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Arthritis & Brakes & Folding

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Arthritis & Brakes & Folding

Old 07-13-20, 01:30 PM
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Kim in Astoria
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Arthritis & Brakes & Folding

Hello all--

I live in NYC and need a bike for commuting purposes. I have arthritis in my knees & hands/wrists but I'm still young and mobile. Mostly, things hurt a little more and some things may be tiring and increasing in discomfort to do everyday. Lots of things I do every other day to give myself recovery time. Can't do that with commuting. I bought a cheap folder with 20" wheels and found it sometimes hard to fold every day, especially after using caliper brakes/v brakes to stop at lights frequently. Hands are more tired.

I need a folder to safely store my bike during work and I definitely need better gearing or parts to get more out of my effort on the various inclines of NYC. I plan to ride all weather so long as my body complies.

To accommodate this, I've found a few possibilities: Dahon with disc brakes & 18 speeds (Visc D18). I've been recommend to Brompton, with no lower a gear than 6. Brompton Junction suggested shifting the gearing for more power on the bridges (steep incline) or a Brompton electric. So now I have questions:
  • How is this model of Dahon and their disc braking? See it mentioned a couple of years ago but no long term use of it in the forum posts I found.
  • How hard is braking an electric Brompton? Are those friction brakes like I've been using?
  • Is this shifting gearing on a 6 speed enough to tackle a somewhat steep incline without pedal assist?
  • What would you choose in my place?
I'm genuinely torn.

Last edited by Kim in Astoria; 07-13-20 at 01:32 PM. Reason: Missed a period, not pregnant & spelling.
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Old 07-13-20, 02:45 PM
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Ok, first of all, quality brakes have a reach adjustment. I have super tiny hands so I had to find brakes that could be adjusted so I could stop with one finger. These brakes exist but are probably not stock on most folders - therefore you might not want to get a bike that has to use proprietary parts (unless you verify those parts will do what you want). That reach adjustment will determine how far you have to pull the lever and how much pressure you need to apply to effectively use the brakes. Don't buy a bike where you can't make that adjustment so they are
comfortable.
The difference between disc brakes and rim brakes is more about stopping power in the rain and on descents imo. Unless you're riding in the rain a lot (which you might be in NY) they aren't really necessary. So if you're going to ride in NY rain, you do want disc brakes, but again you want to make sure you can adjust the lever pull. Some brake levers require a hex key or screwdriver to adjust and some have a
little dial. You might want the ones with a dial as your physical ability might change from day to day. Search Avid FR-7 speed dial brakes for ann example.
As to gearing and your incline, it totally depends on your physical ability. I ride an 8 speed in the Bay Area and we...have....hills. But I do
have an electric assist unit I can put on my bike if I'm going to ride big hills. If you go with assist, you don't need a lot of gears. Can you get up that incline with the bike you have now? What gear are you in and what size chain ring? You can calculate the gear inches you need
with a little more data.
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Old 07-13-20, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Kim in Astoria View Post
Hello all--

I live in NYC and need a bike for commuting purposes. I have arthritis in my knees & hands/wrists but I'm still young and mobile. Mostly, things hurt a little more and some things may be tiring and increasing in discomfort to do everyday. Lots of things I do every other day to give myself recovery time. Can't do that with commuting. I bought a cheap folder with 20" wheels and found it sometimes hard to fold every day, especially after using caliper brakes/v brakes to stop at lights frequently. Hands are more tired.

I need a folder to safely store my bike during work and I definitely need better gearing or parts to get more out of my effort on the various inclines of NYC. I plan to ride all weather so long as my body complies.

