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Online shopping vs. offline shopping

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Online shopping vs. offline shopping

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Old 12-31-18, 09:05 PM
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Online shopping vs. offline shopping

While checking prices, I was wondering if it makes sense to buy a folding bike in an online shop with no local franchise. Although many bikes are less expensive "online", I'm always afraid of an unnecessarily complicated way to claim my warranty in case of problems. I suspect that when I make a deal with someretailer dot com, I cannot just take the bought bike to my local retailer to fix it afterwards. Has anyone of you made experiences with both and can convince me why I should/absolutely should not buy a folding bike online?
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Old 01-01-19, 10:20 AM
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It helps if you buy a brand that has a dealer someplace you can get to if necessary. Or if you have stores that specialize in folding bikes. You're probably okay if you stick with the main brands anyway, like Dahon, Tern, and the higher end bikes. Not sure I would buy an "off" brand unless I knew I could wrench on it myself and the price was good enough to take some risk. Keep in mind if you pay by credit card, most cards will cover any problems with the product for the first 90 days usualy so that's some protection. I live within 30 minutes of the Euromini offices so I would feel comfortable buying a bike from them because I could easily show up and raise hell if necessary, but if I bought a Solorock, for example, they're out of Canada I believe....would have to trust in their customer service. Pick your brand and do some research and see if people have had issues getting warranty claims resolved. Remember you would probably have to pay to ship the bike back even for warranty claims and for some less expensive bikes, that can be a fair percentage of the purchase price! Good luck.
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Old 01-01-19, 10:32 AM
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Thank you.
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Old 01-01-19, 11:24 AM
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ThorUSA, Downtube Folding Bikes, Origami Bicycles, and Zizzo are all reputable online companies that have excellent customer service. The only company I haven't made a purchase from, yet, is Zizzo.
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Old 01-01-19, 11:49 AM
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What are you looking for?

If you buy bikes and accessories in my nearby LBS the staff puts them on for you (Its not a Folding bike Specialist , but they have a Dahon type on offer)


I cannot just take the bought bike to my local retailer to fix it afterwards ..
Sure you can, but it will not be Free... I/We, have worked on many others, left for Service.. to refurbish, repair and safety tuning..





...

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Old 01-01-19, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by tds101 View Post
ThorUSA, Downtube Folding Bikes, Origami Bicycles, and Zizzo are all reputable online companies that have excellent customer service. The only company I haven't made a purchase from, yet, is Zizzo.
They are a half hour from me, so I can go yell at them for you if needed, lol.
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Old 01-01-19, 12:44 PM
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Shipping from the US is probably a PITA from here.
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Old 01-01-19, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by plushy gopher View Post
Shipping from the US is probably a PITA from here.
You never bothered to specify where you're located, so we in the USA provided solutions based on your being a bit "local". State what country you're in, and SOMEONE should be able to get you an answer.
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Old 01-01-19, 03:45 PM
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Sorry, you are right. I had only mentioned that in my introductory post. I'm from Germany.
(I added this to my Location field now - thank you.)
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Old 01-02-19, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by plushy gopher View Post
While checking prices, I was wondering if it makes sense to buy a folding bike in an online shop with no local franchise. Although many bikes are less expensive "online", I'm always afraid of an unnecessarily complicated way to claim my warranty in case of problems. I suspect that when I make a deal with someretailer dot com, I cannot just take the bought bike to my local retailer to fix it afterwards. Has anyone of you made experiences with both and can convince me why I should/absolutely should not buy a folding bike online?
Purchasing online is generally less expensive because there is no retailer mark-up to pay. When it comes to warranty claims, we generally contact a bike shop near the customer and arrange for any repairs to be make locally.
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Old 01-02-19, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by plushy gopher View Post
While checking prices, I was wondering if it makes sense to buy a folding bike in an online shop with no local franchise. Although many bikes are less expensive "online", I'm always afraid of an unnecessarily complicated way to claim my warranty in case of problems. I suspect that when I make a deal with someretailer dot com, I cannot just take the bought bike to my local retailer to fix it afterwards. Has anyone of you made experiences with both and can convince me why I should/absolutely should not buy a folding bike online?
I'd start with you needs, knowledge and abilities. If you know exactly what you need, which bike model suits and fits to your body and use and you are able to help yourself in case of trouble little speaks against buying online apart from supporting the local business. If you do not yet know much about folders it is a good idea to test ride a few to gain a bit of experience and this is where the local shop may shine. Or not. Depends where you live. While many bikeshops in Germany have a couple of folders available today only few have a decent choice of variants and even less are knowledgable about folders. Chances are generally better in bigger cities but there are quite a few specialized shops in rural areas as well. In which area of Germany do you live?

