Northern rail folding bike options?

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Tangled Metal
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Northern rail folding bike options?

Postby Tangled Metal » 7 Sep 2020, 9:39pm

Anyone know if there's any size restrictions for folding bikes in northern rail, specifically Manchester to Barrow line.

I'm moving to near a station on that line and to reduce the need to use a car or van I'm thinking using the usually excellent train line to get to work. To reduce travelling time I'm thinking folding bike. The option of two rat bikes at each station isn't a goer for me. Lancaster station has reduced secure cycle storage I believe and those bike lockers have long waiting lists anyway? The station is near a dodgy area and I've had a bike nicked there which is very annoying. Plus local station has no secure cycle storage.

I'm 6'5" tall and speaking to a folding bike specialist bike shop the guy reckons I might not like the ride from small wheel folders like Brompton and tern. Actually the shop is a big Tern specialist retailer but sells a lot of other folder brands too including being a Brompton retailer.

I'm thinking that a larger wheel folder might be ok on the train and riding around.

Btw the train will likely be empty going to work and I could even take a full size rigid bike, but coming home it gets very busy so the rigid bike isn't really useable. I'm thinking even a 26* folder would be small enough to stand next to in a door area of a busy train.

Btw anyone know how easy the larger wheel folders actually fold? Any as quick as a Brompton?

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Re: Northern rail folding bike options?

Postby PH » 7 Sep 2020, 10:13pm

Tangled Metal wrote:Btw anyone know how easy the larger wheel folders actually fold? Any as quick as a Brompton?

Unless yours is a train company that specifies they need to fit the luggage rack there's no restrictions
https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations ... lists.aspx

I don't think anything folds like a Brompton. My folder experience is a Dahon speed, rides OK, folds OK, available cheap, do the job but I never once in about three years rode it for pleasure. My other is an Airnimal Joey, I sometimes ride this even when I don't need it to fold, it's a nice bike to ride but folding it is a faff involving taking the front wheel out and it's then awkward to move around. People do train commute on them, but I wouldn't fancy doing it all the time. There's a Tern with the same 24" wheels as the Joey which folds a lot easier, I was close to buying one when a good value Airnimal came up...

Tangled Metal
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Re: Northern rail folding bike options?

Postby Tangled Metal » 7 Sep 2020, 10:44pm

Saw this on their website. To me it looks like they've folded it and using a wheel to move it around. Kind of like a Brompton but bigger.

https://airnimal.co/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Station2desatedlowres.jpg

The write up says there's a two stage fold. A quick one for in and off a train for example and a slower one with a more compact folded size. Could the wheel off option be the second folding style and there's another way that's more Brompton like speed of folding?

My trouble with folding bikes is my height of 6'5" tall. Tern had max height of 6'3" and although Brompton claim it's suitable for taller people I've heard it is more wobbly with its handling of you're at the top end of their recommended height range like I am.

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RickH
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Re: Northern rail folding bike options?

Postby RickH » 7 Sep 2020, 11:07pm

Northern don't have any regulation about needing a folding bike at peak times.

I've taken a tandem (Circe Helios so somewhat shorter than a standard tandem) on a peak time train, mostly in or out of Liverpool, on several occasions with no problems. The nearest I had to a problem was when one multi carriage train (usually around half a dozen coaches) was cancelled leaving lots of folk trying to squeeze onto a 2 car Pacer running the same route 10 minutes later. People shuffled up briefly, I got the Helios in the bike space & folk spread out again slightly.

Nominally they only take 2 bikes per train but I've never found that to be enforced, I've been on Northern trains (& other TOCs) with 5 or 6 other full sized bikes.

If the route is served by the new stock (195 diesels or 331 electrics there is space to stack 4 or 5 bikes in the space available with causing any blocking of the passage. They also seem OK (& sometimes actively encourage) putting a bike in one of the wheelchair spaces if it isn't in use.

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Re: Northern rail folding bike options?

