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USA - lack of folder-diversity?

Old 11-07-14, 08:50 AM
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USA - lack of folder-diversity?

Random musings...

In the USA we have BikeFriday, with a few folding models but more that demount for travel. We have Montague's large wheel folding mountain bikes that will fit into a car trunk without removing the rear wheel. And we have Swift/Xootr, a bike with voracious fans despite not folding up very small.

Of course there's Brompton, enthusiastically marketed by a small number of dealers, and good on them.

There are any number of unique, novel folding bikes that are popular in other parts of the world that seem to be extinct, or nearly so, in the USA: Airnimal, Bernds, Bigfish, Birdy, Bridgestone, Di Blasi, Mezzo, Mobikey, Strida, &etc. There are many other interesting folders that, AFAIK, have never been retailed in any meaningful way in the USA: Anemos, IF, Jango, MIT, Ori, Rhine, &etc.

What we do have in the USA is Dahon, and lots of folding bike brands that are, how shall we put this? Perhaps, 'variations on a theme by Dahon': b_fold, Citizen, dibar, Downtube, Dynamic, Giant, Hasa, KHS, Melon, Mobic, Montecci, Novara, Origami, Origin-8, Oyama, Schwinn, Tern, Ubike, &etc.

Has the evolutionary marketplace spoken vis-a-vis the optimum design for the majority of USA folding bike users? Or is the USA just a tiny, unsophisticated market for folders, which can't support much diversity?

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Old 11-07-14, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by tcs
Or is the USA just a tiny, unsophisticated market for folders, which can't support much diversity?
This. You could just as easily swap "folders" for tandems, recumbents, trikes, e-bikes, IGH-equipped bikes, euro-style "Trekking" bikes, mini-velos, Omafiets, etc.

OTOH, USA is birthplace of the mtn bike, fatbike, cruiser, and probably some other stuff I'm forgetting.

What is nice is that there are a few specialty stores here and there which do carry a bigger variety of USA-oddball bikes. And I see more and more folders at regular bike shops -- not a huge array of brands, but at least a few floor models.
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Old 11-07-14, 10:16 AM
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In north america they go big. hence mtn bikes and road bikes are the norm here and most are not restricted to small spaces here unless you live in New York. that's one of the reason why you'll never see much on folders.... just that there isn't that big of a NEED for it. you'll notice in New York there is a market for it and you actually see several store that carry the specialty stuff that you will never hear of outside city limits.
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Old 11-07-14, 10:46 AM
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Well, the USA tandem, recumbent and bike trailer markets might be small, but even post-great recession they're still very diverse.

And folding bikes do sell in the USA, it's just the market is dominated by bikes that fold in one particular pattern. Most other folding designs can't seem to establish even a toehold through so much as a single, enthusiastic importer.

I dunno. Maybe for some reason the USA folding bike market is particularly price sensitive, and the Dahon-method is a compromise folding design that can be produced and sold relatively inexpensively.
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Old 11-07-14, 12:48 PM
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USA Post-WW2, was rebuilt around the Car , and suburbs never considered Public transport.
trolleys were trashed to force Bus sales .. took a really long time to even add the 2 bike front racks on Busses .



CM Wasson has a number of different Folders , but had been selling out of a Home Based Business for a very long time [1994, 1st US Brompton dealer ]

www.FoldaBikes.com - First US authorized Brompton folding bicycles dealer

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Old 11-07-14, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs
Random musings...

What we do have in the USA is Dahon, and lots of folding bike brands that are, how shall we put this? Perhaps, 'variations on a theme by Dahon': ....Origami....
The Origami Cricket and Origami Mantis have no resemblance to any Dahon models.
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Old 11-07-14, 03:36 PM
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Of course what is the primary use , in the US its Not using the Public transit Rail System to get to Work , but in a few places ..

More to stow it in Your car trunk . Or Motor Home or Yacht.

and Houses are Much larger than SEA where the Folding and Minibike are a space saver.

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Old 11-07-14, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Pinigis
The Origami Cricket and Origami Mantis have no resemblance to any Dahon models.
I see a couple of bikes that fold by depressing the seatpost (not possible on the Mantis, which leaves it relatively big without removing parts), folding the handlepost at 45deg and folding the mainframe 180deg just before the chainwheel. No resemblance? I don't know how to break this to you, but that fold is right out of Dr. Hon's 1981 patent application.

Hey, look! A 2000 year model Dahon Gotham City!

