Montague Urban or Bickerton Docklands

Discussion in 'Folding Bikes' started by ianrauk, 29 Nov 2017.

  1. bonzobanana

    bonzobanana Senior Member

    Saw some Airnimal bikes at the Avon Valley Cyclery in Bath on a recent visit as well as Birdy's and Bromptons and a few others. Great shop for higher end folding bikes. The Airnimal models looked really nice.
  2. Pale Rider

    Pale Rider Guru

    A Raleigh Stowaway would be a cheap and cheerful option.

    I had a go on one and thought it rode quite nicely.

    Looks reasonably well made, basic, but cheap and easily serviceable components.

    Nothing like as neat as a Brommie when folded, but nothing else is.
  3. OP

    ianrauk Tattooed Beat Messiah

    Atop a Ti

    I can't be buying a bike that would need upgrading or with cheap components that may fail quickly. My commute is 25 miles a day in all weathers.
    I see where you are coming from but would need quality and reliability from the start. Brompton at least has that.
  4. Pale Rider

    Pale Rider Guru

    A Dawes Kingpin is a bit more coin and spec looks reasonable.

    It has Marathon tyres, which is a good start, v brakes, not as low maintenance as hyrdraulic discs, but easy enough to look after - and I imagine you don't reckon to do a lot of braking.

    KMC chain, basic Shimano gears, which are usually reckoned to be reliable even if they don't have the silky smooth operation of the higher end groupsets.

    Double wall wheels which should give some strength.

    Both axles are nutted, so you would need to add a spanner to your puncture repair kit.

    Only possible weakness I can see is the seven speed freewheel.

    Cyclists managed perfectly well for years on bikes with freewheels, but freehubs are reckoned to be superior.
  5. chriswoody

    chriswoody Veteran

    Just some random thoughts and experiences from 3 years of commuting on small wheeled folders. I originally purchased a Dahon Vybe C7, thinking Dahon meant quality, sadly it was cheap and as we all know, buy cheap, buy twice. It was the most unreliable, badly built rubbish I'd ever had the displeasure to own.

    For the last two years I've owned a Tern Link Uno, which has proved a real pleasure. The frame is noticeably stiffer than the Dahon and whilst it's no racing bike, its a real pleasure to commute on and ride. The single speed drivetrain means that maintenance is really low and over the last two years it's proved to be a really reliable bike, which is one of my main requirements for a commuter. Fold wise it is undeniably bigger than a Brompton, but watching the Brompton owners on my commute I can honestly say there's very little difference in time to fold or faff factor.

    In comparison though, my friend owns the Link D7, with a 7 speed freewheel and mini derailleur. Whilst in the main it's been generally reliable, he has had problems with the derailleur and it needs a lot of maintenance to keep it running sweet. There is also problems with sourcing spares for the Derailleur, to the point where he found it nigh on impossible to get spare jockey wheels that would fit.

    Personally, given my experiences with the Dahon and seeing my friends problems, I would never buy a small wheeled folder with a small Derailleur and exposed drivetrain . Maybe it's just a Tern/Dahon thing (Given that they are exactly the same component), but I would defiantly look at an internal hub gear if I was going to return to a geared bike again. With small wheels an exposed drivetrain is so close to the ground that it collects all manner of road crap and needs a lot of love to keep running sweet.

    Also Tern, as well as Dahon, make some awful bikes at the cheaper end of their range and I'd be really wary about buying one as a commuter bike. As others have pointed out, there are also many other bikes out there that are rebadged Terns or Dahons, again I'd be wary about the quality of them.
    Cycleops and ianrauk like this.
  6. Kell

    Kell Senior Member

    If we're going down the road of what to steer clear of I had three full-size folders before getting my Brompton - all in the mistaken belief that that they'd be better to ride.

    I really didn't want a Brompton and looked at other small-wheeled bikes before finally deciding it wasn't for me and buying a SH Rabbit.DE bike. there doesn't appear to be much on the interwebs about them, but it was essentially a single hinge fold and was either a Dahon Clone, or it was said that Joe Murray had gone to them with the design as he owned the copyright.

    Cost £250.

    Anyway, long story short - it was great to ride, but the hinge caused me no end of problems. It squeaked really badly, never seemed particularly happy and I wrote to Rabbit and managed to get another pin after the threads stripped on mine. All in all, I liked the bike. I could lift it off the train and unfold it in the air, so it was ready to push along a platform by the time the wheels hit the ground. I#d then slap the cam closure shut and it would be ready to ride in less than about 2 seconds. There weren't many about and it rode well. Unfortunately, I got side-swiped by a car on Marble Arch roundabout and the bike got a little bent out of shape. Rather than spend money trying to put it right, I bought a new bike.


