Saturday, November 23, 2013

Road or MTB Components for Dahon / Tern Folding Bikes? - Part 1

After the hugely popular blog post, Guide to Upgrading your Dahon / Tern folding bike, here is a follow up for that article! Assuming that you have read and understood the basics of bicycle upgrading, the next question is, what components should you install on your folding bike? There is such a wide variety of components available out there, with different specifications and requirements. Without any prior experience or in-depth knowledge, it is very difficult to figure out the correct type of components to use for your folding bike.

With this article, I hope to provide more information regarding the components that are suitable for a folding bike. Although the focus is mainly on Dahon or Tern folding bikes, this may well apply to other brands of folding bikes that have a similar setup or construction.

An empty Dahon Vitesse frame. What are the components that will be suitable? Read on to find out!

There are hardly any groupsets or components that are dedicated to folding bikes or small wheeled bikes (with the exception of Shimano Capreo), thus most folding bikes use Road or mountain bike (MTB) components. This works well most of the time, unless you mix and match incompatible components.

This article will compare and explain the differences between some road and MTB components, and the suitability for folding bikes. For a more focused and simple analysis, only conventional derailleur setups will be discussed. Other types of drivetrains such as single speed or internal gear hubs will not be discussed.

Before we go into the different components categories, some background information will be useful. For me, I feel that there is no need to get top level components, unless you are racing competitively. Of course, if you can afford it, by all means get the top end stuff if that is what you like! For the rest of us, second tier components are more than good enough, as they have most of the features of top level components but at a much more wallet friendly price. In fact, even mid range components will work well enough for everyday use.

The two major bicycle component makers are Shimano and SRAM, with Campagnolo, Microshift and a few other brands making up the rest. Again, for simplicity's sake, I will only be showing components from Shimano and SRAM.

Each of these two companies have two major types of components, road and MTB components. Some components may look and work very similarly, but others will differ greatly. Here are some second tier road and MTB components from Shimano and SRAM.

Shimano Ultegra 6800, 2x11 speed road groupset.

SRAM Force 22, 2x11 speed road groupset

Shimano Deore XT, 2/3 x 10 speed MTB groupset

SRAM X0, 2x10 speed MTB groupset

Listing down the groupsets, from top level to mid range,
(11s = 11 speed, 10s = 10 speed, 9s = 9 speed, 8s = 8 speed)

Shimano Road (2013): Dura-Ace (11s), Ultegra (11s), 105 (10s), Tiagra (10s), Sora (9s), Claris (8s).
SRAM Road (2013): Red (11s), Force (11s), Rival (10s), Apex (10s).

Shimano MTB (2013): XTR (10s), Deore XT (10s), SLX (10s), Deore (10s), Alivio (9s), Acera (9s), Altus (9s).
SRAM MTB (2013): XX (10s), X0 (10s), X9 (10s), X7 (10s), X5 (10s).

Before we continue, my stand on mixing and matching components between different brands is: Don't do it! There is no advantage to mixing components from different brands, as the cable pull ratios are different and will give poor shifting performance. Besides, the appearance of the parts will be mismatched. Always use components of the same brand, and preferably the same series/groupset for best performance and appearance.

Some acronyms:
RD = Rear Derailleur
FD = Front Derailleur
SS = Short Cage RD
GS = Mid Cage RD
SGS = Long Cage RD
DCL = Dual Control Levers, which refers to the drop bar road shifters / brake lever combo
BB = Bottom Bracket (bearing unit supporting the crankset)
FHB = Flat Handlebar, usually used to refer to MTB-style road shifters for flat handlebar road bikes

The different types of components will be discussed separately, and the suitability for folding bikes evaluated in each section. The gist of each section will be underlined for easy reference. For many components, the suitability will depend on other components used as well. For example, a wide range cassette is only suitable/possible if a MTB RD is used.

1a) Rear Shifter + RD (Front single setup)
1b) Shifters + RD + FD (Front double setup)
2) Brake Levers + Brake Calipers
3) Crankset + BB
4) Cassette
5) Chain

1) Shifter + RD (Front Single Setup)

Front single chainring drivetrains are very common for folding bikes, as they are relatively easy to maintain and have sufficient gears for normal city riding. The number of speeds will then purely depend on the rear cassette. It can vary from 6 speeds for an entry level Dahon Eco 2 to 10 speeds for a high end Tern Verge X10. 11 speed Dahon / Tern folding bikes are not available (yet).

6 and 7 speed bikes have virtually no chance of a meaningful upgrade, as components for 6 and 7 speeds are rare nowadays. Even 8 speed drivetrains are becoming less popular as the price of 9 speed drivetrains drop.

As a front single drivetrain setup, there is a lot of flexibility, as the only components you need to match are the rear shifter and RD. Of course your chain and cassette needs to be of the same speed, but that is not an issue here. For front single folding bikes, either road or MTB components (shifter + RD) will work equally well.

1 x 9 road drivetrain on my Dahon Boardwalk about 2 years ago

In the recent couple of years, Shimano has introduced a series of FHB road shifters, in addition to the standard DCL road shifters. There is the 10s Ultegra-grade SL-R780, 10s Tiagra SL-4600, 9s Sora SL-3500 and 8s Claris SL-2400. The shifter should be matched with the RD from the matching groupset for best performance.

