I'll admit it; I was skeptical about folding bikes. Sure, they're compact and easy to store, but did they feel like a real bike? Would they be fast? Comfortable? Good with hills? Despite the rave reviews I had heard, I decided I would have to try some out for myself.
First up: the ultra-compact Brompton. As far as space-savers go, this one is tops. "But how did it ride?" you ask? Well, I'll tell you: Like Butter. The super-responsive steering that comes with a smaller-wheeled bike took a minute or so to get used to, but then I was amazed at how handy it came in when dealing with the pandemonium that is New York City traffic. These bikes can evade imminent danger like nothing else. And, despite my belief that small tires would make for a slower, less efficient ride, they actually made for quick acceleration and nearly effortless pedaling. I was starting to change my mind about compact bicycles=.
My next test-drive was on the stylishly sleek Dahon Curve SL. Weighing in at only 21.8 pounds, the Curve was quick to accelerate. Hills? I powered up them without breaking a sweat. And the built-in suspension Schwalbe Big Apple tires made bumps and divots in the road virtually disappear. Beautiful.
After that, I showed my borough some love and went for the Brooklyn-designed Xootr Swift. Now, as someone who usually rides a road-bike, the Swift was a bike I could really appreciate. The proportions from the pedal to seat to handlebars are the same as you would find on a conventional road bike, even though the frame and wheels are scaled down. I was instantly comfortable on this bike, and it's smoothness and agility rivaled any traditional bike I've ridden.
So, there you have it. My first experience with folding bikes, and believe me, it won't be my last. In the famous words of that dude or lady who's name I can't remember: "This is the start of a beautiful relationship" or maybe it was "friendship". Whatever, I'm hooked.
Oh, and since the quote was bothering us here at the shop, I went ahead and search-engined it. In case you were wondering (and I know you were), the dude was Humphrey Bogart and the movie was Casablanca. My dad would be disappointed that I dropped the ball on that one.