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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

More Americans Biking To Work

An article yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle described how the high cost of gasoline is causing more Americans to abandon their cars and use alternate means of transportation such as bicycles and mass transit. Titled "More Americans commuting on two wheels to avoid rising gas prices", the article profiled Scott Morrison, a commuter that has lost @ 50 lbs by riding to work. Mr Morrison told the reporter "every time I get on the scale, it's like I'm getting rewarded for riding to work... the two biggest complaints people have are not having enough money and obesity. I'm taking care of both" by commuting by bicycle.

The story cited rising fuel costs and health awareness as two possible reasons for a record number of bike sales this year in the USA and also mentioned that the Bicycle Commuter Act now before Congress will spur even more bike commuters if it passes.

The story was written by Terrence Chea, a writer for the Associated Press that is based in San Francisco. Mr. Chea has written a variety of stories about environmental issues.


Looking to cut costs commuting and loose weight...
Instead of pushing on the gas pedal, try commuting by bike. Folding bikes like the Giatex Sport or Mobiky Genius go places most other bikes cannot. Because they fold compactly, these folders can be taken on mass transit, will fit in the trunk of a Honda or Toyota compact and can even be stored discreetly next to your desk at the office. When folded, both bikes can be rolled about and are more manueverable than a full size bike, allowing for easy passage through narrow hallways. The 16" Giatex Sport 550 will stretch from a compact size for preteens to accommodate riders up to 6' 4" and 205 lbs; it's available from RideTHISbike.com for under $300, shipping included. The Mobiky Genius is designed for riders from 8 years to adults weighing up to 240lbs; it's priced at $699.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Big Changes At RideTHISbike.com

It's been in the works for months but I've finally uploaded some major changes to the website. First, I've reorganized the link structure listed at the top and bottom of many pages to help users navigate more easily through the site. Second, I've integrated a more professional shopping cart and payment solution. Third, I'm working on adding reviews of bicycles and cycling related products that I've been writing for the last several months.

More changes are in the pipeline but they have more to do with a physical location, bike rentals and special packages. Anyhow, being that it's Mother's Day, I'm going to be in deep hot water if I keep typing...

If you have a moment, take a look at the homepage of RideTHISbike.com and let me know what you think.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mobiky Genius Folding Bike Hard Case

By Larry Lagarde

Due to the Mobiky Genius' compact size and fast folding action, the bike is great to take on vacation. Now, there is a hard case specifically designed to protect your Mobiky from the rigors of airline travel.

Here are some photos of the travel case that I've designed and constructed for the Mobiky. Made of aluminum and a special, strong plastic, the case is rugged, light and meets the standard airline specifications for checked baggage. The bike fits snugly in the case with minimal dis-assembly (remove the front wheel and slide off the upper portion of the handlebar at the quick release point) and the total package (bike and travel case) fall within the standard weight specs as well. In other words, NO AIRLINE SURCHARGES on all but a few budget airlines in Europe or Asia for taking your bike when you travel!

I'll be publishing more photos soon and will be adding a page to RideTHISbike.com so customers can place orders online.

I'm still working out the pricing but expect it to be in the neighborhood of $400+. I'm sure that this sounds high but this case is a limited production run built to exacting standards specifically for the Mobiky. Alternately, you could put your $700+ Genius folder in an oversized suitcase where it's highly likely to be damaged but what's the point to that???


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Mobile Homeless Shelters & Bicycle Travel Trailers

By Larry Lagarde

From Texas to Mobile, Alabama, the Gulf Coast took a huge hit from hurricanes Katrina & Rita. In fact, 9 months after the worst natural disaster in US history (Hurricane Katrina), much of the New Orleans region remains a wasteland.