Shimano Sora SL-3500 9 speed FHB road shifter

If you like to use MTB shifters (with Instant Release and Multi Release features for high end models), it is also viable. 10s MTB Dynasys shifters are available from XTR all the way to Deore, while 9 speed shifters are available in the Alivio, Acera and Altus series. Once again, use the RD from the same series for best performance.

Shimano Alivio SL-M430 9 speed MTB shifter

The main difference between road and MTB shifters are the cable pull ratios, or pitch. The pitch for road and MTB shifters are slightly different. There have been many cases where a MTB shifter is paired with a Road RD, or vice versa, and it seems to work OK. However, tuning the drivetrain nicely will be nearly impossible as it is difficult to get all of the gears to work properly. Avoid mixing road and MTB shifters + RD.

As for the RD, there are more differences. The most obvious one is the cage length, where MTB RD have a longer cage than road RD. Road RD are available in SS and GS cage lengths, whereas MTB RD are usually available in GS or SGS cage lengths. Some MTB RD have short cage lengths, such as Shimano Saint, Shimano Zee, and a few other SRAM MTB RD.

Shimano Saint RD-M820, short cage. Looks very tough!

SRAM X9 MTB RD, short cage. Comes stock on the Tern Verge X10.

The other difference is the tilt of the parallelogram, where the MTB RD tilts more in order to reach the larger sprockets on a MTB cassette. This is the part that determines the largest compatible sprocket, and not the cage length. The cage length merely determines the chain capacity, which is dependent mostly on the choice of front crankset and the cassette size.

If you are using a close range road cassette, such as a 11-25T or 11-28T cassette, a road RD will shift better (although a MTB RD will also work). If you are using a wide range MTB cassette, such as a 11-32T or 11-34T cassette, you will definitely need a MTB RD (a road RD will not work).

There is no compatibility issues with using road FHB shifters and RD on Dahon / Tern folding bikes. As for MTB shifters and RD, the only point to take note is that MTB cages are long, and in some cases it will go very close to the rear tire in the 1st gear. Therefore, if you want to use MTB shifters and RD on your folding bike, I would suggest using a short cage RD, such as a Shimano Saint or Zee RD.

2) Shifters + RD + FD (Front double setup)

As for a front double setup, it is more tricky as we have to deal with the compatibility issues of the FD and front shifter. Folding bikes that come with a front double crankset are less common. It usually starts from the mid range price point, such as the Dahon D18 (2x9 speeds) to top end models such as the Tern Verge X20 (2x10 speeds).

My opinion is that for a folding bike with a front double drivetrain setup, a road setup is the only way to go. A MTB setup just will not work. I am assuming that you are actually using front shifting, to get 2x9 or 2x10 speeds. If you did not install an FD, it means that you actually have a front single setup (even if you have double chainrings), in which case you can just refer to the section above for front single drivetrains.

Before I explain why a MTB setup is not suitable, let us see why a road setup works. Almost all Dahon and Tern folding bikes have a 68mm BB shell width, which is the BB shell width of road bike frames. This means that a road double crankset will fit nicely onto the frame, using a standard 68mm road BB. The chainline will then be optimum for a road double crankset, which is required for good front shifting performance. A brazed-on road double FD will also fit nicely, either on the welded FD hanger or the aftermarket LitePro FD adaptor.

Front double road crankset, with a 68mm BB on the Dahon Boardwalk frame

It is possible to install a MTB front double crankset on a folding bike. With the appropriate BB spacers, you could install a front double MTB crankset (such as Shimano Deore XT FC-M785), but you will not be able to install the required front double MTB FD. This is because MTB FD does not come in brazed-on mounting, and the clamp band options will not fit (largest clamp size is 34.9mm, which is far off from the seat tube diameter of 40/41mm for Dahon / Tern folding bikes). Only road double FD will fit on Dahon / Tern folding bikes.

Now, you may ask, can I use a road double FD with a MTB double crankset? The answer is no, the road double FD is not compatible with a MTB double crankset. Not only is the cable pull ratio all different, the curvature of the FD chainguide is also different. A road FD chainguide is optimised for a chainring curvature of 50-55T, while a MTB double FD can only cover a maximum of about 40T. With the wrong curvature, there will be a big gap between the FD chainguide and the chainring, and the shifting performance will be very bad.

Shimano XT FC-M785, MTB double crankset. Not recommended for folding bikes as you cannot fit a compatible MTB double FD.

After a bunch of explanation (hope you understood at least some of it!), the moral of the story is, you cannot have a MTB front double setup for a Dahon / Tern folding bike. Some people will try to be clever and ask, can I use a road front double setup, but a MTB rear setup? This is actually possible!

You could actually set up the drivetrain such that the front and rear are distinct groups. MTB rear shifter + MTB RD, and road front double shifter + road double FD + road double crankset. As for the cassette and chain, either the road or MTB version will work (surprise! to be elaborated on in Part 2 of this article).

