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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ultralite Folding Bike FAQ

Following are answers to questions that come up regularly regarding the Kent Ultralite folding bikes.

Q: Are the Kent Ultralite folding bikes really light?
A: The Superlite and Ultralite folding bikes are made from an extremely light but strong magnesium/aluminum alloy and weigh from 22-25 lbs.; thus, they ARE lighter than virtually any other folder available. If you removed the fenders, kickstand and carry rack, they'd weigh around 20 lbs.

Q: Will Kent Ultralite folding bikes really fit in an airline legal suitcase?

A: I have fit Ultralites into airline legal suitcases of 28 inches, the type that are readily available at discount stores such as Big Lots, Kmart or Walmart for $50 or less (with roller wheels and slide out handles). Of course, you could buy a Samsonite Oyster but I think that's overkill.

Folded dimensions of the Kent Superlite and Ultralite folding bikes are 27"x24"x15". To reduce the 15" dimension, unbolt the front wheel, then open the QR on the handlebar stem to remove the handlebars. This will shave off 5" with only minimal effort.

To fit the bike into a smaller suitcase, remove the handlebars, both wheels and the rear carry rack, that will drop the folded dimensions to @ 22"x20"x10". I used bubble wrap and pipe insulation foam from the hardware store to protect all the components.

Q: What accessories come standard with the Kent Ultralite Folding Bikes?
A: The bikes are outfitted from the factory with rust free (plastic) fenders, an alloy carry rack, folding pedals and a kickstand. Both the handlebar and seat post have quick releases so they are height adjustable to fit the size of the rider.

Q: How are the Superlite folding bikes geared?
Superlite 1 Speed:
Using 16" 35-349 rims: 38.7 gear inches
Using 16" 37-305 rims: 46.2 gear inches

Superlite 3 Speed (Shimano Nexus hub):
Using 16" 35-349 rims:
1st Gear (low spd): 33.9
2nd Gear (medium): 46.2
3rd Gear (high spd): 62.8

Using 16" 37-305 rims:
1st Gear (low spd): 28.4
2nd Gear (medium): 38.7
3rd Gear (high spd): 52.6

Q: How can I make the bike go faster?
A: The easiest upgrade is to replace the sprocket on the rear hub with a sprocket with fewer teeth, making the rear wheel turn faster for each revolution of the pedals. Bike shops readily offer sprockets with 13-16 teeth; price is around $10-15 and shops can easily handle the installation for you.

Q: What size rims are on the Superlite & Ultralite folding bikes?
A: 305mm (16" x 1.5"; 28 hole)

Q: How long is the seat post?
A: Total post length:
50cm (just shy of 20")
Recommended max length (min. insertion safety hashes to top of seat): 18"

Q: Where can I find more photos or videos of these bikes?
Superlite 1 Speed Folding Bike Photos on Mississippi River Levee
Superlite 1 Spd Folding Bike Video Riding Thru the French Quarter
Superlite 1 Spd Folding Bike Video Riding Beside the Mississippi River

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Video - French Quarter Via Folding Bike


This is a video of a fun bike ride I did through the New Orleans French Quarter earlier this month on a single speed $169 Ultralite folding bike with 16" wheels. Outfitted from the factory with a carry rack and coaster brakes, this folding bike is simple to operate yet nimble. The bike was a great platform for shooting video while zig zagging around horse drawn carriages, oblivious motorists, street performers, tourists staring at architecture, etc.

The Route
marquee - New Orleans French MarketI started out on the eastern edge of the Quarter at Frenchmen & Decatur and rode west on Decatur towards Cafe DuMonde. At Ursuline St, I turned right. I rode past the high wall of the Ursuline's Convent and past one of my favorite bakeries - Croissant d'Or. I turned left onto Royal St and biked past Brennan's Restaurant, antique shops and the Louisiana Supreme Court. I circled the courthouse and rode up Chartres towards St. Louis Cathedral.

Folding bike with the Steamboat Natchez paddlewheeler steaming away for a river cruise down the MississippiI spun past K Paul's, the Napoleon House (a bar with an aura of old world intrigue & charm) the Pontalba Apartments and (of course) St. Louis Cathedral. I circled the art wall along the wrought iron fence of Jackson Square, pedaled through the French Market and past the headquarters for the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park (where a traditional jazz concert was taking place). I ended the ride by pedaling along the Moonwalk on the Mississippi River and made it to the steamboat Natchez just as it was pulling away from the dock for a river tour.

What a great place for a bike ride!


