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Old 03-12-2013, 13:35   #1
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Folding Bike - looking for advice

I'd like to get two inexpensive folding bikes to use mainly (probably only) to make grocery runs from marinas when cruising east coast from NY to Maine - for my wife and me. (We're both in our late 60's and don't want to tour on a bike.) Are the one-speed bikes generally good enough, or do they become difficult on hills? Maybe the 3-speed is more appropriate? We'd like to keep it as simple as possible. Thanks for any advice.
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Old 03-12-2013, 13:49   #2
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Re: Folding Bike - looking for advice

We bought a Citizen "Barcelona" 3 speed bike for exactly the same reason. The changer is in the rear wheel hub, out of the way and easy to keep oily. We think 3 speeds are the way to go.

Wish we were younger as the electric unicycle would be a hoot to tool around on.
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Old 03-12-2013, 14:16   #3
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Re: Folding Bike - looking for advice

i find the bikes with the small tires more difficult to handle and much slower than full size 26" tires. i guess it depends on how far it is you need to go.
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Old 12-12-2013, 14:52   #4
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I have a fold up electric bike. It is amazing!! charged up using solar power on my boat so 100% zero emissions.
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Old 12-12-2013, 14:58   #5
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Re: Folding Bike - looking for advice

There was just a thread on this subject a week or so ago. Use the google custom search and you should find lots of info on bikes.
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Old 12-12-2013, 14:58   #6
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Re: Folding Bike - looking for advice

There is an old saying in Key West.

Any bike with less than 3 padlocks is considered abandoned.

Get a nice bike and a great security system.

I greatly favor a 3 speed hub with internal coaster brakes. It will save a lot of frozen cables and rusted up shifters.
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Old 12-12-2013, 15:09   #7
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Re: Folding Bike - looking for advice

I prefer the 20" one speed bikes with the foot brake. I had the others and sold them. Used an old pair of red Dahons until they were getting so bad I gave them to the yard guys in Trinidad. Loved those little bikes. Heck... we'd go 20 miles on them sometimes.. But size not too important except when trying to put on board! Anything you put on board magically doubles in size!
The one speed foot brake type have no cables etc to tangle when storing and go out of adjustment...
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Old 12-12-2013, 15:55   #8
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Re: Folding Bike - looking for advice

Got 2 3 speed Dahons (Sturmey Archer 3 speed hubs) in my basement. If you ever come through Toronto give me a shout. Complete with bags and luggage carrier. Ideal for grocery runs. They're the best.
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Old 12-12-2013, 16:04   #9
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Re: Folding Bike - looking for advice

Wifey has 3 speeds, uses one. I have 8 speeds, use about 3.

FWIW, I find my front suspension as useful comfort feature compared to her bike's rigid front fork. A rear suspension wouldn't be great because you'd lose rigid mounting points for a decent rack... and the rack is an almost-mandatory accessory.

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Old 12-12-2013, 19:50   #10
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Re: Folding Bike - looking for advice

Shimano sells a NEXUS hub with 3 internal gears, and coaster brake. I have been hunting a used one for years, and was chagrined to find new they are only $50 on eBay. SRAM also makes one, as does Sturmey Archer as mentioned.

Shimano also make a front wheel hub which has a built in 6 volt generator. Somehow, batteries never are charged on bike lights when I need them, and external generators on the fork seem to be hard to hold onto.
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Old 12-12-2013, 22:05   #11
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We have 4-speed Nexus internal hubs on our folders. I can't imagine doing with fewer.
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Old 13-12-2013, 00:56   #12
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Re: Folding Bike - looking for advice

20' 7-speed Dahon Mariner D7. Pretty happy with it overall, but the handlepost is a weak point which I have had to replace, mostly because I ride it pretty hard.

Oiled and tires properly inflated, it's a pretty efficient ride.

Gears make for an enjoyable ride, particularly with basket laden with stores.
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Old 13-12-2013, 01:10   #13
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Re: Folding Bike - looking for advice

The 20" folders ride very well. I have taken 50 mile rides on my Dahon Jetstream. This is a fairly expensive better bike, probably not what you are looking for, with 24 gears (3 speed internal hub and 8 speed derailleur). But the principle is the same -- 20" gets you reasonable stability and normal speeds on flat ground; going fast downhill (over 40km/h or so) it becomes scary compared to a full sized bike.

But on flats, it's basically equal to a good full sized bike, so you can cover a lot of miles and thus a lot of ground, making the bike a really useful "land tender". If the terrain is not too hilly, 10 or 15 miles each way is just not a big deal, even for a middle aged old fort like me.

The 16" bikes are quite a bit easier to stow (I also have one of these), but they are really not much good for riding any distances.

You will certainly want to avoid single-speed bikes if you possibly can. Seven speed derailleur bikes are cheap enough. My 16" bike is a 3 speed -- the internal hub is very convenient, but the gear range is poor if you have any hills to climb. Unless you are really just literally going around the block, I would go with a 20" bike with at least 7 speeds.


A big PITA with bikes in general is that a decent lock already adds back as much weight as you've saved by buying a good bike. I have a Kryptonite "Fuggedaboutit" which is like carrying around iron ingots. I'm thinking about one of those titanium locks.

A fold-up bike trailer would be great for hauling provisions.
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Old 13-12-2013, 04:05   #14
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My wife and I are full time cruisers, do not own a car, and use a pair of Dahon 20" bikes as our main means of transportation. I would for sure recommend them as a functional means of transportation. They fold really quickly w/ no hassle and stow in one of our forward lockers; we have a Manta 42 catamaran.

We have been around folks w/ other brands of folding bikes and they all seem pleased with them. My guess is if folks use the bikes and keep them for more than a year or two they are brands that would work for you.

If you do decide to get bikes the storage bags really do come in handy.
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Old 26-12-2013, 14:15   #15
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Re: Folding Bike - looking for advice

We have a couple of Melon slice folderrs that we're pretty happy with. They have 8 speed rear deraileurs and a good range of gears. This is important anywhere that there are hills. It will probably make the difference on whether you use the bikes. Just about every place in NY (and the northeast) has hills.
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