I visited Tern, the folding bike manufacturer, in Taiwan last year as part of a tour of the nation’s bike industry. I got in touch later to see if I could test their folding touring bike. Tern’s UK distributor loaned me the bike described here for a few months in order that I could do so.
Over the years I’ve become a lot less of a fundamentalist about this thing called cycle touring. And one principle I cut loose a while back was that these journeys should be conducted entirely by pedal power — the ‘cycle every inch’ mentality. There are many reasons your might want to combine cycling with trains, buses, hitching and the like. Perhaps time is limited. Perhaps there’s an itinerary to keep to. Perhaps particular regions are more interesting than others. Whatever.
The problem is that every break from riding involves detatching panniers, unthreading pedals, removing wheels, getting covered in filth, arguing with drivers and conductors, nicking cardboard boxes from behind bike shops, and other such delights. The more developed the country, incidentally, the greater the fuss.
So what if it were possible to eliminate all this and happily skip around a continent, hopping on and off any kind of transport while simultaneously enjoying all that’s wonderful about cycle touring?
It’s been at the back of my mind for years, but I hadn’t experienced it until I got my hands on Tern Bicycles’ Link P24h.
Folding bikes have been around for decades, of course. Today’s Brompton is simply the current generation. But they were never really built for touring. Tiny little wheels make every crack and pothole feel like a trench. They’re twitchy. The handlebars flex. Gear ratios are fine on the flats, but try pottering up a steep country lane with a pair of panniers and a tent on the back. They simply don’t deliver quality of ride you’ll get from the most popular touring bikes.
What’s interesting about Tern’s bike is that, while acknowledging that every folding bike is a series of compromises, it was nevertheless built to be a tourer. It has the bigger 20-inch wheels, proper luggage racks, wide gearing, fenders and bottle cages, touring components, and plenty of other thoughtful inclusions.
But I wanted to see if the bike was as good in reality as it was on paper. So I took one around the UK with my storytelling events, seeing new cities, and getting as much touring done in between as possible.
Because of the scattered locations and dates of the events, I needed to hook into the public transport network regularly. This would have been as good as impossible with a full-size touring bike, what with the state of the rail system we’re blessed with in the UK (don’t get me started).
But, crucially, the Link P24h fitted the British rail operators’ definition of a folding bike (which is at least one thing they seem able to agree on). So no ‘cycle reservations’ to make. No cramped bicycle compartments to occupy. No travel bans on peak-time trains to work around. Nothing to think about at all, in fact, except for what British train passengers usually think about (in between asking themselves if a one-way second-class off-peak ticket across a small island nation should ever really cost over £200).
And when it came to taking a ferry over to the Isle of Arran for some wild-bivvying on a day off between gigs? Oh, hello there, foot passenger; that’ll just be a fiver…
Although I hadn’t considered it before, I also really liked the fact that I could carry the bike inside with me on the couple of occasions I was unceremoniously stuck in a hotel room for the night. If you’re regularly Couchsurfing or hostelling on a tour, this is an extremely convenient plus-point.
And, if you’re wondering it it fits inside a tent, here’s pictorial evidence of a time I took the Link 24H to bed:
(That’s the awning of a 1‑man tent. Panniers, too.)
Riding the bike, obviously, is as important a consideration as carting it around. And I live in Cumbria, which features some of the most challenging road riding in England. The country’s steepest paved road is at the top of my neighbouring valley. (It’s a 32% grade. For comparison, San Francisco’s steepest is 34%.)
This is where compact folding bikes commonly suffer. Tiny 16″ wheels get you from A to B, but there’s a reason full-size wheels are almost twice the diameter: comfort and rolling ease. Engineering compromises mean narrow gear ratios in comparison with full-size bikes, which is OK in London, but not in Cumbria or Scotland or the Alps and with 20kg of luggage on board. And shorter wheelbases often mean problems with heel clearance when bigger panniers are involved.
So Tern’s designers got clever. First, they took a tried and tested (important) 3‑speed Sturmey Archer rear hub and stuck an 8‑speed cassette and derailleur on top of it, resulting in a 24-speed bike with a single front chainring. Then they fitted 20″ wheels instead of diddly 16″ ones (and you can feel the difference). They designed and fitted a rear rack, the Traveller Rack, specifically for putting full-size panniers on a folding bike, without your heels getting in the way and without affecting the fold. Finally, they added a front rack for small panniers and a KLICKfix bracket for any compatible basket or bar-bag you might wish to use.
