Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to Build an Affordable, High Performance, Lightweight Folding Bike: Part 1

There are many different types of folding bikes available in the market. By different, I am referring to the purpose that the folding bike is designed for. Some are designed to be for leisure riding, some for speed, some for touring, and some that are a mixture of different categories. Depending on the target market, each of these type of folding bike will have different grades of components and parts, and of course a different price range.

As an example, my Dahon Boardwalk is built primarily as a touring and commuting bike. The rear rack allows panniers to be carried for touring or commuting, while the full fenders block most of the splashes from wet roads. A double kickstand is also included for practicality's sake. However, look beneath the surface and a different type of bike can be spotted. Drop bars and slim Kojak tires reveal the speedy desire of the bike, while a quality Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset ensures good power transfer and effortless electronic shifting. Folding size is not ideal due to the size of the drop bar, neither is the weight due to the variety of accessories installed on the bike. The total weight of the rear rack, kickstand and fenders is already 1.4kg.

My Dahon Boardwalk, mainly a touring / commuting bike

Recently, I had the idea to start a new project, to build a new folding bike with different objectives. The three keywords for this new folding bike would be Lightweight, High Performance and Affordable. What do these keywords mean? Here are my definitions:

Lightweight
In order to reduce the weight of a folding bike, lightweight components will need to be used. This means paying more for high end components that weigh less. Any accessories that are not essential to function will not be installed, for example fenders or kickstand. However, one thing that I will not sacrifice is safety. There are some components that are really lightweight, but they may not be safe to use as they are fragile and may break easily. This is especially critical for parts such as the brake levers or handlebar. Examples of lightweight bikes in the Dahon or Tern range would be the the Dahon MuSL (8.7kg without pedals) or Verge X20 (9.3kg without pedals). In my opinion, a folding bike is only considered lightweight if it weighs less than 10kg without any accessories.

High Performance
This means using good quality components that function well, with specifications that are comparable in function with high end bikes. A single speed folding bike would of course weigh the least, but in my opinion, high performance would be defined as a bike that has a reliable 2x10 speed drivetrain, with quality braking components and a smooth rolling wheelset. The components need not be of the top end range (such as Dura-Ace or SRAM Red), but they should have a performance that is at least 80-90% of the top end components. As a reference, I will be using the Verge P20 and Verge X20 (both 20 speeds) for component comparison.

Affordable
It is quite difficult to define what is affordable, as this is very subjective. What may be affordable to you may be too expensive for me. In this case, I would be using the price range of Tern bikes as a rough guide. Tern folding bike prices range from $500+ to $4000+, so the range is quite big. To me, affordable would mean below the $2000 price point. Although this may seem quite high, this is actually a reasonable price to pay for a lightweight, high performance folding bike.

As you may already know, these 3 keywords tend to contradict each other. For example:
1) A lightweight bike that is high performance will likely not be affordable. An example would be the Dahon MuEX (no longer in production) or Tern Verge X20. These bike models weigh below 9.3kg (without pedals), but cost more than $4000 each.

Tern Verge X20. Lightweight and high performance, but quite expensive too.

2) A lightweight bike that is affordable is quite difficult to find. Other than a single speed bike, practically all affordable bikes weigh quite a bit (>10kg) as they don't use lightweight or high end components.

3) A high performance bike that is affordable is also quite hard to come by. Most high performance components don't come cheap, and even if they do, they are not the lightest around. A good example would be the recently launched Tern Verge P20. By my definition it is a high performance bike (20 speeds with a decent wheelset and drivetrain), and is still affordable at $1700. However, the weight is 11.0kg which is not considered lightweight.

Tern Verge P20. Relatively affordable and high performance, but not in the lightweight category.

To start off the project, I first needed to quantify the targets. Using keywords alone would be difficult as there are no measurable targets or objectives. Thus I decided to put some numbers to support each of the keywords.

Lightweight - Target weight would be that of the Tern Verge X20, at less than or equal to 9.3kg without pedals.
High Performance - 20 speed road drivetrain, using at least a Shimano 105 drivetrain and shifting components, with Deore and above V brake components and a smooth rolling wheelset + tires.
Affordable - To keep the total component price to below $2000. The lower the better.

