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Folding bikes

stueysstueys Posts: 1,332
edited May 2017 in Road buying advice
Quick question for anyone with experience of a folding bike as I'm considering getting one for my London commute.

My route to the office is a nice rolling 3 mile hack to the station followed by a 2 mile cut across London. I completely get that a folding bike (something like a Brompton) would be great cutting through London but I'm trying to work out whether it would be fine on my rolling 3 miles or a twitchy mess. To give an idea it's a rolling country road which mainly gently descends, on my road bike I probably average 22-25mph and hit 35ish on the descent part.

Would a Brompton or something of that ilk be completely at sea on the fast part of the journey? I'm not expecting it to fly along but it would be nice for it not to be a twitchy, nervous mess.

Posts

  • 3 miles on a Brompton is nothing. I've done reasonably quick 20+ mile rides on mine numerous times and there are plenty of other owners who ride from central London to the coast etc. Have a go on one (you can hire them at some train stations).
  • Thigh_burnThigh_burn Posts: 489
    The distance isn't an issue but the hills might be.

    I bought one for my wife and used it recently to pop up the road - a road I barely remember has a hill on my usual road bike because bike wheels and gears.

    Nearly killed me on the Brompton. She's got the one with 3 gears, but boy those wheels are tiny and what with the suspension took much more effort than I was expecting.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    People have climbed the Alps on Bromptons - sure it'll be a bit slower than a full road bike but they're just fun to ride anyway that this makes up for it.
  • stueysstueys Posts: 1,332
    Ok, thanks for that. What's the bike like at speed, relatively stable?
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    It's better than you think - its such a small frame that all of the weight is low down.
    It's different due to the small wheels but check out the videos of people descending Alpe d'Huez - that should put your at ease.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,746
    I think at the Brompton worlds the average speed is around 40 km/h... one could argue that on a similar course with top end carbon road bikes maybe they could reach 45 km/h average at a push
  • I regularly get off my train early at East Croydon and cycle 20km into the City on my Brompton. It's absolutely fine - even going up over Crystal Palace / Beulah Hill which is pretty steep and with a heavy bag (laptop, etc) hanging off the front block.
    Never be tempted to race against a Barclays Cycle Hire bike. If you do, there are only two outcomes. Of these, by far the better is that you now have the scalp of a Boris Bike.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,746
    even going up over Crystal Palace / Beulah Hill which is pretty steep

    It is indeed
  • molteni_manmolteni_man Posts: 315
    Hi. I have a Brompton 3 speed which is great fun to ride. A couple of thoughts - you might want to consider getting a smaller front ring as the standard set up on a Brompton is more suited to flat riding. I ride mine on standard set up around Winchester and I work v hard on some of the hills! There is a small suspension block and the standard one is quite soft. I have fitted the firm block which is available from Evans/ Brompton etc and fitted very quickly. Well worth doing.
    The great thing with Brompton is how well they keep their value. Go for a later version as there have been some improvements to brakes, wheels etc although the overall design has remained the same. BW
  • kingrollokingrollo Posts: 3,162
    Ive got a tern - which has 20 inch wheels and is less than half the price of the brompton
    Its the tern link n8 i have it cost just over £400 new.
    Its folds very quickly - but not as small or as neat as the brompton. The ride is pretty fast though and it has 8 gears which is handy

    Worth consideration
  • stueysstueys Posts: 1,332
    Hi. I have a Brompton 3 speed which is great fun to ride. A couple of thoughts - you might want to consider getting a smaller front ring as the standard set up on a Brompton is more suited to flat riding. I ride mine on standard set up around Winchester and I work v hard on some of the hills! There is a small suspension block and the standard one is quite soft. I have fitted the firm block which is available from Evans/ Brompton etc and fitted very quickly. Well worth doing.
    The great thing with Brompton is how well they keep their value. Go for a later version as there have been some improvements to brakes, wheels etc although the overall design has remained the same. BW

    Thanks for that, I was toying between the 2 gears or 3 gears. You seem to save a chunk of weight by only having two gears but you lose top end seems to be the conclusion. I'm ok with muscling up the 3 miles of hills I've got, given I'm probably going to be in a suit I suspect I'm not gonna be setting any records ;-)
  • stueysstueys Posts: 1,332
    kingrollo wrote:
    Ive got a tern - which has 20 inch wheels and is less than half the price of the brompton
    Its the tern link n8 i have it cost just over £400 new.
    Its folds very quickly - but not as small or as neat as the brompton. The ride is pretty fast though and it has 8 gears which is handy

    Worth consideration

    Thanks for that, one of my club guys has a tern which he rates highly. Appeal of the brompton is the small folding size, our trains are rammed so the most unobtrusive bike has a lot of appeal. Equally saving 500 quid also appeals, I'll take a look and check the dimensions.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    I thought my Brompton was the spawn of the devil. Hateful thing to ride in my opinion and will spit you off on slippery surfaces in a second. It did not help that I'm probably a bit too tall for a standard bike but a taller seatpost wouldn't fit under a Dutch train seat. They are probably the best of a bad job but "fun" is never a word I'd use. YMMV of course. Sold mine for about what I paid for it 2nd hand which was the only consolation.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • londoncommuterlondoncommuter Posts: 1,550
    I thought my Brompton was the spawn of the devil. Hateful thing to ride in my opinion and will spit you off on slippery surfaces in a second. It did not help that I'm probably a bit too tall for a standard bike but a taller seatpost wouldn't fit under a Dutch train seat. They are probably the best of a bad job but "fun" is never a word I'd use. YMMV of course. Sold mine for about what I paid for it 2nd hand which was the only consolation.