To accommodate this, I've found a few possibilities: Dahon with disc brakes & 18 speeds (Visc D18). I've been recommend to Brompton, with no lower a gear than 6. Brompton Junction suggested shifting the gearing for more power on the bridges (steep incline) or a Brompton electric. So now I have questions:
  • How is this model of Dahon and their disc braking? See it mentioned a couple of years ago but no long term use of it in the forum posts I found.
  • How hard is braking an electric Brompton? Are those friction brakes like I've been using?
  • Is this shifting gearing on a 6 speed enough to tackle a somewhat steep incline without pedal assist?
  • What would you choose in my place?
I'm genuinely torn.

i would go bromptom.
you have articular problems and brompton can easily roll.
you need compactness for storage, and there is no match for brompton.
your main drawback will be winter with salt roads, as bromptom will be prone to corrosion and will need baby clean care in wintet months.
​​​​Brompton brakes are very soft and have hig/low adjust barrel.


for dahon, the fold will be bulkier and the roll will be more problematic(need balance the real whel).
i have advantages for cheaper parts, aloy built and better brake for wet enviroment.

Last edited by BromptonINrio; 07-13-20 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 07-13-20, 10:21 PM
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Astoria, Queens, NY?
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Old 07-13-20, 10:30 PM
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Yes.
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Old 07-13-20, 11:02 PM
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Kim in Astoria
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
(edit)Don't buy a bike where you can't make that adjustment so they are
comfortable.
Am I wrong thinking that any higher end bike is likely adjustable? If not, what in the specs would tell me if a bike is.

Originally Posted by linberl View Post
You might want the ones with a dial as your physical ability might change from day to day. Search Avid FR-7 speed dial brakes for an example.
Thanks. Helpful to see that.

Originally Posted by linberl View Post
As to gearing and your incline, it totally depends on your physical ability. I ride an 8 speed in the Bay Area and we...have....hills. But I do
have an electric assist unit I can put on my bike if I'm going to ride big hills. If you go with assist, you don't need a lot of gears. Can you get up that incline with the bike you have now? What gear are you in and what size chain ring? You can calculate the gear inches you need
with a little more data.
I was riding a Zizzo Via, but couldn't get up an incline on it. 7 gears. seems like the standard shimano setup as a lot of entry bikes. Not sure if it was me after 2-3 months of little movement or the bike. My mechanic suggested upgrading for the improved parts/engineering and more gears to help me climb. But I'm gun shy now.

Originally Posted by BromptonINrio View Post
i would go bromptom.
you have articular problems and brompton can easily roll.
you need compactness for storage, and there is no match for brompton.
your main drawback will be winter with salt roads, as bromptom will be prone to corrosion and will need baby clean care in wintet months.
​​​​Brompton brakes are very soft and have hig/low adjust barrel.
The compactness is it's big selling point for me and this answers some of my big questions about the braking/movement of the bike.

Originally Posted by BromptonINrio View Post
for dahon, the fold will be bulkier and the roll will be more problematic(need balance the real whel).
i have advantages for cheaper parts, aloy built and better brake for wet enviroment.
Agree. It's good to hear about the braking on Brompton. it definitely has both of these issues and all of these positives.

Thank you both! I learned new things about brakes today and just a couple of months ago and I knew nothing. :-)

Last edited by Kim in Astoria; 07-13-20 at 11:03 PM. Reason: breaking like dancing, not braking like stopping.
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Old 07-13-20, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Astoria, Queens, NY?

