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 www.downtube.com

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