So far there are no Dahon or Tern folding bikes that I know of that fulfill these criteria (20 speeds, <9.3kg, <SGD $2000).

Other than these targets, another important objective is to achieve a compact folding size. This means a flat handlebar folding bike (which is also more lightweight than a drop bar or bullhorn bar folding bike).

Before actually getting the parts for this bike project, I created a simple Excel spreadsheet that totaled up the weights and prices for each of the components. This allowed me to swap components easily to compare the weight and price differences.

Estimated components to be used and their respective estimtated weights

According to the Excel table, the total weight of the bike will be around 8.8kg without pedals, and 9.2kg including the Shimano PD-A530 SPD Pedals. This is a theoretical value based on estimated weights. The weight of the individual components are estimated based on previous samples or information available online.

In the following sections of this post, I will be listing out in more detail the various components that make up the bike, along with the weight and price of each part. Each of the parts were weighed with a digital weighing scale, and the prices are rounded up to the nearest $5 (including shipping costs). The source of the pricing will also be given (although it may not necessarily be where I got it from).

If necessary, I will also give some justification as to why I chose that component instead of another. As a bonus, I will also offer alternative choices for further cost reduction, weight reduction or better performance.

Frame
Model: Dahon MuEX Frame 
Estimated Weight: 2400 grams
Actual Weight: 2340 grams (includes seatpost shim, seatpost clamp, RD hanger and FD roller)
Source: Taobao
Price: $450 (including shipping)

The frame is the most important part of the bike. With a good frame, you can put a wide variety of components on it, and there would not be any major compatibility issues. The top end Dahon MuEX frame is one of the best folding bike frames you can find out there, being lightweight and stiff. Selecting a Dahon frame also ensures that compatible aftermarket parts and accessories can be found easily.

The frame comes with the metal seatpost shim, seatpost clamp, RD hanger and FD roller.

Dahon MuEX frame, a good platform to build on!

Fork
Model: Dahon Puro U7 Aluminium Fork for Mu Frame 
Estimated Weight: 440 grams
Actual Weight: 488 grams (including steel compression bolt)
Source: Taobao
Price: 0. Included as a package with the MuEX frame.

The lightweight Dahon Puro U7 aluminium fork is included as a package with the frame, thus there is no need to purchase separately. In fact, the package includes many items, such as the fork, handlepost, seatpost and headset.

Original Dahon aluminium fork for Mu frames

It was during installation that I realised that although the compression bolt for the fork is included, the brass shim is not. Although the bolt can be installed without the brass shim, it is better to include the shim, in order to ensure a more consistent tightening torque.

Brass shim for Dahon compression bolt

Goes onto the base of the handlepost before tightening the compression bolt on top.

Handlepost
Model: Fnhon 31.5cm, dual bolt 
Estimated Weight: 524 grams
Actual Weight: 542 grams
Source: Taobao
Price: 0. Included as a package with the MuEX frame.
Alternatives: Fnhon handleposts of other lengths, or the 4 bolt handlepost

This is a Fnhon 31.5cm, dual bolt handlepost. For more details and pictures please click on this link. Similarly, this component is included as a package with the frame.

For an installation guide on Dahon / Fnhon handlepost, check out this blog post for the details.


Headset
Model: LitePro Headset
Estimated Weight: 80 grams
Actual Weight: 72 grams
Source: Taobao
Price: 0. Included as a package with the MuEX frame.

I shall not go into details for the headset, it is a pretty standard LitePro headset. For a LitePro headset installation guide, check out this link.

I had asked for a black coloured headset for the bike, but they sent over a red coloured one instead. In the end it looks pretty good as the red cover matches the red accents on the frame.

 LitePro headset

Wheelset
Model: Wheelsport Sunny 406 wheelset 
Estimated Weight: 1144 grams (same as Wheelsport Smart 1.0)
Actual Weight: Front wheel is 484 grams. rear wheel is 698 grams. This excludes the weight of the Velox cloth rim tape.
Including rim tape, the weight is 495 grams for the front wheel, 709 grams for the rear wheel. In total the wheelset weight (including rim tape) is 1204 grams
Source: MyBikeShop
Price: $350
Alternatives: Wheelsport Smart 1.0 ($480), Kinetix Pro ($600+)

The original price of this Wheelsport wheelset is $380, but you might be able to get a discount if you don't need the bike shop to install the wheelset, change tires or cassette for you.

