Recently I got a question by email from a woman living in Queens, New York about Tern vs Brompton for a lightweight girl.

This is a very good question, because buying a bike can very confusing to the beginner. There’s tons of choices between Dutch bikes, city bikes, hybrid bikes, gravel bikes, cyclocross bikes, road bikes, and mountain bikes.

Now take these various types of bikes, and make them foldable for easier storage and carrying.

The rule to remember is that just like with regular bikes, there’s always going to be a trade-off.

If you’re looking for a folding bike that’s compact and light, it’s usually going to be smaller.

On the other hand, if your need a folding bicycle for long-distance riding, and don’t need to carry it onto public transportation, you can get away with larger wheels and less compact fold.

But before we get into more detail, let’s take a look at the question she asked.

Here’s the question that this woman asked about a Tern vs Brompton for a lightweight girl

Hi there,

Just discovered your site – very helpful! I also live in NY (Queens) and have been debating on getting a bike, especially in the midst of all this Covid situation.

I’ve never owned a bike before and citibikes are FAR too heavy for me to enjoy riding. I don’t have bike storage yet (waitlist at my building) so i’m looking at folding bikes.

I’ve been reviewing Brompton and Tern, mostly because they seem to have good reviews and i like that REI carries them, if i ever need in-person service.

Based on your posts, Tern Link D8 seems to be a great option for me. But wanted to see if you have any suggestions for a petite woman.

What got me attracted to the Tern was the 20in wheels that seem to work better for longer rides.

Appreciate any input!

Thank you for the question and here’s my response

Whenever you’re considering purchasing a folding bike, there’s a few questions you have to ask yourself.

  • What kind of terrain will you be riding, and how far?
  • How much are you willing to pay?
  • Will you be combining it with public transportation such as a bus, subway, or train?
  • Do you plan on traveling with the bike such as on a plane?
  • Will this be your only bike for commuting?

Both the the Tern and Brompton folding bikes are great choices, and the ones that I chose based upon the quality, features, and how they ride.

Let’s start with the Brompton

Living in queens, New York I’m assuming that you will most likely be combining the folding bicycle with public transportation.

If this is the case, the Brompton wins hands down for compactness and lightweight depending upon what accessories and gear ranges you choose.

Depending on the model of bike and configuration, the weight of the bike can range from 9KG to 13KG (20lbs to 28lbs).

This means if you get a single speed with no fenders, rack, and sport handlebars, your Brompton will weigh approximately 20lbs. It will be easier to carry upstairs, and will be compact enough to fit almost anywhere. All useful features while riding a subway or bus full of pedestrians.

Another great feature is that when the Brompton is folded, the bike doesn’t come apart, unlike the folding bikes that use magnets such as the Terns. You can shake the Brompton aggressively, and it still stays neatly folded.

You also don’t have to worry about getting chain grease on other pedestrians while riding public transportation, or yourself while carrying it. The way the Brompton folds makes it impossible to ruin your clothes while transporting it.

What I like about the Brompton

  • The Dimensions of a Brompton when folded are 585mm high x 565mm long x 270mm wide (23″ x 22.2″ x 10.6″). This makes it the smallest folding bike in the world that still has a great ride. Meaning you can bring it just about anywhere.
  • Has lots of accessories for carrying stuff such as the sport bag.
  • A steel frame, efficient and puncture resistant tyres, handmade with high build quality and a design that has been refined over 25 years means Brompton folding bikes provide years of regular city use and beyond.
  • The most reliable hinge clamps that never need adjusting.

What I don’t like about the Brompton

  • Can be heavy to carry at 28 lbs, with fenders, a rack and upright handlebars.
  • Don’t like the internal hub and derailleur gear combination, which is why I chose the 2-speed.
  • Can be expensive for many at $1224 with no gears, fenders, or rack.
  • Even with the suspension, can be jarring riding over rough surfaces.

Now let’s talk about the Tern Link D8

If you plan on riding more, and not combining it with public transportation regularly, the Tern Link D8 wins easily.

The Tern vs Brompton as far ride quality is concerned, are like night and day. Unlike the Brompton, the Tern has larger wheels, and wider tires. This makes the Tern much more comfortable when going over rough surfaces.

You also get a nice 8-speed Shimano gear-set with trigger shifter that many bicycle mechanics are familiar with. And much more simpler and easier to use than the combination internal/external gear-set that the 6-speed Brompton uses.

Also, at 12.1 kg (26.7 lb) it already comes with a rack, fenders, and Schwalbe Big Apple tires, that I think are the best you can get for everyday commuting. They are very comfortable, fast, puncture resistant and saves you over $100 on not having to upgrade tires.

I’m also a huge fan of the adjustable handlebars, something the Brompton doesn’t have. You can adjust your handlebars depending upon the riding style you prefer.

At around $850 you get a lot more bike for your money.

Unfortunately, the Tern does have a few downfalls

The fold is not as neat and tidy as the Brompton. While carrying it, you have to be careful not to tilt it too much, or the bike will unfold on you.

You also have to be careful not to get chain grease on your pants while carrying it, because it’s not covered like it is with the Brompton. I’ve ruined a few pants in the past.

Carrying the Tern on public transportation will also be a lot harder than with the Brompton. At a folded size of 38 x 79 x 72 cm (15″ x 31.1″ x 28.3″), you can see it’s a lot bigger while folded than a Brompton.

What I like about the Tern

  • Awesome modern look.
  • DoubleTruss technology makes it super stiff and efficient to ride.
  • Comes with Schwalbe Big Apple Tires.
  • Fully equipped with fenders and rack.
  • Adjustable Andros stem on handlebars.
  • Great Shimano 8-speed with trigger shifter.
  • Get more for your money than with the Brompton.
  • Bigger wheels equals a smoother ride.
  • Has a regular kickstand. No need to remove stuff from the back rack when parking bike.

What I don’t like about the Tern

  • Doesn’t have as small of a fold as the Brompton. Can’t fit inside a grocery cart like a Brompton.
  • Chain isn’t covered while folded like a Brompton, so your pants can get ruined.
  • Hinge clamps can be difficult to close for some individuals.

In conclusion to Tern vs Brompton for a lightweight girl

If you’re looking for a folding bicycle that is compact, light and rides well for it’s wheel sized, the Brompton is my preferred choice. In the 2-speed version of course.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a modern looking bike, that rides incredibly well. Is fully equipped with fenders and rack for less. And can still fold to get onto public transportation. Get the Tern.

Personally, I like riding the Brompton for short distances to the stores and restaurants.

But for riding around, especially for longer distances, I like the ride quality of the Tern better.

VERDICT: For the money, the Tern is a better choice overall.

Hopefully I’ve answered your question, Tern vs Brompton for a lightweight girl, and this has helped a lot. I tried to provide as much information as possible without making this too long. If you have anymore questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments section below, and I’ll make sure to answer them the best that I can.

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