Review: Dahon Jifo Uno folding bike

Tester: Eric McKeegan
Sizes: One size
Price: $799
Weight: 21.5 lbs

The “last mile” problem affects almost anything and anyone that moves via high capacity transport. It is in the “last mile” that the efficiencies of mass transport can be lost in, when moving people and things from the train station or distribution hub to the destination. Meaning, if the bus drops you off a mile away from your office, and you live a mile away from the bus stop, you might end up driving into work because the time needed to walk those distances makes the car a more attractive option.

The Jifo Uno sets out to solve that. It is unapologetically designed for short trips and the smallest possible folded size. It is a simple tool, but it doesn’t skimp on the features needed to make that last mile problem disappear.

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How this bike folds is the star of the show here. Lift and turn the dial on the main tube, open the quick release lever on the seatpost and flip the locking lever on the handlebar extension. Push the bar and seat away from each other and the bike folds right up and locks into position with a magnet. Then fold the bars down, lower the top part of the seatpost and you’ve got a compact package. If you need to get even smaller, the pedals pop out of the cranks with an air-compressor type fitting and click into storage ports above the rear wheel. The handlebar can be rotated to fold the levers in even closer. The basic fold is easy to do in under 30 seconds, and the complete takedown takes less than a minute. Unfolding is even faster.

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Those little 16 inch wheels keep things small, but still have fenders keep your slacks clean. A rust resistant chain keeps maintenance at bay, and a chainring guard provides enough coverage to keep pant legs out of the drivetrain.

The single speed drivetrain is pretty special. It uses a 9 tooth cog matched up with a 39 tooth chainring. Most cassettes stop at 11 teeth; dropping down to a 9 allows for a smaller front chainring, but makes for a big enough gear to travel at a decent clip. The double-pulley chain tensioner is needed to keep the chain snug when the bike is folded, as the rear wheel rotates closer to the crank. As a side benefit that tension keeps the chain perfectly adjusted, even as the chain stretches over time.

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As expected, this little bike is great at little rides. Since the Jifo is very much about being tiny as possible, it comes as no surprise the bike feels small while riding it. But it also feels like a quality ride. Effective brakes, a comfortable saddle and a very low bottom bracket make for an adept little transport device that can slice and dice between slower traffic. It might seem like a small thing, but not having jiggly-feeling folding pedals is a big plus as well.

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The Jifo isn’t a great match for long climbs or rough surfaces. The short wheelbase and small tires make this a nervous ride on dirt or gravel, and the narrow bars and tight cockpit compromise climbing. This isn’t so much a complaint as a reminder about this bike’s intended purpose as a short trip machine.

The Jifo Uno folds into one of the most compact packages on the market today, and does so with a minimum of fuss. For last mile trips or a super-compact travel bike, Dahon has hit the mark.

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Review: GT Traffic 1.0

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Tester: Adam Newman
Price: $660
Weight: 27.8 pounds
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL (tested)
More info: GT Bicycles

Practicality and fashion are a difficult mix. Some would say they’re even incompatible. Many bikes will get you where you need to go, but they aren’t exactly turning heads.

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If you’re reading this magazine you likely have more than a passing interest in two-wheeled transit. But you don’t have to be a bike nerd to appreciate having fun in the saddle, and that’s what I found with the GT Traffic.

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Sitting atop the line of three Traffic models, GT says the 1.0 is built for urban professionals, suburban commuters or anyone who wants a really practical bike that doesn’t just blend in with the crowd. It takes several design cues from the sportier GT Grade models, but incorporates a more upright posture and commuter-friendly features like the kickstand mount.

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The aluminum frame features the classic GT Triple Triangle, and the silver finish is classy without a ton of logos marring it. It is available in six sizes, so almost anyone should be able to find a good fit. At 6-foot-2, I rode the XL.

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The Traffic is a solid platform for getting where you need to go and fun enough to take you a little bit beyond. While I will admit to being spoiled by some of the high-end bicycles we get to demo, I was impressed with the value of the build. Included are Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, full coverage fenders and even a bell. Add some lights and a lock and you’re off.

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Propulsion runs through an SR Suntour triple crankset and 8-speed cassette. I’ll admit to using the center 38-tooth chainring the vast majority of the time, but the 28-tooth granny gear was appreciated once in a while. I think I used the 48-tooth big ring only once or twice.

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Moving the chain from one chainring to a larger one is a bit slow but it always got there. Out back the wide range of the 11-32 Sunrace cassette was great for hills, and shifting through the Shimano Altus rear derailleur was crisp and easy, a remarkable difference from the front.

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One hangup was the Acera shifter only has a “pull” motion for the cable release, not the two-way release of high-end Shimano shifters, so you have to take your index finger off the brakes to shift. After a few rides I had adapted to it though.

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On the road the ride is smooth with a sporty, but not aggressive, body position. The swept back handlebars keep your head up and your elbows bent, ready to dodge that errant taxi cab about to pull out in front of you.

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The 40 mm Schwalbe Road Cruiser tires offer a smooth ride without much risk of punctures, and while many purists will scoff at the aluminum fork, I didn’t even notice it.

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The best thing about the Traffic is its versatility. For rides around town I found myself repeatedly reaching for it. There aren’t many places you couldn’t go on this thing, and knowing that you didn’t break the bank to get there only makes it that much more fun.

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I wouldn’t hesitate to take it out for rides through the countryside, or throw some front and rear racks on and go for a tour. Dirt? Gravel? Pavement? Sure, why not?

 

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Review: Bianchi Metropoli Uno

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Bianchi is the oldest manufacturer producing bicycles these days, having been started by company namesake Edoardo Bianchi in 1885. That’s nearly 130 years of bicycle production. Though the Bianchi name is often associated with road racing, the company got its start producing bikes for the evolving transportation market in the late nineteenth century. How fitting then we have this opportunity to review Bianchi’s transportation-focused Metropoli Uno.

Click here to read our long-term review.

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