I chose this Wheelsport Sunny wheelset as it is affordable and with good performance. Previously I was using the Wheelsport Smart 1.0 wheelset and I find it to be very good. Thus I believe that the Wheelsport Sunny wheelset would have a similar performance. The main difference between the Sunny and the Smart 1.0 is that the Smart 1.0 has a higher profile rim. Other than that the hubs and spokes look pretty similar.

Using the lightweight Kinetix Pro rims will save even more weight, perhaps up to 150 grams compared to the Wheelsport Sunny. However it is much more expensive, and I personally don't like wheels with so few spokes.

The Wheelsport Sunny and Smart 1.0 has 20 spokes in front, and 24 spokes on the rear. The Kinetix Pro has 14 spokes in front and 16 spokes on the rear wheel.

Wheelsport Sunny wheels in black colour

Closeup look at the front wheel

Closeup look at the rear wheel

I found that almost all of the spoke holes on the rim has some burrs, which can cut through the inner tube if the rim tape is not properly laid. Since I have removed the original plastic rim tape, I decided to take the effort to deburr the holes with a file. It was quite a lot of work due to the many spoke holes.

Filing the side of the spoke holes to remove burrs. I could not use a deburring tool as there were insufficient space between the rim walls to use the tool effectively.

Good quality Velox cloth rim tape. This is much better than plastic rim tapes at protecting the tube from the sharp edges of the rim spoke holes.

Tires
Model: Panaracer Minits Lite, 20x1.25", folding bead 
Estimated Weight: 340 grams/pair
Actual Weight: 342 grams/pair (folding bead)
Source: MyBikeShop
Price: $80/pair
Alternatives: Schwalbe Kojak 20x1.35" folding (460 grams,$120/pair), Schwalbe Durano 20x1.1" (380 grams/pair), Schwalbe Ultremo ZX 20x0.9" (290 grams/pair)
These are really fast rolling tires from Panaracer. They are also lightweight and cheaper, which helps to keep the weight down. My first choice was actually Schwalbe Durano tires, but they were out of stock at MyBikeShop. Always get folding tires as they are lighter and easier to install/remove from the rims.

Panaracer Minits Lite folding bead tires, 20x1.25"

Inner Tubes
Model: Schwalbe SV6A Extra Light Tubes (Presta) 
Estimated Weight: 130 grams/pair
Actual Weight: 132 grams/pair
Source: MyBikeShop
Price: $30/pair
Alternatives: Schwalbe SV6 Tubes (190 grams/pair, Presta)
Using lightweight tubes can save some weight, but the reduced thickness or size might slightly increase the chance of getting a puncture. These are old tubes that were patched, but they are working fine.

Schwalbe SV6A Extra Light Tubes

Claimed weight of 65 grams is accurate!

Quick Release Skewers
Model: Agogo extra light titanium skewers, 74/130mm 
Estimated Weight: 42 grams/pair
Actual Weight: 43 grams/pair
Source: MyBikeShop
Price: $45/pair
Alternatives: Wheelsport original QR skewers, 113 grams/pair

This is a rather optional item, as you can just use the original Wheelsport QR skewers to save money. But I decided to try out this QR skewer as it can save quite a bit of weight. This Agogo skewer construction is actually not too bad as it does not use a rubber washer under the QR lever, which means the clamping force is better. For more details on good vs bad QR skewers please refer to this link.

The only thing to take note is that the titanium center axle tends to stretch a bit, so there is a need to re-tighten the QR lever once in a while.

Very lightweight Agogo titanium QR skewers

This post is getting really long, so I shall continue with the other components for this bike project in the second part of this guide.

The second part of the guide is now up! Click here to continue~

110 comments:

  1. Hi! thanks for the great guide. I saw from your list you are using Shimano Hollowtech II.

    My qn is, how do I know what is the right bottom bracket to buy? For eg, I'm thinking of using BB30. Would it fit?

    I was told that folding bikes need different BB and crankset. I don't understand why (this was told to me possibly in the context of a Birdy bike. but in general how would I know what fits and what doesn't?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most folding bikes use the standard 68mm, 1.37"x 24 TPI thread standard for the BB shell on the frame. In that case you can use Shimano Hollowtech II or other BB that use this thread size.

