Hey Sis, lets go ride a folding bike or four!

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Last week, my sister came to visit me from Washington State and asked if I would think of something fun for us to do. “Well… we could check out a bunch of folding bikes from my work and go on an epic JOY RIDE.” Done and Done.

Folding Bikes for the Ladies

My sister, Lydia, met me at NYCeWheels on a beautiful Friday afternoon accompanied by two of her close friends, Celie, and Sheena. Celie Dan and Charlie Sheena were my mnemonics to remember their names, which earned me wry looks from the girls. After browsing the folding bikes at the shop, we left the store with four of our favorites: the Tern Link D8, Tern Verge Duo, Montague Boston 8, and Dahon Mu P8.

Strapping our helmets in place, we glanced around one last time, giving each other meaningful stares and solemn nods, this was going to be epic.

Celie Dan rides the Verge Duo

Tern Verge Duo

Tern Verge Duo

We got off to a bit of a bumpy start. Celie, who didn’t have a lot of experience with bikes, decided to take the Tern Verge Duo because she liked the look, but didn’t realize that this was one of the more unique bikes in the shop— a dual speed with an automatic shifter and a heel brake. It took a few blocks before she got used to stepping back on the pedals to stop the bike, but soon she was speeding ahead of the group, smiling every time the automatic shifter kicked her into second gear. “It really felt like the bike was reading my mind” she told me after the ride, “the verge duo was my favorite.”

Charlie Sheena on the Boston 8

Montague Boston 8

Montague Boston 8

Before the ride, Sheena walked into the shop and told the guy working the floor that she wanted to go fast. “You want to go fast yeah?” he said in a low voice raising his eyebrows, “I could tell you were the adventuresome type, you’ll want the Montague Boston 8.” Shameless flirting. But he was right. The Montague Boston 8 is the fastest folding bike of the four we chose. Unlike most folding bikes, the Montague Boston 8 has full sized 700c wheels and a flat top tube that makes for a smoother, more aerodynamic and faster ride. And it still folds into a small portable package— just release a lever on the top tube and the bike folds in half, making in portable enough to store anywhere, or fit in the trunk of your car. We all took turns riding the Montague Boston 8 and it was a big hit with the group.

Tern Link D8 saves the day

Sheena on the Tern Link D8

Sheena on the Tern Link D8

What the Montague doesn’t have is a place to secure a purse, which was starting to create real problems when Sheena found she was unable to make turns and keep her purse on her shoulder at the same time. At the time, I was riding the Tern Link D8 which comes fit with a rear rack. We switched bikes, and Sheena took a moment to secure EVERYONE’S purse to the rear rack using the bungee cables on the back of the Link D8. I wouldn’t have believed it were possible to secure three full sized purses to the back of a single folding bike, but, there you go. Tern Link D8 to the rescue.

Smooooth Sailing! Er…. Biking!

One the Riverside Bike path with our folding bikes

After Charlie Sheena got the purses secured, the rest was smooth sailing. We took 86th street over to Central park and the spent an hour having a blast weaving around the bike paths. The girls were all wearing black and we felt like some kind of hardcore folding-biker gang as we cruised down to the Hudson. At the end of the day, we returned the folding bikes to the shop after 6 full hours of riding with big goofy smiles on our faces. An amazing, amazing day.

Jack

Folding bikes, Frames and Handlebars.

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Alright everyone it’s time to talk about frames and handlebars. No not those protective cases that we see in museums, or the Colonel Sanders mustaches that we all know and love, I’m talking about top tubes, seat posts, and hinges—Hydroformed 7005-AL with smooth TIG welding and DoubleTruss technology.

That last bit I copied off the info brochure for a Tern Verge X30h that I was test-riding. I have no idea what “DoubleTruss technology” is, but it had a nice ring to it and sounds as impressive as the Tern Verge X30h actually is.

A folding bike that looks like a road bike?

Unlike many folding bikes that I have ridden, the Tern Verge X30h’s frame and handlebars allow you to remain very low to the ground. In contrast to a bike like the Tern Link D8, which has Y shaped handle bars that rise almost to shoulder height, the Verge X30h is designed more like a traditional road bike, with low riding handlebars that curve forward and then down like a mountain goat’s horns.

