Hi all, having recently started a second job the requires a slightly longer commute here in downtown San Francisco, I decided to splurge and get myself a Strida 5.0 folding bike. While $800 is a pretty spendy sum for such a simple bike, I am quite happy with the bike itself (which is all that really matters in the end, right?).
First off, the ride: This bike is FUN to ride. I'm 5'8 and about 160, well within the range of the bike's "one size fits most" philosophy. For me, the learning curve was mostly the steering- the small wheels and short wheelbase result in a slightly "twitchy" feel when you first get started, but I was handling like a pro in about 5 minutes. The posture is very upright and casual- you can almost "lean back" and relax while riding this bike. It reminds me of a stationary recumbant at the gym. It's also nice that the design allows you to rest your feet on the ground at any time while still being at the right height for the petals- no more straddling a high seat and having to hop off at a light as can happen on a road bike. Because the tires are thicker than an average commuter, the ride is quite smooth, even on uneven pavement. The one thing I don't like about the ride is that you cant really ever stand on the petals to give your bum a break when going over rough terrain, or to get more power, etc. The way the weight is distributed makes the bike very unstable when you try to stand- you can do it, but only for a couple seconds if you need to adjust a wedgie.
Overall, the main word I'd use to describe the ride experience is "casual," kind of like the Nintendo Wii of bikes (although for over 3 times the price ). It might not keep up with the big boys, but it is zippy enough to be quite useful, and is certainly innovative, which brings me to, the fold:
Yes, once you get used to it, it's that easy. I struggled with folding and unfolding the bike at first, but just like any equipment, you learn to anticipate its quirks and act more efficiently. Now it's to the point where i don't mind (and kind of enjoy) folding and unfolding the bike to show people. In it's folded state, the footprint is pretty inconspicuous and easy to stash out of the way. I took the rack off of mine, as it just seemed to take up space. You can lock the breaks (with some very low-tech nylon loops coming off the handles) which will stop the wheels from rolling and allow the bike to be leaned against a wall. Being able to roll the folded bike along is a huge asset.
Overall, you can probably tell that I'm pretty happy with this bike. That said, do I think I paid to much for it? Absolutely. The $800 price on the Strida 5.0 makes it seem like a richman's novely item, even though it is actually quite functional and practical. Value is a subjective thing. All I'm saying here is that the design is strong, and hopefully in the future (by the time I'm ready to buy another one ), there will be a more consumer-friendly pricepoint along with whatever incremental design improvements the manufacturer deems fit to include. I still very much recommend the bike, as long as the price thing isn't an issue going into it.
Aside: I plan on using this as my "rain" bike due to the supposedly corrosion-proof frame, non-metal "chain," front and rear fenders, and ease of storage inside at my destination. Haven't had a chance to test out wet weather performance yet (I'm a little concerned about how the small tires will handle it), but I'll post again when it happens.