Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

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Admiral
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Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by Admiral » Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:29 am

I've been doing some research on folding bikes. They tend to fall into two camps:

Brompton and similar, $1000 or more
All the rest: $350ish

For those who have experience with both (or perhaps either), which would you recommend for the following:

Person A: daily commuter, 3 miles round-trip, mostly flat, all seasons (except during snow/ice)
Person B: Occasional user, non-commuter, mostly in warm weather, mostly flat.

My gut tells me that person A would be best served by a bike that can take more abuse (ie better made), while person B could get away with a cheaper version. But perhaps the cheaper bikes are now better quality than they used to be (?)

Note that even the commuter bike used by Person A would likely NOT be folded at work, it would be secured outside. The folding aspect is more about gaining space at home (for both). City house, so storage is at a premium.

Current rides are commuter-type bikes, non folding, and also a Fixie for occasional summer use.

ccieemeritus
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by ccieemeritus » Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:42 am

I have a citizen bike with the larger wheel option (16” if I remember right). Even though it folds it’s still pretty heavy and uses a lot of a car trunk. The pedals have a shorter stroke (radius) than a normal bike which I find annoying. I enjoyed it when I first got it but haven’t ridden it lately. It was in the $350 range.

autolycus
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by autolycus » Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:52 am

I don't have a folding bike, so I don't really have an answer. I have researched folding bikes and nearly bought one. Big thing though: I would recommend that you avoid Tern bikes. They have a history of cracks in the frame and have had multiple recalls over the years.

lightheir
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by lightheir » Thu Apr 25, 2019 11:02 am

If there is no reason to get a folder, it's more hassle than it's worth. They also use somewhat nonstandard equipment (20" wheels, parts, etc) so more of a hassle to repair/maintain.

The Brompton is lovely but you pay a big premium for the fold and lightness.

I'd say Brompton for dedicated commuters who really need lightweight folding, best example use is a train commuter who takes the bike onto the train.

It's still potentially useful for case A, with just bringing the bike inside for increased security. But if you're set on locking it outside, your best bet would actually be a cheap used bike due to theft risk - which is big time for even a locked Brompton.

knightrider
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by knightrider » Thu Apr 25, 2019 12:36 pm

I had a Dahon D7 and put a few thousand miles on it before it got stolen . Bought another one, but lost the itch to do commuting anymore so ended up selling it..

I would stick with a quality brand. You can find them cheap used as a lot of folks buy them with lofty dreams of commuting that don't materialize.. I think mine was around 30 pounds. It was manageable..

ronno2018
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by ronno2018 » Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:15 pm

I tend to get Bikesdirect.com bikes but lately I feel I need to spend more on name brands, or maybe good used name brands. I like the Jamis and cannondale bikes parked at my office, they just look better (maybe not more durable) but better made.

So I vote for a brompton or a bike friday bike.

That being said you might try a mini velo like this one -- http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/nano.htm

I like mine but it probably needs faster tires. Here is a neat one from Japan -- https://global.rakuten.com/en/store/kam ... /10007876/

cyclist
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by cyclist » Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:28 pm

The principal advantage of a Brompton is its very compact fold. In my view it's silly to lock a Brompton outside when it is so compact - and so valuable.

If you're set on locking the bike outside, there are a slew of better-grade Terns, Dahons, and similar bikes - including used ones -- that will ride perfectly well for these applications. (My kids have them; I have another bike more comparable to the Brompton because it met my commuting needs.)

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leeks
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by leeks » Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:30 pm

My husband recently got a ~$400 Dahon (a prior season single-speed model on sale at a local bike shop). He is very happy with it so far - it has exceeded his expectations. He normally commutes ~5 miles each way in NYC on a non-folding bike (over a steep bridge). But he likes having the folding bike for occasional days (up to a couple times per month) when he will only bike in one direction (due to weather or another activity before/after work). He can bring the folding bike on the subway and easily bring it inside if visiting a friend's apartment or something similar. We also think it will be easier to travel with - but haven't tested bringing it on air travel yet.

