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Weird use-case advice

Old 08-28-22, 06:10 AM
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mobamoba
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Weird use-case advice

So I've been researching for months before posting here - read a bajillion reviews here, the web - and what I'm looking for is odd enough that I felt I needed a bit more help in choosing the right bike. I live in Brooklyn so made the exec decision that whatever bike I get absolutely 100% must be folding because, having had my regular bike stolen twice while locked up in broad daylight, I'd rather have a bike that will never be locked up because it's never leaving my side. This, of course, means fold size and, to an extent, weight are important though I've noticed with some folding bikes I've held that in some ways actual weight is less important than "unwieldiness" like while the Dahon Mariner isn't super heavy I found it to be bulky and unpleasant to carry plus there's no way a bar or restaurant would let me bring something like that inside as it just looks too big. So that's condition one: folding bike that looks slim enough when folded that I can bring it everywhere rather than lock it up.

However... that use case - urban, running errands, NYC is pretty flat - buts up against condition two (and I don't have room for two bikes so am looking for an all-in-one solution) which is: like many New Yorkers I don't have a car meaning, in the case of an emergency (like a citywide blackout or something) I want a means of transportation to get out of the city to family that's around say 40 miles away in New Jersey. I mean if there's a blackout, there's no subway and I'm guessing every Uber will be totally booked so I want a means of getting myself out without relying on anyone else.

Thus I started thinking about folding ebikes because I kept thinking 16" tires (or even 20") would suck for 30/40 miles without pedal assist. And then I began thinking... well maybe I'd be better off with a regular folding bike and a Swytch with an extra battery since I noticed that a large chunk of folding ebikes don't have swappable batteries meaning you're stuck with whatever range they have before needing to recharge. And then I started getting very confused and came here to post.

I've considered :

Brompton
Birdy
Bike Friday Pakit
Tern BYB

I realize these are expensive brands and spending a ton of money on something that I know won't be used much (I work for myself so no commute) isn't my goal but I realize it's a likely outcome of my two conditions since my bike must function as something that will never leave my side AND get me out of town in an emergency (so must have pedal-assist either included or aftermarket) PLUS be able to, I don't know, haul some groceries back from Costco and that combo may cost a bit more. I know that there are lots of other brands but the problem of course is that many of the brands are extremely difficult to test out since dealers carry what they carry - like I was curious to at least try a Strida but I couldn't find one anywhere in NYC when I looked online. Or I read about Mobot and Pacific Cycles but I don't see them anywhere where I could try one before buying.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? A piece of me feels there are many people in my position - small spaces so can't have more than one bike and want to be able to use it as a small local portable the bulk of time with the capability for it to act as a longer-distance sort-of car replacement in an emergency - and I thought some people here might have some opinions on what might work and/or point me in other areas or brands I haven't considered. Thanks.

