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Monday, July 28, 2008

Mobiky Folding Bike - Availability Update

by Larry Lagarde

About a week ago, Selectron (the US Mobiky distributor) offered me several lightly used Mobiky Genius folding bikes. These were Mobiky's that were used in a promotional campaign. Members of the media had an opportunity to ride a Mobiky folding bike for a few days and then returned the bicycle to Mobiky.

These Mobiky's have been inspected and reboxed by Selectron; they're extremely clean but technically are not new. As a result, Selectron waived their requirement that I sell these Mobiky's at the minimum advertised price of $699.

If you have been wanting to purchase a Mobiky folding bike but have been put off by the price, I'm offering these folding bicycles from $569, shipping included. These bikes are completely covered by the factory warranty. I'll have a total of 12 and don't expect them to last long (Selectron is now completely out of stock of new Mobiky Genius bicycles - they won't have more until late September/early October).

To order one of these like-new Mobiky folding bikes, call or email me.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

6 Spd Kent Folding Bikes

by Larry Lagarde

If you've been scouring the web looking for a Kent Ultralite 6 speed folding bike, you're in luck. I just got 2; they're new and ready to go out the door.

Once these are gone, the chances of finding another one this year (here or anywhere else) are slim. Kent's out of stock and is switching to an aluminum version to offset all the increases in production costs.

New Kent 3 Spd Folding Bike Coming
Last week, I spoke with the owner of Kent Bicycles about the need for sturdy, economical folding bikes. Not only did he re-affirm his commitment to making reasonably priced folders. He also offered to produce a new aluminum folding bike for me with a multi speed internal hub (Yeah!). Still to be worked out: components & pricing.

Do You Want Fries With That?
If you were buying a folding bike for under $300, how would you like the bike outfitted? Do you care whether the 3 speed internal hub is made by Shimano or Sturmey Archer? Would you prefer coaster brakes or caliper brakes? A padded comfort seat or a narrow saddle? Fenders or no fenders? Red paint or blue? My goal is YOUR satisfaction so please feel free to tell me what YOU want. I know that I can't please everyone but I'll do the best I can.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

High Fuel Costs Results: Less Driving & Cleaner Air

by Larry Lagarde

If you thought the roads have been less crowded lately, you're right. High fuel costs are causing drivers to think twice before hitting the pavement. It's also leading to cleaner air.

Two months ago, the US. Dept. of Transportation reported that sky high fuel costs have caused the sharpest decline of driving in the USA in history. Scientists estimate that the drop in driving has kept an estimated 9 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from choking the air in the first quarter of 2008 alone. With gas prices really hitting the stratosphere in the 2nd quarter, the drop in greenhouse gas emissions should be even greater now.

The decrease in driving has also caused oil supplies in the USA to build up. Over the last few days, this has led to declining crude prices. While some experts predict that this will dampen inflationary pressure on consumer goods, oil still costs $129. Unless we see oil drop below $100/barrel, there's still a lot of pressure on manufacturers to keep increasing their costs.

Folding bike showdown: CarryMe, E-Z Pack, Strida 5 + SuperliteFor short trips of 5 miles or less, riding a bicycle can be a great option. Given the time it takes to get in the car, buckle up, start the engine, drive, find a parking space, etc, you can even arrive faster by bike than by car - especially with a bike that folds.

Folding Bike Showdown
Now that it's easier to breathe outside ;-) this seemed like a good time to see which would be the best folding bike for trips under 5 miles. Since light weight is a key factor for folding bikes, I'm doing a showdown between 4 of the lightest production model folding bikes on the market - the CarryMe, E-Z Pack, Strida 5 & Kent Superlite 1. Stay tuned for some fun in the sun as I ride each along the same course and compare the outcomes.

By the way, if you're into statistics, monthly US traffic volume data dating as far back as 1970 can be found on the DOT website at...

