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MINI Folding Bike

Discussion in 'Electric Bicycles' started by morphix, Dec 24, 2011.

  1.  
    morphix

    morphix Pedelecer

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    Interesting little development of interest to folding bicycle enthusiasts or anyone considering a bike for conversion... BMW are cashing in on the MINI brand and have entered the folding bicycle market with this 20" wheeler:

    [​IMG]

    They're marketing it as suitable to go in the boot of a MINI and it has a very British image (despite being German) looking at the German website. Weighs in at 11kg and retails for around £380 comparing favourably to some Dahon models. There's one on eBay I think.

    More info on this blog by BMW.
  2.  
    flecc

    flecc Member

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    I'd seen the announcement but didn't look further since car company bikes have usually been very high priced, especially German ones. This price is unusual and a pleasant surprise, they should shift some in their showrooms.
  3.  
    morphix

    morphix Pedelecer

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    Flecc do you think it might be made by Dahon? It has a Dahon look about it don't you think? I know they make bikes for a number of other firms.

    [​IMG]

    The Dahon MU Uno is my favourite folding bicycle at the moment and I've noticed the price is coming down a bit..I'm waiting for the January sales :D it's considerably lighter than the MINI at 9kg but has no gears or brakes of course.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2011
  4.  
    flecc

    flecc Member

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    I assumed it was, but of course Dahon has split in two following a nasty Hons family dispute, so not quite sure.

    Father David now has the Dahon brand name as well as making the same models, while son Joshua and mother Florence also have the designs and make and sell them as Tern bicycles.

    Against the usual odds it seems likely that it's Tern that will do best.
  5.  
    morphix

    morphix Pedelecer

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    ..after a bit more digging it seems the bike is made by Dahon. And it's not the first time Mini have put their brand to a folding bike...check this, seems they licensed it to some Asian bike manufacturer?

    Although there's some of the new Mini bikes selling on eBay for £380 the official UK retail is around £500 and in Germany they sell for 499 euros.
  6.  
    flecc

    flecc Member

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    Ah, a pity, £500 is getting a bit on the steep side.

    I didn't know about that other one, at times it seems that every man and his dog has marketed a folder at least once.
  7.  
    cwah

    cwah Pedelecer

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    I was thinking about buying a dahon uno for my next electric bike. But from what I've read, most dahon rear dropout are 130mm (just need to bent it a little to have a 135mm standard size) except for the dahon uno that has a smaller dropout because it's a single speed.
    So I may not buy it finally.

    Is the mini easy to roll once folded?

    Seriously, what I don't understand is the manufacturer assumption that people buy folding bike only to carry it on a car. So they create folding bike for tourist or people going to holidays rather than commuters. Have they done market research properly? Even if the bike can be lifted, doing so with a 10kg bike is not an easy task if you have to walk more than 30 seconds in the underground.

    Most of the time I read people buying folding bike to commute. So they expect a bike they can carry in public transport and potentially use it as shopping cart in groceries store or a rolling cart to carry luggages.
    Brompton is, to date, the only bike able to roll correctly and being able to answer these needs correctly. And I'm not talking about bike size, just bike capability.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2011
  8.  
    morphix

    morphix Pedelecer

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    That's good to know cwah as I'm still searching for a suitable 20" folder for my next conversion.. I had the Uno down as my favourite choice because of its simplicity and ultra light-weight at this price point..but now I may have to re-think.

    I've heard the Uno rolls well and the magnets keep it together, but no clue about the MINI there's not much user reviews about only a few professional ones. It's tempting to take a chance on the eBay offer price, could always return it I suppose.

    There's a promo video of the Uno on YouTube showing a woman carrying it on and off a train over her shoulder. I think that weight 9kg-10kg really is about the limit if you want to do that else it would become a burden. It would be nice to see a video of the MINI.

    I ride a 26" folder and it weighs in at 20kg with my kit on and I have to carry it up 2 flights of stairs which is a pain to say the least.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2011
  9.  
    morphix

    morphix Pedelecer

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    Mini Review

    The Evening Standard was given an exclusive chance to road-test it. The aluminium-framed cycle weighs under 11kg and comes in matt black with silver Mini and Union Jack motifs.

    The eye-catching, neon-yellow chain is coated in Teflon rather than oil to avoid besmirching the urban cyclist's suit trousers.

    It looks stylish and it's a fun ride. The eight well-spaced gears on the handlebar twist grip facilitate quick downshifts in stop-go traffic.

    Snappy braking and the upright riding position are invaluable when navigating the Marble Arch roundabout.

    The front of the bike feels rigid but very responsive; the back end much more springy and skittish, which adds excitement to the ride. In traffic, it makes you feel like a nimble minnow among sharks - rather like Alec Issigonis's original car.

