In a decade as a cyclist journalist I’ve only ever received unsolicited comments about the bike I’m riding from non-cyclists on two occasions; and both times I was aboard a Tern folding bike…
That someone should want to talk to me about the slightly mad looking, drop-bar Verge X18 is understandable. It was far more surprising to hear a young Bristolian urbanite say “Sick bike man!” as I rolled past him on Tern’s latest Verge, the far more traditional folder the P10.
So is the P10 ’sick’? Well, yes, probably. Especially if a little extra speed, control and comfort constitutes ‘sickness’.
The P10 is one of three new Tern models to sport wheels with a 451mm diameter as opposed to the more usual 406mm.
Is size important? Essentially, a 451 wheel is closer to 22 inches rather than a traditional folder’s 20 and that isn’t a great deal. However, it does mean that for one pedal revolution on a 451 you’ll — in theory — travel further and faster than on a 406.
The bike gets hydraulic disc from Shimano Jesse Wild / Immediate Media
The P10 certainly covered the ground on the same route used for that X18 test a good few minutes quicker, and a colleague on a smaller wheeled folder from a rival struggled to match its pace. So, somewhat anecdotally, the slightly bigger wheels are faster.
Twenty inch wheels can feel, especially to those dropping down from a full-fat road bike, twitchy. Again, while only a small size differential the P10 feels more planted than a smaller wheeled folder, especially when cornering and if you pop out of the saddle on a climb.
The Kinetix Pro Dis wheels use the paired spoke system patented by Rolf Wheels, and these also do a marginally better job of soaking up bumps.
The bike folds in three steps Jesse Wild / Immediate Media
As for the rest of the bike? The aluminium frame and fork combination is reassuringly solid with — despite the folding mechanism — no discernible flex.
The drivetrain is a Shimano Deore 1×10 with a useful 11-40t cassette and sleek Shadow derailleur, while the brakes are excellent Shimano hydraulic units. You also get a kickstand!
And, of course, it folds!
Tern’s fold is pretty intuitive and quick; less than 20 seconds with practice. A rubber strap holds the folded bars in, there’s a pad under the saddle to aid carrying and, even with the bigger wheels folded, size is 38×80×4.
I did find that the magnets designed to keep the wheels together when folded didn’t hold as well as on previous Tern’s I’ve tested though.