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Cycling news & info with a special focus on notable bike tours, bike trails, bikeways, lanes and bicycle routes as well as innovative bicycling products like space saving & easy to transport folding bikes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bike News - BigFish Coming; Strida SX Going

by Larry Lagarde

BigFish Available In North America Within Weeks
I received confirmation today that the BigFish folding bike will be in stock in the USA by mid to late July. MSRP will be $799 but the bike will be launched initially at the promotional price of $549.

A micro folder, the BigFish has 16" wheels; yet, the ride geometry is equal to that of a full size bike. The BigFish rolls when folded and folds narrow like a CarryMe, Mobiky or Strida. The big difference is that the BigFish folds without folding the frame (the wheels swivel into and nest within the frame), resulting in a bike that folds shorter than a CarryMe or Strida. This combination of features should make the BigFish a formidable competitor to other brands.

Strida SX Soon Sold Out Until Fall
Sales of the Strida SX folding bike have been stronger than anticipated, leaving the American distributor (Areaware) almost out of stock before the end of June (which is distressing because I only have a few left). According to Areaware, they can't get more of the SX until the Fall.

If you are a tall guy (over 6' 2") in search of a micro folder, the SX is about the only game in town (and they definitely cruise faster than the Strida 5.0) so act soon before they're gone.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Strida 5 News - Accessories Coming

by Larry Lagarde

I've been having great fun riding the new Strida 5 but I just learned that the experience will soon be even better. Areaware, Strida's US distributor, notified me today that they will be offering a variety of improvements and add-ons very soon for the Strida 5.

Strida 5 Aluminum Carry Rack
The biggest news is that the Strida folding bike will soon come with an aluminum carry rack. Currently, the Strida is outfitted with a plastic rear rack with a measly carry capacity of just 11 lbs. The aluminum rack will be double that so it will be right in line with other racks; it's supposed to fold down just like the current plastic rack so you'll still be able to fold the rack and lay the bike down on it when needed. The new rack should be available in June.

Strida 5 Seat Post & Carry Rack Bags
Also available in June will be bags that attach to either the seat post frame or carry rack. The bags will be branded with the Strida logo.

18" Wheels For More Speed
Strida is almost finished testing 18" wheels for use on the Strida 5. These will provide about 3 mph more speed and will be sold separately as optional equipment. Areaware hopes to have the 18" wheels in June but they are still in final testing so these may come later this summer.

Strida Bantum
This summer, Strida will also be launching the Bantum, a slightly smaller version of the Strida 5; the Bantum is designed to better fit kids and adults under 5'4".

On The Horizon: 2 Speed Internal Hub & Adjustable Seat
Strida continues to test a 2 speed internal hub version of the Strida 5; plans are now for a launch of the 2 speed sometime next year. Strida is also designing an adjustable seat; no launch date has been announced however.

As soon as I have photos of any of the above items, I'll post them.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Arriving In Cozumel, Shopping & Bicycling South

by Larry Lagarde

Upon our arrival in Cozumel, we waited for the mad rush ashore to subside. As a recreational diver, I've visited Cozumel several times but not my wife. She wanted to shop so we walked the gauntlet of shops and shop keepers along the waterfront. From the Punta Langosta mall to the Ron Jon Surf Shop, we were enticed with offers of discount diamonds, silver jewelry, tanzanite, Rolex watches, car rentals, jeep tours, Cuban cigars and "typico" Mexican clothing, etc.

Museo de la Isla de CozumelAs nice as all those sales people were, we needed a break and the Museo de la Isla de Cozumel was just the place. Long ago, I discovered that an open air restaurant offered breakfast and lunch on the second floor balcony of the museum and wanted to share this gem with her.

We had a leisurely brunch with pan sucre, huevos rancheros including beans and fried bananas, fresh squeezed orange juice and strong coffee. As we ate, jet boats and catamarans ferried passengers to & from Playa del Carmen and Cancun. Dive boats made for the reefs, para sailers hung in the air and large white cruise ships floated slowly across the horizon.