This would give you a truly hybrid drivetrain setup, with a MTB rear and Road front system. It would work, but it will look really weird! The appearance of the RD and FD will not match, while the shifters on the left and right side of the handlebar also will not match. You could probably try this if you have a bunch of spare components lying around, but it is not recommended if you are buying new components. Just get components from the same brand and series and everything will work and look so much better.

Tern Verge P20, upcoming new model for year 2014. Should be of great value, and is all ready for upgrades!

In summary, if you want to have a front double drivetrain for your Dahon / Tern folding bike, just get a standard road groupset. All the components (except for maybe the caliper brakes) will go on nicely. Of course, depending on the frame you have, you may need an RD adaptor and/or FD adaptor. The FD should be of the brazed-on type and not the clamp band type.

This article is getting rather long, which is why I have to split it into two parts. The compatibility of the remaining components will be discussed in Part 2. Stay tuned!

Part 2 of the article is now up!
Brake Calipers + Brake Levers


  1. U forgotten to mention u need a chain guard if there is no front D. The chain guard can one side or double sided. If single side, there is this PVC adaptor to install and prevent the chain from flying inwards when shifting. Bear in mind chain can skip the front crank is shifting is done too fast and intense because of swinging action of the rear d.

    1. Actually the main reason why front chain drop happens is because of wrong chainring selection. For front single, it is possible to prevent chaindrop even without FD or chain guard / bash guard.

      The key here is to select a dedicated front single chainring, that is specially designed for front single only (such as BMX, single speed bikes). The teeth will be taller than those for double/triple cranksets (which are shorter and twisted to facilitate shifting, which means the chain can derail more easily), and this will retain the chain much better on the chainring.

      Another cause is poor chainline, when the chainring is positioned too far outwards from the frame.

  2. Hi Steve I am thinking of upgrading my link p9 to 10 speeds. Is it possible to match a shimano Zee rd with a shimano xt shifter?

    1. Yup it will work. Both are based on MTB 10 speed Dynasys systems, so the cable pull ratios will work.

    2. Hi Steve,I m thinking to upgrade dahon 9spd to 10 spd. Will this set work?
      Sram x9 fhb shifter with x9 short cage Rd
      Shimano 105 crankset with ultegra bb,105 cassette n chain. Thanks!

    3. Yes this setup will work, but rear shifting will not be as good, because the X9 MTB RD will not shift as well on a road cassette.

      I always recommend using parts from same brand and series for best performance.

    4. HI Steve,
      Thanks for the reply, so should i wish to use shimano 105 crankset cassette n chain + ultegra bb , what are the recommended shifter and RD if i wan FHB shifter?

    5. You can get 105 RD too. As for the shifter, you can look for Tiagra SL-4600 or SL-R780. Both are 10 speed road shifters.

  3. Great piece!

    I'd personally replace the frame as it doesnt seem up to the job. Many Tern bike riders are now reporting that their bikes frames have suddenly split in two leaving them on the road with serious injuries!

    1. Many? It is just a few isolated cases we know of. Unless there are statistics to back up the claim, I don't think it is a major issue. We also don't know how the failure actually happened. It could be an overloaded frame, a defective weld, or some other problem.

      I personally know of over 100 Tern riders and none of them has complained of anything. Does that mean that the Tern frame is perfect?

      My point is that a few cases does not mean that there is a major issue, and neither does a lack of incidents mean that there there is no problem. Only a detailed analysis of failure percentage vs actual quantity can reveal the actual situation.

  4. Hi Steven, what is the best upgrade i can do to a Tern D8?

    1. What is the purpose of your upgrade? I cannot give you good advice unless you define "best".

      Imagine if I asked, what is the best app for my smartphone? How would you be able to answer that if my purpose is not clear?

  5. Hi Steve, u mentioned d wheel clearance for 20" foldie with long cage RD.. Will Tiagra 4600SS RD a must if I want to change to 12-30 cassette from tiagra range as well? Or can I use d GS RD? Now I ride a 7 spd bickerton n y 30t is due to knee OA problem thus would like to easy on my knee if possible although is from 28 to 30t for d max cog..

    1. Both SS or GS will work for 12-30T cassette if you are only using a front single chainring. If you are using front double or triple chainring, then you will may need a long cage rd for sufficient chain capacity.
      In your case, just use a short cage rd as it will look better, have more ground clearance, and is also lighter in weight. You might need to adjust the b tension screw for the guide pulley to reach the 30T sprocket properly.

  6. Hi Steve, can I use 11 speed components (RD, cassette, etc) with Dahons? Thank you.

    1. You will need a 11 speed compatible rear hub for the 11 speed cassette. No problem with chain or RD. Currently the 11 speed flat handlebar shifters are not available yet, so you will need to use drop bar shifters.

    2. Hi Steve! Regarding Teddy's question, I would also like to ask if a Shimano 105 5800/Ultegra 6800 front and rear hubs will fit on a Tern bike? Tern Verge P9 to be exact.

    3. Only the rear hub will fit. The front cannot fit as the Tern bike requires a narrower 74mm front hub.

  7. Hi Steve, can I simply replace the stock twist shifter with the Alivio SL-M4000 on my Dahon Vector P9? It has the NEOS 2.0 RD. Thanks!

    1. Yes you can, it should work. However, note that the shifting will not be perfect, and the gear numbering will be the other way round.

