Tips for foldies selection (2/2)

This is part 2 of my foldies (foldable bikes) selection experience. I will be sharing some Tips for foldies selection. Bear with me, as this post is written from a newbie’s perspective.

I have only tested Crius Master, Java Neo2 and Tern C8/D8.

Please share your knowledge and tips with me too.
You may read post 1 here where I shared the benefits of foldies.

Just roll to your nearest MRT and explore SG!

With Covid19 and circuit measures. Everyone felt confined and wanted to explore more of Singapore! Be it Jog, Cycle, Hike, you should see the Meetup groups bookings. So many folks are queuing to walk the 36km Coast to Coast walk :p  (photos here)

I guess these sudden active lifestyles are good for individuals and families. Besides the health and sporty aspects, Singaporeans get to appreciate our freedom, nature and PCN (Park Connectors) more! We are busy exploring all corners of the island!

But tough luck if you are buying foldies :p
Supply is struggling to meet demand.

Covid19 has disrupted supply chains. Be prepared for Parts shortage, long waiting time for your “ideal” bikes. Bike prices have easily appreciated by 20 30% easily over the last few months.

 

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1.My foldies selection criteria

Everyone will have their priority. Shall we start with Budget?

a. Afterall, a foldie can start from $150 all the way up to $5,000. I set $1,000 for my bike, which is considered mid-level. (But I told the Mrs bike is under $500)

You should always ask for test ride opportunity. Only you know which bike feels right for yourself.

b. The second most important criteria is your riding style and behaviour? PCN or road? Or you prefer off-road and gravel? Maybe you are going for RI (round-island) 140km rides?

c.Wheel size? 16″ or 20″ (20″ more cushioning on road, perhaps more comfort for longer distance)

d.Weight -Anything around 10kg should be ok. Too heavy (12+ kg) and you might struggle on public transport

e.Brands (Zoom in on a few brands. At the point of writing, FnHon, Crius and Java is popular)

f.Models and parts. Even same model might have different parts, resulting in price difference! (super confusing for newbies during shortlisting)

g.Warranty and servicing (Buy online or real bike shop?)
Most online shops would not provide maintenance or servicing.

h.You might need to take your height and weight into consideration too. Not all foldies are suitable for those 1.9m or weighs above 100kg.

2.Brands and Models

After shortlisting, I can guarantee you will have more questions.

When I first started, I did not even know about established brands like Dahon, Birdy etc. I only know Decathon and Aleoca (SG brand but recently out-of-business)

Then you will hear about brands like Dahon, Tern, FnHon and many others. Where can I touch and test ride?
As you do more research, suddenly more Brands pop up!
Vert, Crius, Rifle, Mint etc. Some of the bikes are actually OEM and replicas, that explains why some frames look identical.

Is Dahon, Tern, FnHon, YnHon related? Is Travelo, Crius, Litepro related?

Surely Java and Sava must be from the same factory? Yes/no
Then there is Police brand too haha.

It might be harder to buy a bike than a car :p
Brompton and Birdy is out of my budget as these rides cost $3k plus easily!

3.Initially, I shortlisted either travelo or tern

Then the list quickly expanded!
Price listed below is 2020 Sep to Oct estimation, and price went up again  in November.

1)Crius Velocity (9 speed) $800+ or Crius Master V or D $650+
(Why got V and D?)

Fyi, Crius is a sub-brand under LitePro. Yes, the same brand which sells popular light accessories and parts. LitePro also label their bikes with their own brand.

2)Tern link c8 $750+ (8 speed)
I tried C8 and D8 ($1000), but prefer C8.

3)Travelo FS-S $900+ (9 speed)
Heard Travelo came from the same family as Crius. Travelo is not the cheapest but their parts are good. Sold out! (OEM, but sold as SG brand)

4)Java Aria $1200+ or Fit $700 (Some Java models got 18 speeds?), Xelo $400 or Neo2 $800+

Not related to Sava Z $1200+ :p

5)FnHon got different models like Gust $800+ and Blast $700+

Once you have shortlisted a few models, go for test rides. Head to distributors, or borrow from friends. You can then compare apple to apple, bikes parts, ride feel and gut instinct.

The experience gained will help you to prioritise your wishlist.
But, testing might be hard to arrange, due to shortages or Covid19 measures.