Basically, they built a tourer.
And so I pottered happily up and down the Lakeland lanes between Oxenholme and home-sweet-holme in comfort, with boxes of books and DVDs as well as my usual touring and camping gear, and without once climbing out of the saddle to push, nor breaking more of a sweat than I wanted to. Even light off-road was met with confidence-inspiring capability.
Tern’s designers also brought in innovations from their Biologic arm, which focuses on components and accessories. There’s a dynamo in the front hub (though you’d never know it from the effect it has on the ride), and it powers a built-in front light and optionally a rechargeable power pack, the ReeCharge, that’ll keep anything USB-compatible powered up all day. That includes your GPS-enabled smartphone.
According to Tern, their newest hub (called the Joule 3) is comparable to the industry-leading Schmidt in terms of efficiency, but at a fraction of the price. A big claim, but it appears to be well-founded, as my Reecharge unit has remained fully charged despite plenty of GPS (and MP3) use.
So if you’re silly enough to be touring at night, or you’re on your way into a big city at the end of a day, you’ll be seen and your batteries will never run out. More cleverly, you can run your smartphone or GPS all day on pedal power too. For short tours with pre-planned routes, that makes a lot of sense. (Personally, I prefer to pedal-power a pair of speakers and an MP3 player so I can have a soundtrack to my ride, but each to their own.)
I’ve also been using Biologic’s Tour Bag, which is an Ortlieb-esque bar-bag with a bit more room that attaches to a KLICKfix adapter on the frame (not the bars). The result adds 10kg extra capacity without affecting the steering — in fact, it neatly counterbalances a pair of rear panniers. It also has small pockets lining its interior for organising things more neatly; something I always missed with the Ortlieb Ultimate 5.
Other things I like about this bike include a multi-tool built into one end of the handlebars for quick adjustments, a very capable specially-designed multi-tool for every common adjustment on the bike (invaluable, as some of the moving parts do need occasional tightening), ergonomic grips which are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever used, a generous three bottle-cage mounts on the modest frame, a seat-post with a fricken’ tyre pump hidden inside it (genius), a solid choice of V‑brakes, proper fenders, and the perfect choice of touring tyres (Schwalbe Marathon Supreme).
Now I’ve had a bit of practice, I can fold and unfold it in about 15 seconds (a particularly big hit with the ladies, I can assure you). And I can take it into coffee shops, rather than always choosing the window seat and glancing sideways in paranoia every couple of minutes.
And I do like the fact that I can take my bike kayaking (or, to use the technical term, FoldBikeRafting), though it probably wasn’t designed with that in mind.
The bike isn’t perfect. For one thing, it simply isn’t as comfortable to ride on bumpier roads as a full-size tourer, because big wheels always roll nicer. The long steerer tube and handlebars flex a little, whereas full-size frames respond with precision. And you’ll probably want to replace the harsh saddle and slightly flimsy folding pedals with your own preferred ones. But none of this is a deal-breaker for the kind of short-to-medium-term touring I’m imagining this bike being used for. In fact, I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed riding it.
One thing I always arrange with manufacturers is to feedback on their stuff; partly to force myself to remain critical despite something being free or loaned, and partly because I prefer two-way relationships when working with companies on the commercial end of things. I want to help make Tern’s bike better, because I like riding good bikes and I assume lots of other people do too.
I was sent a 2012 model of the Link P24h, and after a month I wrote back to Tern about the type of kickstand, the rack size and position, the durability of the magnetic couplings when folded, suggested drop-bar or bar-end options, and raised some concerns about a slipping chain. I also mentioned conservativism amongst tourers when it came to new ideas such as the 3‑speed/8‑speed hub combo.
Tern’s CEO’s response was reassuring; many of the ideas were already incorporated for the (current) 2013 model of the Link P24h, and others were on the drawing board for next season. The rear Traveller Rack is due to be upgraded again for stability under even heavier loads, bar-ends are on the way for a variety of hand positions, the kickstand will be replaced with one more effective under top-heavy loads, and the occasional chain-slipping (a perennial issue for many folders with short chainlines, apparently) is being tweaked. He also mentioned a secretive new folding touring offering for next year, which is a tiny bit exciting.