These lower-riding handlebars allow you to bend your torso forward when you ride, minimizing wind resistance. This, coupled with a frame that only weighs 22.7 pounds, allows for a much faster ride!

Other fold-up bikes have T shaped handlebars

Where the Tern Link D8 sports the raised Y handlebars and the Tern Verge X30h goes the route of the mountain goat, other models, like the Dahon Mu P8 have flat T-shaped handlebars more in the style of a mountain bike.

While the true road biker might scoff at the T-shaped handlebars, I actually think they have a few advantages over the afore mentioned models.

Unlike the Y-handlebars, the T-bars remain relatively low to the ground so that, if you choose to, you can lower your body into the wind and decrease your resistance. On the Tern Link D8, I was forced to sit so upright that I always felt like I was battling the elements. On the Dahon Mu P8, when the wind gets rough I simply lower by body, grab that T-bar by its center and, whammo, I’m off.

Standing up on a Folding bike?

While the T-bars are low to the ground, they are still elevated enough that it doesn’t feel awkward to stand up when you need that little extra torque on a hill. Often, when I’m using a bike with handlebars that drop forward, I feel great when I’m sitting but always a little unsteady if I ever need to stand up. This could just be my lack of experience on road bikes, but hey, bikes should be designed to accommodate pros and amateurs alike!

Come by a folding bike shop sometime and test ride some bikes!  See which handle bars are the best fit for you!

-Jack

Dahon MU P8 is going shopping

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So, why would I place my folding Dahon MU-P8 bicycle in a shopping cart?

Because doing so is my civic duty toward helping my fellow man to be and remain individuals of virtuous character. In other words, I’m simply helping basically honest people who are sometimes overcome with a pesky, bothersome and addictive compulsion to free chained and locked unattended bicycles from their “unjust” captivity. Especially if those bikes are deemed “fully able-bodied” and “attractive.”

Dahon MuP8 folding bike

Dahon MuP8 folding bike

It’s been said that a locking mechanism hasn’t yet been invented that a determined New York City bike thief, um .. I mean freedom-fighter, can’t defeat. Whether that’s true, or not, I don’t know. BUT, I have yet to see any bicycle lock manufacturers’ advertising that guarantees bikes from theft if they are stolen while under the protection of their properly fastened locking mechanisms. Ergo, I do not own any bike securing devices. They may slow an enterprising freedom loving fighter down, but they won’t stop him!

Logically, it just doesn’t make sense to leave a Dahon folding bike outside and unattended, even if it seems securely locked up. Why tempt fate, or the infamous Mr Murphy of “Murphy’s Law?” The point of a folding bicycle is .. that – it folds. Just simply fold it and take it with you, thereby eliminating any concerns or anxiety you might have about returning to where you left your bike, just a few mere minutes ago, and not finding it!

My Dahon MU-P8 folds into a small tight package. I simply drop the seat down, fold the pedals in, unlatch the frame hinge, release and adjust the handlebar mechs which drops the front end down, finished by folding the frame in half until the magnetic latch is engaged. It’s really easy! I can do this in about 15 seconds or less, so it certainly isn’t ever a hassle folding the MU-P8 down into a small footprint and carrying it with you. And weighing in at about 25 pounds, most anyone can handle its weight going up or down a flight of stairs, or two.

The bike can even be rolled on one of its tires in its folded state using the seat/post assembly extended as a handle. Finding the balanced rolling point is tricky, but with practice and experience it can be done. And if you get tired and need to sit for a spell, the folded Dahon bicycle‘s adjustable BioLogic saddle/post assembly is ready and available for you to rest on.

By doing away with locks and their added expense, weight, potential damage to a bike’s finish and temptation for those Freedom-fighters that can’t resist the urge – and beauty of a Dahon folding bicycle – putting the folder in a shopping cart seems like the smarter way to go!

Click for more about the Dahon MU P8 and check out the Dahon MU P8 video as well.