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Folding Bikes As Personal Mobility Solutions

by Larry Lagarde

Backpack folding bike design conceptOn May 1st, the Cycling & Health Tech Industry R&D Center of Taiwan began accepting design concepts for the 13th International Bicycle Design Competition. Yesterday, the Backpack Bicycle (one of the hundreds of concept sketches/designs that have been entered for the competition) got a lot of press on Gizmodo, TechDigest, Technorati and a series of other blogs/websites. Some of the buzz yesterday was pretty silly and off target (the Backpack bike kind of resembles a toilet lid when the bike's folded); however, the real story is the pressing need worldwide for a better personal mobility solution.

For thousands of years, people have yearned for a way to move about that's better than walking. We've progressed from riding animals to vehicles pulled by animals and then onto the use of machines.

Sunny Bicycle's Solar EggOf all the machines we've tried, the bicycle has proved to be the most efficient and cost effective but standard, full size bicycles have obvious limitations regarding size and weight. Small wheel folding bikes on the market today solve those issues to a degree; however, a variety of designers think that they can make bikes better in terms of being lighter, more compact, stronger and more affordable.

Based on all I've heard, this will be a watermark year for innovative bicycle designs. For one, just look at the volume and variety of design concepts that have been entered in the bike design competion this year. No doubt, there will be several exciting designs on display at InterBike and EuroBike. Personally, I've been following Pacific Cycles' exciting IF Mode with great interest (this appears to be the most forward thinking design in production today) but even huge, mass market producers like Trek are focusing now on folding bikes. The result is that even more resources are being focused on bringing better designs to market.

Ouch - this bike would hurtWhere will all this go? Will bikes become so inexpensive, durable and compact that they become as important to daily life as cell phones and computers? One fact is certain: cars propelled by fossil fuels will NEVER be a practical option for the majority of humans in the world. On the other hand, a bike weighing 10-15 lbs that costs a few hundred bucks when new - now that would be revolutionary...

Another stab at the suitcase folding bikeBy the way, if you have a cool, new bike design, you can enter that design free of charge in the international design competition too. You have until August 10 2008 to submit your design via email. Twenty-one finalists will be selected to submit a small-scale model of their designs. Final results will be announced on March 17, 2009, the first day of the 2009 Taipei International Cycle Show. The Grand Prize winner will receive NT$500,000 as well as the high honor of being the creator of the world's best new bike design.

To enter the international bicycle design competition, visit design.runride.com.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Which Folding Bike Packs Smaller

by Larry Lagarde

Each summer, I receive inquiries from travelers that want to pack a folding bike in a regular suitcase that meets airline specifications for checked baggage.

This afternoon, a lady cyclist was asking about the differences between the E-Z Pack and the Superlite 1 speed folding bikes. Her requirements were similar to a variety of leisure travelers that want folding bikes so they can see more scenery by cycling rather than walking. For this reason, I thought it may be helpful to some readers if I shared her request as well as my response. Here's what she wrote:
I used to have a Dahon Presto Lite folding bike, but it got stolen in France and now I am looking for an a new folding bicycle. I have a suit case which I used for the Presto Lite (it's just a regular suit case made of canvas but it happened to be ideal).

Is it easy to take the pedals off the E-Z Pack folding bike? If the E-Z Pack folds down to 26" x 15" x 20", perhaps by removing the pedals the E-Z Pack will be small enough to fit in my 20" x 29" x 10" canvas suit case. The Prestolite folded down to 20" x 30" x 11"; it was a tightfit but it worked.

