Folding Bikes for Everyday People.
Folding bicycles are becoming more mainstream everyday. The quality and strength of these bikes is just one of the reasons. With more people riding everyday, and needing a compact bike that stores and transports so easily, they are a perfect fit. The variety ranges from small-wheeled minis to full-sized folding bikes. Could a folding bike be in your future? Read along and see what you think.
I’d be the first one to admit my early rides on folding bikes were less than exciting. They seemed to be flimsy, low-tech machines. But then about two years back, NYCeWheels sent me a M3L Brompton to report on. After bunches of miles, rides, and written articles about that bike I was hooked. You may have read some of my posts from the ’Boy Gets Brompton’ series on their blog site (links to them can be found on my ’My blogs on other sites’ category).
The Brompton is one super high-quality and great riding folding bike. So starting again with the nicest one on the market was a eye-opener. I have since ridden and reported on many different folding bikes and my exposure to them widens all the time. Right now I have five different folding bikes at my disposal, so between Barbara and I, they each get a lot of saddle time. If you follow my blog then you have seen most of them.
The benefits of a good folding bike are many. Security from theft and pilfering is one of the best. Seeing that you can bring it inside while at home or work can keep your bike peace-of-mind on an even keel. I know that it always bothers me to hear about and see bikes disappearing to thieves. I don’t get why anyone would mess with my bike, but then again there are many things in this world I don’t understand. So if I can feel safe knowing my bike is ready when I am, I’m all for it.
Another thing about folding bikes is their ability to be moved about on most any kind of public transportation. I love being able to ride to the trolley, get close to where I’m going, and finish the trip on my bike. Local buses here have bike racks that will hold a pair, but if the rack is full, what do you do? With a folding bike the problem is solved. Trains and planes can also haul your bike with little hassle.
RV’ers are known to covet their folding bikes. Space is at a premium and every time I see some bikes on a rack in the elements on the back of a motor home I want to ask them ’Why no folding bikes?’ Boaters too are in love with their folding bikes and can use them often for so many tasks. Just haul them ashore or on the dock, un-fold, and off you go.
I am sure as you think about a bike that can fold to a compact size, you can conjure up your own ways it could make your life more convenient. Barbara and I have enjoyed many rides with them on out-of-town journeys where the car was too filled for our full-sized bikes, or we felt using our bike rack wasn’t going be handy. We have easily kept them secured in the car or in our motel room between rides. We love to bike and anything that takes away the fun is un-wanted.
Most folding bikes are of the small-wheeled type. They become very small and light in the folded mode. Some folders have full-sized wheels, but still become fairly easy to store when folded. We also have some folders with electric-assist. They weigh quite a bit more and don’t always become as small, but are still sometimes easier to deal with than our standard bikes. The E-Brompton I am doing an extended test on is the best of both worlds.
One thing I really like about the Brompton is how the greasy chain is tucked between the wheels when folded. Most the other folders I have or ride don’t do it that way and as hard as I try, I always rub the chain on my clothes or body. Although my Tern doesn’t have it, some I’ve seen have a plastic cover on the chain. It is a slit piece of wiring conduit (from car wiring harnesses) that fits on the chain. It won’t work on bikes with derailleurs and might be noisy when you pedal. I hope to try one out soon.
You can also use a carry bag or box with your folding bike. The hard-case boxes are more designed for travel on trains and planes, while the soft bags can be good to help disguise your bike while on public transportation that charge additional for bikes on-board. They are an extra cost item and may not be easy to manipulate and store, but are important options for some people. Just like any bike accessory, it is up to you to see their value.
When you are shopping for a folding bike, keep in mind that the higher priced ones will generally have stiffer frames, last longer and ride better. Better brakes and extra gearing options will add to the price too. If you are not a powerful rider and don’t plan on using it often, then a less-expensive one might do, but if you really want to ride, don’t cut any corners when it comes to your choice of a new folding bike.
So what folders am I riding right now? NYCeWheels just sent me a Montague Paratrooper Pro. It is a full size hard-tail mountain bike. With disc brakes and 27 speeds, it is already proving to be a blast. Of course I am still riding the H3L E-Brompton they sent me earlier in the year. These two bikes are on loan to me and have both proven their worth in fun and convenience. My Tern Link P9 is a fantastic bike and gets ridden often.
The other two are electric-assist folders with full-suspension and disc brakes. Named the Warrior 20 and the Warrior 26, they come from the Richen company in China. I have done test reviews on both of these E-bikes here on my bike blog. Have a look at the articles to find out more. They too have been used often and can be great fun. Barbara often chooses her Warrior over her eZip for the commute to work.
One folding bike I hope to ride and report on is the Pacific IF Mode. This is a full-sized, two speed bike with disc brakes. It is one of the best-looking pieces of rolling bike art I have seen on the pages of the net. NYCeWheels offers it and I am dreaming often of getting to ride and see it in person. Time will tell.
Un-fold your bike and hit the bike trail, Turbo Bob.
“Some people are not in control of their cycling. The cycling is in control of them. You get to a point where you say ’Oh my God, I’m a motor for my bicycle. I’m no longer a person.’ ”—Rich Stark.
The folding bike experts? NYCeWheels of course. You can find them on the web or Facebook.