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Another "help a newbie" thread

Old 06-04-22, 06:31 AM
  #1  
HumanPerson
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Another "help a newbie" thread

I've done a bunch of reading and plan to visit my LBS that has some folders (Brompton and Dahon). I would love some advice from experienced folks.

Some details about me:
* your weight (bikes have weight limits): Under 115 lbs (52 kg).
* how tall you are (almost all folding bikes are size medium, ie 22" (55cm) equiv. top tube length): Just under 5'6" (167 cm) with somewhat long arms and legs for my height and gender (I'm female).
* your budget: I could pay several thousand if needed but would obviously prefer less.
* what you intend to use the bike for (eg touring, commuting, casual park riding, shopping, MTB-ing etc): A short commute. The walking distance is a mile one way. Google maps says 52' up and 10' down. Roads have many potholes (I'm in the northeast). Heavy traffic. There's no bike parking at work and I plan to put the bike under my desk.
* what country you are in, as countries tend to have different choices: USA
* your riding experience: Inexperienced in riding and maintaining bicycles. I re-learned how to ride a bike as an adult in late 2019. I used my instructor's folder (don't know the details but it was some kind of Breezer x Toyota collab). I managed to get a refurbished Zizzo Liberte in fall 2020. I rode it for fun around my deserted campus and then put it on a trainer that winter. I had a concussion (not bike related) so I had to keep the bike on the trainer then gave it away when I moved. I last rode a bike outside more than a year ago.

Other context: I'm fairly new to this job and the only person with a human-powered commute right now. I want a bike I can easily keep out of the way. Ideally I would be able to carry it into the office and fit it in a case of some kind. (The floors are kind of grody most of the time, but I don't want to give anyone cause for complaint.)

I have a connective tissue disease so I take longer build strength/recover from hard efforts and have joints that are easily annoyed. I have struggled up inclines that other people didn't know were there. I don't mind pushing the bike but am somewhat nervous about running out of steam in traffic. I'm also nervous about twitchy steering.

What I'm thinking: I have some competing needs/wants here. I want something that folds fast, easy, and compact (Brompton) but also something that's sensible for a newer, unskillful rider on poorly maintained roads (not Brompton). I'm tempted by pedal assist but also thinking about the added weight and my ability to control the bike. Safety is obviously the top priority.

I'm thinking of just getting another Liberte and equipping it for commuting. I don't know if it's better to buy directly from the bike shop.

The ask: Does anyone have suggestions for me? I'm open to suggestions for bikes or brands, things to consider in making my purchase, advice for re-acclimating...anything.

I'm at that point where I'm thinking/reading myself in circles. I appreciate any and all help.
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Old 06-04-22, 09:14 AM
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These are excellent folding bikes, and they won't break the bank:

​​​​​​https://www.origamibicycles.com/
​​​​​​https://zizzo.bike/

They're in the USA, the companies are known for excellent customer service, and Pinigis (the owner of Origami Bikes) is a forum member and answers questions quite quickly.

There's also Dahon, Tern, and a few more to choose from, all at various price points. thorusa.com is the North American distributor/representative of Dahon bikes, and they're also quite good when it comes to customer service.
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Old 06-04-22, 02:28 PM
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Given that you're challenged by hills and have joint issues, you're likely to want a low gear much lower than you'll find on factory folders. I don't know if your research has made you conversant with gearing terminology; it's worth understanding gear inches - the transmission ratio (chainring tooth count divided by rear sprocket tooth count) times wheel diameter. Bike tourers, who pedal heavy loads up steep hills at brisk-walking speed, often have low gears in the range of 18-20"; folders often come with low gears of more than 30". The Origami Bull, for example, although a 9-speed which touts wide gear range, has a 13-32 cassette & 52t chainring; 52/32 x 20" = a 32.5" low gear.

