Deciding that we were going to buy folding bicycles for our birthdays was the easy part for Wessel and me. Choosing the bikes is the challenge. For those of you who have never seen or heard of a folding bicycle, the name pretty much sums it up. Some fold quicker than others, some are more comfortable for long-distance riding, some are lighter, some fold smaller. Prices range from $400 to $4,000 and up. So many options, so many opinions! Argh….Some people use their folders for mostly commuting — hopping on and off buses and trains with their bikes in hand. Wessel and I are more interested in having them for our many travels, especially when we fly, whether domestically or overseas. The money we fork over for the occasional rental or oversized luggage shipping of our own bikes could pay for folding bikes in five years or so.
While there are many good folders out there, the Bike Friday brand in Portland, Eugene, Ore., always rises to the top. The closest BF dealer to us, Neighborhood Transportation, is a couple hours away, near Winston-Salem. So we brought the store to us and made a party out of it. Owner Bruce Hermann was kind enough to bring several bikes for us to try out in exchange for me inviting the local cycling community. Think of it as the bike version of a Tupperware party.
Folding-bike types can be a little, um, zealous, about their bikes, and so we had a nice supply of zealots on hand as well, who brought these makes: Dahon, Xootr (the scooter not the bike), Mobiky, Strida, and Downtube. Bruce also brought a Breezer folder, and our pals at Cycle 9 in Carrboro, who are Downtube dealers, showed up later in the afternoon with several models. A handful of Bike Friday models were on hand. Perhaps the star attraction was the “tikit,” which BF hawks as the fastest folder available, and geared toward the urban commuter. Did I forget anyone? (A link at the end of this leads to more photos.)
Bruce’s other thing is recumbent bikes, those low-riders that stretch your legs and let the rest of you rest, so he brought a few of those as well, both two wheel and three-wheel models. I loved the three-wheeler. No balance needed! I have several friends who ride recumbents in traffic, but I’m still not up for being that down.
For overall style, I loved the Bike Friday Pocket Rocket Pro, which really is more a road bike than touring bike, and I really need a touring bike that can go on a variety of terrains. So forget the Pocket Rocket, which starts at $1,700. Just as well. For me it’s down to the New World Tourist, which starts at $1,100 and the Pocket Crusoe, which starts at $1,400. The PC does a little more of what I want, but, oh, I just can’t decide. Much customization is available, meaning more options. ARGH…. Custom colors are another $150, which I think is way too much. But I so prefer purple to red. The only way I can justify any of this spending is to not look at my end-of-year financial statements. I will add that cycling is by far my top activity, and my newest bike is 12 years old. Does that help? Of course I could check out used BFs, which means even more research. Maybe by my next birthday I’ll have my folding bike.
Wessel, who is both more budget-minded and less name-brand inclined, is likely going with one of the Downtubes, which costs around $400. And it’s orange! Of course it would make so much more sense if we both had the same bike, but since when do we do things because they make the most sense?
Click here for more photos of folders, recumbents, and friendly folks modeling during our folding fest.