      BB30 would need a frame that is designed for it, such as some Cannondale road bikes. It can't fit on a folding bike.

      Delete
  2. Hey Steve, can I know what is the size of the Velox rim tape that you are using? Is it 16mm? Also one roll of that can use on how many 451 wheel?

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am using 19mm, but I feel that it is too wide. 16mm would be perfect. 1 roll of cloth tape is designed for 1 x 700C wheel, but not long enough for 2 x 406 wheels. What happens is that you won't need 1 complete roll for 1 451 wheel, but neither is it sufficient for 2 wheels. Note that near the start of the cloth tape there is a hole for the valve, do remember to align it with the valve hole on the rim.

      Delete
  3. Hi there, just wondering if u can share the link for your purchases from taobao ? TIA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Any particular items you are looking for? I can translate it into the Chinese search keywords for you.

      Delete
    2. the whole package that u got for ur frame. Tried searching for it myself but to no avail though. Would appreciate if you can help. Cheers !

      Delete
    3. search for 大行 MuEX. There will only be a few results, the packages are quite similar.

      Delete
    4. Hi Steve, I cant find the Dahon frame on Taobao. Any other site to recommend?

      Delete
  4. Hi Steve, I am keen on embarking on a project like yours but could not find the frameset on Taobao while searching for "dahon muex"

    Could you link me to the site where I can order a Dahon MuEX Frame too?

    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. for many components, it is necessary to use chinese search terms to get the results. In this case, search for MUEX车架.

      Delete
    2. Hi Steve,

      Care to share the difference between MUEX and MUSL, both look the same

      Delete
    3. The MuEX frame has a chainstay for a stiffer rear triangle, while the MuSL does not. The MuSL frame seems to be a little lighter though.

      The MuEX frame has a FD mount on the seat tube, while the MuSL frame does not.

      Other than the graphics, they are otherwise similar.

      Delete
  5. hi Steve,
    Schwalbe Durano 20x1.1" comes with both 1.1" and 1 1/8"
    what's the difference here? 1.1" vs 1.125" the difference is so small.
    does the 1.1" require a smaller tube as well?
    Thanks.
    Jeff

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.schwalbetires.com/bike_tires/racing_tires/durano
      They are different rim sizes, so they are not interchangeable on the same wheel. 20x1.1 is for 406 rims, while 1 1/8 is for 451 wheels.
      For tires, 1.25 does not necessarily equal to 1 1/4, as they can refer to different rim sizes. Best to check the ETRTO number for the correct rim size.

      Delete
  6. hi Steve,
    do you know if the MU SL frame is good for upgrades?
    does it have the FD roller?
    Thanks.
    Jeff

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The MuSL frame is not so suitable for putting on an FD. There is no FD roller, which means that the FD outer casing stopper is located on the FD adaptor itself. There is no issue here, just that the curved Mu frame makes it difficult to fit on an FD adaptor properly. So I would not suggest upgrading the MuSL to 20 speeds. 10 speeds is fine.

      Delete
  7. Hi,

    Is taobao the only place where i can purchase a folding dahon frameset? problem is its chinese :( . I'm worried about transacting since I don't understand any :( .

    In any case, would you know if there are dahon frames with these specs?
    - aluminum
    - 20"
    - rear vee's
    - 135 mm rear (aim is to build an alfine 11 drivetrain)
    - still capable of accepting an fd (even though i won't be using it)
    - has provision for front rack (in the headtube)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Taobao is the only place to find a Dahon frame. The choice is very limited too. I don't think that you can buy a standalone frame that satisfies your requirement. For your requirement (135mm OLD and front luggage mount), you will need to get a full Dahon / Tern bike to do that. I would suggest getting a Tern Verge P9 bike as it can satisfy all your requirements.

      Delete
    2. thanks, just to broaden my search criteria, how about taking away the front luggage mount. what's important for me will be:
      - 135mm OLD
      - rear vee
      - very durable/good locks

      For my specific use, I'll be folding/unfolding at least 4x a day everyday, so the links/locks have to be very good/durable.

      Delete
    3. The 135mm OLD should not be a problem. It is usually possible to fit a 135mm hub into a frame with 130mm old.

