Folding bicycle choice for London commute

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Tilley
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Folding bicycle choice for London commute

Postby Tilley » 22 Dec 2019, 3:08pm

Looking to obtain a folding bike to use for commute. Takin main line train into Paddington then using bike to cross London through royal parks.
Any advice on what to look out for and r what to avoid on folding bikes would be useful. Whilst I would love a Brompton the budget is limited.

Richard Fairhurst
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Re: Folding bicycle choice for London commute

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 22 Dec 2019, 4:07pm

For train commutes, a Brompton is unbeatable. Nothing else is so small when folded, folds/unfolds so easily, or is as easily carried. I'm a big advocate of other folding bikes for recreational riding and occasional city visits (my own folder is a Bike Friday), but for the day-in, day-out train commute, I'd strongly recommend saving up for a Brompton.
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horizon
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Re: Folding bicycle choice for London commute

Postby horizon » 22 Dec 2019, 4:33pm

Tilley wrote:Looking to obtain a folding bike to use for commute. Takin main line train into Paddington then using bike to cross London through royal parks.
Any advice on what to look out for and r what to avoid on folding bikes would be useful. Whilst I would love a Brompton the budget is limited.


It would be worth checking next time you're on the train which bikes fit under the luggage rack at each end of the carriages of the IETs. I know my 24" Tern Node doesn't but I'm sure I've seen other people struggle with a 20". That size (20") BTW is the largest that is officially allowed (and that includes the tyre of course) but I have never had a problem with my Tern from train staff. However it has to stand in the lobby or in the bike/luggage compartment as I cannot bring it within the carriage. So for commuting my advice would be not a 24" (and that includes the Airnimal of course).

So the choice is 20" or 16" and if you cannot get the 20" under the rack then you might spend most of your commute standing next to it in the vestibule and apologising to other passengers. Having said that, coming from say Reading, you won't be in the way of passengers getting on and off.

So from my comments you might deduce that a 16" would be best but you do have a ride across London (!) so I will stick to my standard default which is that bigger is best and a 20" would be ideal - easy to fold, great to ride and officially allowed. But I think the consensus will be a Brompton or another 16".
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Carlton green
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Re: Folding bicycle choice for London commute

Postby Carlton green » 22 Dec 2019, 4:45pm

Tilley wrote:Looking to obtain a folding bike to use for commute. Takin main line train into Paddington then using bike to cross London through royal parks.
Any advice on what to look out for and r what to avoid on folding bikes would be useful. Whilst I would love a Brompton the budget is limited.


This isn’t quite the type of answer you’re asking for but perhaps it might help provide an alternative transport solution.

Years ago I knew a chap who cycled to his local Station and left his bike there, he then got the train into Paddington where he had another bike waiting for him (I think that they used to have a dedicated safe store there but that’s gone now?). Paddington does have cycle storage on one of the platforms - the pictures I find show large numbers of bikes there. Perhaps you might investigate leaving a low value bike at Paddington (say an old three speed roadster that’s stored there over night and at weekends) and use that for your onward journey to work and return to Paddington? Just an idea.
Last edited by Carlton green on 23 Dec 2019, 8:51am, edited 1 time in total.

atlas_shrugged
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Re: Folding bicycle choice for London commute

Postby atlas_shrugged » 22 Dec 2019, 6:36pm

Definitely a Brompton. If not new then buy 2nd hand.

carlislemike
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Re: Folding bicycle choice for London commute

Postby carlislemike » 22 Dec 2019, 7:29pm

I don’t train and cycle commute but I think the idea of leaving a cheap bike at Paddington overnight is probably the easiest. Whatever you spend on a cheap hack from a knacker’s yard ( sorry, police pound resale centre) will save the worry over a new, highly filchable Brompton.

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gaz
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Re: Folding bicycle choice for London commute

Postby gaz » 22 Dec 2019, 9:44pm

Tilley wrote:Any advice on what to look out for and r what to avoid on folding bikes would be useful.

A few years ago I picked up a pre-loved 20" wheel Dahon Speed folder on ebay. Reasonable quality for a reasonable price.

Primary intention was for very occasional train journeys rather than regular commuting, shortly after Mrs gaz bought herself a pre-loved Dahon Vitesse. Mine looked to have seen relatively little use, Mrs gaz's even less. Her seller said it had been for use with a motor-home to bimble around the caravan sites.

Fold is fairly compact, certainly small enough to fit the luggage racks on the local Javelin rolling stock, although I rarely need to fold it fully and have certainly not built up any expertise in folding it quickly. The Steel Speed is heavier than the Alu Vitesse and if I were using it daily I'd definitely choose the lighter option.

Buy a pre-loved Dahon folder, 16" or 20" wheeled and see how it works for you. If it works out keep it or consider selling on once you've saved enough to upgrade. If it doesn't work out, sell it on and you won't have lost much.