And so, in between events, I spent an unusually sunny February on the kind of off-the-cuff bike travel that it would be wonderful to spend a summer doing in, say, Europe, where there’s a very good case for picking a few areas to explore intimately rather than trying to blast across the continent in a single season.
I’m really impressed with the Tern team and their dedication to producing folding bikes for all niches, including touring. Given the raft of compromises inherent in any folding bike, I guess the acid test is whether I’d accept them and buy the P24h and its luggage options myself. Don’t get me wrong; if I wanted to cycle long-term across multiple continents, I’d stick with my Sutra. But if I was heading off for a few weeks exploring Europe, for example, and I wanted ultimate flexibility with where I went and how, I wouldn’t hesitate to ride off atop a Tern Link P24h.
(With my Brooks on it, of course.)
The Tern Link P24h has been superseded by the improved Link D8. Check it out on Tern’s website.
70 replies on “Folding Touring: A Review Of The Tern Link P24h”
hi cycling lovers,
dr. jim parker from cruzbike has compiled some very revealing facts regarding health issues cyclists commonly are facing, i.e. genital numbness & e.d. besides the usual (wrist,back & neck).
i do suffer from groin pains riding on my dawes upride racing bike within 30–45 min.
hence a “seat” for my upcoming uk & european (& car replacement) tour i am opting for an “atl-falter” from radnabel in tuebingen, germany. atl stands for “all tags lieger”(recumbent for everyday-all year/tasks); falter stands for folding. they are not well known outside of central europe, have been handbuild for over 30 years and are highly regarded for being – safe (long wheel base, low center of gravity), — nimble (sharp turning circle), — quick (ergonomic design & pushing against the backrest/very good uphills), — comfortable (no neck, groin or wrist pain, full suspension), — good load carrying capability [70kg total], — “protecting” (see: allwetterverkleidung/foldable fairing/poncho) allows cycling in the rain with normal clothes, — well engineered and sound workmanship. although dieter baumann (builder) speaks english, the webside is in german only. the atl-falter with rohloff, full chain cover, front & rear rack, pannier holders, twoleg stand weighs 17–18 kg (chromoly steel).
you get an better idea about radnabels atl’s watching these videos:
they have proved themselves also on long distance tours germany to china.
happy cycling or as we say in bavaria: “frohes radln”
Having recently toured on the Tern Link P24H’s older cousin the Dahon Speed TR, there’s a couple of things I’d like to do better..
1. Reduce the hassle of hauling lots of stuff ( 4 panniers plus bike-in-a-bag) when changing trains, negotiating customs etc. This can be a major pain, especially when there are no luggage trolleys available. Also avoid taking a useless heavy bag for when its stipulated that the bike have protective covering.
Next time I think I’ll wrap the bike in a light rip-stop tarp, which will pack down and be useful. As regards all the panniers…ideally everything would fit in a rucksack so there would be just 2 items, and arms would be free to carry the bike. This would mean you’d have a rucksack for side excursions off the bike as well as those annoying transits with bike in bag.. but that looks like maybe asking too much!
2. Tire type / size — I went with Marathon Plus 1.75 and had 2 punctures and it felt like a lot of rolling resistance.
Anyone any experience of 20″ wheels and thin tires for touring? No off-road stuff of course. I was using the thudbuster seatpost which was standard on the Dahon Speed TR, so think thinner tires wouldn’t mean too harsh a ride. One of the big advantages of the steel framed TR is the option of cheap frame repairs which happened to me — only 10 euro to weld up a cracked seatpost.
Dear Tom. What wheels did you use for the trip? I am making a 2.000km tour with my tern p24h and looking for wheels, thinking in big apple or similar at 20″ x 2,15, quite fat tire. Have you tried before?
Tom, I’m trying to get some information on the Tern Verge Tour and Eclipse Tour, have you ridden or /and reviewed these. I think the Eclipse is very new. My wife and I are in our 60’s and looking to travel with folders using buses and trains. Would the 24inch wheels be to large? Any thoughts would be much appreciated.