      Normally, for a top normal RD, 9 is the highest gear and 1 is the lowest gear.

      The Neos RD is different because it is a low normal RD.

      The effect of using a standard shifter with a low normal RD is that on the shifter, gear 9 will be the lowest gear, while gear 1 will be the highest gear.

      My recommendation is actually to get the Tern RD adaptor, and install a road RD and shifter. Sora RD-3500 and SL-3500 will work well together with your current setup.

    2. Hi Steve,
      Would that be the Sora RD-3500SS or RD-3500GS?
      Also could it pair with the R440 shifter? (I bought the R440 shifter by accident).

      Thanks again!

    3. For a front single or double chainring, the SS version (short cage) will be sufficient. The mid cage (GS) version is for front triple cranksets.
      The SL-R440 (9 speed) shifter can be used with RD-3500, so no problem.

    4. I had the SL-R440 + RD-3500SS with RD hanger set up yesterday.
      It works perfectly!
      Thank You.

  8. Hi, I'm riding a dahon speed falco with front single setup and would like to upgrade the Rd to ultegra 6700. What crankset and cassette should I get?

    1. You can get any Shimano road 10 speed components, such as Ultegra 6700 or 105 5700.
      Examples would be FC-6700/5700 for the crankset, and CS-6700/5700 for the cassette. Don't forget to get a 10 speed road chain.

      If you are using the Ultegra double crankset without an FD, then you will need a chain guard to prevent chain drop. Example would be to use the Tern Mainstay Chain Guide.

  9. Hi Steve,

    Looking to get your opinions/comments if the following parts is suitable for me to use on my Verge P9 to upgrade it to 10s

    1) Dyna Sys XT CS-M771-10speed Cassette
    2) Shimano Deore XT Dyna-Sys SL-M780(Right Shifter Only)
    3) Shimano SAINT RD-M820SS wz Stabilizer
    4) KMC X10 SL 10 Speed Chain(116 Links)

    Assuming that my front remains as stock 55T.

    Compatibility wise should be okay since all parts mention is MTB?

    Thank you.

    1. It should work, but make sure the Saint rd can cover the range of your cassette.

    2. Thanks.

      I've check the RD to be supporting from 11-36T range, probably going for 11-32t 10s cassette..

    3. I think the Saint rd has 2 different cassette range settings, so just double check. It is not a long cage rd and so it cannot cover all the way from 11T to 36T.

    4. Steve,

      Just to check that the earlier mention setup, my front chainring at stock 55T wont be causing any issue right?

    5. It should be fine. Just ensure you have sufficient chain length for the large chainring and large sprocket.

    6. Thanks.

      Going to get a KMC X10SL 116links chain for the combi..

  10. hi steve, i' m thinking to upgrade my boardwalk D8 became 2x9 speed , using sram XO 2x9 shifter and sram rival 2x10 FD, RD medium cage, sprocket XO 9 speed (11-34T)... my question are the components compatible and will work perfect. thank you

    1. Don't mix road and mtb components, and don't mix 9 and 10 speed components. If you do that, it will not give you optimal performance.

  11. so if i use sram XO 2x9 shifter , RD XO 9 speed , sprocket and chain 9 speed but only sram rival braze on FD and crank set using sram Rival 50/34T is that ok?

    1. I think it should be OK, although the gearing might be a bit low due to the compact crankset that you are using. A standard 53/39T crankset will give a better gear range for 20" wheels.

  12. Hello steve, i want to upgrade my tern d8, which is better ROAD or MTB components? by the way.. . im planning to ride every week abt 120km w/ uphill. pls give me some tips thanks!

    1. Go for road 2x10 speed components. Road gearing is closer and better for long distance cycling, where cadence can be controlled nicely. The front low gear will enable you to climb hills.

  13. Thank you steve, im going to buy

    105 cranks (5800) 170mm
    105 RD
    105 cassette 11-28
    for chain? KMC 10SL or dura-ace?
    By the way it is possible to use dropbars? in ten d8?

    Thank you steve.

    1. Are you going for 10 or 11 speed components? 105 5800 cranks are designed for 11 speed, but can also be used for 10 speed.

      Drop bars is possible, but need to get LitePro stem. Remember to match the clamp diameter of the stem to the drop bar.

      My suggestion for 10 speed:
      105 5800 or 5700 crankset
      Tiagra 4700 RD and braze on FD (with LitePro FD adaptor)
      Any Shimano 10 speed road cassette
      Any Shimano 10 speed chain
      Tiagra 4700 road shifters 2x10 speed

  14. Thank you very much steve.

    I really appreciate your suggestion,
    Well like you said 5700 is much cheaper than 5800 11spd
    Even the shimano chain vs KMC 10SL over 40$ (almost same weight)
    How about the Litepro folding stem? 37cm then outside fold?
    And for the wheelset? Do i need to change the hub? (from tern d8?)

    Thank you steve

    1. I think if possible, get a shorter handlepost. 37cm is OK but a little high for me. Depends on your height and preference.

      If you have a link, you can paste it here and I can take a look and comment.

      You can use your current D8 wheelset for 10 speeds, no problem.