Haha, just noticed where you are!. This time last year I was in the other Astoria, Goonies HQ.
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Old 07-13-20, 11:25 PM
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Before you decide to "go Brompton" you need to go test ride one, and not just for 15 minutes. Bromptons are, like many folders, designed as one-size-fits-all and the fact is they don't. They fit a large range of people within certain dimensions, but if you are short like me (5'4") and have a shortish reach, then none of the stock handlebar setups may be comfortable. Brompton's solution is a pentaclip to move the saddle forward but that alters the relationship of your knees to the pedals and to your hips; it's not a good way to fix a bad reach. They are nice bikes but make sure (1) it fits, and (2) you like the brakes because the parts are pretty much all proprietary. They're also heavy so if you have a walkup flat and no elevator, make sure you are comfortable hefting a 26+ bike plus accessories and whatever else you're carrying.
I don't know if Bfold is still around, but if they are, and they're open these days, it's a good place to check out folders. They're knowledgeable folks.
I think you need to decide if you want to go electric - because if you don't then you will definitely want at least a double chain ring, but if you do go electric, you don't need that many gears. You would probably only use one or two gears for your ride and let the motor substitute for the other gearing. So a 3 speed Brompton electrified would likely be just fine for your needs.
There are other options for electric assist for Brompton besides the one they sell, so if you decide to do that, post in the electric bike forum for suggestions on systems.
Oh - and don't assume a higher end bike will have easily adjusted reach brakes. Higher end usually means lighter weight and more mechanical advantage but not necessarily more user friendly or ergonomic. In your case, test ride test ride test ride.
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Old 07-14-20, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
Before you decide to "go Brompton" you need to go test ride one, and not just for 15 minutes. Bromptons are, like many folders, designed as one-size-fits-all and the fact is they don't. They fit a large range of people within certain dimensions, but if you are short like me (5'4") and have a shortish reach, then none of the stock handlebar setups may be comfortable. Brompton's solution is a pentaclip to move the saddle forward but that alters the relationship of your knees to the pedals and to your hips; it's not a good way to fix a bad reach. They are nice bikes but make sure (1) it fits, and (2) you like the brakes because the parts are pretty much all proprietary. They're also heavy so if you have a walkup flat and no elevator, make sure you are comfortable hefting a 26+ bike plus accessories and whatever else you're carrying.
I don't know if Bfold is still around, but if they are, and they're open these days, it's a good place to check out folders. They're knowledgeable folks.
I think you need to decide if you want to go electric - because if you don't then you will definitely want at least a double chain ring, but if you do go electric, you don't need that many gears. You would probably only use one or two gears for your ride and let the motor substitute for the other gearing. So a 3 speed Brompton electrified would likely be just fine for your needs.
There are other options for electric assist for Brompton besides the one they sell, so if you decide to do that, post in the electric bike forum for suggestions on systems.
Oh - and don't assume a higher end bike will have easily adjusted reach brakes. Higher end usually means lighter weight and more mechanical advantage but not necessarily more user friendly or ergonomic. In your case, test ride test ride test ride.
I am 5'4". and that's a definite problem for me, but it may be an issue with a Dahon or any bike really. I am used to hefting weight around so weight under 30 lbs is fine as I reduce stairs as much as I can in my life, but I do theater and film so traveling lots of or heavy things around is normal.

Bfold has nothing left in stock online, like most bike shops in NYC. I sold my Via today for remarkably little loss of value because it's hard to get a bike and mid-range bikes are sold out. I honestly thought it would take a while so I put it up this morning, thinking I'd run errands this week and sell this weekend. Gone in less than 20 hours and only cause I scheduled end of work day for pickup. I'm seeing signs that the stock is improving but it's still an empty market with incredible demand. I assume it is like that everywhere, but here a lot of people are moving to commuting via bike for safety. And there are a lot of us here. I need my bike because I'm vulnerable and I can't use public transportation during this pandemic and taxis/ubers are easily $50-70 for me into the city each way and that adds up for doctor's office visits and daily commutes (which may start in August or may start in April. I still need blood work, though and to shop.) Going to bfold would cost me $140 if they have nothing on hand.

I've realized that for a bike that will end up functioning like a car, I need a really well built bike. I need it before end of November, when Bike Friday delivers. Brompton Junction is getting once a month shipments, but appointments are booked out about a 3-4 weeks now. I made an appointment on one of the first days they were open this month and still am 10 days from the appointment where I can buy a bike. if I buy one it's going to come from what they have on hand. I need my bike as soon as possible so I'm not wanting to futz too much aftermarket to add electric or swap parts. I'm too green to feel comfortable doing that and can't afford the delay if I do need pedal assist to make it to Manhattan. Unless the bike shop in walking distance is stocked (no folders) or it's used, I'm probably not going to get to test ride most bikes. It's probably being shipped directly to me. I do plan on arriving early enough to test ride both powered and regular Bromptons since it's a large outlay of cash.