    Completely agree. I've borrowed one from a friend and it terrifies me. The ride is horrible, you spin out on any flat, it would be completely swallowed by a pot hole, weighs a ton to carry but they do fold brilliantly I suppose and it's the only folding bike I've been on so maybe the rest are worse.

    If I could have specced the gears for my journey and put clipless pedals on then maybe it would be a little better.

    Amazing business and branding that they can have such high prices and the second hand values mystify me - they go for ludicrous prices so why wouldn't you just buy new?
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    I didn't buy new because my spec would have been near £1000 and I paid £700 which I pretty much got back (FX may or may not have helped since I bought in €)
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    I think your bike must have been undergeared. Mine is a standard s6 and the top two gears are more suited to racing than the average commute. I'm certainly not spinning out on the flat.
  • mrolimroli Posts: 3,622
    I've got/had a number of folding bikes and for what you are talking about - I would say Brompton all day long.

    The fold is the clincher for you - getting it on to a packed commuter train, it is effectively no more inconvenient than a small suitcase.

    I have a Dahon MuSL that I bought, because the Spec was so much higher given the price and the 20" wheel size seemed better to me and it is a really fun, quick ride - it is a close relation of the Tern. But, the fold, whilst pretty compact is just not Brompton like. It was a good way to do 8-9 miles twice a day and you can get bags for them (pretty cheaply), but they are more bulky.

    I've ridden a Brompton London - Brighton and it is fine on descents. Wouldn't necessarily like to do an alpine descent in a group on one, but what you're talking about it is fine. The smaller wheels can be a bit hazardous in pot holes, but they'd ruin your wheels on your good bike, so you avoid them right?

    Also, the Brompton resale value is incredible.

    If you felt as though you might use your folding bike for riding more than 4-5 miles a day then you could look at the Dahon/Tern ranges that have a lot of flexibility.

    On pedals - as well as the Brompton "folding" pedal - you could look at the MKS EZY pedals - they basically pop off really easily, have an spd function as well as good flats. Worth a look.

    One last thing - CYCLE TO WORK SCHEME!
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    On Cycle to Work, doesn't the Tax Man still expect the bike to be valued at the end of the lease? If it's even remotely closely valued, you'd be totally screwed. I guess it isn't
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • londoncommuterlondoncommuter Posts: 1,550
    On Cycle to Work, doesn't the Tax Man still expect the bike to be valued at the end of the lease? If it's even remotely closely valued, you'd be totally screwed. I guess it isn't

    They generally offer extended hire periods (at nil charge) that mean at the end the market value is nil. The whole scheme is ludicrous and got slightly surreal when that bit got introduced. Madness.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    On Cycle to Work, doesn't the Tax Man still expect the bike to be valued at the end of the lease? If it's even remotely closely valued, you'd be totally screwed. I guess it isn't

    They generally offer extended hire periods (at nil charge) that mean at the end the market value is nil. The whole scheme is ludicrous and got slightly surreal when that bit got introduced. Madness.

    Yes, that happened during my lease on the Cube. I was just about to buy it for £50 and was told I needed to lease it for 3 more years (or whatever). Total fiasco. Especially as a 5 year old Brompton is still probably "worth" more than £500 in reality.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • stueysstueys Posts: 1,332
    Ok, thanks guys, good advice.

    So I'm thinking a Brompton, looks easier on the train. C2w definitely. So, 2 gears or 3? You seem to pay a hefty weight penalty for 3 gears over 2.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    I'd really no worry about the weight - you dont notice it when riding anyway.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    Fenix wrote:
    I'd really no worry about the weight - you dont notice it when riding anyway - the rest of the ride is so miserable

    Just added some clarification :wink:
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • stueysstueys Posts: 1,332
    I'm not sensing the Brompton love from MRS...
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    Stueys wrote:
    I'm not sensing the Brompton love from MRS...

    :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :wink:
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    I love the ride of mine ! It's the bike of choice when it comes to fun rides about town.
    I've an ironman coming up soon - I'd best try and leave it alone and actually do some proper training....
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    Fenix wrote:
    I love the ride of mine ! It's the bike of choice when it comes to fun rides about town.
    I've an ironman coming up soon - I'd best try and leave it alone and actually do some proper training....

    Give me my Paddy Wagon with bull horns any day of the week.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
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