  15. Hello steve,

    Nice article. Im a newbie rider with a tern link d8. Kind of on a budget here and ive decided based on your artice to go full Sora set. Do you think its good?


    1. Yupz it will work well. Don't need to change wheelset. What you need are:
      1) SL-3500 2x9 speed flat handlebar shifters
      2) 9 speed road cassette
      3) 9 speed chain
      4) RD-3500
      5) FD-3500 braze on
      6) LitePro FD adapter
      7) FC-3500 double crankset
      8) Hollowtech II BB, 68mm English threaded

  16. hi steve i have a folding bike trinx da2007d and i am planning to change to 9 speed. my initial plan is to buy first a wheelset with hubs as I am planning to make my bike lighter to I will be going with litepro 32h rimset.

    But my current speed doesn't allow that and I am told to upgrade to atleast 9 speed for me to use that rimset. what do i need to setup for me to convert to 9 speed?

    do you have any model or specific can afford groupset you can recommend?

    i was told that i will need a
    - right shifter 9s
    - 9s cogs cassette type
    - 9s chain
    - 9s rd short cage

    is this all that i need? thanks in advance..

    1. Yes that is all you need for 1x9 speed drivetrain. You can use Shimano Sora series.
      SL-3500 for shifter
      CS-HG50 9 speed cassette
      CN-HG53 9 speed chain
      RD-3500 9 speed RD short cage (SS)

      Do take note to get the correct wheelset with the correct hub width for front and rear. Usually should be 100mm for front and 135mm for rear, but double check your bike to be sure. Also, make sure the hub can allow you to mount disc brake rotors.

  17. Hi Steve, I am a newbie trying to setup a foldie from scratch.

    I am trying build this setup 1 x 10spd (47T x 11-28T) on 105 5701 RD with 451 wheelset. Do you think SS will fit or does GS fits? Thanks in advance...

    1. The short cage SS rd will be fine, since you are only using front single chainring.

    2. Thank you very much! By the way, your blog is very inspiring. Awesome there!

  18. Hi steve
    Very informative read.
    Wish you could elaborate more on single front drivetrain setup. Such as the crank clearance with regards to the chosen cassette most single setup will be using ext bb with hollowtech crank or maybe bb30 crank..

    1. Hi what do you mean by crank clearance?

  19. Hi Steve, I am trying another build. 52.36T with 11-32 on 406 wheelset. Do you think I should use a short cage or medium cage? Does medium cage have enough clearance for 406 wheelset in general?

    1. Both the front crankset and cassette have a large gear difference from low to top, and so you will need medium cage rd. Clearance with ground should be OK although it will be quite close to the tire.

  20. Steve,
    My setup is 2015 vitesse D8, 52T single chainring, 11-32T 8 speed, Shimano Altus 8 speed RD-M310 (not sure is GS or SGS) and Altus 8 spd shifter. I intend to change the RD, without changing any other thing.

    What options of derailluer works well, without changing others. MTB derailluers like Alivio, Acera, Deore? Or Road derailluers like Sora, Tiagra.
    Do i need SS, GS or SGS? Can i use a 9 or 10 speed RD and run it like a 8 speed setup? Or stick back to 8 spd RD, which isnt much choice of upgrade.

    1. If you change just the RD, there is not much point.

      My suggestion is to change the drivetrain to 9 or 10 speeds. This will give you a better choice and quality of components. I recommend road components such as Tiagra for 10 speed.
      You will need to change chain, cassette, Rd, shifter. You can use your current chainring and rear wheel.

  21. Steve, I forgot to mention that I intent to change the RD only, as it is getting a bit noisy when pedal hard. Not actually going for 9/10 speed upgrade path...more like replacement upgrade.
    Thus Im looking what are my options to just upgrade minimally and keep others status quo.

    1. Is the rd the root cause of the sound? You need to find out what is causing the sound. Usually the rd is not the cause of sound.

    2. The whirring sound only appears when it's being paddled, when applied pressure like accelerate. It's quiet when smooth constant pedalling and coasting. My Rd cage arm is slightly tilted inwards..there is looseness thus the low big jockey is not centred perfectly with the chain.
      It's not the pedal problem as I have changed them. It's darn difficult to pinpoint the source, as its not exactly audible loudly...just that tiny whirring sound that gets to u in a serene biking situation...sigh. I can only deduce it's possibly due to the loose cage RD at the moment.

  22. Hi
    I have CROSS Combino bike which is not known with Shimano capreo cassette and RD.
    Please advise what chainwheel have to use to make it 2x9 ?

  23. Hi can I change my dahon visc p18 front crank from 53t to 56t n maintain 18 speed ?

    1. You need to change the whole double crankset, not just the 53T chainring. Also, you will need a longer chain.

  24. Thank you for this comprehensive and clear article!
    I have a Dahon Formula S18 that I bought used. It shifts poorly and I think it's because it has mixed components (?). Current components are:
    FSA 53-39 with Mega EXO crank
    Unnamed FD
    Shimano Tiagra RD
    11-25 cassette - I don't know how to tell brand
    Microshift flat bar shifters
    Based on your article will it work to use SRAM Apex components? Or what would you recommend?
    Do I need to change crank and chain rings?
    I live in a mountainous area- can I use a wider range cassette or chainrings to get more low and top end range?
    What is your opinion on double tap flat bar shifters vs conventional flat bar shifters?
    Thank you!

