Tern GSD compact longtail review part Two: Stewart’s ride

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By Stewart Port

I’m a 64-year-old guy with heart disease. I ride for everyday transportation and errands when I can, and occasional 10-20 mi. jaunts for exercise and recreation. I’m otherwise in good shape, but I have a hard limit for sustained exertion– the arteries to my heart are narrowed and propped open with hi-tech Chinese finger-cuffs. So when my (mostly younger and healthier) pals urged me to join them on their annual weeklong bike camping trip. I really wanted to go, but was torn. I didn’t really have any rolling or camping gear that was up to the trip, and 30 miles of all-out effort while potentially rolling along by myself with the pack far ahead didn’t sound like much fun.

And then there was the Tern, conveniently on loan for evaluation to the publisher of this fine outlet, who happens to be my neighbor, and one of the instigators of the tour.

At first, I hated the idea of being the old guy on the e-bike, but Moe patiently explained that it wasn’t a regular e-bike, but rather an e-assisted bike– Pedal, and the motor amplifies your efforts, with a choice of four levels. No pedal, no go. Hell, you could even turn off the electricity and kick the entire 60 lbs down the road purely on burrito power. And the cargo deck solved the problem of having no proper compact, lightweight camping gear– I just stuffed my quilt and pillow in a soft bag and gathered up my usual car camping kit and backpack and mini-cooler, and bungeed the whole impossible pile down on the rear cargo deck.

First, a short ride to the train station. Starting out in the lowest gear, my first pressure on the pedals produced powerful acceleration. (Note: Hold on tight when starting out! There’s a bit of a learning curve, but the various power levels make it possible to really dial in the effort, spin rate and speed for varying conditions) With a hand from an obliging conductor I loaded the thing up into an Amtrak San Joaquin, and we were off to Antioch, our starting point at the edge California’s Sacramento River Delta.

The trip from Antioch to Locke, a picturesque old Chinese town up the Delta, was about 30 miles, and apart from the half mile of 7% grade climbing up the Antioch bridge, the route is the very definition of flat, though the winds can be stiff. For the most part, I found myself switching between equal periods of pedaling unassisted and using the first level (“Econo”) to keep up with my crew’s 10-12 mph pace (Yes, the speedometer is very cool!). I found myself wishing that there was an even lower level of assist available. When I used the assist, I consoled my wounded pride by figuring I was using just enough battery power to make up for the thing’s fat tires, 60 lb curb weight, and the ridiculous pile of gear strapped behind me. I was surprised at how easily and smoothly it rolled un-assisted.
The fit adjustments were convenient, especially the handlebar quick-release adjustments which made stopping and making minor changes to avoid fatigue a reasonable solution to the straight bars’ lack of different places to grip– If I were using it mainly for touring, I would want to add climbing pegs or some sort of bar extension. When we got to our bivouac for the night, an orchard and adjoining wood, the fat tires did nicely on the rougher surfaces.

On the trip back, I put it to a harder test. I was traveling alone for the last 15 miles, and I had a train to catch, so I allowed myself the second and third levels (“Touring” and “Sport”) and cruised along at 15-16 mph, switching to the highest level (“Turbo”) for the bridge. At about a mile from the station, I noticed the ride getting a little squooshy, and sure enough, the rear tire was looking low. With no patch kit or pump, and not much time to spare before my train, I gave it the juice– I put it on the highest setting and the lowest gear, and pedaling hard, fishtailed into the depot on a completely flat tire, with scant minutes to spare. Amtrak came through for me again in Oakland– The agent was kind enough to let me leave the rig in the secure baggage area while I walked to my house to get my car. Getting it into the trunk of the old Jetta for the ride home proved easy enough, and without taking off the wheels it only projected a foot or so beyond the back of the car.

Of course, I wouldn’t recommend that anyone abuse defenseless rubber and aluminum so, but the wheel and tire appeared none the worse for wear when I broke them down to patch the tube (A small sliver of glass that had worked its way through, and eventually cut the tube..)

All in all, the GSD, and its fine-grained pedal assist control system is a great addition to my life. For a lot of folks and situations it can tip the balance towards making a trip on two wheels as opposed to four, or not at all.

Read Part One here: Tern GSD review Part 1

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Tern GSD compact longtail review Part 1

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The longtail cargo bike, with its stretched rear end, has been my go-to whip of late due to its ultimate versatility, utility, and fun. And with an electric motor for extended range, there are no worries about what (or who) you might pick up during your travels, or how far you might go in a day. But longtails are long, taking up a good amount of space and being difficult to load onto a larger motor vehicle.

