Folders that ride like a normal bike

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Freddie
Posts: 2292
Joined: 12 Jan 2008, 12:01pm

Folders that ride like a normal bike

Postby Freddie » 7 Jun 2014, 10:55pm

I'm interested in getting a folding bike, but I want the ride to take priority, as opposed to a tiny fold. It'd be nice to have something I could ride all day without much in the way of compromise, this rules out Bromptons and the like for me. It doesn't necessarily have to fold, it could be separable, but has to come apart/fold in at worst 5 minutes and fit in the boot of the average car. I want something more like a light touring bike than a racer.

Is there anyone around 6 foot who has been able to find a folder that would accommodate them. I need 31" length from chainset centre to saddle top and can ride between 56cm and 59cm top tube with drops (has anyone got drops to work with a folder?).

Any suggestions?

RJS
Posts: 223
Joined: 16 Feb 2013, 10:05pm
Location: Torbay

Re: Folders that ride like a normal bike

Postby RJS » 7 Jun 2014, 11:57pm

Bike Friday and airnimal are the first ones that come to mind, they're not cheap though. Another option is to have your bike fitted with s & s couplings, also quite expensive.
Cheers, Rob.

TonyR
Posts: 5390
Joined: 31 Aug 2008, 12:51pm

Re: Folders that ride like a normal bike

Postby TonyR » 8 Jun 2014, 12:00am

I'm 6'6" and ride a Bike Friday Pocket Rocket that rides very much like my full size the geometry was based on with the exception that the small wheel turns in quicker. Not as neat or small a fold as my Brommie but I've ridden it all day on mulitple occassions which I'm not sure I'd enjoy on the Brommie. The Airnimal is another one to look at.

User avatar
RickH
Posts: 4434
Joined: 5 Mar 2012, 6:39pm
Location: Horwich, Lancs.

Re: Folders that ride like a normal bike

Postby RickH » 8 Jun 2014, 12:07am

For a separable you could try a Moulton TSR30 - it even has drops! :D (Spec here)

From my experience, albeit limited to a test ride (but one that did include cobbles), the ride is very similar to a normal road bike.

Rick.

Brucey
Posts: 34842
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Folders that ride like a normal bike

Postby Brucey » 8 Jun 2014, 8:45am

If you want standard sized wheels (and rightly or wrongly you might) you can get many different machines built with S&S couplings, which allow a conventional bike to be separated into two halves for transport.

In a similar vein there are (or were) other machines that work in a similar way such as the Ritchey 'breakaway'.

Both the above tend to be somewhat pricey options.

For off-the peg folding bikes with large wheels, it is worth having a look at the Dahon range and the Montague range. The Dahon range includes the 'espresso' model which could (like the 'Jack' model before it) be converted to have dropped handlebars if you are DIY minded. I do have a reservation concerning the Dahon frame design; the top tube has a joint that accepts load in compression only. This is fine, until you come to use the brakes hard; then the joint would see loads in tension instead. Riding out of the saddle generates torsion loads in the frame which are also not borne well by this joint. In both cases the loads appear elsewhere in the frame; I don't think it is a coincidence that I have seen a few of these frames crack (admittedly after prolonged use) just above the point where the main spar joins the seat tube.
Despite these reservations a used Dahon Jack (could be yours for around £150) makes a good starting point for a build.

The Montague range is exclusively large-wheeled folders; that is all they do. I think they don't presently have a model that comes as standard with dropped bars but (provided you don't need a very short reach) it is easy enough to fit them if you want. In the UK they can be supplied via Halfords which is at least convenient if you know what you want. However you may struggle to find a branch that actually has any in stock for you to look at or try out. I have an older 'BiFrame' model which I have equipped with dropped bars and this does ride just like a normal bike, because it does have what is basically a normal diamond frame; it just looks a little odd and it is a little heavier than I would like. The current Montague range uses a lighter frame design (that is probably not quite as strong) but they do ride a bit differently.

That there is a gap in the market here seems obvious to me. Likewise that there are almost certainly better designs for bikes with large wheels that fold occasionally. It is worth taking a look at Rob English's exquisitely crafted bikes which have a folding rear triangle. Unfortunately these are a) expensive, and b) built in the USA (despite the fact that Rob is a Brit) to order. Rob claims that his folding design adds just 4 oz to a bike, and that the ride is unaffected. The way he does it (both in design and execution) I believe him.