After our meal, we shopped a bit more then headed back to the boat. My wife opted to take a nap but I was destined for a bike ride. I pushed the Strida out the cabin and through the ships passageways.

Designed with mono forks as well as handlebars and pedals that fold, the Strida folding bike is extremely narrow when folded. All 3 frame tubes are designed to snap together to fold; a magnet helps to keep the axles of each wheel together in parallel so the bike rolls easily when folded too.

Immediately upon exiting the ship, I unfolded the Strida. The tube that makes up the lower part of the frame triangle snaps into the front tube in about 3 seconds. Unfolding and the pedals and handlebars takes just a few seconds more.

I pedaled down the pier between the Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Ecstasy cruise ships, shooting a brief video in the process. I passed one of the courtesy trikes used by porters to deliver passengers to the end of the pier. When I stopped for a moment, I was surrounded by curious bike porters and other locals hawking tours. They had never seen such a bike.

I pedaled south along the waterfront. My destination was Paradise Beach, a beautiful, groomed, palm lined beach on Cozumel's protected, western side. I had two and a half hours to cover 18 miles round trip including shooting photos, video and stopping to enjoy the view.

Next: Strida Folding Bike Ride & Review

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Cozumel Cruise With Folding Bike

by Larry Lagarde

No matter what words people use to describe New Orleans - sensual, dirty, charming, dangerous, magical, tragic, multi-cultural, humid..., there is one that nails the Big Easy - port. Vessels from around the world call on the Crescent City. Most carry grain, steel and other bulk cargo but paddlewheelers, push boats and ocean going cruise ships visit too.

Recently, I sailed from New Orleans aboard the Carnival Fantasy for an extended weekend type getaway of 4 days. My destination was Cozumel, Mexico, an island famed for it's azure Carribbean waters, lush reefs, friendly people, Mayan ruins and shopping. I took a bright yellow Strida 5.0 along to ride on Cozumel. Following is that story.

The Strida folding bike was packed in a soft sided, collapsible, rolling travel bag designed for golf clubs. In order for the Strida to fit in the bag, I unbolted the seatpost mount and plastic carry rack from the Strida's frame. I stuffed plastic bags filled with clothing for the trip around the frame members to protect them from damage.

Although Carnival allows guests to bring folding bikes aboard their cruise ships, the x-ray tech was dumb founded when my bag went through. A bike in a golf bag was a first for him.

Rather than risk damage by a seacap, I wheeled the Strida aboard myself. The process was simple, painless and gave me access to my clothes long before most other passengers.

One passenger commented "you must really like golf." I said "golf's okay but the sticks in this bag are for cycling." I then explained that the bag contained a bike composed of 3 metal sticks that unfolds into a triangularly shaped bike. He was amazed.

Using the multi tool that comes with the Strida, I bolted the seat post and carry rack back onto the folding bike and put the bike away for the voyage. It fit easily under the bed or in the closet.

It takes a day to sail from New Orleans to Cozumel. While there are many activities aboard the ship, I sought peace and quiet time with my wife. My only diversions were walks on deck, a John LeCarre spy novel from the ship's library and fine dining.

Next: Arriving In Cozumel, Shopping & Bicycling South

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cruising To Cozumel With A Strida

If you've ever inquired about taking a folding bike on a cruise, you may have found that rules vary from cruise line to cruise line. Stories from actual cruisers that have taken a folding bike with them are even harder to find, creating enough doubt that many folding bike users leave their bike at home rather than take it aboard.

Frankly, I know that a folding bike will come in handy at destination ports. The issue is how accommodating the cruise line will be and how difficult it is to move through the ship with the folding bike... but I'm going to find out. My wife and I are taking a cruise to Cozumel with Carnival Cruise Lines. I'll be carting along my Strida 5.0 folding bike.

Next: Cozumel Cruise With Folding Bike


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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Strida 5 Folding Bike - Unboxed

Initial Impressions, Bike Assembly & Photos
Strida 5 folding bikeby Larry Lagarde

Late Friday afternoon, my yellow Strida 5 folding bike was delivered. As much as I wanted to open the box immediately, it was getting dark and I had Christmas duties that required my attention. Reluctantly, I put the box at the top of my list for Saturday.

