Folding Bikes for Commuting

Discussion in 'Commuting and Road Safety' started by zumbrunndbla, Jun 2, 2003.

  1. zumbrunndbla

    zumbrunndbla New Member

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    I am considering getting myself a folding bike for my commute. I figure these are the advantages:
    - Can take bike on the train and use at the other end (trains here don't allow bikes in rugh hour trains - much good that does!).
    - Bike won't get stolen, it is always with me.
    - Should save me close to an hour a day over walking.
    - Would allow me to go more places without buying a second car (my wife absolutely needs our first car on workdays).

    Here is my question: has anybody done this? Is it workable or have you given up on it? Tired of lugging a 25 pound bunch of metal tubes onto the trains/buses on top of anything you have to carry anyhow?

    I appreciate all comments!

    AZ
     
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  2. ant evans

    ant evans New Member

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    It works, but don't expect to be carrying a folded bike very far. They're too heavy and awkward... even a Brompton, which folds the smallest, and weighs 22-25lb. Just wheel the thing. Folding is for saving space, not for carrying.

    Walking is rubbish. Boycott it.
     
  3. zumbrunndbla

    zumbrunndbla New Member

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    I thought I might post my experience after doing this for a while.
    You are right: the rule is:
    - ride the bike whenever possible
    - wheel it if riding does not work
    - fold it and carry it only if necessary
    I have a Dahon Presto, Bromptons being twice as expensive (equipped equivalently) and even somewhat heavier. It is true that it does not fold as small, but it has been small enough to get me on every train I wanted to get on. It is a lot easier to take on the train than a regular bike, even if not folded (unexpected benefit). I fold mine and "park" it in my office. No thieves. For things to carry I have been using a backpack. I am thinking about making (to measure) a totebag that fits the rack lengthwise, so my heels don't hit it when I pedal and has some straps designed to quickly latch on to the rack.

    For those who want to try this here is what I learned (so far):
    - Weight comes at a premium, choose a LIGHT model.
    Mine has a chain guard: much less grease on your pants (or somebody else's).
    - Small wheels (16") are fine for short rides, make the folded bike smaller and save weight. On rough roads I guess some kind of seatpost suspension would help.
    - Gears: choose a hub with built in gears (available up to seven gears and if you have TONS of money even 27 gears), derailleurs are dirty and tricky and require maintenance (to be sure, on my regular bike I have derailleurs too).
    - This is a mode of transportation, not exercise. The bike rides well enough to feel safe, but take it easy. You are still 3 or 4 times faster than walking. I ride up to about 3 or 4 miles (well, except the time when I missed the last train..), above that I get on the train, underground or bus.
    - And finally: distinguish yourself from a lot of bicyclist out there by FOLLOWING THE TRAFFIC RULES. No wonder many drivers hate us. On the other hand: keep your eyes open for moron drivers. Have good lights on your bike in the dark (I am still choosing a dynamo for mine). Lights are much more important for your safety than a helmet.

    Good luck!
     
  4. Randal Lovelace

    Randal Lovelace New Member

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    Sounds like a good idea, but you should shop around I really think you can find a folding bike that weighs less.

    -ENJOY YOUR RIDE-

     
  5. zumbrunndbla

    zumbrunndbla New Member

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    Weight is very important, but so is a stable ride and a safe feel, particularly here in Boston, where traffic is about as mean as you will find it in the United States. So you will have to compromise.
    My Presto weighs 22 pounds (10.4kg) fully equipped. Dahon has the same model with a steel frame rather than aluminum, called Piccolo and weighing 2 pounds more. It costs $200.- (all of 40%) less, but I decided the lighter bike was worth the difference.
    For those who want to research into folding bikes I am attaching a few links. One of the difficulties is that few bicycle shops have them on stock, so getting one to test ride is a challenge.
    General information, list of of a lot of different brands
    Dahon's website
    Breezer - another manufacturer - rather heavy and clumsy in my judgement
     
  6. p9yto

    p9yto New Member

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    I agree weight is a premium, my folding bike weight about 11.5 kg, not the lightest but not bad either. To encourage myself , I consider bringing the bike up abd down the subway is part of the daily exercise.

    Important to note is, apart from weight, the speed/style of folding process is equally important. I certainly don't want to be seen struggling to fold/unfold my bike in front of the public.
     
  7. meb

    meb New Member

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    27 gears without deraileur.
    Who makes it?
    how much does it weight?
    How expensive is it?
    What is the top gain ratio on that hub?
    What is the bottom gain ratio on that hub?

    If you're combining Schlumpf and Rollhoff- 14X2 is 28.

    I have a 3 spd on my folder.
     
  8. zumbrunndbla

    zumbrunndbla New Member

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    Sorry, I got this confused in my memory. Rohloff is 14 speed and combined with the Schlumpf would be 28. However, come to think of it, Rohloff has a ratio of 1 : 5 between the lowest and highest gear, so the Schlumpf will add little of value.
    I should say 14 gears.
    It costs about 800 Euros, according to the manufacturer's website. I was correct on that one: TONS of money.
     
  9. Metka

    Metka New Member

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    Hello!

    I've just become a cyclingforums.com member, because I'm searching for information about folding bikes. I want to buy it, but don't know so much about them...
    Which would be the best?

    I found manufacturers' names as Neobike, Kentex, Oyama, Montague, Bernds... and Dahon, Brompton and Birdy. About the last three brands I found quite a lot of information but not about Neobike, Kentex, Oyama and Montague.

