Tern Node D8—The Best Folding Bike Ever?
Folding bike excitement is spreading like wildfire. Part of the reason is the rock solid ride they offer while delivering the ease of transport, storage and security most riders only envy. Some might shy away due to the look of the smaller tires and their perceived affects on performance and ride small tire folding bikes might put forth. So in respect for these people that want a great folding bike without the small stigma thing, Tern has introduced the Node series of bikes.
The Node is brand-new and as of yet hasn’t hit the sales floors. Word is that this particular bike is just one of two in the U.S. at this point, but any day a large shipment will allow many to experience the thrill I have been enjoying all month. It comes in two different models, this Tern Node D8 and the Tern Node D7i. The D7i has an internal rear geared hub with the matching plastic chain grease protector. It also features the new BioLogic seat post floor tire pump and a full dynamo lighting system. Both that bike and this come with fenders and a rear rack (with a cool triple elastic strap).
They also have a group of 26” wheel bikes (the Joe), but from my experience this Node is the perfect size for those who are staying away from the 16” and 20” wheel bikes, yet want something compact. The larger wheels negotiate any rough terrain you might encounter and the bike still folds to a fairly small size. Folding easy and quick is a Tern feature, so it can tuck under a stairway, in your back seat or trunk, and fit on public transport in a flash.
Plus the smooth, sleek hinges work easy, offer good looks, and help make the frame and steering flex-free. That is part of what makes me love my own personal Tern (Link P9) and the other Terns I have enjoyed extended time with. The fit and finish is impeccable, the ride is fun and care-free and the looks match those two. So what makes me like this Node D8 so much?
It is very much like a slightly enlarged Tern Link D8. That seems to be their most popular bike, as it is in a great price range, comes equipped with fenders and a rack and 8 easy to select speeds. Ergonomic grips and a comfy, yet fairly narrow saddle are the parts you touch, but the whole bike hugs you with every mile pedaled. Tern has bikes in most price ranges, yet with the Node you would never sense you are on one from the lower rung.
Just a touch stealthy in black with blue trim, it still stands out. The curve of the frame is pleasing to the eye and makes for a firm foundation. As you ride most will never turn a head as you go by, but those in the know take instant notice. Next will be the realization that the 24” rims and tires are not what they would expect on a compact folding bike. If they are offered and accept a ride (which I do often), they will totally get what the Node is all about.
The 8 speed drivetrain has a wide range of ratios for almost any ride. The grip shift has firm clicks between each gear and finds the needed gear almost on its own. The small derailleur is a Tern specialty item and never missed a beat for me (as is the case for every Tern I’ve ridden). Stout rims mount Schwalbe Active Road Cruiser Tires with Kevlar flat protection. V-brakes take care of the stopping chores and in some ways are much better than most disc brakes.
You sit-up a tad higher from the road than the Link D8, yet the feel is much the same. In fact much I can write about this Node D8 can be found in my recent review of the Link D8. They are kissing cousins, one just a smaller version. They are both equipped almost identically. I really like the fact it comes with fenders and a rear rack. I like it so much I up-graded my own Link P9 with the same pieces (although the Node‘s rack seems a little beefier). The fenders even have small mudguard lips to make them that much more effective.
I have racked up quite a few miles in the last month. This bike rolls easily, has great geometry (not quite as quick of steering as the 20” Terns) and gives its rider a feel of confidence. I found the brakes strong and easy to use with no hiccups. The shifting works as well or better than other derailleur bikes I ride. There seemed to be a gear for every need, no matter the speed or grade. Everyone who tried it out found the cockpit and seat height comfortable for their size and weight.
As I already mentioned the bike folds in a flash, to a small size and makes it so handy you think everyone would ride a folding bike. The benefits completely outweigh any drawbacks (drawbacks?). The benefits are so many it is fully hard to list them all here. Just ask any folding bike owner next time you run across one and the discussion might drag on for quite a while. I have been converted and you might too.
My early exposure to folding bikes left much to be desired. Besides a generally hard and time consuming fold, they rode like the frame was a wet noodle. Those days are long gone (for Tern at least, as not all of today’s folding bikes fold easily or ride well). Tern has this folding bike thing so figured out that you owe it to yourself to see what their all about. Folding bikes are here to stay and the Terns are the pinnacle of this type of bike.
I am a Tern lover through and through, and when this test is over I will hard pressed to give-up this Node D8. Yet they will hand me another model so I can continue to learn more and report it to you.
No folding bike in your stable? Climb aboard and feel the fun, Turbo.
“ I came out for exercise, gentle exercise, and to notice the scenery and to botanise. And no sooner do I get on that accursed machine than off I go hammer and tongs; I never look to right or left, never notice a flower, never see a view – get hot, juicy, red – like a grilled chop. Get me on that machine and I have to go. I go scorching along the road, and cursing aloud at myself for doing it.”—H.G. Wells.
Tern on the web
Tern on Facebook
Tern folding bikes on the west coast
Tern folding bikes on the east coast
Check out the video I posted on the Tern Node D8. One interesting part of this video is how it shows a size comparison to a 20″ Tern (my Link P9).