4.more research, more questions!

There are tons of information on Facebook, YouTube and WWW.
I would recommend you to shortlist a few models first, then dive deeper.
(Otherwise, you will be overwhelmed by all the brands and replicas)

IG Crius Hashtag

It is a chicken and egg thing.
How do I shortlist, when I am not sure of my requirements :p

More information can sometimes lead to more confusion, especially for newbies. If your budget is similar to mine, do try to research more about these brands Crius, FnHon and Java. They are quite popular for their price points.

You will definitely adjust your criteria as you learn more.

Some Facebook groups for your research (tons of friendly folks):
Generic groups: Love Cycling SG, Singapore Foldies, Foldies@SG, SG Folding Bikes

Brands specific groups in Facebook (There are many more) :
Crius, FnHon, Java, Tern, Travelo (BikeActually),Brompton, Birdy

Tips for foldies selection
Tips for foldies selection

If Brompton is too expensive, you can try replicas like 3Sixty and pikes too!

I did warn you about the tons of groups online haha!

5.Where to buy?

The whole research process took me one month plus.
I could only test ride at three outlets/shops.  Most shops no stock or do not allow test rides due to Covid19 measures.

In the first blog post, I shared where you could test or buy your bikes.

-Traditional bike shops
-Online Taobao (eg, without local “presence”)
-* Online Carousel with local warehouse
-Second hand

I would not be comfortable buying a bike which I cannot see, touch and test. But we know traditional shop fronts might not have the brand and model which you need. During Covid19 period, our choices (bike and parts) would be limited.

Would highly recommend you to head down to test ride the bike. This investment is not cheap and you must feel comfortable. With touch, you can prioritise and understand your requirements better.

For the same reason, I would hesitate to buy from 100% online distributor. If part is delivered faulty, it is hard to fight for recourse and warranty.
A $500 bike is not exactly small change 🙂

The next best option might be Carousel, identify reputable outlets (research again). Once confirmed, you can pop by their warehouse or shop-front.

Carousel outlets (At least 20 shops all over SG! Headache):
-BZ Sport Cycles (Gavin)
-Bike Republic
BikeWarehouse (I got my Crius Master here)
-Bike companion (Or OutdoorFollows)
-CyclicWorkz
-WheelOnFireSG

I only visited one “real traditional” bike shop. MyBikeShop (Yishun Branch). Tested Tern C8 and D8, and encounter friendly chap Anthony.

If you have a few brands in mind,  it would be easier to identify the distributors and find out the reputable outlets. Link up with them, and go for test rides, clear your questions. (some would not bother to reply via Facebook messenger). This is where online peer to peer resources prove invaluable.

Lastly, I might not recommend second hand bikes for first timers.
You need to be aware what to look out for, and the quoted prices can be on the high side too. This option could be ideal for seasoned bikers.  So grab a guru to go “second-hand shopping” with you.

Cycling Jurong -> City- > Sengkang (50km)

6.Warranty, servicing, tuning and accessories

Given a choice, I would feel “safer” if bike shop offers servicing and warranty coverage, ie I can “see” the shop, and know the owner’s reviews.

But it is hard to find a shop which sells your ideal bike (ex Stock) and also provide maintenance.

95% of those under Carousel will only provide limited warranty. And no servicing. Better test and ask all the questions before you cycle off from shop :p

I am still new to accessories and servicing, so my recommendations are limited. But these few outlets have received good reviews.

– UCIG (Yishun) – No hard sell, friendly boss and mechanic. Would go back again for accessories.

308 Cycology (Punggol, by appointment only)- Tuning and servicing, and they seem to be popular in Facebook groups. Will bring my upgrades over for them to fix and tune (soon)

Jet Cycle (Changi Road) – Like a bike minimart, with plenty of accessories

More accessories shops are listed online portals like Carousel/Shopee/Lazada/Taobao. Do buy with caution, not all parts are genuine!

7.First tip. Do not think about Upgrades first

Poison is never ending, 没完没了.
Some well-meaning folks will tell you to buy the best bike you can afford.

The best bike is the one you are riding with today

For newbies, take the time to understand your bike, the parts and mechanics. You will then know what is your wish-list and upgrade accordingly. No rush.

One good example is the lack of Shimano groupset now. Mid-level bikes might only have China-made Sensah groupset.

