Link P7i – First Looks at Tern Bikes

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When Josh Hon of Tern Bicycles offered to send me a preproduction Tern Link P7i folding bicycle to review, I was all over it. I had spent most of 2011 reading about the company; this would be my first chance to see what Tern Bicycles was working on all that time.

The Tern Link P7i folding bicycle is one of seven bikes in the 20-inch-wheeled Link family, which Tern describes as “transportation for the human race,” differentiating it from Tern’s racier Verge family of 20-inch-wheeled folding bicycles, which offers “performance to go.”

Link P7i Insight and Overview

Tern Link P7i Folding Bicycle

Tern Link P7i Folding Bicycle

Visually, the shape of the frame distinguishes the two families. All Link model Tern folding bicycles are straight between the main hinge and the head tube; Verge bikes sport a continuous arched appearance from the rear dropouts all the way to the head tube.

Different alloys are used as well. The Tern Link P7i folding bicycle is built with 6061 aluminum, the same stuff that goes into crankarms, while the Verge family features 7005 aluminum, which is a little bit stronger, but harder to work during manufacturing.

Should you buy based on the frame material? Gosh, no. Base it on the test ride, and whether the bike is equipped for your needs. The Link P7i folding bicycle is rated for a maximum rider weight of 110 kg (240 lbs.), and, sadly for me, I can confirm that it’s more than capable of holding up under that entire load.

Accessories for the Link P7i folding bike

The Link P7i folding bicycle is ready for all-weather, all-hours commuting right out of the box. You get a sturdy rear rack bolted to the frame at four points, fenders, a rear battery-powered light that nestles under the rack for protection against bumps and dings, and a headlight similarly sheltered from damage within the embrace of a double-clamp handlebar stem.

The headlight is powered by a BioLogic Joule II dynamo hub that generates useful light at walking speeds. And a standlight feature provides continuous lighting even when you’re stopped by a traffic signal. A dynamo hub means light on demand, whenever you need it—no worries about dead batteries.

I’d prefer the dynamo also powered the rear light, but I bet that Tern decided a battery-powered rear light on a folding bicycle would be more reliable than one with a long and fragile wire.

Link P7i = Easy fit and setup

You’ll love the Andros handlebar stem on the Link P7i. All you do is slide a switch on the stem’s top plate to one side and lift the rear of the plate. This unlocks both the height and the rotation of the handlebars. Use one hand to move the handlebars to the desired height and rotation and the other hand to push the top plate back down. The locking switch snaps back automatically.

If I worked in the shop, I’d use the stem to sell the entire bike—it’s that great a design. Check out the Tern Link P7i more here.

What do foldup bikes have to do with Thanksgiving?

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This Thanksgiving my room-mate, Peter, invited me to eat dinner with him and his family in Boston. We decided to take a bus the night before and I did the responsible thing, got off work early, caught the subway earlier than I needed to to make the bus with plenty of time.

Riding the Tern Link P9

Riding the Tern Link P9

Peter took the more daring route, jumping on his Tern foldup bike and blasting through 90 Manhattan blocks in under 15 minutes. We barely made the bus but Peter had a big goofy grin on his face— nothing like a mad dash on a folding bike in new york city to get your blood pumping!

Foldup bikes are really portable

The bus came and I looked over at Pete — “dude where are you going to stash the bike?”— he raised his eyebrows, compressing his folding bike to the size of a suitcase in a few deft movements and placing it underneath with the luggage. He always seems just a little smug when he shows off his folding bike, but I’m always impressed. You could never take a normal bike on a bus like that.

Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more of getting a foldup bike. I work just far enough away from my apartment that its too far to walk but too close to pay for the subway without resenting yourself, just a bit more each day. In the past I didn’t even consider biking to work because there isn’t a place big enough to store a bike at my work and I don’t like the idea of locking my bike outside for the day, but after seeing Peter with his foldup bike my mind opened to a whole new world of fold-up-bike related possibilities:

No room in the storage room? No problem! Just fold it up and push it under the desk!!
Don’t feel like biking home at the end of the day? Nothing is easier than taking a foldup bike on the train!

About time I bought my folding bike in new york city

OCL Hinge on Tern Link P9

OCL Hinge on Tern Link P9

Peter works at NYCeWheels, a NYC store that sells foldup bikes, and I asked him about what I should get. He launched off on a detailed inventory of specific makes and models— “So… which one folds up the smallest?” “The Brompton Folding Bike, just get the Brompton.”

