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 âˆ’ 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 âˆ’ 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?
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.
“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.”