I get the feeling that one of the main reasons folding bikes aren’t more popular among urban bike commuters is the fact that they look different than “normal” bicycles (I’ve actually had people comment that they look like “those little bicycles bears ride in the circus”… LOL). After figuring out how incredibly useful they are for city riding and multi-modal commuting, I no longer see them as “weird” or “nerdy” at all. In fact, when I see a person on a nice folder, my gut reaction is one of admiration for the wise and enlightened choice they’ve made.
I’m not saying folding bikes are the end all, but they’re certainly powerful tools that would probably be much more widely used if they didn’t so strongly go against the grain of what we intuitively think of as “bike”. I suspect this is the same reason recumbents have never gained in popularity past their measly 0.5% of market share.
What about you? Assuming you had the need for one, would you feel self-conscious riding a folding bike? Does the look of tiny wheels turn you off or would you feel comfortable riding a bike with 16″ wheels? (I’m talking purely self-image here, not practical reasons related to bike design.)
Purely coincidentally following our Bike Friday Tikit / Brompton M3L photo essay from yesterday, Bike Friday announced today that they’re taking orders on their new Belt Drive Tikit. From Bike Friday:
The wait is over! Bike Friday will take orders for the Carbon Drive tikit beginning immediately. Our designers found the final pieces to the puzzle to make this belt drive tikit available for delivery this spring. After searching the globe for solutions, Bike Friday head designer Rob English discovered the answer with American made Phil Wood hubs and cogs.
“The availability of the Phil Wood hubs and cogs makes it possible for us to build it,” English said. “The Phil Wood cogs allow us to offer the belt drive with the Alfine 8 or Nexus 8, and give customers a big enough gear range to suit most people.”
Carbon Drive tikit with Alfine 11.
Polished aluminum mountain bike handlebars, sealed bottom bracket, Tektro V brakes, 118-tooth Gates Carbon Drive belt, Shimano Alfine 11 internal hub, Phil Wood front hub and Schwalbe Marathon tires. Price: $3,292
Gear ratios for the Alfine 11:
60 x 24 = 21″ to 86″
60 x 22 = 23″ to 94″
Carbon Drive tikit with Alfine 8, Nexus Red Stripe 8 or Nexus 8.
Polished aluminum mountain bike handlebars, sealed bottom bracket, Tektro V brakes, 118-tooth Gates Carbon Drive belt, Shimano Alfine 8, Nexus Red Stripe 8 or Nexus 8 internal hub, twist shifter and Phil Wood cog, Phil Wood front hub and Schwalbe Marathon tires. Price: $2,595
Gear ratios for 8-speed hub:
60 x 22 = 23″ to 71″
Bike Friday →
“Roughing it” in the ‘burbs
I was chatting with a colleague the other day when the subject of commuting came up. When he learned that we’re a family of 5 with one car, we live in the suburbs, and that we use our bicycles as our primary mode of transportation, he seemed impressed, even awestruck. He thought car-light/car-free lifestyles are only for the young, hardy, and hip who live within urban areas. The idea that a garden variety suburban family in a garden variety suburb could live a car-light lifestyle seemed simultaneously puzzling and incredible to him.
It’s not heroic and it’s not rocket science. The fact that we can do it proves that riding a bicycle for transportation is a simple thing that almost anyone can do.
Here’s the news: we’re nothing special. We truly are just a typical middle-class family living a typical middle-class life. We’re not athletes; we’re not adventurers; we’re not risk takers; we’re not anything other than an average family who, whenever possible, just happen to rides bikes, walk, and use transit instead of driving a car. It’s not heroic and it’s not rocket science. The fact that we can do it proves that riding a bicycle for transportation is a simple thing that almost anyone can do.
We frequently talk to non-riders who imagine using bicycles for transportation is difficult. Consequently, we feel a strong need to show people otherwise (that’s one of the primary motivators for running this blog). With that in mind, we’d love to hear about how you incorporate bicycles into your unexceptional lifestyle. If you’re just a boring, run-of-the-mill bike commuter/transpo rider like us, we’d love to hear about it in the comment area below. Let’s let potential utility bicyclists know that it’s not difficult to leave their cars at home. Thanks in advance for sharing!
I’m on a bit of a jag today, going back through our archives looking for interesting tidbits that jump out. Earlier today I re-posted the America Bikes list, and I just now stumbled upon this photo that was taken one year ago today. We’re fogged in again, but it looks like we had a beauty of a day last year on this date.
While I have you… if you try to contact us right now via our contact forms, you’ll notice they’re not working. Becuase of the large number of comments being left on the cap giveaway post, and the associated outgoing e-mail notifications going to the site moderators and also to those who subscribed to the post, our Google Apps outgoing e-mail account was shut down due to too much traffic. We’re supposed to be shut down for 24 hours, so the forms should be working again by tomorrow morning.