Sunday, December 28, 2014

Adding Two Folding Bikes to the Circus

Inspired by my brother's acquisition of two Brompton folding bikes for himself and his girlfriend, the wife and I just bought a pair of Tern Link D8 Folding Bikes. 

These things are more than a bit pricey ($700 each), but are about $1,000 apiece cheaper than their Brompton counterparts, and come with rack, fenders, and kickstand. 

The Tern has 20-inch wheels as compared to the Brompton's 16-inch, and has 8 gears instead of 6, weighs about the same, but folds down a few inches larger (120 liters vs 90 liters in volume) though still plenty small for car, closet, or large suitcase.

Carolyn lives to bike, but a permanent bike rack on the back of her car has been a pain (literally, as the hatch automatically closes on her head and mine). 

In addition, the upright folding bike is better for her small frame, and it's also easier for her to get in and out of her vehicle, as compared to the bike rack she now has on her SUV.

With two identical bikes, the plan is for the two of us to load up and zip out to distant small towns and tool around on bike paths, rail-to-trail conversions, and the C & O towpath, as well as to scoot around Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, and Washington, D.C. 

We do this now, but after bunion and hammer-toe surgery a few years back left her with at least three pins in her foot, Carolyn cannot walk long distances as easily as she once did.  I figure these two bikes are a long-term investment.

The bikes fold small, 
and we bought two padded stow bags for them to fit into, though each bike can also fit into a large hard suitcase for an overseas or cross-country flight if we ever decide to do that.

As with all new acquisitions this one will require some more new purchases -- a matching helmet in dark grey, a pair of LED lights, and perhaps a bag or two to carry the wee dogs in.

This last bit was not part of our original idea, but in for a penny, in for a pound.  Of course, a little more research will be needed to make sure a dog carrier will work as we imagine.  That said, the option is clearly there!

For the record, folding bikes are not new, even if they are much improved from where they started.

The first folding bike was patented in 1899 or so, and by WWI Bianchi was making them for men who still fought in feathered hats.

Andrew Ritchie began producing his Brompton folding bike in England 1981. In 1982, Dr. David Hon, a California laser physicist, began production of the first Dahon folding bike. Both Brompton and Dahon are still among the most popular folding bike brands today. Dahon has gone on to become the world's largest folding bike manufacturer with an estimated 60% market share, and Hon's son and wife now produce the Tern folding bike (not affiliated with Dahon), which is what I just bought.

Today there are over 175 folding bike manufacturers producing a wide variety of models, and more coming every day.

The Europeans are convinced folding bikes, paired with buses and trains, are the way forward in terms of transportation, and they have poured a few million dollars into designing the Bike Intermodal, which uses cables tension and other tricks to create a bike which can be folded down to  fit into a briefcase -- just 30 liters of space. This bike is not yet in production, but it is reported that it will come both with, and without, an electric assist.


Dan said...

I own one of these bikes, and have done for a few years now. From my experiences, I think you'll be quite pleased with your bikes, although do make sure that these aren't any of the early models with dodgy frame welds.

The bikes do very well on paved roads, and will even cope, with care, on gravel tracks. Be careful going over cattle grids with them, as the small wheel diameter makes this a little uncertain compared to a mountain bike; similarly they tend to get a bit frisky on rough terrain.

As to lights, the latest of the Cateye rear lights are very, very good indeed; I tend to use these even in daylight as the further back a car driver sees a bike from, the more polite and considerate they tend to be.

Good luck!

Uzzal Hossain said...