Last edited by mobamoba; 08-28-22 at 06:13 AM.
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Old 08-28-22, 06:46 AM
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Get the lightest Brompton you can afford. I would not add the electric. If you have to go far, then take it multi-modal using busses trains. Electricals add weight and complexity. Bromptons have the best fold.
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Old 08-28-22, 06:46 AM
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Bike Friday has an electric option that adds electric motor hub to front wheel and removable battery. Remove the battery and swap front wheel to a wheel with a regular hub and you have a regular folding bike.
Leave the model choice to you.
In an emergency or an a regular basis, you can cycle 40 miles on a 20" wheel. I am sure there are more qualified members who can chime in.
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Old 08-28-22, 06:49 AM
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a few thoughts, my opinion...
Most places will accept you to take the bike in, if it's in a bag and is a flat package that you carry hanging from your shoulder. The Tern BYB is a scam for me, it stands on the smallest side, just like if you rotate another standard folder 90į, and is not substancially smaller, but way heavier with it's additional joint - doesn't fit the list but as i said - just my opinion. The electric assist is not needed, if you have normal physical condition. It adds too much weight in best case. I connot really point to a specific bike but please, test-ride as many models as you can, don't rush
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Old 08-28-22, 06:52 AM
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I own 3 of your list, except BF. Tern BYB will be the heaviest and bulkiest of the three. It rides very good due to 20í wheels and very sturdy frame. Birdy is second smallest when folded and rides the best since itís fully suspended and can take 18í Big Apple tires which will make your ride even more pleasant on less than perfect surface. Birdy is also good for touring and may also be equipped with rear rack, front low riders if you like to use panniers or front adaptor for Brompton carrier block so it can take Brompton bags. Iím not touring on my bicycle but you can get plenty of info about touring on Birdy in Birdy specific thread. Brompton will be the smallest when folded and quickest/easiest to fold of the three. Ride for me is less pleasant of the three since it has the smallest 16í wheels (for small fold) and high pressure tires (80-100psi). But itís very capable bike, good for shopping and touring. Brompton has rear suspension only. You also need to choose wisely the model to suit correctly handlebar length as itís not adjustable.
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Old 08-28-22, 07:32 AM
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For bar or restaurant it is Brompton and it is about it. Yes, it is awkward for larger distances, rough terrain, but you just have to swallow it and figure out a way to carry larger loads without them ending on your back.
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Old 08-28-22, 07:41 AM
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I'm not a Brompton fan per say, but for ease of fold, and the ability to add a removable battery/motor combo, combined with the small size allowed in almost any bar/restaurant/business in NYC (I'm a NY'er as well), I'd highly recommend the Brompton. The smaller 16" wheels are something you get used to (I own 4 16" non-brommie folders, 1 is strictly an ebike), and the small size makes these bikes way easier to take almost anywhere.
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Old 08-28-22, 12:36 PM
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There are a couple of things to consider. One is that ebikes (folding or not) are always going to be heavier than their non-electric counterparts. The second is that hub motors are inherently less efficient (because they simply turn a wheel and do not take advantage of the efficiency available through the gear train), so they need bigger batteries for the same range, thus adding more weight.

There are some mid-drive folders out there, and one on its way. But, ultimately you need to consider what will best check most of your boxes while checking your "must have" list.

Tell me what we could do to this to make it better meet the needs of someone in your circumstances:
  • Chromoly frame
  • Nickel plated (no painting required)
  • mid-drive motor
  • 10-speed gear set
  • 40 mile range
  • Lightweight (about 35 pounds)
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Old 08-28-22, 03:32 PM
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Of your list, the one that seems to fit the best to your requirement of being easy to carry and able to easily do 30-40 miles is the Birdy.

Its not as small and easy to carry than the Brompton but close tot it, and its much more efficient, much faster, much more comfortable and able to ride on any surface than the Brompton due to its stiffer frame, excellent transmission (not the City with Nexus one of course but the Touring with 10s or the Rohloff), full suspension and 50mm wide tires.

Electric assist on a folding is usually not as good as on a full size and increase a lot the weight with as consequence that the bike become difficult to carry.
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Old 08-28-22, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Pinigis View Post
There are a couple of things to consider. One is that ebikes (folding or not) are always going to be heavier than their non-electric counterparts. The second is that hub motors are inherently less efficient (because they simply turn a wheel and do not take advantage of the efficiency available through the gear train), so they need bigger batteries for the same range, thus adding more weight.

There are some mid-drive folders out there, and one on its way. But, ultimately you need to consider what will best check most of your boxes while checking your "must have" list.