While a variety of public assistance and volunteer efforts streamed into the affected areas to help those in need, the assistance has begun to taper off even as the needs grow larger. Rents for available housing and premiums for homeowner's insurance have skyrocketed, pricing those in low wage jobs out of housing they could previously afford. The result is a crisis situation on the verge of exploding. Already, record numbers of homeless people can be seen shuffling about, panhandling, scrounging for food or seeking a place to sleep, not only in downtown New Orleans but even in the suburbs.

Although simple and clear answers regarding how to rebuild New Orleans are elusive, a current design competition could soon provide a wealth of practical, mobile shelter solutions. Known as Shelter In A Cart, the contest has already attracted over 4000 designers. Participation is open to applicants from around the world and an exhaustive report will be published when the results are compiled later this month.

I learned about the design competition by chance this afternoon while at the website of bicyclist Tony Hoar of Vancouver, Canada (the second Brit to ever finish the Tour de France). Tony makes specialty bike trailers of all sorts. I wanted to see if he was interested in providing me with some custom parts to convert a hard case I'm creating for the Mobiky Genius folding bicycle into a cargo trailer (so a traveler could take their Mobiky by plane to a destination, remove it from the hard case, then use the hard case as a trailer while they travel).

Tony had created a custom trailer to act as an rv of sorts for a cyclist. By eliminating some frills, Tony realized that his travel trailer would make an excellent mobile shelter for the homeless and for use after natural disasters. He approached non-profit agencies in his region. Since none were interested in deploying his trailer, Tony gave the prototype to a homeless guy. Word quickly spread and Tony was interviewed by media from around the world. Shortly thereafter, Tony was contacted about producing the winning designs of the Shelter In A Cart competition later this month. The folks at DesignBoom.com (runners of the competition) didn't even know about Tony's existing mobile shelter. Can you imagine their amazement when he told them that he already had one produced?

Tony and I were brainstorming on ways to cut the cost of the mobile shelters so they could be purchased with donations and distributed through grass roots organizations like ACORN or Common Ground that are on the front lines of efforts to help the poor reclaim their lives in New Orleans. Perhaps we can use discarded "Blue Roof" tarps for the tents; perhaps complex components of the mobile shelters (such as the joints and hitch) can be fabricated by Tony and the rest can be assembled on site in New Orleans. Regardless, the mobile shelter is certainly a product that could help people that are in desperate need of shelter that they can call their own.

I'm going to contact DesignBoom and ask if they'll sponsor more competitions to help the homeless and others in need. If you'd like to help us produce shelters for the homeless, post a comment or give me a call at 504-324-2492.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Review: Mobiky Genius Folding Bike

By Larry Lagarde

If you crave attention, the Mobiky Genius is a must have. It's both fun to ride and an eye catcher.

Due to the popularity of RideTHISbike.com, the USA distributor of the Mobiky Genius folding bike (Mobiky USA Selectron) asked me to test and review their
revolutionary folder. Given the buzz that the Genius generated at Interbike and the fact that I couldn't attend (due to factors relating to Hurricane Katrina), I jumped at the opportunity to ride this bike and asked them to send it.

The Genius arrived in a box similar in size to that of my first Dahon from several years ago, albeit it slightly taller. Upon opening the box, I found the bike packed in the black, nylon carry bag that comes with the bike at no extra charge. I pulled the bag out of the box by the carry handle and set it down upright on the pavement. Slowly, like peeling a banana, I unzipped the bag and glimpsed the bike for the first time.

Although I'd seen a variety of photos of the bike online, I was awestruck by the beauty of this machine's design and finish. For several minutes, I simply studied every facet of the bike, from the uniquely patented frame and folding mechanism to the gleaming, multi-position aluminum kickstand.

Frankly, other than having 2 wheels, a seat, handlebars and pedals, the Genius is unlike conventional bikes. The tires are 12" low pressure/wide aspect to absorb bumps. The drive train is separated into 2 chains so the bike pedals like a traditional bike (and to simplify the mechanics of folding). The seat post base has 2 supports; grab both supports with one hand, clench them together, pull up on the carry handle and the bike folds instantly. Like the Giatex folders, the bike can be rolled when folded by holding the handle bars. The multi-position kick stand supports the bike in both the folded and unfolded positions. Flip the quick releases for the seat post and the handlebars and they both collapse tightly. Even the handlebar ends and the pedals can be folded in.

