The signs of a slow bicycling renaissance are all around us.
These include the ‘Boris Bikes’ scheme in London, the brave Times Cities Fit for Cycling campaign to make roads safer and raise the profile of cyclists, and the evidence at a local level of improvements to roads and cycle
However, perhaps the most important indication of the turning tide is the simple evidence on our streets of late. Look around and there are more people than ever cycling; it seems that the once-ubiquitous idea of four wheels being better than two is looking old-fashioned. Bikes are now everything from utilitarian tools, to vehicles for serious leisure and sport pursuits, to cherished lifestyle and fashion accessories.
And one of the areas where they are making increasing amounts of sense is as personal transport to get to and from work. In addition, the simple fun – and uptick in fitness – of cycling, high petrol prices, congested roads and parking problems are making biking to work seem a better idea than ever. And one of the best tools for a commuter is a folding bike – you can simply fold it up to take it on a bus or train, if you have a longer commute, then do so again at the front door and carry it into work with you and tuck it down the side of your desk.
So, if you like the sound of folding freedom, what are your options?
Folding favourite?– Bromptons, made in London, are considered among the best. The small 16-in wheels are key to the ultra-compact fold (you’ll get it under your desk with room to spare), and result in brisk acceleration – though they are more prone to pothole woes than larger wheels. However, they zip along and hold their speed well, meaning that you can make good time for rides of a good number of miles. What you are really paying for, though, is the economy and ingenuity of the fold – and the respect you get from other riders who appreciate the quality and uniqueness of this most British brand.
– If you are more interested in flat-out speed, then you might be won over by
something with larger (20-inch) wheels – i.e. which looks just a little closer
to a ‘normal bike’. The ingenious Moulton designs are not true folders (they split into two separate parts), but are beautifully made and genuinely
innovative. Meanwhile, the relatively new Tern range has a more urban image and
a huge choice. Both of these do perhaps more to boil down the ‘big bike’
experience into a smaller package, but neither shrink down to quite the tiddly
dimensions of the Brompton.
Fitting tiddlers? – Of course, if space really is at a premium, then there are some pretty far-out options. The Sinclair A-Bike is extremely light and folds away to almost nothing, but its microscopic wheels mean you need to be careful about the line you pick. Meanwhile, the Mobiky Genius has bigger wheels and is more recognisably ‘bike-like’ – but with a weight penalty and a less economical fold. Think about what you need your bike for; a microbike may be just the job for a mile or two to the station, but it’s unlikely to be the best choice for an hour’s pedal either end of the day.
Buying a bike which is right for your needs and will last a good few years is not cheap – one way to help you spread the initial cost could be by credit card, especially if you’ve got a card that offers a 0 per cent period on purchases . It’s important to bear in mind though that if you don’t clear the balance inside the introductory period, you will be charged interest. Whatever you go for, don’t forget that ride quality can vary greatly as you explore the full range of the folding spectrum…so make sure you try a few out.
Information correct at time of publication. This may be subject to change. All opinions expressed in this post belong to the author and not Sainsbury’s Bank plc or the Sainsbury’s Group of Companies.