Folding bike train commuter?

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Tangled Metal
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Joined: 13 Feb 2015, 8:32pm

Folding bike train commuter?

Postby Tangled Metal » 22 Jun 2020, 11:51pm

Ok money isn't freely available in large amounts but I might need a folding bike for a commute using a train with rides each end. The train journey into work is usually empty so I could manage a full sized bike then, it's just the home journey it's usually very full and occasionally the door areas are full of people or bikes and people. So I'm thinking a folding bike would be better.

The riding parts include hills so I'd need an easier gear. I'd also need to carry stuff into work such as change of clothes, lunch, drinks, notebooks, paperwork, etc. Can you leave bags attached to any available folding bikes? Do those small wheel folders take ortlieb panniers?

I have never thought about folding bikes before but we're contemplating a house move to somewhere that's train commutable like our current house but too far to cycle commute without train. Currently I can cycle or train commute but only train commute where we're hoping to move to. So I have no idea what is possible with folders. The hills are steep at the home end but a little easier at the work end.

So does anyone have any recommendations? I'm unlikely to afford a Moulton or even a 6 speed Brompton which seems to cosy upwards of 2k. Ideally under one grand with guards and any extra needed to carry luggage on the bike.

Brucey
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Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Folding bike train commuter?

Postby Brucey » 23 Jun 2020, 12:23am

if the rides are not too long a backpack is the easiest way of carrying stuff; the more stuff there is and the further you have to ride, the less attractive a backpack is likely to be. Because the weight is not attached to the bike the bike is easier to carry up stairs/lift onto the train and the fold is in no way impeded.

You will have to check the official rules where you are (and the actual implementation of them), but usually

a) it is permissible to use folding bikes only at certain hours (full sized bikes are either not allowed or have to be booked) and
b) different train companies have different ideas of what size a folded folding bike should be.

Ironically as soon as a folding bike is inside something (even if that is just a bin liner or rubble sack) it (in theory) becomes 'outsize luggage' and the conditions of carriage should be in no way bicycle related. But train guards are frequently a law unto themselves and when it gets busy they have a nasty habit of chucking folk off the train. Cyclists are more likely to get booted off this way, it seems.

I'd suggest that you buy a used folding bike and see how you get on with it before splashing out on a new machine; what suits you may not be the same as what suits other folk. If you buy right you ought to be able to resell the machine for about the same money.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

slowster
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Re: Folding bike train commuter?

Postby slowster » 23 Jun 2020, 12:46am

Tangled Metal wrote:I'm unlikely to afford a Moulton or even a 6 speed Brompton which seems to cosy upwards of 2k. Ideally under one grand with guards and any extra needed to carry luggage on the bike.

It might be worth checking Brompton prices online before ruling them out. For example, although there are none under £1,000, SJS have some demonstrators, e.g. this S3L for £1045, and various others here. The downside is you presumably could not specify the lower gearing option (or maybe at least not without paying extra), but it is a Brompton, which does seem to be the best tool for the job, will hold its resale value, and should have better quality parts than cheaper folders and be better value for money in the longer term. If you did not get on with using a backpack, you could presumably get the front mounting block and a bag later.

Would the Cycle To Work scheme be an option?

Tangled Metal
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Re: Folding bike train commuter?

Postby Tangled Metal » 23 Jun 2020, 1:04am

There's Bromptons for as low as £745 I think they're site says but I can't believe a 3 or 1 speed is suitable. The cheapest 6 speed I could find was two grand. Ideally I'd want a S6 something model with rack or front bag. You're talking silly money IMHO when you get to that. I don't think Bromptons are worth the money personally. Not to me but as I said, I know nothing about them. It just seems they're cashing in a bit too much, or is it London manufacturing costs?

Winders
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Joined: 31 Aug 2015, 6:15pm

Re: Folding bike train commuter?

Postby Winders » 23 Jun 2020, 2:59am

There’s a secondhamd Dahon Impulse on eBay right now with the SRAM Dual Drive setup that gives you the equivalent of a triple. Looks in good condition if you can collect from Norwich. In my experience with a similarly geared Dahon Speed TR they can take the hills easily and with a decent sized rear rack proper sized panniers.

Greystoke
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Joined: 8 May 2018, 7:41am
Location: Lincolnshire

Re: Folding bike train commuter?

Postby Greystoke » 23 Jun 2020, 7:11am

Does the station have lockable bike shelters? Not the type we had at school but individual lockable cages for bikes? Chap at work cycles to the station, locks his bike in one and travels by train to work. He uses a full size bike.

simonhill
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Location: Essex

Re: Folding bike train commuter?

Postby simonhill » 23 Jun 2020, 8:11am

My 6 speed, low geared (smaller chainwheel), rack, guards, etc was about £1100 a couple of years ago. I can't believe they've gone up to 2 grand. I thought that was the price for electric ones.

gbnz
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Re: Folding bike train commuter?

Postby gbnz » 23 Jun 2020, 8:32am

Tangled Metal wrote:
So does anyone have any recommendations? .


Would it be worth "trying" a folding bike from Argo's? Priced somewhere around £129.99 they probably aren't worth riding and won't last, but could be used for several weeks as a "folding" bike trial, prior to being polished and sold as a near new machine :wink:.