Tell me what we could do to this to make it better meet the needs of someone in your circumstances:
  • Chromoly frame
  • Nickel plated (no painting required)
  • mid-drive motor
  • 10-speed gear set
  • 40 mile range
  • Lightweight (about 35 pounds)
I would love to have this WITHOUT the e-assist.
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Old 08-28-22, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by GeezyRider View Post
I would love to have this WITHOUT the e-assist.
Frame looks somewhat like Fhnon Gust. Guess you could look into this route.
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Old 08-28-22, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by GeezyRider View Post
I would love to have this WITHOUT the e-assist.
you know, thatís a good idea.
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Old 08-28-22, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by CEBEP View Post
Frame looks somewhat like Fhnon Gust. Guess you could look into this route.
I was thinking the same thing.
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Old 08-28-22, 04:58 PM
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40 miles on 20" wheels is a breeze. Heck, I did 60 miles on 16" (305) wheels two weeks ago no problem.


Bike fit and comfy saddle & grips are key, though.

I, too, am/was a NYorker.

Last edited by Ron Damon; 08-28-22 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 08-28-22, 04:59 PM
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Origami Bull w/electric assist. With it's high capacity weight limit it's a definite utility bike. The weight and fold,...that would be an issue.
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Old 08-28-22, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Ron Damon View Post
40 miles on 20" wheels is a breeze. Heck, I did 60 miles on 16" (305) wheels two weeks ago no problem. Bike fit and comfy saddle & grips are key, though.
I have ergon grips on my Birdy but my wrists are still getting uncomfortable. I tend to try to hold the grips end vertically. Any ideas which grips could be solution? I know there are this type of grips



but I find the grip ends pointing up kind of ugly. I think I saw somewhere vertical inserts which are mounted before the grips so they are installed on the inside part. But canít find them.
Any recommendations?

Last edited by CEBEP; 08-28-22 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 08-28-22, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by CEBEP View Post
I have ergon grips on my Birdy but my wrists are still getting uncomfortable. I tend to try to hold the grips end vertically. Any ideas which grips could be solution? I know there are this type of grips



but I find the grip ends pointing up kind of ugly. I think I saw somewhere vertical inserts which are mounted before the grips so they are installed on the inside part. But can’t find them.
Any recommendations?
Yeah, for long tours I too use Ergon grips. In fact I use precisely those on the image that you posted, the GP3 model. They allow for at least two additional hand positions on the grips. And that's what you want on tour or long rides, to have a range of hand positions and to shift them periodically while riding. You will also want padded hand gloves. The 'horns' on the GP3 are adjustable independent of the grip itself. I set them up more horizontal, maybe 20 degrees off horizontal, rather than vertical.

There's also Vello Attune grips (at least where I am) which are Ergon-like but are more cushy, gel-like than Ergons. Cheaper too. I got these 1185 model for under $15. Not bad. The only catch is that unlike the Ergons the horns are not adjustable independently of the grip itself.



Finally, if you want cheap, minimally serviceable Ergon-like grips, I recommend these Promend jobs for under $4. Lower profile and for smaller hands and shorter rides though. I took them on my tour a couple of weeks ago and they did ok, but for longer tours I'd go with the Vello Attune or Ergon. For now they are the stock grips on my FSIR 305er.

Last edited by Ron Damon; 08-28-22 at 07:48 PM.
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Old 08-28-22, 07:06 PM
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Look into the 16" wheeled bi-fold bikes as they are small, fold small, can push well when folded (on its own 16" wheels so they roll over better ), light for carrying.
3sp will be the way to go if its largely flat area to cycle and keeping things light. (depends on cycling ability as well and of course it won't cover all cycling situations )

Otherwise, consider a Brompton.
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Old 08-28-22, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Pinigis View Post
There are a couple of things to consider. One is that ebikes (folding or not) are always going to be heavier than their non-electric counterparts. The second is that hub motors are inherently less efficient (because they simply turn a wheel and do not take advantage of the efficiency available through the gear train), so they need bigger batteries for the same range, thus adding more weight.

There are some mid-drive folders out there, and one on its way. But, ultimately you need to consider what will best check most of your boxes while checking your "must have" list.

