Published on May 9th, 2013 | by Greg0
Tern Eclipse P9: Don’t Call It A Folding Bicycle
Chances are, you’ve seen or ridden a folding bike. They’ve been around for quite a while, but only recently have started becoming more popular, as commuters desire the flexibility of a bike but also want to be able to use public transit or store their wheels easily. Especially in Manhattan, where you may need to store your ride up a five-floor walkup, it’s important to have a versatile solution. And while many other folding bicycles on the market are kind of rickety, we’re looking at a model today that is at least as solid as most ‘regular’ bicycles on the roads today.
The Tern Eclipse P9 came to us folded up, inside of a box. After unpacking, we decided to run a quick test. And within 60 seconds, someone who had never read the instructions or unfolded a bike before had it up and ready to go. Ten seconds of that was simply trying to figure out where to start, but it’s simple enough for literally anyone. After that, it was simply a matter of fine tuning- setting the seat to the right height, and deciding on the most comfortable placement of the adjustable handlebars.
But let’s back up a moment. Imagine you’re looking for a bicycle, and you don’t know what you need. If you already are an expert with a lot of gear, then this article- and most likely, this bike- are not for you. Instead, for many folks, they’re biking for leisure or for commuting. Leisure cyclists should focus on comfort, and commuters might want to pay more attention to durability. In both cases, suburban folks who don’t need to worry much about security and who have space for a full-size bike should probably stick with one of those. Urban riders of either category should take a close look at folding bikes- in this case, more of a bike that happens to fold. And the Tern P9 offers some features that should appeal to each.
For commuters, you’ve got a lot of features that are unusual in a folding bicycle, like the built-in fenders and a handy rear rack. The large wheels and hydro-formed solid aluminum frame mean fewer jolts, even if you’re navigating potholes like near our offices in the West Village. Leisure riders can appreciate the nine gears, and everyone will like the disc brakes, which offered on-the-point stopping. The bike is fairly heavy, which means you won’t accelerate on a dime, nor will you want to carry it everywhere- at 28 pounds, it’s one of the heavier folding bikes we’ve seen. But it can accommodate up to 254 pounds and a 6-foot-5 rider, while many competitors top out at much below those figures. It’s cushy, almost a cruiser. We took it out in the rain, on pavement and off, and over curbs- the bike feels incredibly durable and solid. Shifting was effortless thanks to the integrated and well-designed twist-shifter, and it stood nicely on the kickstand when some others fall over in a light breeze.
The seat was fairly uncomfortable, and the chain guard felt a bit weak. But other than those quibbles and the hefty weight, we love the Tern Eclipse P9. It’s sleek, fun to ride, and both bikers and passersby stopped to ask about it’s design. Even the smallest details have been thought out: there’s a nifty tool hidden in the handlebar grip for quick adjustments. The cost might seem a bit high to those looking at a basic street bike, but compared to many other serious bicycles and even other lower-quality folding models, it’s quite fair. A lot of ride in an impressively small package, the Tern Eclipse is available for around $1000 from dealers.