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Friday, October 19, 2007

Lightweight Folding Bikes - Top 5

Alessandro Belli riding his high tech plastic lightweight folding bikeby Larry Lagarde

Weight is frequently an issue with bicycles. Bike racers want low weight to win races; folding bike owners want a lightweight folding bike for practicality. The lighter the folding bike, the easier it is to tote onto a bus, up a flight of steps or into an RV, car trunk, closet, boat, plane, office, etc.

As folding bike sales increase, so does the pressure on bike companies to position their models ahead of the competition. This has led some makers to list the weight for their bikes without components that many folding bike consumers consider important (pedals, kickstand, fenders, carry rack, etc.).

In fairness, some folding bikes were designed without a provision for certain components (don't even think about placing a carry rack on an A-bike) so an apple to apple comparison on specs is tough to do. Regardless, questions about lightweight folding bikes come up all the time. For this reason, I've assembled the following Top 5 list denoting the lightest weight folding bikes now in production. I've included a photo and some key facts about each bike.A-bike folding bike

Lightweight Folding Bikes - Top 5

1. A-Bike
Wt: 13 lbs.
Carry Capacity: 185 lbs.
# of Speeds: 1
Frame: Aluminum & plastic.
Misc: No carry rack; practical only on smooth surfaces.
Price: $340Carry Me Folding Bike

2. CarryMe
Wt: 18 lbs.
Carry Capacity: 190 lbs.
# of Speeds: 1
Frame: Aluminum.
Misc: No fenders. Tiny carry rack. Rolls when folded.
Price: $490
Hasa Minimax
3. Hasa Minimax
Wt: 19 lbs.
Carry Capacity: 250 lbs.
# of Speeds: 9
Frame: Carbon fiber & alloy.
Misc: No fenders or carry rack.
Price: $2600

Strida 5 Folding Bike4. Strida 5
Wt: 19 lbs.
Carry Capacity: 200 lbs.
# of Speeds: 1
Frame: Aluminum.
Misc: No kickstand. Folds roughly to the size of a golf bag. Rolls when folded.
Price: $800

5. Kent Superlite 1
Wt: 22 lbs.
Carry Capacity: 200 lbs.
Kent Ultralite 1 Speed folding bike# of Speeds: 1
Frame: Magnesium/aluminum alloy.
Misc: Carry handle built into frame.
Price: $169

Do you know of a folding bike weighing less than 23 lbs (including pedals, kickstand, fenders & carry rack)? To be sure, there are plenty of other lightweight folding bikes out there.

belli lightweight folding bikeIf you feel I missed one, speak up by clicking on the comment button below. By the way, bikes that are not yet on the market don't count but deserve honorable mention. Two I can think of include Alessandro Belli's 9 lb. thermoplastic suspension folding bike (VERY COOL; see photo at right) and the 19 lb. Strida 5 that is to be released sometime next year.

Note: Although not shown in the photo, the Kent Nexus folding bike now comes with fenders.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mobiky Genius Folding Bike - Bigger, Better

Larry Lagarde

Changes are in the wind at Mobiky. This evening, Isaac Cho at Mobiky USA confirmed that Mobiky will be dropping the Sturmey-Archer internal gear hubs in favor of the ever more popular Shimano Nexus hubs. Besides the Nexus 3 speed, Mobiky will also be offering the Nexus 8 or 9 speeds. Pricing is still being worked out. And there's more...

2008 model Mobiky Genius folding bike w/16 inch wheelsThe 12" Mobiky will soon have a larger sibling. That's right; the Mobiky folding bike will be available with 16" wheels too. Take a look at this pic of the new 16" Genius folding bike; the bike was on display at Interbike several weeks ago.

Photo right: 2008 model Mobiky 16" folding bike w/Nexus gear hub (photo courtesy of Richard Masoner at Cyclelicio.us).

According to Isaac, the Shimano Nexus equipped 12" and 16" models will be available sometime towards the beginning of next year (probably late February). Too bad Mobiky couldn't get them here in time for Christmas '07; a white Nexus 8 equipped Mobiky with a red bow would look perfect next to my Christmas tree!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Top Tourist Quest - Where To Go Cycling

Tourists Want To Go Bike Riding

by Larry Lagarde

Guess what Florida's tourists ask about more than anything else. Beaches? Nope. Theme parks? Nah. Golfing? Uh uh. According to VISIT FLORIDA (the state's official tourism organization), vacationers ask where to go cycling.

Why Should I Care?
If tourists want to go cycling in Florida, chances are that they're interested in recreational cycling opportunities beyond the Sunshine State too.