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

Zanda
Posts: 444
Joined: 6 Jan 2007, 1:07pm
Contact:

Re: Folders that ride like a normal bike

Postby Zanda » 8 Jun 2014, 10:27am

The best-riding small-wheel folder I've ridden is the chro-moly-framed Dahon Impulse. My write up is here. I'm 5'10". The supplied seat post is fine for me and I could get another inch out of it without problem. I recommend you try this bike. I compared the Dahon Impulse with some other well-known folders and found it to be the best ride by far. It's more compliant than the aluminium-framed Dahon MU P8 (which is also pretty comfortable).

Folks have successfully fitted drop bars to Dahons. Here, for example. If you can find a drop bar with a 1 inch centre section, rather than the more common 26mm, it will fit into the hinged stem that comes with the bike, extending the bike by the reach to the hoods. A full fold then requires the bars to be rotated and hooked between the spokes but that's doable with practice and the folded package will be only slightly bigger than with flat bars. Or you can just not fold the bars down - this partial fold will give a larger package which should still fit in the boot of a hatchback. (I'd suggest not trying to fit a 26mm bar into the supplied stem as it will be oversized and will creak.)

Yet more reach can be achieved by fitting a conventional stem as this person did
http://nplusthree.blogspot.co.uk/p/dahon-speed-p8.html
though this won't fold as small.
Last edited by Zanda on 8 Jun 2014, 11:06am, edited 2 times in total.

pete75
Posts: 11473
Joined: 24 Jul 2007, 2:37pm

Re: Folders that ride like a normal bike

Postby pete75 » 8 Jun 2014, 11:04am

Of bikes made by major manufacturers and thus, presumably, easily available and not too expensive the Dahon Tournado may be your best bet if you don't want a small wheeler http://www.dahon.com/mainnav/folding-bi ... rnado.html
A few months ago someone was selling new ones for around £500 on Ebay - don't know if they still are

User avatar
Si
Moderator
Posts: 14994
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 7:37pm

Re: Folders that ride like a normal bike

Postby Si » 8 Jun 2014, 11:09am

I want something more like a light touring bike than a racer.


Yes, I think that the first thing that you have to do is decide what a "normal" bike is.

All three of my recent folders ride similar to a 'normal' bike. The airnimal rode like a light audax, and after modification, a SS race bike. The Tern rides like a light tourer / commuter. The R&M rides like a comfortable city bike. They all ride like normal bikes but there is a world between them!

I reckon that the Term Link 24 would be worth you trying. Not the lightest but then it does come with rack, guards, integral pump and dynamo-hub and lights. And is a very good price at the moment.

I would say that the Airnimal Chameleon has a great ride, is quick and manoeuvrable, comfortable, and can take a moderate amount of luggage, but my issue with them was that they kept breaking....that was several years back so I would hope that they have improved the robustness by now.

Brucey
Posts: 34842
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Folders that ride like a normal bike

Postby Brucey » 8 Jun 2014, 12:05pm

pete75 wrote:Of bikes made by major manufacturers and thus, presumably, easily available and not too expensive the Dahon Tournado may be your best bet if you don't want a small wheeler http://www.dahon.com/mainnav/folding-bi ... rnado.html
A few months ago someone was selling new ones for around £500 on Ebay - don't know if they still are


frame only on US-ebay

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dahon-Tournado-Break-Away-700c-Road-Frameset-56cm-Caramel-Brown-/400671197237

I think the tournado was a 2011 model and the NOS ones have pretty much dried up now. This model uses the Ritchey breakaway system BTW. £500 new would have been a bargain.

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

Richard Fairhurst
Posts: 1363
Joined: 2 Mar 2008, 4:57pm
Location: Charlbury, Oxfordshire

Re: Folders that ride like a normal bike

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 8 Jun 2014, 12:17pm

Another vote for Bike Friday and Airnimal: I have a BF New World Tourist, my wife has an Airnimal Chameleon. Both terrific bikes in their way, both have a quick fold that'll easily get them into a car boot or a shoulder bag, and both are available in sizes to suit 6ft+.

