We Test: Downtube 8H Folding Bike

A "land dinghy" for cruising boaters.

When it comes to venturing onshore to get food, supplies, or simply stretch your sea legs, a bike can be a cruising boater’s best friend. Conventional models, however, take up precious space and rust fast in a boating environment.

Downtube folding bike_ 1

Downtube promised their 8H would be different. Like similar folding models, the 6061 aluminum frame hinges in the center, allowing the front and rear tires to fold back against themselves. I lowered the handlebars, dropped the seat, and hinged in the pedals and morphed the bike into a compact 3’ x 1’ 2” x 2’ 3” package in about 30 seconds. That’s small enough to stow — or carry — in a large duffel

Downtube folding bike

What made the 8H stand out for me, however, was the Gates carbon belt drive and internally geared Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub. The former is whisper quiet, requires virtually no maintenance, and won’t even flinch at the salt air that rusts many a conventional chain. The latter likewise fends off the elements by eliminating exposed derailleurs and gear cassettes, and shifts effortlessly. Add in a comfort-minded saddle, dampening front suspension fork, handy rear cargo rack and lower-than-average price, and you’ve got a boat — and roadworthy —bicycle.


The Downtube 8H can be purchased direct from the manufacturer for $699. For more information, visit

EDITOR”S NOTE: The author, in addition to his expertise with boats, is also a competitive cyclist.


Email Newsletters and Special Offers

Sign up for Boating emails to receive features on travel destinations, event listings and product reviews as well as special offers on behalf of Boating’s partners.

By signing up you agree to receive communications from Boating and select partners in accordance with our Privacy Policy. You may opt out of email messages/withdraw consent at any time.