I am also considering the Kent Superlite 1 Spd; however, in this case I will have to forget about the suit case. How does the E-Z Pack compare with Kent's Superlite folding bike? I see many good reviews on Amazon on this bike. I am 5'2'' tall (i.e. short), weighing 115 lb. I ride bikes with very low gears: I have an 8 speed bike but I always ride with 1st or 2nd gear. I am also wondering if the bag that comes with the Kent is a tight or loose fit. I used to have a Taiwanese Brompton, that came with a tight fitting, strong canvas bag. I just put some padding around the bike and could check-in to fly. I wonder if I could do that with the Kent bike and carry bag. (I'm going to Europe).

p.s. I realize now that the Kent 1spd can be 27" x 20" x 15" without the seat. Can it be also thinner if I remove the pedals, and is it easy?
And here's my response...
With the handlebars, pedals & seat removed, the E-Z Pack measures 26" long by 10" wide by 18" high so it should fit in your bag without a problem. I actually ship the bike this way and include the wrenches needed to bolt on the pedals and handlebars because it's very easy to do (the seat has a quick release so tools are not needed for that). You can use the packing materials in the box when you pack the bike in the suitcase. Just be sure to hand thread the pedals to make sure you have the right pedal on the right side, etc (threads for the left pedal run in the opposite direction).

Another option is to purchase folding pedals. The folded width with folding pedals would be a little wider than if you just removed the pedal all together but folding pedals come in handy even when you're walking beside your bike. I will have spare folding pedals in stock by Monday.

If you travel a lot and you expect to be placing a lot of weight on the rear carry rack, you'll find the E-Z Pack a better choice because the carry rack is stronger. The E-Z Pack's metal fenders take more abuse, there are brakes on the front & rear and the bike comes with the carry bag. Shipping is included in the $179 price too.

The Superlite is geared lower than the E-Z Pack but it's harder to get the Superlite to a smaller size than that listed. It's a matter of the way the bike folds. The width would be a little less though if you removed the pedal on the outside of the fold.

I've checked folding bikes on commercial airline flights using a soft carry bag so it can be done but you're always taking a bigger risk that way. One time, I was flying with a Montague Paratrooper full size folding mountain bike that did not have folding pedals. The bike arrived fine but the pedals tore through the side of the bag...

If you're willing to take the risk and check your bike in a carry bag, I'd go with the optional Kent generic looking carry bag. It's bigger than you need for the E-Z Pack but it will give more room to pack your personal belongings (thus providing more protection for your bike). The Kent bag is made from a stronger nylon-canvas material. The bag folds up to a small size and zips into it's own side pocket. It also has a hard bottom that will provide additional protection, a shoulder strap and carry handles.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Reach Trail Folding Bike - First Photos

by Larry Lagarde

Following are my first photos of the Reach Trail folding bike by Pacific Cycles, makers of folding bikes like the Birdy, CarryMe and the soon to be released IF Mode full size folding bike.

I rode the Reach Trail for the first time yesterday and really enjoyed it. The Reach is a high end, full suspension crossover bike that's built for speed and durability; it's fast, light, nimble and can easily be transported inside your car.

To fold this bike, open the quick releases on the front wheel and the rear suspension, then remove the front wheel and rotate the rear wheel forward and below the bike until it's resting within the front forks. A stand is built into the robust rear carry rack so the teeth of the chain ring do not rest on the ground with the bike folded. Quick releases also make it easy and fast to remove the handlebars and seat if needed.Reach Trail Folding Bike - initial test ride results

Here's a screen capture of the data from my initial test ride yesterday on the Reach Trail. The info was captured by my Garmin Edge 305 GPS unit. Note that these results were with the Kenda semi-knobby tires only inflated to half of their 100 psi rating...

MSRP on the Reach Trail starts at $1575.

I'll be publishing more photos and info about the Reach Trail folding bike later this week.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Re-emergence of Cycling & Urban Living

by Larry Lagarde

Recently, an American living in Holland sent me this photo of bike parking at a local commuter railway station in Amsterdam along with the following text:
multi-level bike parking in AmsterdamI thought you might find this interesting. Holland is heaven for cycle lovers. The latest figures show that there's over 20,000 kilometers of bike paths in The Netherlands (that's over 12,000 miles for you non-metric people).