    Can you help me? Do you know where I can find information about them?

    Thank you!

    Metka
     
  10. zumbrunndbla

    zumbrunndbla New Member

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    It has been a while since anybody has added to this thread. You will probably have looked at some websites using the links I provided in an earlier post.

    I think you will have to know what you want to use the bike for. I am carrying mine onto the train; weight was therefor important. But if you want to move it in the back of your car this is less of a consideration. Many folding bikes are priced rather high, including the Brompton which folds to the smallest size fo them all.

    For a good price I would start with Dahon. They have also the biggest choice in models and price ranges. I have the Presto as I mentioned above. It cost me $500.- and it is quite satisfactory. The tires were cheap and did not live long. I had better ones put on and have been ok since. That was the only problem I have had. Dahon has redesigned this model, it is now a bit more expensive but also quite a bit lighter (mine is already quite light). It has very small wheels; bigger wheels give a more comfortable ride, but at the expense of weight and a bigger size.

    The hard part is finding a dealer who lets you testride the thing. Most bikeshops don't stock folding bikes. Maybe that has improved a bit as folding bikes have become more popular. If you live in the Boston area: the folks at Backbay Bicycles let me testride the Presto.
     
  11. meb

    meb New Member

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    Surprised you didn't find anything on Montague since its one of the premier folding brands. Their folding mountain bike is used by paratroopers and serves not only as the platform for their paratrooper bikes but also serves as the platform for Tidalforce's top models including their paratrooper units.

    Neobike was started by ex Dahon employees who took and improved some features on the Dahon designs but had numerous patent infringement and assorted legal problems with Dahon in the process including import preclusions to many countries where Dahon had patents. Some of their bikes are sold as Bromptons under a license agreement with Brompton. They are also active in the electric bike market, including electric folders.

    http://nordicgroup.us/fold/#Neobike
    http://www.bicycleretailer.com/bicycleretailer/headlines/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1465672
    http://users.belgacom.net/bn886679/brompton/chapters/Where.html#Taiwan

    Never heard of the other three before you mentioned although a search found Berndt over on the Folding Bike Society's pages:

    http://nordicgroup.us/fold/#Bernds
    Sounds pretty pricey for a high tensile steel bike and not a terribly quick folder if commuting is the objective.
     
  12. basso97

    basso97 New Member

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    I just purchased a Dahon Speed Pro, it has 24 gears- 3 internal and 8 external. It has a SRP of $1000.
     
  13. Folder Fanatic

    Folder Fanatic New Member

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    I agree with the above comments about the difficulty of finding a dealer that either stocks these bikes or especially allows you to take one out for a test ride. For locating a dealer, the Dahon and Brompton folding bike companies respectively have a e-locator link within their websites. Look under "buy" or "buying" links usually at the top of the web page. Click on that menu link and go to the buy page. Instructions are there to lead you to the dealer located nearest you by either selecting the country your are in, or your zip code. That is how I located the dealer of my latest Brompton and Dahon and any problem was easily solved by them. As for test riding, the best shops offer and encourage you to try their demostrator model. :rolleyes:
     
  14. Chris Rust

    Chris Rust New Member

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    I have two observations about folders for everyday use:
    (1) Since I bought a Brompton in 2003 I have never used a car for solo travel and I travel a lot for for my work all over the UK and in Europe. Brompton has some specific advantages - it's the fastest to fold/unfold, it's designed conservatively for maximum reliability and easy maintenance which is vital for everyday use in the winter, the luggage system is fantastic and streets ahead of anything else and if you fit a Schlumpf mountain drive alongside the Brompton six-speed you can pull full camping gear across big hills (I've done it) It's only 12 speeds but that's more real gears than any 21 speed derallieur. And the Brompton gives a very taut ride considering the huge design compromises they have made. But you MUST buy a new saddle, the basic Brompton saddle is garbage.
    (2) Weight can be a problem with all folders, sometimes you just have to carry them up stairs or whatever and it's a pain. But if you are rich the titanium Brompton is 2kg/4.4lb less. That doesn't sound much but I picked one up the other day and I was amazed.

    Best wishes from Sheffield
    Chris Rust
     
  15. TheBoyBilly

    TheBoyBilly New Member

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    My first post. I have a Trek F400 with Altura panniers (saddlebags to many of you) and am well satisfied with it. It folds easily and weight is not a real problem. Yesterday a workmate appeared with his brand new Airnimal Chameleon...what a peice of kit! But at 3 to 4 times the cost of my bike it would need to be.

    Try www.foldingbikes.com in the U.K.
     
  16. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Just purchased a Raleigh Boardwalk.

    6 speed and it's aluminium.
    I bought magnets for it so that when it folds it stays folded.

    The bike is a little bit heavy to carry when folded but that's not a problem for me - plus it is great exercise.

    The benefits of using a folding bike I find are many : I can commute through very heavy traffic very easily, the bike is light and portable and is always within reach.
    I save approximately €500.00 per annum on parking fees because I don't have to use my car when I use my bike. And I get some exercise!
     
  17. Vickeree

    Vickeree Member

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    I've bought a folding bike myself for the purpose of commuting at work but honestly I feel that I should have bought a road or hybrid bike instead especially when other bikers pass me cruising with their road bikes with big wheels and watch them effortlessly ride up hills and inclines. I really didn't need a folding feature anyway because my workplace has parking space for bikes.
     
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