Tern Verge X20—First Impressions

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Ever since I got my own Tern folding bike, I have been loving the style, ride and quality this bike firm has to offer. When I saw an image of the Tern Verge X20 pop on the NYCeWheels site, I knew this was a bike I had to try. Now, thanks to Steve, the Tern head-honcho, I am riding this sleek and fast folder.

First rides on the Tern Verge X20

There is so much more to this folding bike than the looks. The looks are awesome, but the ride far out-weighs any visual appeal. It is light as a feather and has almost every goodie a folding bike can possess. This is one of those bikes that just gazing at it can cause an internal flurry in a cyclist’s mind.

Tern Verge X20 Light as a feather

Tern Verge X20 Light as a feather

Steve dropped off the Tern Verge X20 for me when I was out of town at a large E-bike company’s dealer meeting where I had been asked to speak. I decided to park a couple miles from the beach-side hotel and ride my E-Brompton to the location to save on valet parking fees ($26 ouch!). So my first experience with the Verge X20 was to carry it at the end of the day back to my car while riding the E-Brompton. Easy stuff, as this baby weighs next to nothing.

The Tern Verge X20 is incredibly fast

When I got a chance to ride the Verge X20 the next morning, it didn’t disappoint. The handling and shifting are what you would expect from a bike that sits at the top-price point of a line of great folding bikes.  Where a folding bike like the Tern Verge S11i is designed to be an all around commuter, the Tern Verge X20 is designed, first and foremost, to go very very fast.  I was zipping around my neighborhood at what might be considered break-neck speed.  Carving some wicked turns and pushing the folding bike limits seems to be what this machine is all about.
Of course, it is really all about convenience and security, but why not have a little fun while you’re at it? The many fancy components that make up this bike are made of the best materials. Super-strong this and ultra-light that are their names. You can check the spec sheet to see what I’m talking about. All this adds up to a high performance lightweight folding bike that practically carries itself and powers down the road like no other.

High-end features on the Verge X20

Check out the rims and tires on this baby. I’ve been looking around for a race bike that’s missing its wheels, because someone put them on the bike I’m riding. Those sleek and skinny tires just fly. And what happened to all the spokes? I have never ridden a set of wheels like these and now I am wondering why. Once again, just looking at the wheels can bring on bike nirvana.

 

The shifters are held to the bars with carbon-fiber, but so what, the way they work is what I like. They are right and ready for the quickest and most solid shifts you might ever need. Called double tap shifters, they work in the best way. One lever that shifts up or down in the easiest way, they are the bomb. If you haven’t tried these out yet, you just don’t know what you are missing.

 

And the bearings on this bike defy the laws of physics. The Tern Verge X20 almost powers itself. If there is any friction there, I sure couldn’t feel it. I took it on a slow group ride yesterday and I’m trying to remember if I even pedaled at all. Once you are moving, it just keeps gliding like a downhill run is the norm. I guess this is what you get when you spend the big bucks on a bike like the Verge X20.

The Verge X20 is easy to fold and carry

Tern Verge X20 Folded

Tern Verge X20 Folded

The ease of the fold and carrying the bike are part of the reason someone might get a Tern Verge X20. It is, of course, a folding bike designed to make people’s lives easier and has all the standard  folding bike features. But this is no clunky everyday bike. Like all the folding bikes in the Tern Verge Series, the Verge X20 is exceptional, a show-piece and speed demon wrapped in one. So far I have taken it on three semi-major rides and the attention it gets is hard to miss. I’m glad I can take it in with me wherever I go, because those looks of jealousy might turn on me.
So, I am looking at the price tag and wondering just how spoiled this bike is making me. As my test continues, I might just have to take the plunge. I ride so many bikes I fall in love with and sometimes get a little teary-eyed when they get returned to their rightful owner. Will the Tern Verge X20 be the one I don’t let get away? Follow along to hear the tale.

Thanks for reading,

Turbo Bob.
“Shifting is done as much with the eyes as with the hands. Most people don’t anticipate.”—Tom Hillard.