In general, most bikeshops dislike the idea of sorting out issues on a bike that has been bought elsewhere cheaply. Something I can understand. Support your local dealer is a good concept as long as the price difference is not ridiculously high, the more if you depend on the knowledge of the dealer. If you buy from an online shop warranty is with this shop (first two years, following EU law). Which means: Ship back to the shop. As you can imagine most shops are not keen on that, not more than you are (they prefer sell and forget). Some may redirect you to a local shop for warranty repairs - you can imagine how keen the local shop may be on a warranty repair on a bike that you could have been bought through them but did not to save some Euros... Shops that do not sell a lot of folders are often not able to perform qualified repairs or maintenance on folders, at least not on their non-standard-parts like anything regarding the folding mechanism. As folders are different from each other unfortunately this differs also between brands - a Tern dealer may not be able to repair a Brompton and vice versa.

So the questions are:
1. Where do you live?
2. Do you know which bike you want to buy (and why)?
3. What do you intend to use the bike for?
4. How safe are you about your choice and about the assumptions of usage?
5. Did you already test ride a handful of different folders?
6. Are you able to deal with repairs on you own?
7. What price difference would a local support to a shop be worth to you?

Depending from your answers buying online may be a valid choice or not and it may also be possible to redirect you to a qualified nearby shop if necessary or useful.
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Old 01-02-19, 11:53 AM
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One, you have to get out of your chair and Go somewhere...

I converse over E mail and the Phone with both Bike Friday* ... and the Brompton dealers .. one in Palo Alto Cal passed away recently ,
one in Portland 'PDX' is where I go to, now. ..

neither have a grey market cutout..

* Though as My Local sees Repairs , and , I did a Post powder coat Rebuild of one ,We have a business to business relationship with the Eugene based company...

Bike Friday hand builds in their shop, ships internationally, including Germany, After sale service is shipped as well ,, people around the globe own and ride them ..

A shop in Bath , England Represents them for Europe..


Brompton has a dealer protection plan, so I cannot for example get parts From SJS Cycles in UK, but must go through a US dealer.




....

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Old 01-02-19, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I converse over E mail and the Phone with both Bike Friday ... and the Brompton dealers .. one in Palo Alto Cal passed away recently , one in Portland 'PDX' is where I go now. ..

neither have a grey market cutout..
Bike Friday does > 90% of their business online, and has good customer support. There have been reports here on Bike Forums of people buying Bike Fridays overseas. I think there was a woman in the UK that got one of their Haul-a-Day cargo bikes.

Being a small company, Bike Friday makes their own frames, but much of the rest of the bike is very generic, so you can replace most of the parts anywhere.

Brompton is a UK company. Road Trip from Germany? There should be some good European sources.

There are quite a few small Chinese direct export companies that will sell a bike anywhere you wish to buy it, but you could run into issues with longterm support if something odd breaks.
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Old 01-02-19, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Bike Friday does > 90% of their business online, and has good customer support. There have been reports here on Bike Forums of people buying Bike Fridays overseas.
Despite the undoubtable quality of BFs buying them over here does not make much sense for most people. For one as you cannot try them out, secondly because they are pretty expensive bikes in Europe due to overseas shipping cost and taxes and customs. Prices are vastly higher than in the US.

