When it comes to folding bikes, our office is most familiar with two of the giants of the genre—Taiwan-based Tern and UK-based Brompton (see article on GJ Editor winning Brompton U.S. Championships). Each brand builds distinctive bikes designed for urban commuters.
Brompton is the pricier of the two, with single-speed setups starting at $1400, and is renowned for the most compact fold on the market. For commuters in a mega city where space is limited, Brompton’s versatility is tough to beat.
Tern has a more affordable entry point of $500 for its most basic bike and offers frame geometries that ride more like a regular bike than their English counterparts–though they don’t fold as small as Bromptons.
While most Tern bikes come in under the century mark on pricing, the brand also has several high-end options. Seeking a setup similar to my everyday commuter bike (Surly Crosscheck), I chose a Tern Verge X10 to review this summer.
This bike is the Ferrari of the line, and is priced as such at $1,800. The Verge X10 has solid components across the board, and weighs in at a scant 21 lbs with an aluminum frame and lightweight Kinetix Pro 20” wheels.
Right off the bat, I was struck by the size of the massive 55-tooth crankset, which is practically as large as the bike’s tiny wheels and provides big-time power on the road, with a SRAM 10-speed cassette (11-36T) offering plenty of gearing options.
The ride of the Verge X10 is impressive. I was initially bashful passing other cyclists on a folding bike, but, even pedaling at a leisurely clip, the bike gets moving in a hurry. I’d argue it’s as fast or faster than most bikes on city roads–not bad for 20” wheels!
Like with any folding bike, the Verge X10 still takes some getting used to. The rider is more upright than on most commuter bikes, and the handling is super twitchy with the tiny tires. But even with multiple GJ editors over six-feet tall taking turns on the Verge X10, no one complained of feeling cramped.
Keeping in mind the purpose of a folding bike to begin with, the Verge X10 is very portable. When Drew, the marketing director from Revolights, came into town this summer for the Levi’s Bike Shop Tour, I biked to a downtown Minneapolis light rail station on my Crosscheck with the Tern strapped to my go-to Banjo Brothers pack. Once at the station, a quick, 10-second unfold and the Verge X10 saved a cab fare, and I was able to show Drew Minneapolis as it’s best experienced–by bike.
It should be noted that the fold isn’t small enough to fit into carry-on airplane luggage. It is possible to stash it in a large, checked suitcase. For comparison, Bromptons are able to fold down small enough to fit in carry-on luggage on some airlines.
This Tern bike is a dream come true for someone in search of a folding ride that doesn’t sacrifice the feel or speed of a normal bike. Putting in 40+ miles on this bike comfortably wouldn’t be out of the question–something that can’t be said for most folders. Admittedly, the Verge X10 still looks a bit “different,” but it’s easy to forget the aesthetics when you’re cruising around at 20 mph.