    The bike folds away easily and in seconds along the crossbar and steering column. The seat retracts and the pedals fold up, making a bundle compact enough to carry onto a bus or cab. Or, indeed, to fit into the boot of a Mini.

    It's a bit awkward to carry, though, with a tendency to unfold even when stashed in its under-seat cargo bag. And it needs its own seat in the cinema. With so many detachable components, it's almost impossible to lock up outside.

    The Mini Folding Bike comes with mudguards, bell and kickstand, but no pannier rack. It's not quite as smooth to ride or neat to fold as the London-built Brompton, but at £499 it is considerably cheaper.

    It embodies much of the Issigonis charm and quirkiness that made the original Mini such a hit, even if the brand is now owned by BMW. And as the maker notes, the folding bike solves lots of problems of modern-day commuting and is "emission free". Who said the Germans had no sense of humour?

    New fold-up bike gives commuters a Mini adventure | News
  10.  
    flecc

    flecc Member

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    Love the way the reviewer has the notion that it's designed to have Mini characteristics. :D

    Wonder if he's ever heard of Dahon?
  11.  
    jerrysimon

    jerrysimon Pedelecer

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    Without suspension, anything 20" or lower could provide quite a hard ride for some, with the exception of maybe adding balloon (big apple) tyres as the only other way round not having suspension. Probably ok for 5-10 mile city commutes but that is about it.

    To be honest if I was going to get that, I would buy a Dahon and save on the bumped up price for BMW/Mini branding.

    I would say definately a Dahon clone. The Uno is interesting.

    Ps remember also many of these smaller wheeled bikes have narrower front fork spacing around 75-83mm, so you need one of the thinner front hub motors unless you want to try and spread them to 100mm, which then often compromises the fold.


    Regards

    Jerry
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2011
  12.  
    flecc

    flecc Member

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    Now's the best time to buy a Dahon. It seems as a result of the dispute and company split I mentioned above, current models are being sold off a discounted prices from a number of outlets. The link below is an example, even the Dahon Boost e-folder at around £1000, well below ebay prices:

    Chain Reaction Cycles Dahon Sale
  13.  
    lemmy

    lemmy Just Joined

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    I have fairly long experience with folders. The only really practical one for the folding itself is the Brompton. The Dahons and so on are that bit too big when folded and the folding method itself leaves something to be desired.

    I can fold up and down my Brompton in less than twenty seconds. When you put the seat post down it locks the bike in the folded config so it can't wobble or unfold and you cannot get grease on you. Effectively, it becomes a small suitcase. Also, given my turn of mind, in the long run it is cheaper to own because all,the parts are interchangeable or upgradable. So a bike bought in 1990 could still be in daily use as good as new.

    I'm no Brompton salesman but you rarely meet something so well conceived and designed that you can't think of any needed improvement.

    And it's a joy to ride too.
  14.  
    jerrysimon

    jerrysimon Pedelecer

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    Well I know I am biased with my EBrompton but in terms of E portability, I have yet to come across anything as good as my Brompton + a Tongxin. As you know I also own a Moulton TSR2 which I have fitted a Tongxin on as well, and much as I love its comfortable ride, it is still not as portable as the Brompton. The icing on the cake for a Brompton would be suspension on the front, but then that would no doubt increase the weight and cause complications for the fold.

    [​IMG]

    I wait with baited breadth for the new electric brompton offering.

    Any folding bike is a compromise but the Brompton seems to have cracked it all. Being well built in the long run, if you are going to keep and ride it for many years like I intend to, as stated it definately worth it.

    If you are looking at a folder make sure you take one for a good ride first, as the cheaper ones really are not much use for more than a mile or two. I would happily ride my Brompton for 10-20 miles.

    Regards

    Jerry
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011
  15.  
    morphix

    morphix Pedelecer

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    this is a question to Jerry and anyone else who rides 20" wheel bikes... how different is it to riding a 26" under power? Should I expect a significant drop in speed? And would I be able to get away without using gears and still be able to keep up with the motor pedaling?

    I'm planning to use 250W 36V (same as my current 26") on my new 20" bike.. but I'm wondering if perhaps 350W might compensate for the smaller wheels.. or maybe that's overkill and unnecessary (possibly even not practical on a lightweight aluminum frame)?

    Jerry you opted for smaller Tongxin motors on your Brompton, how do you find the performance? I suppose it's a question of weight v power.