    1. I suggest changing the whole groupset to maybe the Tiagra 4700 2x10 speed. Get a wide range 11-32 or 11-34 cassette to help you climb the slopes. Use a mid cage rd to match the wide range cassette. Probably can continue using your crankset. Best to use the matching Tiagra 4700 shifters.

  25. Hi Steve,

    as everyone else has said - thank you for such a great blog. so much helpful info!

    I'm updating and upgrading a really well used Ridgeback Emissary - which I think is a re-badged Dahon.

    It is currently 8 speed, with Shimano Tiagra RD and front single chainring. All parts are about 8 years old.

    I want to upgrade to 9 or 10 speed and to keep an MTB cassette for the low gears - I'm a slow rider and I live in Bristol which is a city with some very steep hills :)

    Would these work together:

    Shimano XT shifter
    Shimano XT cassette
    Shimano 105 / Tiagra short arm RD
    ..single front chainring

    I wasn't sure if its OK to mix road and MTB like that?



    1. Better don't mix mtb shifter with road RD as it won't shift well. Just go with all mtb components and it will be fine. Make sure to get the correct speed and series. M780 will be 10 speed.

  26. Hello steve, im planning to upgrade my dahon mup8, i have a question. Is Tern Rear Derailleur hanger is compatible to my Dahon mup8?

    1. Most likely not compatible as the shape is different.

  27. I have D7 Dahon mariner can i upgrade like double the speed? 2x7? Or increase it to 10s?

    1. Difficult to change to front double as there are very few front double fd for 7 speed rear. To change to 10 speed you will need to upgrade your rear wheel, as well as get 10 speed rd, shifter, cassette, chain.

    2. Is it possible for him to add a chainring, if the crank allows, and change to the other chainring manually? Some do this even on long tours to avoid the costly upgrade of other components.

    3. You can do that, but you will still need a rear derailleur with a longer cage that can account for the difference in chain length when switching between the two chainrings. I wouldn't recommend this.

  28. I have Tern link D8. Right now my setup is crank single speed 53T (front), RD & shifter shimano saint and cassette deoare 11-36T. I want to upgrade to double chainring with shimano 105 crank 53-39T. Is it ok if i maintain with RD Saint? Do I need to change to road cassette or stick with MTB cassette? If I change to road cassette 11-28T can I stick with RD Saint?

  29. Hi steve, i need your advice.
    So i am having my tern Link P9 upgraded with brand new parts from Shimano Ultegra R8000 1x11
    RD R8000 shortcage
    Sprocket 11-30T R8000
    Shimano 11speed chains
    Crankset Ultegra R8000 53-39 (single speed 1x11 kn 53T)
    Shimano RS700 right side 11speed

    I have front chaindropped on middle gear
    The chaindrop only occured when shifting from big to smaller sprockets (but in the middle range of the sprockets), shifting from the biggest to second is okay and also for the smallest is fine.

    Do you have any ideas what else should i check ?
    I already bring it to the bike store, and they also dont know how could it happen and forced me to buy narrow wide chainring wich is i cant found (110x4bolts).
    They told me the shifting is harsh when going from bigger to smaller sprockets, while its smooth on the other way around (small to big)
    They also already check if it is centered, the chain tension, and rd re indexed. This is so confusing.
    Thank you for your attention.

    1. You have to use a narrow wide chain ring since there is no front derailleur to keep the chain on securely.
      The original 53/39T chain rings are designed to shift, which is why the teeth are specially shaped and are shorter in some areas. The chain will tend to come off when shifting outwards on the rear cassette. This happen to to me too.
      Therefore, get the Wolf Tooth narrow wide chain ring. It is available in the Shimano 4 arm type as shown here.

  30. Hi Steve -

    Am been seeing your post and it excite me to read until late night. Thanks for sharing such interesting things to everyone, personally am appreciate it. I never know that so much thing that you can do with folding bike.

    I will need your help and guidance. I used to ride a road bike (105) (not super long distance might be on avg (40-80km max per ride), and was happy with it, until I stop as I need to take care of my daughter.

    Now am planning to go back again to cycle and was thinking to see foldie. Initially am planning to buy brompton (following market), but again as I don't know whether I can give such commitment, am thinking to start will 'cheaper' version and see the next 6 months. Until I found your blog which show some interesting part about foldie and makes me want to put brompton aside (though still love the model, not the price)

    Now am in dillema between Dahon MUSp and Tern D8 (limited budget, initially only willing to spend $500 ;o), but am seeing am gonna be staying with the bike for some time as well.

    My plan (one step at a time) will be upgrading to make it fun and lighter with:
    - handlebar like roadie
    - groupset roadie 105 / ultegra
    - wheelset + schwalbe one
    - other neety greety

    Since I can't see any modified tern in your blog, I just ask your point of view of this. My downside for Tern will only be the outside cabling (for good and for bad), I haven't seen both bike in person, but I saw your modified Dahon MuSP and fell in love with it (great job there); the downside for Dahon might be only available color for MuSp right now is only Burgundy ;o As an other option might be looking at MuSL10 (am not sram guy hence not aware with the series), but looks like it's on 2017 model (all model am referring from MBS). It's $300 more, but am not sure whether it justify the update.

