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Thursday, August 28, 2008

One Day Only Katrina Anniversary Gustav Coming Sale

by Larry Lagarde

Tomorrow (Friday, August 29, 2008) is the start of the long Labor Day weekend. It's also the 3rd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina destroying my home town and the last day I can ship bikes before Hurricane Gustav slams into the Gulf Coast.

To mark the occasion (and to build up the Lagarde hurricane evacuation kitty), I'm offering a one day only 20% off sale on every bike in stock (10% on drop orders). My intent is to ship as many bikes out tomorrow as I can but the sale must end at 4pm Central (so DHL can get your bike out of the hurricane zone before the storm shuts everything down).

You may submit your order online or via phone. Online orders will be refunded the appropriate amount after the sale; phone orders will get the discount immediately (if I'm able to take the call).

If you've been thinking about getting an E-Z Pack, this is the time to do it. You will never see prices this low again.

Remember, 1 day only.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Photos: 2009 Kent Compact 16 Six Spd Folding Bike

by Larry Lagarde

Everyone in New Orleans (myself included) is just cringing right now at the thought of a Category 3 Gustav heading this way over Labor Day weekend. Since I had to head out today to purchase hurricane supplies, I decided to make time to take the new 2009 Kent Compact 16 out for some photos.

The Compact 16 is the latest folding bike from Kent International of New Jersey. Like the Kent Ultralite folding bike that it is replacing, the Compact 16 has 16" alloy wheels, a 6 speed drive train, v-brakes, rear carry rack, plastic fenders and a kickstand but there are several major differences between the old model and this one.

Differences: Ultralite & Compact 16 Folding Bikes
1. Frame
Bye, Bye, Magnesium Frame
For a variety of reasons, Kent has ditched the die cast magnesium frame used on the Ultralite 6 speed in favor of a welded aluminum frame. While the magnesium frame was incredibly light, took less labor to build and had a nice ride, production costs escalated. Additionally, the unusual location of the bottom bracket on the Ultralite 6 speed was fine for leisurely cruising but frustrated riders that wanted more speed.

Hello Aluminum Frame
With it's bottom bracket located ahead of the seat tube, the Compact 16 folding bike's aluminum frame offers a much improved pedaling experience. Similar in appearance to another outstanding but no longer available bicycle (the Aerlite B folding bike), the Compact 16 frame curves gracefully upward. A slender tube runs from the seat post forward to the primary folding hinge on the frame, providing additional bracing as well as a hand hold for carrying. The gold metallic paint on the Compact 16 is also an improvement over the original Ultralite's rather blah silver finish.

2. Improved Components
Derailleur & Shifter
I'm happy to report that Kent has done away with the cheap & frustrating Falcon derailleur and grip shifter. In their places, the Compact 16 sports a Takara derailleur and a micro indexing shifter. Hopefully, this combination functions much better; we'll see. I can report that the feel of the new grip shifter is much better.

Folding Handlebar Stem
The folding handlebar stem on the Compact 16 is beefier and appears safer to operate. The safety catch clicks into place when unfolding the stem for riding. To fold, the quick release must be opened, then you have to push in on the safety catch and lift the stem about 2 inches before folding it. Very safe.

The Compact 16's spring actuated kick stand also has a safety. To fold the kickstand, you'll need to push a large button on the kickstand with your foot and then swing the kickstand back. It may sound complicated but it's not and this will prevent your bike from falling over in a variety of situations.

Crank, Chain & Seat Post Protector
The Compact 16 has a small U-shaped piece of metal that protrudes down from the bottom bracket. If you fold your bike a lot and stand it on concrete, dirt, etc., you'll thank Kent for this seemingly minor feature because it provides critical protection to the crank sprocket, chain and the bottom of your seat post tube.

The Kent Ultralite packaging was notorious for getting totally destroyed during the shipping process. Some bikes would arrive damaged but mostly it was the poor appearance of the packaging when it arrived and the resulting poor customer perceptions that concerned me. That is no longer the case.

Although the Compact 16 uses the same outer shipping carton, the inside has been beefed up with heavy cardboard stiffeners that brace the folding bike securely. The result is that the bike does not shift during shipment; thus, the shipping cartons are no longer torn up.

Although I have more storm preparations to make tomorrow, I will try to make time for a ride and a brief review on the handling of the Compact 16. Don't be surprised if it takes a bit longer to get that review online though. When you live in New Orleans, you must take hurricanes seriously.


