With so many folding bike brands and bicycle shops that come and go. We at My Bike Shop/My Bike Shop too! always gets the same comments: wow, so many models, so wide the price ranges … the thing is, we offer you more CHOICES and experienced sales people at our shop!
With TEN folding bike brands, you are going to get spoilt for choice. Folding bikes today offer a myriad of wheel sizes, folding systems and choices of colours to suit various cycling profiles and needs. Research is required and you can find these information from the web.
Here are 7 steps you want to ask before committing to a folding bike:
STEP 1: DECIDE HOW YOU RIDE
The first step in choosing your folding bicycle is to decide what type of riding you’ll be doing. How often and where you plan to ride. My Bike Shop has models to support recreational, commuting, urban riding, trekking, weekend centuries, touring … Is having a good ride more important that having the ability to push your folded bike more important? OR is that suspension worth that extra money if your ride is just at PCNs and pavements? Money spent on a good saddle might actually be a better investment.
STEP 2: CHOOSE YOUR WHEEL SIZE
My Bike Shop has folding bikes with different wheel diameters: 14″, 16″, 20″, 22″, 24″, 26″, and 700c. Wheel size will affect the ride characteristics and portability of your bike. One very important question you want to ask will be availability of inner tubes and tire replacement. Sure that 17 inch or 18 inch or 24 inch wheel size may look cool BUT if you cannot get hold of spares or replacements, you are going to pay lot more in down time and costs to get spares. Also confirm that the rims used have the correct ETRTO numbers that fit available tire. Wrong fittings can mean your tire may come off while you are attempting a sharp cornering. Any wheel too small (Smaller than 14 inch) goes against sound bicycle geometry and this can mean the bike is unstable or tends to topple over. You do not want to be carried off on a stretcher after a ride.
STEP 3: CHOOSE YOUR COMPONENTS & FRAME DESIGN
An important factor that affects the price considerably, consider what level of performance you’ll need from your components. The better the components, the better your bike will ride. And better components also mean improved durability and lighter weight but so will the cost!
Do you need suspension? do you need 24 speeds? do you need Shimano Durace or SRAM Force? Remember - focus on NEED not WANT.
Looks is important but do not sacrifice your ease of folding for that complex frame or folding mechanism that makes the whole folding bike idea redundant.
STEP 4: CHECK OUT THE EXPERIENCE AND TRACK RECORD OF YOUR BIKE DEALER
Operating a bicycle needs ongoing maintenance, servicing and support! Derailiers need servicing from time to time, hubs and bottom brackets need greasing and damage components will require experienced mechanics, proper tools and chemicals to ensure that your bicycle is safe and serviceable to ride. Will your bike shop still be there for you? Have they been around for more than 5 years? Many bikeshops open and close within 2 years due to unrenewed lease or being unable to sustain their business. Are they opened on days and have operating hours that allows you to get spares, timely support and also stock good range of accessories OR do you have to make an appointment 24 hours ahead? You are not just buying a bike, you are buying a service too! So unless you believe you do not need that level of service, buying a bike from Parallel Importers, the Web or from overseas may be an option but Emptor Caveat – Buyer beware!
STEP 5: WARRANTY SUPPORT
Recalls can occur with bicycles ( and even cars). Does the brand have a reputation of being responsible? What is the number of years the brand offers? Is the Distributor going to be around or have they changed many times in the last 2 years? Is the bike shop you are buying the bike from has been around for a long time? What is the scope of coverage? Buy with peace of mind
STEP 6: RESEARCH, VISIT SHOPS AND ASK YOUR FRIENDS
Do your homework and check out neutral websites and reviews rather than forums hosted by shops or manufacturers as they will tend to be biased for their own brand. There is no need to hurry, a reputable shop should have a good range of bicycles for you to trial for at least the popular models. Also be fair to the shops when you visit, ask but do not patronise the staff – afterall they are just earning a living and doing their best!
Is the model you are looking at an international model? An unheard brand with ridiculously low price and claims – means they are clearance models.
