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First timer: Choosing a lightweight folder for an urban, multi-modal commute!

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First timer: Choosing a lightweight folder for an urban, multi-modal commute!

Old 07-20-13, 06:46 PM
  #1  
fauvette
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First timer: Choosing a lightweight folder for an urban, multi-modal commute!

Yeah, another "help me choose" post! Sorry, but I don't know anyone who rides a folder, I love to ramble, and I am new to cycling! I had a bike as a kid that I rode around the park, but it's been years! I'll definitely need to practice on some quiet trails and streets before I venture out into traffic.
  • Most days the bike will be used for a four mile urban commute. Plenty of potholes, but mostly flat terrain.
  • It needs to be easy to fold and carry short distances, as I frequently need to use the bus, train, or subway.
  • I'm 5'7", 120 lbs., and have a bone condition in my left wrist. The lighter the bike the better!
  • I NEED the bike to have a handbrake! And gears are a nice perk, but ultimately I think I can get by without them for my purposes.
  • I'm an intern, so I need to balance my desires for a portable, pleasant, lightweight, attractive ride with the harsh reality that I make minimum wage. If cycling works out for me, I figure I can upgrade down the line, when I have a "real" job.
I've been strongly considering the Dahon Speed Uno ($402 from Amazon). Only 24.2 pounds! The thing is, I'd need to get a handbrake installed. Is that something I could get a local bike shop to do relatively affordably and painlessly? I realize that the handbrake adds some ounces, but it'll be scary enough adapting to biking in traffic as is, I don't need to get the safety blanket of a handbrake taken away from me too!

The Dahon Mariner ($599) is pricier and is 26 pounds, but has both handbrakes and gears ready to go. The Tern Link D8 ($650) is even pricier and probably the maximum weight I would consider at 26.6 pounds, but it seems to be touted as a really high quality, sturdy bike for the price. Is a Tern worth it?

My favorite thing to lust after is the Dahon Jifo ($899), but I'm not sure I can justify paying that much. I think I'm correct in assuming that the bitty 16" wheels would be more twitchy and troublesome on crummy, poorly maintained city roads? Yes? Somebody talk me down, because the rapid, tiny fold and 20 lb. weight sounds like a dream come true!

The Dahon Curve ($699) is a cute 16" folder that appears more versatile than the Jifo, but at 25.4 pounds and $700, I wonder if I wouldn't be better off getting the cheaper Dahon Uno and putting some brakes on it after all.

Or am I just being a total nutcase about buying my first bike, and would be better off buying one of the 20 year old Dahons I always see pop up on Craigslist for $125ish? I've been stalking my city's listings for a while and the only folders I've seen have been from 1996 or earlier.

Thanks for any thoughts, warnings, or suggestions you have, they'll be much appreciated!
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Old 07-20-13, 06:55 PM
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I the owner of Origami Bicycle Company, so my opinion is biased, but you should take s look at the Origami Crane. It is lightweight, compact, has hands brakes, and is cost competitive because we sell factory direct.
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Old 07-20-13, 07:49 PM
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Bill Wilby
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Have you considered a Strida? Comfortable upright riding position with little weight on your wrist, quick fold that you can roll, clean with a belt, single or three speed, and light 10kg.
Bill Wilby

I am the Canadian distributor for Strida, my opinion is also biased, I also can not ship to the U.S. www.stridacanada.ca
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Old 07-20-13, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by fauvette
... I've been stalking my city's listings for a while and the only folders I've seen have been from 1996 or earlier. ...
Where are you located?

-HANK RYAN-
Norman, Oklahoma USA
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Old 07-20-13, 08:07 PM
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fauvette
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Originally Posted by Pinigis
I the owner of Origami Bicycle Company, so my opinion is biased, but you should take s look at the Origami Crane. It is lightweight, compact, has hands brakes, and is cost competitive because we sell factory direct.
The Crane certainly seems to satisfy my requirements for features at a very appealing price. If I can find some reviews for it, it's definitely going to be a contender.

Originally Posted by Bill Wilby
Have you considered a Strida? Comfortable upright riding position with little weight on your wrist, quick fold that you can roll, clean with a belt, single or three speed, and light 10kg.
Bill Wilby

I am the Canadian distributor for Strida, my opinion is also biased, I also can not ship to the U.S. www.stridacanada.ca
Woah! The design makes me smile. In a bright color, no way that drivers would miss seeing me! I am not sure that I would commit to buying one online though. With such a unique shape, I would feel like I'm making a big gamble without going for a test ride. Unfortunately, according to Strida's official website the closest dealer is 160 miles away from me.