Read more bike blogs by Turbo Bob

 

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 Bicycles are on the way

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The complete line of Tern folding bicycles have been photographed and documented. The website is up and running. There’s really only one thing left to do: ship bikes to dealers around the world. According to Josh Hon, head of Tern Bicycles, that’s soon to be taken care of as well.

The Tern Castro folding bike

The Tern Castro folding bike

Here’s what he said to me in an early August email exchange: “Bikes are in production as we speak. We just finished a batch of about 150 samples for use at shows and distributor house shows. Bicycles will start shipping next month with arrival in stores in a few markets by the end of October, and larger quantities hitting most markets by November/December.”

Folding bike demand is global

That’s good news for this “instant global” folding bike brand. Hon says his company has distributors in more than 30 countries “chomping at the bit and waiting for bikes.”

One reason: People know Hon from his folding bike career at Dahon. Even though Tern Bicycles didn’t exist as a brand a few months ago, the team behind the brand is a known quantity within the industry.

Another reason for all the enthusiasm: Tern is making all the right noises about durability as well as design.

Building a strong folding bike

Tern Link P24 folding bike

Tern Link P24 folding bike

“We’ve submitted all the frames for independent testing,” Hon said. “The EN (European standard) requires a frame to pass 100,000 cycles. We took every frame up to 150,000 cycles before turning off the machines. We didn’t have a single incident.”

You don’t read much about durability testing with traditional road and mountain bikes. That’s because the materials, geometry and construction of traditional bikes are pretty well established. The work is still being done, but durability testing rarely finds expression in a marketing plan.

However, durability testing is extra important in the folding bike business. Folding bikes have joints that traditional bikes don’t have. And a new folding bike brand, even one backed by the experience of the team behind Tern Bicycles, depends on independent testing to add credibility to its durability claims.

Not only was the testing satisfactory, Tern decided to raise its maximum rider weights.

Durability and stiffness combined

“We’ve bumped up the maximum rider weight to 110 kg (242 lbs.) on 20-inch wheel bikes and 115 kg. (253 lbs.) on 24-inch and 26-inch bikes,” Hon said. “People (media and distributors) who have had a chance to test ride the bikes overwhelmingly comment about the stiffness of the ride.”

Keep in mind that stiffness and durability are two different things. You can have a durable folding bike that has a noticeable amount of flex in the frame and in the handlebar/stem combination or what Tern calls “the handlepost.” But eliminating the flex without creating a heavy, unresponsive folding bike is much harder. And yet Tern seems to have avoided that dreaded weight gain in its pursuit of a stiff, responsive bicycle.

Tern Bicycles plus Biologic

That same fashion show is on the floor of Eurobike, the big European bicycle trade show. Tern will also have a presence at Interbike in Las Vegas.

At the shows, Tern folding bikes share space with BioLogic, the company’s sister brand. Many BioLogic accessories first surfaced while Hon was still part of Dahon.

“All the really cool iPhone BioLogic stuff that we announced a few months ago – ReeCharge Bike Mount, Dynamo Kit, Cipher Gloves – will be in stock by early September,” Hon said. “We’ll also be releasing an updated version of BikeBrain, our iPhone app, in a few weeks. It’s got some great new features – and it’ll still be free. Amazingly, its only been out for a few months and we’ve already had more than 40,000 downloads.”

Tern Verge (Dahon Vector anyone?) folded up

Tern Verge (Dahon Vector anyone?) folded up

In addition to folding bikes and bicycle accessories, Tern Bicycles has a philanthropic side as well. Several months ago, the company donated a week’s worth of all online Biologic revenues, more than $8,000, to the Red Cross in Japan to support earthquake/tsunami victims. Hon says the company is committed to giving at least 1 percent of net profits to environmental or social causes.

For Hon, success is having the right folding bikes, accessories and business model. Now, to win the attention of the folding bike community, it’s time to deliver the main event: the full line of Tern folding bikes. And he’s on it.

“We move ahead with making bikes,” Hon concluded. “In the end, people want good bikes and that’s what we are focusing on.”

Current offering of Tern folding bikes in the US

-Sam Joslin, 16incheswestofpeoria.com