If it lasts ten weeks, a £12.99 weekly cost dosn't seem too bad!

Cyril Haearn
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Re: Folding bike train commuter?

Postby Cyril Haearn » 23 Jun 2020, 8:34am

Moving home to be further from work?

Thought of getting an adui? 'Driving to work is so much fun, one wishes the journey were longer' :?
..
Seriously, it should not make sense financially and otherwise to travel further, 200 days a year
What if everybody did it?
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Cycling-of course, but it is far better on a Gillott
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Shreds
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Re: Folding bike train commuter?

Postby Shreds » 23 Jun 2020, 8:40am

Brompton all the way! Been regularly doing what you plan for a decade with ludicrous amounts of work kit too. Longest ‘commute’ included one of 200 miles including a cross London journey.

Bromptons do hold their prices well.

Dont carry too much kit on your back though. Most of mine gets into a front bag, carrying other stuff does become a drag.

Best upgrade I ever did was replacing the Brompton chainset and cranks. Ok a crazy upgrade but made the power transmission so much more efficient.

Train wise, Bromptons are one of the few bikes that tick all the boxes. Yes I have once or twice commuted with a MTB in three bin bags successfully, but I dont recommend it compared to the ease of a Brompton.

JakobW
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Re: Folding bike train commuter?

Postby JakobW » 23 Jun 2020, 9:59am

AFAIK the only folder that meets the letter of the national rail conditions of carriage is the Brompton; when folded you can take it on any train, any time. Other small-wheeled folders - Tern, Dahon, etc. - I'd expect to be able to get onto most commuter trains un-bagged, but they may be a bit unwieldy to stow in a luggage rack. A standard 6-speed Brompton with guards is £1,145; if you want dynolights and a rack it's about £1300. That's a couple of hundred quid more than say a Tern - partly UK manufacturing costs, and partly because Brompton work hard to maintain their premium brand positioning & pricing - but they do what they do very well. Once you get the hang of it the fold can be done in about 10 seconds; the luggage block works really well, and detaches in a second - you can fold the bike with a bag on, but it's a faff.

Normally I'd say bite the bullet and get a second-hand Brompton - I've seen 6-speeds on forums advertised for about £750, and at that price you won't lose any money if you don't get on - but at present any bike seems to be like hens' teeth. I'd recommend trying out M and S bars first and seeing which you prefer - for tall riders the drop to the S bars can be a bit much.

Tangled Metal
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Re: Folding bike train commuter?

Postby Tangled Metal » 23 Jun 2020, 11:04am

Most have been looking crosseyed at the prices. Just seen a m6l for £1150 I'm local shop. I think I was looking at an S6 version. I decided h is too upright, m is possible but I'm a drop bar kind of rider so s is probably best. It's a bit if a search to find s bar bikes prices on the Brompton site and most retailers don't sell anything but m type. I think the 2k was for s types I saw. If they're not common I can guess the 2k is because there load up the s barred Bromptons because they're not a commonly chosen bike but those who do are likely to spend more for better components.

It seems Bromptons might just be ok. Mind you a relative has a Dahon or Tern and finds it a good bike. He rides it more than his old tourer even when the folding isn't going to be needed

Jupestar
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Re: Folding bike train commuter?

Postby Jupestar » 23 Jun 2020, 11:15am

I did this for a short time, and found it more hassle than it was worth. Folding, carrying, squeezing on a train, unfolding especially in the rain....

I borrowed one for a couple of weeks and decided against purchasing one

Depends on distance, and commute, but i rode a oldish, but still decent enough bike from home to the station. then had a cheap SS beater the other end which would get me from train to the office. my office leg was flat and about 2 miles, so not a big deal.

fastpedaller
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Location: Norfolk

Re: Folding bike train commuter?

Postby fastpedaller » 23 Jun 2020, 11:18am

Tangled Metal wrote:There's Bromptons for as low as £745 I think they're site says but I can't believe a 3 or 1 speed is suitable. The cheapest 6 speed I could find was two grand. Ideally I'd want a S6 something model with rack or front bag. You're talking silly money IMHO when you get to that. I don't think Bromptons are worth the money personally. Not to me but as I said, I know nothing about them. It just seems they're cashing in a bit too much, or is it London manufacturing costs?


Having had an early 3 speed Brompton I'd say it is suitable - unless you want to race. For anything except racing it's fine, and yes, they aren't budget, but the engineering and design is superb. What's that old saying? 'Buy cheap buy twice'
Can't really go wrong with a Brompton

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printedland
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Re: Folding bike train commuter?

Postby printedland » 23 Jun 2020, 11:24am

I bought a 24" wheel Dahon:
Screen Shot 2020-06-23 at 11.21.33.png

What I learned is that a) Dahon are really quite decent quality. Like you, I didn't want to spend a fortune on something for slinging on and off trains
b) the 24" wheels give a comfortable ride, but at the expense of weight and size. This bike is a beast to lug on and off a train, but gives a lovely ride. I think it's a trade-off between compact-ness (is that a word?) and comfort. I suspect the appeal of Bromptons is they hit that sweet spot