Tern Link A7 Folding Bike Review

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Nine years ago, if you asked me what a folding bike was, I’d laughed and thought you were crazy. At the time, I was a frequent commuter that went 5 miles round trip to work and back each day. Fast forward to the present, and I have long gotten rid of my hybrid bike, and have two folding bikes in my personal fleet. A 2-speed Brompton, and a Tern Link D8. At first I was reluctant to get rid of my hybrid bicycle with larger wheels for a folding bike, because I honestly thought folding bikes were junk. Just look at the smaller wheels and folding frame. They can’t possibly be sturdy enough to last, let alone ride well. But, once I started riding folding bikes, my unfair perception of them quickly disappeared, even for the cheaper ones such as the Tern Link A7.

MSRP $549.00 // 12.1 kg (26.7 lb)

HERE’S THE DEAL! Folding bikes get a bad rap because many people think they’re the same as the old ones that use to fall apart while riding them. Or they’ve purchased a cheap, non-safety tested model from some unknown brand. And automatically assume that all folding bikes are the same.

By buying a folding bike from a reliable, well-known brand such as Tern, you are getting a folding bike that has to exceed all safety tests. Not only does this assure your folding bike will last for many years. But also, will prevent your bike from crumbling underneath you while at speed. (A CRUMBLING BIKE CAN CAUSE DEATH, SO PLEASE DON’T BUY A CHEAP FOLDING BIKE FROM SOME UNKNOWN BRAND)

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Meet the Tern Link A7 folding bike

The benefits of a folding bike is many. You can bring them on public transportation. Hide them under your desk at work. Even travel with them on a plane. A bike just like the Tern Link A7.

Who makes the Tern A7

Tern was Founded in 2012 by ex-employees Florence Shen and Joshua Hon, wife and son of David T. Hon, founder of the established Dahon brand of folding bicycles.

After owning a Tern Link D8 for the last 3 years, I can confidently assure you that Tern makes folding bikes that emphasize convenience, comfort, and portability. Along with very high quality. I’ve ridden the Tern Link D8 for many miles in all weather conditions and terrain. And it’s held up extremely well.

The Link A7 is its latest entry-level bike, featuring a lightweight aluminum frame. That comes in an eye-catching deep crimson.

Folding the Tern Link A7

Folding and unfolding the Tern A7 will seem a little confusing at first, just like with any other folding bike. But after you do it a few times, it will become extremely easy. Tern estimates that you will be able to fold the bike within 10 seconds, which is very doable. I like to take my time while folding it, and still,  I’m able to fold my Tern Link within 1 minute or less. This still gives you plenty of time to fold it if you plan on boarding a bus or train.

Tern’s easy to use owners manual

My Tern Link came with an easy-to-read manual, and also  provides how-to videos online. The manual gives very good instructions on how to fold the bike. I’ve never messed up while folding it, but it’s good to know that there’s resources available if I ever do need help.

Tern Link A7 folded.
Tern Link A7 folded.

Once you know the steps:

  1. Release the quick release and drop the seatpost.
  2. Push the lever forward and release the frame clamp.
  3. Rotate the front wheel backwards with the front wheel pointing forward, and touch the magnets together.
  4. Push the lever forward, release the clamp, drop the handlebars down, and attach the rubber strap.

Folding your Tern Link will be very simple and fast.

Tern Link folded size versus a Brompton

While not very large while folded, the Tern is slightly larger than a premium folding bike such as a Brompton.

The Tern Link A7 comes in at 28.7 inches tall and 31.5 inches long, compared to the Brompton’s 23-inch height. But is still small enough to fit neatly under a desk at work, in the corner,  or by a shoe rack in your homes entryway.

And at only 26.7 pounds, it’s still light enough to carry onto public transportation, or lift into the trunk of your car.

The same wheelbase and stability as a road bike

Just like a BMX bike, the Tern Link has 20-inch wheels, except the tires are better suited for daily commuting. And the hubs on the wheels are smoother rolling.