This is the problem with shopping now when you need it. I can't tool around the way you're suggesting. Totally understandable suggestions, but not practical now.
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Old 07-14-20, 02:54 AM
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Originally Posted by BromptonINrio View Post
i would go bromptom.
your main drawback will be winter with salt roads, as bromptom will be prone to corrosion and will need baby clean care in wintet months.
.
Spray them with "acf-50 anti corrosion".
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Old 07-14-20, 03:06 AM
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regarding the brakes, I found that triple compound pads are superb; I went from std pads on the dahon to the triple compound and it does brake so much that is surprised me a little on the first test.
Other thing to look at is the cable setup up, avoid tight housing bend and make sure the housing are good quality. My rear are tighter than the front because it has several bends and road shifter lever with less mechanical advantage (not an issue but noticeable).
As I mention mechanical advantage, you could look a "kids levers" too. My daughter rides a Frog with kids lever that have a slightly greater mechanical advantage so that she can apply the required fore to the brake pad but with the force of a young children... I was impressed with that to the point that I will fit a set of lever on my wife bike.


And, yes brompton is best but expensive (initial purchase & maintenance) compared to Dahon. If you can find a dahon curve SL with derailler (not a rear hub). These are not bad to fold, 16" wheels (can put kojak tyres for rolling), fitted with classic MTB transmission.

Last edited by Fentuz; 07-14-20 at 03:10 AM.
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Old 07-14-20, 03:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Fentuz View Post
Spray them with "acf-50 anti corrosion".
​​​​
Sure, there are many solutions and ways to counter corrosion on northen salty citie roads.
My main point is that even cars dont last mutch on that enviroment. Ny/nj/chicago cars have litle to none resell value for that matter.
bromptom, as its made out enterely cromoly steel will need hardcore care on new york winter months to avoid beein oblitarated by salt/snow.
The salitre conditons on cold cities wasnt an issue for british makers, as in london is rare to have a snowfall on winter.
I wouldnt even use it on thath condition and save it only for spring/autuum/summer.

Last edited by BromptonINrio; 07-14-20 at 03:31 AM.
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Old 07-14-20, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by BromptonINrio View Post
​​​​
Sure, there are many solutions and ways to counter corrosion on northen salty citie roads.
My main point is that even cars dont last mutch on that enviroment. Ny/nj/chicago cars have litle to none resell value for that matter.
bromptom, as its made out enterely cromoly steel will need hardcore care on new york winter months to avoid beein oblitarated by salt/snow.
The salitre conditons on cold cities wasnt an issue for british makers, as in london is rare to have a snowfall on winter.
I wouldnt even use it on thath condition and save it only for spring/autuum/summer.
trust salt is a problem here too. For example some car brake pads that work in winter in mainland europe crumble in the UK after having been in contact with The type of salt on the road.
acf 50 is one of the rare product that keeps lotus chassis free from corrosion; the Early chassis have a design fault aluminium with steel insert causing galvanic corrosion.

acf50 is a coating so when you clean properly (not just a wet wise or quick jetwash) , it goes and you need to reapply
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Old 07-14-20, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Kim in Astoria View Post
I am 5'4". and that's a definite problem for me, but it may be an issue with a Dahon or any bike really. I am used to hefting weight around so weight under 30 lbs is fine as I reduce stairs as much as I can in my life, but I do theater and film so traveling lots of or heavy things around is normal.

Bfold has nothing left in stock online, like most bike shops in NYC. I sold my Via today for remarkably little loss of value because it's hard to get a bike and mid-range bikes are sold out. I honestly thought it would take a while so I put it up this morning, thinking I'd run errands this week and sell this weekend. Gone in less than 20 hours and only cause I scheduled end of work day for pickup. I'm seeing signs that the stock is improving but it's still an empty market with incredible demand. I assume it is like that everywhere, but here a lot of people are moving to commuting via bike for safety. And there are a lot of us here. I need my bike because I'm vulnerable and I can't use public transportation during this pandemic and taxis/ubers are easily $50-70 for me into the city each way and that adds up for doctor's office visits and daily commutes (which may start in August or may start in April. I still need blood work, though and to shop.) Going to bfold would cost me $140 if they have nothing on hand.

