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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 11-27-17, 04:59 PM   #1
newblue
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Used folder for commuting: Downtube 9FS or wait

Hello,

I'm looking for a folding bike for a specific purpose and I have a limited budget to work with. I want to commute, with a change of clothes/lunch/etc. in backpack or pannier, about 6 hilly miles in the morning, and fold the bike for a pretty crowded subway ride home in the evening. Basically I don't want to do my commute home riding in the dark. I've tried it and don't like it so I had the bright idea of riding in the morning only. I'm looking for a used folding bike for this and want to keep the price below $250 if possible.

Today I saw an older, maybe 2008, Downtube 9FS for sale for around $200. My concern with it is: no brazeons for a rear rack, and would the suspension parts still be good after 10 years? Or would I just be getting myself into an expensive maintenance situation.

Or should I pass on the Downtube and just wait for a Dahon or Citizen with fenders and a rack to appear on CL or eBay?

Thanks for any advice!
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Old 11-27-17, 06:29 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by newblue View Post
Hello,

I'm looking for a folding bike for a specific purpose and I have a limited budget to work with. I want to commute, with a change of clothes/lunch/etc. in backpack or pannier, about 6 hilly miles in the morning, and fold the bike for a pretty crowded subway ride home in the evening. Basically I don't want to do my commute home riding in the dark. I've tried it and don't like it so I had the bright idea of riding in the morning only. I'm looking for a used folding bike for this and want to keep the price below $250 if possible.

Today I saw an older, maybe 2008, Downtube 9FS for sale for around $200. My concern with it is: no brazeons for a rear rack, and would the suspension parts still be good after 10 years? Or would I just be getting myself into an expensive maintenance situation.

Or should I pass on the Downtube and just wait for a Dahon or Citizen with fenders and a rack to appear on CL or eBay?

Thanks for any advice!
I commute mostly with a backpack. It is a little sweaty, but I shower after both rides. For riding a train home, a backpack would likely be easier to handle that a pannier when having to also carry the bike.

I see a Citizen folding bike on the Washington DC Craigslist with fenders and a rack for only $100. 6 speed.

Last edited by edelay; 11-27-17 at 06:29 PM. Reason: things and stuff
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Old 11-27-17, 08:46 PM   #3
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I commuted on and off for over three decades on a bike and rarely used a rack. My preferred choice was a well made bicycle messenger bag. These are essentially a nylon briefcase style bag with an aluminum bar which stiffens the top of the bag in the hinge area where the bag and top flap meet, and a waist strap which keeps the bag from moving around.

Keeps the center of gravity lower than a backpack. Have some extra clothing stored at work in case of disaster.

I don't have a Downtube FS9, but I have two Downtube 8's with suspension forks and an a DT Mini. All bought more than a decade ago, all still work.

I would take the Downtube over the Citizen. In any case bike commuting lowers work stress, well worth the effort.
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Old 11-27-17, 11:07 PM   #4
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+1 on the backpack if you’ll be getting on/off the train with the bike folded. I do this when commuting and have a rack/fender on my folder. You may get by with a trunk bag on a rack too.

Depending on grade of your hills the downtube may provide a few extra valuable lower gear inches, if that has the same chainring and cassette as the current downtubes.
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Old 11-28-17, 03:05 PM   #5
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Are you concerned about the hills in the DC area, and the gear-inches of the bike?
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Old 11-28-17, 05:49 PM   #6
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Are you concerned about the hills in the DC area, and the gear-inches of the bike?
Hi, yes I am actually and I'm the one who emailed you asking about the gear inches of the Hawk, and you let me know about the Crane. So, thanks!
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Old 11-28-17, 06:29 PM   #7
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Your original question was if 10-year-old suspension bits would be sacked out. As a previous owner of a well-used-got-from-Craigslist Downtube, the answer is probably yes. They're fine bikes, but newer with less suspended parts to fiddle with is probably the better plan. A lighter plan, too..that old Downtube would've been a handful on a bus or train every day.
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Old 11-28-17, 06:42 PM   #8
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Your original question was if 10-year-old suspension bits would be sacked out. As a previous owner of a well-used-got-from-Craigslist Downtube, the answer is probably yes. They're fine bikes, but newer with less suspended parts to fiddle with is probably the better plan. A lighter plan, too..that old Downtube would've been a handful on a bus or train every day.
Okay. Thanks for that info. Yeah, I was hesitant to get into the whole suspension thing. I decided to pass on the Downtube and now feel even better about that decision after reading your post.
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Old 11-30-17, 12:01 PM   #9
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We sold the 9FS models for $299 in 2008. I can't believe it is worth $200 today, 10 year depreciation should be way more than 30%. I think the bike should sell for around $100.

Thanks,
Yan
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Old 11-30-17, 03:10 PM   #10
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We sold the 9FS models for $299 in 2008. I can't believe it is worth $200 today, 10 year depreciation should be way more than 30%. I think the bike should sell for around $100.