Tell me what we could do to this to make it better meet the needs of someone in your circumstances:
  • Chromoly frame
  • Nickel plated (no painting required)
  • mid-drive motor
  • 10-speed gear set
  • 40 mile range
  • Lightweight (about 35 pounds)
Before thinking about folding ebikes, I was contemplating e-scooters and a Segway Ninebot Max is 42 lbs. and that seemed okay, i.e. weight is something I'm willing to make concessions on; however, the size of the folded bike needs to be compact enough that a restaurant/bar/grocery store wouldn't care that I was bringing it in. This compactness is kind of the Brompton brand and I'm not opposed to a Brompton, but I also know there are a lot of companies out there making innovations in the folding bike space but it's somewhat difficult to find out about them in web searches, review sites, and R***it which is why I came here.
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Old 08-28-22, 08:07 PM
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If you feel that you are incapable of physically pedaling 30 to 40 miles, then I understand the desire for electric.

Do not assume that diameter of wheels is what will determine how far you can ride it.

But, if you are capable of riding that distance without electric assistance, skip the electric, which means skip the batteries and charging hassles and extra weight.

This would mean you should have lights that you can depend on, which in my opinion means AA or AAA battery powered, some good quality spare batteries in storage will last for years, thus you would not need to worry about when the last time was when you charged up your lights.

I would lean towards 20 inch wheels, but if you feel that you must have 16 for portability, then get 16. My folder is 24 inches, but portability is not that important to me and I would not suggest that wheel size for you.
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Old 08-28-22, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by mobamoba View Post
I also know there are a lot of companies out there making innovations in the folding bike space but it's somewhat difficult to find out about them in web searches, review sites, and R***it which is why I came here.
As in any other area, beware of products that have surfaced last month and supposedly solve all problems of the world. A folding bike needs to be rugged. Its abuse that may be outside of your control. Moreover, functionality of those bikes strongly depends on various accessories that may need to be well tailored to particular brand or model. With this, more so than in other areas, it is advisable to go with products that have been well tested and embraced by the market.
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Old 08-28-22, 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Ron Damon View Post
Yeah, for long tours I too use Ergon grips. In fact I use precisely those on the image that you posted, the GP3 model. They allow for at least two additional hand positions on the grips. And that's what you want on tour or long rides, to have a range of hand positions and to shift them periodically while riding. You will also want padded hand gloves. The 'horns' on the GP3 are adjustable independent of the grip itself. I set them up more horizontal, maybe 20 degrees off horizontal, rather than vertical.

There's also Vello Attune grips (at least where I am) which are Ergon-like but are more cushy, gel-like than Ergons. Cheaper too. I got these 1185 model for under $15. Not bad. The only catch is that unlike the Ergons the horns are not adjustable independently of the grip itself.



Finally, if you want cheap, minimally serviceable Ergon-like grips, I recommend these Promend jobs for under $4. Lower profile and for smaller hands and shorter rides though. I took them on my tour a couple of weeks ago and they did ok, but for longer tours I'd go with the Vello Attune or Ergon. For now they are the stock grips on my FSIR 305er.
Thanks. Any experience with something like these? Can be installed on the inner end of the grips.



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Old 08-28-22, 11:31 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by CEBEP View Post
Thanks. Any experience with something like these? Can be installed on the inner end of the grips.



Yeah, I used something like that a while back. Not a bad solution if you can get them to sit flush against the grips...
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Old 08-29-22, 03:46 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by CEBEP View Post
I have ergon grips on my Birdy but my wrists are still getting uncomfortable. I tend to try to hold the grips end vertically. Any ideas which grips could be solution? I know there are this type of grips



but I find the grip ends pointing up kind of ugly. I think I saw somewhere vertical inserts which are mounted before the grips so they are installed on the inside part. But canít find them.
Any recommendations?
Here you go.
https://www.sq-lab.com/en/products/innerbarends/

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Old 08-29-22, 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by anga View Post
Iíve just ordered these and then saw your answer. Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks.
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