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Soon to be a folder club member but seeking input

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Soon to be a folder club member but seeking input

Old 02-16-15, 10:56 PM
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Soon to be a folder club member but seeking input

I'm ready to take the plunge as soon as the weather breaks and as usual I've done too much research. I'm often guilty of paralysis by analysis so please give me your thoughts.

I have bikes for almost every purpose and here is my plan. I'd like to get a folder to spend summer weekends taking trains to cities 100-150 miles away and then biking home. I love the idea of going into restaurants and bringing the bike inside with me and traveling by train with a folding bike will be easier than bringing a full size bike. Even rides into the adjoining college town will be "safer" if I can bring the bike into the coffee house with me, etc. I have a Trek 520, but it might also be fun some touring with a folder. I would also take the folder on flights when I travel to out of town conferences.

I've looked at a ton of bikes on line and will definitely test ride a bunch before purchase. I'll need to travel to Philly and/or NYC to do so, but it's worth it to me to be sure.

Thoughts and questions:

I like the convenience and low maintenance of an IGH and I'm worried about derailleurs when using public transportation. Should I be? I'm careful with all of my bikes, but it just seems that derailleurs are too easy to tweak when not riding. I do like the Brompton IGH/derailleur combo (on the 6 speeds) that is protected inside the fold. Do any other brands fold with the derailleur protected by the fold?

I know that Bromptons have the smallest fold. Do Dahons, Terns, etc. travel well by rail or plane?

Some of the bikes with derailleurs appear problematic. For example, I know that Birdie is an excellent bike, but the pictures seem to show the derailleur about 2" from the ground. That's fine for paved roads but what if you go a bit off road? I'd hate for something as innocuous as tall grass ruining my ride/bike. A number of other brands seem to have models with similar clearances.

I have carbon, aluminum and steel bikes and I really enjoy the ride of the steel bikes best. On a folder, does one notice the difference between steel and aluminum in the same way that one does on 700c wheels?

As I reread this, I see that I'm kind of leaning towards the Brompton. Since I'll be spending +/- $2,000, I want to get this right the first time.

I'd value any observations or guidance. Thank you.
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Old 02-17-15, 08:59 AM
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If you want to fly with the folder, note that there is a hard shell case for a Brompton that conforms to the maximum dimensions for luggage for most airlines. For 20" Dahons and Terns, there have been two popular cases - the Airporter and the Mini-Airporter. The Airporter is larger than the maximum luggage dimensions and may incur an extra charge. The Mini-Airporter requires disassembling the bike.

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DISCLOSURE: I have an ownership interest in a company that is an authorized dealer for Brompton.
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Old 02-17-15, 10:15 AM
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Bike Friday's Tikit is built * for the buyer with an extensive options list, including frame sizes.

* In Oregon .. 349 16" wheel

they can be built with an **IGH, & no chaintensioner, chain slack taken up at the rear dropout

**Alfine 8 or 11 speed.. for example..

++ Their 20" wheel travel bike fits in a suitcase of Sufficient size, involves some Knock Down, and re assembly..

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Old 02-17-15, 12:51 PM
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A lot of folks that ride a lot of miles and want a folding bike usually lean towards Bike Friday.
But some of the things you want to do will be easier to accomplish with a compact folding Brompton:
bringing your bike inside restaurants, coffee shops, trains, etc. Some of these places don't care for
ANY type of bicycle. So the less attention you get; the better. I've done all of those including taking
my Brompton inside museums, electronic stores, bus, office, hotel rooms, supermarkets, etc, etc.

For anybody wanting to test ride a Brompton; NYCEWheels has weekend rides that meander around
NYC on their loaner bikes. Free of charge. You'll just have to wait till spring.

In this video; I placed my B'ton inside it's original carboard box and flew from NYC to CA. Threw
the box when I landed in LAX and rode my bike 60 miles to Anaheim. Stopped inside at a couple
of 7-11's with my bike folded to cool off and buy the US$1 jumbo drinks(there was a heatwave at
the time). When I got in front of our hotel; put the cover on my B and walked inside. Next day;
placed my B next to some luggage inside the trunk of my brother's rental car and off we went to
San Diego. On my flight back; I made up a big box out of 2 smaller boxes to fit my bike in since I
threw the original box. This is the box pictured in the video. It's not possible to bike into NYC's
JFK airport. I took a bus and the subway/Airtrain; no problems.


100 Miles(160 Km.) on a Brompton by 1nterceptor, on Flickr
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Old 02-17-15, 02:15 PM
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If the op is looking for the best all round folder,then the Brompton wins hands down.It doesn't do everything you would like perfectly,because it's a compromise of many different wants and needs ,but it comes damn close.
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Old 02-17-15, 04:40 PM
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Just a note on the birdie. It's a really good bike off road. Espically as it offer the advantage of bigger tyres, big apples included,better brakes and front suspension.
I own three birdies and the drailler near the ground can be a problem. It's not such a problem on the ihg version, but the cage extention on the drailler version can get jammed back in to the cassette.

There are solutions to this. Recenttly I bought a paffiic chain tensioner. Expensive but negetes the need for the cage or a ccn bolt extention can replace the cage. Don't let this aspect put you off the birdie as there are solutions.

It sounds like a brompton suits you best but don't over look completion. For instance;
Birdie with a front rack is the best bike I have tried to roll. Better than mezzo, brompton etc.
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Old 02-18-15, 11:15 AM
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The three most important things with getting the right bike the first time... test ride, test ride, test ride.

This includes folding and unfolding the bikes.

In the end, getting a folding bike is about what tradeoffs you are willing to make with respect to the fold, ride quality, and price.

My experience with the tikit ... the tikit is definitely a bigger fold than the Brompton, but to date, I've never been stopped from bringing it into a restaurant, store, elementary school, or supermarket. I have yet to try my doctor's office yet. Nor have I needed to use the cover. The rear derailer is relatively protected on the inside of the fold. I've had no issues with either the front or rear derailer. I have not toured with it but I imagine that it would be relatively straightforward. I also think that my bike could fit wide ERTO 355 rims/tires without fenders if I wanted wider than 40 mm wide tires for rougher roads.

My experience with the Brompton ... even though I've brought the tikit into lots of places, the Brompton fold is definitely neater and less conspicuous. As long as the distances were not terribly long, I was pretty happy with it for utility rides given the ridiculous carrying capacity of the front bag.

Personally, I think the ride quality is definitely better on the tikit ... you have more ergonomic, gearing and tire choices. But a Brompton does fit some folks really well. Given that you already have a lot of bikes, my advice to you is to test ride as many bikes as possible and think carefully how the folding bike fits in with the rest of your fleet.

Mind you, I only mentioned the tikit and Brompton since "smallness" for restaurants and such seem to be important. But ride quality generally goes up with 20" wheels. If you think that a super compact fold is unnecessary, then I'd seriously consider the 20" Bike Friday/Dahon/etc. models.
A narrative on bicycle driving.
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Old 02-18-15, 02:08 PM
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I think a birdie with two wheel sets would give a lot of options for mixing fast commuting or off road. Quick release wheels gives options.
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Old 02-19-15, 07:51 PM
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If you want the smallest fold, then a Brompton is the best option. Obviously the trade-off is ride quality, especially on less well paved surfaces with small wheels. Agree with others - go test ride (and test fold).

I haven't had issues with my low RD on my folder, but I don't travel a lot with my bike.
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