Addendum entry on 8 August 2012 - Read On
This blog entry is meant to help those who plan to visit My Bike Shop to buy a folding bike at our place so we thought we help you with some pre-purchase considerations before you decide. Money is hard to earn these days and you should buy something that is quality, fit for purpose and within your means. We never sell through gimmicks neither will we go into a price war with other fellow dealers of similar brands. The service support is essential as bikes are mechanical machines and they are do require the adhoc tuning or adjustments because of regular wear and tear (be it normal or extenuating circumstances). Being experts in our field make what we do look simple and easy. Put the same task in untrained hands to save that few dollars? It’s similar when one needs to do lasik or surgery, you find the one who has done the procedure expertly and in the most efficient manner, noone disputes on price but you pay for expert advice and procedure Think again as you can end up damaging your bike or hurting yourself when mechanisms fail. Read our other link why a good experienced workshop and mechanic is a necessary consideration when buying a folding bike.
The wide range of leading brands we sell is not arrived by chance but we have beenselective in choosing them. With more than 50 models to choose from, you can get spoiled for choice, THAT’s why we have a wide number of demo bikes for you to try the bike. MANY customer trialists try the bikes and work up a sweat. every Saturday so if you
lplan to do so, dress light, wear shoes if possible and bring a nice bottle of water. With an exchange of your IC, we have demo bikes from S$299 to S$4XXX to try but please take care while testing and keep your eyes on the road in front of you.
With our 8th year come this November, we see 3 large broad categories of folding bike enthusiasts: Commuter, Recreational and Avid and we will try help you narrow down the brand, popular models and known nuances (or known complaints so that you do not feel you bought a lemon) about these bikes before you come down. Below are our comments and not meant to be total authoritative and everyone is entitled to hold their own opinion. This is meant to be a guide for MBS patrons.
Commuting: Price range typically S$8XX – S$28XX
What is a commuter? Takes public transport, does not own a car, rides daily, need to fit the SMRT/SBS folded size guidelines, need to have it stowed away at the office desk or closet, so compact is good.
In Singapore if you do not mind about the restriction for bringing foldable bikes into SMRT/Bus hours, choose a folding bike that is lightweight (10 -11.5kg) as anything above 12kg is going to weigh like a ton once you start carrying up/down stairs. A standard packet of rice is about 5kg, imagine carrying 2 packs plus 2 kg more with you every where you go.
Reliable, fast folding/unfolding mechanisms is very key. If they do own a car they have a small boot and so having 2 foldies to fit just makes more sense. And they can hitch a ride on a taxi or a friend’s car should they face bad weather.
If budget is not an issue the Bike Friday Tikit wins hands down in terms of fast fold, ride quality, compactness ( its like having a compact bike without sacrificing the ride) It’s the only real 100% USA assembled bike that we have to order once you have got your measurements confirmed. We do have the production stock but the price differential is not that great.
Known complaints: Expensive, starts at S$2,8XX for BTO Tikit (but heck its a Build To Order, you cannot compare an tailored Armani suit to an off the rack Marks& Spencer suit). Nothing wrong with a M+S, they got good stuff! Another frequent comment – The 16 inch wheel makes me look small as a rider. But many Bike Friday owners will tell you otherwise.
If budget is a concern, there is a 16 inch 7 speed hub Flamingo London. Hub gear, adopts a folding style that allows you to push when folded. As in all hub gear options, it adds to the weight of the bike. The weight of these city riding beauties is 13kg, not exactly light but with mods, you can bring this down to 10+kg. They have a close cousin – the HSF6, 14 speed, lighter but stocks are running low, retailing at S$12XX.
Known complaints: Relatively heavy, rides well when in tight corners but gets to you when you need to ride long sustained fast rides. Helps when you upgrade to a bigger chainring, difficult to find inner tubes or tires as some the 16 inch rims used have different ETRTO specs. See other reviews on the Flamingo London.
Last but not least – How could we forget Dahon in this category? An aluminum frame, 16 inch wheeled, 3 speed Dahon Curve D3. 11kg and is compact (see picture below) Comes with Schwalbe Big Apple tires
that gives you the ability to ride at parks, vineyards, city routes boasts a practically maintenance free 3 speed hub gear, costs only S$899.00
Known complaints: Cannot upgrade, if you are a strong rider, you will run out of gears. Always out of stock.
