Raleigh Folding i8—8-Speeds of Folding Fun.
I stopped in at Q-bikes today to wish the crew a happy holiday. While I was there I noticed this little black folder with a famous name on the head tube. Being a big fan of folding bikes, I knew I had to take the time to put it through its paces. I’m glad I did and it also gives me the chance to tell you something about it.
Listed at a price-point that is not over-whelming, it has a Shimano 8-speed geared hub for the drive train. These have been around for years and really help make any bike something special. With an easy twist shifter, the gears come quick with no hassle. The range of the ratios seemed well suited for a bike like this. It was just one of the pleasant surprises this Raleigh has to offer.
The seating position is much the same as other folding bikes I ride. You are ever so slightly bent over and are able to get good power to the pedals. The handle bar height and seat height adjustments are simple and have a wide range that should suit almost any size of rider. I put in quite a few miles and was still feeling refreshed by the time I was ready to hand the bike back over to Q-bikes.
It is no feather-weight, but still feels agile. The frame is not the only part that is crafted from aluminum. As I poured over the spec sheet, I could see that the fork, cranks, bars, stem and rack are just some of the pieces made from this light, strong metal. I wish I could have put it on my scale, and couldn’t find any internet site that listed the heft of the i8. I would guess in the 24-28 lbs range. As you know, I am not big on actual weights of bikes, as my 185 lbs adds a bigger percentage of the weight than any complete bike.
I found the steering to be to my liking. It is light and positive. It is much less sensitive than many folders that I ride, meaning more stability at lower speeds. Still 20 inch (and smaller) folding bikes can feel like they steer too quickly, and one review I found online mentioned this. I guess this person hasn’t ridden some of the higher-end folders or he (she?) would have realized just how much different this one is than those bikes.
With 20 inch wheels and tires, it offers a smooth ride. I normally set tire pressures closer to the maximum listed on the sidewall, but for this ride I was at the minimum. Add that to what might be considered the perfect saddle and I was happy with my comfort level. The name brand seat is very middle of the road. Not too narrow or wide, not too hard or soft, I might look into adding this piece to some of my own bikes.
When folded, the handlebar and stem fits between the tires. The latches were easy to operate, but kind of primitive compared to more expensive folding bikes. They did their job well though and I don’t mean to talk them down. Like other folding bikes I have tested (and own), I would carry a Velcro strap or bungee cord to secure the wheels together while transporting or carrying it any distance. It has no built-in provision to keep it from opening up when folded.
The fold is fairly small and quick to manipulate. Most people who would get a bike like this are concerned with such things. Easy, small and fast are the key words when discussing folding bikes, and the Raleigh i8 was ok in these respects. Like most bikes of this type, the greasy chain is on the outside of the folded package and hard to avoid. When you carry this i8, keep the chain side away from your clothes and body.
It has a few other features that stood out too. The ergo hand grips felt good. The brake levers and shifter are comfortable and easy to work. A part of the front brake lever is a bell that wasn’t too loud, but easy to reach. The standard rack doesn’t affect the fold and looks like it should carry its share of the cargo when needed. It also has a quick-release skewer on the front hub for fast flat repairs. The pedals fold too, seemed real solid and popped back into the unfolded mode easily.
This bike comes in black. I found some photos of this bike in white, apparently that was the color of last year’s model. From what my search shows, this is the only folding bike that Raleigh makes. Having the 8-speeds and the many cool little pieces show they are serious about this model. I sure enjoyed riding it and would think that most people could become quite attached to everything it can do for them.
With such a classic name attached to the Raleigh Folding i8, you should expect a lot of bike. I wasn’t disappointed. Things have changed since the days when Raleighs were all made in England, and with other names sometimes attached. Several of my old English 3-speeds were made in those English factories. This bike is not as sleek as some of the other folding bikes I ride, but then again it has a lot to offer at the cost level it rests at.
I don’t think I need to repeat myself on many of the reasons people get bikes like this. Then again, why not? Security might be high on the list. Keeping your bike inside at work, home and at other times is big. Taking public transportation is another. Being able to bring your bike to distant destinations for fun rides can be great fun. We recently took a pair in our trunk during vacation and rode them in so many cool places.
Every person who owns or wants to own a folding bicycle could have very different reasons. Feel free to tell my listeners and I what your reasons might be. Fun, utility, security and ? Folding bikes are here to stay and continue to sell like hotcakes. Maybe one is in your future.
Keep riding, Turbo Bob.
“Suddenly the nickel-clad horse takes the bit in its mouth and goes slanting for the curbstone defying all prayers and all your powers to change its mind—your heart stands still, your breath hangs fire, your legs forget to work.”—Mark Twain, Taming the Bicycle.
Check Raleigh’s website for more info
I have talked about Q-bikes before, you can find them in two locations here in San Diego
I posted a video on my You-Tube channel. Have a look.