The Chainlink

i've got a coworker who commutes downtown via train from the suburbs, and is looking to buy a folding bike so he can ride from the station to the office. i have zero experience with folding bikes, so i figured i'd ask the chainlink for help.

he's currently looking at a Dahon. anyone familiar with these? maybe there's another make somebody could recommend?

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Dahon makes pretty good folders and they have a large range of models from 16" to full-size ones. I commute on a Dahon Speed D7. It's a great mid-range folder with 20" wheels. It has a cromoly steel frame, so it's not the lightest (about 27 lbs), but it includes fenders and a rack. Folding time is less than 20 seconds with practice.

Bike Friday makes an awesome 16" urban folder called the tikit. Folding time is 5 seconds with the Hyperfold model, or less than 15 seconds with the regular model. It's a bit pricey at over a grand, but it's considered one of the best high-end commuter folders.

Your coworker should definitely stop by a shop to try some out. Rapid Transit and Kozy's in Chicago both carry folders. He should also visit the Folding Bikes discussion group on BikeForums.net - great resource. If he's going to multi-modal commute via train/bus, I strongly suggest a 20" or smaller model vs. a full-size model. Folding and lugging around a full-size bike every day will be pain in the ass. Just something to consider. I believe Metra's policy is a folding bike must be in a bag. Dahon and Bike Friday offer optional bike bags/covers.

Your coworker is welcome to contact me if he has any questions about folders.
Without a doubt, a used Dahon Speed D7 is the best option for the money. Naturally I want to put a trailer on it to haul more gear.....
I have had a number of folders- a Dahon Picolo, a Dahon Speed and a Raleigh 20 folder.

The Picolo was a 16" folder and was great for short commutes. The Speed is much better especially since I upgraded to some Schwalbe Stelvios and some fenders. I have gone as far as 50 miles at a stretch on the Speed, but my fave is the vintage Raleigh 20. The Speed flexes a bit under heavy pedaling and also due to my size.

The 20 is heavy, but it does not flex when I need to take it for a longer spin.

Dahons seem to offer a decent value for the money, though if price is not an object, The Bike Friday Tikit is an incredible piece of engineering.

Rapid Transit has always been my place for folders- they have them all in stock and are very helpful.
I'm currently riding an Abio Verdion and it's a zippy little folder. The company's relatively new to the folding bike market, but it's a good value. They specialize in chainless folders - one model is a belt drive and the other model is a shaft system.

Check 'em out: http://www.abiobikes.com/models.html

Plus... compatible with Dahon accessories.
(don't suppose anyone has a rear rack for a Dahon??? I'm seeking one temporarily)
I've had a Dahon Speed for a few years. I did test rides of several different models before choosing. I bought mine specifically to be able to take it on Metra at rush hour. I agree about it being a good value for the money. It takes a little practice to get the hang of folding it quickly and accurately, but with that practice, I can get it folded and bagged to take on the train in about a minute.

Wheel sizes for folders range from 12" to full size. The smaller the wheel size, the more sensitive it is to road imperfections, bridge grates, etc. Test rides are a very good idea to see how the ride feels to you and how the bike folds. Folders that are designed more for travel (when quick folding is not as critical a feature) may not be as suitable for commuting.

With Schwalbe Marathon tires and fenders, you could have yourself a sweet little ride.

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