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So when Tern showed up in the cargo bike market with its GSD, I was Intrigued. First, what does GSD stand for? Get Stuff Done is one answer. And secondly, aside from its attractive looks, what is so new and exciting about this bicycle? Tern calls it a new kind of bicycle, a compact longtail.

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What makes it compact? Well for one thing, with the help of dual 20” wheels, the GSD has a length similar to your average bike. Combined with a folding handlebar and highly adjustable saddle, it’s easier to get it into the back of your SUV, easier to take on public transportation, and a lot easier to store. In fact, the GSD can be stored vertically on its tail, taking only a small footprint.

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It’s also electric. Some of you are thinking that is not what you are looking for. A while ago, I wasn’t either. But once you get accustomed to the increased range and versatility you will likely be sold for life. Power comes from a 250 watt Bosch motor, putting out a maximum 63Nm of torque in Turbo mode. That’s right, the GSD controls offer four power modes from Eco to Turbo. Different levels of assistance for different needs. In Eco the motor gives you 50% more power than you pedal into it, up to Turbo where the motor is adding 275% more power to the bike. Stock battery is 400 Watt-Hours but you can also buy the GSD with a 400 plus 500Wh battery for extended range. This pushes the GSD into the touring realm.

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Versatility is key. Accessories unlock the GSD’s potential. Kids? The GSD will easily take two Yepp child seats for the small ones. Big ones and adults can ride on the back using accessory foot pegs, seat cushions, and grab bars. Panniers? Enough for all your groceries. Racks? Front and/or rear for even more hauling capability. One size fits most all here with the GSD fitting riders from 5 feet to 6’5”. I’m 6’4” and had no trouble with it. Plus the handlebars rotate around the stem for further fitting options.

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The build is pretty heavy, in a good, strong way. The frame, while aluminum, appears beautifully built and ready for anything. In fact, the weight capacity is 400 lbs. so there’s not much you can’t haul. The feeling of solidness is welcome here. Weight comes in under 60 lbs. in the single battery configuration. Component-wise there are a few things that stand out. Tern-specific Schwalbe 62mm tires on Tern-specific 36mm rims with plenty of spokes and Boost axles. Magura 4 piston brakes handle the stopping with great power. Super solid, top notch, up to date modern stuff. I would not hesitate to carry anything with this bike, as long as I could get it on there.

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Accessory-wise you won’t need to add much to this bike. Lights, fenders, center stand and bell are all included with the bike. Optional accessories to consider include Tern’s Cargo Hold panniers, child seats, and the Shortbed tray that is on the test bike. Handlebars and pegs are also available for adult passengers as well.

In practice, it is easy to get on and go. The step-through frame and low center-of-gravity sure help. Turn the motor on, select the amount of assist you’d like, and go! Easy-peasy. The Bosch motor helps as little or as much as you need. But you still have to pedal. Power is solid, but keep in mind this is no motorcycle.

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My friend Stewart and I shared the testing duties. We both found the GSD to be super-capable for a wide range of tasks. Loads included a pile of camping gear, the band’s bass drum, passengers, boxes of magazines, garage sale items and more. As much as Stewart did not want to use the motor (Out of pride I believe), he was glad to have the motor as an insurance policy in case he got tired too far away from home. Me on the other hand, I just enjoyed the lack of throttle as I bopped around town picking up random articles. But I did wish for a bit more power on some of the steeper hills. I do weigh well over 200 lbs you know. The good news is that the 2019 model will have more, power that is. The other small improvement we’d recommend would be a larger center stand as the current one is a tad small for parking on uneven surfaces.

The best thing about the GSD is its foldability and storability. The handlebar folding down made it much easier to load the bike into a SUV or minivan. As for storage, grab the rear brake, pull back and the GSD sits on its tail, taking up only a small amount of closet space.

The Tern GSD is sold with single 400Wh battery for $3999 The dual 400 plus 500Wh model will run you $4799. Panniers run $150 a pair and that rack runs $120. A lot of money? For some, yes. But this bike is a game-changer, a car-pooper, sonic reducer, life-changer. Imagine parking that multi-ton behemoth automobile and spending your time outside! Quality time! Quality life!

One of the most interesting cargo/utility bikes I have seen in a while, The Tern GSD is bound to get more butts on bikes, and that is what it’s all about, isn’t it?  Click here for part 2, in which Stewart shares his touring experience!

