A few years back, I built up a touring bike with which to explore the mountains and coastlines of Oregon. It was based around a steel Bianchi Volpe frame, and had an eclectic host of components which ranged in quality from beaten-up low-end Crank Brothers pedals to a quality Dura-Ace derailleur. Though it was neither a superlight racer nor a beefy tank, what I loved about this bike was that it was the perfect combination of speediness and solid construction. It was the ideal touring setup: something that could get me and all my stuff to the campsite with time enough to pitch a tent before nightfall. The Pacific Cycles IF Reach folding bike reminds me a bit of my Bianchi, in so far as it has the same light, yet sturdy feel. However, the Reach uses across-the-board quality parts and a plethora of innovative features that has me admitting that even my beloved Bianchi might be a little outclassed.
For starters, the IF Reach is built around Pacific Cycles' unique and extremely functional Integrated Folding technology. While other folding bikes are designed to collapse into a bundle which can then be carried around, perhaps in a special bag, the Reach folds in such a way that the two wheels lock together side-by-side. Thus, while the bike can be carried if necessary, it is also extremely easy to simply wheel it around, which makes for an extremely smooth transportation experience.
Once unfolded, it is hard not to notice the IF Reach's striking profile. It looks like a cross between a jacked-up dirt bike and sleek road racer--and that is more or less exactly what it is. Its lean frame and thin, road-gripping wheels make it clear that this is a bike built for speed, but the reinforced frame and dual-suspension give the Reach the ability to tear through whatever it runs into.
Now, you may be asking why a bike that is engineered for speed on concrete roads would feature front and rear shock absorbers. After all, shocks make a bike ride more cushy, but tend to slow you down since they abscond with some of the energy that gets put into pedaling. Pacific Cycles did their homework on this one, however. The shocks are extremely rigid, which means that don't seem to slow down the bike at all, but they do neutralize the vast majority of the instability and bumpiness associated with riding on 20-inch wheels. The result is a bike that can fold to a very compact size, but rides as convincingly like a full-size as any folder I have ridden.
In fact, after riding nearly 20 miles on this bike, I am certain that I have never ridden a bike of any size with as impressive a combination of smoothness and speed. The sturdiness of the chassis also makes me eager to hook a trailer to this bike and see how it fares with a bit of cargo. After all, Pacific Cycles manufactures a variant on the IF Reach which features an electric motor and heavy battery, so it is clearly a frame that can take some stress. With any touring bike, smoothness, sturdiness, and speed are the three criteria to live and die by--you don't want anything so sluggish and heavy that it will slow you down, nor a bike that is so rigid that your arms will be numb from road vibration halfway through a day of riding. And of course, you need a frame that won't break under the combined weight of you and your camping gear. I have a sneaking suspicion that the IF Reach is the perfect combination of all these traits. It is certainly a tough, speedy bike, and I would love spending long days in its saddle exploring Oregon, New York, and beyond.
If you, too, are looking for the best folding bike that combines durability and speed with a clever design and cutting edge technology, the IF Reach might be the perfect bicycle for you.About the Author
Miles Schneider is a folding and electric bike specialist at NYCeWheels in New York City, an electric violinist, and a dog lover.