Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

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Tangled Metal
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Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

Postby Tangled Metal » 7 Sep 2019, 11:36pm

Just curious what is out there in the folding bike world other than Brompton.

I know of tern and iirc the son of tern founder set up a rival company that I can't remember the name of but it's as good. There's a company doing full sized wheel folder, 26" or 700c wheels.

Raleigh do folders and I guess btwinn and go outdoors do one too. But are they any good?

I'm not planning on getting one, yet, but curious about them. What makes a good folder? Do they ride totally different to rigid bikes? Are any as good as rigid bikes for the way they last? Assume comparing with a £1000 rigid bike but probably spending more for equivalent folder.

Brucey
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Re: Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

Postby Brucey » 8 Sep 2019, 12:02am

Tangled Metal wrote:….I know of tern and iirc the son of tern founder set up a rival company that I can't remember the name of but it's as good. ....


er, Tern is that company and was founded by the son of Mr Hon who founded Dahon.

Folders are bought for different uses eg

- on the train daily
- in the car boot regularly
- on the airplane

and when ridden they are ridden by different folk with different priorities/amounts of luggage over different distances.

Needless to say there is no 'best' or one size fits all, and there are many different bike out there. If you know what sort of use you would get out of a folding bike then maybe we can point you in the right direction. BTW Montague may be the company you are thinking of for larger-wheeled machines.

Needless to say they are all compromised in various different ways vs a 'normal' bike.

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robgul
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Re: Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

Postby robgul » 8 Sep 2019, 7:31am

The Bickerton Pilot 1407 is a pretty compact and light folder with 16" wheels - a sort of "poor man's Brompton" at about half the price.

I have a Brompton and have ridden the Pilot - the ride is pretty similar but Brompton beats it on the fold.

Bickerton is part of the Tern business - as stated above Tern is a breakaway business headed (he calls himself Captain) by Josh Hon, son of Dr David Hon who developed the Dahon bikes. Mark Bickerton, son of the original Bickerton aluminium folding bike creator, runs the current Bickerton brand with a range of 16 & 20 wheel bikes including an electric version.

An awful lot of the branded folders around are actually re-badged Dahon produced machines (the Dawes range of folders is/was a good example)

Rob

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gaz
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Re: Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

Postby gaz » 8 Sep 2019, 10:43am

Easy enough to pick up a pre-loved (as opposed to pre-abused) Dahon Speed/Vitesse (the basic steel/alu model) on ebay to give things a try out.

Unlikely to lose any money if you sell it on after your test ride period.
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Richard Fairhurst
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Re: Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 8 Sep 2019, 11:43am

Two more names for your list: Bike Friday (I have one) and Airnimal (Mrs F has one). Both produce superb bikes suitable for longer rides but still just about foldable small enough to get on a train: of the (...counts...) seven bikes in this household, the Airnimal is the fastest by a long chalk. Plenty of information on this forum and elsewhere on the web that's worth trawling through. Ultimately, though, nothing folds as small and as quickly as a Brommie.
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JakobW
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Re: Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

Postby JakobW » 8 Sep 2019, 11:48am

As mentioned above, folders add one more big factor to the normal compromises that accompany any bike design; working out what your use case is going to be is key. Most folders/travel bikes use a variety of non-standard parts and are built in small numbers, so are usually fairly expensive; Bromptons get a bit of a bad rap for this, but compared with the other options are actually very reasonable. I suspect B'twin folders are OK for the price - fine in occasional use on short journeys, but rather heavy lumps. Some models of Tern have had QC issues, and the Tern/Dahon design does appear to be a bit more prone to frame breakages in heavy use.

In general, small wheelers are going to feel twitchier/nippier (though most people get used to the handling pretty quickly), be a bit slower, and less comfortable/capable on rough surfaces.

Some bikes not yet mentioned (edit: I see Richard F mentioned Airnimal and Bike Friday as well):
- Riese and Müller 'Birdy' models - AIUI their fold's nearly as small and fast as a Brompton, but the ride is more 'normal'; they're fiercely expensive, though.
- Some Moultons are 'seperable', so will go in a car boot; obviously this is slower than a true fold.
- Bike Friday make a range of suitcase/travel bikes that are pretty well regarded, as do Airnimal. Not the kind of thing you'd want to break down every day.
- the Ritchey 'break-away' system allows a full-sized (700C) bike to break down to an airline-approved case size with minimal extra weight and no effect on handling; IIRC it comes in road and CX versions.

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Re: Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

Postby theriddler » 8 Sep 2019, 7:34pm

Add Moulton to the list of separable small-wheelers. Another British manufacturer and has a very Charles & Ray Eames looking frame.

Used Bromptons can be had from £ 500 onwards dependant on age and number of gears. The B75 at £ 745 is an entry-level model with pre-2012 components. It has 3 gears, no mudguards and non-folding pedals. Better By Bike in Bristol offers folding bikes for local residents to try out. My friend who borrowed one said it's a Dahon.