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Brompton is a UK company. Road Trip from Germany? There should be some good European sources.
Generally prices for Bromptons do not differ too much in Europe apart from the uk. UK is considerably cheaper, but Brompton dealers in the UK are not allowed to ship onto continental Europe, so buying in the UK requires a personal visit. May still be worth it but typically not pricewise for just buying a Brompton but in combination with a holiday. But around this time of the year a lot of dealers sell off their last year's stock and their demo bikes, plus some have winter rebates, so good chances to save some money within Germany as well.

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
There are quite a few small Chinese direct export companies that will sell a bike anywhere you wish to buy it, but you could run into issues with longterm support if something odd breaks.
Import duties on Chinese bikes in Europe are high:
Price + shipping cost + 19% tax (in Germany) + 14% customs + 48,5% anti-dumping customs (for bikes from China only). Plus if a bike does not conform to European safety standards it will be trashed by the customs office. A bit of a gamble if importing from China is a good idea...
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Old 01-02-19, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by berlinonaut View Post
Despite the undoubtable quality of BFs buying them over here does not make much sense for most people. For one as you cannot try them out, secondly because they are pretty expensive bikes in Europe due to overseas shipping cost and taxes and customs. Prices are vastly higher than in the US.
As mentioned, the one person on BF that had a Bike Friday sent to the UK was looking for a small cargo bike for the wife, and Bike Friday was one of the few that met her needs. Apparently it as a big hit.

But, I can understand the reluctance for their more standard folders.

Used Bike Fridays show up locally on Craigslist frequently, and there seems to be a bit of a glut at the moment.

Oops, some of the cheaper ones have vanished.
https://eugene.craigslist.org/search...ry=bike+friday
Originally Posted by berlinonaut View Post
Import duties on Chinese bikes in Europe are high:
Price + shipping cost + 19% tax (in Germany) + 14% customs + 48,5% anti-dumping customs (for bikes from China only). Plus if a bike does not conform to European safety standards it will be trashed by the customs office. A bit of a gamble if importing from China is a good idea...
WHEW!!!!

Here, pretty much anything < $800 retail for personal use gets through customs without taxes, and probably minimal inspection (which is considered to be a major problem by some of the small bike shops).

Do all those tariffs apply to used merchandise, or just new?

Other than China or Europe, does the country of origin affect it?

Oh, Germany also has the Generator law. That could be an issue, so no matter what, you could be rebuilding some wheels.
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Old 01-02-19, 01:22 PM
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You've got Vello bikes made over there, not sure if Birdys are still made in Germany. Check this list: Folding Bike Manufacturer Directory - The Folding Cyclist Some of it might be out of date.
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Old 01-02-19, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Used Bike Fridays show up locally on Craigslist frequently, and there seems to be a bit of a glut at the moment.
I own an older bike Friday that I bought used over here in Germany. Still not cheap, but I'd say worth the money. In the UK they are more common, don't know why.


Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Here, pretty much anything < $800 retail for personal use gets through customs without taxes, and probably minimal inspection (which is considered to be a major problem by some of the small bike shops).
Don't know how big the risk of inspection is - I never imported a bike from China. I'd assume if the value is above 100 there's a very high probability for taxes and customs. No idea about the conformity inspection risk. But on the other hand: Personally I think it is a good thing to have safety standards. What would they be worth if nobody would care?

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Do all those tariffs apply to used merchandise, or just new?
No idea.

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Other than China or Europe, does the country of origin affect it?
The anti-dumping tariff is especially for complete bikes coming from China to Europe. Electric bikes are not covered as far as I know. Neither are bike parts. The whole customs thing is pretty complex. Depening from what you import and from where customs are vastly different. If you are really bored one day you can spend it browsing the Taric database that list all the compbinations https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_custom...ariff/taric_en

Dahon and I think Tern, too manufacture their bikes for the European market inside Europe for these customs reasons (which AFAIK means they import the frames and parts and build the bikes in their factories in Europe).

