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Why NOT a folding bike?

Old 11-27-12, 11:19 AM
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Why NOT a folding bike?

Long time, no chat!

I'm currently in the market for a folding bike, and have made a few selections online (FLBS has, I think, a few folders but they're out of my price league - IIRC it's only Fuji bikes in there). I've browsed through a few articles in this subforum and I'm reconsidering my original choice, a relatively inexpensive (~250USD) folder with 26", and I am considering a 20". I am a very small individual - only 5'3" if you include the "lifted" heels I was born with - so it's unlikely any size will be a problem. My main motivations are something easier to lug onto the bus - some have front-racks, others let you wheel them on but man is that all awkward - and I'm going to be moving into a new place and would like something easier to carry up stairs.

Anyways now that I'm looking through and figuring out what I want, I've realized I haven't spotted a thread that highlights the DOWNSIDES to a folding bike. Or, more generally, why would one be compelled to choose a non-folder over a folder for "regular" (non competitive) cycling? My current non-folder is a general purpose bike - I commute with it, I shop with it, I go places with it. What advantages would my current 21 gear 26" wheel bike have over a "folder", to use that word in a vaccume?

Thanks,

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Old 11-27-12, 11:32 AM
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Price (related to quality), weight, ride quality (16/20" wheels vs 26) and esthetics. My Bike Friday NWT has nearly the same wheelbase as my Specialized RockHopper with a suspension fork and weighs nearly the same. Widths are dictated by the handlebars, which are close to the same. The 20" wheels make the BF shorter overall. I also like to see the front wheel in my periphreal vision! Oh yeah, you can lock them up through the frame.

The only reason I have a Bike Friday is the price I paid for it and the possiblity of flipping it. It is not the commuter folder so I can't speak to that group of folders. If I sell the BF, I will be looking for a commuter level folder. My thoughts are a Bromton. They are very expensive and would be out of my range. I would rather pack one of my bikes in my Jeep. They fit really well in the back seat with the front wheel removed.
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Old 11-27-12, 11:40 AM
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Also, a lot more that can go wrong.
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Old 11-27-12, 11:48 AM
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Non-folding bikes are simpler to make, have less moving parts, and therefore are cheaper to make (and cheaper to purchase). Some folders use specialized componenets that make them more difficult to upgrade and maintain, but many do not....you just have to do your homework there.

I still own a non-folding bike (and several folders), but i have not used the non-folder in years. I love the convenience of being able to put my bike IN my car, take it on the train, and even put it in the shopping cart at the grocery store (although I usually just push it along in its folded postion.

Good luck, and happy hunting.
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Old 11-27-12, 11:53 AM
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20" Folders, with the exception of Swift and Bike Friday, are sold with a single frame size, so do not assume that because they have small wheels the fit will be good for you, the saddle to ground dimension is usually easy to adjust, but you have also to consider the "reach", the distance from saddle to handlebars, which generally has very little adjustment available. Dahon 26" folders (Matrix, etc)come in three frame sizes, have been around awhile, and represent good value, especially used.

I would say, especially at the lower end of the market, that dollar for dollar you get better value and quality in a fixed frame bike than you do in a folder.
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Old 11-27-12, 11:57 AM
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Folding bikes will give you less value for the money in terms of components -- so the drivetrain will not be as good, smooth, smoothly shifting, etc. as a comparable road bike. Also, the folding aspect typically results in less frame stiffness and sometimes odd squeaks and noises. The smaller wheelbase results in less stability, and the smaller wheels means that bumps, potholes, and other road deviations will be more felt and upset the bike more.
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Old 11-27-12, 01:14 PM
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You said you want something to take with you on a bus and someting light to carry upstairs.

If that is going to be the main use (and mainly tarmac riding) I would go for a 16" bike since they are smaller when folded. You need to find a light one since you are going to carry it upstairs.

A light AND cheap bike is not easy, since in the bike world light cost more than heavy.

I suggest you try to find bikes to test ride and test carry. I suggest you look for a medium quality folder second hand. Often lightly used folder can be had for half the price of a new one.

Edit: https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ot-wheel-bikes

Also want to say that I am wery happy with my Dahon Curve (bought almost unused at half the price of a new one). I also like my brompton but I find that I am more relaxed when I am out with the less expensive Dahon and also I find the wheels soak up much more of the vibration from the road plus the wide tyres actually feel more stable when riding in mud and sand. Measuring the circumnavigation of the two wheels I am sure the smaller Dahon wheels with BA`s are much the same as the bigger Brompton wheels with slimmer tyres.

The Curve is lighter than the B.