    I guess I should choose and order a 20" bike first and see how it rides unpowered to get a feel for it, but I'd appreciate any advice.
  16.  
    jerrysimon

    jerrysimon Pedelecer

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    morphix as you know I have also recently "electrified" my Moulton which is a 20" wheeled bike. I started with a 26" bike for my first conversion using an alien fun kit. Its been a few years since I have ridden a larger wheeled bike and feels strange when I ride one now. For me the smaller wheeled optimum is 20" in terms of comfort, especially if fully suspended both ends. The Brompton is ok being sprung at the back but of course there is no suspension at the front. But then it beats the Moulton in terms of portability. All that said my Brompton is still my bike of choice when I go to the shed to get my commuting/town shopping bike. Its all a compromise!

    [​IMG]

    For the Moulton I used the same narrow 260RPM motor that I use on the Brompton 16" wheel. In a 20" wheel the motor provides more speed unassisted easily going up to 16.5mph. Compared to my Brompton the Moulton with its 20" wheels is much more nippy. For city riding though the Brompton is perfect. If I was doing longer journeys on main roads I would use a 20" wheeled bike minimum.

    At 16.5mph its easy to keep up with using its higher 70" gear. The problem I find with it is the bike likes to cruise at about 18mph on the flat and to be honest around 18-20mph I begin to spin out. The Brompton has two gears as well but the higher one is 74" which is better at the higher speed. I can't change the Moulton easily as it is a belt drive.

    The higher gear optimum for me seems to be 74". However that is too high really for standing starts using the Tongxin. If I had just one 74" gear to be honest, I would consider a more robust Fun hub motor where you could do almost standing starts in one gear if you needed to. I like to keep to the legal limit so I would not go up to 350W. The Fun motor Dan used was only about 100-200g heavier than my Tongxin. That of course only comes in the larger 100mm width which may be a problem with a smaller wheeled bike which has narrower front forks unless you are prepared to spread them a lot. An alternative of course is the Cute motor from BMS.

    I would really advise riding 20" wheeled bike before you get one. There are some pretty nasty cheap ones out there that you would not want to ride more than a couple of miles. For me the only reason to go smaller wheeled is portability, so unless you want it for that I would stick with larger wheeled bikes.

    Lots of thoughts and musing I hope it helps though.

    Regards

    Jerry
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011
  17.  
    catsnapper

    catsnapper Finding my (electric) wheels

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    The dropouts on the Dahon Uno are horizontal with 120mm spacing. I've got one here fitted with the larger BMX race wheels and 2 speed SRAM Automatix hub.

    [​IMG]

    Alan
  18.  
    jerrysimon

    jerrysimon Pedelecer

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    Wow very nice Alan. I been meaning to try the SRAM Automatix hub. What's the verdict ? Did you adjust the auto change to take account of the smaller wheels ?

    I have the S/A S2C which is ok but has its peculiarities.

    Really I would want to put the hub motor on the front and keep the back as is. What is the spacing on the front forks ?

    The other thing to consider morphix is how you are going to mount the electrics, though I think the Dahon comes with a niffty lug that can go on the front tube like the Bromton for removable luggage.

    Regards

    Jerry

    .
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011
  19.  
    flecc

    flecc Member

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    Same advice on the bike choice as Jerry, Morphix, make sure you get the right basic bike to start with, some low cost small wheelers are very poor. You don't really need a 350 watt motor, a 250 watt can be just as fast and small wheel bikes have an intrinsic climb advantage anyway.

    I also like 20" wheel bikes and my sole one at present is a 20", but I found an almost 70" gear a bit too low for keeping up with the motor at 16 mph all the time. Cadence is a personal matter though, only you can decide that, and you could change the chainring or rear sprocket(s) later to get it right for you. Having a 20" wheel bike or e-bike doesn't necessarily mean any drop in road speed, they can keep up with larger wheel bikes easily and roll resistance isn't noticeably worse than 26" wheels.

    I usually ride mine at around 16 mph and take a half-mile long slight downslope returning from my supermarket at around 24 to 28 mph, depending on conditions.
  20.  
    morphix

    morphix Pedelecer

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    Thanks for the info and advice Jerry and Flecc. I feel much more confident about it now and will stick to 250W.. I don't really like the idea of having illegal motor anyway (especially in view of all the preaching I've done in the past about it :eek:) ) well it's a case of choosing the right bike now and then I can ride it for a bit and see if it's suitable to convert and what's possible for motor choices you have recommended Jerry.. I will probably use BMS for my kit I think, although I have been toying with the idea of taking the kit off my old bike and using that, but it means re-spoking the motor which seems scary. Plus I'd have to use it front-wheel again and I think I would prefer a rear motor on 20". Anyways it might be nice to keep the 26" bike intact to ride sometimes, or else if it doesn't get much use I'll probably sell it to recoup some cost on my 20", we'll see.. I don't have a lot of space in my flat but I've been meaning to convert a cupboard for bike storage, just need to put some shelving up to clear space, then I can easily fit both the 26" and 20" in there :)
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011

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