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$150-200 Folder for AMTRAK-to-Rail Trails Overnighters?

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$150-200 Folder for AMTRAK-to-Rail Trails Overnighters?

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Old 03-28-18, 07:54 PM
  #26  
1nterceptor
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
.....So the main question is, will a $150-200 used folder get me and my 55-year-old body up the hills and through the broken up concrete I am likely to encounter between AMTRAK stations and trailheads?
I don't think strangers on a discussion board will be able to give you a definitive answer. Too many unknown variables; which US$150 bike, what's your fitness level/weight, how sensitive are you to bumps, does the bike have to
reliable as well, what about luggage, etc.

The only advice I can offer is try whatever bike you intend to purchase; test ride, fold, lift, roll while folded, etc. I would avoid mail order in your case. Some folks come here and say "I just need any folder that will fit in my car's trunk so I can take it to the park and do loops"; I'd say get anything with the color/design you like.
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Old 03-28-18, 08:16 PM
  #27  
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I think you would be fine if you can find a decent $150-$200 folder. You have the experience to tell if it is in good enough shape. I prefer 20" wheels because I find the ride to be less harsh and twitchy than 16" wheels. I put some Big Apple tires on mine and they smooth out the bumps as well as a full-size bike. A lot of folders have something like a 32-64 gear-inch range, so you don't have the high or low gears and can't ride 20 mph. Not that you would want to on a rail-trail.
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Old 03-28-18, 08:48 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
OK, I am sold on the concept of a folder, but for different reasons than what you've described in this thread. Although I'm sure all the social and practical benefits are legit, the only real reason I am considering a folder is that I want to be able to travel by train to various destinations around the Northeast US (I am in New York) and do some simple scenic rail trails and MUPs that I've always heard about.

So the main question is, will a $150-200 used folder get me and my 55-year-old body up the hills and through the broken up concrete I am likely to encounter between AMTRAK stations and trailheads?
'my' reasons and 'your' reasons are additive, not antagonistic.

unless you get a rare deal, i don't think you are going to find a quality bike with decent components (drivetrain, saddle and tires, paticularly) at $200. the risk is that you are going to buy a clunker for $200, and then you are going to be disappointed. you'll ride it a couple of times, and that will be it because it won't be a comfortable or capable rig.
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Old 03-29-18, 06:53 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
I don't think strangers on a discussion board will be able to give you a definitive answer. Too many unknown variables; 1. which US$150 bike, 2. what's your fitness level/weight, 3. how sensitive are you to bumps, 4. does the bike have to reliable as well, 5. what about luggage, etc.
1. I don't know which $150 bike. That's part of what I am asking. And a reminder, I don't expect to spend this little on a NEW bike.
2. I am in good shape, 160 lbs of pure vegetarian. I do a few overnight trips of 50+ miles each year, ride 20+ road miles a few times a week during the mild weather season, and commute 6 miles rt to work every weekday.
3. Re sensitivity to bumps, I do have back issues. While I do not really feel bumps on my 26" mountain bike with Big Apple (balloon) tires, I might feel them on a 20" bike.
4. I am probably going to use this bike 10-12 times in its lifetime, if that much. It needs to be reliable enough to get me from train stations to trails and then to provide a stress-free ride once I get there.
5. I currently carry a Topeak MTX trunk bag/pannier set on my "touring bike," so, being that some of these folder trips might be over-nighters, I guess I would have to fit the same - or similar - on whatever I buy.

Continuation of Interceptor quote:::: The only advice I can offer is try whatever bike you intend to purchase

This is where a problem arises, as the bike shops out here on Long Island typically do not stock anything but road bikes and mountain bikes, and the employees generally do not know anything at all about folders or touring gear. Also, I am not really comfortable taking a store clerk's time trying out bikes that I plan to shop for "used" in the end, so I would have to drive all over the area trying used bikes in people's garages. Before I set out to find something used, I first want to know if a folder is even going to serve my purpose, and whether I can get an adequate one for under $200, used.
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Old 03-29-18, 07:47 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
So the main question is, will a $150-200 used folder get me and my 55-year-old body up the hills and through the broken up concrete I am likely to encounter between AMTRAK stations and trailheads?
Yes.