Florida is a tourism bellweather.
Florida is one of the world's top tourist destinations, attracting over 80 million visitors per year. Vacationers of all ages come from across the USA and around the globe, generating an economic impact of $65 billion/yr.

When the top question tourists stand in line to ask at Florida's official welcome centers is where to go bicycling... when over 70,000 visitors/mth download Florida's official guide to bicycle trails, that a huge testimonial for developing & promoting more places to go bicycling.

I'm flying to Florida next month to check out the bicycling in St. Augustine; you can count on reading reports about that trip right here. Meanwhile, if you'd like to learn more about the cycling info requests that VISITFLORIDA has received or how they're answering this need, read Jim Woods' story at AmericanTrails.org.


Reuters - Oil @ $150/Brl By 2010

by Larry Lagarde

According to a story published today by the Reuters news service, world demand for crude oil is so high that prices will double before leveling out. A respected senior energy fund manager that was interviewed for the story (former Investec Asset Management chairman Tim Guinness) predicts that prices will climb to $150/barrel before 2010.

Naturally, this is bad news for commuters that drive long distances; however, as Montague Bicycles reminded me on Monday, oil prices affect virtually all aspects of the economy. Higher crude boosts the cost of producing & transporting goods from agricultural products to computers and even folding bikes...

Chances are that the current prices for folding bikes are the lowest you will ever see. If ever there was a time to get a cool yet useful bike that gets you where you need to go and folds compactly when not in use, that time is now! Order one today.

Oil price can hit $150 before 2010 - Investec

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Unboxed - DownTube Mini Folding Bike

by Larry Lagarde

Following are the first of a series of photos of the 2008 DownTube Mini 16" folding bike. Shown here is the box, packing materials and how the folding bike is packed.

First Impressions
The factory does a fine job boxing the bike. Nylon straps and copper staples hold the box firmly together. The folder's metal tubes (seat tube, chainstays, headtube, forks, etc.) are protected by cardboard. Additional pieces of board separate parts of the bike with styrofoam protecting hinges and the folding pedals. The instruction manual and a bike bell are contained in a plastic bag taped to the inside of the box.

Opening the box, the first component that is revealed is the handlebars. As soon as I saw them, I could tell that the DownTube Mini is made of quality materials. The adjustable handlebar's stem is made from 2 gleaming, sturdy, machined blocks of aluminum (unusual for a folder); cables are steel encased with a clear plastic coating (very classy). The paint on the 6061 aluminum frame appears to be powder coated. The tires are good quality 65 psi Kenda's. The drivetrain is a sweet Sturmey Archer 8 speed internal hub. A shock absorber built into the rear frame and a springed, gel saddle should offer a comfortable ride too.

There's more to tell about this 24.5 lb folding bike but I'll leave that for the next installment - the road test.

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Montague - SwissBike Price Increases Coming

Montague Raising Bike Prices

I received word today that Montague will be raising the prices on all of their folding bikes (including the SwissBike line). The increase is to cover the rising costs of production so a rough guess would peg the increase at 5%. On a $699 SwissBike LX, that would amount to another $30.

Frankly, I don't know what the increase will be; therefore, if you're looking to buy the best full size folding bike in the marketplace, place your order soon - real soon.


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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Shipping Folding Bikes Outside North America

For cyclists outside the USA, with the US dollar's low rate of exchange, now is a great time to buy a folding bike online from the USA. With factors like the high cost of jet fuel causing international shipping rates to soar, getting your bargain priced item home at a reasonable cost is more of a challenge but is still possible. All you need to do is use an international shipping consolidation service.

Here's how it works:
Shop with a variety of merchants in the USA. To avoid paying a high international shipping fee every time you buy from a different merchant, ship all your purchases to a consolidation service located in the USA. The consolidator will ship the purchases together to your address outside the USA. As a result, your international shipping costs are reduced because you shipped everything at the same time.

To help international customers save money, RideTHISbike.com is pleased to announce a partnership with two international shipping consolidation services - Access USA and Borderlinx.

For delivery outside the USA or Canada, follow these four steps:

1. Register with either Access USA (www.myus.com) or Borderlinx (www.borderlinx.com).

2. Use your new U.S. address, provided by Access USA or Borderlinx, when placing your order.

3. Include your home telephone number as well as the USA telephone number provided by Access USA or Borderlinx for customer service.

4. Pay for your order using Western Union, MoneyGram or International Postal Money Order.

It's that easy to have your order shipped to you, anywhere worldwide!

As with all orders within the lower 48 states of the USA, RideTHISbike.com will ship your order to your Access USA or Borderlinx address in the USA at no additional charge.