      Dahon and Tern have the best folding joints, being strong and easy to operate. By the way what is a rear vee?

      Delete
    4. Rear vee = v-brakes :) thats what its called here in my place

      The aluminum will be opened up quite big 2.5mm each side - that is if one is able to open 'equally'. Alum frames dont like being bent unlike steel.

      Alfine 11 is 135mm. Though the NDS has a 10.7sh mm searrated nut, trimming it down will still result to having a 5sh mm protrusion. It shouldnt be an issue if the axle diameter were consistent end to end

      Overall the entire axle has to be modified just to make it fit to 130mm.

      Delete
    5. The difference of 2.5mm is not that great, considering that it is only 5mm difference over 130mm. Also, it may be that the original OLD is slightly wider than 130mm anyway (need to measure, can do so by removing rear wheel), so it does not have to be opened up that much.

      Delete
  8. Hi,

    When buying from taobao, do you engage an agent in Singapore or do you arrange for shipment directly with the seller?

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use 65daigou.com as the agent. They are reliable, fast, easy to use and also convenient to collect.

      Delete
    2. Many thanks! You have inspired me to upgrade my Dahon Falco! :)

      Delete
  9. (German site... Needs translation)
    http://blog.garagenhomepage.de/?attachment_id=915

    This guy modified the axle to fit to 130 OLD. not easy and rrquires prescision i would say. Still best to have something plug and play ie compatible

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Steve, I'm new to folding bike.
    Can I install a fixed gear set on the muEX frame? Is it compatible and which wheelset works for fixed gear? Also, I can always use a 8 speed (or more) cassette and gear set without gear shifters so that it is like a single gear constantly right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For fixed gear, you need a horizontal rear dropout on the frame for tensioning the chain. Not possible on the muex frame.

      Single speed is OK, but to will still need a RD to tension the chain and keep the chain on the correct sprocket, else the chain will move all over the cassette.

      Delete
    2. Hi, is it possible to do a single speed conversion with the wheelsport sunny 406? How do I achieve that and what crankset, cassettes types can I use to achieve that?
      TIA!

      Delete
    3. Just put on a normal cassette of any speed, and install a RD. The RD will need to be aligned to the gear that you want, and fixed there either by an inner cable or by the limit screws.

      Any crankset will do I think. Just adjust the front chainring and rear sprocket size to get the gearing that you want.

      Delete
  11. bro, followed your instructions to search on taobao.. don't really understand chinese.. but from the images, seems like its the frame only?

    http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a230r.1.14.13.Zi2UnP&id=16537456950

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes I think this is the seller where I got my frame from. There are 2 options, one with frame + fork only, the other package includes headset, seatpost, handlepost.

      Delete
  12. I cant seem to find the MUEX frame using the chinese character, I found PKA005 frame instead, it is the same one ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes the PKA005 is the MuEX frame. You should be able to see the pictures and see the MuEX logo on the frame.

      Delete
  13. hi steve,

    I was wondering which shipping method did you use for shipping when you bought your frame? I am just trying to work out the cost of shipping as I am also interested in the muex frame. tqvm

    lojc

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used Express Air, which is rather expensive for an item of this size. The volumetric weight of the frame box (inclusive of other small items like headset, seatpost, handlepost, etc) is about 8kg.

      Delete
  14. Hi Steve,

    I meant to ask was, what is the volumetric weight of the frame?

    TQVM

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The volumetric weight of the frame box (inclusive of other small items like headset, seatpost, handlepost, etc) is about 8kg.

      Delete
  15. Hi, Steve, greetings from Spain
    I'm following your blog with passion, and you have inspired me to build my own bike, since I cannot find one which fulfill me. My very first question is if the Mu ex frame is authentic. It would appear as a ridiculous question, but it's important for me.
    In the othe hand, I want to thank you for the time you take to tell us all these things, and for the patience you have with us.
    Kind regards!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a valid question, which I have also asked myself. From what I can see, these are authentic Muex frames.

      I heard from an industry source that these frames are actually from/for complete bikes, but the complete bikes were stripped down/never built as there is no high end market for them.

      Even if this is untrue and these frames are fake, I am not too concerned as the quality is pretty good. A high quality fake can still be very good.