    As an additional info, am avg 170cm with heavy belly of 84kg (one of reason to back to cycle after gain up 20kg)

    Kindly need your guidance for this :) Really appreciate it!

    Thanks again, and keep sharing great stuff! Stay safe.

    1. Do you need the folding capabilities? If not a mini velo or just a normal road bike might be better suited for drop bar riding.

      Else, for a folding bike with drop bars, there are some compromises. The Dahon MuSP has caliper brakes which solves brake compatibility issues. But the internal routing, although nice, makes it difficult to install. Plus, everytime you fold the bike, need to make sure the cabling slides through the frame holes smoothly, else it will snag and get damaged. I wouldn't recommend internal routing for folding bike.

  31. At the moment looks like I will still need the folding capabilities due to space constraint. Am just aware and know about mini velo, it looks very fun bike ;) Was contemplating, but again considering the space limitation, I will need to back to folding bike; and of course road bike out of option unfortunately.

    Am read your post as well related with cabling under internal frame; am understand it could be a hassle, but might be something that I need to live with when fold / unfold (to minimize the rubbing). Am not a great handyman as well, so it will be high chance that I will need shop or expert to assist me with such thing to perform all necessary upgrade / replacement ;)

    Now am just considering between these 3 Dahon MuSP, Tern D8, and more expensive Dahon MuSL10; from the cutting wise looks like Dahon MuSP is sleek, but am not able to tell from the aspect of upgrade-ability in the long term ;)

    I haven't seen all of these bike, plan to see on the store on Monday :)

    Thanks again Steve, really appreciate your input. Can't wait to ride.

    1. Hi Steve -

      Just to let you know I managed to get my bike, it's Dahon Mu SP9 ;) Thanks for your input before.

      Time to cycle and see your 'poison' update after getting use with my bike.

    2. There are indeed many upgrades which can be perform on the bicycle. After so many years, i'm still changing parts now and then(Minor improvement/vanity).
      This is my Tern Verge P9 now. Just ordered a Litepro Carbon Bar. Well, it's no longer a 9sp but a 10sp, mostly MTB parts other than cassette which is a Ultegra 6700.

      First thing i would get is Litepro Double Kickstand. I only got that a few days back after thinking about it for the past few years.haha

  32. Hi Roland -

    That such a beautiful baby that you have ;)

    Haven't ride since got the bike as I got some injury from accident while playing scooter (sad as the bike will be idle for 1 month at least)

    Love your Tern really, i feel Tern has more muscular body then Dahon, but again my pocket speak differently.

    Plan to do upgrade progressively as well start with wheel might be after running for 1-2k km

    Thanks for the input for double kickstand, will look at it, my Dahon came with stock landing gear that I plan to remove to reduce some weight. The only addition that I did to my Dahon only front and safety light (*for my night ride which unfortunately cancel due to my accident) and chane my saddle into my old road bike saddle Selle SMP, still love it ;)

    Can i please check where you get you Controltech Seatpost? Is it carbon? Tried to find 33.9mm seatpost without any luck except for Litepro.

    Thanks a lot Roland, and thanks Steve for hosting this blog ;p

    1. Since the folding bike seat post will be moved up and down frequently, a carbon seat post will get scratched easily. An aluminium seat post would be better.

    2. Hi Cameron,

      Thanks and yes true to what Steve mention, it does get scratch when you slide it up and down. Not very bad but still some markings. I got that carbon CT post off someone in carousell. Weight wise i believe aluminium as suggested isnt too far off so you might want to consider that instead?

  33. Hi Steve, thalnks for ur input, I can see you built some bike with Litepro A61/62; however as i see the spec it will only hold rider for 80kg, unfortunately am a bit meaty at 85kg ;o And i can see the Carbon able to endure till 90 kg, given that am not moving my seatpost while folding (as landing geat still there), will you recommend the carbon one? Thanks.

    Nothing wrong with current one, but i feel the saddle lock was not so great ;p On my test ride prior my accident me Selle SMP was able to move back and fwd (i tested it was secured prior)


  34. Hi Steve, upgrading my Mu P8 to either 10/11 speed(11-32T/34T) Currently on kinetix comp wheelset.
    1. Should I get GS or SS RD?
    2. Any crankset to recommend to go with?
    3. If getting shimano 105(10/11spd), any shifter to pair?
    Thanks in advance! Ivan

    1. Your wheelset can support up to 10 speeds only for road cassette. However, the special CS HG700/HG800 11-34T 11 speed cassette can be used on 10 speed freehub as well.
      I suggest getting RD-R7000-GS and SL-RS700 for full 11 speed drivetrain.
      I personally like the Shimano crankset with Wolf Tooth chain ring. Can refer to my Fnhon DB11, Crius AEV20 or Dahon MuSP builds.

    2. HI Steve, thanks for the advice. added HG700, RD r7000, RS700 to my cart already. As for the crankset, I saw you used 48T for 406 wheelset instead of 46T for 451. Can other brands 48T chain ring works for my setup?