More About Borderlinx:
Borderlinx makes online shopping more convenient for RideTHISbike.com customers in the EU. Use Borderlinx’s Tax Calculator to determine local Duty, Taxes, and international shipping costs to your home before buying. Once your bike has been delivered to Borderlinx US they will notify you that it has arrived. Then you can ship immediately by paying for local Duties, Taxes, and international shipping or, continue shopping and Borderlinx will store your purchases for free (30-days). By consolidating purchases you save on per item shipping costs.

For more questions about consolidating your USA purchases and shipping internationally, contact Access USA or Borderlinx (support@borderlinx.com or sales@borderlinx.com).

Larry Lagarde
Ph: 504-324-2492
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.


Friday, October 12, 2007

DownTube Mini Folding Bike

Over the past few months, several folding bike owners I've spoken with have expressed satisfaction regarding their new DownTube Mini folding bikes. To see what the buzz was about, I ordered one for review. It arrived today so look for more info soon.



Florida's Long Distance Bike Trails - Top 10

by Larry Lagarde

Florida is blessed with a multitude of places to go bicycling and Jeff Kunerth, a staff writer for the Orlando Sentinel, likes long distance bike rides. In fact, he and his wife Gretchen have done so much cycling in the Sunshine State that they wrote a book titled "Florida's Paved Bike Trails". According to a post Jeff published yesterday in a Sentinel blog known as "The Chain Gang", it appears that Florida may soon have a whopper of a trail running through St. Augustine and spanning 200 miles.

With fond memories of St. Augustine seared into my psyche from decades ago, I'll be looking for more info from Jeff about this new long distance trail. In the meantime, here's a list of Jeff's top 10 long distance bike paths in Florida with some brief notes.

Florida's 10 Best Long Distance Bike Paths

Withlacoochee State Trail - 46 miles: scenic, shaded, small towns, good bars

West Orange/South Lake-Lake Minneola Scenic Trail - 31.5 miles: trees, hills, waterfront, restaurants

Pinellas Trail - 35.5 miles: Dunedin and Tarpon Springs make great destinations

Flagler County Trail - 22.5 miles: hardwood hammocks and ocean views

Tallahassee-St. Marks State Trail - 20 miles: I miss Posey's Oyster Bar

Van Fleet State Trail - 29 miles: flat, straight, no traffic, no cross streets, Polk City restaurants

Sanibel Island Bike Paths - 23 miles: everything you want accessible by bike

Suwannee River Greenway - 25 miles: Suwannee River, Ichetucknee Springs State Park, OLeno State Park

Nature Coast State Trail - 32 miles: small towns, Fanning Springs State Park, bridge over Suwannee

Key Biscayne/Old Cutler Road Trail - 27 miles: nice view of Miami on the causeway bridge

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rail-Bike Partnership Supports New Orleans, Hattiesburg & Longleaf Trace

For Immediate Release: RideTHISbike.com/Amtrak Partnership
Supports New Orleans, Hattiesburg & the Longleaf Trace


October 10, 2007, New Orleans, Louisiana - RideTHISbike.com is pleased to announce a partnership with Amtrak that supports the communities of New Orleans and Hattiesburg as well as the Longleaf Trace bike trail.

Amtrak has contributed a limited number of seats on board the Crescent between New Orleans and Hattiesburg for participants of the Jerry Ryan Memorial Ride. Proceeds from the group bike ride benefit the Longleaf Trace bike trail. To register for the bike ride, log onto www.longleaftrace.org.

Scenic, well shaded and offering fewer road crossings than similar trails, the Longleaf Trace is one of the nation's best, long distance bike trails. Following the route of a rail line abandoned decades ago, the trail is virtually flat. With work underway to extend the Trace from the USM campus to the doorstep of Hattiesburg's newly restored train station in the center of town, cyclists will soon be able to hop off the train and ride a paved, car free trail over 40 miles to Prentiss, Ms.

With special fares available for groups large and small, Amtrak is the best way to visit the Longleaf Trace bike trail as well as all the other sites in the Crescent City. New Orleans is served daily by three Amtrak routes, the City of New Orleans (New Orleans - Memphis - Chicago), the Crescent (New Orleans - Atlanta - Washington - New York) and the Sunset Limited (New Orleans - Houston - El Paso - Los Angeles).

Amtrak's Train # 20 (The Crescent) rolls out of New Orleans' Union Passenger Terminal at 7:20 am. Equipped with a lounge car, large windows, food service and restrooms on board, passengers arrive rested in Hattiesburg at 9:43 am and have over 6 hours to enjoy local attractions including the Longleaf Trace. With the return journey on Train #19 leaving Hattiesburg later that day at 4:19 pm, rail passengers can even have dinner aboard the train while enjoying the passing scenery. Train 19 arrives in New Orleans at 7:10 pm.