      Delete
    2. Thank you very much for the answer! That´s all I needed to hear, because I didn´t believe that such an expert on folding bikes like you went to buy a bad frame, the skin and bones of the bike. This very day I am going to find a dealer to manage Taobao. :D

      Delete
  16. Hi great write up. I would've followed your guide to build one if i had not ordered the Mu SLX last week. One question that I have is why you didn't go with 451 wheels. There will be weight penalty and limted tire choices. I'm considering converting my SLX to 451.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The advantage of 451 wheels is speed, but that is the only reason. 406 wheels have many other advantages. Wider tires selection, cheaper wheelset, lighter weight, can install full fenders, no need for brake adaptor.

      Delete
  17. Thank a lot for the guide. After reading your article, I would really love to do the same project as your which is awesome! But I have difficulties re. the Dahon MuEX frame set. Do you have its part number or any link from Taobao so that I can make the order? Not many shop sells folding bike frame as I know so far.
    Thank a lot!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I got it from Taobao.com. Search for MUEX车架, there are only a few sellers, and it might be running low on stock already.

      Delete
  18. Awesome article. I got a hold of a Tern P20 and this article is really helpful with upgrading. Will I be able to swap out the existing crank (FSA vero, 130 bhc) with a shimano 105 crank with same bhc and BB with out changing the deraileurs?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes you can change out the crankset and bb without changing anything else.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Steve, I'm new to folding bikes and bike maintinence so your site has been invaluble to me. Going to do a centry in Hawaii with some friends in a couple month. Thanks again for all the help.

      Delete
  19. Hi Steve,

    Need your advice. I'm interested in getting this frame from TB.

    http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a1z10.5.w4002-7849716302.22.i5glKw&id=39385554061

    Only thing is they dun sell it with the headset and handle post. Anything else i miss besides this 2 items? There seems to be a gap between the frame and the U fork. Should something be there so that water can't seep in? Can i also ask where did you get the brass shim? Thank you so much for your blog. I'm so inspire to build my own Dahon. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You need to install a headset so that you can fix up the fork. The brass shim can be found on Taobao, can't remember the search term.

      Delete
  20. Replies
    1. I got it from Taobao.
      http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=19630494818&spm=2014.12193480.0.0

      Delete
    2. Hi Steve,

      I was looking at your blog. Do you have to use special tools to install the new litepro headset on the Muex frame?

      Delete
  21. Hi steve, do you know the original length and bent of the handlepost for muex? and where do I measure from point to point? thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not sure what is the original length and angle of the handlepost. To measure the length, start from the center of the handlebar clamp. For Fnhon handlepost, the end point is the clamping surface at the joint of the handlepost. For Dahon handleposts, the end point is all the way to the base of the handlepost.

      Delete
  22. Hi Steve,
    I have starting to purchase all the part to DIY the bike..
    I wonder do Litepro S42 406 suitable for MUEX frame?
    Any idea quality of Litepro S42??

    Thanks for the advice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That wheelset can be used on this frame, no problem. Make sure to get the hubs with OLD of 74/130mm for Dahon frames.

      It will be heavier than other wheelsets due to the high profile. For weight comparison just check Taobao.

      Delete
    2. Hi Steve,

      Litepro wheelset quality is good? i can't find any review of this wheelset brand.

      The RD hanger, do it come with the frame or need to buy separately?

      Where i can buy the spacer for the BB and Cassette in singapore?

      Sorry for so many question, this is my first time DIY a bike.

      Thank you,

      Delete
    3. LitePro wheelset seems to be OK. I have not used it personally so I can't comment.

      The RD hanger comes with the MuEX frame.

      You can't really buy the BB spacer on its own, unless you go to Taobao. The 2.5mm spacers that comes with MTB BB cannot be used as it is too thick. You will not be able to tighten up the crank arm on the left side. Only a thin spacer such as 1.5mm can be used.

      What cassette spacer do you need? They are not available for individual sale also.

      Delete
  23. Hi Steve,

    The Cassette manual got show. Need a spacer before put the cassette to the wheel.

    So without the BB spacer, crank arm unable to be tighten up? but was it still functional without the BB spacer?

    Thank you,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The 10 speed road cassette will need a 1mm spacer. This spacer will come with the cassette.