It’s Thanksgiving now and I haven’t got a folding bike yet, but Christmas is fast approaching and hopefully by then I’ll be able to get a handle on the situation—send enough hints to my friends and family and I’m thinking I might just find a bike, neatly folded underneath the Christmas tree.

Tern Link P9 on Boston Streets

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Last week I borrowed my roommate’s Tern Link P9 folding bike and joined him and his father for a 14 mile joy ride around the suburbs of Boston. My roommate, Anthony, and his father are both bike enthusiasts and at first I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the father son duo. I had never ridden a folding bike before and was thinking that it might be hard to keep up with a normal road bike, but nope, the Tern folding bike goes just about as fast as you can peddle it!

Link P9 folding bicycle in Boston

Link P9 folding bicycle in Boston

The smaller wheels are great for city riding!

Interestingly, the smaller wheels seemed to offer a few advantages for city riding. I was definitely able to accelerate a bit faster on the Link P9 than on traditional road-bikes I had tried out in the past. I mentioned this to Anthony, demonstrating with a spurt of speed and a failed attempt at a wheely. My friend explained that, on a folding bike, the smaller circumference of the wheels allows for greater torque, and therefore allows you to accelerate a bit faster.

I didn’t exactly understand the physics of his explanation, but I did understand that super awesome extra spurt of speed I got whenever I put my weight into the peddle! Totally awesome!

Can folding bikes handle rough terrain?

During the bike ride we took the Link P9 all over the city and through many different types of terrain. The folding bike performed great on bike paths, roads, sidewalks, (anything paved), but on more “off-road” terrain it began to struggle. At one point, we detoured onto a dirt bike path, and although I was able to keep up with Anthony and his dad, I had to work twice as hard to maintain speed on the squishy surface. Later, when I tried riding over a wet lawn, it was almost impossible to keep going. Folding bikes are not substitutes for mountain bikes, nor are they meant for off road terrain, although I had a great time trying anyway!!

The Link P9 turns on a dime!

The smaller wheels on the Tern Link P9 had other advantages as well. Not only could I go just as fast as the other bikes (and accelerate faster) but I could also turn more easily! Smaller wheels= greater turn radius= more folding bike awesomeness! “They don’t call it the TERN folding bike for nothing!” I yelled to my friend who looked at me like I was an idiot.

NYC to Paris on Tern Verge X30h Folding Bike

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Tern Verge X30 folding bike

Tern Verge X30 folding bike

My weekend began by riding a Tern Verge X30h. It was my first commute home from work on a folding bike; Upper East Side of Manhattan to DUMBO, Brooklyn, roughly 10 miles. My first impression was the amazing acceleration this folding bike has! Wow! The Tern Verge X30h made me feel like a pro-cyclist because I wanted to do Time Trails or Sprints instead of “just” commute home. I was imagining myself next to Nick Nuyens riding from Brussels to Compiegne (where the Paris-Roubaix actually starts), though it’s also really easy to take the train with your Tern Vern X30h due to its N-fold Technology instead.

Tern Bike Kinetic Energy, what…

The Tern Verge X30h is nothing less than a speed demon. The frame is incredibly stiff, not just around the bottom bracket (every roady’s concern) but also on the top tube’s main hinge and in the front end. When I was out of the saddle and pulling on the equally stiff stem bar, there was no twist at all, only pure drive. The sprinting and climbing performance of the Tern Verge X30h folding bike, is simply put: awesome!

Another remarkable feature is that the Verge X30h combines stiffness with comfort levels I’ve only found on commuter-specific bikes. Everything from road vibration to bigger potholes is damped before it reaches any of the hinge folding points. It’s proof that in high-end folding bikes with the proper engineering you don’t have to give up smoothness to save weight and stiffness.

Verge X30h folding bike

Verge X30h folding bike

The Tern Verge X30h folding bike rides on great quality Kinetix Pro rims and Schwalbe Durano tires. This makes for a folding bike that glides at any speed no matter what the road conditions. It’s stiff enough to make it to 30 MPH on flats, super light to be of no hindrance on climbs, and the handling is sharp enough to have fun on downhills without ever feeling nervous or unstable.

“Wanna race?”

Weighing in at a respectable 22.7 lbs, the light and stiff frame was rattle-free even over bumpy New York City roads. The 3×10 SRAM Dualdrive II rear hub paired with the Shimano Ultegra 10 speed rear derailleur meant flawless 30-speed shifting. The Tern Verge X30h is as much at home on easy Sunday morning group rides as it is fighting over the last slot in the gutter of a desperate race echelon. Stop by NYCeWheels to try out the Tern Verge X30h and put Nuyens in second place!

Watch a Tern Verge X30 video review.