To qualify for this special offer, register to participate in the Jerry Ryan Memorial Ride using the registration form found at the Longleaf Trace web site (http://www.longleaftrace.org/). Cost to participate in the ride (including a ride t-shirt, food, rental bike for the day and staffed aid stations along the ride route) is $40. Memorial ride participants from New Orleans should submit the registration form and bike ride payment locally to Larry Lagarde at RideTHISbike.com by no later than October 19, 2007.

Larry Lagarde
PO Box 9025, Bridge City, LA. 70094
Ph: 504-324-2492
Email: larry@ridethisbike.com
Web: RideTHISbike.com

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Video - Bikes For Rwanda Coffee Coop

Here's a video demonstrating how bicycles can improve lives by lifting people out of poverty. A Pacific Northwest coffee shop purchases a fleet of custom built bikes, ships them to Africa, then sells them to individual coffee growers in a coop in Rwanda. The growers pay a nominal fee to purchase the bikes, paying in small installments over time with coffee beans rather than cash...


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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hattiesburg American Longleaf Trace Story

On Tuesday, the Hattiesburg American published a story by Reuben Mees titled "Longleaf park gets donations". The story is about the upcoming Jerry Ryan Memorial bike ride that will be taking place later this month on the Longleaf Trace. Although the story is primarily about several donations that are being made to enhance the Longleaf Trace, four paragraphs in the story are from a telephone interview that Mr. Mees conducted with me. To read the full story, follow this link...


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Monday, October 08, 2007

Gekko Out Of Stock

Gekko folding bike reviewIf you've been thinking about ordering a Gekko folding bike, you may be waiting a while.

Due to above anticipated demand, the Gekko folding bike is now out of stock.

Over the past month, as the units available dwindled down, I've been working hard to get more. Unfortunately, Kent Bicycles is focusing on other models and will no longer be offering the Gekko. Nevertheless, it appears that the bike is still alive.

Despite rumors that the tooling for the Gekko had been destroyed, it appears that this folding bike is still in production. At least, that's what I'm told by Aldo Contarino (Chief Technical Officer with StreetSurfer International and a former player in the Gekko saga). In fact, there is also a new version with 16" wheels.

Here's a quote from Aldo.
I personally met one of the other manufacturers at the Taiwan cycle show this year and he told me that they where producing 70000 of the 16" ones this year... I will get the info for you ASAP. You will need to be a little patient as I am not directly involved.

New Gekko folding bike with 16 inch wheelsUpdated Gekko folding bike with 12 inch wheelsWhile this is exciting news, the photos of the new 12" and 16" models are even better. Just take a look (click on the images to enlarge).

At this time, pricing on the Gekko models is uncertain but the declining exchange rate is sure to raise the cost.

Would you buy a Gekko for over $159?
Hopefully, the Gekko's will continue to be reasonably priced. Under the right circumstances (short distance urban riding with little to no carrying of the bike), I think they're worth spending up to $220 but I'd rather have your opinion before going further. To speak up, click on the comment button below and type away :-)



Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Mercedes Benz Introduces Folding Bike

Following are several photos of the exciting, new folding bike that will be offered next year by Mercedes Benz...

For more info about this folding bike, see the press release that was published by Damiler-Chrysler on the AutoSpectator.com website. Here's the url:


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NOLA Recovery Czar Bike Ride 6 October 2007

New Orleans recovery czar Dr. Ed Blakely will be leading a public bike ride this weekend to tour the St. Roch neighborhood for a hands on view of the hurricane recovery there. If you'd like to participate in the bike ride, following are the details.

When: Saturday, October 06, 2007 9:30 AM-11:00 AM (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada).
Where: 2381 St. Claude Ave


Start at St. Roch Market (2381 St. Claude Ave.)
Left at St. Roch
Right at Marais
Left at Franklin Ave.
Left at N. Villere
Right at St. Roch (Stop a Fire Station, 1415 St. Roch)
Right at Roman
Left at St. Roch
Left at N. Johnson
Left at St. Roch
Right at N. Prieur
Left at Marigny
Left at Marais
Right at St. Roch
Finish at St. Roch Market (2381 St. Claude Ave.)


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Cycling for fun, fitness & practicality.

Phone: 504-324-2492
Bike Shop Street Address:
231 Dauphine St
New Orleans, LA. 70112
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In the French Quarter

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