Full Suspension Folding Bikes in the Market
My goal is to make a list of the full suspension folding bikes being sold on the market today and their features. I discovered that one of the major issues with folding bikes that are being sold is their comfort. Most bike manufacturers use aluminum as the material of choice to make these bikes. This material is stiff. In addition, folding bicycles are stiffer because they are made of smaller frames with small triangles. The wheels, too, tend to be smaller and because of this, have less shock absorbency. In summary, folding bicycles have an issue with comfort, but we found that once this issue is addressed, these bikes can be used as full size bicycles with the likelihood of extra super-compact storage.
It is unfortunate that there is not a lot of full suspension folding bikes of good quality being sold. There are many that are poorly designed, cheap and made by Chinese manufacturers, which I will ignore in this article.
There are about four full suspension folding bike options to choose from, if you are looking for quality. It might be pared down to three, since the Go Bike is still very expensive. Despite this, I will do a bike comparison and then we will decide the winner. We will compare #1 on the list with #2 and then #3 with #4.
1. Dahon Jetstream – This bike is an older model that has been on the market for almost ten years. It is light in weight, has a compact folding feature and quality 8 speed derailleur drivetrain. The head tube has an interface for a bag system. It is fitted with standard disc brakes and adjustable rear shocks. It is a nice folding bike, overall and has a retail price of $1,349.
2. Birdy – This bike is made by Pacific Cycle and was introduced to the market in 1995. Therefore, it too is an older model. The design of the suspension is comfortable and solid. When you purchase this bike, you can have the drivertains configured. However, the base model is fitted with a Shimano 8-speed derailleur-based system. The bike is sold for roughly $1,500. This bike is the smallest and most lightweight of folding full suspension bikes being sold on the market.
3. Go Bike – This bike came on the market in the early 2000’s. It is an older model, which has evolved over the years. It is very trendy in Japan because of its comfort and style. This bike is sold for a little more than $1,000 on the market. However, they are not available in the United States at the moment. It is not known at this time, either, whether they are being sold in Japan.
4. Downtube 9FS – This bike came on the market ten years ago. It is an exclusive bike because it is the only 9-speed full suspension bike that sells for less than $1,000. The affordable retail price is only $549. The bike has seen several upgrades over the past ten years and these include bag, rear rack interfaces, disc-ready wheel set and preloaded adjustable suspension in the front and in the rear.
Now for the comparisons:
Comparison of #1 Jetstream versus #2 Birdy
A. The Cost: Both of these folding bikes are in similar price range: Jetstream is $1,349 and the Birdy is $1,500.
B. Weight: The Birdy weighs less at 25 pounds and the Jetsream weighs 26.5 pounds.
C. Quality of Components: These have similar stock drivetrains; however the Birdy can be customized while the JetStream does not have that kind of capability. The Jetstream comes equipped with disc brakes.
D. Folded Size: In this comparison with the Jetstream bike, the Birdy folding bike is smaller because of its tiny 18 inch wheels and superior fold. In this comparison, most will agree with that the winner is the Birdy.
Comparison of #3 GoBike vs. #4 Downtube
A. The Cost: The retail price for the Downtube is only $549. The Go Bike is more than $1,000, which provides an edge to the Downtube as it relates to price.
B. Weight: The Go Bike weighs less at 28.5 pounds and the Downtube weighs only 27 pounds.
C. Quality of Components: Compared to the Downtube’s more improved 9-speed drivetrain, the Go Bike with its 8-speed is of lesser quality. The Downtube also is fitted with adjustable suspension and disc wheels while the Go Bike isn’t.
D. Folded Size: In this comparison, the folded size is nearly similar.
Most will agree that the winner is the Downtube. Finally, the comparison between the #2 Birdy versus the #4 Downtube
A. The Cost: The retail price for the Downtube is only $549. The Birdy is more than $1,500, which provides the edge to the Downtube when it comes to price.
B. Weight: The Birdy weighs less at 25 pounds and the Downtube weighs 27 pounds. So for this feature, the Birdy is two pounds lighter.
C. Quality of Components: Compared to the Downtube’s nicer 9-speed drivetrain, the Birdy is of lesser quality. Additionally, the Downtube is fitted with adjustable suspension, frame interfaces for bag systems, pumps, racks and disc wheels while the Go Bike isn’t.
D. Folded Size: In this comparison, the Birdy is a little smaller because of its smaller 18 inch wheels and superior fold.
This round appears to be a tie on most features except the price the Downtube is at $549 and the Birdy is at $1500. Hence for this round, the Downtube is the winner. Price and quality are clearly the deciding factors.