      The bb spacer is not necessary. Road bb and crankset are not supposed to use spacer. However sometimes we add a thin spacer to move the crankset outwards a bit. But if the spacer is too thick we can't tighten the left side crank properly.

      Delete
  24. How would you compare the Vitesse frame to Mu frame in terms of quality, stiffness, weight? Curved designs looks more sturdy and reliable by intuition, but that is not necessarily true.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Both are about the same weight. As for the stiffness it is hard to judge.

      The Mu frame has 2 designs, one with and one without the chainstay. The one with the chainstay, such as the Mu Ex frame is stiffer at the rear end.

      Delete
  25. Bro, I really salute your enthusiasm with bike building from scratch and your knowledge. It really enriches my knowledge.

    By the way, I m contemplating between tern verge p9 and p20. My questions are
    1. Does p20 drivetrain difference really worth the additional $350 ($1350 vs $1700)?
    2. If I were to get a p9 and upgrade the exact shifter and drive train as p20, is the final cost going be more expensive or cheaper excluding installation charges?
    3. Any similar bike that is the same specifications like the mentioned both?
    4. Any suggestions and final verdict?

    Thanks in advance

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel that the most important thing is to get the frame colour that you like. No matter which bike you get, you will upgrade anyway, so the components dont matter so much. When you upgrade, you can choose the components that you want, so i would suggest the Verge P9.

      Delete
  26. Well said,

    Having said that, does p9 have mounting/hanger since it has no front derailleur by default?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Im quite sure it has a fd hanger on the frame already, ready to accept an fd. But just to be sure, check out the actual bike.

      The fd needs a roller at the frame area for the fd inner cable, so when upgrading you will need to get a roller. To have an idea how the roller looks like check out the Tern bikes with an fd.

      Delete
  27. HAHA, wanted to get the Agogo extra light titanium skewers, 74/1300, but was shocked when mbs quoted me 94, any idea why the sudden price hike?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. wow that is really expensive. doesn't make sense to pay so much for a pair of QR skewers.

      Delete
  28. Hi Steve, do u have any idea wheelsport have 451mm with 11 speed hub in local Singapore bike shop? Price below $500?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes they have it at MyBikeShop. Price is about Sgd 480.

      Delete
  29. Hi Steve, do u have any recommend for 451mm 11 speed wheelset? Price around $500. Any place I can get it?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi, I'm considering between sunny and smart. Which do you recommend based on your experience and knowledge?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Both are very similar. The only difference I can see is that the Smart 1.0 has a higher rim profile and is more expensive. Performance wise there would not be much difference.

      Delete
    2. if my bike has 135mm OLD, can I use a rear wheel of 130mm?

      Delete
    3. It's better to use spacers to get the correct hub width. If not, you will need to compress the rear triangle by quite a bit too lock the wheel.

      Delete
    4. where can i get the spacers?

      Delete
    5. Google 130 to 135 mm hub spacers. Depending on your type of hub it may or may not fit. Best is of course to use a 135mm hub.

      Delete
  31. http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a230r.1.14.51.t3ezcl&id=16537456950&ns=1&abbucket=18#detail
    配件如下:U7前叉 前叉钢罗丝 原装坐杆夹 铝合金座杆套 前拨导轮

    价格如下:

    黑色MUEX:1000RMB

    车架+前叉+LP腕组+LP坐杆:1120RMB

    车架原价1200 立减200

    库存车架会有轻微库存 痕迹

    I dont understand mandarin text, please help me understand what is included in the package from the 2 links above. thanks you very much sir!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Comes with front fork, fork compression bolt, seatpost clamp, seatpost shim, fd guide roller.
      The package also includes frame, fork, headset, seatpost.
      Some signs of storage may be seen on the frame.

      Delete
  32. Hey Steve, great post!

    Just to be sure before purchasing, the package you bought is from the following link right?

    http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a230r.1.14.51.t3ezcl&id=16537456950&ns=1&abbucket=18#detail

    package price -> 1639 YUAN right?

    Just want to be very very sure! Thank you in advance Steve!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes I think that is where I got it from.

      Delete
  33. Hi Steve thnx for the post.

    I was wondering if it is still possible to buy frame only, and if it is possible to buy the Dahon IOS/ Tern Eclipse frame.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't seen any of the IOS or Eclipse frames for sale. However, I did see a few Tern Verge frames for sale on Togoparts.