I’ve been pondering the same question. Had a chat with someone from Tern on Facebook. He has both an Eclipse and a Verge. Reckons that the E is noticably bigger when folded and that the V is generally more optimised for touring. Thinks that both are good bikes and that it would be best to test-ride both to decide. There’s also a bloke on Facebook who is touring S America on an E, plenty of pics at https://www.facebook.com/1727518854136641/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1730248740530319. Cheers 🙂 d.
Nice one Tom 🙂 I have been following you blog now for a while, and I just came across this one, I have been commuting now on my folding bike for years, I never knew it was possible to go on a long ride with them, as mine is about 10 years old and you can literally feel every single bump, but my wife got me this for Christmas: http://www.foldingbikesguide.com/dahon-jetstream-p8-review/ and I am now planning a long bike ride, thanks John
I like those sidebags, are they waterproof and do u know how much those cost these days?
Some buddies of mine prefer riding Tern instead of other more popular brands. I think it’s because it’s pretty reliable and rides well. Your post greatly describes the experience.
Hi Tom, thanks for sharing all your knowledge and experience here! Just a note on Brompton. I have completed my second tour on it cycling 2000 miles down the Pacific Coast and found the Brompton to be exceptional and unbeatable for multi modal tours. Very reliable and only a flat tyre to talk about and the six (reduced ratios) gears are all you need unless you are planning to climb the Alps! It also rides amazing with the backpack sitting on the back rack and the T‑Bag at the front. I owned a Dahon in the past and could never tour with it due to never ending issues…
Only limitation with a Brompton is weight you can carry ( must travel light! ) and you have to ride on decent surfaced roads otherwise it is just perfect.
Brilliant review Tom, thanks. I see that the P24h has been discontinued, is there a replacement model do you know? Or any other folding tourers worth considering?
Strangely enough I met Tern’s CEO at Eurobike on Saturday and asked him this exact question. He showed me the Verge S27h, which he said was a significantly improved replacement for the Link P24h with a longer wheelbase, a burlier rear rack, disc brakes, better hub dynamo and lighting, and lots of tweaks all round. Look out for a piece next week on the bike. I’ll also be reviewing it as soon as I can get my hands on one. Hope that’s a suitably informed answer to your question 😉
Brilliant, thanks Tom.
Looks like the new version will be considerably more expensive, I’m happy with my PH24.. bought I must say partly after reading your review. One thing though, and I don’t know if you may have a solution to this… the seat post is too short for my legs!. to get my favoured riding position it needs to be two or three cms longer, Or conversly the saddle needs to be two or three cms higher from the clamp.
Perhaps switch to another saddle with more height to it?
Have youheard the tern link recall 2014?
Thanks for the heads-up. Concerned owners of Tern bikes manufactured between August ’11 and April ’12 can find out more here.
This bike with a Alfine 11 speed gear would be perfect. I have a Dahon Vitesse equiped with a 7 speed Nexus.
THe 24h has a considerably bigger gear range than you get with an Alfine 11.
I have ridden a Dahon Speed TR for 4 years and recently purchased a Tern Link P24. At the age of 75 I still manage to cycle around 30 miles in a day — it’s quite hilly here in Kent, UK. Having a Senior Bus Pass means I can take my bike on any bus in England for free! It’s a great way of getting further afield when the legs can’t manage it. I reckon to have made about 1,000 bus journeys with my Dahon and Tern and never had any problem. I always use a slip cover though. The main advantage I find is that, here at least, buses go everywhere and, unlike trains, have frequent stopping places.
Great review — I attempted to ride up to High Cup Nick and across to Cauldron Snout once but thought better of it when visibility was reduced so much I could hardly see my handlebars!
Impressive and motivating!
I never leave any comment on any site, your site is the first.
Very good review and to a point, I went out and brought a P24H last Saturday. Used it 2 times on some 20+ miles rides. Runs great, little bit of strange sound that may come from the seat post or the head set. I am not a pro-rider. However, I started to ride a 2 wheelers since 3 yr old. With all the bikes I had over the years, this P24H will be a keeper among the other 2 I currently owned.
Question: do you know if it is possible to put bar-end on it? Other than the Biologic Airporter, could I use a hard shell luggage to transport it? The most important question, I really hated the paddles. It it possible to put a clipped one on? Is there such a thing as folding clipped paddle?
