Tern Folding Bikes

Discussion in 'Folding Bikes' started by Yorksman, 24 Feb 2016.

  1. Yorksman

    Yorksman Senior Member

  2. Kell

    Kell Über Member

    Not with Tern, but with Dahon.

    I liked the look of the 'regular' sized wheels and went through three 26" wheeled folders before finally getting a Brompton. Both of my Dahons cracked on the seat tube around the welds.

    They all rode really well when I had them, but having had so many problems with build quality, I'd be hard pressed to recommend them to anyone. I think there are some issues with the hinges of the Terns, but I'm not 100% on that.

    The one questions I'd ask before you buy is "What do you actually need it for?"

    I used mine on a commute that involved putting the bike in a car, taking it out, riding to the station, putting it on a train, getting off the train and cycling at the other end. Then doing it all the other way on the return.

    I found mine somewhat impractical for commuting in the end. Most of the time they were fine, but whenever the trains were unusually busy, I'd not be able to fit in on and have to wait for the next one. I've not found that to be the case with the Brompton yet. Plus, we have two cars. One A6 estate (which the bike fitted into) and a Mini convertible (which the bike didn't fit into). Again, the Brompton fits in either, so whenever my wife goes away in the big car, I can still cycle.

    Horses for courses. I liked mine when I had them (quality issues aside), but now I have a Brompton, I wonder why I didn't do it years ago.
    Blue Hills and shouldbeinbed like this.
  3. OP

    Yorksman Senior Member

    Thanks very much for that. Good advice. I can imagine that they are 'too good to be true'. Just because they look the part doesn't mean to say that they are.

    I was thinking of using one abroad. I make frequent trips and the cost of flying one of my existing bikes there and back is too expensive. A folding bike in a bag can go as normal luggage. However, I am now more inclined to think that I should just hire when I get there. Most of the hotels have basic bikes but I am discovering that many of the railway stations have an excellent range of rental bikes. I'm off in May for a few days so I will try that out and see how it works out before I blow a large amount of money on yet another bike.
  4. JaseO

    JaseO Active Member

    The Eclipse looks great. I have heard a few stories about cracked seat tubes on Dahons, but after many years experience with them can't say I've experienced any problems. Maybe the larger wheel models are more susceptible?
  5. shouldbeinbed

    shouldbeinbed Rollin' along

    Manchester way
    Super post from @Kell I had a folding MTB a while ago but it wasn't quite good enough as either, it ended up being ridden as a pub hack and I kept it more out of novelty value than true usefulness. It was a long time ago now though, I've no doubt quality has improved. Tern are from ex Dahon people and have had a bumpy reputation for quality and recalls, though nothing v recent that I'm aware of.

    @Fab Foodie is a very regular flyer and his Brompton goes everywhere with him, if he doesn't appear here soon, I'd strongly urge you to PM him for his thoughts and advice. Also have a tour back through the last few pages of this board for his thoughts / some pics
  6. Blue Hills

    Blue Hills ^

    I'd second what Kell says about the Dahon heritage. I have a Dahon Speed Pro sports/road bike - very nice to ride but had all end of problems with it - including having to have expensive non standard bits flown out to it. It was bought to fly with/use abroad but there were frequent periods when it couldn't be ridden due to issues (did my waistline no good as I had to keep riding to work off the nice food). And as a flyer - the theory doesn't stack up. The thing was so delicate that I had to use a special expensive case which weighed as much again as the bike! Far better to use a "normal" bike when you can use a padded light bag such as Ground Effect's wonderful Tardis. In summary, even though I got the thing in a sale (Tern's latest version of the same bike costs about 1.5K I think) it proved very expensive. And despite being my least used bike has had far more maintenance/surgery than any of my bikes.
    When the Tern split came from Dahon (if you look into the background it is one hell of a family soap opera) much was made by some of the Tern team of certain Dahon failings. But who was involved in Dahon all that time while users struggled with wonky quality and users and dealers were frustrated by poor parts availability?

    Brommie - tough - have flown with mine several times with minimal protection.
  7. Bill

    Bill Senior Member

    I wonder if this was a loaded question? My Dahon continues to work alright for me. The price of a Brompton is more than i wish to pay for a cycle.I like the Dahon as I fitted a touring rack and can use my Ortileb full sized panniers without no problems. Loaded question....I am also a life long motorcyclist. On motorcycle forums you get people popping up here and there suggesting that Chinese clone copies of Honda motorcycles are less road worthy than the real thing!?...........
  8. Kell

    Kell Über Member

    Well, I can only answer from my own experience.

    I've owned two Dahon Matrix bikes. A 2008 and a 2009. One with the traditional cam-lock hinge and one with the lockjaw hinge. Both have snapped on the seat tube and the first had to have the wheels re-trued about 10 times in total as the spokes kept coming loose. I decided it was ridiculous to keep spending money like this and the only way to stop this happening was to buy new wheels.

    And it's not as if they're THAT much cheaper.

    The bikes were £800 each, plus over £200 for re-trueing on one bike, plus £130 for new wheels, so in total I spent £1930 on Dahon bikes which I then ended up binning. A total loss of £1800 as I kept the wheels.

