This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Folding Bikes and Train Travel

   I recently bought a folding bike which I intended to use on multiple train trips in the future.  A traveling bike was something I had thought about a lot over the past few years.  I considered a bike with S&S couplers or retrofitting my favorite road bike, an '86 Trek 560.  But I kept backing off because of the price involved, both of the installation and the accessories needed to use it.  By the time the couplers were installed, the bike repainted and I bought the suitcase travel kit, I would have close to $1500 dollars tied up in it.  I don't travel by plane enough to justify that and I'm not sure if I want to leave my favorite ride locked up outside a store or cafe in a strange neighborhood and city(you know, they never stop being children to care for).  I have always been turned off from folders because of the 20" wheels, but wandering through my LBS one day I saw a Dahon Expresso.  It is an almost normal looking hybrid with 26" wheels.

Apparently, I am the only one in western Michigan to recognize the genius of this design because the shop owner was really pleased to dust it off and offer it to me for $360 (nearly $200 off the retail). This was the answer!  I am not a fan of aluminum frames either but intended this for all weather use, so I consider that an intelligent compromise I had to make.  I installed some SKS fenders, a Pletscher rear rack, Spanniga headlight and swapped the handlebars for a "trekking" handlebar and I was happy as a clam.
   The folding mechanism works in the flip of a lever and they include a big velcro strap to hold the frame members together.
    The latch itself is a substantial stainless steel latch which opens horizontally and is held in place by a vertical safety latch.

It opens quite smoothly and folds together into a compact unit in about 15 seconds.

The pedals are hinged and fold up against the crank arms as well.  After it's folded it's a snap to wrap the velcro around the frame members and easy to carry or roll in front of you.( I have found rolling in front is easier to manage than dragging it behind).

It can be made more compact by loosening the stem and turning the handlebars to line up with the frame
(that can take an extra 5 to 10 seconds so you have to allow for that).
     All in all I am really happy with the bike, it has a very short wheelbase, but generally rides well for a folder. Although I wouldn't want to spend seven or eight hours on it, it makes a nice city/commuter and I am even considering some light credit card trips in conjunction with train rides.
Tomorrow I'll tell you of the test trip on Amtrak.

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