Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ride Your Bike! Strida, Brompton, + Dahon Reviews

So very glad I finally made it happen, as I am now an owner of a Dahon Vitesse D7! It's been on the list for a while now... Aside from family, friends, and sometimes the weather - the only other thing I've ever missed from Cali is my bike (Townie Cruiser by Electra). It's still there waiting for me to ride when I visit, but it doesn't do me much good while in New York.

Part of the hesitation and time delay in getting a bike was deciding if I should ship my cruiser here or not, and then doing gobs of research (I read lots of reviews) and narrowing down my selection.

Most city dwellers have very little space (cruiser would be too big), bike storage is limited and costs of utilizing one adds up. Leaving it outside and locked up- even with the heftiest of locks doesn't do you much good. It's a time bomb waiting to happen... sadly it will get stolen.
I finally decided that no matter what bike I get it would have to be a fold-up of some sort. I had my heart set on a Strida 5.0. I loved the ingenuity and it's striking yet simplistic design. It was easy to fold, roll around, and basically no fuss. While testing it out- I found it was all the things I thought it would be and it was also wobbly. I am sure as many Strida lovers told me, "you'll get the hang of it", but I didn't feel comfy on it at all. I wanted to (even tried it twice) - but alas it was not the bike for me.

The Brompton bikes are supposedly the "king" of all fold ups. The most compact and the most expensive. They are hand made in England and serious cyclists love them. I thought they were nice looking and had good styling, but they too also felt wobbly- not in the same way as the Strida, but they weren't for me. Perhaps when or if I become a more professional cyclist I will appreciate it's ride. :)

As for Dahon - they are the most popular brand of all fold up bikes. Mass produced in China using "green technology", and as one gentleman told me "like Toyotas (pre-brake crisis)"- very reliable and a good value. I tried the Dahon Curve, as well as some other Dahon models before I found the Vitesse.
The Dahon Vitesse D7 is a really great value 20" folding bike especially for city environments because of it's low-maintenance components. A 7-speed internal hub means you have all of the options of high and low gears, and they're all contained inside the rear wheel, preventing exposure to riding conditions (this was big for me). It comes with front and rear fenders for riding in the rain, a rear rack to carry some cargo, and an air pump is integrated into the seat post (love this feature!). It had everything I was looking for... and most importantly I felt comfortable riding it. When I took it for a test I knew right away this was the bike I had been looking for. It's pretty easy to fold and set up. Not sure it only takes 15 seconds, but it doesn't take long.

I highly suggest before making your own purchase- aside from researching online you most importantly test them out. As is true in life... everyone is different and what works for one may not work for another.

Other additions... so far I've purchased a Giro Indicator Sport Bike Helmet and a Mirrycle Incredibell Jellibell Bicycle Bell. I've never had a helmet before- this one got great reviews and fits nicely (it's adjustable). Aside from helmet hair and being a bit itchy at times, I am glad I have it on... some drivers are not used to cyclists and I'd rather take extra precaution. The bell is awesome. I have the same one on my cruiser. Makes a nice loud un-annoying sound, and it is easy to "ring" with a twist. I will be purchasing additional reflectors (I think this is really important), some lights, a handle bar bag of some sort, and perhaps a lock.

Getting a bike is a little bit of an investment. If you like to ride bikes, I think it's worth it... most likely you'll have your bike for a very long time. It's a great way to spend more time out and about, and you'll get a great work out (riding vs walking works different muscles). Plus you get to see your neighborhood and the world through new eyes. How fantastic is that??? Freaking F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C!!! Happy Biking!

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