I remember the first time I saw a folding bike in real life, some people turned up to a cafe in Mt Maunganui with these strange looking bikes and carrying dry bags. “Cruisers” we thought, and we were right. We got chatting and they had sailed half way around the world to get to New Zealand.
I had bike envy. What a fantastic idea! These bikes simply fold down to a small size enabling them to be stowed in the lazarette on the boat. When you arrive at a new destination simply fold it open, and voila – you’ve got wheels!
Seth had outgrown his little bike and is nearly as tall as me. I gave him my big mountain bike, and started dropping hints to Santa about possible Christmas gifts. Thankfully he picked up the clues and there under the Christmas tree was a lovely shiny new bike for me! Yay!
Cycling is very popular in New Zealand, both on and off road. But for some reason, folding bikes are not that common. I guess it is that we have quite a bit of space. Houses are large, and usually have garages for storing lots of stuff in. I think folding bikes are probably more desirable in countries where people have less space perhaps they live in an apartment, use public transport and need to fold the bike down to carry on a train etc.
Thankfully Santa managed to track one down through a local bike shop. My bike is a Tern Link D8. Its features include:
- 20 inch wheels
- 8 gears
- Front and rear brakes
- Carry bag
- Under-seat bag for storing the carry bag and puncture repair kit
- Nice comfy seat
- Cargo rack – with elastic straps for holding things on
- Locks together & stands up when folded (with a powerful magnet – keep this away from the compass!)
- Made from aluminium
- Weighs 12kg
- Folds & assembles in 10 seconds (I clearly need more practice at this!)
- When folded it measures 38 x 79 x 72 cm
When its folded down, it is actually a bit bigger than I imagined it would be, but I am sure we will still be able to find a spot for it on the boat.
To fold the bike up:
- The handlebars rotate inwards to that the brakes don’t stick out when it is folded.
- Then the handlebar post folds in half as you can see above.
- Then the frame also folds in half.
- The pedals fold up
- The seat post is lowered.
- A magnet holds it all together.
The clips that enable the bike to be folded have special little spring locks on them, that need to be pressed before you can unlock the clip. It all feels very sturdy when it is all clipped together.
The manufacturers recommend that the bikes are just ridden on paved roads, and they aren’t built for doing stunts and jumps – phew just as well as I am useless at that sort of thing.
They also suggest that you do a quick check each time before you get on board to ensure that your tyre pressure is good, the brakes and handlebars are all tight, the chain and cables are undamaged and the clips are all tight and fully closed.
Being aluminium, the bike won’t rust. However it will corrode, so we will need to take care on board the boat to ensure it doesn’t get covered in salt water too often.
I have also added a helmet (compulsory in New Zealand) a bike pump, puncture repair kit, and a decent bike lock. The last thing i want is someone pinching my new bike!
I should also carry a spare inner tube. Being that it isn’t a regular sized wheel, it can sometimes be a bit harder to get punctures repaired. Wheels are also usually not quick release like regular bikes, and this can make puncture repairs a bit tricky.
Today I took her out for a cruise around the river near my house. She performed really well both on and off the road. I rode along a nice track beside the river, thankfully the mud guards did their thing and even though I was riding through muddy puddles I didn’t end up with a mud streak up my back. Then I plucked up courage to hit the road, cruising along with cars swishing past. Thankfully Christchurch is building lots more bike lanes on the main roads to make life safer for cyclists. Fast road bikes overtook me as I cruised along just enjoying the scenery as it flew past.
I started to day dream. No longer was I in Christchurch riding beside the river near my house.
I imagined I was riding along beside the canals in France, with a wicker basket on the handlebars full of a fresh baguette, a bottle of wine and some gooey French cheese. Then I was on a sandy track weaving my way in between palm trees, on my way to a beach bar party on a tropical island. Up a small hill I was then in the Greek Islands, off to see some ruins out of town, too far to walk, but easy for a girl on a folding bike without a care in the world…
Back to reality, I stopped to watch some ducklings bobbing around in the turbulent river water. It is back to work for me next week. I might pack my bike in the car and ride her around Hagley Park during my lunch times.
If you fancy getting a folding bike here are some tips:
- Prices range from USD$200 for a basic model, right through to USD$2500 for top of the range.
- This Dahon on Amazon is similar to my bike.
- Check how easy they are to fold and unfold. But bear in mind it does take a bit of practice to get it super quick
- Does it lock together when folded and is it easy to carry? Is the chain covered so you don’t end up with grease on your clothes? Does it stand up on its own when it is folded?
- How big is it when it is folded? (mine is 38 x 79 x 72cm) If you are planning on taking it on public transport, check if here are any size restrictions.
- How heavy is it? (mine is 12kg)
- How does it ride? They do feel a bit different to regular bikes. You have to love riding it, as there is little point in having some super light tiny thing if you feel like you are riding a toy.
- Does it have other features? Mud guards, luggage rack, lights etc?
I can’t wait to be riding my bike when I go cruising. I figure it will make me fit, be a cheap form of transport and open the doors for lots of inland adventures.
Do you have a folding bike?