If he was going to ride the folding bike most work days, we would have looked at a Brompton.

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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by sailaway » Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:33 pm

ccieemeritus wrote:
Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:42 am
I have a citizen bike with the larger wheel option (16” if I remember right). Even though it folds it’s still pretty heavy and uses a lot of a car trunk. The pedals have a shorter stroke (radius) than a normal bike which I find annoying. I enjoyed it when I first got it but haven’t ridden it lately. It was in the $350 range.
Citizen's larger wheel is 20", but they seem to use the same stroke no matter the wheel size. Mine has three gears and those tiny strokes, so it doesn't get used as much as I would like now that I am surrounded by big hills. It was a great bike on flatter terraine, although the gearing on mine (they do have other options) means that I will never go faster than 8-10mph.

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Raybo
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by Raybo » Thu Apr 25, 2019 2:41 pm

A couple years ago, I purchased a folding touring bike. A different usage than you are considering, but this article I wrote about my search and choice (a Bike Friday) might be of interest to you.
No matter how long the hill, if you keep pedaling you'll eventually get up to the top.

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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by bloom2708 » Thu Apr 25, 2019 2:46 pm

My Brompton (2017 M6L, Racing Green) is sitting next to me in my cube. :wink:

A Brompton is well worth the money. You are paying for an un-matched design.

I bought a Citizen just to see how it compares. Much heavier, fold is clunky. No comparison.

I use the front block with an S bag. No more sweaty back with a backpack with my laptop in it. I have a basket bag for running errands.

Bromptons also hold their value crazy good. This is a problem as the used ones are still expensive if you can find them.

Brompton is not the lightest, but the steel frame rides great and there is no danger of it not lasting.

+ 1 for a Brompton if it fits in your budget.
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halfnine
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by halfnine » Thu Apr 25, 2019 3:10 pm

We have both price points. A Dahon Speed D7 and a Brompton. Both were bought about 10 years ago when we were living in 350 sq ft and there was no way regular size bikes were going to fit inside. Both are still going strong.

The Brompton excels at the fold and carry especially for someone who is a split commuter. Someone who rides to the train/bus, takes the crowded train/bus, then rides the rest of the way to work. The Brompton also certainly fits better under a work desk than the Dahon. And, as an added benefit, with a front basket it also works great as a grocery cart at the store for those of us who are car less.

As for the amount of abuse it can take. I don't really know about the Brompton because at that price point we don't abuse it. As to the Dahon...well I take it on crosscountry trails when I ride with my kids whether it is nice and dry or rainy and muddy. Sometimes, so as not to let my kids have all the fun, I even take it on a few laps at the local pump track.

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Snert
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by Snert » Thu Apr 25, 2019 3:10 pm

My wife and I recently purchased Bromptons. I have no experience with other brands of folding bikes, but no other folding bike we've seen in stores or on the street seem nearly as good. We are frequent travelers and plan to take our Bromptons with us everywhere. They also fit nicely in the backs of our cars, so they are easy to keep with us for spontaneous riding opportunities.

Bogleheads user cycle might have more experiences to share. I suspect Brompton will be his (her?) preference, also.
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by boomer_techie » Fri Apr 26, 2019 3:58 am

Admiral wrote:
Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:29 am
Person A: daily commuter, 3 miles round-trip, mostly flat, all seasons (except during snow/ice)
I have a 20-incher Dahon that I've used for commute like trips. For a 1.5 mile trip, I'd suggest a folder with even smaller wheels. For a while I'd occasionally encounter a fellow cyclist with such a bike - perhaps with 12" wheels. This individual's bike was light and folded compact enough to single handed toss up into a bus' luggage shelf. For short trips make the trade off for a simpler lighter smaller bike - it is worth it when you can store the folded bike under a desk, don't need to spend time locking it, and not even need to carry a lock in the first place.

