Autonomous Motion

Strida Folding Bike

Portable transit for urbanites

This folding bike has won both design and race awards. I’ve used it for seven years to traverse New York City, commuting two miles one way: in and out of Grand Central, the subways, buses, etc. A lot of folding bikes break down so that they’re bulky and awkward. The Strida is long and narrow, and carries like a photographer’s tripod — I can fold it while running down the platform at Grand Central. An easy way to visualize it is to picture three tubes in a triangle. Two points are hinged, and the third is a latch. When unlatched, the tubes fall together to look like a group of parallel tubes with a seat and wheels. Assembly is just forming the triangle, then click and go. This design is very clever, yet simple and robust.

The bike is unusual because there isn’t much maintenance (tire pressure and brake adjustments only). Unlike the Brompton, the Strida is a single gear with (dry) belt drive, which means no shifter or greasy chain, no tension adjustments and no caught pant legs. Even though there is only one speed, I can still climb reasonable hills. The tires are mini fat tubes, so you can jump curbs and hit potholes without any problems. The bike has a very, very tight turning radius, and while riding, your posture is quite upright – like a boulevard bike, not humped over like a road bike – so you can see traffic while riding in a suit and tie. The construction is solid, not flimsy in the least. I stripped mine down for size: removing the luggage rack and fenders so that it would easily fit in the overhead rack on the train. No one has ever bothered me for a bike pass on the trains or buses. If you buy one, be prepared: people will stop you often to ask what it is. I once had two teenage girls run out of a restaurant (and hang up their cell phones) to stop me and ask what it is. For a brief moment, I actually felt trendy!

-- Bruce Hartleben 10/8/07

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