IF Mode Full Size Folding Bike

by Larry Lagarde

Here are the latest photos of the IF Mode full size folding bike from Mark Sanders (designer of the Strida folding bike). The bike is in production now and units will be shipping for the Christmas season (click photos to enlarge). The photos come courtesy of Ken at Alternatve Vehicles (US importer for Pacific-Cycles).

Mark's very proud of the IF Mode and for good reason. It folds up simply and quickly; the bike also looks gorgeous.

The IF Mode's cnclosed drivetrain and disc brakes will make this a bike that stops in all weather conditions and requires the most minimal of maintenance. The mono forks and futuristic appearance are bound to make it a crowd pleaser too.

I can't wait to ride the IF Mode at InterBike.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Photo: Paratrooper Folding Bike In Baghdad

Paratrooper folding bike in Baghdad IZParatrooper folding bike admirers will enjoy this photo of a Montague Paratrooper folder in Baghdad. The photo is courtesy of RideTHISbike.com customer Jay Taylor (click photo to enlarge).

Regarding the photo, Jay wrote "this is my favorte of the Montague and its friends in Baghdad. This should answer any questions about bikes in the IZ."

"IZ" is US military jargon for the International Zone. Also known as the Green Zone and "Little America," this 2.7 square mile enclave formerly housed Saddam Hussein and his most trusted henchmen. Today, it's home to the International Coalition forces' HQ, thousands of Americans and select, top Iraqi officials.

Jay and I began corresponding in April when the mortar attacks on the IZ were still a regular occurrence. When I asked him in June whether things had improved to the point where it was safe to ride a bike there, Jay wrote this:
Iraq is a hard place, no question about it, but it is gradually turning around. There are lots of people, including military, using bikes in the green zone and beyond - but the bikes are are left outside and are coated with sand. I will keep mine folded up in my trailer.
Since I ship bikes, carry bags and other components to APO's & FPO's, I've had similar favorable reports from other US personnel in Iraq. Let's hope that a happy ending is in sight.


2009 SwissBike LX's Arriving October

For the second time this year, the inventory of SwissBike LX full size folding mountain bikes has been depleted. Montague is shipping more of these popular folding bikes but they won't arrive until October and those will be the new 2009 model.

If you want to get a 2009 SwissBike LX at 2008 prices, I suggest that you place the order now before Montague institutes next year's prices (which will probably happen when the new bikes arrive). As long as the order comes in before then, you're locked in at the current lower pricing.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Update: Fantastic, Transforming Folding Bike

by Larry Lagarde

Carryable Folding BikeLast summer, a Chinese folding bike designer sent me some sketches of a new, extraordinary design for a folding bike he intended to produce. The sketch depicted a folding bike that was so small, so light, so fast to fold and so practical that it could possibly revolutionize personal mobility.

Naturally, revolutionizing anything (especially the bicycle) is hard so the odds are against bringing a new product like this to market; however, yesterday, I received word that this folding bike was set to go into mass production in the next 30 days.

Trade show photo - 2 Carryable Folding BikesFollowing are a series of photos shot at a recent trade show in China of the Carryable Folding Bike. This 19 lb machine transforms in 10 seconds from a single speed bike into a rolling pod or capsule the size of a carry on bag. A retractable handle and special roller wheels are built into the design so the compact, encapsulated bike can be pulled along like a piece of luggage.

Trade show photo - Carryable Folding BikeIf what I'm told is true, this is the smallest, most ingenious folding bike yet. When folded, all of the bike bits that could potentially snag on clothing, etc. remain hidden and protected within the capsule's magnesium and plastic shell (which, in the folded state, resembles an art deco style floor vac more than a bike). But how does it ride?

Riding the Carryable Folding BikeSince I haven't seen this folding bike in person, I don't know how well the bike rides but I have been offered a video of the bike in action. As soon as I get that, more photos or concrete specs, I'll be posting the info right here at RideTHISbike.com.

Trade show photo - Carryable Folding BikeBy the way, the rumor is that this bike will retail for $900. That's a lot more than the 22.5 lb $179 E-Z Pack folding bike but a lot less than Mark Sander's new $2500 IF Mode full size folding bike...

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Flexible Bike Mirror For Folding Bikes

by Larry Lagarde

flexible bike mirror mounted on a DownTube MiniI know that some of my readers are about to roll their eyes but I love bicycle mirrors. Over the years, I've used mirrors that mount to my helmet, glasses and handlebars. Surprisingly, the mirror I keep going back to is the trusty, flexible 3" round mirror that mounts to the handlebars. They're not perfect by a long shot but they offer satisfactory rear visibility for tooling around on most of my folders at 15 mph or less (anything over that and it's back to the mirror on my sunglasses).