Also, unlike a BMX bike, the Tern Link has a longer wheelbase. With a wheelbase at 990 millimeters, this makes it comparable in terms of length and stability to a road bike.

The small size also makes it easy to pop into a coffee shop or store. No matter where I’ve taken my Tern Link, no one has ever objected when I left it folded up in the corner.

Even though the Tern A7 is considered entry level, and pretty stripped-down. It does have eyelets to attach a rear rack or fenders, if you do decide to use it as your everyday commuter.

Completely adjustable to fit different sized riders

The great thing about the Tern Link A7 is that despite it’s affordable price, it still rides like a much more expensive bike. And even though it folds, it’s much longer and stable than you might expect from a bike that fits under your work desk.

You can easily adjust the seat height, handlebar stem height, and the angle of the ergonomic handlebars with the quick-release clamps.

Tern claims that the A7 can accommodate riders between 4’7” to 6′ 3″. Which seems just about right. Just be aware that if you’re on the shorter side, you might end up leaning quite a bit more forward than you’ll usually prefer in a commuter bike.

Intended for urban commuting plus a little more

Even though the bike is suitable for urban commuting, it can also be used for riding locally in the neighborhood. Or for short runs to do errands.

Whats makes the Tern Link A7 great for commuting is it’s maneuverability. Unlike a regular sized bicycle, the 20-inch wheels give it a better turning radius. This makes it easier to dodge pot-holes or pedestrians if you have no choice but to ride on the sidewalks. But, the great thing about it, is that you won’t accidentally hit your feet on the front fender while making sharp turns. Unlike a full-sized bike.

You can take the Tern A7 on other terrain such as grass, gravel, dirt and trails. But because it’s intended for urban commuting, it will ride best on smooth tarmac. Also, the seven speed shifter will be more than adequate for climbing short hills of around 15 to 20 degrees.

Wide wheels and a low center of gravity

I love how folding bikes have wider wheels and a lower center of gravity. This not only keeps the bike stable, but also makes it easier to step over and onto it. For those that don’t have the flexibility to lift your leg over the frame of a regular bike, you’ll appreciate this feature. Just make sure you don’t hop off curbs, do wheelies, or skids as these actions will make the warranty void. USE THE BIKE FOR WHAT IT WAS INTENDED FOR!

Seven speed Shimano shifter and chain guard

The seven speeds that you switch with a cool twisting Shimano shifter on the right handlebar, will offer a great range for speed and climbing hills. And require less maintenance than a double shifter.  It also has a chain guard on the front gear to keep the chain from slipping off. For those of you who prefer disc brakes, the rim brakes will be more than enough for city riding.

The benefits of folding bikes such as the Tern Link A7

For commuting, bikes are, by far, the most energy-efficient way to cover ground. For shorter distances I prefer to ride a Xootr scooter as they are easier to carry onto a commuter train or bus.

Even if you live in a bike-friendly city, riding around on a regular sized bicycle will present huge problems. One time I met a friend at the cafe and had to walk for a block or two because I couldn’t find a bike rack. Instead I had to lock my bike up to a street sign and hope it would still be there when I returned.

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At first I considered folding bikes as complete junk that wouldn’t ride well or last very long. But after giving them a fair try I’m completely convinced that they are just as sturdy, and easy to ride as a regular non-folding bicycle.

With 20-inch wheels, the Tern A7 will feel just as stable and fast as a non-folding bicycle. The Link A7 will allow you to bypass many of the inconveniences associated with bike commuting. No more searching for bike racks. Or not being able to bring your bicycle into the store or cafe.

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As with all of Tern’s folding bicycles, you can also travel with it. Use it for a multimodal commute where you have to ride a train and then walk or bike to work. You can also pick from a variety of carrying cases and boxes if you want to fly with it to another city.

Plus it’s easy to stick the Tern Link into someone’s car if they offer you a ride home. Sometimes, the best part of riding a bike is when you realize you don’t have to ride it anymore.

WHERE TO BUY: https://www.ternbicycles.com/us

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