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Interbike 2017 – Day 1

Here are a few notable things from the halls of ye olde Interbike, 2017.

Ergon releases a new grip of grips (and a saddle)

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From the top: GA3 – $30 – The smallest version ever of the winged grips that Ergon is known for, the GA3 is for small-handed riders (insert Trump joke here) or riders looking for some wrist support that can’t get along with the larger wings on other Ergon grips.

GA2 Fat – $30 –  Ergon’s fattest grip at 33.5 wide. Tacky and shock absorbent, the GA2 is designed for long days and rough terrain.

GE1 Evo/GE1 Evo Factory – $35/$40 – Designed to excel at enduro mountain biking, the GE1 has become a favorite of ours for just about any bike with flat bars. The evolved version of the original GE1, the Evo has a new pattern for better grip. The Factory version is manufactured with a tacky and soft German-made compound.

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Women’s saddles ($70-$130)
Designed with the same attention to detail as the rest of Ergon’s ergonomic lines, this new series of women’s saddles could be your backside’s answer to its prayers.

There are both road (SR) and mountain (SM) versions, at a range of price points. There are two widths to fit various sit bone widths. Pictured is the Sport Gel version, although I can’t tell if it is the SR or SM version.

Silca Tattico pump with Bluetooth – $120

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Did you ever want a pump that can talk to your phone and double as a Kobuta baton? No? Me either, but maybe you aren’t like me and need connectivity and self-defense capabilities built into your tire inflation device.

Snark aside, if you really want or need the accuracy of a pump with a digital gauge in a small package, this is a nicely built pump with electronic bits built into the same size as the $55 non-Bluetooth Tattico.

Abus Bordo locks

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The cute little lock is a Bordo Lite Mini. Stick it in your jersey. Stick it in your jeans. Stick it in your fanny pack. Stick it in your hydration pack. Stick it between your teeth like a pirate about to raid a schooner. But don’t leave for a ride without it. Two sizes, a few colors, all 500 grams or under.

The bigger lock is the Bordo Alarm. Jiggle it once it emits a loud warning beep. Jiggle it some more and a 100 decibel alarm scares off the miscreant with his or her dirty paws on your prized ride.

Tern GSD Compact Utility bike

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The GSD is an e-bike aimed to replace a second car, or enable a car-free or car-lite lifestyle. Built to solve the problems of owning a huge bike in an urban area, the GSD stores upright in the about the same area an awkward 15 year old would take up at his first high school dance.

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Claimed to fit riders between 4’9” and 6’5”, the seatpost and stem adjust without tools. Bosch provides the motor and battery, and the rest of the components are well-thought out. 20×2.4 Schwalbe tires, four-piston Magura brakes, thru-axles and a Shimano drivetrain are some of the better choices I’ve seen on any stock cargo bike.

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Total capacity is 400 pounds, and the well-braced frame looks to be stiff enough handle that with ease. There are plenty accessories to outfit the GSD, including some sweet folding passenger pegs. With a folding stem and double telescoping seatpost, the GSD should store easily in a closet, fit in any elevator, and even fit in a hatchback.

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The GSD is $4,000, or $4,800 with a second battery. With the second battery, Tern claims a 150 mile range on the lowest assist mode. The power kicks out at 20 mph.

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Acepac Bike Shelter

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1100 grams, sleeps two people, folds up into the size of a Nalgene bottle. Leave the groundsheet at home and you have a 750 gram shelter. All for only $120.

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Acepac is a bikepacking bag company out of the Czech Republic with a full line of bags and shelters. This little tarp-style tent seems to be a simple solution of lightweight shelter that doesn’t break the bank.

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AnneeLondon folding helmet

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This was hard to photograph in any way that doesn’t make it look slightly odd, but in person it looks a little more normal. The London helmet uses a cloth-wrapped hard shell combined with reactive foam pads to create a helmet that AnneeLondon claims is more protective than almost any EPS helmet on the market. It folds small enough to fit in a small bag or purse. This is an odd product, but so far, is the most innovative thing I’ve seen at the show.

Preorders are going on now. $180 will save your place in line for the first production run that should start in Colorado any day now, with delivery planned for the beginning of 2018.

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Tern debuts compact electric utility bike

This week, Tern launched the GSD, a utility e-bike that the company calls “category-defining.”

Tern states that “The GSD can haul two kids, a week’s worth of groceries or 180 kg (almost 400 lbs) of cargo.” But it’s a lot smaller than most cargo bikes, which tend to be highly unwieldy objects. If you have to put the bike in a small apartment or vehicle, forget it.