Originally Posted by HGR3inOK
Where are you located?

-HANK RYAN-
Norman, Oklahoma USA
I'm in Baltimore, MD.
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Old 07-20-13, 08:25 PM
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F,

I ride a Dahon Mariner every day 4 miles each way as a part of a mixed mode commute. 26 lbs is pretty easy to manage, and the fenders, rack, gears, and handbrakes all contribute to a very nice commuter bike that I can ride in all weather. I've got more than 4500 miles on it and it is a fine ride. If it were to be stolen tomorrow, I would buy another one the next day.

Hope this helps,
Warr
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Old 07-20-13, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by fauvette
... I'm in Baltimore, MD.
Test ride! Test ride! Test ride!

You should be able to get some hands-on experience with Dahon, Tern, Brompton, etc. Hopefully, this forum can provide you with some direct comparisons for those candidates for which a test ride might not be an option (Origami, Strida, Citizen, Downtube, etc.)

Several years ago I faced a similar situation. A couple of reliable sources said, "It's hard to go wrong with a Dahon Speed P8." I bought a clean, used Speed P8, and the rest is history.

Test ride the Dahon Speed Uno, Speed D7, Speed P8 & Mariner D7 and the Tern Link C7 & Link D8 (and, maybe, a Brompton S2L). Then post here what you liked and did not like. The members of this forum can likely provide some priceless input that will help you decide what folder to buy first (and second and third, etc. ).

-HANK RYAN-
Norman, Oklahoma USA
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Old 07-21-13, 01:58 PM
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you can choose to give the Origami Crane a try with no risk. Of you don't like it you can send it back for a full refund. We don't sell through bike shops so this as convenient a test ride as possible for us.
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Old 07-21-13, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Pinigis
you can choose to give the Origami Crane a try with no risk. Of you don't like it you can send it back for a full refund. We don't sell through bike shops so this as convenient a test ride as possible for us.
Can't ask for better than that. It would be nice to see one first though, but I guess the way you sell them helps to keep the consumer costs at a minimum. One thing I like about your bikes, without knowing much about them, is the name. Very appropriate when you consider Origami involves the act of folding.

Cheers
Wayne
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Old 07-23-13, 11:07 AM
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I have a Crane but I do not multi-modal commute. I should do a test run with the bike and a bus and a light rail car soon anyway, so think of any questions before I try it.

If you fold the Crane (and secure it with a good bungee cord) and roll it, it will roll forward, so you don't have to lift the bike until the moment you get to the step. Taller people like you seem to like a shoulder strap to lift their folding bikes, no matter what the brand. I'm a shorter person and like to lift it without folding.

How will you secure the bike while you are at work? Leave it folded at the cubicle? If you carry a U-lock with you, know that it might not mount to the bike frame very well especially if the mount would interfere with the fold. My U-lock has an abnormally long shackle, and it happens to nestle atop the rack like they were made to fit together--but that means that nine times out of ten, if I have to turn the bike on its side for any reason, I have forgotten about the U-lock and it slides off and hits my foot. Note to self: try using thick wire twist ties to hold the )#(/# in place.
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Old 07-24-13, 11:52 PM
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Fauvette,

I'd also like to toss in what type of riding you're into, what type of multimodal, etc.
I ultimately chose a Xootr Swift because I wanted a zippy, fun to ride bike, with minimal compromises.
It just barely fits in my Corolla's trunk, but is great on the metro (very thin profile).

On the other extreme, is the Pacific Carryme. It rides surprisingly nice, but is very, very limited in riding. For a lighter rider like yourself, it'd be fine for under a mile. The A bike and Strida were worse for me.

Of the choices, I'd advise against a Strida (too fiddly for me, very stiff in the crotch area).
The Origami looks nice, as does the Downtube (never rode either. Friend has a downtube.)

If you're an intern, have you thought of just looking on Craigslist?
If you know bikes, you will likely score a far better deal (and I don't recommend plunging $2k into a bespoke bike for your first folder).

There are often dahons to be found fairly cheaply.

-Matt
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