    Before those, I had a SH German folder that was either a Dahon Clone, or the Dahon was a clone of this. It was by Rabbit cycles and looked identical in design to the early Matrix. Unfortunately, I got knocked off this and the bike was run over and the frame bent. This seemed better, but wasn't without its own problems as the hinge creaked really badly and need almost daily attention to get it to clamp properly.

    In contrast, I bought my Brompton for £1080 and I've had no problems and no need to return it to the store. Not only that, I suspect that if I decide I need to sell it, it will be worth at least 50% of what I paid for it.

    Of course, I may have just been unlucky, but I know of three other people just in my office that had no end of problems with their Dahons. Two with the full size bike, and one a 20" wheeled one.

    There used to be a Sekonda advert with the strapline: Less expensive than cheaper watches.

    I think this applies to Brompton in the long term.
  9. chriswoody

    chriswoody Veteran

    It makes me smile that the OP asks if people have experience with Tern bikes and gets anecdotes from folk with Dahon bikes. It's like me asking if Cannondale are any good and getting replies about the virtues or otherwise of Specialized.

    Whilst David Hon’s wife and son founded Tern bikes, they have nothing what so ever to do with Dahon. The bikes are fundamentally different in design, technology and manufacture. Tern have had some high profile frame failures, caused apparently by a bad batch of welds in one Taiwanese factory, which has coloured some peoples view of the brand. They often get called Dahon's in disguise, when they are patently a completely different company.

    To answer the OP, I currently own a Tern bike, purchased after I was fed up with the shoddy quality and reliability of my Dahon. I am really happy with it. I commute daily on it and it is a fantastic bike to ride. Overall the build quality is a league apart from the Dahon and I have yet to have a single breakdown or failure of any components. Generally it is a well-equipped bike with some good branded components like SKS mudguards as standard.

    I have a colleague at work that also has a Tern and like me is really happy with it. We both commute daily through all winds and weathers and take the bikes on the trains. The only drawback is that the folded bike is never going to be as small as a Brompton, but it's still small enough for German trains. The fold itself is also really quick, the two Brompton owners who also commute on the same train as me, don't fold their bikes any quicker than me.
    Yorksman likes this.
  10. OP

    Yorksman Senior Member

    Thanks for the reply. My main interest was wanting a bike that I could take to Germany using flights and the german railway system, I usually fly into Hamburg. I suspect that the folding bike will be charged at the same rate as one in a box, but it is at least more manageable. Same on the trains. However, as many of the railway stations seem to have bike shops, it is probably possible to rent one for approx the same cost as the flight extra luggage fee.

    Anyway, I'm off next week and have booked a touring bike so I will how that goes. Looks like there are a few Tern dealers there too so I can at least go and look at one.

    If you don't mind me asking, where abouts in Germany are you? I'm always keen to learn about new areas.
  11. That's not really true. The were both officers if Dahon; Joshua was the lead engineer, I think. When they left they took patents and dahon.com domain with them.
  12. chriswoody

    chriswoody Veteran

    True enough, I meant to say that they are longer connected to them, in respect of Tern bikes are now a unique and separate entity. There was a nasty court case between Dahon and Tern over this. Josh has obviously taken some patents, one of the obvious ones is for the magnets that hold the bike together when folded. If you read their respective websites you will see though that the respective technologies they use are completely different and having owned bikes from both brands, I can see first hand, that they are completely different.

    Yorksman, I'm actually not far from Hamburg. Just over an hour south in a small town just North of Hannover, where I work. Not a terribly popular tourist destination, but it's not too bad. The cycling provision here is fantastic and Cycling through Hannover is always really easy and generally stress free. The countryside is not the most inspiring though and there are no hills to speak of. Some would call that a bonus, but having grown up on the edge of Exmoor, I do miss the challenge!
    Yorksman likes this.
  13. OP

    Yorksman Senior Member

    Flat sounds perfect for me, at 62 and with a dicky ticker. I have to take things steady. The quiter roads through the forests around Celle and the Lüneburger Heide around Soltau are interesting enough when you don't live there and are enough refreshment stops to make for a pleasant day's riding. As I wrote, I'm off to Hamburg and will do a few, day tours, from the hotel and then, if I feel it will be manageable, I'll try a few days in somewhere like Schneverdingen in June or July.

    I used to cycle a lot around Celle in my youth. Loved every minute of it.
  14. TheDoctor

    TheDoctor Resistance is futile! Moderator

    I think Dahon and Tern are connected in the sense that they share some terrible designs, a shocking level of build quality and reliability, and that I wouldn't touch either with a bargepole.
    Not to mince words or anything.
  15. Can't say much about Tern - but have owned a Dahon speed 8 and still own a modified Prestolite both of which have good to reasonable build quality and reliability. I also own a 2016 Brompton which I like.

    Soon to be attempting a 35 mile ride up in the Cumbria/Northumberland borders, which involes rough tracks and the odd river to ford. Will be using the Prestolite with it's 16'' big apple tyres. I doubt the skinny Brompton tyres would hack it. I sold the Speed 8 which I now regret, it had a huge rear rack that was ideal for carrying heavy camping gear.
    Last edited: 1 May 2016
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