Last edited by badmother; 11-27-12 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 11-27-12, 01:22 PM
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somewhat dissagree.... if you compare the components part by part on a folder, especially the higher priced ones, than you will find out that you get a lot for your dollar... But I am talking above 1000 dlr bikes.... for me the entry level starts at around 500 dlr .... cheaper ones do have sometimes lousy stuff bolted to a frame....
If you are on a budget ( and who isnt ) than buying used may be a good option
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Old 11-27-12, 02:29 PM
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I'm kind of in your boat, 5'4 & 120 lb. I have a stable full of folders, so here's what I found out.

You pay a price for foldability in terms of cost, weight, "finickiness" of components, and sometimes oddball parts not easily obtained locally. Dahon is notorious for this in my experience. Not unusual for folks to wait months for replacement parts, and when we're talking main frame hinge, that bike ain't goin' nowhere until the part comes in.

So to answer your question: If your primarty concern is being able to fold it up to take on a bus when racks are available, I wouldn't. I'd keep your 26" bike and deal with the lifting onto the rack thing.

Now if you're living in a tight space, or maybe in a walkup with narrow twisty stairs, makes more sense. Or if you're doing serious multimodal commuting with several stops each day, but even then, folding/unfolding can become quite the chore. This is where the Brompton comes in so handy: 23 x 23 x 11" folded, and I can fold/unfold in about 30 sec.

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Old 11-27-12, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by bargainguy
I'm kind of in your boat, 5'4 & 120 lb. I have a stable full of folders, so here's what I found out.

You pay a price for foldability in terms of cost, weight, "finickiness" of components, and sometimes oddball parts not easily obtained locally. Dahon is notorious for this in my experience. Not unusual for folks to wait months for replacement parts, and when we're talking main frame hinge, that bike ain't goin' nowhere until the part comes in.
I keep a few folding bike specific spares for my bikes.
ie long inner telfon cables, spare seat post clamp for my Mezzos. Spare tube, tyres, dual drive click box, 54 and 56 chain rings. Never had a problem with a Dahon hinge, but if I did I would proberly keep a few in reverve.

Many of the problems are with non standard wheel sizes.
If its a 20" wheel less problems than 16",
if you have an 24" airnimal or a Paffic reach or simular. You you can have it all; performance, folding convinence and mainly standard parts. It just requires a bit more expense initially.

I sold my ultgera equipped 653 road racing bike as my Ultgera equipped Downtube NS8 with bullbars was almost as fast a ride, but also folded to go in a car boot if ever I needed it. Not had a road racing bike since.

Last edited by bhkyte; 11-27-12 at 04:20 PM.
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Old 11-27-12, 04:42 PM
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I reasoned with a few freinds that they should get bikes to fit their car rather than cars to fit very occasional bike usage.

Alot of the basis is the "small wheel is not good" thinking and the expense, which is a bitof a false ecomony when you consider how much running a set of family bikes on a roof racks adds to fuel bill for starters. Plus the bikes will resale for possibly a higher proportion ie a Bromptom holds value better.
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Old 11-27-12, 05:17 PM
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Mini-Velos are as the small Wheels on Folding Bikes, But in a frame that does not Fold.
saving all that hinge weight and complexity.

the smaller wheel takes up less room in small Apartments so are a better seller
on the Asian side of the Pacific, than the US with its Sprawling Ranchettes ..
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Old 11-27-12, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by bhkyte
I sold my ultgera equipped 653 road racing bike as my Ultgera equipped Downtube NS8 with bullbars was almost as fast a ride, but also folded to go in a car boot if ever I needed it. Not had a road racing bike since.
I'm very curious to know what you had as your freewheel/cassette and chainring(s) on your Downtube, seeing that it made a suitable substitute for your road bike.
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Old 11-29-12, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Fold
I'm very curious to know what you had as your freewheel/cassette and chainring(s) on your Downtube, seeing that it made a suitable substitute for your road bike.
I just added a 58 tooth front chainring and kept the standard 8 speed freewheel. I used a double chain ring and changed manually if I need lower gears (not often).
Thought about 3X9 dual drive set up to Brifters but decided to ell and do that to my Mezzo
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Old 11-29-12, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
Mini-Velos are as the small Wheels on Folding Bikes, But in a frame that does not Fold.
saving all that hinge weight and complexity.

..
Good point so it would fit car boots better with wheels removed?
Minivellos should sell better than they do in UK.
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Old 11-29-12, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by bhkyte
I just added a 58 tooth front chainring and kept the standard 8 speed freewheel. I used a double chain ring and changed manually if I need lower gears (not often).
Thought about 3X9 dual drive set up to Brifters but decided to ell and do that to my Mezzo
I'll be setting up my folding bike with a 50/39/30 triple and 9-26T Capreo 9 speed cassette on 20" wheel (111" to 23"). Eventually I'll probably drop the 30T chain ring down to 24T (dropping 23" to 18.5") so that my folding bike isn't geared too much higher than my 26" bike (down to 16.8"). I don't expect to do much towing with my folding bike...