Here's a picture of bicycles parked in ONE of the bicycle parking locations at the Amsterdam train station. Notice that the bicycles are on both sides and also behind the escalator and go all the way to the back by the trees. Also notice how the escalator has a groove for the bicycle wheels so that you can get the bike up and down the stairs (regular stairways have this too).

A lot of train stations also have an elevator not just for handicap access but also for older individuals with bicycles that find it hard to hold the bike steady while riding the escalator. There are areas designated on trains so cyclists can sit with their bicycles or for cyclists to place their bikes while traveling so crating/boxing a bike is not required.

As an American, when I first moved here 14 years ago, it was funny to see all the cycles everywhere but I'm getting used to it. It's still fascinating how many people commute daily with their bicycles. It took some getting used before it became normal to see men in suits and briefcases bicycling or women in their good clothes bicycling.

Everything here seems to revolve around cycling. Although I'd driven an automatic transmission for almost 20 years in the States, I was required to take lessons here in order to get my Dutch drivers license. One of the most difficult things to adapt to is the constant looking over your shoulder and out the side window to see if there are any cyclists. Drivers Education here stresses looking at all angles of the car, front, sides and back, checking the rear view mirror every 3 seconds to see what's behind you and the side mirrors every 5 seconds. You can hear another car but not a lone bicyclist; thus, given the number of people who bicycle in The Netherlands, driving lessons and the exam revolve around paying attention to your surroundings.

Will the popularity of cycling ever reach the point in the USA when there are multi-story cycling garages in most major American cities? Probably but not just yet. More than likely, most people will continue to hold out hope that the current crisis will pass and gas prices will go down; however, lower prices are not probable. Instead, due to economic growth in emerging nations like China & India, world demand for oil will continue to rise regardless of falling demand in industrial nations. Meanwhile, world oil production will slowly fall, causing oil prices to continue their upward creep. Instability anywhere in the oil supply chain will only add to the price increases...

America is at a crossroads. The sooner we face facts, the faster we can adjust and profit from the realities of the new economy. Americans are about to re-discover local scale economics and inner urban living. What will be hot in this economy? Living within walking, biking & mass transit distance of the essentials: work, shopping, schools & church. Vacationing closer to home. Living more efficiently. Shopping online. What will be out? Suburbia. Demand for housing in town will rise while demand falls in outlying areas.

My advice is that we the people demand action now. We must tell our elected representatives to invest in alternative energy and transportation solutions NOW. Due to decades of chronic under funding, "mass transit" is so inefficient in so many places that only the most marginalized tend to use it. Naturally, there are exceptions but most people don't live in places with great mass transit.

Folding bikes will help some commuters adopt to transit but huge investments in transit infrastructure are needed and transit agencies do not have the budgets to do this. Only when the federal government opens the tap will transit authorities be able to rebuild and that's years away from happening.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Folding Bike Rowing Expedition Reaches Danube

by Larry Lagarde

Colin cycling near the Danube RiverYesterday, I heard from Colin Angus of the Rowed Trip Expedition. Since March, Colin and his wife Julie have been rowing and bicycling from Scotland to Syria by way of central Europe. They're making great progress and Colin wanted to share how the folding mountain bikes from RideTHISbike.com were working out.

Here's what Colin had to say.
The folding bikes we're using from RideTHISbike.com have been holding out marvelously for our expedition. At first I was a little apprehensive that folding bikes might struggle to pull 18' boats, along with the gear, but these bikes have been great. They fold quickly and fit inside the front boat compartment (along with trailers) while on water, they're comfortable to ride, and best of all they've held up to the rigors.

We've now travelled 3,000 kilometers (almost 1,900 miles), half of it in the water and the other half on land, using the two folding bikes to pull our 500 lbs of gear. We've had no major mechanical issues and are confident that the bikes will make it the remaining 3,000 km to Syria.

All best,

Following is a slide show of some of Colin & Julie's photos of the folding mountain bikes in use on their expedition. To enlarge a photo from the slide show, just click on the photo.

For more photos of the Rowed Trip, visit RowedTrip.com.


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