    3. Need to make sure the chain ring fits the crank arms. Or you could get the Ascent Bikes crankset which I used on another bike.

    4. Is 48T your recommended gear ratio for my setup? My dahon stock is 52T

    5. It depends on your riding style and fitness. For me 48T on 406 wheels is good, on 451 wheels a bit too high.

    6. As for the R7000, is medium cage too long for my setup? Short cage can support?

  35. Short cage can officially support max 30T sprocket. But 32T will be fine.

  36. Hi Steve ,need ur advice , upgrading my Tern C8, can 11-42T support 406 wheelset?
    Current setup : RD Deore M6000 gs (10 speed ) , single chainring 52T. Thankss

    1. Small wheel cannot use such big cassette. The rear derailleur will touch tire at low gear position.

    2. Noted Steve. Thanks for your prompt reply. For 406 wheelset what is the max cassete that i can use ?

    3. 40T is the max I have used before, on my Bike Friday Haul-A-Day cargo bike. If you are not hauling heavy stuff, there is no need to use such low gearing on a 406 wheel. A 32T or 34T is enough for low gearing on 20 inch 406 wheel.

  37. I'm thinking of upgrading my Tern Verge P9 to 56/44T chainring is it possible to fit Tiagra FD4700 on that chainring?

    1. Don't think the FD will fit the chain ring nor the frame, if the chain ring is big.

  38. hi steve...
    I need your recomendation for my dahon speed p8, which one is nice for it.

    Crankset litepro plus single speed 54T
    RD+Shifter Shimano Saint
    Sprocket 11-34T
    Crankset Tiagra 4700
    RD+Shifter Tiagra 4700
    Sprocket 11-28

    Thanks before..

    1. Both are good, but the Tiagra crankset will require a separate narrow wide chain ring.
      11-34T cassette would give a really low gear for climbing, but might not be necessary.

    2. hi steve.. its me again,
      unfortunately the components in question are currently not available in here.
      All that available is only

      Crankst Litepro Plus
      Crankset Tiagra 52/36 170mm
      RD+Shifter 4700 Shortcage
      Cassette 11-34

      so.. can i use tiagra 4700 Shortcage RD with 11-34 cassette combine with Crankset Tiagra 52/36 without FD and it's shifter?
      will it be have an issue in the future?

      thanks steve

    3. If you use normal shifting chain rings without FD or chain guard, it is likely to have chain drop. That's why I recommend using narrow wide chain ring for front single system.

    4. Thanks for such a quick respone and knowledge steve...

      and what about cassette 11-34 on Tiagra 4700 Shortcage RD, is it okay?


  39. Hi Steve,

    Need your advices. I just got a Dahon K One - 1x9-speed stock Dahon components with 406 wheelset - 20 inch.

    I'm thinking to upgrade to 10speed, with 11-34t cassette.

    What are my options?
    cassette 11-34
    Tiagra RD-4700 GS?
    shifter - I tried to search for tiagra shifter, it gave me all RD shifter. Any options I can use with RD-4700

    1. You can use SL-47O0 Tiagra shifter.
      Or, just go to 11 speed. CS-HG700 11-34T cassette can fit on older 8/9/10 speed freehub body. Then you can use 105 RD-R7000 and SL-RS700.

    2. Thanks Steve.

      The RD-R7000 should be GS or SS if I'm using 11-34T?


    3. Should be GS for 34T. I suggest just using SS cage rear derailleur and run a 11-30T or 11-32T cassette. This will give more tire and ground clearance.

    4. Hey Steve,

      I would like to confirm if the SS could a 32T?
      I was at a local bike store, one guy told me SS can only fit a 28T.
      Maybe he doesn't know a folding bike well.
      So, I would like to confirm with you.

      I think I've decided to go with 10 speed. So, Tiagra RD ss/gs and Tiagra cassette 11-32T.

      Please advise, thanks

    5. Check the actual specifications of the RD, each model will differ. Older RD may be limited to 28T but newer ones are 30T at least. Usually can stretch a bit by additional few teeth.

    6. Thanks for the great info :)

  40. Hi Steve, was thinking to upgrade my groupset to tiagra rd4700 gs, dual chainring 53-39t on a 20’ wheel setup, what is the suitable cassette 11-28 or 11-32 ?

  41. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for documenting your journey! I really appreciate this blog and I'm learning so much.

    Quick question though.. I'm planning to get a fnhon and it comes with a pretty noisy wheelset (the lite Pro kfun4). Any recommendations for a quiet hub that will allow me to freewheel quietly down a street without waking my neighbours or alerting casper the friendly ghost that I'm riding? :p

  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Hi @Steve I need your opinion with my folding bike
      Planning to upgrade

      1x 52T Chain ring
      11-32T casette sprocket
      Shimano Tiagra 4700 (rd and rs only)

      For flat surface and a little of ascent.
      Or is it recommended to have a 2x setup for folding bikes?

      My bike is a TERN LINK B7. your response would be very much appreciated.


  43. Hi Steve, is it possible to add a shimano 105 FD to Fnhon Tornado? with shimano 105 RD short cage and 11-28T?

    1. There is a front derailleur mount on the frame so yes you can.