Everybody came out to say goodbye to the Tern Link P7i before it wheeled its way back into the Tern Bicycles collective.
If other members of the farewell party could talk, the 2011 Dahon Bullhead, the mini-velo design on the right, would have admitted that the Link P7i had a nice compact fold, especially for another machine with 20-inch wheels, and then would have wondered aloud whether the bike’s departure meant more road time for itself. (Could be.) The Bullhead has the same internal seven-speed hub and twist shifter as the Link P7i but takes up more space when folded and requires 5mm and 6mm allen wrenches for its transformation.
The custom 2010 Bike Friday Model T tikit, my first “modern-era” folder from 2010, might have expressed some relief that the Link P7i was leaving. Even though the tikit has 16-inch wheels, its overall length when folded is approximately the same as the Link, though it beats the other bike by a bit on folded height, speed of folding and mobility when folded. (If you need to roll the Link when it’s folded, consider the bolt-on trolley option, which I didn’t have the opportunity to test.)
The dog would have expressed ambivalence about the Link P7i’s departure. On the one hand, he had one less competitor for his master’s time. On the other hand, his master has shown himself capable of spending more time over fewer bicycles. And anyway, a revamped Schwinn Sports Tourer is soon to join the fleet, so it’s still Dog 1, Bikes Way More Than 2 or 3. For the lab, the best thing about the Link P7i was the best thing about all the bicycles in the basement: their total lack of interest in his food and water bowls.
I was sorry to see the Link P7i leave. For one, it was a well-equipped folder, the top of the Tern Link family, with solidly attached fenders, dependable front generator hub and headlight, the best integrated tail light (battery-powered)/rack arrangement I’ve ever seen from an original equipment manufacturer, rock-solid internal seven-speed rear hub and quick-adjust handlebar. It also has the same handlebar bell, neatly built into the brake lever, as the Dahon Bullhead.
To protect surroundings and people’s clothing, the chain on the Link P7i and Bullhead is encased in a clever plastic housing that moves with the chain. The cover is needed because the chain is exposed to the world when the machines are folded; the tikit, like a Brompton, folds around the chain, lessening the chance that the naked chain will come into contact with anything it shouldn’t.
You can install a wide range of handlebars on the tikit and the Bullhead, from straight and rise bars to drops, but you’re probably limited to the standard bar on the Link P7i because of the dual-clamp arrangement. For people without specific fitting requirements who don’t customize their bikes, this simply isn’t an issue.
The Link P7i, with its larger wheels, offered better flotation than the tikit on dirt and pea-gravel roads (the reason I don’t take the tikit on such roads, period) and on multi-use trails after a rain.
Because my particular Link P7i was a pre-production model, it didn’t include the standard integrated seatpost/air pump, but I was familiar enough with that particular brand of magic from its inclusion on the now out-of-production Bullhead. With the pump hidden inside the seatpost, no one needs be the wiser that you’re prepared for a flat tire.
I have rarely ridden a bicycle that required less maintenance than the Link P7i, maybe the Bianchi Pista fixed-gear downstairs (which gets a head start on other bikes, reliability wise, simply because it lacks a rear brake, multiple gears and quick release hubs).
This is remarkable for two reasons: first, the Link P7i had been making the tradeshow rounds before it came to me—who knows who had been riding it; and two, this was a folding bicycle, with all the hinges, latches, magnets and extra nuts and bolts that standard bikes just don’t have. And yet I never adjusted any of it with the exception of the tension on the main latch once, a job that took 20 seconds. Oh, and I put air in the tires.
Now it’s off to someone else for review and evaluation, but I already know they’re going to like it. The Link P7i is the kind of bicycle you want for quick trips around town. It’s a good match for apartment dwellers or people who want a bicycle that’s easily transported in the trunk of a small car. It’s solidly made, reliable and well-appointed.
Unlike most folders, the Tern Link P7i allows you to make quick adjustments to handlebar reach, and without tools, which is remarkable. Its hydroformed aluminum frame probably isn’t quite as light as its brethren within the Tern Verge family of folders, and you’ll sit more upright on it than you will on the typical non-folding bicycle, but if you’re not particularly weight conscious, and you like to see where you’re going, you’ll enjoy the ride and the quality of its frame and components.
In short, it is recommended. And missed.