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Oh, Germany also has the Generator law. That could be an issue, so no matter what, you could be rebuilding some wheels.
There is no more generator law for a couple of years now. You have to have lights on your bike at night in Germany and the lights have to fulfill certain standards officially but battery lights are ok. And in reality no one will check if the lights are standard compliant - the police is happy if you have lights at all (which leads to some people riding with really annyoing lights). Still dynamos are common over here - a good idea if you ride in the dark a lot and dislike thinking about batteries and lights or want to charge your smartphone while riding.
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Old 01-02-19, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Pinigis View Post
Purchasing online is generally less expensive because there is no retailer mark-up to pay. When it comes to warranty claims, we generally contact a bike shop near the customer and arrange for any repairs to be make locally.
There is some truth to this and this is the classical argument of direct sales people (and it is probably worth mentioning that with your Origami bike brand you are sitting in that boat). But in the modern world online sales are not restricted to direct sales - a lot of ordinary shops do it - and therefor an online sale neither cuts out the middleman necessarily nor is it necessarily cheaper than buying in a local shop. It depends from the product. What stays true is that an online business saves the money a local shop has to spend for a good-looking shop in an accessible area, saves cost for qualified shop assistants, saves money on demo bikes, saves money on customer support (in most cases) and warranty claims and so on and so on. It simply has a much slicker cost structure and can thus offer cheaper prices. Which may or may not result in cheaper prices for the customes and may have a price on it's own. David Hon pubished a pdf-book on folders a while ago where he categorized folding bike brands in a more granular way that I find not only interesting but really well fitting:

Different brands have different “supply chain strategies” behind the scenes that can fundamentally affect their products and services. A supply chain may be made up of three links, namely: design, production, and marketing. “Design” includes invention, engineering and product aesthetic design. It has to be a non-stop effort to improve, like anything. “Production” includes tooling, mass production and quality assurance. “Marketing” includes planning and execution of marketing/sales policies. Five different types of supply chains might be recognized (and nice to know):
  1. International companies who manage all three links; design, manufacturing and marketing. This type has the most vertical integration and can theoretically supply the best products and services for the costs; but economy-of-scale and geo-economy can be serious challenges. (This type include: Di Blasi, Dahon, Brompton, Oyama, Giant, bike Friday, Ubike, Jango.)
  2. Marketers with Designs. Marketers who do their own designs, place orders with original equipment manufacturers (OEM). Theoretically better than 1 above in division of labor. (Montague, Birdy, Raleigh, Tern, Allen Sport) Communication and shortage of over-lapping expertise can bring nagging problems.
  3. All links independent. All three chain links are handled by different companies. This type can theoretically be a nice synergy between East and West and can produce good innovative products. But problems mentioned for 2 above can be exacerbated. (Birdy, Pacific, Ubike)
  4. Importers from OEM. Western importers who buy from Asian OEM manufacturers with little designing from either party. Copying is the key. They survive by aggressive pricing and promotion.
  5. OEM manufacturers, mostly from China, who offer Folding Bicycle with their own logos, and touting “factory direct” on the Internet and other mass outlets. While typically new to quality assurance and marketing protocols, they are most price competitive. (Find them in Alibaba and Aliexpress). Again, copying is the name of the game; legal entanglement is frequent.
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Old 01-02-19, 05:27 PM
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I wonder why no sufficiently large folding bike vendor has managed to open a wide network of distributors in most countries (yet?). I mean, according to this ongoing discussion, any vendor which would have it easy on this rather empty market. Instead, there is a choice between "drive far away to a shop which may not even exist next week anymore" and "invest half of the initial price for shipping once you broke your precious driving device". Except Brompton, of course. They are surprisingly broad here in the ~ 50 km area.
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Old 01-02-19, 05:58 PM
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How mechanically inclined are you? If some part needs a bit of adjustment, is that something you feel comfortable in doing? I worked at a bike shop, I usually buy the parts and build up the bike I want. But I know people that have to go to a bike shop if they get a flat tire.

My point is that if you will likely rely heavily on local mechanical support, it is best to buy what the local mechanics are willing to work on for a reasonable fee. But if you are comfortable in doing bike repairs yourself, which includes some more complicated chores like cleaning, lubricating and eventually changing a chain, changing cables, adjusting anything that has a control cable to it, etc., then you have to consider the risk and reward for the lower on-line cost.

