Review: Tern Eclipse X22

Photos: Justin Steiner

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All new for 2016, the Tern Bicycles Eclipse X22 is designed to pack a big ride into a foldable package. Thanks to its 26-inch wheels the X22 feels and handles like a “standard” bicycle. That’s something that the best tiny-wheeled folders approach, but never quite attain. The Eclipse is also more adept at rolling over uneven pavement, crossing railroad tracks or grinding through gravel than smaller-wheeled bikes.

Tern designed the X22 for speed. Clues are the slick Schwalbe Kojak tires and the racy paired-spoke wheels. The 22-speed Shimano drivetrain has a huge gear range. When needed, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes keep the speedy X22 in check—with plenty of power and mucho modulation.

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Throwing a leg over the saddle and grabbing the Ergon grips, I found myself in an athletic, heads-up riding position. The cockpit is roomy and comfy. I was more “over the pedals” than on my personal bikes—so I slid the Ergon SMC30 Pro saddle saddle all the way back and felt more at home.

After reeling off a number of multi-hour rides, I came away impressed with the comfort of both the riding position and the contact points. The Eclipse X22 feels energetic, and it’s a lot of fun to ride. Agile handling makes it a breeze to thread through crowded confines with a flick of the wrist, or dodge potholes with a wiggle of the hips. It’s a lot of fun zipping around town on this responsive, but never twitchy, bike.

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The frame and fork have mounts for racks and fenders (offered by Tern, as well as aftermarket brands)—just the ticket for transforming this speedy steed into a workhorse, or packhorse. All-weather daily driver? Check. Light-duty tourer? Go for it.

At a folded size of 16.5 x 35 x 31.9 inches the X22 is not as compact as its smaller-wheeled siblings—something to keep in mind if size and space is a major consideration. The fold/unfold operation is quick and easy via cam-actuated levers on the frame and handlepost. The closure force is adjustable, and the levers feature Tern’s AutoLoc that automatically locks the levers in place to prevent accidental opening (e.g., if the closure force is improperly set too low, or something snags the lever while riding).

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To open the lever, you must first slide back the red AutoLoc button, which releases an internal catch. Which brings me to my one negative experience: I failed to fully release the AutoLoc button the first time I opened the frame lever and managed to break the plastic catch. Tern told me it is considering switching the frame’s AutoLoc design to an aluminum catch at some point in the future. It has already switched to aluminum on the handlepost AutoLoc.

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Despite morphing like a Transformer, the bike feels solid and secure. There’s no undesirable play in the main folding joint or the handlebars. Both the Tern Physis 3D-forged handlepost and Syntace VRO adjustable, double-clamp stem are solidly built. While the VRO stem provides less height adjustment than the telescopic systems on some folders, I had no problem finding a comfortable stem position.

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I’ve ridden a number of folding bikes over the years, but none that has had the chops to deftly dispatch the daily grind, and hold its own in a paceline with pals, as well as the Tern Eclipse X22. I’d love to have this horse in my barn.

  • Price: $2,500
  • Weight: 24.5 pounds
  • Size: One size fits riders from 4’10” to 6’5”
  • More info: Tern Eclipse X22

 

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