But my SenSah is good enough for newbies. Yes, the gear transition might be less smooth than Shimano, and there is no resale value.

But my 9 speed Sensah brings me to places effortlessly!
If I do upgrade to Shimano eventually, I would better appreciate the differences. (even Shimano has different grades from Sora, 105 to Ultegra!)

Another example would be wheels profile.  Some will start with 20″ 406, then upgrade to 451 (thinner profile) for speed.

Upgrading (aka poisoning) is very subjective, and expensive.

Some hardcore folks will only buy the frame, and everything else piecemeal!
Some will upgrade all parts to titanium, to shaved an extra kilo off the bike.
Other folks will mod until their foldies cannot fold (my neighbour haha :p )

In short, get the bike which has options to upgrade in the future. (eg from 9 to 10 speed), and within your budget.

First priority for me is to use my bike for exploration, enjoy your ride.

8.Best Tip. Wait for supply to stabilise

If you can wait, please wait a few more months. Supply (bikes and parts) will slowly catchup, offering more variety and price points.

But to wait, means I would lose months of Cycling joy. I convinced myself that the upgrades can come later (dilemma haha).

9.Gears and Speed

7, 9 10 or 11 Speed?
How much speed is enough for me?
With low speed, can I climb hills easily?

Eg my Btwin foldie (6 speed) struggled with Sentosa’s hilly terrain, and I had to push. But my Crius Master (9 speed) scales the slopes much more effortlessly.

This is the part where the gurus will come in and urge you to train your legs and stamina first :p

I believe 8 and 9 speed is more than enough for newbies and PCN rides, 50 km rides and slopes. Foldies generally do not have as many gear\speed selection as Road bikes.

Train your legs and stamina, then upgrade the bike. Some would say bike is only 40% of the equation, and human power 60% !

10.Tyres and Brakes

Then you might also think about tyre profile differences between 406 and 451.

For travel and sand or mud, a 20″ bike (406 with minimum width 1.5) would be easier to ride than a 451 profile! 451 will keep slipping in the sand.

V Brakes are those traditional brakes. Easy to maintain,  cheap and effective. Disc Brake provides better braking, but might require more maintenance.

Last Tip:
If two bikes feel the same, choose the cheaper one.

11.What is next?

I will continue to explore more of SG on bike and MRT. This mode allows me to ride beyond my physical and time limitation! MRT and Grab cabs can ferry me home in the event of thunderstorm.

I hope to roll my foldie oversea too (in a 29″ suitcase). Would be super contented if the Mrs joins more of my wheels journey.

Disclaimer : I am sharing my bike shopping experience as a newbie. I hope the Tips for foldies selection would be useful for your own research too.

What is your Tips for foldies selection? Please share.

Do follow my family’s cycling experience here . The best trip was 4D3N Hualien to Taitung

 

 

Why I chose a foldable bike (1/2)

If you are deciding between foldable bike, road bike or mountain bike, do read on.

Cycling is a fun way to explore Singapore and overseas. It is an interesting way for families to explore the neighbourhood and enjoy some bonding moments too.

Cycling is a Life Skill for kids.

Click on the image below for our cycling journeys in SG and overseas.

Family cycling is Fun!

Before I bought a foldie for myself, I had hijack the Mrs’ BTwin bike (from Decathlon).

In this post, I would be sharing the benefits of Foldie (also know as foldable bike). In the next post, I will share the challenges which I encountered while shortlisting my foldie.

Why do you need a foldie?

-If you need speed, go for road bike
-Off-road, choose mountain bike
-If convenience and mobility, a foldie will follow you to the last mile

1)Mobility. Just roll your bike into MRT and explore every corner in Singapore, North East South West!

Fold and Roll into the train.

The other cycling options to explore Singapore “corners” would be round-island trip (100 to 150km!) or car transport (bike racks). Option 1 requires significant fitness, time and map reading efficiency. Option 2 requires you to go back to same carpark.

Only Foldies offer you the best flexibility.

Biking to your office is easier with a foldie. As a bonus, you can consider packing your foldie for oversea rides too!

Do take note that 20″ or 16″ wheels will be much smaller than 27.5″ wheels. You will “feel” more potholes and uneven grounds. Eg a 451 wheel (speed) would have lesser grip than profile 406 (better comfort and a bit off road).