With the right bike, gear range can be extended straightforwardly, by swapping in different drive train components (cassettes at the back, chainrings or cranksets at the front, and derailleurs & shifters if you want to go further), which your local bike shop can do at reasonable cost. For example an 11-34 cassette with a 34t chainring would give you a 20" low gear and a 62" high gear.

It's important to avoid a rear wheel with what's called a freewheel - an older system (obsolete except on the lowest rungs of the market) which makes swapping cassettes or individual sprockets more difficult, with fewer options. You want a freehub, which permits alternate cassettes to be easily slipped on. And you'll want a freehub that comes with at least 8 speeds; 7 speed hubs are too narrow for cassettes with more sprockets, while 8-10 speed cassettes all fit on the same hubs. A great resource on this & other bike topics is Sheldon Brown.

Potholes argue for larger wheels (not Brompton's 16") and wider tires (e.g. 2"). Best wishes!
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Old 06-04-22, 02:59 PM
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Op,

You sound quite intelligent and experienced.

What sorta of limitations do you have? Is the stand over height a big deal (my Kung Fu teacher can't get his leg over his toptube due to a leg injury)? Do you have issues with lifting weights up stairs?

​​​​​​
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Old 06-04-22, 03:03 PM
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With your constrain to put the bike under your desk and the short distance to ride, the Brompton seems the perfect answer to your needs.

If you can buy a Riese & Müller or Pacific Cycles Birdy, you will have almost the same folded size + 2" wide tires + full suspension.
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Old 06-05-22, 06:40 AM
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Look at the folding bikes sold by bikefriday.com
Since your budget permits, consider Rohloff hub.
If you choose not to go for a belt drive, have a chainglider fitted to the chain.
Almost zero maintenance and bikefriday will build to measure.

If you are not certain about long term use, look at downtube.com
Go for their 8-speed alfine model.
Owner, Yan, is on this forum.
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Old 06-05-22, 07:13 AM
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Late to this thread but previous posts have given excellent, if conflicting at times, information. Takeaways from #3 very important. As noted, since road quality is low, wheel size will be important. The storage solution under desk and low quality roads = the Tern BYB series of compact fold 20" bikes! These are new to me and almost slid by my awareness since I have no need for such a thing. I wondered why the Universe was telling me about them till just now :-) Looked at the Thor USA link and they are closing up end of August! IMO they are the ones to see about a Tern, and then a local bike shop can see about getting some lower gears on it, maybe even e-assist. Good thing money is no object! This is doable. Good luck.
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Old 06-05-22, 12:23 PM
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Thank you tds101, Antifriction, mlau, Jipe, anga, and Leiseturm for your advice and encouragement. It is much appreciated!

Originally Posted by mlau View Post
What sorta of limitations do you have? Is the stand over height a big deal (my Kung Fu teacher can't get his leg over his toptube due to a leg injury)? Do you have issues with lifting weights up stairs?​​​​​​
I still have good range of motion, but thanks for putting stand over height on my radar. Lifting heavy things, on stairs or otherwise, is a challenge for me. I'm hoping to carry the bike only from the front door of my work building to my desk on the first floor. If it's too heavy, I'll have to figure out a solution.
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Old 06-05-22, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by tds101 View Post
These are excellent folding bikes, and they won't break the bank:

​​​​​​https://www.origamibicycles.com/
​​​​​​https://zizzo.bike/

They're in the USA, the companies are known for excellent customer service, and Pinigis (the owner of Origami Bikes) is a forum member and answers questions quite quickly.

There's also Dahon, Tern, and a few more to choose from, all at various price points. thorusa.com is the North American distributor/representative of Dahon bikes, and they're also quite good when it comes to customer service.
sorry, I haven’t been on in a few days. I am happy to answer any Origami questions that you have.
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Old 06-06-22, 02:50 AM
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If you need to store the folded bike under your desk, almost all folding bikes that are folding in their center like Dahon, Tern... are much bigger folded and much more difficult to carry folded than the Brompton (and Birdy), one example below, you can see that huge difference in length and width that make it much more difficult to carry folded.

