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March 25, 2009

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I've been yearning for Dahon's Mu XL (internal gear hub, rear rack, fenders and hub generator lights!) though the Mu XL sport (no light or rack) is pretty drool-worthy also. Looks like you can knock off some $$ if you go for an '08 model.

Please keep us informed--vicarious bike shopping is all I can afford right now!

For brevets you want the most comfortable, sturdy, reliable bike. That goes double if you are a rookie randonneur.

Randonneuring is very much a process of trial and error. I highly recommend that you ride some brevets with your current bike and then figure out what you want and need before pursuing more packable options.

Have you seen the S&S couplings that allow you to collapse a normal sized bike into a suitcase?

http://www.sandsmachine.com/index.html

That way you could travel with the full-sized bike of your choice, and be able to use standard spare parts, which would be handy for roadside repairs.

While I don't own a foldie, I've ridden the BF tikit. The hyper fold is incredible. It feels great too. The thing I like with the tikit, is you can actually order different frame sizes. What a concept. I’m not sure if Brompton offers this, and if you’re an “average” sized person (height being more critical) you can go with a Dahon, or other folders that don’t offer as much adjustment. Bike Friday has taken a really great approach, with the idea in mind of building performance bicycles, that can get small. Not just making a bike that can fold; let the fit and feel fall where it may. Soon I hope to have a folder too. It’d definitely be a tikit. Good luck on your search.

I've got a Brompton that I use to get to work on dry days (Tigard to Lake Oswego). Like you said, it's pretty nice and it folds small very easily. You only get one frame size choice and somewhat limited adjustment options.

If you can't make a Brompton fit perfectly, I think you ought to go for a Bike Friday (though I don't have one and haven't ridden one). Unless you get a tikit, you'll get the benefit of a bit smoother rolling with 20 inch wheels.

I think the advice by Heather about riding a few brevets before you make any decisions on bikes is great advice.
Riding my first 200 and 300k this spring has completely changed my mind about what bike/gear options are best for long distance riding. (I thought riding centuries had taught me what I needed to know)
I realize now that I need to refine my gear this year and finish more brevets to make a final choice on the best bike for me.
P.S. I lust the Tikit

People do it, but I can't imagine riding a long distance on a Brompton. I had one, don't think I ever rode it further than 5 miles or so. Some of the DaHon's might be okay, think you'd want 20" wheels. Of the 3 you mentioned, a BF New World Tourist seems like the best match. It isn't a particularly small fold, but it can go into a suitcase. I can't see a Tikit with its 16" wheels being a great choice for long distances and a super quick small fold doesn't seem very necessary...

Doug

Hey, I'll lend you my Bike Friday for some time if you want to check it out. I think we're close enough to the same size for it to work

Call

Scott,

I keep a Brompton in the boot of my Prius always, and use it frequently to get into the city from the perimeter if I have to drive. My commute in Seattle is about 26 miles one way, so in better weather I sometimes park the car halfway and finish by riding home.It's great, lots of fun, well built, and a real convenience, but I can't imagine riding it on anything longer than a 20 mile, particularly if I had a BB in the house. On the other hand, my 8 yr. old loves it, and and it fits him (S-Type). Since my wife has an M-Type, we get out and about on the pair and take them with us when we travel (we'll be in Portland for STP and the week thereafter).

Frank

I've done 50+ mile days on my Brompton w/no issues, and I'm a bit over 6'. For commuting, especially mixed-mode commuting like I used to do in NYC (normal bikes not allowed on the PATH during rush hour) the Brompton is absolutely brilliant. As a practical cyclist, consider also the cargo-carrying options: the Brompton's luggage system is *excellent*.

My only experience w/the Tikit was a once-around-the-block test ride, but Hans et. al. @ BF certainly know how to build good bikes.

My issues with Dahons are two:
1) They seem to completely revamp their entire lineup every few years, which makes me wonder about parts & support for older models.
2) You currently weigh about 30 lbs less than I do, so maybe this isn't an issue for you, but I've broken enough steel bike parts that I have a *serious* aversion to aluminum frames. Steel gives way slowly and gracefully; aluminum snaps. YMMV.

But hey, now that you live in Portland, take advantage of the fact that you're local to one of the few Brompton dealers in the country... get yourself down to Clever and take test rides on the Brompton and the Birdy (I thought they had Tikits too, but I just checked their website and it seems I was mistaken.)

My 5+ years of owning one obviously have me biased, but I seriously don't think you could go wrong with a Brompton.

I tried an Airnimal once. It's kinda like a folding bike that's also full size (more or less). Great ride - though I just rode around the block on it, I could imagine riding it a long distance.
Downsides:
1. Expensive
2. Not as easy to fold as a Brompton or Tikit.
3. Not as portable as the other folders - it fits in a largish suitcase not unlike a coupled bike.

I have an S&S coupled bike, which is great. But it takes an hour to unpack/reassemble and another hour to disassemble/repack. And even packed, it's a big 40-50 lb case to lug around. Plus you have to stash the case/packing materials when you get where you're going. For shorter trips, I'd really like a Brompton or similar.

Check: http://www.moultonbicycles.co.uk/

Mucho dinero though.