Of course you can opt for any 20 inch wheeled foldie to do your daily commutes and if you are not into multimodal commuting ( meaning take bus, take train, cycle) and you cycle straight to your destinations, a 20 inch foldie is a better choice. Here you have the next category of brands (Dahon, Tern, DNA) and models.
Recreational: Price tag from S$5XX to S$27XX.
Who is a recreational rider?
The weekend rider, hangs out with spouse, partner, friends, family members, makan and cycle types. wants to get fit again but only on weekends. Opt for at least 6-9 speeds in either 20 inch or 26 inch wheels. There are many competent folding bike brands/models in this category (Eco, Speed, Vitesse, Mu, Link, Joe). Look at the weight and the folding method, even if you have a car, petrol is expensive and carrying around alot of weight will use up more fuel.
Price tags are proportional to the quality of build and components used and ranges from S$5XX – S$13XX. With thicker tires, you can take on Ubin and some unbeaten track but if you need suspension, we have sold the Jetstream P8 with German A suspension and a simple rear air assisted rear shock, you will just be enjoying the rides with less impact on your bottom over cross country terrain. These bikes have rims that are stronger and so if you take the lower end bikes for this category the rims will degrade faster as it was designed for the road.
Next comes the top of the line models (S$27XX) with Recreational cyclists here with looks to kill. They are light, fast, bike eye candy and ideal if you want to pamper yourself with a nice recreational bike. Not that they cannot keep up but these beauties are for short rides that make you look oh so good.
These are designed for the road rides as the fewer spokes, faster tires and lighter materials generally make the go fast.
Now comes the most intriguing category: Avid foldie riders (S$14XX- S$XXXXXX)
Who are the Avid foldie cyclists? Is the frequent cyclist, has what we call stamina and legs and willing to pay for what they WANT. Wears the cycling gear tights and all. Does the research on folding brands, bikes, parts, history, tells us things we sometimes forget (embarassingly). Will Zhng (modify) their bike till the max and really rides fast and well.
Choose brands that start at 18 speeds, do not settle for less. We have the Flamingo, Tern, Dahon, DNA) with models like HSF1-18, Verge P18, Link P24, Mu series. Soon Vitesse D18, etc. Starting from S$15XX, these bikes are designed to cover the gear range yet not burn a hole in your pocket.
For the top of the line, you simply look at the brands (Tern, Tyrell, Alex Mouton, Bike Fridays) Vector, Verge X20/X30/27H, Tyrell CSI, Alex Moulton TSR30, AM Speed and AM GT. They start from S$4XXX and go as high as S$20k. But I suggest you keep a watch out for these bike and ask the owners themselves – we respect our customer’s privacy.
Known complaints: Relatively higher counts of care/maintenance to get that same “performance feel”. These are like sportscars, they are to be driven with knowledge and care and when placed in the skilled hands – power with control. Typically for long road rides, they are not designed for bad undulations on the road. And if you abuse them in that fashion, the joints and hinges may emit creaks just like any Roadbike or MTB and you will get spoke breakages regularly.
Last but not least, rider weights and style of riding. Performance bikes that are weight weenies usually only allow rider weights of 85kg especially the fast bikes with performance spokes. The main stream brands will offer riders of up to 105kg. Tern broke the weight barrier of 110kg BUT if you are heavy and ride on rough roads, you will see undue stress on ball bearings in your hubs (Becomes less smooth rolling), frequent spoke breakages (when you least expect it), accelerated joint degradation (creaks, sounds, unnecessary freeplay on adjustable parts). Please consider the safety aspects for yourself when you are cycling and opt for a BTO from Bike Friday who are specialists in building special bikes for the heavy rider.
Don’t forget about warranty and local support. Unless otherwise stated, the folding brands we carry have a 2 year warranty on frame and folding joints (Tern and Dahon offer 5 years while Bike Friday – Lifetime but do read the fine print), so ask about it. MBS will offer free for first year local service support for bikes purchased from us. Once this has passed the first year, service charges on replacement, installation and adjustments are charegable. For those who happen to notice, we always had a schedule of charges at the entrance of the mechanic area.
OK, we are here (Mon – Sat noon to 8pm except on Sun and PH) and nothing beats spending some time to try, discuss and understand your choices before you buy. Come by and visit us. A folding bike that suits your lifestyle awaits you!