Review: Downtube 8H Folding Bicycles

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downtube 8h folding bicycles

If you’ve clicked on our Sponsors page, up there at the very top, you know that we got a small price break on our 8H Folding Bicycles from Downtube.  In exchange, we agreed to do an honest review of the product.  So here goes!

Mark did a lot of bicycle research.  He has been riding both mountain bikes and road bikes for over a decade.  He’s very particular and meticulous about and with his bicycles.  But when we leave, he won’t be able to take his “real” bikes along.  They are just too big and will eat up way too much space on Luna Sea.  Even if we had space, they wouldn’t hold up to the harsh marine environment.  Saltwater and metal do not mix well.  Enter: Folding Bicycles!

But how to choose? 

We knew folding bicycles would be a space saver.  But what about the issue of metal in a saltwater environment?  And how about the quality of the ride? Mark’s research led him down a long rabbit hole of research – and eventually landed him on the Downtube website.  The key design factors are the fact that it’s belt driven (no rusting metal chain) and has a Shimano internal hub.  The internal hub means less risk of damage to the bike when transporting via dinghy, etc as well as less risk of corrosion.  And Shimano just happens to be one of the leading manufacturers of bicycle components.

Additionally, the Downtube folding bicycles have an all aluminum frame, so *no rust – and 20″ tires.  While there are some folding bicycles with 20″ tires, there are others that have smaller wheels.  Apparently, the key benefit of the larger wheels is a smoother ride.   20″ also happens to be a common wheel size, so tire and tube replacements should be easier to find…

As soon as the research was done, we ordered the bikes – knowing they were on back order. Even so, they arrived really quickly.  Oddly enough, they did not both arrive the same day… So we shared the first day and just took turns riding around the boat yard.

I have been commuting to work on mine almost every day since they arrived, and we’ve also taken a couple of longer rides in order to decide how we like the bikes.  The adjustable seat and steerer tubes mean that the same bike frame fits both of us – even though I am 5’3″ and he’s 5’10” It’s just a matter of dropping or raising the tubes. In a traditional bike, this would mean we would need different sized frames.

Here’s a quick list of what we feel are the Pro’s and Con’s:

Pro’s Con’s
Quick and easy to put together – straight out of the box The seats are uncomfortable (we replaced ours)
Quick and easy to fold up/unfold *Some non-stainless/non-aluminum hardware = rusting
Relatively light weight
8 speeds
Folding pedals – such a space saver!
Mostly made of non-rusting materials

I have always had an issue with bicycle seats.  I eventually found one on my last bike (a beach cruiser) that was comfortable enough and would allow me to ride more than a mile or so.  That big, squishy seat won’t work in this situation, but we gave a nose-less seat design a shot and it has been a life saver.  Or a crotch saver… (tmi?)

While these bikes are relatively light weight, there are other folding bicycles that weigh less.  The catch is that they cost about 3 times as much.  Bicycles are going to be pretty important for us to get around in some areas, but we only have so much money to spend prepping for this adventure.

*Unfortunately, after a week or two of the bikes sitting on the dock, we were able to easily identify a few pieces of hardware that are not aluminum or stainless steel.  (The rust was a dead giveaway)  I spent 20 minutes or so last weekend with a can of silver Rustoleum and a tiny paintbrush going over all the parts.  Hopefully that will stop the corrosion.  We also alerted the owner of the company to the issue, so fingers are crossed they will change out those parts on future bikes.

Final Thoughts

Over all, we are in love with these folding bicycles.  They are comfortable, provide a smooth ride, seem to be doing well (fingers crossed on that Rustoleum fix!) in the marine environment, and fold up pretty small.  If you are in the market, check them out. We are not making any money off of the sale of them – just trying to spread the word when we find good products.

Now we just need to nail down a place to store these suckers and untie the dock lines!




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