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Admiral
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by Admiral » Fri Apr 26, 2019 6:16 am

boomer_techie wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 3:58 am
Admiral wrote:
Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:29 am
Person A: daily commuter, 3 miles round-trip, mostly flat, all seasons (except during snow/ice)
I have a 20-incher Dahon that I've used for commute like trips. For a 1.5 mile trip, I'd suggest a folder with even smaller wheels. For a while I'd occasionally encounter a fellow cyclist with such a bike - perhaps with 12" wheels. This individual's bike was light and folded compact enough to single handed toss up into a bus' luggage shelf. For short trips make the trade off for a simpler lighter smaller bike - it is worth it when you can store the folded bike under a desk, don't need to spend time locking it, and not even need to carry a lock in the first place.
Hmm. Interesting. Wow 12". I'll look like a Ringling Brothers clown :P . I have plenty of room in my office, so the storage there is not an issue. But yes I see the appeal of no lock/bringing it inside. My issue is often I stop at grocery store after work (currently have a large basket) and I doubt I'd want to lug it in with me.

While the Brompton is appealing I'd rather not be obligated to carry a bike everytime I walk into a building (I often make multiple stops for errands etc). Thus, I think I'd worry about the theft issue, so maybe a $1500 bike is not for me.

Thanks for the comments, all!

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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by bloom2708 » Fri Apr 26, 2019 12:45 pm

Admiral wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 6:16 am

While the Brompton is appealing I'd rather not be obligated to carry a bike everytime I walk into a building (I often make multiple stops for errands etc). Thus, I think I'd worry about the theft issue, so maybe a $1500 bike is not for me.

Thanks for the comments, all!
A Brompton can certainly be locked in a bike rack. Just like any other bikes.

Having owned bikes from $10 to $3,000, you would have to set a limit on how much bike could you lose if it was stolen. Maybe similar to your stock percentage and how much you are "willing" to lose. Not like losing, but willing.

Let's say you buy a $500 bike and put it in the rack. Would it be OK if that was stolen? Hmmm. Likely not. $400, $300, $200, $100?

Even my $100 bike being stolen would kind of make me mad. The $10 bikes I've had were nice enough to make me angry if one was stolen. $10. Lunch. :wink:

They have some really good locks. Fold-able locks. Strong and difficult to cut quickly. No locks are impervious to theft.

In broad daylight, in a public area, with a deterrent lock, I lock my Brompton up if I don't want to take it with me.

The Brompton means you could take it with you. I would highly recommend riding some variations of bikes. The design and long wheel base gives it a great ride and comfortable riding position.

The $1,500 argument doesn't hold for me. But, if you don't want to spend that much, used is an option or a different brand. Which is just as likely or unlikely to be stolen. Good luck!
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by alfaspider » Fri Apr 26, 2019 12:54 pm

Highly recommend the Brompton. I commuted almost 10 miles each way on mine, and even did a 100 mile "century" ride from NYC to New Haven CT. After riding it for 2 years (saving about $2k in subway fare), I sold it for $200 less than than I paid for it. I sort of regret selling now even though I don't really have a need for a folding bike in Texas.

Single speed sport model to keep it as light and maintenance free as possible. I replaced the platform pedals with egg beaters to make it even lighter. Total package was around 20lbs, and it fit in an Ikea bag I could sling over my shoulder. Rather than locking it up outside, I usually just brought it into wherever I was going. It sat under my desk at work. It also meant I could go into the subway if it started raining. It traveled by air several times as a regular checked bag. Just for grins, I once rode it from my office to JFK airport, folded it up, and checked it as a bag.

Yes, you can get a cheaper folding bike than a Brompton, but nothing that folds as quickly or as well, and not of the same quality.

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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by bloom2708 » Fri Apr 26, 2019 1:45 pm

https://www.universalcycles.com/shoppin ... egory=6472

Universal Cycles has some "closeouts" on their new Bromptons. Free shipping.