I've realized that for a bike that will end up functioning like a car, I need a really well built bike. I need it before end of November, when Bike Friday delivers. Brompton Junction is getting once a month shipments, but appointments are booked out about a 3-4 weeks now. I made an appointment on one of the first days they were open this month and still am 10 days from the appointment where I can buy a bike. if I buy one it's going to come from what they have on hand. I need my bike as soon as possible so I'm not wanting to futz too much aftermarket to add electric or swap parts. I'm too green to feel comfortable doing that and can't afford the delay if I do need pedal assist to make it to Manhattan. Unless the bike shop in walking distance is stocked (no folders) or it's used, I'm probably not going to get to test ride most bikes. It's probably being shipped directly to me. I do plan on arriving early enough to test ride both powered and regular Bromptons since it's a large outlay of cash.

This is the problem with shopping now when you need it. I can't tool around the way you're suggesting. Totally understandable suggestions, but not practical now.
Fitment isn't as big an issue with Dahon or Bike Friday or other brands. Brompton uses proprietary parts and that can be very limiting. With a Dahon you can always use an aber hallo adapter to move the bars closer if needed. With Bike Friday and other folders that use traditional ahead set stems, you can just swap to a shorter stem. But - it's more about that ratio of leg/torso/arms than total height. If you're more torse and arms, a Brompton might fit you fine.
It sucks to have to buy a bike "under the gun" which is the situation a lot of folks are in now with limited inventory and limited shops. Perennial Cycles has some in stock and shipping Brommies is very easy. https://www.perennialcycle.com/bikes.../brompton.html
Also, there's a cool e-bike assist unit available for Brompton by a guy who lives in NY and rides a Brommie. I have it on my Bike Friday and also swap it on to my Dahon. There are some other folks in NY who have them on Brommies also. You might want to reach out to him and see if he can either put you in touch with some of the other users, to hear about their experiences, or see if you can maybe even test ride his bike. Also, there is a review of a guy with a Brommie using it (https://electricbikereview.com/forum...rompton.35213/), The inventor is Jeff, the product is OneMotor (https://onemotor.co) and I've had mine a year and 1 month and love it. It might work for you once you get your bike.
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Old 07-14-20, 12:40 PM
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Only Bike Friday has made their building process adjustable enough to offer a bike frame sized to the rider,
but they also build your bike in a Queue with the other orders. so don t have a warehouse of ready to ship bikes...

they do make some models which are themselves adjustable , if that is what may suit you , call them and ask..

they offer disc brakes on their 20" wheel bikes..

NB : A hydraulic hose fluid has no friction .

though as it is the front brake takes a very light touch
I put a TRP Hy Rd cable actuated hydraulic on after finding BB7 had little modulation.. (on or off)








...

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-14-20 at 07:21 PM.
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Old 07-14-20, 06:35 PM
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Try to test an H model Brompton if you can. It's marketed to taller riders but I'm 5'-6" with arthritis in my wrists and couldn't make the M bar work. The H is taller and works for me tilted back a bit from the way you usually see them in pics.
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Old 07-14-20, 07:27 PM
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True .. + the H can always be altered with a lower rise handlebar.. there are plenty of options there...
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Old 07-14-20, 11:13 PM
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I'm new so I was limited to 5 posts and I needed to wait after my last post yesterday.

Originally Posted by Fentuz
acf50 is a coating so when you clean properly (not just a wet wise or quick jetwash) , it goes and you need to reapply


Sounds like the underarmour we'd put on our cars to preserve it in Detroit. Good to know that exists for bikes. I'll chat with the Brompton shop & my mechanic about winterizing/frame coating. Realistically, I expect a second wave (sobering a thought as it is) to curtail any commute need at the height of winter for this year at least.