Thanks,
Yan
They are $499 new now and the bike features a freehub/cassette based drivetrain. It was a very competitive price at $299 and still competitive at $499 I would of thought. $200 doesn't seem too bad for what you are getting as long as it is in good condition. With the rise in manufacturing costs in China and general inflation many products were better value in the past and so their depreciation today is less. Definitely worth using the original retail price for leverage though if you can.
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Old 11-30-17, 06:09 PM   #11
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They are $499 new now and the bike features a freehub/cassette based drivetrain. It was a very competitive price at $299 and still competitive at $499 I would of thought. $200 doesn't seem too bad for what you are getting as long as it is in good condition. With the rise in manufacturing costs in China and general inflation many products were better value in the past and so their depreciation today is less. Definitely worth using the original retail price for leverage though if you can.
Thanks all. Although I'm sure the Downtube is a very nice bike, after thinking about it some more and looking around at a few other options I don't know if it's quite right for my purposes esp as someone totally unfamiliar with suspension parts (nice as they may be).
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Old 12-01-17, 01:42 AM   #12
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Thanks all. Although I'm sure the Downtube is a very nice bike, after thinking about it some more and looking around at a few other options I don't know if it's quite right for my purposes esp as someone totally unfamiliar with suspension parts (nice as they may be).
Definitely agree. You don't need suspension on a folding bike normally unless you really need very high levels of comfort, bad back for example. Deeper/wider profile tyres at a lower inflation pressure and a comfortable well sprung saddle should be sufficient for most and that leaves you with a lighter more efficient bike with lower running costs.
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Old 12-01-17, 08:40 AM   #13
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I have seen this DT posted on DC Craigslist for at least a month. At $190, the poster isn't getting the clue it's overvalued.
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Old 12-01-17, 11:16 AM   #14
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I think suspension is required on an aluminum folder, especially for bigger guys.

FYI our 2008 9FS is almost the same as our current 8FS which is about $300. They both share the same frame, angle adjustable stem, threaded fork, and cassette drivetrain.

Thanks,
Yan
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Old 12-01-17, 08:14 PM   #15
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"I think suspension is required on an aluminum folder, especially for bigger guys."

Yan, what makes you say that?
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Old 12-01-17, 08:23 PM   #16
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My thinking is:
1. Aluminum is very stiff
2. Small frames have smaller triangles hence are stiffer than a taller frame.
3. Small radius wheels are much stiffer than bigger wheels.
4. The forces are correlated to the riders weight. Bigger guys will get more abuse.

Thanks
Yan
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Old 12-02-17, 01:49 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by downtube View Post
My thinking is:
1. Aluminum is very stiff
2. Small frames have smaller triangles hence are stiffer than a taller frame.
3. Small radius wheels are much stiffer than bigger wheels.
4. The forces are correlated to the riders weight. Bigger guys will get more abuse.

Thanks
Yan
My thinking
1. Frame material is irrelevant, other things dominate
2. Small frames have longer seatposts and stemposts and are therefore more compliant. Minivelos excepted.
3. Wheel stiffness is dominated by tyre softness
4. If you mean that suspension takes the brunt of a rider's impact on the frame, agreed. For a rider who does nothing with their legs and arms to soften body impact, suspension will help a lot.
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Old 12-02-17, 03:50 AM   #18
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I think suspension is required on an aluminum folder, especially for bigger guys.

FYI our 2008 9FS is almost the same as our current 8FS which is about $300. They both share the same frame, angle adjustable stem, threaded fork, and cassette drivetrain.

Thanks,
Yan
Big guys can destroy cheap suspension quite easily or at least need more frequent maintenance. It might be bigger guys would benefit from it more but big guys get more problems and issues with cheap/value suspension. Obviously there may be exceptions with some good value front shocks that handle higher weights well but normally bigger guys can't go cheap/value for suspension. Suspension failure is a huge cause of bikes going to scrap when people realise replacing suspension is often serious money for entry level to lower mid range bikes. I just feel a lot of the time suspension can seriously shorten the viable lifespan of a bike and adds to our throwaway society.

I was speaking to a LBS salesman recently and I think he was talking about a mid-price Giant mountain bike. On a new bike the rider had used the lockout on the front shocks while doing light off road cycling and destroyed the front shocks and they were a good brand. I didn't even know that was a problem/issue. I got the impression the customer was faced with replacing them completely at his cost because the error was his, the lockout was only designed for road use. Also I've seen postings about no spares for shocks, seals, elastomers and other bits that just aren't obtainable for some low end shocks. For everyday riding/commuting I would not want suspension.
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Old 12-02-17, 07:33 AM   #19
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As our company’s IT guy often says (about other things not bicycles but still applies) “that just adds more potential failure points”.
Im no engineer, but thats how I see suspension on any already “busy” folding frame bicycle.
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Old 12-02-17, 08:02 AM   #20
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I rebuild all kinds of bikes, and I'm starting to get leery of buying into older bikes with suspension bits.

Case in point: Earlier this year, I bought a Trek 930 SHX with a blown suspension fork - top caps had been off for years, water infiltrated the elastomers and turned them into dust. No problem, I thought, I can probably rebuild or replace the fork.

First attempt: Tried to rebuild the fork by using compression springs in place of the elastomers. That didn't work, tho it was a nice thought.

Second attempt: Tried to find a rigid fork to replace the suspension fork. Couldn't find one, but another nice thought.

Third attempt: My LBS had a modern RST Omni suspension fork they sold me for $25 including star nut. Heavier than the original fork, but hey, it worked. Only problem: The RST didn't work with cantis, so I had to replace the front brake with a V-brake.

So these days, unless I have a replacement fork on hand, I tend not to buy into older MTBs with suspension fork issues. I'd imagine that this applies to any older bike with suspension bits no longer working. Parts may or may not be available, they may or may not be cheap, and they may or may not be 100% compatible. Enough for me to stay away in most instances.
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Old 12-02-17, 05:16 PM   #21
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Enough for me to stay away in most instances.

Ditto. A comfortable saddle and standing on the pedals has worked for me so far. I also like to keep the weight, cost, and maintenance time down.
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