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Old 06-07-22, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Late to this thread but previous posts have given excellent, if conflicting at times, information. Takeaways from #3 very important. As noted, since road quality is low, wheel size will be important. The storage solution under desk and low quality roads = the Tern BYB series of compact fold 20" bikes! These are new to me and almost slid by my awareness since I have no need for such a thing. I wondered why the Universe was telling me about them till just now :-) Looked at the Thor USA link and they are closing up end of August! IMO they are the ones to see about a Tern, and then a local bike shop can see about getting some lower gears on it, maybe even e-assist. Good thing money is no object! This is doable. Good luck.
I'd like to second the Tern BYB. Folds up a bit taller than, but with a similar footprint to, the Brompton, but has a *much* steadier ride, and 20" wheels. I bought mine thinking I would use it situationally, but it has ended up replacing my full-size bike for any transportation cycling I need to do.
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Old 06-07-22, 11:25 PM
  #12  
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A
Originally Posted by HumanPerson View Post
I've done a bunch of reading and plan to visit my LBS that has some folders (Brompton and Dahon). I would love some advice from experienced folks.

Some details about me:
* your weight (bikes have weight limits): Under 115 lbs (52 kg).
* how tall you are (almost all folding bikes are size medium, ie 22" (55cm) equiv. top tube length): Just under 5'6" (167 cm) with somewhat long arms and legs for my height and gender (I'm female).
* your budget: I could pay several thousand if needed but would obviously prefer less.
* what you intend to use the bike for (eg touring, commuting, casual park riding, shopping, MTB-ing etc): A short commute. The walking distance is a mile one way. Google maps says 52' up and 10' down. Roads have many potholes (I'm in the northeast). Heavy traffic. There's no bike parking at work and I plan to put the bike under my desk.
* what country you are in, as countries tend to have different choices: USA
* your riding experience: Inexperienced in riding and maintaining bicycles. I re-learned how to ride a bike as an adult in late 2019. I used my instructor's folder (don't know the details but it was some kind of Breezer x Toyota collab). I managed to get a refurbished Zizzo Liberte in fall 2020. I rode it for fun around my deserted campus and then put it on a trainer that winter. I had a concussion (not bike related) so I had to keep the bike on the trainer then gave it away when I moved. I last rode a bike outside more than a year ago.

Other context: I'm fairly new to this job and the only person with a human-powered commute right now. I want a bike I can easily keep out of the way. Ideally I would be able to carry it into the office and fit it in a case of some kind. (The floors are kind of grody most of the time, but I don't want to give anyone cause for complaint.)

I have a connective tissue disease so I take longer build strength/recover from hard efforts and have joints that are easily annoyed. I have struggled up inclines that other people didn't know were there. I don't mind pushing the bike but am somewhat nervous about running out of steam in traffic. I'm also nervous about twitchy steering.

What I'm thinking: I have some competing needs/wants here. I want something that folds fast, easy, and compact (Brompton) but also something that's sensible for a newer, unskillful rider on poorly maintained roads (not Brompton). I'm tempted by pedal assist but also thinking about the added weight and my ability to control the bike. Safety is obviously the top priority.

I'm thinking of just getting another Liberte and equipping it for commuting. I don't know if it's better to buy directly from the bike shop.

The ask: Does anyone have suggestions for me? I'm open to suggestions for bikes or brands, things to consider in making my purchase, advice for re-acclimating...anything.

I'm at that point where I'm thinking/reading myself in circles. I appreciate any and all help.

I am unsure of your use case.
Is it a cycle only commute to the workplace or a public transport+cycle journey.
For the former, the distance is short and I'd recommend you get back that Zizzo Liberte since its cheap and you are familiar with it.
Its also cheap enough that if the traffic is too heavy/scary/dangerous, you can decide to not use the bike after a few months and not be forced to use it because you paid too much.

