Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Gadget Show Tests For Best Folding Bike of Choice

Some 2 years back, the British TV series The Gadget Show tested the A-Bike and the Strida, two popular English folding bikes that have been bringing portable bike commuting to the masses. In the head to head test, the show's main presenter Suzy Perry really liked the Strida over the other and it wasn't hard to understand why. Lets review that video again, courtesy of Sk8erboi600 :

However, the famous Brompton was left out of the competition then.

So in a sort of a revisit of folding bikes, the show's other famous host, Jon Bentley (also former producer of BBC's Top Gear) recently tested 3 folding bikes - the Brompton M3L, Strida 5 and the Swissbike LX. However, this time he gathers the help of Beijing Olympic gold medal winning cyclist, Rebecca Romero (Individual Pursuit). The idea was that an olympic cyclist could give a more "thorough testing of the bikes" as opposed to the show presenters themselves alone.

Key design elements for the basis of the test were weight, ease of folding, portability, price, looks, robustness, sitting posture, and riding quality. "G Ratings" were then allotted to the results.

Click to view. Video Courtesy Of Five FWD

Well, this time the Strida couldn't simply cut the show's 'G-spot' and took some hard critique from both Rebecca and Jon.

The Brompton emerged winner, and interestingly there's even a whole Brompton World Championship Bike Race behind it.(Spain's Roberto Heras was 2nd in this year's race) To be considered even for racing must say something about it being a sort of a faster package.

But was the testing fair towards the Strida 5? I encourage fellow reader Mark Sanders, designer of the Strida, to give a response to this video. Bicycle Design may also be interested in pitching in since James has apparently rode on the Strida on more than a single occasion. Others are more than welcome to comment, as always.

P.S : Someone asked in the last post's comments whether disc brakes have more braking power. You may get an idea after watching the video of the brakes on the Strida (cut from the original video above).

Note how it can also be slightly unsafe sometimes, since the rear wheel now lifts off the ground and then bounces rearward, threatening to unseat you and perhaps throw your things off the bike. This could be dangerous in high traffic city conditions. However, all this depends largely on the rider's common sense, among other things.


Phil said...

Brompton's is a good design however its way pricier than the Strida.

Anonymous said...

You would think that the "Gadget Show" would know a basic thing or two about such a thing as bike fitting.

Anonymous said...

Ron : This show is stupid. On two separate times, they come up with conveniently different opinions on the Strida. In the earlier test, the Strida was supposedly the most comfortable ride. In Jon's test, he rated comfort as 'horrible'. I simply do not understand that.

Ron said...

Good comments going on here.

Looks like the general consensus that's forming is that the test wasn't really fair. But here's another interesting question. New bike commuters who're in the market for a commuter bike may rarely think of an application specific bike per se. They might just group all folding bikes as this test did and say, oh this is better because its lighter, or thats much better because it has gears. I think the shop retailer must aid in their selection or arrange the bikes in such a way that it clearly says its for CITY RIDING or Mountain Biking.

Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

What is not fair is the fact that Strida is still boxing itself in the single speed mech.According to me, for a simple pop and go bike like the Strida 700 dollars is still a big asking price (yet with no gears). I'd pay some more and get myself some gears to go along. Not all city commutes are flat.

Anonymous said...

while the brompton does not offer a 'rack', it comes with a carry on bag. now thats very convenient for someone like me who has to carry things with both hands sometimes on my commutes in manhattan. the lx bike is a joke. it clearly belongs in the off road territory, you wouldnt find me commuting in the city with that clunk of metal.

Ron said...

I think what the Strida could do is to steepen the angle on the seattube member slightly to keep the legs away from touching the handlebars. Hm...but then it'll lose its striking triangle design.

Anonymous said...

The test leaves out many other good folding bikes for the money like Diblasi,Mobiky,Citizen,Dahon etc. Not a good thing in my opinion.

Human_Amplifier said...

Thanks Ron, Yeh human_amplifier is a bit random, inspired by how Steve Jobs described computers as 'bicycles for the mind', if a better analogy comes to mind I'll take it. I know what you mean - like that machine Sigorny weaver used in Aliens. Excellent piece on Brompton BTW, it must be one of the most comprehensive on the web .. M