Any premium car marque would have a roadster among its lineup, and in similar fashion, up and coming bicycle maker Tern has made its aspirations clear with the latest addition to its stable – the low-slung, long wheelbase Tern Verge X18. (We managed to snap a shot of the Verge X18 with a Porsche 911.)
Like any true blue (pun fully intended) roadster, understatedness is not the Verge X18’s intention. The full aluminium body frame, hydroformed to produce the nice signature curves of the Verge series and polished to a chrome finish, plus the subtle angular slants on the frame surface to base the bright blue accents – the Verge X18 is designed to be flashy. The aluminium weld joints have also been sanded down to give a clean look and enhance the chrome visual. But it’s not all looks, “Looking under the hood”, you see the new wheelsets based on the Kinetic Comp X, an ultra-strong 20″ aero wheels, and you feel it the moment you push off. The Verge X18 delivers a complete road bike experience in a bike that fits under your desk.
Back to the first point why a roadster analogy was used, because when you climb into the seat of the Verge X18, you know this is a bike designed to perform like a road bike. With a shorter Physis 3D handlepost than currently available in other models of the Verge series, you get into a very aerodynamic position that you can find similar in a full-sized road bike. The low-slung Verge frame and 406-sized wheels gets you real close to the ground and you can literally see the ground rushing at you when you sprint. Sweet!
Tern has worked with sister companies to get custom-built Syntace VRO
47 stem and Kinetix Pro X drop bars, resulting not only do you get a very neat package of a folding road bike, you also get comfort both in body and mind that you are riding a bike that is fitted for its purpose. A Kore road performance saddle rounds up the cockpit, making sure you are comfortable and well-fitted.
The crankset does not disappoint – FSA Gossamer crank, chain and bottom bracket, for a stiff setup in the pedals department for a very solid power transfer from the legs to the wheels.
Shifting is done via a Shimano Ultegra rear derailleur which is very satisfying when you make the crisp and efficient gear changes. The choice of Shimano Sora front derailleur and STI brake levers though, was somewhat surprising. Maybe this is due to it being Tern’s first production of a drop bar model and they were trying to keep the bike to a reasonable specification, or perhaps it is a sign of a higher-spec model in the foreseeable future?
This writer comfortably did 35 km/h during the test ride, and without maxing out the Shimano Capreo cassette, so your “engine” willing, the 9-tooth sprocket would easily clear the 40km/h barrier without breaking a sweat, and maybe challenge the 50km/h barrier? On a foldie? All these thanks to the stiff frame construction, which did not flex nor creak at all when pushed. This really gives confidence to ride to the heart’s content. Front chainrings : 53/39T with Shimano Capreo, 9-26T, 9 spd delivers the range and the use of the FSA BB386, its pedal to the metal.
And you know you can only sprint as much as you can brake safely. The braking department is supported by Kinetix Pro X caliper brakes (yes…. custom-built).
You know the feeling – you take your road bike onto the pavement or park connector, and you can’t negotiate the narrow turns or tight spaces without doing a balancing act to avoid falling over. The Verge X18 gives you none of that, with an agility that clears narrow spaces, thanks to its 406-sized wheels. And the aero rims, also custom-built (*yawn*) by Kinetix for Tern, are not just for looks (although it could fully serve its function just on aesthetics). Together with the Sapim CX-Wing bladed spokes to really cut the wind and give you that added speed, the high-profile rims also absorb a lot of the road vibrations and gives good suspension, which makes for a really comfortable ride whether at high or low speeds.
Let’s touch on the downsides to this compact beauty before we conclude this review. The use of Shimano Capreo cassette means that it can only be paired with Capreo hub. The compact frame and calliper brakes means that the maximum wheel size is Etrto-406 and cannot fit on 451-sized wheelset. So there is a limit on upgrade options. But then again, you wouldn’t use a 9-tooth sprocket on a 451-sized wheel.
And after the generous use of the phrase “custom-built” in preceding paragraphs, yes, the price does not come cheap for this model, with a MSRP of SGD$3,200.
A light and compact bicycle that performs whether high or low speeds, road or pavement. And with the looks to match its performance. If price does not pose an issue to you, go get it!
The Tern Verge X18 is now available at both our outlets. Try it, it sets the new benchmark for road specs foldable bikes!