One very minor complain. The saddle is really bad. I need to use a better one.
Never tour with a folder and I am going to do it this time.
It should certainly be possible to add bar-ends; the bars are a standard diameter. I’ve changed the pedals and saddle on mine, though I’ve never seen folding SPD pedals (perhaps Brompton do them?). No idea about the luggage, though — sorry!
Let us know how you get on when touring…
MKS do a detachable clipless pedal though.
Wow — that’s expensive! (Thanks for the link though!)
I’m a big time biketourist, having done 75 bike tours in my time. Current main touring bike is Thorn Raven Tour but I recently got a Link p24h because of its folding capability. I haven’t toured on it yet but have done some difficult terrain (very hilly) with a fair load while on photography trips. While the gearing is more “clunky” than a Rohloff, it does the business. I’ve been up 20% gradients without getting off and I’m a big man (6 2, 190lb. The handling is really good for a small bike, and a lot better than a Moulton APB, which I’ve had for 20 years. The handlepost creaked initially but I can prevent it with candlegrease or tape (both equally good). I found ordinary grease useless in this regard. I don’t know how durable the back wheel will be under load. I’d have preferred 36 spokes instead of 24. I’ve never touched the 36 hole APB wheels even with heavy load.
The Link is a bit heavy, but it’s solid and on reasonable surfaces is a fine touring bike.
Thanks for sharing your experiences with the Tern!
Loved reading this article, and your website in general! Wish I had read this before bike-touring a bit in the south of England this summer on Brompton folding bikes. Our chief difficulty was finding good routes to bike on, in advance. We found ourselves on many a ”traffic-free route” only to discover quite a bumpy surprise!
It worked out in the end; the English countryside is so beautiful– I envy anyone who lives there and owns a bike.
I agree wholeheartedly that touring on a folding bike is super-convenient and with the marathon tires on our Bromptons we didn’t get a flat tire during the two weeks we were there- not even on the routes meant for mountain bikes. Plus, as you say, it makes it quite easy to stay at hotels.
Folders do suffer on unpaved roads, but it sounds like it was all part of your adventure. Thanks for the link to your site!
Hi Tom! Wow! I wish I had read this before i bought my Tern Link P9. I think tern is making great bicycles with great quality. I’m proud owner of a D8 and a P9 but i’m kind of needing more gear inches, at least, more space gap between them, specially on hilly roads or very long flat surface, you know, to have highest top speed with less effort. Thanks for a great review! Best regards from Venezuela!
I just finished a multimodal tour of the upper midwest US cities on my Brompton M6R. Just the standard 6‑speed gearing but a wide range, and I mounted a hiking backpack onto the rear rack in addition to the Brompton front bag. Full review on my site: http://www.criticaltransit.com/2013/04/16/bike-touring-in-the-winter-on-a-folding-bike/
I’m very happy with its performance; you don’t really notice the small size once you stop worrying about it. Most of my tour was in the winter so I dealt with plenty of snow, ice and sand, which it’s not meant for but didn’t let me down. Only once I rode it with a friend on a carbon fiber road bike and I as slower but not by much. I do have pretty strong legs though since I drive pedicabs and can skate city street marathons with ease. For me the only downside of riding 50 miles (on any bike) is the boredom. In the city, where I spend over 99% of my time, it’s rare that I go fast enough to notice any disadvantages of the Brompton. I also have a full-size bike which I use when I want the convenience of being able to park it.
