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  1. #1
    Bluegrass Atheist silverwolf's Avatar
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    Weird Find: The Sinclair "A-Bike"

    http://www.abikecentral.com/

    It's a weird, small, scooter-like bicycle with an incomprehensible drive system, strange brakes, and other oddities. In terms of advantages, it looks about as light and portable as a kick-scooter, could probably tolerate a better seat and lights without too much difficulty, and is somewhat inexpensive. In disadvantages, I predict bone-shattering ride quality, inability to be used on any but a smooth paved surface, suspect build quality, discomfort, probably a low average speed, and an unfixable drive system with weird, uncustomizable ratios.

    Personally it looks weird as hell but also kind of fun and ultra-portable for multi-mode transport or air travel, or backpacking.

    What do the members of the BF community think? Anybody have one of these? Can the disadvantages I mentioned be cured or are they inherent?

  2. #2
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    Here's the UK 'Gadget Show' review. It backs up the notion that smaller = harsher = more convenient to stow. Disclaimer: to date I have managed to avoid riding either:




    If you are not too giddy with excitement this finalé from our Stunt Bike A--Bike Trials Bike A-Bike Jumping team, will leave you gasping for sanity:



    It would appear that the A-Bike; half a roller skate on a stick, is unsuitable for use on surfaces, but folds up conveniently to hide it from one's parents. Having said that, I would quite like one, if only for the promised 'freedom from stains':

    "It weighs 5.5 kilograms (12 lb) and folds to 67×30×16 cm, small enough to fit in a rucksack.
    The bikes (sic) telescoping structure reduces its apparent (sic) volume to about 25% (sic) in its collapsed state. A twin-chain system enables the bike to travel about 3.2 metres (10 ft) per crank rotation despite the bicycle's small-diameter wheels (6 inches (15 cm)). The crankcase housing completely encloses the drive mechanism, protecting it and preventing oil stains on clothing or floor surfaces!"

    Last edited by snafu21; 06-23-10 at 03:18 AM.
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  3. #3
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    I once saw an estate agent riding on in Chiswick and, even though he was an estate agent, i felt sorry for him. The bike would be ideal if the only riding you did was round your full sized snooker table, just make sure you put all the balls away first..

  4. #4
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    ^^^^
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diode100 View Post
    I once saw an estate agent riding on in Chiswick and, even though he was an estate agent, i felt sorry for him. The bike would be ideal if the only riding you did was round your full sized snooker table, just make sure you put all the balls away first..
    I wouldn't feel sorry for him, there's people that just like to be wacky and "different" from the normal crowd. He's probably enjoying it and feeling like a kid on it. For the price of that A bike (£250) he could have chosen to get a good full sized bike but he chose not to and just be weird. Heck I do that too, could've bought a typical dahon but wanted something really different . probably wanted the challenge to see if he can race it down the street without breaking something, that's always exciting!

  6. #6
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    I rode a borrowed A bike once. It was OK for going short distances. Like the Strida, one has to get used to its ride, then it's fine. The small wheels mean you can only ride it on really smooth surfaces. And I personally wouldn't want to be seen in public on it. It would only confirm suspicions that I am not wholly balanced mentally.

    I think the A bike is great for people working in airports or for getting around in huge factories. Not really for riding on real roads. IMHO. YMMV.

  7. #7
    It's got electrolytes! chucky's Avatar
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    That small wheels get snagged on rough roads is a complete myth. Guiseppe rides on cobblestones with the even smaller (and harder) wheels of his mini125 as I have with the slightly larger wheels of my Carryme.

    Disadvantages of the A-bike over other ultra small wheelers are that
    1. the frame is cheap and weak (lots of people report having cracked frames)
    2. The midrive is inefficient
    3. the riding geometry is poor

    It's exactly what you'd expect from a cheap 12 pound bike. The small wheels have nothing to do with it.

  8. #8
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chucky View Post
    That small wheels get snagged on rough roads is a complete myth
    . .....
    The small wheels have nothing to do with it.
    You may be the only person in the known universe with the belief that smaller wheels don't have poorer ride qualities




    However, I do admire you for the strength of your convictions, no matter how eccentric they may be ...

  9. #9
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    sub 8 inches wheeled portables are fringe stuff: convenient as trousers belts, performance-wise in their infancy as of now, true cycling frontier imho

  10. #10
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch View Post
    You may be the only person in the known universe with the belief that smaller wheels don't have poorer ride qualities ...
    I think you missed the point. Even in this forum, where most of us have gotten over the usual misconceptions about small wheels, people are very eager to look at something like the A-bike and focus on the small wheels. I haven't tried one either, but it's not because of the small wheels. The reviews all suggest it's a poor design, executed poorly. It has problems far worse than small wheels. Fix all that, and then maybe we can go back to our previously scheduled debate about how small is too small.

  11. #11
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    From owners on the A Bike forum. Giddy with excitement over news of the 2010 model there is consternation that the A- Bike still isn't quite right:


    "by Artefex on Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:40 am

    "Still the same tiny wheels? "Epic fail"."

    Exactly. If they had read any of the discussion on this forum they would realise the benefits of 8" wheels are well worth the compromise in size. Although it is good to see that they have increased the quality (and the price) as build quality is the only reason to buy the genuine one over the (often more innovative but not so well made) chinese copies. "

    There are plenty of other owners comments on the forum saying the same, as does the presenter in the Gadget show review above. What's to argue over? The ride is quoted as 'harsh'. If it's not the wheels it must be something else. What?
    Last edited by snafu21; 06-24-10 at 12:51 PM.
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  12. #12
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chucky View Post
    That small wheels get snagged on rough roads is a complete myth.
    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    I think you missed the point.
    I was disputing this specific comment by Chucky. I missed the point - how?