However it's worth considering your other requirements that are not folder-specific. Do you want to ride single speed? If so, you will likely have more lower end options. If you want gears, those bikes are likely going to cost more. Some folders have proprietary parts that are difficult to swap out. I got a great, single-speed Dahon for $50 or $100. You couldn't replace the handlebars, and since I didn't like riding for hours on end with flat bars, it only got used for short, local trips. Even so, I put a 3 speed hub in it so I could have a few gears. I've picked up 4 second-hand, folding bikes in the last 10 years or so. I don't think I ever paid more than $100, but I also think that, apart from the one that never got out of "project bike" stage, every one had at least $100 in upgrades before I was done with it. Usually adding new wheels with gear hubs at a minimum. The folder that became my "travel bike" probably had at least $500 into it, and I probably would have kept on working on it if it hadn't met with an accident.

So can a folder ride over broken pavement? Sure. Bumps are rougher. You still want to avoid the potholes. Otherwise, go for it. BMX bikes have 20" wheels, and people seem to ride those anywhere. But if you have requirements beyond "It has to pass Amtrak's folding bike/carry-on policy." Then you want to keep those in mind when you're looking. When I went looking to replace my travel bike, I found that for the money I had spent on my old bike, I could get a new Downtube with all the features I wanted and then some. And I didn't have to do crazy stuff like try and figure out how to route cable on a bike made to run single speed or how to put a modern crankset on a bike with cottered cranks. If I hadn't had the money on hand, I probably would have followed my normal pattern: Buy a cheap, used bike, and upgrade it slowly over time. But I had it in my budget, so I went with the new bike, and it's been great. I wouldn't want to tour on it, but a day of rail-trail, or even an overnighter? I could handle that.

So in my experience, you could absolutely find a folder in your budget. You could ride it to and from Amtrak. But in my experience, a cheap, Craigslist find is the beginning of my expenses. So think of what you want out of the bike and factor upgrades into your budget, because it may be a little tight if you want something with multiple gears, modern, swappable parts, and a tight enough fold to meet Amtrak's size limits.
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Old 03-29-18, 08:27 AM
  #31  
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Thanks, Rob. Good info, and you put some important ideas in my head.
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Old 04-01-18, 10:25 PM
  #32  
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$150 for used maybe. Pretty much impossibke for new. Folding bikes cost about $50 just to ship.

There are some great deals on some closeout Dahons Stateside right now. Speed D7 is one. Others too.
Check Craigslist none the less for used bike deals.

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Old 04-02-18, 06:44 AM
  #33  
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My eyes have been on Craigslist. Thanks for the advice, all.

Some of my initial momentum has been buried by relentless snowstorms here in NY, just when I started to feel like Biking Season was about to begin. It's April 2 and we are in the middle of another heavy one!
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Old 04-02-18, 01:02 PM
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That just makes the timing better. Whenever I buy a second hand bike, I tear it apart to relube everything that can be lubed, oil what can be oiled, and replace any cables or housing that need replacing. Good weather only makes the process less desireable because you just want to get on the road.
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Old 04-06-18, 09:42 PM
  #35  
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How about a Raleigh Twenty? I know they’re heavy and their folding isn’t as elegant as others. However they’re overbuilt and relatively inexpensive.
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Old 04-09-18, 09:58 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Velocivixen View Post
How about a Raleigh Twenty? I know they’re heavy and their folding isn’t as elegant as others. However they’re overbuilt and relatively inexpensive.
I would want to find some folded measurements and compare them to Amtrak's folded bike allowance before I went that route. I do not remember my Raleigh Twenty having a particularly small fold. I also remember feeling very fortunate to find one, completely disassembled, for around $100. Maybe they're more readily available now. When I was looking for one, they seemed to have become something of a collector's item, at least in the U.S.

Also this is one that you're either going ride "as is" or figure in some more money in for upgrades. Raleigh Twenty's have steel rims, cottered cranks, a bottom bracket that's an uncommon threading and an even less common width, and a headset that exists on no other bike, as far as I know. If the bike's in decent shape, a little grease will have you rolling in no time, minimal investment, but the one feature of older bikes that I prefer to change no matter what is the steel rims. Generally that's not a cheap fix.
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Old 04-09-18, 10:48 AM
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I want either something I can ride as-is or something I can easily modify with stuff from the stacks of parts in my garage. Also, this is going to be exclusively for AMTRAK travel, so thanks for the heads-up, Rob.
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