Is There A Folder In Your Future
My first reaction to the idea of a folding bike with 20" wheels was visions of a red foam rubber nose and slap shoes; or else something my grandsons would ride. It wasn't until after seeing a few of these bikes that I began to realize that while they have small wheels, they are designed with full size bike geometry and handling. Also, the idea of being able to take one aboard an airliner as luggage instead of paying a $65 fee every time you went someplace had a certain appeal. Also, being able to fly into an airport, unfold your bike and ride away has much to offer.
In doing some research I found that there are a surpassingly large number of companies that make folding bikes and for most of them, that is their only type of bicycle. I also found that prices and qualities ranged from very low grade gas pipe frames up to those which equal some of the best known bikes. Since I was looking for a bike that would serve a limited purpose for me, I couldn't see paying in excess of a thousand dollars that some of the better known ones cost. By the same token, I didn't want something so heavy and klunky that it would take all the pleasure out of riding it. I found a compromise in the CARiBIKE. It had a CroMo frame, alloy wheels, hubs and seatpost. It adjusts to fit someone my size and folds without the use of tools. The down side was that it came with low pressure knobby tires which were totally unsuited for the kind of riding I wanted to do. That was remedied by replacing them with Continental Top Touring tires.
Front and rear racks were a simple matter to install, and while the bike isn't what one would call ideal for century long days hauling everything to be totally self contained, it is fully capable of shorter lightly loaded touring. While I haven't had the opportunity to try it out on the airlines, I have ridden it on several club rides and an overnight camping tour.
The folding bike fills a nitch in my riding needs and it has certainly found a home in my garage. Not only that, but it's a fun bike to ride.
Related story - Touring on a Folder
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