Best folding bike for me?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Jules_London
Posts: 5
Joined: 16 Jul 2019, 12:09pm

Best folding bike for me?

Postby Jules_London » 16 Jul 2019, 12:36pm

I am a cycling newbie, 55 years old and only learned to ride a bike a few years ago and not been on the saddle since. I really fancy using a bike rather than car whenever possible now for the good of health, fun and the environment. I'm space limited for storage and sometimes would take on the train so figure a folding bike is the answer, but which one?
I'd like a full size hybrid with quick and easy folding system. I'd go on rough tracks and the park sometimes so figure full size is best (otherwise I'd go for a Brompton).
Any suggestions?

Brucey
Posts: 35998
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Best folding bike for me?

Postby Brucey » 16 Jul 2019, 4:22pm

the train limits your choice. All the train operating companies have different policies re folding bikes, and not all trains will allow all folding bikes (in theory). In practice any folding bike that is wrapped (even if it is just a bin liner) is suddenly 'luggage' and different rules ought to apply.


There are bikes with bigger wheels which ride like 'normal' bikes which also fold (eg Montagues). However such bikes

a) don't fold super small (so might not be allowed as a 'folding bike' on a train).
b) do usually fold quickly so that they will go into a car boot easily and
c) some 'knock down' small eg for air transport but this can take a little longer and isn't so appealing for a short train journey.

So if you commute by train a Brompton (or similar) is just the ticket. If you prefer bigger wheels and only occasionally travel by train then something else may suit better. In practice there is a big overlap between these two groups; folk ride very great distances on their Bromptons and some commuters blag their way onto trains even with bikes that don't really fold as small as they should do.

FWIW I rode my modified Rudge 'biframe' (an old montague design) yesterday to a friend's place (about an hour's ride) so that he can use it on a trip to France and it rode 95% like any other touring bike (it has dropped bars and 3x8 touring gearing fitted). It is maybe 1-2lbs heavier than a similarly equipped non-folding bike; yet in 30s it can be packed small enough to go into the back of even the smallest car (or on most trains). This makes it a good compromise for me; other people would perhaps prefer something different. It has nominally 26" wheels (559mm BSD) fitted, but with ~32mm wide tyres the actual wheel diameter is closer to 24.5". I've ridden it 'proper distances' and it has been fine.

If you want to venture offroad something with big wheels, that will accept wider tyres if necessary is probably best. Montague fits this bill and there are a few larger-wheeled Dahons too.

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Barks
Posts: 262
Joined: 14 Oct 2016, 5:27pm

Re: Best folding bike for me?

Postby Barks » 16 Jul 2019, 4:33pm

Depends what you mean by ‘rough tracks’. Brompton will be ok on hard packed porous surface but doesn’t like anything with loose stones or worse or cobbles. I’ve travelled all over uk using train and Brompton combination in recent years, i’ve Always been able to find reasonably sensible routes at either end that it copes with and never had to worry about whether I can get it on the train (and that includes Eurostar on trips to Belgium and Netherlands’) or occasional bus or taxi’s. Unless you are hard over on using ‘rough tracks’ then use Brompton as your benchmark (all the dealers have demo bikes you can try out) and compare others against it. Also do not worry about the weight of a Brompton, I only ever fully fold and carry mine when getting on or off trains/buses always wheeling it unfolded around stations or half folded on the mini wheels.

JakobW
Posts: 283
Joined: 9 Jun 2014, 1:26pm
Location: The glorious West Midlands

Re: Best folding bike for me?

Postby JakobW » 16 Jul 2019, 4:45pm

(Edit: beaten to it!)

I find my Brompton ok in parks and on unsurfaced canal towpaths as long as it's not too rough or muddy. Depending on which (London?) trains you're planning to take it on, the size of the fold may become an issue - Terns and other 20" folders are generally ok anytime (though they don't always meet the strict letter of the conditions of carriage), but anything bigger may be limited to off-peak.

Otherwise I'd be considering something like a Montague - BiFrames should be available pretty cheap second-hand, but most of their models are hybrids that fold small enough to go in a car boot (though you may have to take a wheel out).

Jules_London
Posts: 5
Joined: 16 Jul 2019, 12:09pm

Re: Best folding bike for me?

Postby Jules_London » 16 Jul 2019, 5:08pm

Thank you for the replies so far, much appreciated.
regarding Bromptons, I really want one but I know it is the wrong bike unfortunately otherwise I'd be down there choosing my spec already. I will definitely take it down unsuitable tracks but a hybrid with the right tyres should be OK. I think I should go and look at Tern and Montague, maybe find a way to try them out.

Brucey
Posts: 35998
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Best folding bike for me?

Postby Brucey » 16 Jul 2019, 5:28pm

Its worth looking at what happened to overtly offroad designs that have used small wheels. Moulton produced the AM-ATB (with 20" (406) wheels) which was intended to be an offroader. This was very interesting but it never worked that well offroad, and was soon replaced by a similar-looking 'APB' model (all purpose bike) . This could still accept wide knobblies but most such bikes never saw knobbly tyres or much dirt either. When the APB model was replaced, the TSR model had smaller clearances and doesn't allow such fat tyres to be fitted; tacit acknowledgement that most owners didn't ever use such tyres anyway, I think.

I've owned a APB myself and I thought fat tyres just didn't suit it, and (despite the suspension) nor do many offroad conditions either, with or without fat tyres. Most folders don't have much in the way of suspension, so with 20" wheels or smaller, you would have to be a bit masochistic to choose it for offroading; every bump and pothole is about twice as much of a challenge vs a bike with larger wheels.

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PH
Posts: 7604
Joined: 21 Jan 2007, 12:31am
Location: Derby
Contact:

Re: Best folding bike for me?