Used Birdys can also be had for less than half-price. My cycle instructor has one as her only bike and she leads group rides on it. I have ridden it briefly during my lesson.

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horizon
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Re: Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

Postby horizon » 8 Sep 2019, 9:13pm

I was in east London last week and therefore surrounded by bike shops. I wandered into Velorution and this one took my breath away:

https://www.ternbicycles.com/uk/bikes/gsd

It's certainly the most interesting bike I've seen in a long time and I don't even go for electric (there doesn't seem to be a non-electric version). Things are hotting up in the bike world.

PS It costs £5000 but I wouldn't let that worry you. 8)
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Jamesh
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Re: Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

Postby Jamesh » 8 Sep 2019, 9:27pm

To another extreme Argos do a folding bike for £150

Looks ok Alu frame basic components.

https://www.argos.co.uk/product/8887328 ... fsQAvD_BwE

Cheers James

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Re: Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

Postby JakobW » 8 Sep 2019, 11:35pm

Like Horizon I can take or leave the electric assist, but I think the GSD is great, and just the kind of thing that could replace a second (or even a first?) car for lots of city dwellers. OTOH even by cargo bike standards it's not cheap, and I'd only buy one from a specialist bike shop who knew what they were doing - from my cargo bike mechanic acquaintences I gather the QC has been frustratingly inconsistent, though once properly built they're great.

Not sure I'd trust that Argos bike - the clamps and hinges on the cheap folders I've seen and used have been pretty nasty. Being able to fold your bike is great; having it happen when underway is likely to be less so...

Tangled Metal
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Re: Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

Postby Tangled Metal » 9 Sep 2019, 3:39pm

Dahon was the other bike and I knew one was set up by the son if the other's founder just got it the wrong way around. Iirc tern guy didn't like the way dahon was going but wanted to experiment a bit more. Or something like that I read in a paper or cycle mag once.

Airnimal and chameleon were the two bike brands I was thinking of but couldn't remember the names. Thanks!

rjb
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Re: Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

Postby rjb » 9 Sep 2019, 4:08pm

Another option is to look out for an old Dawes Kingpin or Raleigh twenty. Can be found for not a lot on local ads. Can provide hours of entertainment restoring them and they are very reliable with the 3 speed sturmey hubs. Fold not as good as current models but look at the saving you are making and the enjoyment of recycling an old bike. BTW i am verry happy with both my 40 year old machines, i have a Kingpin and a twenty which i use regularly.
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Re: Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

Postby Jamesh » 9 Sep 2019, 5:24pm

JakobW wrote:Like Horizon I can take or leave the electric assist, but I think the GSD is great, and just the kind of thing that could replace a second (or even a first?) car for lots of city dwellers. OTOH even by cargo bike standards it's not cheap, and I'd only buy one from a specialist bike shop who knew what they were doing - from my cargo bike mechanic acquaintences I gather the QC has been frustratingly inconsistent, though once properly built they're great.

Not sure I'd trust that Argos bike - the clamps and hinges on the cheap folders I've seen and used have been pretty nasty. Being able to fold your bike is great; having it happen when underway is likely to be less so...


Funny you should say that...

I was on a trip to morcambe with some clients with my mental health work. One of my clients said he had just brought an Argos folder but it was still in its box as he's unsure how to set it up. I told him to bring it to our Wednesday morning meet up and we could have a look at it.

I suspect you would want something to stop the clam lock from undoing. Good that they have increased the surface area and horse shoe shape of the alloy otherwise I could see it wearing loose quickly. I will report back Weds if he remembers.

Cheers James

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Re: Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

Postby mercalia » 9 Sep 2019, 9:57pm

horizon wrote:I was in east London last week and therefore surrounded by bike shops. I wandered into Velorution and this one took my breath away:

https://www.ternbicycles.com/uk/bikes/gsd

It's certainly the most interesting bike I've seen in a long time and I don't even go for electric (there doesn't seem to be a non-electric version). Things are hotting up in the bike world.

PS It costs £5000 but I wouldn't let that worry you. 8)


I would. But one thing that is attractive is the 2 battery thing. But £5000 is silly money

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Re: Folding bikes - good Brompton alternatives?

Postby Sid Aluminium » 10 Sep 2019, 7:09am

Not to be overlooked are the classic Strida with its deep British roots and the venerable, groundbreaking, unique Italian Di Blasi.

'Dahon' as a brand doesn't quite capture it. They have produced over the years an array of folders. Many are variations of 'fold-in-half, 20" wheel' machines; other offerings have 14", 16", the other 16", 24", 26" or 700c wheels and/or different folding schemes. Some were produced for only a few years, other models have been offered for two decades. For inscrutable reasons, a different mix of models is offered in different world markets in various years.

Iirc tern guy didn't like the way dahon was going but wanted to experiment a bit more. Or something like that...


We hardly need to gossip about tawdry details of the Hon family on such a classy forum, so let's leave it at the story you read in the cycling press.

dahon the man the machine.gif