The Tern Verge X18 is the first folding bike we’ve ever looked at and thought, "We have to try this out." And we’re glad we did… The Tern Verge X18 barrels up to speed nicely and has little trouble maintaining its pace. In short, it doesn’t feel like a bike designed for short runs to the station. We put that theory to the test by swapping our road bike for the Tern on our 15-mile commute. The Verge performed admirably and was only a few minutes shy of our ‘big bike’ riding time.
While the 10.8kg weight, 20in wheels and the Schwalbe slick tyres aren't out-of-the-ordinary for a folding bike, the road bike position offered up by the Kinetix Pro X drop bars and adjustable Syntace VRO stem, and the decent range offered by the 18-speed Shimano Capreo drivetrain are a little different. All of these factors combine to help the X18 feel pacy.
Riding along at a decent lick is also assisted by the Tern’s aluminium frame. Despite its hinges, flexibility isn’t an issue and, while you'll never be fooled into thinking that you're riding a full-sized road bike, the X18 feels reassuringly solid and stable.
The wheels deserve a special mention as they’re handbuilt 42mm deep units with twinned Sapim spokes designed by Rolf Dietrich of Rolf wheels fame. They roll smoothly and quickly, although riding out of the saddle is a unique sensation; the front wheel feels as if it wants to squirm around under you at first but it soon settles down.
Of course, folding is the Verge’s party piece and fold it does with aplomb. Clever and easy to use locking hinges on the frame and stem allow you to fold the bike quickly. It takes less than 30secs to go from ready-to-ride to fully folded — and back again. The folding mechanism is also reasonably intuitive – we worked it all out in just a couple of minutes without having to resort to the internet for instructions!
A rubber strap on the underside of the frame keeps it folded; magnets stop the bike from opening; the bottom of the seatpost acts as a stand; and the pedals feature quick-release bases. That said, the drop bars are harder to hide out of the way than flat bars so the Verge X18 does have a wider folded footprint than other Terns.
The X18 can’t be called cheap but it does have some good kit. It’s a well-thought-out, fun and practical point of difference in the folding bike market.