Postby PH » 7 Sep 2020, 11:17pm

Tangled Metal wrote:Saw this on their website. To me it looks like they've folded it and using a wheel to move it around. Kind of like a Brompton but bigger.

https://airnimal.co/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Station2desatedlowres.jpg

The write up says there's a two stage fold. A quick one for in and off a train for example and a slower one with a more compact folded size. Could the wheel off option be the second folding style and there's another way that's more Brompton like speed of folding?

There's a youtube vid of the fold, using the additional commuter kit which brings it into one package. All the folds involve removing the front wheel, the rear wheel fits into the fork. Fitting a rear mudguard and/or rack also stops you wheeling it when folded.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyuaO3NG0lI

Don't get me wrong, I really like mine - I've had two, the first was a Nexus model, it wasn't getting used much and I needed something for the train several times a week, so sold that and bought the Dahon. When that job ended, I went looking for something that rode nicer and would still fold when needed and had a range of gears wide enough to get more use. There weren't many on the shortlist and the Joey came up on this forum at the right time.

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Re: Northern rail folding bike options?

Postby Tangled Metal » 8 Sep 2020, 7:06am

@rickh
The route I take also takes full sized bikes, but really only in theory. The practicality of getting a full sized bike onto a train that's already standing room only means it really isn't a possibility. Some people do however and that really goes down well. Personally just because you can doesn't mean you should. Especially when that involves pedals and other bike parts hitting other people in your attempt to squeeze on and stand holding your bike on a moving train.

Don't get me wrong, it's possible and indeed it's not always that busy. You just cannot be sure on a bike day it'll be quiet enough to fit a bike on.

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Re: Northern rail folding bike options?

Postby JakobW » 8 Sep 2020, 7:46am

I'd try a Brompton test ride before dismissing them on grounds of fit; I'm 6'5" and ride an M-type with the telescopic seatpost without problems. The handling's still the right side of nippy rather than twitchy for me, but adding a bag on the front calms it down even further if necessary.

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Re: Northern rail folding bike options?

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 8 Sep 2020, 8:41am

PH wrote:I don't think anything folds like a Brompton.


Indeed. Or more specifically, nothing folds both as fast and as small. I can fold my Bike Friday (New World Tourist) pretty quickly to get on the train - seatpost hinges down, rear wheel hinges under, and (if I can be bothered) the steerer tube comes out. But the end result is twice the size of a folded Brompton, and a bit more oily.

If I were commuting five days a week on the trains round here, I'd get a Brompton - and most people do. But your trains might be quieter and your platform staff friendlier. In that case, I would look at Bike Fridays and, yes, Airnimals. Neither are cheap but they come up on the "for sale" board here and elsewhere reasonably often - a Gumtree alert can help you find one.
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Paulatic
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Re: Northern rail folding bike options?

Postby Paulatic » 8 Sep 2020, 8:48am

Definitely try a Brompton. As a 6 footer I Occasionally have a blast on Mrs P Brompton. Great little bikes with an unequalled fold. Hold their value exceptionally well too.
Last week I saw a guy a few times a day pass my caravan window on a Brompton. He was definitely inches taller than I am.
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Re: Northern rail folding bike options?

Postby iandriver » 8 Sep 2020, 9:02am

I'm 6'5 and have a Tern Joe and a Dahon Curve. The Joe has little to offer as a folder, it doesn't fold that we'll, just a hinge in the frame, folded it offers little in the way of space saving over an ordinary bike. I never use it, it's just not practical as a folder IMHO.

The little curve is great for short journeys of a couple of miles.

I think the shop has advised you badly about your height causing an unstable ride. A 20" wheeled folder would be the sort of bike is be looking at. The distance you have to cover on it will be the big factor.
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Tangled Metal
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Re: Northern rail folding bike options?

Postby Tangled Metal » 8 Sep 2020, 1:24pm

Just reread the email from the folding bikes specialist shop. He basically said brompton with telescopic seatpost would not be a problem. He agreed that 20"would give a better ride but he would struggle to recommend a tern or dahon for my height, looking at tern website they only recommend up to 6'3" afterall.

