Folding Bikes in Fashion

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by Byron on Aug 06, 2007 at 7:27 AM

august3.jpg Unsure if folding bikes will supplant fixies as “urban and fashionable,” but they sure are selling and attracting attention. Dahon reported record sales, the ridiculously-small A-Bike launched, and I heard that during a recent catalog photoshoot the Fly By was the “shiznit.” (Photo Credit: “The Folding Bike Fairy ,” Frank Jackson)

I think the new popularity is driven by necessity, as people look for better transportation options and that’s not limited to leaving the car at home, as the New York Daily News reported

“There’s no need for a bike rack when taking it in the car with you out of town, either − just toss it in the trunk … Best of all, I took it with me into stores with nary a squawk from guards, who had no idea what it was, even at the post office − I told ‘em it was a time machine.”

Folding bikes make it more convenient for any type of cycling, as Dahon says, it’s “Personal Mobility.” Next week when Seattle expects the “worst traffic ever” Pam is going to ride the Breezer to the Water Taxi, across Elliott Bay, and onto work. When I travel to Taipei, London, San Fran, and Vegas later this year, I’ll take a folder with me and ride all over the place, just like Beijing. And as Todd told me, when Brompton owners fly, they check their bikes right at the gate.

For longer trips, where I want to get out of the city on vacation, I’ll ride the Modal, a bike that folds with S&S, but is full size.

Do you agree folding bikes are the ultimate in urban mobility?

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100 yr old Water Bottle

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by Byron on Aug 05, 2007 at 9:35 AM

perfect_water_bottle__1.jpg From Treehugger, an ode to a 100-year old water bottle design.

“When I was a kid, I’d fill it up for my bicycle trip, soaking the canvas completely and letting it hang off the back of my bicycle seat springs with the built in belt hooks.”

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Sculpture in motion: Biomega AMS

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by Byron on Aug 03, 2007 at 7:22 AM

Design Within Reach sent us their Biomega AMS 8-Speed Bicycle a couple weeks ago and we’ve been admiring, questioning, and discussing it ever since. The bike features a shaft drive, Nexus hub, powdercoat finish, is built to just get around town, and is featured in this week’s Huggacast.

A few pedals on the shaft drive and you’ll understand that it is just for around town and that’s ok, because it does have substance to all that style. When we first unpacked it, one of the remarks was, “damn! does it come with a matching dish set, towels, and shower curtain?” It looks that nice and very designer with the powder coat finish, badges, and internal cables. The most striking visual is the cardanic shaft drive and I think the designer, Skibsted, concieved the entire bike from that drivetrain.

The bike itself is the award-winning Copenhagen, imported exclusively by DWR. It’s a museum-quality bike. Speaking about the bike, Skibsted said,

The bicycle is designed for “urban mobility,” with the intent of “making towns and cities lovelier, beautiful and cleaner places to be.” Beyond creating an object of beauty, “We want to spread the love we put into our bikes to the people who ride them. We believe that a kind of osmosis from the bike to the rider takes places, spreading our feel for quality and originality.”

An Urban Bike

Check the Huggacast video for our riding observations and our photostream for photos. The shaft drive is a love it or hate it thing (see an animation here). We appreciated the functionality of it and nearly immediately discovered the downside. Zero maintenance, looks cool – great – but massive friction, speed limitations, and a gear range that, hobbled by frictional losses, isn’t going to get you up any hill. I also could not go fast on this bike. That’s not the point, but I did try, and the bike just doesn’t go.

Ugly Bettie meets Sexy Biomega

Since I’ve been putting big miles on Bettie lately, and it also encourages the slower approach, I found myself comparing the two rides. Where Bettie isn’t the sexiest bike ever, it’s very functional. From taking the kids to soccer, delivering the goods, a date night, or just riding around, Bettie will get it done.

The Biomega is good at what it does, with some puzzling omissions:

  • No water bottle cages – every bike should have a bottle cage, hipsters need to hydrate as well
  • Better bring tire sealant – you’re not changing a rear flat with this bike. The rear wheel is bolted on, and the stock tires are ~32c’s, with not a lot of room for fatter rubber
  • At this price point and spec, a front generator hub with lights would’ve been nice

I think the owner of this bike will ride it on campus, bike paths, and from the condo to the office, and that’s great. As we first posted, we’re good with bikes as designer items, why not? As we learned with Bettie, going slow, chilling and enjoying the ride is a relief from a hectic commute or road rides.

The Biomega AMS is available online from Design Within Reach and their local studios. You’ll need to find a mechanic or bike shop to assemble it for you. The one we rode is on display now at their Seattle Studio.

Download, iTunes, Google

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In the Bike Shop: Reynolds 953

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by Byron on Aug 02, 2007 at 9:38 PM

953.jpg The latest tube set in the shop is Reynolds 953. Called Super Steel, for all it’s wondrous properties, 953 also makes surprisingly fine trumpets.

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Stone Way Coverage

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by Kelli on Aug 02, 2007 at 1:10 PM

Cyclists Ride for the Right to Bike Lanes - Seattle Times

Mayor Greg Nickels said Wednesday he intends to triple the city’s bike lanes, but they’re not the answer for every location, and the Stone Way decision will be re-evaluated in six months.

Also Wednesday, the city announced that a closed stretch of the Burke-Gilman at the Fremont Bridge will reopen this month, instead of being blocked by a private construction project through mid-2008.

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A Self-Powered Bike Factory

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by Byron on Aug 02, 2007 at 11:07 AM

From a Pop-Sci article there’s a case study on Ellsworth Bikes’ self-powered factory.

“A geothermal system heats and cools the building, and electricity is provided by rooftop solar cells, which feed excess energy back into the local electricity grid to be credited at full retail value. “

With the bonus of, “… watching the electric meter run backward.”

gridlock_485.jpg

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No More Gears

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by Byron on Aug 02, 2007 at 7:55 AM

nuvinci_tour.jpg From Nuvinci’s blog, we’ve got an assortment of CVT goodness, including an ATC NuVinci bike at le Tour ([video here](a spin in the mountains around Val dIsere.)) The Nuvinci also just won the R&D 100 award.

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