Dahon MU P8, bike accessories to purchase

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I ordered a Ram mount the other day to attach my portable GPS to the Dahon P8′s handlebars. GPS units are great for planning routes and navigating unfamiliar thoroughfares. They aren’t much fun if you have to stop every few blocks to pull it out of your pocket to see and hear where you’re supposed to be going! If you’re thinking about getting one for your bike, don’t do like I did! Get one with Bluetooth or a headphone jack so you can hear it over the loudest noises! Anyway, with the GPS and mount joining my handlebar’s end mounted rear view mirror, this MU-P8 is going to have a crowded geeky looking front-end   : (

Anderson's Dahon MU P8

Anderson's Dahon MU P8

So far, I haven’t done any night riding on this bike. But it could happen. For safety reasons, having a headlight/flashlight/mount (preferably a quick disconnect setup to be deployed only as needed) so I’M VISIBLE to street traffic – after dark – is paramount! Of course if I restricted my riding to daylight hours, in familiar lightly trafficked areas, I wouldn’t need nerdy handlebars extras.

In the old days the only items that adorned my Sears n Roebuck 3 speed’s “bull” handlebars was tape, bar end plugs .. and perhaps a brake lever! But the older I get, the more safety conscious I become. (… except for wearing a bike helmet! But that’s a topic for another post.) Anyhow, those days of riding carelessly without hands on the handlebars in midtown Manhattan traffic are far behind me! Since I’ve noticed that my astonishing recovery and super-healing powers has gone away, I just don’t bounce off hard immovable objects, unscathed, like I did back in the day when I was indestructible!

So now, when I’m blissfully pedaling and coasting along in traffic, skillfully dodging moving and standing pedestrians and vehicles (some of whom are apparently delighted in seeing how close they can get their vehicle to my esteemed Dahon without actually touching it) I’m in a subliminal sort of auto pilot self preservation mode as I’m enjoying this fun, perky and responsive bike!

Oh, and for those readers that might be wondering why I’d want an unseemly rear view mirror protruding beyond the end of the handlebar of an otherwise smooth looking machine, here’s my reasoning. Most of the streets I ride on in the Bronx are usually pretty busy. There’s plenty of potential calamities to avoid and be alert to – IN FRONT of me. You know: vehicles, pedestrians, potholes, changing traffic lights, parked vehicles suddenly pulling into traffic, plus the occasional car door abruptly popping open, and more! The mirror affords me a peek of what’s happening behind me – minimizing having to turn my head as frequently so I can devote more attention to things developing in front of me. A mirror may be geeky, but I like what it does. There’s a lot of truth in the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Check out the specs, see more pictures and watch a video on the Dahon MU P8.

guest post by Anderson, Bronx-NYC

My Dahon MU-P8 folding bicycle in NYC

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Dahon MuP8, going shopping

Dahon MuP8, going shopping

Wherever I go in the Bronx, New York (NY) I encounter people of all ages who are fascinated by my Dahon MU-P8. It is a beautiful thing to behold. The bike AND the people’s interest! Their curiosity, smiles, questions and enthusiastic interest trumps the hesitation and apprehensions NY’ers too often display when engaging unfamiliar faces in “friendly” dialog! It’s as if by watching me go through various paces with the Dahon P8 they can see that the ride, feel, handling, adjustable and folding features are … well NICE!

I’m a tall African American male. Strangers rarely approach me when I’m out and about. However, that all changes whenever I’m carrying, pushing, riding, folding or unfolding my Dahon. It’s amazing, and enjoyable, to watch all sorts of people put aside their usual NYC style type of indifference to engage me to talk about my Dahon folding bike. This bike is literally a bridge that connects me with most everyone and anyone that’s interested in bikes regardless of culture, race or class!

I love this spontaneous social interaction as much as I enjoy zipping around the city on the P8! The bike seems to command and capture attention everywhere it goes. It’s a people magnet and conversation starter rolled (no pun intended) into one.

The first question almost always is:

  • How much does it cost?

Followed by:

  • Who makes it and where is it sold?
  • Is it very heavy?

Oftentimes, I show interested parties the folding sequence: Handle bar folding/adjustments, seat adjustment, the folding frame mechanism and the air pump hidden in the seat post.
Everyone is amazed to see such a small tight package unfold into a cool sporty bike that’s large (and strong) enough for a 6’2″- 225 lb person to comfortably zip around on!
I’ve taken my Dahon MuP8 (folded) into retail outlets (KMart, Shoe Stores, Radio Shack, Wal-greens, Supermarkets, Discount Stores) and Banks. It fits inside of even the smallest of store shopping carts!

Guest blog by Anderson, Bronx – NYC

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