Cheers,
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Old 11-29-12, 12:06 PM
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so it would fit car boots better with wheels removed?
given the mini-velo Wheelbase is unchanged, to retain the familiar riding feel ,
might need an estate wagon, still.. though the wheels wont take up as much
additional Boot space
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Old 11-29-12, 01:59 PM
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Thanks all! I'm going to look towards the 24" - 20" range.

Some small flaws in my original post.

* The local bus system is only recently implementing a front-mount rack system - not all busses are equipped.

* If I can fold a bike, I believe I can store it downstairs, as I can get away with storing 2 for the space of about one.

* Weight is less a consideration for stair carry than bulk - and its not easy for me to guide a "loose" front wheel up steps that narrow.

Where I'm moving is rather close to where I work, so I think I might do alright with a less expensive model, if I can't find a nice one second hand. Does anyone know if the Shimano or Schwinn folders are worth a look?

Thanks,

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Old 11-29-12, 02:11 PM
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Keep an eye on the weight of the cheap folders you see on eBay (e.g., no-names that just say "Shimano"). They're often significantly heavier than other entry-level folders.
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Old 11-29-12, 02:17 PM
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Thank you to bhkyte and cplager for your gearing info. I'm preparing to upgrade, and it helps to hear what has worked for others.

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Old 11-29-12, 04:24 PM
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Something like this? Seattle Cl
https://seattle.craigslist.org/tac/bik/3410049794.html
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Old 11-29-12, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by bhkyte
Good point so it would fit car boots better with wheels removed?
Minivellos should sell better than they do in UK.
Actually the opposite: The wheels are smaller, but the overall geometry differs little, so to compensate for smaller wheels, the wheel axle locations in a minivelo are closer to the ground and effectively make the frame bigger.
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Old 11-29-12, 05:35 PM
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Anyhow.. 20" wheel travel bikes, Bike Friday makes, have a hinge point, behind the BB,
the rear comes along side, but it is a stiff motion , more about Packing , than frequently Folding..
so It is functionally a Mini-velo-bike. as I'm using Mine..
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Old 11-29-12, 05:35 PM
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I don't know about anyone else, but as a single guy I absolutely cannot stand it when I put my folded Brompton into a shopping cart at the grocery store and all the cute, single women, sexually-frustrated single moms, and bored housewives whose husbands are out of town ask me about it.
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Old 11-30-12, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by MEversbergII
Anyways now that I'm looking through and figuring out what I want, I've realized I haven't spotted a thread that highlights the DOWNSIDES to a folding bike. Or, more generally, why would one be compelled to choose a non-folder over a folder for "regular" (non competitive) cycling? My current non-folder is a general purpose bike - I commute with it, I shop with it, I go places with it. What advantages would my current 21 gear 26" wheel bike have over a "folder", to use that word in a vaccume?
Originally Posted by MEversbergII
Some small flaws in my original post.

* The local bus system is only recently implementing a front-mount rack system - not all busses are equipped.

* If I can fold a bike, I believe I can store it downstairs, as I can get away with storing 2 for the space of about one.

* Weight is less a consideration for stair carry than bulk - and its not easy for me to guide a "loose" front wheel up steps that narrow.

Where I'm moving is rather close to where I work, so I think I might do alright with a less expensive model, if I can't find a nice one second hand. Does anyone know if the Shimano or Schwinn folders are worth a look?
Sorry if I missed this in the thread, but are you keeping the 26" non-folding bike? If so, then I'd recommend you look at something that complements it or fulfills a specific purpose you have in mind that the 26" bike fails to do.

With regards to carrying the bike, I'd think that a "bulky" fold that is tidy and well maintained while being carried would be better than a less bulky and less well maintained fold. But then again, I'm 8-9 inches taller. So size or some particular dimension might matter more to you. Based on what I read here, I would stick with something like a Dahon Mu that gives you some gears but can be relatively light since I think that weight does matter for folding bikes.

As for the negatives, I think most have been touched on earlier in the thread; All things equal, greater weight, complexity, and cost. Sometimes you'll find that folding bikes function less well with bike accessories or amenities. For instance ... (1) some older wireless cyclecomputers have an effective range that mates poorly with a small wheel, (2) bike racks tend to be designed for 26"+ sized wheels with a diamond frame and some designs mate poorly with a folding bike, (3) when at a stop a lot of people subconsciously use the top tube to help steady the bike but many folding bikes don't have that top tube, and I can go on. Nonetheless, I think that it's a net benefit for most people.
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