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Tilley
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Re: Folding bicycle choice for London commute

Postby Tilley » 22 Dec 2019, 10:05pm

Thanks for that Gaz exactly the type of feedback I was after I have already looked on Gumtree and found some feasible options including the afore mentioned Dahon. Now need to view, test ride, and negotiate. Cheers Tim

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Re: Folding bicycle choice for London commute

Postby crossy » 22 Dec 2019, 10:27pm

Tim it’s triking Nigel do you need it permanently or just for a bit. If you only need it for a bit I have a Brompton you can use. Nigel.

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horizon
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Re: Folding bicycle choice for London commute

Postby horizon » 22 Dec 2019, 11:18pm

gaz wrote:
Buy a pre-loved Dahon folder, 16" or 20" wheeled and see how it works for you. If it works out keep it or consider selling on once you've saved enough to upgrade. If it doesn't work out, sell it on and you won't have lost much.


I have a Dahon Vitesse (bought on this forum!). It's light, handy and has at times carried four fully loaded panniers - yes, that's four. But:

1. It is only six speed and even in London that can be a bit frustrating. OK, but 8 is better and we're not even talking about a front chainset.

2. It is very small. When I use it, I swap the seatpost over from my Tern Node. This is a lot longer and has a VK adaptor on a micro-adjust seatpost for more set back and adjustment. The handlebars are also very narrow. I'm 5'10" and don't feel it is rideable for me on the supplied seatpost.

My standard recommendation is a Tern D8 but it might not be right for you and your needs.

I would agree with gaz to bite the bullet and see what works for you and be ready to move it on if it doesn't work out - there are folders and then there are folders.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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Re: Folding bicycle choice for London commute

Postby drossall » 23 Dec 2019, 8:39am

For alternatives to Brompton, the Dahon family are definitely the obvious ones. Loads of models, mostly 20". They don't fold quite as small as a Brompton - with larger wheels, they couldn't - but not too bad. Just about on the limit of the official maximum size for folded bikes on railways. The Vitesse is possibly the archetypal basic Dahon folder. Six- to eight-speed gears give as much range as you'll get on a Brompton, probably more (depends on the Brompton model of course). Cheap second-hand, because they don't keep their value quite like Bromptons do.

Dahon seem to make bikes for others, so on the whole if it looks (pretty-much exactly) like a Dahon then it probably is (think I've seen Dahon-made Dawes models, for example). Terns are a kind of derivative - the family firm split in two, I believe, and they are going somewhat in their own direction from a common base, including some high-end variants. Hence my term "Dahon family" for all these variants.

I was a bit unlucky, mind, and my second-hand Dahon broke in two at the weld next to the frame hinge.

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Re: Folding bicycle choice for London commute

Postby whoof » 23 Dec 2019, 4:26pm

I have a Dahon D7 (7 speed) Vitesse. Got it for £60 it needed a little doing to it, the total cost of bike plus bits (new tyre and seat pin etc) £85 on the road.
It's easy to fold, not that small but fits into a bag I bought of Ebay and fits in a rack on the train.
It rides OK, I rode 5 miles to the station on Saturday. I would describe the riding as adequate, small wheels transfer the bumps extremely efficiently, the steering is a little twitchy and if you brake or go down a steep hill the very long stem flexes a lot and can feel disconcerting at first. All of this is a consequence of building a bike that will fold up small. The gear range is OK, I've ridden up Park Street in Bristol (has been used for hill climb racing) on it without to much trouble.

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Tilley
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Re: Folding bicycle choice for London commute

Postby Tilley » 24 Dec 2019, 8:53am

crossy wrote:Tim it’s triking Nigel do you need it permanently or just for a bit. If you only need it for a bit I have a Brompton you can use. Nigel.

Cheers Nigel, it's actually for a family member to permanantly use, but thanks for the offer. Tim

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Re: Folding bicycle choice for London commute

Postby rmurphy195 » 3 Jan 2020, 11:54am

Big advantage that the Brompton has over many other folders is that when folded, the oily bits (and most of the sticky-out bits) are in the middle, out of the way.

I simply don't understand the folders that leave the derailler/chainwheel/chain and other oily bits all exposed to damage, and to being in contact with people and things.
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mjr
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Re: Folding bicycle choice for London commute

Postby mjr » 3 Jan 2020, 12:57pm

rmurphy195 wrote:I simply don't understand the folders that leave the derailler/chainwheel/chain and other oily bits all exposed to damage, and to being in contact with people and things.

It's because folding to the left allows the hinge to be alongside the chainring instead of far enough in front of it to clear the chain and not squash it, which enables a much smaller fold. Bromptons solve the problem by using more hinges and folding the rear triangle underneath the main tube first. Their main tube hinge is much further forwards and wouldn't shorten the bike much on its own.

What I don't understand is why single-hinge folders don't generally offer chain cases - even loose baggy ones for transport only. Even if you bag the bike, it would be nice not to get the bag insides or yourself oily during bagging/unbagging.
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