The GSD is actually no longer than a normal bike, so it fits on standard car or bus bike racks, and folds to reduce its height by one third and its length by 40 percent.

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“One of our guiding insights was that cargo bikes are most useful in city centers, but they’re correspondingly difficult to manage and store,” according to Galen Crout, Communications Manager at Tern. “Dense urban centers bring cargo bikes to life–where groceries, schools and work are all within a bikeable distance–but they’re also where houses are small, and where bike theft is a persistent problem. We’re creating the compact utility e-bike category to let people in cities enjoy the benefits of cargo bikes without the limitations.”

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The GSD is highly adjustable for a variety of different heights and sizes, and it’s meant for the whole family to be able to use. The cockpit and handlebars can be adjusted for reach, and low-step through and a low center of gravity make it easy for smaller riders to ride and handle.

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The frame and components are meant to handle big loads, whether its two adults (one driver, one passenger), an adult and two kids, or plenty of cargo. The GSD rack is 80 cm (31.5 in) long and the included panniers fit a total of 62 liters.

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The bike has room for two batteries that power a Bosch Performance motor, so the GSD can keep rolling for up to 250 km (155 mi) before needing to recharge.

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The GSD comes with integrated lighting, fenders and panniers and will retail for $3,999.

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Tern’s Roji Line of Non-Folding Bikes Goes Global

Urban transportation specialist Tern announced the distribution of their Roji bike collection—traditional diamond frames with 650c, 700c and 451 wheels—to markets across Europe, Asia and the Americas. Following global demand for the Japan-only product line, select models of the new family of Tern bikes will be available starting Spring 2017 in cities including New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei and Buenos Aires.

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“At Tern, we’re committed to building one of the world’s leading urban cycling brands,” said Joshua Hon, Founder and Team Captain of Tern. “As we develop more product offerings in folding, electric and cargo, it’s a natural progression to bring our design philosophy to classic city bikes as well. The Roji collection has been a runaway success in Japan, and we can’t wait to bring it to the rest of the world.”

The 2017 Roji lineup builds on last year’s 650c and 700c offerings with two new 451 mini velos, the Tern Crest, and the hydroformed Tern Surge. Mini velos, a hybrid design combining traditional road frames and compact wheels, have seen an explosion of popularity across Asia’s megacities, where space is at a premium. The Surge delivers the benefits of 451 wheels, including punchy acceleration and portability, with the rigidity and light weight of a hydro-formed diamond frame. “Our new Surge and Crest bikes are optimized for urban riding,” continued Hon. “What makes them great for Tokyo—size, performance, maneuverability and style—makes them perfect for Paris too.”

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Together with the international launch of Roji, Tern is piloting a new project for 2017—small batch productions of limited Roji designs, sporting radical styling and specs. The Surge LTD, the flagship of the new project, features tri-spoke carbon fiber wheels, custom drop bars, and a global production run of only 50 units. “Every time we post a teaser of the Surge LTD to our Facebook or Instagram accounts, it breaks the internet,” laughed Hon. “The showpiece tri-spoke wheels are a bit of a flourish, but they shave grams off the stock model, and offer a significant improvement in overall aerodynamics. They look pretty good too.”

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This Friday—Buy a Tern, Support the Environment

Tern Bicycles has announced that on January 20, Inauguration Day, they will be donating 100% of profits to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in an effort to support the fight to protect our planet’s natural resources.

The NRDC is one of the nation’s most powerful environmental groups, made up of over 2 million members, including lawyers, scientists, and activists working to “ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild.” Recently, the NRDC has launched a campaign urging citizens to tell their senators to “Vote NO on Donald Trump’s cabinet of pollutors.”

President of Tern, Josh Han, states that “January 20th is going to be a significant day – one that brings momentous changes to efforts to preserve our planet. Tern believes that keeping the planet a livable place is something that everybody can get behind. That’s the reason why we will be hosting a sales event on January 20th and donating 100 percent of its profits to the National Resources Defense Council.”

Environmentally-conscious decisions aren’t a first for Tern. The folding bike company already donates at least 1% of profits each year to environmental or social causes. As stated on their website, “we all want to live in a world with clean water, clean air, and safe food. But with things going the way they are, it’s getting harder and harder. We need to work to protect our planet and we need to support the individuals and groups that are bearing the brunt of that responsibility.”

