The eight-speed Tern Link D8, the company’s most popular model, provides a few upgrades over the Mariner D8 that may suit taller riders or those willing to pay more for some higher-end components. Our test riders raved about the proprietary handlebar stem, which allows both height and angle adjustment via two easy quick-release levers. One bike expert praised the design of the rear derailleur and front brake, both of which sit close to the frame to reduce snagging, as well as the “top-shelf” puncture-resistant tires. Still, our testers’ reviews were mixed regarding the fold, which positions the handlebars outside the folded package—some testers found this setup easy to manage, others preferred the tighter package (and lighter weight) of the Dahon model.
Richard M. aka El Tigre is an avid adventure traveler with extensive trekking experience throughout Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. In 1998 he weathered category 5 Hurricane Mitch on the northern coast of Honduras. He has mountain-biked, hiked and 4x4 toured extensively in Central America, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Mexico. In the summer of 2004 he lived among the Kuna Indians of the San Blas islands in Panama. Today, he manages a real estate investments company based in San Jose, Costa Rica and organizes adventure travel excursions to Costa Rica. He is a motorcycle enthusiast and enjoys sport touring and dual-sport riding. Richard lives in Arizona.
The Link D8 is outfitted with puncture-resistant, cushiony 20-inch Schwalbe Big Apple tires, which bike expert Strub pointed out as a highlight given the bike’s price. Those tires alone retail for around twice what the tires on the Mariner D8 would cost. Strub also told us he projects the Big Apples to last for 3,000 to 5,000 miles of use versus the Citizens’s 2,000 to 3,000 miles, and that they should be less prone to a sidewall puncture—a common mishap in city riding. Less obvious but just as noteworthy is the design of this Tern model’s Neos derailleur, which sits close to the frame—meaning you’re less likely to bang it going through doors. Fenders and a basic rack with a bungee come standard, and the frame also has a socket for attaching a bag (sold separately) to the front of the bike. The Link D8’s fold, too, is different from that of the Dahon Mariner D8 and the Tern Link B7, with the handlebars releasing to the outside; if you leave them up, you can push the bike when it’s folded, a nice feature if you don’t want to lug the folded bike, say, along a train platform. I also liked the ergonomic handlebar grips, which have a softer feel than the similarly shaped grips on the Mariner D8. The Link D8’s internally geared hub offers eight speeds, which probably sounds better than the seven on the Link B7 but likely won’t make much of a difference to most people.
The 20-inch Schwinn Loop, Amazon’s best-selling folding bike at around $200 currently, isn’t really designed for commuting (despite the Amazon verbiage). It has a bulky step-through frame, and in our tests it offered a heavy, sluggish ride—Citi Bikes (those blue three-speed bike-share behemoths) often passed me on the bridge, and I had no hope of fitting it through the subway turnstiles. If you plan to use your folding bike regularly, do yourself a favor and spend more.
China has experienced an explosive growth of sales of non-assisted e-bikes including scooter type, with annual sales jumping from 56,000 units in 1998 to over 21 million in 2008, and reaching an estimated fleet of 120 million e-bikes in early 2010. This boom was triggered by Chinese local governments' efforts to restrict motorcycles in city centers to avoid traffic disruption and accidents. By late 2009 motorcycles are banned or restricted in over ninety major Chinese cities. Users began replacing traditional bicycles and motorcycles and e-bike became an alternative to commuting by car. Nevertheless, road safety concerns continue as around 2,500 e-bike related deaths were registered in 2007. By late 2009 ten cities had also banned or imposed restrictions on e-bikes on the same grounds as motorcycles. Among these cities were Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Changsha, Foshan, Changzhou, and Dongguang.
Common to almost all models is that the handling is more responsive than on a full-size bike, and that can take some getting used to. It is not advised that you ride a folding bike with no hands or try any cute stunts. Gears on small-wheeled folding bikes are higher to compensate, but limited gearing on some models may slow you down. If that is a major concern for you, you might want to look more toward higher end "performance" folding bikes. If you plan to take a lot of trips that utilize transit, a bike that folds quickly and compactly may be best for you. If you are a tall rider, you may want to check out how each type of folding bike can adjust to fit you.
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