The Genius is outfitted with a Sturmey Archer internal 3 speed transmission with a lifetime warranty. The Sturmey Archer performed flawlessly and the gear ratios were sensible (1st gear for hills, 2nd for accelerating, 3rd for cruising). Despite all the folding joints, the Genius rode solidly on pavement. With the small wheels, I wouldn't ride it off road and would suggest steering clear of large potholes. The brakes also performed well, no doubt due to the 120mm disk brake on the front wheel.

According to Mobiky's corporate headquarters in France, over $1 million and 2 years in R&D was spent developing the Genius. The bike has won a variety of international design awards and is certainly elegant to behold. The bottom line though is that this is the ultimate commuter/city bike; it's ultra compact, weighs under 30 lbs, is easy to store, takes 3 seconds to fold/unfold, rolls by your side, is designed for minimal maintenance, has a carry handle for hauling up the stairs or escalator, has fenders and chain guards to keep you clean, a bike bell to warn of your approach and is almost completely made of rust proof, aircraft grade aluminum.

My Opinion:
In other words, if you want a bike that people will gaze upon in wonder (whether you're riding it or it's parked at your side), if you don't mind being asked time and again "where'd you get that bike" or don't mind hearing "Cool! I want a bike like that", if you're looking for a bike to ride to work or school that you can store by your side in a minimal amount of space and (last but not least) if you have $699 to plunk down for a bike, the Mobiky Genius is THE bike to have.

Mobiky Genius Specifications:

Weight: 13.5 Kg / 29.7 lbs

Folded Dimensions: 63.5 x 30.5 x 81 cm / 25 x 12 x 32 in

Unfolded Dimensions: 127 x 45 x 102.5 cm / 50 x 18 x 41 in

Frame and Fork Materials: Aluminum 6061

Rims: Aluminum Rims 12"

Chains: Rust Preventive, Self-Lubricated

Front Brake: 120 mm disk type

Rear Brake: 80 mm band type

Maximum Rider Weight: 245 lbs
Transmission: 3 Speed Internal Gear Hub Sturmey Archer

Folding Time: Folds and unfolds in 3-15 seconds depending on whether handlebars & seatpost are fully folded.

Transport Method When Folded: Rolls By Your Side

Storage: Upright In The Supplied Carry Bag

Accessories: A quilted (more heavily padded) carry case and suspension seat post are available for purchase.
Price: $999 US but currently available at the promotional price of $699

Writer's Note: When I initially wrote this review, I was not selling the Genius; however, I loved the bike so much that I became a dealer. If you're a commuter, live in an apartment in a major city or like to pack a bike for travel, this bike could be ideal for you and h
opefully, this review provides useful information. Ultimately though, you must be the judge regarding what works best for you. Best regards, LL.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Folding Bike Carry Bags

One of the reasons I ride and sell Giatex folding bikes is because they can be rolled even when folded. Sometimes though, it helps to have a storage or carry bag for the bike (to keep it from getting scratched in my car trunk or for discrete concealment in a restaurant or, say, at the office).

If you're a Giatex owner and are interested in a carry/storage bag, take a look at 2 new pages that I've just added to RideTHISbike.com. One page is for bags for 16 inch folding bikes; the other is for bags that will accommodate 20" folding bikes. Priced at just $58.99 (shipping included), these custom bags are definitely a bargain!

By the way, I'm in the process of reworking the website so stay tuned for additional developments soon.


Cycling for fun, fitness & practicality.

Phone: 504-324-2492
Bike Shop Street Address:
231 Dauphine St
New Orleans, LA. 70112
(1 block from Bourbon St; 2 blocks from Canal St)
In the French Quarter

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