That said, I would not buy a complete bike from a company unless I spent at least a few hours on the internet trying to find out if the on line seller has a good reputation or not.

I am not familiar with German bike companies, thus I have no suggestions. But you have some great on line parts sellers that offer fantastic prices.

And this may be the most important criteria. Folding bikes are a compromise, you gain portability if you lose ride-ability. A tiny bike that packs up fast for a ride on the train is not expected to be a great riding fast smooth comfortable well handling bike. You only asked about folding bikes, but you did not say why you want a folding bike and which is more important to you, portability or ride-ability. In a retail store where you can talk to sales staff and maybe take a bike out for a spin around the parking lot, you may quickly find out that the bike you thought would be your dream bike is the last thing you want.
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Old 01-02-19, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
How mechanically inclined are you?
Honestly, not at all. There is no way that I could repair, let alone build a bike myself without making it worse to actually fix it.

A folding bike would have two major advantages for me:

1. I usually take a bus, I don't own a car. Taking it with me would be convenient.
2. I have an excuse to own one. A non-folding bike would probably rot in my shed because I'd never have it with me. Sometimes I need to force myself...
​​​​​​
I put some thought into the process, I guess.

My two options are a Brompton and a larger folder. Currently leaning towards the second option because even 20 inches would work in German buses and the tire market is much larger.

​​​I'll think about it for some more time.
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Old 01-02-19, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by plushy gopher View Post
Honestly, not at all. There is no way that I could repair, let alone build a bike myself without making it worse to actually fix it.
....
Then you want a brand and model that a local mechanic can work on if it needs adjusting or any repairs.

You might want to consider an internally geared hub instead of derailleurs if you get a multi-speed bike. An internally geared hub would be a bit more maintenence free.
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Old 01-02-19, 06:29 PM
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Thank you for the advice!
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Old 01-02-19, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by plushy gopher View Post
I wonder why no sufficiently large folding bike vendor has managed to open a wide network of distributors in most countries (yet?). I mean, according to this ongoing discussion, any vendor which would have it easy on this rather empty market.
Dahon, Tern and Brompton are on that road with dealers in many countries and pretty wide spread. You should have in mind that folders are more complex to work on than normal bikes (due to the folding mechanism) and for the same reason they are more expensive. Not an easy sell. In Germany folding bikes together with other "special bikes" like cargo bikes, recumbents, trikes etc. have about 1% market share. All together. Folders seem to be a bit on the rise, still it is a niche market.

Originally Posted by plushy gopher View Post
Instead, there is a choice between "drive far away to a shop which may not even exist next week anymore" and "invest half of the initial price for shipping once you broke your precious driving device".
I could not draw this conclusion from the discussion. Just the hint that a bike that is used needs some service and spare parts from time to time and that this is something to consider in your decision what and where to buy.
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Old 01-02-19, 07:00 PM
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berlinonaut
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Originally Posted by plushy gopher View Post
Honestly, not at all. There is no way that I could repair, let alone build a bike myself without making it worse to actually fix it.

A folding bike would have two major advantages for me:

1. I usually take a bus, I don't own a car. Taking it with me would be convenient.
2. I have an excuse to own one. A non-folding bike would probably rot in my shed because I'd never have it with me. Sometimes I need to force myself...
​​​​​​
I put some thought into the process, I guess.

My two options are a Brompton and a larger folder. Currently leaning towards the second option because even 20 inches would work in German buses and the tire market is much larger.

​​​I'll think about it for some more time.
The need for a competent mechanic in your area is a huge one. Regarding the smaller choice of tires for 349 in comparison to 406: In practice this is no issue at all. In a local bus a Brompton is FAR easier to store than a 20" folder. So until now a lot speaks for the Brompton. But all is theory as long as you did not test ride to see what fits you best. In the end what you want to buy it is a bike, not a piece of luggage.
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