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Old 11-07-14, 09:26 PM
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This week, the woman in front of me on line at the supermarket had her Brompton IN her shopping cart. I thought that was cute.

Here in NYC, there is a shop called NYCEwheels that specializes in folding bikes and e-bikes. E-bikes are big here for food deliveries.
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Old 11-07-14, 10:45 PM
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Folders are generally small, don't fare well on off-roads (with few exceptions), wouldn't be recommended for stunts, are more expensive than bikes of similar quality, and so on. I would think they are a little 'weenie' for many Americans.

With the amount of environmental diversity around to be enjoyed, folders don't make that much sense outside of an urban context. Especially for non-commuters and weekend bikers.
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Old 11-08-14, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by keyven
With the amount of environmental diversity around to be enjoyed, folders don't make that much sense outside of an urban context.
According to the US Census Bureau, over 80% of the US population lives in urban areas.

Again, folders sell in the USA - just look at that list of brands in post 1 - but there's precious little diversity in folding design.

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Old 11-08-14, 07:39 AM
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feitsbob - CM Watson may have sold different designs of folders in the past, but all they advertise now is Brompton.

noglider - IIRC, NYCEWheels used to sell Birdy and Strida and Pacific Reach folding bikes, but they don't any more. I wonder why?

A Dahon guy said on that video from Eurobike that 90% of the world's current production of folding bikes uses the basic folding pattern from Dr. Hon's 1981 patent application. If that's really true, maybe folder diversity in the USA isn't all that different from the rest of the world. Perhaps I'm just having trouble accepting that's the design that ate the market?
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Old 11-08-14, 08:48 AM
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I don't think the folding bike range in the UK is much different from the USA. Very few high street cycle dealers stock folders and if they do they will be from major suppliers e.g. Dahon. Dealers often have contracts with suppliers and stock a limited range of most things including; Helmets, clothing, accessories and components. A large bike shop near me has many Specialized and Cannondale bikes with the odd Trek for variety - and that is about it as choice goes. Oh, and don't ask them about Campagnolo because there will be non in the shop.

I bought my Xootr Swift on-line (as I do most things these days) because only one shop in the UK stocked it and that was about 300 miles from where I live! The OP mentioned that the Swift does not fold as small as a Brompton etc but that does not matter to me. I don't need a bike that folds ultra small as I do not use it when hopping on and off public transport. The Swift slips nicely into the back of my small car and that allows me to drive to distant locations to ride new roads. High street businesses will only stock what they know they can sell which is why internet shopping is growing.

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Old 11-08-14, 09:15 AM
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@tcs, NYCEwheels's founder died a couple of years ago, and the holding company has been looking for a buyer.
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Old 11-08-14, 10:41 AM
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Tcs, Id try the telephone if you , actually, want a Strida, etc.

I've ordered stuff via the 800 number..

Update : reply from Mr Wasson.. on Holiday in Mexico, via Phone text, He is retiring fairly soon .

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Old 11-08-14, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs
According to the US Census Bureau, over 80% of the US population lives in urban areas.

Again, folders sell in the USA - just look at that list of brands in post 1 - but there's precious little diversity in folding design.
Ah but how many of those people commute via bike? Not a large portion, apparently. Living in urban areas does not automatically translate to riding in them.

I suspect most people would choose to ride in the countryside over built-up areas if it was purely for leisure.
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Old 11-09-14, 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Pinigis
The Origami Cricket and Origami Mantis have no resemblance to any Dahon models.
Nope. In fact the Cricket looks kinda like those Trek Y33 mountain bikes from the late 90's. Very cool.
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Old 11-10-14, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by keyven
Ah but how many of those people commute via bike? Not a large portion, apparently. Living in urban areas does not automatically translate to riding in them.

