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jimk0157 04-23-10 01:14 PM

Looking for advice on a suitable folding trail bike.

Looking for advice on a suitable folding trail bike. I'm 6'1" ~190#. I'd like a good trail bike (nothing serious, just gravel and dirt paths with some hills) that will fold up and I can keep in the trunk of my Camry. Something that folds down (or disassembles down) to under max size for standard checked airline luggage would be a nice plus. I'll also likely add an electric kit to it later to help get up some long hills between my office and the trail head and just for fun.

So far I've found two bikes that might work.

1. 20" wheeled Dahon Jetstream P8:

2. or one of the Montague folding mountain bikes maybe this one:

I realize that the 20" wheeled model might not be optimal but I'd really be taking it easy on the trails (no rock hopping or anything). Seems like with changing the tires to some knobbies it might work pretty good. My main concern with this bike is the strength of the handlebar system for trail riding and maybe for my size and weight it may be a circus bear riding a clown bike type deal. :)

The drawback with the larger Montague is greater weight (extra ~8 pounds) and I don't think I could disassemble this one enough to get it under the max size limits for checked luggage.

Thanks in advance for any tips or insights into these bikes or others than might be possibilities (any advice on a suitable electric kit would be great too).


JosephLMonti 04-23-10 03:04 PM

If you are considering the Dahon Jetstream, check out this guy's website:

snafu21 04-24-10 03:34 AM

The 'rebar' frame Dahon 26" bikes work well , the old style (pre 2008) Matrix, and the Jack. They fold, but are not really portable when folded, but they do fit in the back of a car easily.

The Matrix 2009/2010 has the 'lockjaw' frame - needs an allen key to lock together, the previous one didn't. Both the rebar Jack (see pic) and the Matrix have Joe Murray designed frames, and are great allrounders. The Jack comes in two flavours for 2010 - D7 with seven gears and the D24 with 24. The Matrix is similar, 24 gears, but with cable disc brakes, and lockable shock forks.

I had a 2007 Matrix - used it as you described, with no problems. Out of choice of the Dahon 26" bikes the pre-lockjaw folding hinge seems to be preferred for regular folding on here, and now the Jack comes with 24 gears the choice is less clear cut. It's down to whether you want front suspension or not. A D24 Jack would do the job well if you like the look of the bike and the spec. Dahon have put Big Apple Tyres on the bikes for this year, a better choice would be a mild knobbly for the front at least if you're playing in the dirt. Otherwise you'll find you don't got no way of stopping in the mud.

I kept my Matrix for three years, nothing broke, the frame didn't squeak, the spokes didn't break, and I used it mainly on the old railway line around here. It sold for almost what I paid for it. A recommendation, then.

At the top of the 26" range is MTB Dahon Flo, but I know nothing about it. Here's the Jack D24: The large size will fit you, but the frames have that compact & nimble 'off-road' design and some taller people think they feel small. The seat to crank distance seems OK for most though.

For checked luggage, the 26" folders fit into large cases, or the Dahon Airporter bag. If you're thinking 20" wheels, and you're doing any lengthy non-tarmac stuff the ride is exceptionally bumpy. Which means suspension like the Jetstream, which does get used as a pocket off-road tourer.

A folded 26" bike is going to fill the trunk of your Camry though.

itsmoot 04-24-10 02:00 PM

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My Pacific Reach works well on singletrack and tamer mtb trails.

The relatively narrow 1-3/8" knobbies combined with the shorter footprint of it's 451 wheels makes things interesting, particularly loose gravel and soft sand. The Kenda "Krankit" knobbies I used, original spec on the 2007 Trail version, are no great performers - might be why I snagged them for $4 apiece on closeout. Then again, a rider more skilled than myself (a weekend warrior) might judge otherwise.

Since that picture was taken I installed a compact double crank with a bit more useful ratios, 42-34. The granny gear on the first crank I'd used (an old Tourney triple I'd cobbled up from parts, 48-38(?)-22) yielded a ridiculous 16gi, felt like it had thrown the chain. And high gear was around 88gi, much higher than I needed for anything offroad.

Here's the bike folded in the trunk of my '96 Altima, which was somewhere between a Corolla and a Camry in size (in '96).

I should note that this is a pretty expensive setup. I wouldn't have one except for the fact I'd found the original Reach Road I'd used for the conversion at less than 1/2 price (a demo). And also, Pacific's high-end bikes seem to be getting scarce in the US, maybe due to the recession or low demand. I couldn't turn up any Reach Offroad models in a casual search just now. Maybe someone else here knows of a source.

itsmoot 04-24-10 02:26 PM

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Having a large city nearby with a good supply of used bikes on Craigslist and bike shop bulletin boards could net you an old Fuji Folding Montain Bke. Not a great offroad bike by any means, but more than enough for singletrack and light trail riding. Many of these were given away in Marboro Cigarettes "Marlboro Miles" promotion back in 1999 or so, so given that many belonged to smokers (and heavy smokers too given the number of points it took) the bikes usually have little use on them, or so far as I've seen anyway. Cheap too, I've seen one go for as little as $30, but that one needed some work. I snagged this one last year for $80, it was practically new except for scratches from being shuffled around a crowded garage. Needed new tires though, the originals were unworn but dry-rotted.

If you have some wrenching skills it can even be built into a decent entry-level mtb. I basically swapped all the upgrades I'd put on my old Diamondback onto the Fuji frame, now it flies down singletrack and easily handles what passes here for "moderate" mtb trails.

It also fits easily in the trunk of my Altima, although I discarded the Fuji's original folding stem (thing weighed about 2 pounds) and instead remove the front wheel.

snafu21 04-25-10 02:16 AM

The Fuji MTB and Pacific bikes look good. We don't have them in the Uk. I was discussing this with a chum yesterday - the 20" 'MTB Mild' , and of course one more answer is the Downtube FS. It fits tall people, it's got reasonably good suspension, and its well made. The only slight negative is the long cage rear mech which could snag, but it's another possible option for a flexible weekender. I have ridden my 20" Vitesse on hardpack and tow-paths, and as mentioned, gravel and loose stuff invites precipitation, unless you can get the tyres to grip.

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