He also mentions that tall people perched on aluminium frames don't go well together hence not recommending the 20" wheeled terns and dahons, Brompton iirc are steel frames.

One thing putting me off the 16" wheeled brompton was seeing a guy riding one along the mixed use path to my at j34.i was waiting to come out a side entrance. He looked a little shorter than me but still looked like the telescopic post. He looked like an absolute beginner all wobbly and kind of fighting the bike if that makes sense. I don't think he was new to the brompton and riding it because his kit looked well used. Front bag and another on the rack. His cycling jacket and bags on the bike were not those of a newbie to commuting that way I thought.

I've spoken on the phone to another folding bike retailer and he basically said small wheels with my height could give control issues if you're not used to small wheeled bikes. Said they were a totally different kind of ride to a full sized 700 wheeled bike.

I personally like the look of the Joey by airnimal. I am not sure I'll like to ride the 16" wheeled bikes. I've got a 20"/26" recumbent bike but that's not a good comparison with an upright 16"/16" bike I reckon. With the lockdown bike buying surge there's very little opportunity round here to try out a brompton or any decent folder. I think one local halfords has an electric folder in stock but I don't want a bike I couldn't legally lift up the stairs at work without a second person (elf and safety 25kg limit to solo lifting weight at work)!

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Re: Northern rail folding bike options?

Postby JakobW » 8 Sep 2020, 2:46pm

Ride quality's a personal thing, but as I said I'm 6'5" and I really enjoy riding my Brompton - before lockdown I was putting a couple of thousand miles a year on it, and on a smiles per mile basis it's possibly my favourite bike. It does ride differently to my full-size bikes - I wouldn't want to try riding it no-hands, or take one hand off the bars for prolonged periods, as that takes it into twitchy handling territory - but as a nippy about-town bike it's great. Getting hold of one is going to be tricky - even major dealers are being told no stock until October/November at the moment - but I'd have thought Evans etc. might still have demo bikes for a test ride.

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Re: Northern rail folding bike options?

Postby PH » 8 Sep 2020, 3:16pm

Tangled Metal wrote:I personally like the look of the Joey by airnimal.

Are you a facebook user? There's currently a hub gear version for sale at £500, five years old but looks like it's had a fair bit of use IMO that's a little overpriced, but cleaned up and better advertised I'd have though you'd get the chance to try one at little risk.
https://www.facebook.com/commerce/listi ... attachment

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Re: Northern rail folding bike options?

Postby mjr » 8 Sep 2020, 3:25pm

The saving grace with Brompton is the double fold means a longer wheelbase which makes it feel more stable. I don't own one but I have borrowed some.

I do own a Dawes Jack which I think is a rebranded Dahon. It's twitchier and a totally different ride to Brompton or full size bikes. A bag on a front rack quietens it down nicely. I'm only 6ft so it might not be great for you unless a different seatpost is fitted.

If you can afford the capital being tied up, I'd go Brompton.
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Re: Northern rail folding bike options?

Postby Sid Aluminium » 8 Sep 2020, 3:36pm

PH wrote:I don't think anything folds like a Brompton.


This will upset some people. I wish it didn't, that's not my intent.

There will be calls of intellectual property theft, although the European courts found none.

Andrew Ritchie's fold design is brilliant; that is not in dispute.

Dimensions reported on various websites don't agree. I can only report what the meter stick told me.

When I've posted this on other forums I've been called a liar and a shill, even after I posted my photographic evidence.

Wow. So much passion. A good thing, I guess, until one denies what they see in a photograph.


Anyway, at a local shop I placed a folded Brompton M6R and a folded Dahon Curl i8 next to each other, a few centimeters apart. I measured them; I photographed them.

The Dahon Curl fold is smaller.
Last edited by Graham on 8 Sep 2020, 7:31pm, edited 1 time in total.
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