Postby PH » 16 Jul 2019, 5:32pm

I'm not sure what you mean by "Sometimes take on the train" that could be anything to commuting rush hour one or twice a week to a few times a year with lots of time for planning. My train use doesn't need a folder, though I have one for other uses (Like taking on the coach :wink:) but it's rarely a time critical journey and only occasionally not planned well in advance. I can't count the number of times my bike has been on a train, well into the 100's, I can't say there's never been any issues, I can say I've never failed to reach the destination, except one time and that applied to everyone and had nothing to do with bikes.

PH
Posts: 7604
Joined: 21 Jan 2007, 12:31am
Location: Derby
Contact:

Re: Best folding bike for me?

Postby PH » 16 Jul 2019, 5:41pm

Jules_London wrote: I'm space limited for storage

That can be a problem, but there are ways to make it less so. Bike stands where it's held upright take a lot lass space, I have three bikes stored like this and the floorspace used is 1.2 x 1.1 meters. The Airnimal folder is unfolded ready to ride in one of these, it takes up no more usable space than when folded
Image
Minoura DS-2100 Tancho E`sse

Jules_London
Posts: 5
Joined: 16 Jul 2019, 12:09pm

Re: Best folding bike for me?

Postby Jules_London » 16 Jul 2019, 6:23pm

Thanks PH, I need to be able to take it/sneak it on the train and tube but not every day, just occasionally and gives me options when out and about. I have some room out front for a secure bike shed but only room for a folder; upright storage not an option unfortunately.

reohn2
Posts: 36444
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: Best folding bike for me?

Postby reohn2 » 16 Jul 2019, 6:27pm

I own a Tern Link N8 folder with 20inch(406) wheels takes full SKS mudguards and 2in Schwalbe Big Apple tyres it ride OK on tarmac and OKish on dirt and gravelly unsurfaced tracks providing they're not too rough,but it's a compromise as most if not all folders are especially ones with small wheels.
My Tern is one of four solo bikes I won and sees only occasional use,but if your intention is for an all purpose one only bike,then I think you need something with minimum 24inch wheels such as an Airnimal or Tern Node.
Last edited by reohn2 on 16 Jul 2019, 9:32pm, edited 1 time in total.
-----------------------------------------------------------
I cycle therefore I am.

grufty
Posts: 19
Joined: 26 Sep 2017, 2:24pm

Re: Best folding bike for me?

Postby grufty » 16 Jul 2019, 8:08pm

We use Bromptons a lot off road, sometimes you have to take them for a walk uphill, and they're easy-ish to carry unfolded like a yoke. Ours are nearly 30 years old, still the original SA rear hub, been through a few rims mind you!

David9694
Posts: 361
Joined: 10 Feb 2018, 8:42am

Re: Best folding bike for me?

Postby David9694 » 16 Jul 2019, 9:25pm

Bickerton is another make to consider. 20” wheels, and in the case of my Bickerton Junction, quite chunky tyres that came as standard. I have ridden it on bridleways but it’s a bone-shaker in that mode. Your money goes that much further than with Brompton in terms of gearing, mine has a dynohub front light, rear rack, potential to fit a fork crown truss, and 5 speeds. For weight and elegance of fold, the Brompton is the nicest.

hercule
Posts: 970
Joined: 5 Feb 2011, 5:18pm

Re: Best folding bike for me?

Postby hercule » 16 Jul 2019, 9:37pm

I’ve always fancied a R+M Birdy. Slightly larger than Brompton size (I have a B), quick fold, and importantly full suspension. I’ve got an AM Moulton and a couple of 1960s ones and I find they run beautifully on rough but firm surfaces - much better than my Brompton despite similar sized tyres. Having access to both means I’ve never been able to justify the price of a Birdy to myself but I dare say I wouldn’t take much persuading...


I'm a trendy consumer. Just look at my stupid phone.

iandriver
Posts: 2181
Joined: 10 Jun 2009, 2:09pm
Location: Cambridge.

Re: Best folding bike for me?

Postby iandriver » 16 Jul 2019, 9:51pm

If you are determined to go for bigger wheels and don't intend to train commute in rush hour, then a 24 inch wheeler like the Airnimal https://www.spacycles.co.uk/m1b41s19p17 ... Joey-Sport might be worth looking into.

This is one of the compromise bikes where a full fold is a bit laborious, but a partial fold is much quicker. But fold it does.

I've got a 26 in wheeled Tern Joe. It is a heavy lump of a bike and rides like it. The fold is little more than the frame folding in half, the bars don't fold or anything like that. I personally wouldn't recommend it and would advise extreme caution once you get up to the 26 inch plus varieties.

They also do a case for it that turns int a a trailer :-) http://airnimal.eu/products/accessories/#.XS45cjlArnE
Supporter of the A10 corridor cycling campaign serving Royston to Cambridge http://a10corridorcycle.com. Never knew gardening secateurs were an essential part of the on bike tool kit until I took up campaigning.....

geocycle
Posts: 1733
Joined: 11 Jan 2007, 9:46am

Re: Best folding bike for me?

Postby geocycle » 17 Jul 2019, 9:49am

I have a Dahon mu p8 with 20" wheels, a bit like reohn2's Tern. It rides ok for up to 10-15 miles on tarmac although it does flex alarmingly if you try and lever against the handlebars. I have done some rail trails on it and it is a bit rattly but ok. It just fits in the racks on a Virgin Pendolino and is about the maximum weight ~10kg I'd want to carry regularly. If I was buying again I might go the Brompton route for ease of folding and small folded size and put up with the ride which I didn't get on with as well as the Dahon. The airnimal I tried once was a better ride but wouldn't fit in luggage racks on a Pendolino.