Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Folding Bikes

Hello bike people,
so with final exams *almost* out of the way (my last one is in 14 hours) I decided to treat myself a little early and got a folding bike. I've used a folding bike on a week long research trip to NYC and I had a blast, I brought it everywhere and it went everywhere. Sure I couldn't keep up with the roadies or messengers as I'm spinning 90rpm just to get 22km/h, but I didn't mind.

The bike was "on sale" on Craigslist for $120 so I had to jump on it. I got the 3-speed model, which is 2 gears more than I can handle; my XC and main commuter are both single-speed, but I'm coping. I wasn't expecting too much for $120 but it isn't bad. It looks nice, it comes with fenders, working brakes AND can fold up really quickly, but it's heavy as heck the derailleur/brakes are junk and it's heavy (did I also mention it's heavy?)! granted, I do play on changing out the derailleur and brakes for some other parts I have lying around which are lighter/more reliable.

I've been commuting with it for a week and I can say that it's something peopel should try out. Using a folding bike with other modes of transportation (Multi-modal) can be efficient and very beneficial, but it may not be for everyone. I live 7.5km away from my work and school so biking takes me anywhere from 25~30 minutes depending on traffic. Taking the TTC, I can expect 35~40 minutes. By mixing both I can easily pull into work in 20 minutes while wearing a suit! Folding bikes may be ideal for GO riders working downtown wanting to avoid paying both GO and TTC fares, or condo dwellers who need something compact. This bike will definitely be my bar hopping, cafe going, grocery getting, bike which is cheap enough to lock up without worrying while giving me the mobility I want and the option of hopping on the TTC without worries.

There are some things I've noticed though. One, it attracts a lot of attention. At every red light, someone is looking at it. Perhaps it's weird seeing a big man on a small bike? Two, people will either think of you as being urbane & practical or just plain dorkey. I brought my bike into an exam last week and I can hear the mur murs behind me; people were complimenting the bike or it concept, people were making fun of it, people thought it was cute, people thought it was lame, lots of different reactions. Three, people will talk to you. So far my bike has resulted in 3 random conversations and I can only see it increasing in the future. Needless to say, if you get one expect some attention.

I'll upload real photos of it after my exam!

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