  13. #13
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch View Post
    I was disputing this specific comment by Chucky. I missed the point - how?
    Well, I'm not sure I want to get into this... but here goes.

    I would paraphrase your post #6 as follows: "Not a good bike. Wheels are too small."

    Chucky replied in post #7, to the effect "Yes, terrible bike, but for reasons other than the small wheels."

    Nonetheless, in post #8 you returned to the small wheels issue, ignored the rest of his post, and made a wry remark about Chucky himself. I know, I know, the emoticon indicates a lighthearted jab; but still, it's a style of disputation we see all too much in presidential politics, of turning the argument away from substance and toward personalities. Amusing, perhaps; productive, not so much.

    It seems to me that the issue of small wheels is a dead horse. Those of us who have ridden bikes with small wheels know that 20", 16", or whatever we're familiar with, is not too small; but we still wonder: how small is too small? I don't know. Maybe the wheels on the A-bike really are too small; but putting them on a piece of junk like the A-bike is not a valid test.
    Last edited by rhm; 06-25-10 at 11:18 AM. Reason: edited for clarity

  14. #14
    Senior Member TomT74's Avatar
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    Reminds me of the Sinclair computer of the 80's. In more than just the name....
    Ride Bike.

  15. #15
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomT74 View Post
    Reminds me of the Sinclair computer of the 80's. In more than just the name....

    ... but not as fast...
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  16. #16
    Senior Member edwong3's Avatar
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    A-Bikes have been around for years. They're nothing new. I nearly bought one of the Chinese copies with the 8" wheels off eBay one time. I think the total cost with shipping would have been less than $130. And while most would agree that it is suitable for short hauls, here is a video of some young Korean "hipsters" riding them for what seems some considerable distance.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQKjq3RL4Js
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  17. #17
    Bluegrass Atheist silverwolf's Avatar
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    Y'know, despite the fact that these things aren't the best buys in the world I might buy one. I finished my standard folder project far under budget ($85 total on a $200 budget) and after calling some airlines, getting a real bike (even a folding one) on a plane is a real PITFA. They are really unhelpful on the phone, and even when I bummed a ride to Bush Internatioal airport here in Houston they were real ****** at the information desk, because I didn't have a ticket to fly yet.

    From what I gather these things have all the faults I expected in the OP, but are apparently rideable for short distances. I've got three major questions concerning the six-inch or eight-inch a-bike design:

    1- Do they fit in an average backpack? I'm not talking school backpack but camping or adventure pack. If they can fit while leaving a little room in the rearmost compartment for clothes it would work.

    2- What's the approximate gear inches on them? For reference I run 58 on my off-road bike, and 64 on my folder. I need to be able to pedal at about 8-10 mph with a cadence of about 55-75.

    3- It's gonna be a Chinese copy for certain, I'm not worried about frame cracking etc but the fold has to take up the same kind of space as the original a-bike does, due to space constraints mentioned above. It's a purchase solely for traveling with a pack and nothing else, and anything with pedals and wheels is faster and a bit smoother than walking.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by silverwolf View Post

    From what I gather these things have all the faults I expected in the OP, but are apparently rideable for short distances. I've got three major questions concerning the six-inch or eight-inch a-bike design:

    1- Do they fit in an average backpack? I'm not talking school backpack but camping or adventure pack. If they can fit while leaving a little room in the rearmost compartment for clothes it would work.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by silverwolf View Post

    From what I gather these things have all the faults I expected in the OP, but are apparently rideable for short distances. I've got three major questions concerning the six-inch or eight-inch a-bike design:

    1- Do they fit in an average backpack? I'm not talking school backpack but camping or adventure pack. If they can fit while leaving a little room in the rearmost compartment for clothes it would work.

    2- What's the approximate gear inches on them? For reference I run 58 on my off-road bike, and 64 on my folder. I need to be able to pedal at about 8-10 mph with a cadence of about 55-75.

    3- It's gonna be a Chinese copy for certain, I'm not worried about frame cracking etc but the fold has to take up the same kind of space as the original a-bike does, due to space constraints mentioned above. It's a purchase solely for traveling with a pack and nothing else, and anything with pedals and wheels is faster and a bit smoother than walking.
    I actually owned an A-Bike at time for about three months. I sold it because I just could not develope confidence riding the A-Bike in New York City streets with so many potholes. It felt dangerous and impossible to ride at night.

    Something no one mentioned here but the A-Bike does not freewheel very well and slows down without you hitting the brakes. I did not like this since it uses up alot of energy, much more than a Brompton going the same distance.

    The only thing I like about the A-Bike was its weight. I could carry that bike anywhere for long distances with no problem. It could fit between my legs on a bus or train. No problem.

    I think a much better solution woult the a Xooter kick scooter. Slightly heavier but much more efficient, slightly faster and safer.

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    The A-Bike is very low geared, I suspect it must be around 44-46 inches.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    I think a much better solution woult the a Xooter kick scooter. Slightly heavier but much more efficient, slightly faster and safer.
    funny thing the kick xooter is 2lbs lighter for the typical Mg version and if the abike ever sourced to use those solid xooter wheels you might of have a winner of a mini bike on your hands. The pneumatic tires the abike has is pretty much laughable and pointless since going to those xooter wheels would have been the same harsh ride but efficiency would have easily doubled when coasting and pedalling.

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