaining it was because our tires are too small. Well in the end we averaged 17+ miles an hour and had to wait for our full size bike friends to catch up.

So yes folders have way more adjustability and within reason are just as good as road bikes, even at distance.

All this in the 400 price range.
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Old 10-08-17, 06:11 AM   #12
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Thank you for all of the excellent responses. Very helpful.

The Bike Friday has the most appeal though the cost is a bit more than I'm comfortable with for my first foray into folding bikes. I can see buying one next if this experiment goes well.

The folders I've found locally are the inexpensive hi-ten steel framed versions. Not impressive.

Initially I see this as a proof of concept step. I need a bike that is easily transported - hatchback carry without taking too much room. Quick to deploy so I have more time to ride and less time assembling and disassembling. Quality enough that should the opportunity to ride more than an hour or two I'd still enjoy it. It would also allow me to park in a safer area and partially bike commute.

I have lots of parts laying around and can build my own wheels so spec is less important than a decent quality frame.
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Old 10-08-17, 12:40 PM   #13
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Other than Bike Friday, Folding bikes are one frame size only, so you are just looking at the kind of stuff attached to it.

Dahon is representative of the most common type, at lower price points..

they fold in half , front section to the NDS, so greasy drivetrain will be exposed,

might want to keep some plastic tarp in the car to keep the smunge off stuff.



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Old 10-08-17, 01:07 PM   #14
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To the OP: I would look for a used Dahon speed or a Dahon mu in your case.
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Old 10-09-17, 04:49 PM   #15
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Swift comes to mind.
You can get frame only.
Takes mainly standard parts also.
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Old 10-09-17, 11:15 PM   #16
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Swift comes to mind.
You can get frame only.
Takes mainly standard parts also.
Can you still buy swift bike stuff? I thought they went to scooters only.
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Old 10-09-17, 11:31 PM   #17
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You can still get a Swift frameset for $500. Presumably leftover stock from when they gave up trying to sell complete bikes there was no market for.
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Old 10-10-17, 12:09 AM   #18
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Swift would be a good option but we need to know how tall is the OP. Swifts can be had from Craigslist too.
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Old 10-10-17, 06:03 AM   #19
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Where are you?

I regularly see Bike Fridays for < $1000 on Craigslist.

This one is listed as a New World Tourist, but it is configured more like a Pocket Rocket.
Bike Friday folding bike - New World Tourist - $700 (Magnolia)



And, you should be able to take it for a spin.

Patience, and you'll find a good one at a price you're willing to pay.

You're probably better off snagging a $700 used bike than building up a $500 bare frame.
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Old 10-10-17, 07:12 AM   #20
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Where are you?

I regularly see Bike Fridays for < $1000 on Craigslist.

This one is listed as a New World Tourist, but it is configured more like a Pocket Rocket.
Bike Friday folding bike - New World Tourist - $700 (Magnolia)



And, you should be able to take it for a spin.

Patience, and you'll find a good one at a price you're willing to pay.

You're probably better off snagging a $700 used bike than building up a $500 bare frame.
Thanks for the lead and safe advice. The seller notes, " It's sized to fit anyone over 6' tall." Unfortunately I did not achieve that altitude and it even appears I may be shrinking at this stage of my life.
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Old 10-10-17, 11:10 AM   #21
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It actually took me a few minutes to locate the Swift frame. Here it is:

https://www.xootr.com/folding-bike-frame-set.html
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Old 10-10-17, 12:31 PM   #22
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Thanks for the lead and safe advice. The seller notes, " It's sized to fit anyone over 6' tall." Unfortunately I did not achieve that altitude and it even appears I may be shrinking at this stage of my life.
It depends a bit on how picky you are about frame sizes, and whether you are close to that height. Also the amount of adjustment in the seat mast.

I tend to favor a little larger frames for myself.

It appears as if the seat can be dropped by about 8" from the photos, so there is a fair amount of adjustment. There is some vertical adjustment of the stem, I think, and at least that bike appears to use a stock 1 1/8" stem, so it would be easy to shorten the reach an inch or two if you desired.

