In keeping with the theme of bikes that I started last week, today’s offering for me to review is a bike that comes from a new company on the scene. Tern bikes are all about folding bicycles, and while folding bikes have been around for a while, there’s only a few major companies that specialize in them. While Tern may be the new kid on the block, they’re coming out strong with a full lineup. So can Tern manage to put a dent in the business of the long known companies like Dahon?
I’d be inclined to say “yes”.
Now I’m just going to come right out and get the negative out of the way first. Like other bikes I’ve been working on, the seat is bad. Not just bad, but almost bad enough that I had the desire to burn it in a fire. I like to use things with the equipment they come standard with for the bulk of my reviews, but in this case after using that seat for fifteen minutes, I had to switch it out for something more comfortable. There’s literally no padding on it, which makes you feel like you’re sitting on a rock. For a bike that’s meant to not always be ridden on smooth and paved streets, having a seat like that kills your rear with every bump you hit.
After replacing the seat however (and I’ll STILL never be able to understand why bike manufacturers make expensive bikes with garbage seats) things went much differently. The Joe D24 comes standard with a pair of nice plush Schwalbe Big Apple tires. These things are absolutely amazing when it comes to smoothing out your ride – it’s like having a set of shock absorbers built right in, and while you would think that bigger tires (bigger as in wider) would be slower, I haven’t noticed that in the slightest. These tires roll just as easily as some of the more high end “slim” tires I’ve used on other bikes – very little friction and road noise.
Now the last folding bike that I rode had a “squishy” feeling to it – the frame wasn’t super sturdy, and tended to flex on big bumps. That’s not a problem with the Joe D24 though, because Tern has gone out of their way to make sure that the frame here is completely solid. They use a patented technology they call “DoubleTruss” to achieve this feat, which turns the rear of the bike into a three dimensional truss, just like what you would find on a roof. This adds a lot of strength and rigidity to the frame, and makes for an extremely nice riding experience.
The stem on the Joe D24 is nice as well, allowing you to move the handlebars in really any number of ways. They call this the “NVO Axis Stem”, and it’s pretty neat how it works. With the Axis Stem, you can adjust height and angle with relatively no effort (simple hex bolts), which makes it accessible to riders of all sizes. Even better? The hex key you need to adjust the stem is actually housed IN the handlebar.
Speaking of the hex key, that’s also what makes the whole folding system here work. Once you have that key out, all you need to do is loosen ONE hex bolt in the center of the bike. Unlike some other bikes that have a lengthy process to get them to fold down, the Joe D24 is incredibly simple in that regard. You loosen the bolt, and then push the FBL (Four-Bar Linkage) lever to split the bike apart. Tern claims it can be done in under ten seconds – I routinely did mine in eight.
The last feature that the Joe D24 features are hand grips by Biologic, and they are exceptional. I’ve not had a hand grip feel that comfortable on a sub-thousand dollar bike before, so it was extremely refreshing to find it here. I would actually love to get these same grips for every bike I own – they’re just that good.
The Bottom Line: Tern might be the newcomer on the scene when it comes to folding bikes, but they’re reasonably priced, and paced with enough features to make everyone take notice.
- The Joe D24 is extremely easy to fold in half (so much so that my nine year old son can do it), but still sturdy enough to ride
- The Biologic hand grips are extremely comfortable, and make shifting a breeze
- Those Big Apple tires blew me away with how well they worked on this bike – really changed my perspective on tires
- The seat is utter trash – maybe some people don’t ever want to sit while riding, but when my legs get tired I like to rest, and you can’t rest on this seat.
- Tern bikes are very new, so finding a dealer might take some effort.
You can get the Joe D24 bike by Tern from any authorized retailer for the MSRP of $649