On Saturday with camera batteries supposedly recharged, I prepared to shoot photos of the Strida. Unfortunately, the batteries or camera were malfunctioning (are you listening, Santa...). Three sets of batteries and several hours later, I started shooting.

Impressive Packaging
Upon opening the box, I was immediately impressed by the packaging and presentation. Saddled between blocks of foam and with foam sleeves between the frame members, the Strida 5 was well protected and gleaming. The yellow and black color combination reminded me of a '69 Dodge Superbee muscle car.

Unfolding The Bike
Once I removed the bike from the box, I opened the quick release on the handlebars, slid the bar ends into place and locked the quick release closed. I removed the single zip tie that held the bike folded. Concerned that a frame member may pop out of one of the ball joints (as was mentioned on CommuteByBike), I gingerly opened the frame for the first time. With a click, the handlebar tube slid into the bottom tube joint and locked automatically.

Except for the seat post, rear carry rack and a small, soft, rubber mud guard that attaches to the front or rear fender, the Strida 5 is pre-assembled (even the tires were pumped up). The seat post and rear carry rack are made of plastic so I was careful with attaching them to prevent breaking the plastic.

Popping The Seat Post Onto The Frame
Attaching the seat post and carry rack is relatively simple but requires some close attention. The seat post is actually two pieces of molded plastic with the seat attached to the top. The bottom of the seat post slips over the frame easily but the top of the seat post is tighter and was bending inward rather than popping onto the frame. I considered removing or loosening the seat but instead used my finger to guide the leading edge of the seat post onto the frame. This worked perfectly.

Selecting Seat Height
The procedure for selecting the proper seat height is hit or miss. Protruding from the frame is a pin for adjusting the seat height. Inside the plastic, molded seat post are several notches to fit the pin. The notch you select will determine the seat height but you cannot sit on the seat until the seat post is securely bolted to the frame. I lucked out and got it right the first time.

Securing The Seat Post
To secure the seat post and carry rack to the Strida 5 folding bike, Strida provides several allen head screws, a nut (for the carry rack) and 2 chromed bands with lock nuts attached. The shiny bands reminded me of the type of hose clips seen on the water hoses of highly modified muscle cars at auto shows.

I snapped one of the chrome bands over the seat post frame. With one hand, I held the clamp and seat post to the adjustment pin and used my other hand in a fruitless attempt to attach the allen head screw. After a moment, I came up with Plan B: wrap the clamp with some of the foam sleeve supplied with the bike and use an adustable pair of pliers to steadily hold the clamp in place. This solution also provided the pressure needed to bring the clamp halves close enough together that I could turn the screw into the threads of the clamp. I used the allen wrench that comes attached to the bottom of the Strida's seat to tighten the clamp a bit more.

Following the same procedure, I attached the second clamp. With both clamps now on the bike, I tightened them further and took the bike for a test ride without the carry rack attached. Immediately, I noticed that the Strida's radical geometry causes the bike to turn differently. The more you turn the handlebars in one direction, there is a pronounced shift in the weight distribution to that side. It's not dangerous though and I found myself adjusting to this within moments.

Tightening Seat Post & Carry Rack Critical
A greater concern was the shifting of the seat from side to side. It was so noticeable that I thought the seat itself was loose on the seat post; however, the seat was fine. Then I wondered... the rear carry rack screws onto the seat post... perhaps attaching the carry rack would make a difference. It did. In fact, the difference was huge. Once the rear carry rack was attached, I detected no motion of the seat. Thus, while the carry rack is only rated to carry 11 lbs, installing the rack is critical to the proper operation of the bike.

By this time, it was dusk and I was out of light - again. I resigned myself to a brief ride and to spend more time with the bike in the next couple of days. I look forward to shooting more photos of the bike soon as well as a video of the Strida 5 in motion and of the bike being folded and unfolded.

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