Tech Spin | Tern Folding Bike: Verge X20
Freewheel down a mildly sloping road on the Tern Verge X20 and one of the first things you’ll notice, besides the rapid accretion of speed, is the throaty ratcheting of the rear-wheel hub, a distinctly low growl indicative of the kind of strength and agility not readily associated with folding bikes. Though not the newest compact on the market, the Verge X20 remains one of the most notable, combining slick styling, tech-driven portability, and nearly effortless acceleration into a powerful, albeit pricey package.
Light and fast, the Verge X20 is first and foremost incredibly fun to ride. Its hydro-formed aluminum front fork and rear doubletruss make the bike lightweight but far from flimsy, with the total package weighing in at 21.8 lbs – an easy carry when compared to the Brompton S2L Superlight (22.4 lbs.), the Dahon Mu Uno (23.8 lbs.) or any of Citizen’s comparable models (all above 26 lbs.). The Verge X20 also takes full advantage of its smaller wheel size, utilizing 20-inch Schwalbe Durano tires that are tough and grippy (with Raceguard puncture protection), allowing for easy take-off and acceleration. Wide GS2 rubber handlebar grips with modest bar ends are especially comfortable and help ease transitions from sitting to standing to full-on uphill grinding. Add to that 20 gears and you’ve got a quick and sturdy bike that can easily adapt to changes in the urban terrain.
The utilitarian purpose of any folding bike is portability and storability. The Verge X20’s fold functionality utilizes two swing hinges, one at the center of the main tube and one on the steering column, to break down into a package that is 15″ x 31.1″ x 28.3″. Not the smallest on the market, but hardly the largest, and totally capable of being carried onto the Metro, thrown in the trunk, or stored beneath a large office desk.
Unique to the Verge X20 is Tern’s N-Fold technology, which spins the front wheel by 180 degrees before the central hinge, allowing the wheels to sit parallel each other and “lock” via magnets on the front and rear wheel forks. The central hinge consists of Tern’s patented OCL Joint, which places bearings between the hinge’s precision-machined moving parts and improves torsional stiffness and overall strength. The levers that lock and unlock the steering column hinge, as well as the periscoping seat post, are super stiff, each 3-D forged from a single block of aluminum, providing additional strength to the frame when being ridden or stored. All this being send, its a super fluid fold function that, after a little practice, can easily be done under 10 seconds.
Every dude with a desk job could use a Verge X20 in their life, but not everyone can afford it. At a price of $3000, the Verge X20 is a luxury purchase for the most serious (and successful) commuter, but out of reach for most bikers on a budget. However, if an eccentric but caring benefactor happens to bequeath the Verge X20 unto you, then make sure your brake chords are tightly wrapped together where they travel along the main tube, as a couple times during our testing, they accidentally got caught in the pedal. We put this right real quick with some black electrical tape and never had an issue again. Besides this, the one thing we really missed was a kickstand. The Verge X20 stands on its own when folded, but when full size, it has nothing to hold it in balance besides the nearest wall, leaving no way to stand aside and floss the folding bike you spent a year saving up for.
If you can afford it, the Verge X20 is an amazingly fast and versatile folder perfect for cruising down the street for a kale burger, hustling up a knobby hill with groceries, or quietly circling the entrance of your cubicle as you entertain thoughts of watching 72 consecutive hours of Seinfeld.