Fast and lively to drive, with wheels with a deep profile and appealing, but a bit ‘cumbersome when folded
CYCLING CLASSIFICATION: 4 1/2 Stars
Founded in 2011, Tern now manufactures a wide range of folding bicycles that cover the transportation needs of all types of cyclists, whether they travel around town or venture into a fully loaded tourism adventure.
The company also produces some pretty refined e-bikes for those who need a boost to get to work.
For our test, we examined Verge’s “urban performance” range, designed to be fast and efficient on the road, whether it’s a city sprint or multi-modal daily travel.
While five of the six bike range models come with flat bars, it was the Verge X18 drop bars that caught our attention. But would the race correspond to its distinctive appearance?
The hydroformed aluminum tube is used everywhere, with a large main beam providing a solid core.
Although divided into two parts by the central hinge, its plumb line follows the rear hub, giving it an elegant appearance.
The cables are all external, but they are well kept with straps and do not spoil the style.
The zipper clamps have a pleasant feel and are easy to use, with solid mechanisms that feel strong and safe.
Although designed to be ridden fast, this is a very robust bike designed to withstand the rigors of everyday commuting.
The hidden fixing points at the back add to practicality.
If there is a weakness in the X18, it is the folded size of the bike. The bending process itself is quite simple, taking about 15-20 seconds.
Simply lower the handlebars down and fold the bike in half – a rubber strap secures the bars while a magnetic buckle at the back holds the folded bike together and the lowered seat post acts as a support.
Unfortunately, the handlebar protrudes significantly, adding to the already wide folded bike position: if this is a serious problem, one of the Verge flat bar models could be a better choice.
On the positive side, the right pedal is removable and can be stored in a special door under the saddle.
The nine-speed Shimano Sora controls have a somewhat clumsy operation compared to the more refined 105 or Ultegra, but we can not fault them for the reliability and the knobs of the gear indicators in the bonnets are a nice feature.
The front derailleurs are Sora in the front, Ultegra in the back, which seems a mix a bit ‘strange but did not give us problems during our tests.
The FSA belt set is equipped with the choice of a 53/39 crown from the old school, which makes sense when considering that small wheels effectively reduce the gearbox.
Coupled with the 9-26 cassette (yes, that’s right – the smallest sprocket has only nine teeth) offers a range of 28-109 inches of gear, which is comparable to a standard compact bike gear set.
The Kinetix dual-pin brake calipers do a pretty decent job to stop the bike, and high-quality Jagwire cables do their part to ensure smooth operation.
Often we do not highlight a stem as the most interesting component of a bike, but the Syntace VRO deserves a mention.
It is a cleverly simple design that can be rotated to easily adjust the height of the handlebar.
Kinetix Pro X alloy dumbbells are an intermediate form that should not give anyone any trouble.
The Kore Performance saddle offers a dense and compact padding and a moderate degree of flexibility, ideal for daily commuting activities.
As long as you feel comfortable, it would also serve well enough for the longest laps of the weekend.
With their 42mm deep alloy wheels, the Kinetix Pro X wheels, made for Tern by American Classic, are undoubtedly one of the most captivating features of the Verge X18.
In particular, the front part, with its 14 minimal Sapim CX-Sprint spokes with a radial-cut pattern, deserves a mention. Surely they feel stiff and strong in use, if not particularly light.
The Shimano Capreo hub in the rear is designed specifically for folding bikes with small wheels to allow the use of that extra-small box.
Durano’s Schwano tires offer a decent lamination speed and above-average puncture protection, making them the ideal choice for a bike of this type.
On the road
If the designers of the Verge X18 have decided to stop and get people involved, they can consider the job well done.
This is an original-looking and error-free machine. The drop dumbbells are an unusual sight on a folding bike, and the silver and blue gloss paint is a refreshing change over the default matte black.
And then there are those wheels – deep aero rims on a folding bike are definitely a break from the norm!
On the road, the first thing to notice is how close the driving position feels to a conventional road bike.
As is normal, the Sterna uses an approach suitable for everyone, but has the unusual feature of an adjustable stem.
This means that even shorter riders should be able to adjust the handlebars low enough to be able to adopt a hidden driving position, making the most of the drop handlebars, while taller riders can raise the bars to avoid feel like they’re a lowered track bike.
The Sora commands meant that our hands felt immediately at ease, gravitating to their default position on the hoods.
And once we moved, we moved down into the drops and engaged in a real effort as natural as in the Sunday bike.
Despite having a weight of over 10 kg, the Verge is quick to accelerate and has no problem keeping it.
The weight is felt a little on the steepest hills, but with the wide 18-speed set-up, there are enough gears in the lower part to cope with most gradients.
Standing back and watching the Verge X18, we could not help but think it seemed stretched.
In fact, the 1.060 mm wheelbase is a couple of centimeters longer than rivals like the Superlight Brompton S2L – it’s not a huge difference, but maybe it’s enough to contribute to the very different driving feeling.
The Verge feels much less nervous than many folding bikes, especially when traveling in speed. That feeling of stability carries to the bend, which is predictably reassuring.
The stiffness of the frame and wheels also helps from this point of view, without any visible flex in the front, even if the double-thickness handlebar offers a little ‘elasticity to absorb some shocks.
There is a lot of seat post exposed out of the frame, but being a 34mm large alloy model, it has enough inherent rigidity to overcome this, removing the feeling of rebound that you might otherwise get.
At the same time, the 28 mm tires do their part to ensure that the ride is not too hard.
Frame: robust aluminum with an elegant appearance. 8/10
Components: an intriguing mix that nevertheless works well. 7/10
Wheels: head-turners undoubtedly and super-rigid. 9/10
The Ride: does a good job of driving like a normal road bike. 9/10
Fast and lively to drive, with deep-profile wheels that catch the eye, but a bit cumbersome when folded, mainly due to those falling bars