Lightweight folding bikes: Of course, if you intend to be hoisting the bike on and off trains, then it’s understandable that you want it to be light. This can be achieved though using a lighter frame material. Brompton have recently introduced titanium to their range and there are brands making carbon folders. Higher quality components will also reduce the weight, as will opting for fewer gears – such as a singlespeed version – but this will only really suit someone who doesn’t intend to come across many hills in their use of the bike.
Folding commuter bikes have never been more popular with workers keen on keeping fit and avoiding urban public transport. Where just a few years ago the choices were confined to a few heavy models that swung around a clunky hinge, there are now a range of appealing versions for many needs: full-sized, tiny, electric, sporty, cruisers... the choices are near endless.
Is it light enough? Make sure the folding bike you choose is light enough for you to easily carry around. Granted, you’ll be riding it much of the time, but you may have to hold it while on public transit or haul it up the stairs to your office or apartment. Some of the lightest folding bikes weigh under 10 pounds, but notably, they tend to cost more.
Bike Friday - this high-end brand offers many types of folding bikes for those most concerned with performance. All Bike Fridays use 20" wheels and are built to fit into a suitcase for travel. Many also quick-fold and fit into a travel bag for use in commuting. A typical "stock" model (most Bike Fridays are custom made) quick-folds in 30 seconds to 27" X 27" X10" and weighs in at 24 pounds. Bike Fridays range in price from about $730 for a stock model to about $3400 for their best custom-made bikes. To ask questions about the Bike Friday, subscribe to the Bike Friday discussion list at www.bikefriday.com/community/the_yak. www.bikefriday.com, 1-800-777-0258.
Depending on local laws, many e-bikes (e.g., pedelecs) are legally classified as bicycles rather than mopeds or motorcycles. This exempts them from the more stringent laws regarding the certification and operation of more powerful two-wheelers which are often classed as electric motorcycles. E-bikes can also be defined separately and treated under distinct Electric bicycle laws.
“I am a big mountain biker and over the past couple years have taken a couple of electric folding bikes with me on various trips around the Southwest. I ride hard on the mountain bikes, then use the eFolders to get out and see the nooks and crannies of the town we are staying in … Mammoth Mountain, Big Bear Resort, Sedona, Springdale near Zion National Park, etc. I leave my truck in the parking lot and explore on the eFolder … after a hard day of riding the electric aspect is great … don’t have to worry about hills! Also the folding nature allows the bikes to transport easily, and store easily in the hotel or condo.”
A 24V Lithium Ion battery with Samsung cells powers a 250W motor on this entry level folder. The battery will take you about 30 miles, with a max speed of 15mph. There are 4 levels of assistance, all displayed on an LED screen. You get Shimano Tourney 7 speed shifting, and the whole bike folds – including the pedals which will be a handy feature for those commuting by train. The drawback? It does weigh in at 22kg so you do pay for the bargain with your carrying arm.
At the time of this writing, Dahon had just completed a Kickstarter campaign for its 35th Anniversary Curl, a high-end folding bike that operates similarly to the Brompton (though the company is very sensitive about that comparison). The campaign claims that the bike will be “not just a refinement of what has come before – it represents an almost total overhaul that completely changes the riding experience of folding bicycles.” We’re eagerly awaiting its production so we can test one.
But as a commuter vehicle, the Metro just lacks a few crucial details. There are no eyelets to attach a rear or front rack, so your storage options are limited to racks that clamp onto the seat post, or baskets that attach to the handlebars. Both of these options have much lower weight limits than a traditional rear rack. Your options for fenders (a necessity for foul-weather commuters) are limited, too, since the wheel forks don't have very much clearance.
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