If its Transport+Cycle, then the Zizzo Liberte is fine since you are familiar with it and its folding+pushing when folded.

I find it hard to recommend a Brompton.
Its a larger purchase commitment for a very short commute and you seem to be looking for functionality/practicality than going more serious for cycling. (and even then that Liberte or the like will suffice too )
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Old 06-08-22, 11:28 AM
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Light, small-folding, fast-folding bikes I might recommend for a very short, 'last mile' commute...if only they were available in the USA!

Dahon Curve
Dahon EEZZ D3
Dahon K3
Dahon Qix D3
Hummingbird 4
Strida Evo
Strida 5 w/ Efneo

Heavy traffic.


This concerns me greatly. Are there bike lanes? Is there a parallel quiet route?
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Old 06-08-22, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
Light, small-folding, fast-folding bikes I might recommend for a very short, 'last mile' commute...if only they were available in the USA!

Dahon Curve
Dahon EEZZ D3
Dahon K3
Dahon Qix D3
Hummingbird 4
Strida Evo
Strida 5 w/ Efneo
You might want to add the Origami Lotus to that list. It is light and nimble, great for congested areas.
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Old 06-08-22, 04:02 PM
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And Thor was banned for promoting his business.
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Old 06-09-22, 04:54 AM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
And Thor was banned for promoting his business.
Origami was suggested in the first reply to this thread, I am just noting the model that would best fit the list provided.
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Old 06-09-22, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by pinholecam View Post
I find it hard to recommend a Brompton.
Its a larger purchase commitment for a very short commute and you seem to be looking for functionality/practicality than going more serious for cycling. (and even then that Liberte or the like will suffice too )
The Brompton is ideal for short commute, mixing transportation (bike+bus, train, car...) and storage in a small place.

Its one of the folder than provides the most functionality and practicality with its good riding performances, small folded size, ease to carry and store, many luggage options. Its also one of the folding bikes that is the most robust allowing several folding/unfolding every day all year long during many years what several aluminum folding bike do not accept. The comparison picture I posted with a typical Dahon bike show the huge difference in size and ease to carry folded.

For the price, yes its more expensive than cheap china made folding bikes made for leisure/occasional use, but compared to good quality bikes its not very expensive at all.
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Old 06-09-22, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Jipe View Post
For the price, yes its more expensive than cheap china made folding bikes made for leisure/occasional use, but compared to good quality bikes its not very expensive at all.
I don't think you can write off Dahons and Terns and Giants as "cheap China made folding bikes". The mid and top tier models of those companies are very nice bikes, and 20" wheels strike a practical balance in real world road conditions. The compact fold Tern BYB models give the Brommies a good run for the money. Literally for the money, the Tern is $1299. The bottom feeder Brompton's are undoubtedly much more than that. Why? For an RV or boat and if you have the $$$ burning a hole ... why not? But if you want value and performance. I wouldn't count the big names out.
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Old 06-09-22, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by HumanPerson View Post
Thank you tds101, Antifriction, mlau, Jipe, anga, and Leiseturm for your advice and encouragement. It is much appreciated!



I still have good range of motion, but thanks for putting stand over height on my radar. Lifting heavy things, on stairs or otherwise, is a challenge for me. I'm hoping to carry the bike only from the front door of my work building to my desk on the first floor. If it's too heavy, I'll have to figure out a solution.
These bikes are rarely very light. But, I've read your o.p. again. I have to really echo a later posters concerns about your lack of experience with heavy traffic in an urban environment. It really isn't for the faint of heart. Honestly, if it was me, I would WALK the mile to the office and call it very, very good. I doubt you could ride one mile significantly faster than you could walk. Two miles and more, yes. But one mile ... yeah, you'd be five minutes faster on the bike. Is that worth $600 for an Origami or low end Dahon type folder, $1299 for the Tern BYB, or $1600+ for a Bromton, Birdy type folder?

