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Friday, June 20, 2008

Update: CarryMe Folding Bike

by Larry Lagarde

This month, with my wife recovering from surgery, every day has presented new challenges. Time has been so tight that I've only been able to focus on the most urgent tasks. I did manage to sneak away yesterday for a brief ride on the CarryMe folding bike from Pacific-Cycles. And I do mean brief (5-10 minutes).

Alternate Vehicles, the USA distributor for Pacific-Cycles, sent me a CarryMe DS (dual speed) to review. I received it last week and was able to shoot some photos and ride the folding bike in the driveway but I didn't have time to install the rear carry rack extension and fenders until yesterday.

Ken at Alternate Vehicles warned me that installing the rear rack extension could be tough. He was right.

Installing the rack extension requires removal of the rack's tiny roller wheels that are used when trolleying the bike folded. Each of the 2 roller wheels are bolted on a long screw. To install the extension, a bushing must be slid over the screws, through the rack extension and into the threaded holes on the rack. It should be a pretty straight forward operation but the powder coating reduces the tolerances inside the threaded hole, making it impossible to do install the extension without tools.

Using a Dremel, I carefully removed the powder coating from inside the 2 holes on the portion of the rear rack already on the bike. With a 4mm allen wrench, I carefully screwed the combo rack extension & roller wheels to the rack, spinning the roller wheels to determine tension. Once tightening caused the wheels to slow noticeably, I tightened the screws on the inner side of each wheel, drawing the bushing inward. This was a delicate process that required using the allen wrench, then using a regular wrench, then allen wrench, etc.

After I had installed the rack, I installed the rain fenders onto the brake assemblies. This was much easier but also required careful attention to the orientation of the brake caliper arms.

With everything installed and brakes tested for proper functioning, I rode over to the Mississippi River and onto the bike path on the levee crown. The road up the levee is very steep. I was able to pedal up in first gear but had to weave my way up to stay in the saddle.

Once atop the levee crown, I accelerated rapidly and switched into high gear. With the tires pumped up to the correct pressure (90 psi), this bike cruises. I'll have to place the Garmin GPS on the bike to see just how fast but I was amazed. The speed is roughly equal to riding the Mobiky in 3rd gear. The 8" wheels make steering very responsive; I could track in a straight line but I found myself weaving slightly when not paying attention.

By the way, Ken did share with me that the next shipment of CarryMe folding bikes (due next month) will come with the rack extension already installed. That is a very wise decision because the average purchaser would need a variety of tools to do the somewhat frustrating extension installation. The extension does make the rear rack more functional though so I'm glad it's on.

More to come...



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