    So then I bought a Dahon Matrix - the one with the lockjaw. This looked even more like a normal bike than the others because it didn't have a massive hinge on it, but did mean you had to carry an allen key with you at all times to operate the two locks. had this about 4 years and then the frame snapped. Mechanical disc brakes - clearly not as good as hydraulic, but I think a marked improvement over rim brakes in the wet. Bike rode well enough, but I had no end of trouble with the wheels - the rear spokes just kept coming loose and I spent maybe £90 (£10 each time) having the rear wheel re-trued, and probably about £60 on the front. In the end I gave up and bought some Mavic Crossrides at £150.

    Cost £800 + £150 + £150 = £1,100.

    Now I alluded to my mistrust of Dahon in the above post, and while @Cycleops will probably be along in a moment to tell you that I was over the weight limit for that bike, I only found that out as I was trying to make a warranty claim. The weight limit was 95kg and I was 96-7kg. It was right about the time that Dahon was in trouble with people leaving to set up Tern. Evans wouldn't help as they no longer imported them and I was left with the option of sending the bike to China for assessment (at my cost) - with a warning that it would take at least 3 months to even look at it, and there were no guarantees that anything would happen.

    As riding a bike saves me around £250 a month in car parking and tube fares, I figured I was better off just buying something else than losing £750 in fares and THEN having to buy something else anyway.

    A guy at work had a 2008 Dahon Matrix that I knew he'd only ridden for 3 weeks and was looking to offload it, so I bought that for £150 and ran it for a year until the frame snapped on that.

    Cost £150.


    So overall, I spent £1,500 on full size folders before moving to the Brompton. I've had that now for around 2 and a half years and short of the rear wheel splitting, I've had no major mechanical faults and couldn't be happier.

    It's no slower in almost all conditions - I rode it into London from West Ruislip and back one day when the trains weren't working properly (round trip of 40 miles) and it was comfy enough. And I rode it 17 miles along a canal tow path to Hayes to meet my missus - and this is the one time I'd wished I'd had a bike with bigger wheels. Most of it was OK, but then it turned into a grass/earth track and was rutted with tree roots and potholes. The last 10 miles or so of this ride were particularly uncomfortable. And that's where the Brompton really struggles - on unmade paths or badly maintained roads. It's much more affected by lumps, bumps and dips than any other bike I've ridden and this drastically affects your speed.

    It does take longer to fold and unfold, but I've never yet walked up to a train and not been able to get on it because of the bike - which happened to me on numerous occasions with the Dahon/Rabbit. And though I no longer have to do this, I also used to drop my daughter off at the child-minder's as part of my morning routine which meant putting the bike in the car. We have an A6 Avant and a Mini-Convertible. I had to use the A6 to put the Dahon in - which meant my wife had to use the Mini, but now I can get the Brompton into the back of the Mini with the seats up.

    All round, it works so much better for me and I wish I'd saved money just getting a Brompton in the first place.
    Last edited: 30 Nov 2017
    simon.r and ianrauk like this.
  7. derrick

    derrick The Glue that binds us together.

  8. bonzobanana

    bonzobanana Senior Member

    Of those 3 budget bikes I suggested 2 have good quality freehub/cassette based drivetrains and the other a Shimano Nexus 7 hub which are very sturdy and all-weather. Some of the lower end Dahon's and Tern's have low end freewheels no different to those found on Toys r us dual suspension bikes. Also remember the Tern's and Dahon's often go for the performance side of folding bikes, with weaker frames and lower maximum rider weights but are faster commuters. Wanting a strong commuting bike and a fast, light commuting bike are not necessarily that easy to find together. Who makes a strong folding bike frame with high end components? I'm not sure maybe Giant for frames but they have a limited range of folding bikes in Europe I think but the frames are rated to 136kg with a lifetime warranty I think, but last Giant folding bike I looked at had a low end drivetrain, once you wear it out you can upgrade though as its pretty standard components.

    Yeah looking at this the Giant has a nice derailleur but its combined with a low end freewheel which to me is unacceptable on a £600 bike. Decent frame but very compromised components.

    When your buying a bike nowadays its important to look at the components fitted, a reputable brand is no guarantee of a solid bike especially at entry level and just above.