      Delete
  34. Steve, must say first that this is a great, inspiring and very poisonous post! For me, I'm thinking between the MU Ex frames or the Vector X20 frame.

    http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a230r.1.14.1.vGkrea&id=41637722913&ns=1&abbucket=14#detail

    Question is: is it worth the extra CNY 1000 + to get the X20 frame over the MU Ex? Thanks very much for your advice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't say if it is worth it or not. Main difference would be the design of the rear triangle, other than that they are probably similar. Basically it is up to you what design you like.

      Delete
  35. Hi Steve,
    Your blog is really informative and helpful.
    I have came across vector x20 and guess you have clarified it in early post.

    I also found formula s18 frame, is it a good alternative to muex? I know s18 only use Disc brake, not sure it is as versatile as the muex in terms of parts. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Formula S18 frame is also good, if you want to use disc brakes. Just make sure to get wheels with the correct hub width. I think the front is 100mm, while the rear is 135mm, but need to check.

      Other than the brake system, all other parts should be the same.

      Delete
  36. Hi. Steve. You have inspired me to build my own light weight pocket pocket. Can you advice which is the lightest/best frame to build on between the Helios alu frame, vitesse alu frame, mu alu frame or Fnhon alu frame? (Helios though an older frame, it's sl model was the lightest @ 7.8kg. The newer models are much heavier now.

    ReplyDelete
  37. safe to get wheelset from tb???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Should be OK. Do take into account the shipping cost.

      Delete
  38. Have you tried the Faxson Wheelset? It's also from Taiwan so I'm wondering how it compares to the Wheelsport. The Wheelsport now is much more expensive than the time that you created this blog post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not tried the Faxson wheelset so I cannot comment on that. The Wheelsport wheels are a good set of wheels, as discussed in this blog post.
      http://handsonbike.blogspot.sg/2013/10/journey-of-boardwalk-part-34-custom.html

      Delete
  39. Hi Steve, ur blog is really helpful for beginners like me. Can I ask if there is a known fd adapter for tern link d8? And can you recommend any bike shops that provide installation of bike parts only for a fee?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should be able to use the Litepro fd adapter for Dahon Vitesse frames, with a 41mm clamp diameter.
      Can try L&T, C2C, MyBikeShop or BRU for installation services.

      Delete
  40. Hi Steve, I'm considering the new Tiagra 4700 crankset. Does it fit the Mu EX frame? Which cassette size should I get for the 4700?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup that will fit. Normally an 11-28T cassette will be suitable for folding bikes, together with a 53/39T crankset.

      Delete
  41. Hi there,

    I am a new Dahon Horize owner and I have some questions with regards to upgrading my bike I hope you can help me with. I think it will be easier to communicate through email. May I know how can I get to you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  42. Hye.. have any source where can i get dahon / tern frame? Just look at taobao and didnt find it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can get Crius frames. They are very similar to Dahon frames.

      Delete
  43. Hi steve, you mentioned about tern verge p9, then i found only tern verge n8. Is tern verge n8 frame can upgrade to x20 like p9 frame or MU ex?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes the N8 frame is similar to the P9 frame.

      Delete
  44. Hi Steve,

    How do you make sure the frame you bought are genuine? Taobao many fake items.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Buy from reputable sellers. And if it is too cheap to be true, dont get it.

      Delete
  45. Hi Steve, do you happen to know what's shim size I need for the seat post clamp? The one in my dahon Muex is a cheapo looking white plastic that has dropped out and I can no longer clamp the seat post. Thanks! ( It's for my litepro seatpost )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just get the one for the Dahon, think there is only 1 size.

      Delete
  46. Hi Steve, I have the Tern Verge P20 with Kinetix Comp wheelset. Which tires can I use for the fastest result - there's Schwalbe One, Schwalbe Durano, or Panaracer? They seem to have different sizes either 20X1.1 or 20X1.25 so not sure which one would fit into the Kinetix Comp wheelset? Which tube do you recommend I use?

    Thanks,
    Andrew

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These are all narrow and fast tires, either one will be good. I would go with a tire width that at least matches the rim width. You will have to measure the rim width. As for the inner tube, just need to find the correct size for the tire size.

      Delete