Colors in stock vary, but they are probably the best prices for stock Bromptons. S, M and H versions. Most will go with the M (mid) unless very tall or say under 5-7 for the S (straight bar) version.
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halfnine
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by halfnine » Fri Apr 26, 2019 2:57 pm

Admiral wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 6:16 am
boomer_techie wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 3:58 am
Admiral wrote:
Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:29 am
Person A: daily commuter, 3 miles round-trip, mostly flat, all seasons (except during snow/ice)
I have a 20-incher Dahon that I've used for commute like trips. For a 1.5 mile trip, I'd suggest a folder with even smaller wheels. For a while I'd occasionally encounter a fellow cyclist with such a bike - perhaps with 12" wheels. This individual's bike was light and folded compact enough to single handed toss up into a bus' luggage shelf. For short trips make the trade off for a simpler lighter smaller bike - it is worth it when you can store the folded bike under a desk, don't need to spend time locking it, and not even need to carry a lock in the first place.
Hmm. Interesting. Wow 12". I'll look like a Ringling Brothers clown :P . I have plenty of room in my office, so the storage there is not an issue. But yes I see the appeal of no lock/bringing it inside. My issue is often I stop at grocery store after work (currently have a large basket) and I doubt I'd want to lug it in with me.

While the Brompton is appealing I'd rather not be obligated to carry a bike everytime I walk into a building (I often make multiple stops for errands etc). Thus, I think I'd worry about the theft issue, so maybe a $1500 bike is not for me.

Thanks for the comments, all!
I use the Brompton for errands. You can fold it up with the basket sticking up and out and roll it around like a shopping cart. You can have a look on youtube to see how it works. Here is the first one I spotted

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m91tfT4AMLY

tlk59
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by tlk59 » Fri Apr 26, 2019 3:28 pm

I'm one of those guilty as charged: Got the Brompton for a train commute, then 8 months later the startup laid a bunch of us off. Then it was sitting unused in the garage for a while. I finally moved it into the living room (can do because it folds up so small!) so I would be forced to see it every day...and that thing really does beckon. Been using it more. Gotta buy that basket attachment for errands! You can even use it in a half-fold position as a mini shopping cart.

Price point definitely makes this not for everyone, but I have very fond memories of just stashing the bike under my desk at work. And it rides like just a really nice bike. No rickety wobbling. One day when I'm done with my current 35 mile one way commute, I hope to commute with it again. It makes the "last mile" a lot better than those scooters or motorized skateboards, IMO.

KlangFool
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by KlangFool » Fri Apr 26, 2019 3:44 pm

OP,

I have a $300 Dahon single speed folding bike and a $1,700 A2B Kuo+ Folding electric bike. So, in my opinion, you should either go for a 7 speed Dahon folding bike ($300 or lower used) or at $1,000+ range go for the folding electric bike. I do not see a reason to buy a $1,000 folding bike (non-electric) anymore.

KlangFool

lightheir
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by lightheir » Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:08 pm

KlangFool wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 3:44 pm
OP,

I have a $300 Dahon single speed folding bike and a $1,700 A2B Kuo+ Folding electric bike. So, in my opinion, you should either go for a 7 speed Dahon folding bike ($300 or lower used) or at $1,000+ range go for the folding electric bike. I do not see a reason to buy a $1,000 folding bike (non-electric) anymore.

KlangFool
Totally disagree with you, having ridden a LOT of bikes, including a Brompton.

The Brompton is the best bike for mixed bike commuters (bike+train/car) as well as commuters needing inside storage. And it's not just the size; the bike is amongst the lightest folders as well as the best designed. It's strong and robust enough for diehard touring if you so desire.

It clearly won't replace an electric assist bike if that's what you're after, but it's arguably amongst the best if not THE best of the folders for commuting.

I would completely skip the $300 Dahon; a bike that inexpensive will very rapidly cost more in upkeep if you do more than trivial commuting on it. If trivial bike commuting is all you do, just use ANY bike, with beater used bikes being the best due to less theft risk. (Yup, wallyworld bikes even work for this if you're only riding like 1-3x/yr).