[…] touring with folding bikes in our April reading list, we recommend looking at Tom Allen’s assessment of touring on the Tern Link P24h folding […]
Hi Tom, I use a Bike Friday Pocket Llama as my main touring bike, same size wheels as your Tern, but it has a steel frame. I find the flexing of the extra long Seat tube and steering tube add to the comfort of the ride soaking up bumps, though the first ride it is a bit disconcerting until you get used to it. I had a thud buster seat post, but changed to a Brooks Flyer which helps soak up the bumps, the thud bust is good off road, but i find makes the ride too soft on tarmac. My BF has a conventional front triple and rear 9 speed cassette so there is a very wide spread of gears, and with the small wheels you should never be short of low gears, it is getting a high enough top gear which is a bigger problem, though a Capreo rear cassette & hub would sort that out. I have fitted 2 Salsa Anything Cages which take our sleeping matts and fitted a Bikebuddy below the main tube for a fuel bottle. When the bike is fully loaded it really does use the space available much better than a full size bike and with the Marathon 47mm tyres fitted it will go anywhere. The only criticism I have is that braking is not as good as on larger wheels and I am hoping to upgrade my bike with a disk front brake. Was glad to hear you recommend a folder. Cheers John
That’s a sweet setup, I really like the Brooks Flyers. If you’re feeling underwhelmed with your braking power, I think you are definitely on the right track with disc brakes. In the shop at NYCeWheels, the Dahon Formula S18 (nycewheels.com/dahon-folding-bike-formula.html) is one of my favorite bikes, in large part due to its awesome disc brakes. Granted, the Formula is an aluminum racer as opposed to your steel tourer, but I’d still emphatically recommend it.
I’ve had a dahon folding bike for a few years now. Not only did cycling become fun again but I had the most wonderful cycling holiday 3 years ago. I wanted to see as much of Europe as I could and to visit friends in Italy at the same time but only had 18 days in which to do this. Answer? Dahon plus euro rail global pass! The convenience of hopping from train to train together with seeing more by bike than by walking made for a memorable time. Paris, Nice, Turin, Verona, Innsbruck, Munich, Cologne, Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruge and Lille. Joined guided cycle tours of Paris and Brussels and saw so much more of these cities by using my wee bike. Also managed to fit in a couple of 30 mile excursions by between stations. Eg. Train to Waterloo battle field then the 32 mile ride back to Brussels. One important thing I learned when using high speed trains such as the TGV is to get on board as early as possible and find the large storage spots between seats which will accommodate the folded bike without having to stack it on its side on a shelf.
This shows how wonderful traveling can be and it doesn’t matter which bicycle you take!
Develop a plan chose a bicycle and go.
Wonderful solution to travel with the foldable bike and trains! (Inspiring!)
For this reason:
When you travel in Germany travel with slow trains for one whole day with “das shönes wochenend fahrshein”
With 5 (!!!) persons you can travel the whole day (only in weekends) for only €42!
Also you can travel with two for that same price.
With a loaden bicycle it will be €6 for that same day (per person).
Like Tom said, wrote if you look for it you’l find savings in travel which makes it even nicer.
Some people around me (work) who don’t travel by train a lot (or at all) complain about waiting and the time train travel is taking.
Well, I like it to see the landscape passing by and having a conversation with a complete stranger, or just read a book.
Cycling isn’t going fast either!?
Thank you for your refreshing review! I think you are right that “The bike isn’t perfect”. In fact; No bike is perfect!
Every bike is suited for a particular purpose.
I therefore have 7 bikes.
Next year I thought of going by my velomobile (Quest) from the Netherlands to Japan within 6 months.
This plan has changed because of the uncertainty of visa regulations.
Like a good friend said, “you only postpone this trip” because it can be done!
Now I will go by recumbent (Condor from Optimacycles) from Prudhoe Bay Alaska to Panama.
A recumbent is also something not common for traveling.
I experienced it to be a very reliable and comfortable bicycle during my trip in 2008 of 11.000 km in USA and Canada.
I only walked twice (recumbent bicycles are supposed to be bad climbers, NOT TRUE.
I would’t change this bicycle for these trips.
On this trip in 2008 I did ride together for a while with two Bike friday bicycles (from Eugene Oregon).
They did the TransAm with it, It seemed a good and comfortable bike with the box (suitcase) on wheels attached.
The bicycle fitted in this suitcase (box) and was unique in it’s concept!
Whenever you come to Europe you are most welcome to stay with us in the (centre of) the Netherlands!
All the best and surprise us with more reviews!
I’d love to try a recumbent… mmm, ideas… thanks for fuelling the fires!
Are any of your 7 bikes foldable? I know there are some really interesting folding recumbents out there, but I haven’t heard too much about anyone touring on them.
No one of my recumbent bicycles are foldable.
There are a view that can be taken apart (foldable); The ancient Flevobike (not very suitable for long distance cycling ; frontwheel driven and front wheel steering, you lose traction going uphill) and one of the models of M5 (Middelburg the Netherlands) is foldable.