The challenge with the Chameleon is finding tyres for it - there's plenty (well, three or four) of road tyres, but for any touring where you'll encounter the occasional bump, the only option appears to be Intense Micro Knobby MK2s which are strictly speaking BMX tyres. (There's also the Terry Tellus, but that's pretty expensive to import from the US.)
cycle.travel - maps, journey-planner, route guides and city guides

Freddie
Posts: 2292
Joined: 12 Jan 2008, 12:01pm

Re: Folders that ride like a normal bike

Postby Freddie » 8 Jun 2014, 12:50pm

Si wrote:
I want something more like a light touring bike than a racer.
Yes, I think that the first thing that you have to do is decide what a "normal" bike is.
When I say normal bike, I mean it shouldn't be skittish at the front end (often a case of geometry not adequately compensating for smaller wheels, I'm told) and should be stable with or without hands on the handlebars at usual speeds, as a "normal" bike. I've not yet ridden a folder, but I'm told some models throw a fit if you take your hands from the bars.

I would never consider a folding bike an adequate tool for any kind of racing, so would prefer handling more like that of a tourer and would ride wider tyres to compensate for smaller wheels. For the folder to be a success, I'd like to be able to ride it for 30 or 40 miles without feeling uncomfortable or longing for a non-folder. I expect compromises have to be made compared to a non-folder, but not with regards to fit, that wouldn't do.

pete75
Posts: 11473
Joined: 24 Jul 2007, 2:37pm

Re: Folders that ride like a normal bike

Postby pete75 » 8 Jun 2014, 1:45pm

Brucey wrote:
pete75 wrote:Of bikes made by major manufacturers and thus, presumably, easily available and not too expensive the Dahon Tournado may be your best bet if you don't want a small wheeler http://www.dahon.com/mainnav/folding-bi ... rnado.html
A few months ago someone was selling new ones for around £500 on Ebay - don't know if they still are


frame only on US-ebay

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dahon-Tournado-Break-Away-700c-Road-Frameset-56cm-Caramel-Brown-/400671197237

I think the tournado was a 2011 model and the NOS ones have pretty much dried up now. This model uses the Ritchey breakaway system BTW. £500 new would have been a bargain.

cheers


Yes and I still regret not seeing the advert until after they'd sold out of the large sized machines.


As for expensive small wheelers I had a bike Friday for a while and the ride quality was no better than the cheap Oyama St. James I keep in the car boot. Neither really rides much better than a Moulton which shows that small wheelers have made little real progress in the almost 50 years since the Moulton was first designed.
I have it on good authority that the Raleigh 20 was about the best small wheeler ever made. I had one but never got round to riding it and ended up giving the machine to hubgearfreak late of this forum.

Zanda
Posts: 444
Joined: 6 Jan 2007, 1:07pm
Contact:

Re: Folders that ride like a normal bike

Postby Zanda » 8 Jun 2014, 2:15pm

Not sure I'd choose to ride 40 miles on any of the small-wheel folders I've mentioned, though I'm told the Moulton TSR is suitable for this kind of distance.

Thermostat9
Posts: 268
Joined: 20 Jun 2011, 5:38pm

Re: Folders that ride like a normal bike

Postby Thermostat9 » 8 Jun 2014, 3:48pm

Zanda wrote: I'm told the Moulton TSR is suitable for this kind of distance.

You might just manage it.


User avatar
georgew
Posts: 1472
Joined: 27 Jan 2007, 4:23pm

Re: Folders that ride like a normal bike

Postby georgew » 8 Jun 2014, 5:39pm

Freddie wrote:I would never consider a folding bike an adequate tool for any kind of racing, so would prefer handling more like that of a tourer and would ride wider tyres to compensate for smaller wheels. For the folder to be a success, I'd like to be able to ride it for 30 or 40 miles without feeling uncomfortable or longing for a non-folder. I expect compromises have to be made compared to a non-folder, but not with regards to fit, that wouldn't do.


I can only speak for the Chameleon but one was ridden to second place in an Ironman Triatholon. Pro riders also use them for training abroad as they can more easily take them on aircraft.

Again 40 miles would be nothing using this bike as it is as comfortable as any other and a member of this forum uses one for long-distance loaded touring.