I suspect most people would choose to ride in the countryside over built-up areas if it was purely for leisure.
the subject here went off from the main OP's subject but I actually found it a wonderful info and discussion here. On top of that 80% that's living in urban areas most of the cities in the states are not that bicycle friendly and have alot of cycling infrastructure like Portland and New York has been increasing bike lanes all over town. The cities actually have to make an effort to show that cycling is safe before you get the majority to even think of hopping on a bike to work. I'm betting alot of people don't actually like sharing lanes with a car in busy downtown traffic and feel uncomfortable about it. When I rode with some friends all the way downtown they found it a bit of a rush and scary when riding and keeping up with the mess in the downtown core areas. I found it fun as hell cause they're all gridlocked but me!
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Old 11-10-14, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider
This week, the woman in front of me on line at the supermarket had her Brompton IN her shopping cart. I thought that was cute.
I do that all the time...
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Old 11-14-14, 12:57 PM
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Even Dahon still stiff's the US. They really should be offering both 7 speed and 3 speed Curl's, but after the 3 speed only, it is a bit of a non event. I'd buy a 3-6 speed Brompton, before I bought a 3 speed Curl, unless it was a fab deal used.
Add SF to your NYC & Portland comments. Calling 80% Urban, does that mean they're counting suburban sprawl? Transit, density, car unfriendly (traffic and cost of parking) and actual bike and increasing bike infrastructure make a big difference in those cities.
I do find the discovery of multi modal and government incentive SoCal commuters on this board, interesting. Definitely not aware of them as a kid, though I was thoroughly aware transit sucked. I did borrow my first bike and own two bikes, as a kid/college student. I was a weird & poor Southern Californian, now that I think about it. I didn't worry about not having a car, because everyone else had one, so getting a ride wasn't really a problem. I got my license way later. I've still never owned a car.
I'm sure things like Warm Planet's bike previous Caltrain location, helped expose people to folding bikes in SF, which makes them more frequent in the city. I imagine as density and traffic and parking costs increased, biking\walking culture increased. I mostly see Dahon's, Bike Friday, Downtube & Bromptons, though. Which is interesting, because I know there are Terns and I know people are buying them, but I haven't really seen them in the wild. I certainly haven't seen anyone else with a Mezzo. I definitely didn't have the opportunity to buy the Mezzo/Ori or Frog, I really wanted.
Oh well, I got the Mezzo i-4, now. So next folder is mtb foldy (20" or under) or a present (possibly a bmx, not a folder) for Miss I'm never gonna buy a bike, because I'd always spend more than $100 on something else and nothing under $100 is 20 pounds or less and actually functioning/comfort/offroad/space saving. Much more likely to buy mtb folder, than attempt to gift impossible to please.

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Old 11-14-14, 04:06 PM
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Of course International Shipping will resolve the selection dilemma in any one location
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Old 11-14-14, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Azreal911
the subject here went off from the main OP's subject...
Yeah, that's okay; you never know when you start a thread where it will wind up. Besides, it was fun owning Pinigis in post 8.
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Old 12-02-14, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs
feitsbob - CM Watson may have sold different designs of folders in the past, but all they advertise now is Brompton.

noglider - IIRC, NYCEWheels used to sell Birdy and Strida and Pacific Reach folding bikes, but they don't any more. I wonder why?

A Dahon guy said on that video from Eurobike that 90% of the world's current production of folding bikes uses the basic folding pattern from Dr. Hon's 1981 patent application. If that's really true, maybe folder diversity in the USA isn't all that different from the rest of the world. Perhaps I'm just having trouble accepting that's the design that ate the market?
those bikes are expensive, esp the pacific/birdy - all over $1000. the strida appears to be even more impractical and niche for a bike.

brompton is expensive, but it benefits from having a certain amount of cachet and a nifty fold.

dahon makes it because even though it is niche, many of the bikes are still affordable, comparatively. tern too.

it comes down to $$$$. imo, it's as simple as that.

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Old 12-02-14, 02:04 PM
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At least so far, the commuter folding bike market is pretty small: the Census Bureau's definition of "urban" includes some areas pretty far from what a layperson calls "urban". I gather that average residences are quite a bit bigger here than many other places such that storage is less of an issue. Moreover, I think that cities with the ubiquitous rental bikes -- like DC's Capital Bikeshare -- probably compete with folding bikes. While there are not many bike shares here in the US, they are probably located in areas where folding bikes make the most sense (NYC and DC).

Anyway, I was sorry to see the Birdy disappear here.

FWIW, I have seen a few people with STRIDAs here in DC. But it's an obvious minority overall.
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Old 12-02-14, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by invisiblehand
Moreover, I think that cities with the ubiquitous rental bikes -- like DC's Capital Bikeshare -- probably compete with folding bikes.
Truth,I find it's usually way easier to use CaBi with Metro rather than drag one of my bikes along.

Originally Posted by invisiblehand
FWIW, I have seen a few people with STRIDAs here in DC.
There was actually a foo-foo clothing store in G'town that sold them. It was funny because the way they were displayed,it made it look more like they were decoration than product.
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