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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by KlangFool » Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:25 pm

lightheir wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:08 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 3:44 pm
OP,

I have a $300 Dahon single speed folding bike and a $1,700 A2B Kuo+ Folding electric bike. So, in my opinion, you should either go for a 7 speed Dahon folding bike ($300 or lower used) or at $1,000+ range go for the folding electric bike. I do not see a reason to buy a $1,000 folding bike (non-electric) anymore.

KlangFool
Totally disagree with you, having ridden a LOT of bikes, including a Brompton.

The Brompton is the best bike for mixed bike commuters (bike+train/car) as well as commuters needing inside storage. And it's not just the size; the bike is amongst the lightest folders as well as the best designed. It's strong and robust enough for diehard touring if you so desire.
lightheir,

<<The Brompton is the best bike for mixed bike commuters (bike+train/car) as well as commuters needing inside storage. And it's not just the size; the bike is amongst the lightest folders as well as the best designed. It's strong and robust enough for diehard touring if you so desire. >>

I disagreed.

https://www.tyrellbike.de/en/bike/tyrell-ive/

I would go for $2,000 Tyrell if you have the money.

Back to the topic at hand. Would you spend $1,000 on a Brompton folding bike now? To me, it does not fit within the price range. It is too expensive for a simple folding bike. And, it crosses into the range of a folding electric bike.

At the higher range ($2,000+), you can buy a folding bike that is light and small enough that you can take it with you on an overseas trip.

KlangFool

KlangFool
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by KlangFool » Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:41 pm

OP,

https://www.bicycling.com/bikes-gear/a2 ... ing-bikes/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071FP6WNS/?l ... ascsubtag=[artid|2143.a.20048132[src|[ch|[lt|

A Dahon Mariner 7 speed is 26 pounds. $650 new. Used on the craig list is usually down to $300.

https://www.rei.com/product/133353/brom ... _d15b01675

A brompton m6l is 26 pounds.

https://www.bikefriday.com/folding-bike ... lding-bike

Bike Friday PakIt is $1,270. 15 pounds and pack into a backpack.

So, I do not see a reason to spend $1,000 on a folding bike unless it is something that you need to carry in a backpack or on a plane.

For the normal commute, at that price range, you can get a folding electric bike.

https://www.amazon.com/Dahon-Boardwalk- ... 2588037011

My single speed $300 Dahon Boardwalk is around 30 pounds.

KlangFool

tlk59
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by tlk59 » Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:52 pm

To each his own. Some of us actually really do want to push the pedals. Brompton has a unique folding design...in thirds, not in half. That and the 16-inch wheels make it a handy package.

BikingBill
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by BikingBill » Fri Apr 26, 2019 11:06 pm

If you weigh more than 100kg a Brompton May be the only folder that will hold up.

Also if you’re going to take the bike on planes, trains and buses or into shops and restaurants the Brompton’s fast fold is excellent.

I’ve had mine for 5 years and it’s paid its way on numerous trips. For the last year I’ve been staying in Los Angeles during the week and the Brompton has been my sole means of transportation.

tlk59
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by tlk59 » Sat Apr 27, 2019 5:23 am

Good point, if I pulled up late to a train, I could fold that thing up in 10 seconds. Part of what you pay for. But no, the only things worth the money are a cheapie door hinge folder or a turbo-charged rocket sled.

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Admiral
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Re: Folding bikes: Go Brompton or cheaper?

Post by Admiral » Sat Apr 27, 2019 7:49 am

To reiterate, my commute is short: 3mi round trip. I see no utility or need for an electric bike, and I like the exercise.

Obviously having any bike stolen is REALLY annoying. My wife has had two stolen but that was user error.

I would never (and don’t, ever) lock my current bike outside overnight. I of course use a Kryptonite lock but Bromptons are so expensive that I might even worry about daytime theft. I’m not in NYC but still urban.

I’m going to test drive a few and report back!

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