Of the flexible 3 inch variety, Kent makes the best I've seen. Rather than even try to screw it onto the handlebars, I use a reusable style zip tie. That way, I can remove the mirror instantly. This is a must with a folding bike (when transporting my folding bike folded, permanently mounted mirrors tend to get scratched or damaged).

If you're interested in obtaining one, I'm going to auction a couple on eBay. I also offer them as an option on the E-Z Pack folding bike.


16" Aluminum Kent Folding Bikes Coming Soon

by Larry Lagarde

New Kent 6 Speed Folding Bike En Route For Review
Any day now, I will be receiving the first of the new 2009 Kent 6 speed folding bikes for a review.

Aerlite folding bikeSimilar in appearance to the wonderful but no longer available 16" Aerlite folding bike (photo right),
the riding position on this bike will definitely be better than that of the Kent diecast magnesium folding bikes because the bottom bracket is further forward.

Being that this new Kent folding bike is aluminum, it will be a bit heavier (26-27 lbs incl accessories versus 22.5 lbs for the magnesium Kent Superlite folding bike) and the ride will be more rigid than Kent's diecast magnesium folding bikes. Happily,
this 16" folding bike is said to have better components than those on the previous Kent Ultralite 6 speed. Kent hasn't announced the price but it's probably going to be @ $229.

New Kent Nexus 3 Speed Folding Bike
By popular demand, Kent has agreed to produce a limited run of these aluminum folding bikes with the Shimano Nexus 3 speed internal hub. Just 150 Nexus 3 speeds are being made so they'll probably go quickly.

The specs on the new Kent Nexus 3 spd will not be finalized until next week but it will have a rear coaster brake. A factory prototype should be ready next Friday and production models will be available in October for the holiday season. As with the previous Nexus 3 speed, a carry rack and other useful accessories will come as standard equipment. Again, final pricing is not yet available but I'm expecting it to be @ $259 and certainly no higher than $289, shipping included.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Interesting Cycling News

by Larry Lagarde

Here are some of the cycling stories that have caught my interest this week.

DC Bike Rental Program In Beta
SmartBikeDCA cyclist at the WashCycle is a beta tester in the big bike rental program that will soon be launched in Washington, DC. Modeled off of similar bike rental programs in Paris, Barcelona and other European cities, use of the rental bikes will be virtually free provided that riders return their bike to a kiosk within a set period of time. To prevent theft and abuse of the bikes, users must sign up for a SmartCard to use a bike. The WashCycle beta tester reported temporarily loosing the SmartCard while riding, which could have been anything from a minor inconvenience to a major disaster... SmartBikeDC.com

Aspen BikeExpress Bus Roaring Along
Aspen Bike ExpressThe local mass transit authority in Aspen, Colorado (The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority) has retrofitted one of their buses to accommodate up to 12 bikes inside. Currently an experiment, the service runs from Glenwood Springs to Aspen and back. If the bus service becomes popular, additional buses may also be retrofitted to accept more bikes. Kudos to the Roaring Fork folks; if only transit providers in major metropolitan areas were as progressive.

Guam Mandate Adds Bike Lanes To Roadways
The US territory of Guam is getting serious about building safe places to bicycle. A new and rather progressive law mandates that bike lanes and walkways be integrated into Guam's roadways, which will soon be improved to accommodate the relocation of 18,000 armed service personnel and dependents from Okinawa to Guam (U.S. Marine Corps' Third Marine Expeditionary Force). Naturally, the new bikeways and walkways will also be welcomed by the 1 million Japanese tourists that vacation in Guam every year as well as the island's 170 thousand + local villagers.

Midtown NYC Bike Path Nearing Completion
Photo - Broadway Blvd bike path and walkwayRendering - Broadway Blvd bike path and walkwayIf you plan on cycling in New York City in the near future, by all means, check out the trend setting changes taking place in Midtown on Broadway Blvd. in the Flatiron District. Seven blocks of Broadway right smack in the center of Manhattan are loosing 2 out of 4 traffic lanes to accommodate the growing demands of cyclists and walkers. The bike path and pedestrian way will be insulated from moving traffic by large concrete planters. The new urban space will be complimented by cafe tables, seating and umbrellas. Naturally, if this experiment proves to be a success with traffic calming, more such corridors will be in the Big Apple's future (learn more at the NYC DOT site).

Bike Valet Parking Coming To Univ. of Colorado @ Boulder Football Games
University of Colorado Boulder footballThat's right; soon, U of C Boulder football games will also have a bike corral staffed by student volunteers so students can ride their bikes to the game without fear of bike theft or vandalism. No mention how this will affect tail gating...