Tern also makes an effort to minimize the impact of the company on the environment. They try to minimize packaging, eliminate the use of harmful chemicals, and make their products to be repairable, rather than replaceable. Most of the employees walk, bike, or take public transit to work, and they regularly participate in events as a company that give back to the community.

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Interested in taking advantage of the Inauguration Day sale? Check out http://store.ternbicycles.com/ (in the U.S.) or http://premiumbikegear.com/ (International). Tern also commits to using a Tern dealer to fulfill orders whenever possible to support local businesses.

 

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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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First Impression: Tern Eclipse X22 Folding Bicycle

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Tern’s all-new Eclipse X22 folding bicycle is scheduled for release in January 2016, with a suggested retail price of $2,500. I’ve had the pleasure of riding several folding bikes over the years, but this is my first time reviewing a folder with full-size wheels.

I’ve already come to appreciate the added feeling of security that the 26-inch wheels provide when rolling over uneven pavement or crossing railroad tracks. The slick Schwalbe Kojak tires are designed roll fast, but they do have puncture protection. I like that.

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Another advantage of the 26-inch bike—compared to tiny-wheeled folders—is speed. The 24.8 pound Eclipse X22 has plenty of zip for fast-paced recreational rides.

Speaking of fast, the wheels roll on Kinetix Pro X Disc hubs front and rear, laced with 20 straight-pull spokes to Kinetix Pro X aluminum rims using the Rolf paired spoke design. Very sweet, svelte wheels. Just as sweet are the Shimano SLX hydraulic disc brakes. I’m a fan of hydros on street bikes.

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The 22-speed drivetrain ranges between 30 and 112 gear inches. That’s plenty for my style of street riding.

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The Tern Physis 3D handlepost has a large clamp that locks down securely. The Syntace VRO adjustable double-clamp stem is stiff and convenient to use. Overall the bike offers a very solid-feeling control center.

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The fold is quick and easy via cam-actuated levers on the main frame and the handlepost. The folded bike is secured by a magnetic clasp on the frame and a rubber strap keeps the folded handlepost in its place. If you fold the frame but leave the stem erect, you can roll the X22 along on its wheels rather than carry it.

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We’ll have a full review in the next issue of the magazine, Issue #39; hurry up and subscribe if you haven’t yet. In the meantime, you can find more information at the Tern Bicycles website.

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2015 Mega Sweeps

Welcome to the Bicycle Times year-end mega sweeps survey. This information will help us better serve you with great content. Your answers will remain anonymous and can enter you to win a new Tern Link D8 (MSRP $700).

Click here to read the terms and conditions. If you can’t see the survey below, please visit this link to take it.

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The Link D8 is Tern’s “Jack of All Trades” because it’s good at everything. Dress it up with racks, fenders, and lights for a commute. Or, keep it simple and light for weekend rides. It also plays well with other forms of transport – 10 seconds and the bike is folded to bring aboard a bus, train, ferry, or the trunk of your car. The Link D8 is your ticket to instant transportation.

If you have any other questions or concerns about the survey, please let us know at web@bicycletimesmag.com.

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Enter to win a ride connection prize package from BioLogic

Whether you’re on the open road or on your way to work, it’s nice to stay connected. This prize package from BioLogic includes a waterproof WeatherCase, a Bluetooth speed and cadence sensor and a Bluetooth heart rate monitor strap. Together with the free BioLogic BikeBrain app they turn your smartphone into a powerful cycling computer. All together it’s a $135 value.

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Enter to win by filling out the entry form below, or by opening it in a new window. Please read the terms and conditions before entering, and don’t delay, the drawing will be held Thursday, July 23.

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First ride: Tern Eclipse S18

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Maybe you know the drill on folding bicycles, a.k.a. folders. Easy to store, easy to transport, and fun to ride! The perfect solution for the urban environment.

Folders come in many configurations, from tiny-wheeled singlespeeds to this one, perhaps the mother of all folders. The Tern Eclipse S18 is the zombie-apocalypse-surviving*, Swiss army knife of folders. It has everything you could want in an ultimate urban-assault vehicle. 18 speeds, fat tires on 24-inch wheels, disc brakes, racks, fenders and generator lighting. And to top it off a stealthy-yet-gorgeous neutral paint scheme.

This leaves very little to think about. I’m ready to go anywhere, with or without cargo, in the rain and/or dark of night. Heck, I could go on an extended tour on this if I wanted. Like Tern says, Zombie-ready.

Take a closer look.

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