Folding Bikes - A Practical Innovation
If there is one thing I would like to put on my Christmas list this year, it is a Folding Bike. Folding bikes, which have been rapidly increasing in popularity recently, are a brilliant innovation, perfect for the keen cyclist with very little storage space. If you live in an apartment or a small house, a folding bike could actually be the difference between owning a bike or going without altogether - unless you don't mind staring at your bike every day over your morning coffee, that is.
In my house, we do have bikes, but only for the children. We have a shed, but it is bursting at the seams. We put things into it, but we certainly cannot fit another full size bike. Parents have to make sacrifices, and ours is to go without bikes, and allow all our limited storage spaces to be invaded with the possessions of children.
However, I really would like a bike. I live in a city, and every day I see green-minded people, like myself, cycling off to work. We're all told to cut our energy consumption and use alternative travel, but aside from walking, what can you do if you simply cannot accommodate a bike? Of course you could take the bus - and many people do - yet with a bus there can be a lot of waiting around, plus having to take a route which is not always exactly direct.
A Folding Bike Is The Answer
Yes, it really is. Whoever thought up the design for a folding bike really is a genius. Folding bikes are becoming ever more popular - I see at least a couple every day in the vicinity of my humble home. Though quite pricey, they are coming down in cost as demand increases - you can purchase a fairly good quality model for around £350 / $540 now, but many of the best models are rather more. Brompton Folding Bikes have excellent reviews, and will cost upwards from approximately £600 / $930 approximately. Mobiky is another contender - the winner of several international design awards.
Brilliant For Commuters - Not Just For People With A Lack Of Space
Folding bikes are extremely useful for people who make a daily commute by public transport. A folding bike can seriously speed up your journey time, which is a welcome factor when you consider how tedious a daily commute can be.
Folding bikes can be carried onto buses, trains and underground systems with ease. Many folding bikes can also be pushed along on wheels when in the folded position, which is useful when walking along station platforms, for instance. Then, when you arrive at work, a folding bike can be more easily stored in the workplace.
Traditional, non-folding bikes can be carried on public trains, but not on buses or underground systems. A non-folding bike can not usually be stored inside a workplace, only in allocated outside space, if this exists.
Good For Vacation, Or Days Out
If you purchase a folding bike which is suitable for a variety of terrains, it could be a useful addition to your luggage when going away. If you are driving, and the space in your car allows, you can pack it in and look forward to exploring when you reach your destination. Even if you are only off for the day, you can drive to the countryside and partake in a quiet cycle once you get there. Even if you are heading abroad, you could accommodate a folding bike as part of your luggage allowance.
Folding Bikes Are Not New
It may surprise you somewhat to learn that the first documented folding bike was manufactured in 1893. It certainly surprised me - although actually folding bikes were not really manufactured for the general public until around the 1960s - usage before that time was mainly limited to the military. In the 1980s, the Dahon Folding Bicycle Company began, and is still in production today. Now, Dahon is a very popular manufacturer of folding bikes the world over.
Even though the concept of a folding bike is not exactly brand new, it is certainly true that folding bike designs have come on in leaps and bounds. Old models were heavy and awkward - now, the emphasis is on lightness, convenience and ease of use. Folding bikes are used most widely by city and town dwellers, in an urban setting - however, it is possible to buy excellent high performance models for use by serious cyclists on varied terrain.
You Get What You Pay For
In actual fact, you can purchase a folding bike at a much lower price than the models highlighted - I have even seen folding bikes for little more than £100 / $150 - however, I'm not sure this can really be recommended. Just as with anything, you get what you pay for in this world - and once you start looking into folding bikes at the very cheapest end of the market, in many cases the numerous reviews reflect a somewhat less satisying experience. I suppose, in the end, it all comes down to your budget, and the intended frequency of use. However, I would say this - if your budget allows, go for one of the quality models. Aside from Brompton, Dahon and Mobiky, Airnimal, Swissbikes, Bike Friday and Birdy all produce good folding bikes, and Moulton make great bikes which, though not exactly 'folding', can be disassembled, for ease when traveling.
Well, anyway, I'm still hoping for a folding bike of my own some day - here's to finding out what Santa puts in my stocking this year - although I'm not entirely sure a folding bike would fit...
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