Bicycle commuting rocks. It's healthy, safe, fast, cheap and the only emission is what the biker breathes out. But it does have it's problems. One is that bikes generally have a very awkward shape. If there is no bike rack, or if you want to go somewhere with your bike, you're reduced to lugging a very cumbersome package around with you.
Well what if there was a bike you could fit in your trunk, that was the size of a briefcase, or that you could take on the subway. That sure would be nice.
Thus, the concept of the folding bike. You might be surprised to learn that there are actually quite a lot of these guys out there. They range from the practical to the nonsensical and from frugal to near-car prices. And today, at EcoGeek, we're going to show you the best of the folding bikes.
Let's start out with the cheapest. If your loved one needs a folding bicycle this season, Citizen is probably the brand for you. First, because they're widely available in America. Second, because they're on a super sale right now, at only $170 USD. This gives us a good example of what most folding bikes these days look like, with a low center of gravity and small wheels.
And now, we move immediately into what is honestly the strangest bike I've ever seen. The A-Bike promises that it is the world's smallest and lightest folding bike. I wouldn't doubt it. It's about 6 kilograms and you can get one in england for about 200 pounds. But, really, is that actually going to work? From what I know about bicycles, the angular momentum of the tires is what keeps you steady. I'm not a physicist, but it looks to me like this would be fairly impossible to ride steadily. But I could be wrong...
A lot of designers seem to think "While I'm trying out one untested technology, I might as well incorporate two." And that's what happened with these next two examples. The Jacknife is a prototype folding bike that simply doubles over on itself. Most bikes can't do this because of the traditional chain/gear system. The Jacknife, instead, uses a hydraulic pedal drive. Or, at least, it says it does, I can't figure out what that means, or how it works. I guess that's why it's still a prototype.
More encouraging is the eZee Quando, which is both an electric bike and a folding bike. Electric bikes seem like a fine idea to me, even though I don't think I would ever use one. I mean, the speed of travel or excess of exertion is not what keeps me from riding my bike (if you're wondering, it's the snow / slush / and subzero wind chill that's keeping me in the Nissan right now.) But, electric transportation is, generally, a good thing, so I'm behind this electric folding bike.
The big problem here though, batteries. It's hard to claim that a bike is 'portable' when it ways sixty pounds. Apparently the bike takes on hills without batting an eye, and can go 15 mph for 20 miles on one charge, definitely father than I'd ever need to go.
For someone who is maybe a little bit more hip (and wealthy) than me, there's the GoBike. I can see folks in New York City jaunting around on this thing in their nice pressed suits with passer-bys thinking "damnit, that guy is actually cooler than me." And then, when they see him get off the thing, fold it into a ball, and walk into the subway, that's when they smack their heads and realize that they are officially out of the loop. Available now for $1,500.
The Di Blasi R24 fits into the same category as the GoBike, as it's both functional and folds into a wadded mass of bicycle parts that will have co-workers saying "Oh my GOD, what happened to your BIKE!!" Plus, it's Italian, so there's a hottie in the picture, and they're way cheaper than GoBikes. And also not available in America, sorry. About $600 USD.
Moving away from the 'balls of parts' folding bikes, we have a less traditional looking vehicle, the Strida 3. We're getting cheaper now, at $300 USD and lighter as well. Good luck finding parts for it though. The bike folds in far simpler fashion than the GoBike or Di Blasi will, and ends up in a package that will easily fit in a kitchen cabinet. No word on how ridable these tiny-wheeled bikes are though. But it's got to be better than the A-Frame.
And coming in last, because it doesn't exist in the real world yet, is Josef Cadek's beautiful Locust folding bike. By turning the frame into a circle, the bike avoids looking like a crumpled up ball of bike parts while still being magnificently compact. Frankly, it looks more likely to be ridden by a south-going sneetch than a NYU undergrad, but, nonetheless, if it's produced, and it's lightweight, and it's inexpensive, I could see these selling like hotcakes. And I do love a good hotcake.
Thanks to TreeHugger for all of the excellent resources. For more info, just go there and search for 'Folding Bike," you'll find around two dozen articles. And for even more in depth reviews of even more folding bikes (how could there be so many) check out RideThisBike.com.
I apologize for the lack of comments, the site can't handle the script during periods of large traffic. We're working on it though. Thanks and enjoy!
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