One unexpected thing I learned: Drivers treat folding bike riders differently.
Folding bikes are a relatively common sight in global cities, but I’d never tried one myself. Honestly, I'd always kind of looked down on them. Why would you spend nearly $1,500+ on a folding bike when you could get a perfectly good used road or cyclocross bike for the same price?
But I’d largely quit using a bike for my own commutes. After a few trips on the train resulted in paint scratches, I just wasn’t comfortable bringing my race bike with me anymore. I also wasn’t happy locking it up outside restaurants during lunch or dinner, which meant I’d taken to driving instead. With a folding bike - a true commuting steed - I could fret less about damage, potentially bring it with me into businesses, and spend less time in transit.
Equipped with a Dahon Mu N360, I decided to give the folding bike life a shot. I live in a suburb and commute into the city for meetings, dinners, and events on a semi-regular basis, but I hadn’t used my bike as part of the journey in months. Instead, I’d just walk or take the bus for the final few kms to my destination.
So for a week, I changed it up; I carried or rode my folding bike just about everywhere, and I learned a few things in the process.
A bike that can fold is, in fact, convenient.
At first, I had trouble finding the value in my folding bike’s folding capabilities. So it can fold up to fit in my car; big deal. I can fit my Specialized Amira in my car just fine, as long as the back seat is down. The folding bike, however, can origami itself small enough to fit in a typical sedan trunk. I could feasibly ride out to the bar, have a few too many, fold up my bike, and take an Uber home without ruining my passenger rating. Score!
There is a learning curve, though.
The more I used the folding bike, the quicker and more adept I became at flicking its fasteners, reassembling its adjustable parts, and hoisting it into and out of my car’s trunk. I'm not going to lie, though - the first few days were rough. Trying to navigate a barrier at a station, I painfully squashed my finger. It also took me two tries to get myself and the bike through; next time, I sagely went through a different entrance with a wider turnstile. Another day, I managed to bruise my hip while carrying the bike. And then there was the time I didn’t realise my handlebars weren’t straight, and spent half a mile struggling to steer before I even noticed.