I “only” have my Brompton who is foldable.
There are several people who travel long distance with this bicycle.
One of them is Luc, who cycled the Baja California with the brompton,(http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=1&page_id=314527&v=8P)
I think this one is very suitable, next to the bike friday with it’s suitcase as a trailer (Unique concept!)
Do you have plans cycling long distance with a foldable bicycle?
Yes, I’m hoping to do a week or two on a Brompton in early autumn. In addition to being a social media coordinator at NYCeWheels, a specialty folding bike shop in NYC, I am a musician, and like to do music tours via bike with my equipment in tow on a Burley Travoy trailer. I have yet to do it on a folding bike though! I have ridden Bromptons a lot around New York, but not on a distance tour. Have you done any kind of distance on yours? I’m hoping to do this next tour up through New England, and then maybe take advantage of the Travoy and Brompton’s ability to fold, and take a train back.
Miles, I’m sure you are, but I wonder if you’re in touch with Pacific Cycles in Taiwan? They make a variety of folding bikes, including the iF, Reach, Birdy and CarryMe. There’s also the awesome British-designed Strida from Ming Cycles.
Actually yes, we carry several Pacific models and I am definitely a fan. In fact, I just wrote a review of the IF Reach for our website. It’s a really interesting bike–even though it’s aluminum and clearly oriented towards road and commute duty, it feels solid enough for some light touring as well.
If you’re interested, you can check out the review here: http://www.nycewheels.com/if-reach-folding-bike-review.html
All pedal bikes are free on the Arran ferry 🙂
OK OK 😉
Very interesting article, a folder specifically designed for touring strikes me as a very handy way to get around. I’ve been living with a brompton for the past year, bought for commuting but now used for everything that doesnt need fat tyres. You get used to the twitchy steering very quickly — it makes a 26″ bike feel sluggish and damped, but I must agree with your comments on the gear ratios and the ride from the tiny wheels — but my biggest issue is the apparent reluctance to innovate. The brompton 6 speed is an ungodly thing, whereas the 8 and 14speed hubs that people retrofit apparently work well. I’ve had some custom clamps machined up to use conventional QRs, rather than bromptons screw-downs and it makes the fold so much less fiddly. But that said, I love it and it gets the most use out of any of the 7 or so bikes in the house.
With regards to the 3‑speed hub/8speed casette — does it buy you much over a 1x8 setup? I would expect there to be a lot of overlap compared to a conventional 3x8. And whats the deal with the brooks?
It does make a significant difference — the difference between being able to climb a hill without getting out of the saddle, and not! (Very important for touring.)
The Brooks is mine. As far as I’m concerned, every new bike’s stock saddle is supposed to be replaced with your own…
It’s practically identical to the Dahon Speed TR. Great folding touring bike.
Unsurprisingly, since Tern was started up as a breakaway from Dahon 🙂 They share many of the same components and accessories via the Biologic sister company.
One big difference I can see is that the Dahon frame is a steel one, while the Tern is aluminium. The Tern’s tyres are also a better choice for touring, and the derailleur is a more compact and therefore less vulnerable model. Aside from that, they are indeed very similar.
I know. But I thought there would be less similarities. I guess the original design was so good all you can really do is tweak here and there.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
You are right about the tires–I do love the Big Apples for riding in, well, the Big Apple, but for any kind of multi-day tour I think they would feel awfully sluggish next to those Marathons.
On the other hand, the Speed TR has an extra 14 gear inches above what the P24h manages…not essential for touring, but nice to have anyway, especially on those big descents. I will say that I would much rather have the flex of the Speed TR’s steel frame, at least on paper. Did you have any problems with the aluminum frame on the P24h being too stiff?
Now I want to do a side-by-side review of these two…
I have an early Speed TR with 3 by 7 gearing, Marathon Plus tyres and, most importantly, a Thudbuster seat post. The latter is so good that I have one on each of my bikes now.
The Klikfix front block is only rated at 5kg so I replaced it with a Brompton block and a Brompton Tour bag.
I have toured on a Brompton and it doesn’t compare with the Speed TR for comfort, luggage carrying and easy use gear range (no double shifts if you use the 3 by 7 as three separate gearboxes).
