Part Two. Singapore. Given the population density, heavy reliance on mass transit, the strong UK influence, and number of bicycles on the street, I was surprised that the folder population density in SG is about like the US, essentially nil in a great sea of non-folding bikes. This absence in SG piqued my interest, so I investigated. To quote a sales lady at Treknology on Orchard Rd., "We stopped selling folders because they were unreliable." I asked her if she had heard of the top UK, German, US, and Taiwan brands. Nope. Similar story at three other dealers. I tried to find the Dahon dealer, Speedmatrix, but no bus drivers or taxi drivers had heard of the street it was on, directory service had no number for it, no yellow page listing, and when I found the web site it was too late, they were closed.
In Japan, on the street, I saw one Birdy cable-locked to a bike rack in Shinjuku, all the other folders were $100 cheapies, e.g., Chevrolet, Jeep (probably TM infringing), and many different badges on essentially the same very heavy, Chinese made, steel folder. In 20 years of doing business in Japan, I have never seen a folder on a train or bus. I've asked many sarariman why they don't use folders. The usual reply is, "no place to store it at work" or "the trains are too crowded at rush hour". I think the real reason is they don't want to be different, to be the only guy on the train with a bike in a bag. When I've traveled in Japan on trains with a full size touring bike in a bike bag AND a BOB trailer, I did attract alot of attention and lots of photographs of the BOB trailer when I assembled the rig in front of a train station. I've even had people in cars stop to watch and small crowds. So being different does attract attention.