Tern is a folding bike brand that was launched only at the start of this year and we had the chance to check out the entire range at Taipei Bike Show last week.
We’ve covered Tern briefly before and we have a Verge X30h out on test at this very moment. The range comprises five different frame models, each of them available in various different builds. So, for example, the Link comes in seven different versions ranging in price from £375 to £825.
The one thing that unites everything in the range is practicality. It looks like Tern have worked hard to make bikes that do their job with the minimum of fuss, with features that are designed to make your life easier and nothing added just for the sake of it. In other words, they seem to be very well thought out bikes, presumably a result of the fact that everyone at Tern apparently commutes by bike… necessity is the mother of invention, after all.
Let’s go though a few key models…
This is the Link in its P9 form, is priced at £650. This one is in Brompton territory – squint a bit and it’s vaguely the same shape. So, it’s for getting around town, particularly if you have a multi-modal commute and you need something you can get onto the train or into the boot of your car, or if you’re short of storage space at either end of your journey.
One of the key features is the OCL joint in the middle (here pictured on one of the Eclipse bikes). When the bike is folded, everything is held very firmly together and nothing is going to bend if it takes a whack getting on the train, for example, so durability should be good.
Tern use NorGlide bearings in there so it’s a very smooth fold and Tern reckon you can fold it down in under 10secs. The joint features little abutments – raised areas that fit into slots on the other side – to provide extra rigidity when you’re riding.
Tern call the front-end design the Physis Handlepost and it’s pretty wide to provide stiffness and the two halves of the joint interlock for more rigidity. It’s a neat looking piece of work too.
The Link's frame and fork are made from 6061 aluminium and you get a 9-speed drivetrain and Kinetic V-brakes.
You can fit Tern’s trolley rack to the back of any of the Link bikes. Then, once folded down, you can flip the bike on its side and pull it around using the saddle as a handle. A cover is included if you want to hide the bike or make sure grease stays on the chain rather than any clothing.
This one is the Eclipse. The P9 version (folded, below) costs £850.
This time the frame is hydroformed 7005 aluminium while the fork is a 6061 alloy, and you get disc brakes for reliable stopping whatever the conditions. Again, it’s a 9-speed drivetrain.
The Verge (main pic and above) is designed to be fast and is made using similar frame and materials to the Eclipse.
At £775, the Duo isthe most affordable Verge in the range with just two speeds and automatic shifting courtesy of SRAM’s Automatix hub. That means it’s most suitable for flatter rides but you can go right up to the £2,300 for the SRAM Red equipped X20.
We’re guessing the Verge isn’t going to be a big seller in the French-speaking world… well, not unless Tern change the name. Use Google Translate if you don't know why.
The Joe is different in that it has 26in (traditional mountain bike size) wheels and it’s the only bike in the range that doesn’t use the OCL joint. Instead, it uses a FBL (Four-Bar Linkage) joint in the middle of the bike that seems sturdy enough, and there’s no fold up front – the bars don’t flip down.
That means the Joe doesn’t fold down as small as the other bikes in the Tern range. On the plus side, it’s the cheapest model, coming with a 6061 aluminium and high-tensile steel fork. This C21, equipped with a 21-speed drivetrain (a triple chainset and seven sprockets) and V-brakes, costs £450.
Tern have a whole load of different accessories that allow you to tailor the bike to your exact needs. This is the Kanga rack (£44.99), for instance, that allows you to strap a backpack, laptop bag or whatever to the front end. It attaches to a Luggage Truss (£39.99) on the frame rather than the fork so it won’t affect your steering. There are a whole bunch of other racks too.
Tern do bags for putting on your bike and bags for putting your bike in for storage and carrying. This Body Bag - great name - allows you to store your bike unfolded, so you can hang it up behind a door or store it under a bed, for example.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.