Last edited by Leisesturm; 06-09-22 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 06-09-22, 01:27 PM
  #20  
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Consider the Bike Friday diamond frame Llama. You can get it with e-assist (which is the ultimate confidence booster if you're worried about pooping out during a ride). You don't need to use the e-assist and it won't drag you down to ride with it off but it's there should you want it. Pedal assist is not scary and easy to control and you set the levels so you'd start out with the slowest obviously. I find level 1 assist usually just adds a couple mph, nothing overwhelming at all. The Llama is designed to be usable off road one of the very few folders that are and fits wide tires which make crappy streets a lot more pleasant.. Even with assist you can get the bike weight down substantially when you choose your build components; makes going up stairs easier. You can get a Lot more gears than a Brompton wiht BF. It's not going to fold like a Brompton but it folds well enough to tuck out of the way in an office. You won't want to fold it constantly for multi-modal transport (BF has a better model for that but it's not okay off road). Packs easily for touring; fits in a suitcase. The cost depends on what components you want and whether there's a "preloved" one available in your size. Imo no other folder rides as well because there is no hinge, but everyone has their opinion. I'd suggest the BF pakiT which meets all your needs except it's not great for really ****** roads with 16" tires.

Last edited by linberl; 06-09-22 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 06-09-22, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
I don't think you can write off Dahons and Terns and Giants as "cheap China made folding bikes". The mid and top tier models of those companies are very nice bikes, and 20" wheels strike a practical balance in real world road conditions. The compact fold Tern BYB models give the Brommies a good run for the money. Literally for the money, the Tern is $1299. The bottom feeder Brompton's are undoubtedly much more than that. Why? For an RV or boat and if you have the $$$ burning a hole ... why not? But if you want value and performance. I wouldn't count the big names out.
Dahon has a huge number of models, starting with very cheap bikes and ending with expensive ones.

In this thread, the posts were only considering the low end folding bikes with a price of $500-600, not the high end expensive ones.

It seems that the most important here is not high riding performances but well folded size and ease of use. In this case, the Brompton is a very good solution. Most Dahon and Tern and Giant are bigger folded. The Tern BYB has a very complex folding.

Another excellent option with better riding performance and much better comfort is the Birdy but its even more expensive that the Brompton.
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Old 06-09-22, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Jipe View Post
The Tern BYB has a very complex folding.
It's really not bad at all. It's three latches, same as a Brompton.
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Old 06-09-22, 11:19 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by willydstyle View Post
It's really not bad at all. It's three latches, same as a Brompton.
The BYB has 2 latches on its main frame while the Brompton has only one.

The other folding axle of the Brompton is its rear suspension axle (the BYB has no suspension at all).

Both have also a latch on their stem.

The BYB seatpost is in two pieces with two latches while the Brompton has only one latch on its standard and extended seatpost.

Comparing with the Birdy, the Birdy has a single piece main frame, without any latches. It folds with its front and rear suspension axles (the Birdy is a full suspension folding bike and accepts 2"/50mm wide tires). It has one latch on its stem and one for its seatpost.

For the manufacturer announced folding sizes, the BYB is bigger than both the Brompton and Birdy:
- Brompton: 565mm long, 585mm high and 270mm wide
- Birdy: 720mm long, 610mm high and 330mm wide
- BYB: 810mm long, 520mm high and 350mm wide

Last edited by Jipe; 06-09-22 at 11:31 PM.
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Old 06-10-22, 04:50 AM
  #24  
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Thank you Pinigis, Jipe, willydstyle, pinholecam, tcs, Leisesturm, and linberl. I didn't expect this post to attract so much attention! You've all given me much to think about.

Thank you, especially, for the cautions about traffic. I'm going to contact some folks in the area for advice.
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Old 06-10-22, 10:05 AM
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The most difficult is now for you: choose which one you will buy !
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