Anyway, if you're in Seattle, and say greater than 5'9 of 5'10, then it may well be worth a trip to see the bike. If you're in Vancouver, then you may decide it is too big of a risk.
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Old 10-10-17, 03:12 PM   #23
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Thanks for the lead and safe advice. The seller notes, " It's sized to fit anyone over 6' tall." Unfortunately I did not achieve that altitude and it even appears I may be shrinking at this stage of my life.
I'd suggest, especially since his Bike Friday is on Craigslist, and will require picking up in person, seeing if it's adjustable enough to work for you. That's if you're within traveling distance that is! LOL!!!
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Old 10-10-17, 09:53 PM   #24
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A cheaper option that would fit better would be this Bike Friday Pocket Tourist EP in Shelton. It first got posted about a month ago so they might be flexible on price...

https://seattle.craigslist.org/oly/bik/d/folding-bicycle/6340604022.html

Are you the JustSayMo that built the Yonderosa? If so, greetings from your internet past.

In any case, I bought four folding bikes over the net without riding them, but my Ti Swift and Pacific Reach Off-road were not very risky purchases and have ride qualities similar to a "normal" road bike. I have a Downtube VIIIH and a Downtube Mini (16" wheels) as well as a Dutch Batafold that I got back in the 1970's. I am on the waiting list for a Helix which will be my first 24" folder and my 5th unridden purchase. Hard to find folders at most bike shops, even in over-crowded urban areas that I abandoned decades ago...

I have been riding my old Downtube Mini a fair amount this year and with Schwalbe Big Apples it is a surprisingly good bike for both short and moderate rides on either dirt or pavement as long as there aren't a lot of potholes. Nice small fold and it has been on lots of road trips since the fold is relatively small. The current DT Mini is similar and seems to be a good value.

I have two 451 20" wheeled folders and two 406 20" folders. The 451s ride best on pavement or hard-packed surfaces. The 406s can be fitted with tires suitable for almost any road type or surface.

Back in the days when I worked for a living I commuted about 17 miles a day on folders, road bikes, mountain bikes, and a recumbent. The recumbent didn't handle the hills well, but all did the commute without any problems.

For longer rides, sub-25 pounds makes a difference. Wheel size not so much, but wheelbase length is important.

Generally I prefer a wheelbase longer than 1 meter. My Reach has frame geometry similar to a full-sized road bike. I ordered my Ti Swift with a longer top tube which gave it a longer wheelbase as well. My DT Mini has a relatively short wheelbase and was prone to unexpected wheelies until I moved the seat forward and added a longer stem to get more weight over the front wheel. Many folding bikes have short wheelbases, too little weight on the front wheel and less-than-ideal steering.

Finding folding bike frame geometry is difficult at best., but quality dealers will be able to get you that info. If you understand both road and mountain bike geometry it is fairly easy to interpret folder specs. Another tool is to overlay folding bike images with other bike images to get an idea of both geometry and potential weight distribution. You can see examples of that here in the Folding Bikes forum.

Good luck in your quest... I hope there is a folder in your future!

Last edited by Pine Cone; 10-10-17 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 10-11-17, 06:42 AM   #25
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Howdy PC. It appears we have yet another common interest. I hope you are still enjoying your slice of paradise. I spend every minute I can over at mine. This has been a notable year crittercam wise - Mountain Lion and Bears have been especially tough on the Deer/fawns. A good Moose year too. We'll have to catch up and compare notes sometime.

Great insights on frame geometry. Fit = comfort is something I can relate too which is why I went the custom route of my road, tandem and track bikes. Hopefully my learning curve has steepened enough that it will take me fewer folding bikes to find the one I like than it did with road bikes... It's all part of the journey and I've enjoyed that. Should this venture go as I'm hoping I'll likely have a Bike Friday made for myself once I discover what I like and want it to do.

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