We have all seen them, those small-wheeled bicycles whizzing around congested city streets during the rush hour. Suited city gents wearing a cycle helmet with a briefcase strapped to the back luggage rack. When you see them arrive at the train station, you realise they have had the benefit of a bit more time in bed. Then they fold their bike up to a ridiculously small size and tuck it in a corner of the carriage. When they get to their place of work, it is a matter of folding the bike up again and popping it under their desk.
Folding Bikes are a serious part of the daily commute for many people. Not only do they speed up the journey, they help with fitness and of course, they are much more environmentally friendly than driving a family sized car to and from the station car park.
It is not only commuters who find a folder useful. Caravanners and users of RV's are able to arrive at their campsite and then easily tour the local area by bike. For people who use boats, on the sea, river or canal, the compact size of a folder means that they can easily stow it away on board. And, of course, a folder doesn't need a rack on the back of the car; it just goes in the boot.
Those of us who experience urban living, in apartments without parking facilities, will also benefit from a folder. No carting the mountain bike up stairs, or having to leave it chained up outside.
Just because a folder is built to fold up it doesn't mean that there has to be a loss of strength, or they are only confined to high quality tarmac roads. A Moulton, considered to be a Rolls Royce of bikes, held the speed record of 51mph. Airnimal produce high specification folding mountain bikes. An Airnimal Chameleon was ridden to Bronze in the World Triathlon Championships. Bike Friday are a popular US producer of folding bikes and their range even includes a folding tandem and a folding recumbent.
For many the Brompton epitomises the classic folding bike. You will see more of these coming of a busy commuter train than any other model. They feature a unique feature whereby the rear wheel flips underneath to form a stand.
New designs are coming through which are more and more unconventional and eye-catching. The Strida, which weighs just 22 pounds, is rustproof and completely greaseless since it uses a Kevlar belt for propulsion instead of a conventional chain. It looks like a triangle with a seat sticking out just below the apex. The Strida has won several design awards. For those who consider the time taken to fold the bike, there is the Mobiky Genius. Designed in response to the demands of a modern urban environment the Mobiky Genius features one of the fastest and easiest folds of any bike on the UK market. It also rides and handles perfectly in congested streets.
If you are thinking of a bike, but have to consider the difficulties of housing and securing a full sized version, have a look at the range of folders that are available first.
Source: StreetDirectory.com/Health&Food/RecreationPrograms by Craig Summer / photo from ridethisbike.com & bikecommuters.com