Steady folding bike to stand on?
June 8, 2012 9:00 PM   Subscribe

Which folding bicycle has pedals I can stand on when pedaling uphill?

I have purchased two folding bicycles with 16-inch wheels, one was a Citizen Bike and the other was a Kent.

I have noticed that I cannot stand and pump the pedals while trying to go uphill by utilizing my body weight (my butt is off the seat.) I tried going faster, but I feel wobbly when trying to stand upright. Bracing my arms harder against the handlebars do not seem to help either.

Can anyone recommend a steady folding bike I can pedal vertically?
posted by ayc200 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Bike Friday makes some pretty stable folding bikes. Not cheap, though.

Montague makes folding bikes, but they are often not what people think of when they want a folding bike.
posted by pmb at 9:20 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

16" wheel bikes are skittish. I had to walk my Brompton home after having had just one pint. Folding bike frames are usually a bit flexible, and so don't take to honking too well. Gear down and spin up those hills.

Maybe one of the large-wheel Montagues or Dahons? You're only going to get any two of small, light or rigid with folders.
posted by scruss at 9:21 PM on June 8, 2012

Bigger wheels might help steady the wobbles, but part of it depends a bit on your riding style, too, which I can't see from here. Giant makes three versions of a little folder-upper with 20" wheels called the Expressway that you might consider checking out.
posted by Chutzler at 9:36 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure the hinged frame of the bike can stand up to the extra side-to-side motion that standing to pedal uphill generates. Which isn't to say it would ruin the bike or anything, but that may contribute to why you feel wobbly.
posted by Sara C. at 9:45 PM on June 8, 2012

I have a Montague mountain bike. It's a full sized bike, and once it's unfolded you'd never know it was a folding bike. I've stood on the pedals and it's fine.

I just got a Dahon (20" I think) and haven't tried standing on the pedals but I expect it would be okay.

If your bikes aren't geared low enough, you could change that so you don't need to stand up.
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 10:31 PM on June 8, 2012

I agree that the real solution is to gear down and spin, but I think that the issue is of perceived instability. It is easy on a folder, especially with 16" wheels, to let the bike really flail about underneath an otherwise-stable rider, but that is not necessarily a problem.

Try to practise, while coasting on a flat section, riding in a straight line while out of the seat and leaning the bike as far to one side as possible, and then from side to side. This will look and feel comical [once it stops feeling dangerous], but you will learn that the bike isn't going to run away from you just because it is wiggling. Keep your arms loose, and let the bike sway beneath you, as you might in a boat. Stiff arms will not help you.

As a bonus, this should help you to gain the skills needed to keep your bike relatively vertical when you are honking up the hill.

To answer your question as written, the most rock-solid folder I've ridden is the dahon speed TR, which weighs about 100 pounds and has 20" tires, and is an excellent all purpose [especially touring] bike. The stock pedals, however, are slippery and uncomfortable and not ideal for standing on. Putting some wide, flat platforms on instead will help.
posted by Acari at 11:23 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a Dahon Ciao P8 with 20" wheels, and I have no problem standing on the pedals when I need to. My husband modified his Dahon Boardwalk to 21 gears so he could ride it in the Santa Fe Century a few years ago. One thing I especially like about Dahons is that they allow you to sit up higher, making it easier to apply more force to the pedals without necessarily having to stand.

According to the late great Sheldon Brown, however, it may not be a good idea to make a habit of standing pedaling, no matter what bike you're riding. Having an adequate set of gears and ensuring that your seat is set at the correct height is preferable.
posted by tully_monster at 11:26 PM on June 8, 2012

Yeah, for what it's worth sitting while climbing is more efficient, but of course even pros often also stand on climbs.
posted by rhizome at 11:31 PM on June 8, 2012

I have a Bike Friday Tikit, but I live in Chicago, which isn't particularly known for being hilly. But for the small hills around here I haven't had any issues standing up on the pedals and pumping away. Although I usually shift and spin.

I think the way the bike folds will affect how sturdy it is under stress like that. My bike is basically a solid piece from the front tire to the pedals, other bikes have a hinge in between.
posted by borkencode at 11:32 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can stand and pedal on my Bike Friday New World Tourist, which has 20" wheels. I don't do it often, though, for the reasons outlined in Sheldon's article posted by tully_monster. I can see the bottom bracket flexing a bit if I start up by mashing even while seated, and I don't like to subject the frame to too much stress.
posted by brianogilvie at 12:56 AM on June 9, 2012

I have a Brompton and absolutely no problem standing on the pedals uphill, despite not being particularly gifted with a sense of balance.
As for the solidity of the frame and components, that thing is bombproof. It follows the XIX century school of British engineering: "If in doubt, use more steel." It isn't light, but it will probably outlive me.
posted by Skeptic at 12:58 AM on June 9, 2012

Likewise with the Brompton--I have a 100m climb in the mile or so home from the railway station each night and I often stand in the pedals going up the steepest bit (final third). It's perfectly stable, though perhaps the fact that I'd had the bike for a year or so before I moved here helped. I also have the P-type handlebars and would usually be on the lower part of the bar for that climb--haven't tried it with the S- or M-types.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 1:14 AM on June 9, 2012

I can do that on my Mezzo D9 (the older non-curved model). Great bike.
posted by Dan Brilliant at 2:53 AM on June 9, 2012

Experience with two Dahon bikes: the Speed Pro and the Mu-P8
. The gearing of the Speed Pro makes it much easier, and the cube clip in pedals are fabulous. Probably some of the best clip-in's I've used. Great Bike!
posted by Flashduck at 3:31 AM on June 9, 2012

I have ridden a number of folding bikes in a standing position occasionally. I've never had a problem with instability.

I have had a problem with the 3spd internal hub gear slipping into "neutral"while standing, resulting in a nasty crash into the ground and grazes on the knees. Ouch.
posted by mary8nne at 4:16 AM on June 9, 2012

I have a Bike Friday Pocket Expedition and haven't noticed any issues if I stand up to mash the pedals for a burst of speed or the occasional gentle hill. It's a slightly twitchy bike but I now prefer its handling over "regular" bikes.
posted by ceiba at 6:06 AM on June 9, 2012

I have a Xootr-manufactured Swift Folder set up as a fixed gear, and I'm a clydesdale rider in hilly Seattle. I specifically selected that frame because the main hinge is "locked out" by the seatpost when the bike is unfolded, making the bike nearly as rigid as a diamond frame. It also has a very stout steerer tube extender, although I've ditched that for a new fork with a long steerer. The lack of triangulation there does allow for some flex, but it's not as whippy as most of the folding bikes I've ridden.
posted by lantius at 11:05 AM on June 9, 2012

Seconding the Xootr Swift. I'm an Athena (lady version of a Clydesdale--that is, a 200+-lb. rider) and have an 8-speed Swift, and it is the steadiest, most stable folding bike I've ever ridden--and I test-rode ALL the Folding Bikes when I was looking.

Most other folders collapse via one or more hinges along the main tube, but the Swift folds by removing the seatpost and swinging the rear triangle upward. This means that when it's unfolded and being ridden, there are no weak points in the frame. That plus its comparatively large wheelbase makes it far more stable than most Dahons, Bromptons, and Bike Fridays.

I don't pedal standing very often myself, but I see several other Swift riders at local events, and watched them tackle some crazy hills out of their seats.
posted by rhiannonstone at 7:15 PM on June 10, 2012

Why are you standing on the pedals? Drop the gear & spin!

(Admittedly, most folding bikes don't have a great range of gears, but you can get an extended range on a Brompton at least.)
posted by pharm at 3:15 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

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