Bike review – Tern Joe P24

The Tern Joe P24 folded. It's quick but it's not the smallest folded package.
The Tern Joe P24 folded. It’s quick but it’s not the smallest folded package.

For me bikes are basically about utility. And, as my journey to work is bike-train-bike/walk I’ve always preferred the idea of a folder over any other type. But I don’t live anywhere particularly straightforward – my ride takes me up and down some undulation, along some tracks, shared cycle paths and roads of uncertain quality. And all of these can be liable to turning into rivers after rain. I’ve tried a Dahon folder (20″ wheel, Vitesse) and it didn’t enjoy it. I’ve tried a couple of non-folding hybrids and whilst they were okay I couldn’t take them on the train. With the inspiration of #cycletoworkday and the promise of a bit of finance I looked again at the possibility of a folder that could handle all that I (a non-expert cyclist and chubby, unfit personage) could throw at it.

I was specifically looking for something that could address this question: is there a bike out there that rides like a solid bike, is straightforward to look after, can handle my incompetence and the British weather and roads – and folds, simply, into a useful package?

The Tern Joe does not fold tiny but it does fold quick. This is not a lovely little package like a Brompton or even a small imprint folder like a 20″ wheel bike. In its standard fold the handlebars remain resolutely handlebar-y so you’ll need to have the width of the wingspan free as well as a nice 30″ zone to rest the bike. If you’re lucky like me and your commuter train isn’t properly rammed this isn’t really an issue – if you do travel whilst playing grown-up sardines people will hate you. But folding is very simple and, so far, whilst not ‘locked’ the fold up feels solid. It doesn’t roll so you’ll have to unfold to walk your wheels anywhere but, as said, the transition is so speedy this isn’t a problem at all.

The Tern Joe P24 - note light and mudguards aren't part of the package
The Tern Joe P24 – note light and mudguards aren’t part of the package

The other aspects of the bike come across well. The handlebar can be adjusted to suit preferred riding style and the tool to do this has its own little slot. The grips are comfortable compared to the other folders and hybrids I’ve ridden. The brakes are responsive although not to the extent promised in the sales pitch. Gear changes are an absolute dream. The big *fat* tyres are big and fat and, being puncture resistant, make very light work of the potholey roads and poorly maintained cycle tracks that define my commute. The saddle has come in for some harsh words – I have to say it’s not something I’ve really noticed but if I were really looking for comfort on this I would get it changed. And whilst it not a make or break thing for me but I do like the styling of the frame although the black and red does a little bit like someone wanted to recreate the A-Team’s van in folding bike form.

In terms of practical riding this rear reflector and red light dot are what comes with the bike.  You need to buy the rest separately.
In terms of practical riding this rear reflector and red light dot are what comes with the bike. You need to buy the rest separately.

I live on a big hill and ride over a bit of undulation to and from and work. The Dahon folder was a nightmare on anything slope-y, especially if I was extra laden with a bit of shopping; I’ve found that the Pinnacle hybrids I’ve had were better but I always felt they were complaining a bit. The Tern Joe seems to actively enjoy the harder parts of cycling (which, for me, is anything not flat and straight). Basically, overall the ride is significantly better than any of the lower end hybrids I’ve owned.

However this is a bike sold in Britain so it can’t be all practical. It doesn’t come with mudguards, rack, front reflector, bell, lock or lights. You get a detachable rear single light and reflector which would be fine for lit roads in the twilight but probably not for anything else. Unlike a lot of folders all of the aforementioned can be added without any difficulty – and without compromising the fold. But obviously there are costs involved additional to the price of the bike. It’s a pain but unless you track down a Dutch bike shop you’re nearly always going to be in this situation when buying a bike new here.

In the UK I believe only Evans sell Tern bikes. I don’t like Evans much but I swallowed my pride after internet research pointed me in this direction. In true UK cycle shop style the sales rep couldn’t answer my questions about comparative fold size but did try to sell me extra-quick pedals and shoes. Be assured though: this is not a MAMIL bike. It is a good, practical solution to the specific question I raised at the start.

And it is fun too.

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Bike review – Tern Joe P24”

  1. Excellent review, thanks. I pick my Tern Joe P24 up tomorrow, also moving from a Dahon Vitesse. Looking forward to having a more sturdy ride again, for my ride/train/ride commute. Just one question, where did you get the mudguards from? I asked the guy from Evans if he could fit some and he told me that he didn’t have any for 24″ wheels, I decided to leave it there!

  2. Thanks for your excellent review! I have been trying to get full size mudguards for my Joe P24 but it has been a nightmare so far.

    Evans in Cullum St has been useless and uninterested in both recommending or trying to fit full size mudguards. They insisted there’s no full size mudguards that can be fitted in this bike and I was like… hmm I’ve seen Jon´s picture on the internet so I’m pretty sure it can be done.

    So after looking at your pictures closely I came to the conclusion that you have SKS Chromoplastics mudguards. http://www.sks-germany.com/?l=en&a=product&r=mudguards&i=999999999&CHROMOPLASTICS

    Do you know what size are they? Obviously for 26″ – 700 mm height.. .but I´m guessing the width is around 2 inch – 55mm?
    Have you got any product reference at all? P45 P55 P65 or something like that? would it be too much to ask you to measure the width?

    That’d save my life as I want exactly the same mudguards as you have.

    Many thanks mate and happy & safe riding!

      1. Many thanks Jon and Chris you guys rule! will give them a try and keep you posted if it works.
        Cheers
        Albert

  3. I found some in store at Go Outdoors, they are made by a company called Orion (http://www.oriongroup.it/english/ecotype.html). They were £13.49 and fit pretty well, I had to cut some off the very end of the rear mudguard as the stand that the bike sits on when folded was in the way. The receipt says “Basic mtb 26 x 2.10-2.35”, they are silver and actually look quite nice on the bike, the only problem I have is that when turning tight corners at slow speeds I tend to catch my foot on the front mudguard, go used to it now so not too much of problem, I guess any mudguard would be the same though. Hope this helps.

  4. I also had mudguards fitted to my Tern by Evans. Not all stores have staff who have a clue.

    Re the review, the P24 does roll folded, you just have to tilt it backwards so the pedals are off the ground and “drive” it by the handlebars. What you can’t do however is reverse as the pedals will turn and brake the wheels.

    My only quibbles are the pedals which started falling to bits after about 6 months and the magnetic disk used to lock the bike in its folded state which fell off. The little stand that Tern use isn’t that robust either, but a bungy cord around the train pole solves this problem!

  5. Great review – thanks. I have a couple of 20″ wheeled Terns and they’re nice bikles. I’m looking for something with bigger wheels but still a folder – my Saracen hybrid is great for some places I go but can be a pain on trains.

  6. I just ordered the large size on finance (as this is cheaper than my monthly petrol bill for commuting) with Evans. I also need something I can fit in a VW Polo with my son’s 16″ wheel Islabike. I found this article very useful, and I’ll want to copy your mudguard fit. Thank you Sir.

  7. I am looking for a padded storage bag for the Tern P24.
    Most storage bags are only suitable for 20″ wheels. With the P24 having 26″ wheels I cannot find a suitable bag

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s