We Rode a Folding Bike, Here's What Happened

Components and Other Goodies

Lost in the duplicity of the Tern's permanent creases and small, bulky tires is the fact that this bike comes packed with great, albeit mid-range, components and unexpected goodies. For a bike that retails for less than $2,000, this is a pleasant surprise.

The SRAM dual drive 3x9 gives you incredible range. Whether you're struggling uphill or speeding on the flats, the S27h has you covered. And the SRAM X7 rear derailleur and SRAM dual drive thumb shifters were smooth and direct and caused no problems.

The bike also comes with Kinetix Supra forged aluminum cranks and chainring and a Shimano 11-32t 9-speed cassette. There's a three-speed internal gear hub on the rear wheel, on which the 9-speed cassette is attached. This gives you 27 gears without the need of a front derailleur.

The S27h's Schwalbe Big Apple 55-406 tires, while only 20 inches in diameter, are a whopping 2.2 inches wide. This width gives the bike, a feeling of stability and improved handling. No, I had no qualms about popping curbs, riding over potholes or traversing bumpy roads. To use an automobile metaphor (heretic, I know), this small bike felt like an urban 4x4 ready to handle anything my commute threw at it. Cracked pavement, gravel and even mud; like a Jeep Wrangler at home on any surface, the Tern S27h performed flawlessly.

This is not to say that you should exchange your 29er for a Verge. Quite the contrary — a short fork and no suspension cannot possibly offer the same amount of road absorption. However, for a 20-inch bike, the S27h was beyond anything I would have expected.

Concerning the goodies, to use yet another automobile metaphor, this is a Batmobile of bikes. With additional goodies coming out of its seat tube (literally) the S27h is packed with everything you could possibly need no matter what the Joker, or the road, throws your way.

The S27h comes equipped with dual racks, a full dynamo lighting system, front and rear mudguards and the aforementioned BioLogic seat-tube tire pump. In other words, all you need is to pack a pannier and set off on an epic adventure.

The Ride

Though the bike's foldability is far from a shtick and very useful, the bike's main function is just that, as a bike — something to take you from Point A to Point B without incident. After getting comfortable on 20-inch wheels and using the Verge as my main rig for a few weeks, I was very impressed with the ride. The S27h is, ironically, a very rigid bike. Despite this, the small fork and wheels took rough terrain very well.

I rode the bike a few times to my local metro station, folded the bike to its compact size and took the train. Folded, the bike fit perfectly next to my seat and bothered no other passengers. The solid ride and easy fold that takes less than 10 seconds makes this a perfect option for such commuters.

Touring cyclists, on the other hand, would be more interested in the bike's durability. Well, I can say without an ounce of hesitation that this bike is a veritable tank. If you're looking for a rig to take you cross-country, I have no doubts the Tern can get you there safely and smoothly.

The Verdict

As a commuter cyclist, I love foldable bikes. They offer a sturdy ride in a compact size that fits the needs of every urban rider. And the Verge S27h hits all the marks with steady-handed precision.

However, this Tern is technically geared toward a more specific demographic: the touring cyclist. While taking the word of a young man who merely rode the bike an hour a day for a few weeks might seem like a costly mistake for touring cyclists, it might alleviate some doubt to know that people have documented the S27h carrying passengers and panniers long distances through rough terrain.

While its cumbersome weight might be a downside to everyday commuters, the tank-like build could also be an attribute. When folded, there's no doubt, the S27h is the biggest bike I've ever seen in such a small package.

Active logoReady to ride? Search for a cycling event.
  • 2
  • of
  • 2

Discuss This Article