    Hub gears are ideal for commuting but if you go the derailleur route make sure its a freehub based drivetrain ideally with a decent cassette and derailleur. Often its better to use a derailleur from mountain bikes because small wheels get a lot of crap thrown up at them. Many have Altus which is a good fit for a folding bike I think.
  9. 12boy

    12boy Senior Member

    Casper WY USA
    Why did you not like the Brompton? Changing out the saddle, adding Ergon grips with bar ends, and adjusting the seat fore and aft allowed me to make mine almost identical to my Surly Steamroller and Holdsworth Special in the what I would call the critical areas... Those being saddle to pedal and saddle to hands position (functional top tube length). I've ridden my neighbor's Montague Paratrooper and it is stoutly built and a nice ride, although it sure doesn't fold small nor quickly. One of the things I like about the Brompton is its very long wheelbase which smooths out the ride. It is longer than my Surly or Holdsworth.
  10. OP

    ianrauk Tattooed Beat Messiah

    Atop a Ti

    I just don't get on with it or like it. It happens with bikes. It happened with a full size bike I had once and got rid of because I just couldn't get on with it. The saddle is fine, comfy in fact, in fact the ride is pretty good as I have set it up as I need and no bar ends isn't a problem for me. It's just that I don't like it. I have been spoilt by many years commuting on very nice full size bikes. Riding a Brompton is a massive change.
    I'm now in my 4th week of the commute using it and although I am getting used to it. It's just not a full sized bike of which I like. Apart from the 2 bikes I linked to above it looks like i'm not going to get what I really want.
  11. Kell

    Kell Senior Member

    I genuinely think one of the Airnimals would be the best solution for your needs. They're all 24" rather than 26" but are lighter than Bromptons and if you genuinely think you don't need to fold it that often, then that's OK too.

    The Chameleon in particular - if you can stomach the cost.

    I just didn’t like the fold or the cost, though if the bike had been perfect for me, then I'd have paid it - after all cycling saves me £3,000 a year - enough for three Bromptons, or one and a half Airnimals.
    Last edited: 1 Dec 2017
  12. bonzobanana

    bonzobanana Senior Member

    You make a very strong case for always adhering to the manufacturer's weight limits. Many folding bikes including aluminium though have much higher weight limits than Dahon or Tern. If not the full recommended 136kg/300lbs of the standard many are in the 115kg to 125kg area. Of course those frames will generally be heavier than Dahon or Tern equivalent performance frames (95kg rider weight) and a little heavier than their standard frames (105kg rider weight). Also sometimes its the wheels that dictate the rider weight limit not the frame. You hear of many Brompton riders well over their weight limit and getting away with it. If you are 95-97kg you are comfortably in the 110kg weight limit even allowing for clothes and fitted accessories. As long as you don't wear a backpack loaded with stuff.
  13. Kell

    Kell Senior Member

    After my experience with the Dahon, I specifically asked about weight limits on Bromptons and was told it was 130kg by the sales guy in the Brompton Junction. And he said that was due to the capabilities of the brakes rather fear of frame snapping.

    What annoyed me is that at no point during the buying process was it mentioned and I bought the first Dahon new too.

    It wasn't a thing I ever thought to ask. I only found out after both frames had snapped, and even then it was by accident. So even while talking to Evans about the warranty claim, they never mentioned it.

    I regularly cycle with a rucksack, so even if I had been the 93-4 kg I am now, I'd have been over their weight limit and probably would be when wearing clothes... But then no manufacturer would have that hard and fast a rule i.e. 1 or 2 kg over their rider limit and the bike will snap.

    There's a bloke I work with bought one (I didn't know he was buying one) and he must be 18 stone (114kg). I dread to think how long his bike will last.
  14. bonzobanana

    bonzobanana Senior Member

    I seem to remember there was information in the past where the Brompton rider limit was 110kg but you could put another 20kg on for luggage etc on the rear frame I think giving a combined 130kg. The link below has that information but either because they wanted to simplify the message or they decided it wasn't strong enough for that Brompton now say 110kg including the 20kg on the rear rack for luggage. The link at the bottom has someone who claims to be up to 130kg on the bike and fine after 6 months but could be on the 7 month it fell apart. Steel is more fatigue resistant though and has an endurance limit. There are Raleigh Stowaways 50 years old that are still strong. If you are going to abuse a frame its better to do it with a steel frame. I cycled a cheap £65 fully rigid steel mountain bike in the past at 26 stone with a backpack of stuff probably weighing 1/2 to 1 stone in weight and that bike never gave me any problems in frame and fork. I think it was rated to 136kg/300lbs but I was seriously over it by some margin. I lost weight rapidly though and didn't stay long at that weight. After losing a lot of weight perhaps down to 110kg I started riding a Kona Lanai bike but the frame didn't seem strong, the bike made creaks occasionally and I just had no confidence in the strength of that bike. It just didn't seem capable of dealing with a heavy rider, everything about it was light/cheap not strong compared to cheap/strong not light of the other bike.
  15. Pale Rider

    Pale Rider Guru

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