You may be reading this article thinking: "What the heck is that and why would I want one on my folding bike?" Your folding bike may even have one already and you just don't know it. Perfect! This is just the article for you then.
Don't worry, I'm not about to barrage you with gear ratio calculations or other technical terms. This article is all about the simple, practical, and easy to understand benefits of having a folding bike with an internal gear hub. After a quick glance it's plain to see why so many commuters choose folding bikes with these hubs. So let's dive right into it then.
The best thing about having a folding bike with an internal gear hub is that you can shift without pedaling. Why should you care? Well good question. You pedal when you ride a bike anyway so who cares if you have to pedal to shift, right? Wrong. I didn't realize the benefits of this setup until I experienced hub gears on a Brompton folding bike. Being able to shift without pedaling will make riding your folding bike easier in two primary situations:
1. Starting up: You've are riding your folding bike down the street when a car cuts out in front of you. No wait that's not safe... Ah, you reach a red light and are forced to stop. With a normal folding bike you would have to anticipate this and shift down while pedaling before hand. But lucky you, your folding bike has an internal gear hub so you can just shift right down. No pedaling, no problem. That sure made starting up easy, huh?
2. Going up steep hills: You made it off from the stop light easy enough, now what about the huge hill in front of you? It's got a few inclines and you would normally be worried about stalling out part way as you tried to shift down into your lowest gear. Not if your folding bike has an internal gear hub. Instead of jamming the pedals and trying to crank it down into first just stop pedaling for a split second, swiftly shift into lowest gear, and continue unhindered. No more stalling on hills!
All the gears are sealed away from water, dirt, and grime inside the hub. That means you can be a bit rougher with your folding bike without worrying about damaging the gears. On folding bikes with normal gearing you would have to be careful not to lay the bike down one way or the other for fear the shifter in the back might get damaged. You would also have to clean the gears periodically so they didn't get gummed up with crud from the road. Not with an internal gear hub. You'll never have to worry about cleaning muck out of the gears or dealing with a bent shifter or even making adjustments. Everything on an internally geared folding bike is clean, contained, and low maintenance.
This one is a bit more subtle and technical but I think you can handle it with no problem. Having an internal gear hub means the drive train (the chain, pedals, gears, and everything else that drives the bike) gets less wear and tear and will last longer. This is because the chain never has to move from gear to gear and always stays in a straight line. Why's that so good? Well, when the chain moves between gears on a standard gearing folding bike it twists and bends a little bit. Over time this twisting and bending wears down the chain and the gears themselves. That means you have to replace them more often than on a folding bike with an internal gear hub where the chain stays on one gear all the time.So now you know all about the great benefits of folding bikes with internal gear hubs. Pretty awesome right? Oh I forgot to mention the chain almost never pops off one of these bikes, that's another bonus. There are a few Dahon folding bikes with internal gear hubs like the Vitesse and Curve D3. These and the Brompton M3L and M6L are some of the best folding bikes we carry.