Whoa, I just went back and re-read the part where you said you're thinking of a folder for *brevets* - that's kinda cross purposes. Horses for courses... every bike design represents a series of trade-offs, and nowhere is this more evident than with folders. The Brompton and the Tikit are optimized for speed/ease of folding and compactness of folded package. Having ridden most of the small-wheelers on the market, I'd say they're best in class at that. But (even though I'd be hounded off the Brompton email list for saying this), they *do* give up something in ride quality.

If you're looking for something that's easier to get to & from brevets than what folder partisans call a "cumbersome", you're probably better off looking at some of the more performance-oriented packable options: non-Tikit Bike Fridays, Moultons (I own one of those too, and the design is utter genius), or even the Airnimal (another, even more obscure, but also really cool Brit design).

Or add couplers to a diamond frame. The best option really depends on how often you expect to be packing/unpacking the thing vs. how long you'll be in the saddle.

The British magazine "A to B" covers all this stuff in exhaustive detail: http://www.atob.org.uk/

I own a Brompton and recommend it for the compact fold and relatively good ride. No problems in rides up to 60 miles. Front bag luggage system is brilliant.

I also own and recommend the Dahon Speed P8. Steel frame & Schwalbe Big Apple tires make for a very comfortable ride. Probably a bit more comfortable than the Brompton, but the folding is much less compact. Good for folding up into the trunk of a car.

If you are serious--and I have no reason to think that you are not--then go see Walter at Bike Friday in Eugene. Take your Bob Brown bike when you go. Walter can take the measurements from your Brown bike and build a Bike Friday that will fit and ride just like it. I know because he took the measurements from my Surly LHT touring bike and built me a Pocket Llama that is so close I can't tell the difference if I close my eyes when I'm riding. I don't close my eyes that often, but, hey , you get the idea. Good luck with whatever you decide.

I'll third (or whatever it is up to now) Heather's recommendation to do the first few brevets on the bike you have. You've got a couple of brevet-worthy bikes already. I do have a friend who does brevets on his Bike Friday (Air Friday?), and there is one guy who has his own home-crafted folder, but still... I myself ride an S&S coupled bike, but have not had to dissassemble it to get to a brevet yet. Just breaking it in half to toss in a trunk is easy. Packing it is, as alluded to earlier, a bit more complex. For local brevets, join the OrRando mailing list and ask about carpooling - that's what most folks do.

I had a Birdy for a few years, nice riding machine if a bit Rube Goldberg looking. Full suspension makes a big difference with little wheels. The Birdy rides was plushly as any of the Moultons I have ever ridden. For brevets on a folder, I think that full suspension is the only way to go.

Mate, don't do it. I bought a Swift zootr for PBP '07... well, I convinced my wife to buy it for me, and spent a bunch of money upgrading everything - including a go fast set of 406 wheels from velocity at cost. What did I end up with? A bike that was amongst the lightest I've ever owned, and the slowest over 600km. It didn't roll. On hot mix it was alright, but on chipseal I couldn't keep up with people I'd normally leave behind. It's a very cool bike, and still in my garage, and although the fit is fine, it just doesn't move like a big wheel bike. If you want portability, S&S are the way to go.

Cheers

Stevy

P.S. What I really need is one of those Moultons.....

I'm very interested to hear what you finally decide to do. I've been thinking about a folder to do my commute of 70 miles round trip. I live in a tourist town, scary drivers, in the south, more scary drivers. I've contacted the bus system and no dice on bike racks. But I talked to a gal at the National Park and she hops them easily with a Brompton. May be my way to go.

Hey-- I'm about your weight (~200lbs) and find the BF Tikit to be great for quick jaunts, but a little bit flexy compared with the BF Pocket Rocket I used to have. I traded in the PR because it wasn't really a quick folder, which is what I needed for multi-modal commuting. It was excellent in all other respects-- I took it for 50 mile rides with lots of climbing happily.

Hi! I have a Brompton. It rides great and folds really small (quick & easy). I do long dayrides (about 100 km) with it. It's expensive, but worth the money.

Grtz,


Susanne

I just discovered your blog and I find it fantastic and fascinating! I am a professor of Nutrition, Health and Fitness. My area of interest is obesity. I see that you have obviously taken up biking as your physical activity in losing weight, but can I ask what kind of diet you have been on? Calories, special eating, etc...? Any information would be helpful in my research. FYI, I post recipes, from time to time, on my own blog. http://thewellnessworkout.typepad.com/

HI,
I have both a BF Tikit and a Brompton, for longer rides I ride the tikit, and for times when I need the smallest fold possible, I ride the brompton. Having an 8 speed over the brompton 6 speed in my opinion makes a difference over varied terrain and I find the tikit to be more comfortable over longer distances. Both are great bikes though. I had seen you a few times at CarsRCoffins back when you were in MPLS.

I'd go with a full size bike with couplers, or perhaps a ritchey breakaway to most closely mimic your favourite bike. I have a PBW folder, which is a better, stiffer riding bike that the friday, and it is my go to bike for traveling with a suitcase, but I would still hesitate to use it on a brevet. I also have a moulton and I so I am not biased against small wheel bikes. Others might disagree, but small wheel bikes are going to be at a disadvantage in terms of stability in marginal weather and when you are dog tired, and on marginal road surfaces. Of course Kent Peterson has done brevets on a friday, but on the other hand, he is Kent Peterson. YMMV.

Best of luck

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