Thudbuster, eh? I’ll have to look into that…
I’v a speed TR too. How did you get a brompton carrier to fit your’s???
Brompton make some excellent luggage but I can’t get their carrier to fit..No’ I don’t have access to a workshop 🙂
Yes, I’d like to know how you accomplished that too. The front luggage block on the brompton is one of my favorite features that I’d like on my other bikes.
Wow. I want one of these! So much scope for adventure.
P.S. Bit of a tangent but you mentioned the lack of pockets for organising your Ortlieb Ultimate 5 handlebar bag. They sell a little foam insert which I use on mine and which is included on the Ultimate 5 Plus.
That’s a cool little piece of kit — thanks!
I run fodling bike shop in Prague and have tried a lot of mentioned bikes. I should also disagree with couple of statements. I found Brompton handlebars quite stiff and my Birdy bike with its 18inch (in England called 16inch 🙂 ) is really fine for any type of road. What I really like on Link P24 is wide range of gears. This option adding 3speed SA hub to bike is avaliable for most of common folders. Tern expedition racks and biologic accesories are avaliable also as retrofit which fits most common folders.
Thank you for sharing your experience!
Great review! Tern has a few offerings with even larger wheels–the Eclipse line comes to mind, and they are even set up fairly similarly to the Link P24h.
I am hoping to do some folding touring of my own sometime soon. I’ll send you a link to the blog when I do!
I rode the Eclipse in Taiwan too and it’s a great bike. You sacrifice a little portability for bigger easier-rolling wheels, and it wouldn’t be so easy to chuck onto trains (in the UK at least), which is why I went for the Link line. But you’re right to point it out.
Here’s the link for anyone else interested in a 24″ wheel version of the bike I’ve reviewed (with disc brakes!)
Yeah, definitely a fine line to tread as far as portability versus wheel size. I do think the 24″ wheels could make for a much more comfortable ride over a long-term tour. The Eclipse S11i is probably the smoothest ride in our shop, and the disc brakes are amazing…but 32lbs is a lot for a tourer! It would be fun to try a few days on the Eclipse X20, though ideally it would have a few more spokes…
16 inch tires aren’t that bad for road touring. You still can go quite fast and far. The benefit of 16 inch tires are that the bike is more likely to fit easily into a suitcase for flying.
Gear ratios also aren’t always narrow. If you don’t overlap them and leave small gaps between gears, the gear coverage can be fairly wide and quite usable.
If you get a chance ride a Brompton M6R (or H6R depending on your size) with the reduced gearing. Even though it’s not designed for touring it does great on them. My latest one was 400 miles in 6 days down the California coast while camping along the way.
I’ll definitely try one if I get the chance — thanks for the recommendation! But I still think the Tern beats it on paper, being specifically designed for touring (not to mention half the price)…
Tom, I’ve also toured through Oregon on a rented Brompton and it did just great. In fact it did so well i bought one just after the trip and my cycling partner did too. I think the Tern ( I also have an old Dahon which I’ve toured on) could do just as well but if the point is to be able to get on buses, in taxis, trains, boats etc. let me tell you from experience that NOTHING beats the convenience and small pack down of the Brompton. As far as the ride quality goes the size of the wheels on my bikes does NOT make much of a difference. I expected it would but it didn’t, It’s actually the tires that make the difference.
The Tern bikes look great for the money and have an advatage of being able to use standard parts and better brakes.
That sounds like an awesome trip! I’m from Oregon originally and miss touring around the state. Where did you go? I absolutely agree on your points about the Brompton’s versatility when it comes to catching mass transit and what have you.
Again, I really would like to both the Brompton and Link P24h for some extended tours side by side and see how they fair.
I’ve ridden the Tern and the Brompton side by side now. As you pointed out, one of the big advantages for touring is indeed that the Tern’s parts are pretty much standard, whereas the Brompton is for the most part proprietary. The Tern feels much more like a normal bike with a folding frame, whereas the Brompton just feels like a Brompton. The Tern definitely doesn’t fold down so small, but it’s still a ‘folding bike’ when you’re taking public transport.
Cheers for your input!
Yeah, I hear you! I think I’d prefer the Tern for a longer-distance trip, but I do love the idea of short multi-modal travel with the Brompton…just can’t beat that fold!