Bicycle Ambulances Saving Lives In Africa
BEN bike ambulance AfricaIn impoverished, rural Africa, the only practical transportation for most people is walking. Unfortunately, this makes the prospects of receiving health care bleak because the distances to medical facilities are too great - but not in Namibia. There, a bicycle ambulance program has been instituted. Healthcare volunteers are receiving specially built bike trailers. These "stretchers on wheels" provide healthcare workers with a practical means to transport the sick and injured. Already, over 50 bike ambulances have been delivered to community based organizations and more are in the works.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Folding Bike News - Showdown, Strida & More

by Larry Lagarde

A lot has been going on so here's the news in brief.

Folding Bike Showdown Partially Done
A few weeks ago, I noted that I was conducting a showdown between several folding bikes to determine which was the most practical for commuting. I've completed several rides and so far, the CarryMe DS (dual speed) is leading the pack; however, the Strida is right up there. Still to come: taking the bikes aboard mass transit.

New Strida Mini Presale
Strida Mini folding bikeSeveral cyclists have asked if the Strida Mini's (the Strida 5 with a smaller frame and 14" wheels) are in. Unfortunately, it will be another 2 months before the Mini is available; however, I have a go from Strida to begin a presale on the Mini. Price will be $699 including shipping ($100 less than the 16" Strida 5) and the bike will only be produced initially in brushed silver. Availability will also be limited so purchasing during the presale guarantees that you'll get one and that the price will not rise.

Other Strida Developments...

Aluminum Carry Racks Are In
The new aluminum carry racks are in and ready to ship. The aluminum carry racks look & function exactly like the plastic ones except they have twice the carry capacity. Yeah! Priced at $45, the aluminum racks will be optional (new bikes will continue to ship with the plastic racks).

Strida Design Updates
Mark Sanders is working actively to improve the Strida brand. Specifically, advancements are being made regarding rideability for larger riders. I've been asked not to reveal specifics but the photos of the prototypes are exciting. Other than the Strida Mini, only other developments for this year are that the Strida 5 now comes in a new color (lime green) and that a kickstand will be available for $35 (being a purist of form, I doubt that the kickstand was Mark's idea; personally, I'll continue to fold my Strida and set it down on the rear rack & wheels).

"Demo" Mobiky Folding Bikes Are In
Yes, those demo Mobiky's I wrote about last week have arrived. I had surgery this week and have been unable to pick up anything over 15 lbs but I did open several of the cartons from Mobiky. To my surprise, several of the bikes had zero wear - not even a blemish. Later in an email, Mobiky confirmed that they sent me several new bikes. Now, none of the bikes were in the original shipping cartons so obviously they were unpacked for a reason (like a photo shoot or for display) but some of the bikes are totally pristine. I'll be shooting photos of each bike and listing the individual prices online but the most you'll pay for one is $615 (shipping included). And yes, they won't last long.

CarryMe DS Update
CarryMe dual speed folding bikeThe CarryMe DS has really been performing wonderfully and I have 2 in stock at $695. Once these are gone, I will not be able to sell the CarryMe DS folding bike for under $900. Yes, that's a $205 price difference but chalk it up to rising production costs. I have no control over this but you do. Buy your DS now.

Westport Trikes Now Shipping
The Westport adult folding trikes have arrived and are shipping. A number were sold during the presale so there are only 30 or so left at $359 - unless DHL increases the shipping surcharges again. The Westport is one of the few adult trikes that fold. It's a stable design and it does not require all the assembly of the Schwinn Meridian (the Schwinn is also heavier and has a higher center of gravity - like Lucy used to say - ewwww!).

Carry All Trike Here Soon; Presale Starts NOW
Unfolded CarryAll adult folding trike - blueWhen the Westport was out of stock, I was looking for another folding adult trike that would be a reasonable alternative. The only other adult folding trikes I liked were the illusive and expensive DiBlasi (it's over $1200 but folds pretty small) and the Sidewinder (a cool folding recumbent trike but priced at over $1595+). Then I learned of the CarryAll.

Folded CarryAll adult folding trike - redEssentially, the CarryAll is a CarryMe with 3 wheels. In other words, this is the lightest and smallest to fold adult trike on the market - a quality machine that will last for years. And you can have one in about 3 weeks for $745. That's right, the final price has not even been announced yet but I have authorization from Alternate Vehicles to offer a presale of the CarryAll for $745. If you want a trike for your RV, boat, plane or commute, this is THE ONE to get and they will go very quickly. Call me to place your order.


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