Originally Posted by linberl View Post
Also, there's a cool e-bike assist unit available for Brompton by a guy who lives in NY and rides a Brommie. I have it on my Bike Friday and also swap it on to my Dahon. There are some other folks in NY who have them on Brommies also. You might want to reach out to him and see if he can either put you in touch with some of the other users, to hear about their experiences, or see if you can maybe even test ride his bike. Also, there is a review of a guy with a Brommie using it The inventor is Jeff, the product is OneMotor and I've had mine a year and 1 month and love it. It might work for you once you get your bike.
Thank you for this, I expect I may end up with a couple of bikes and may want some sort of motor for days when I can't go by my strength. This would be the perfect solution for me.

Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Only Bike Friday has made their building process adjustable enough to offer a bike frame sized to the rider,
but they also build your bike in a Queue with the other orders. so don t have a warehouse of ready to ship bikes....
I have been looking at a Bike Friday since I started looking into folding bikes years ago and was sorry the delay was so long to get one, However, yesterday I found a pocket llama, complete with touring racks, that my mechanic thought just needed a tuneup and would be great for me, so I pulled the trigger on that at a great price. No discs, but I'm hoping the brake levers can be adjusted or swapped for levers I can adjust. It's the kind of find that even if I decide the Brompton is a better NYC commuter, I can't afford to not buy at the value. (Got it for $600, with shipping & tax came to 750.)

Honestly shopping for bikes made me so much more interested in touring bikes. I love the idea when the pandemic passes of taking a train with a folder into Boston or Provincetown and exploring New England on a long weekend with the bike as my primary means of transport. Or like now, taking an Amtrak into Finger Lakes for the day or just reaching a beach that's outside of walking distance and Public Transportation. It genuinely makes my heart happy to be free to really explore, so I'm super stoked about the possibilities of it. But first to get into shape for that!

Originally Posted by Joe Remi View Post
Try to test an H model Brompton if you can. It's marketed to taller riders but I'm 5'-6" with arthritis in my wrists and couldn't make the M bar work. The H is taller and works for me tilted back a bit from the way you usually see them in pics.
This is good to hear. I've been looking at handlebars generally and realizing that my be the big mod I do on all my bikes for comfort and painfree travel. The Bike Friday I found has H handlebars, so I will get to see how they work for me.

Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
True .. + the H can always be altered with a lower rise handlebar.. there are plenty of options there...
I have no idea what this means. Please enlighten me. :-)

Last edited by Kim in Astoria; 07-14-20 at 11:17 PM.
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Old 07-15-20, 08:53 AM
  #19  
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Welcome to the Bike Friday Family!! I owned a NWT and now ride the BF pakiT (which I use my motor on along with a Dahon). BF are fully customizable with standard parts so you will be able to adjust everything to suit you. You can replace your bars with swept back bars if you like an upright position more (you might then need to use a shorter stem but that's easy). If the bars are too low for you and flipping the
stem up or down doesn't resolve it, you can order an entirely new stem mast cut to your preferred length from BF. If they are too high, you can have your local shop cut the stem mast down (do it incrementally, not all at once obviously). You can change the gearing, as well as the
size of the front chain ring. You can change the brake levers without changing any cabling. First thing if the Llama doesn't have it is to put kool stop pads on your brakes. They work great. Please post some pics when you can. Now the Llama doesn't fold all tiny and cute like a Brompton, but you can very quickly fold the rear triangle back under and reduce the size of the bike to store somewhere without doing
anything else. It folds the same as my NWT did; I often just folded the rear under, velcroed the wheel in place so it wouldn't fall, and stored it like that. You're gonna love your BF!

And, btw, Jeff has already designed and sold mounts for his OneMotor for the regular Bike Friday frames like yours, so it'll work just fine.
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Old 07-15-20, 01:45 PM
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Also now that you're "one of the fold" you might find the Bike Friday community interesting. https://www.facebook.com/groups/bike...d=177147215204
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