2. SMALL! Foldie has a smaller footprint and is normally lighter, thus it is easier to keep. Just roll into your office or take public transport.

We can pack six foldies into our MPV comfortably, and we do not need the car rack 🙂

My Crius Master

Selection criteria for foldies

Foldie is not for everyone.

My kids find foldies lame and less happening. They would prefer road bikes or even fixies!

3. Cycling style. I have listed some of the selection criteria to help you identify which brand and model is available within your budget.

-Do you ride on the road on PCN?
-Do you use your foldie for errands and neighbourhood rides (PCN), or do you intend to do trips above 30km?
-Do you need more space in your flat or car?

There is a whole spectrum of parts (and tuning) to cater from leisurely rides to extreme round island tours. More Poison!

I started with the Mrs’ Decathon’s BTWin Tilt 100 foldie. The 6 speed was good enough for PCN and neighbourhood, but I struggled with longer distance and slopes! This foldie weighs 13kg +

4. Slopes. Foldies normally have smaller gears to play with, from 7 to 11. Road bikes would easily have double. You can cycle up the steepest slopes with the smallest gear, but foldie would generally need more leg power, compared to mountain bike. (This is a small limitation)

Before I committed to a foldie, no one could tell me whether 9 speed is enough for slopes. Some might be sarcastic and tell you to train your legs first.

My question was valid for a newbie. If all things are equal, 9 speed would be easier to climb a hill compared to 7 speed, and 9 speed can definitely go faster. The only thing to sustain the momentum is stamina and legs.

I settled for a 9-speed Crius Master eventually.

And I am happy to report that 9 speed is more than enough for my riding style (15 to 50km trips). I can climb slopes easily, and 9th speed can bring me up to 25-30kmh, but requires a whole deal of ENERGY to sustain!

End of the day, Legs are 60% and Machine 40%. Train your stamina and leg power, before you upgrade more parts 🙂

5. Performance. Again, all things being equal. Foldies are less nimble than mountain bike. My other bike, a 27.5″ RockRider mountain bike can “anyhow” turn  and swerve and is still rock stable.

I feel my foldie is more rigid, maybe I have not pushed it to the limit. You can feel the difference (between foldie and road bike) when you do hard turns.

On the other hand, foldies are easier to manoeuvre on pavements (compared to mountain bikes).

6. Wheels. 20″ wheels will never be as efficient (fast) as 27″, as more rotations are need. Pure physics, as you cover longer distance faster with bigger wheels.

Humps are not foldies’ friends , even if you have suspension. Those foldies with 14″ or even 16″ wheels need to ride more safely.

7. Reliability? Foldies might be less durable than mountain bikes, due to the constant  “folds” and joints. Wear and tear.

However, all the above mentioned limitations are small, compared to the various benefits.

Cycling to Changi Airport!

I am having a lot of FUN on my Foldie!

Clocking more milage on my Crius Master V

8. Breakdown! Touch wood, if your foldie suffers a malfunction in the middle of the night. Just fold and take a taxi home. It is really that compact!

In part 2 of my foldable bike selection (the next blog post), I will share more questions and challenges.

After going through so much research (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram #). I was still confused. Buying a bike seems to exact more research than buying a car!

(For cars, you zoom in on Toyota, Honda and BMW established brands. Bikes have too much designs and configurations!)

In the next blog post, I will also be sharing accessories and servicing shops. More importantly, reputable bike shops (both online and brick-mortar).

foldable bike
My foldable bike

You can buy your bikes from :

-Traditional bike shops
-Online Taobao (eg, without local “presence”)
-Online Carousel with local warehouse
-Second hand

Nothing beats a test ride, only you know which bike suits you best. Ride feel, height, colour, budget etc.

The best bike you have is the one you are cycling with now.
I am loving every moment with my Crius Master.
Happy exploration!

Me and my bike kakis W and R.

Disclaimer : I am sharing my bike shopping experience as a newbie. It was a steep learning curve. Do correct me if any of my presentation is wrong.

Meanwhile, do visit my family’s cycling experiences:

-(Blog post 2/2) Tips for Foldies selection
-All our Cycling journeys
4D3N Taiwan Hualien to Taitung with two kids
– Instagram #skbCycles

My family’s cycling adventures