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Folding Bikes Discuss the unique features and issues of folding bikes. Also a great place to learn what folding bike will work best for your needs.

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Old 08-14-11, 02:38 PM   #1
mtalinm
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if your destination city has a bike share, do you still pack the folder?

normally I take my Xootr Swift with me on business trips, but this time my son needed it for a Scout trip. (yes, I need a second Swift.)

so I arrived in San Antonio bikeless, then discovered the San Antonio bike share. I'm staying downtown near the rental stations and have been using it daily. impressions:

+ sure was nice not having to check a 50# suitcase and then wait for it on the other end (I much prefer traveling with carryon luggage)
+ price is about the same to check a bike vs. renting from a bike share. (renting from bike stores is rather expensive)
+ nice not to have the bike take up space in the hotel room -- minor advantage
- the Bixi-type bikes (every share seems to have the same type) are really heavy, have a huge front basket that affects steering, and sports only 3 gears.
- need to bring or buy a helmet. also a lock as the built-in locks don't work well
- bike share tires tend to be underinflated for a big guy like me

all in all, I'm on the fence. it's nice enough not to lug the suitcase around that I might just leave it home when there's a bike share in the destination city. that said, I do miss the performance of my own bike.

what would you do?
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Old 08-14-11, 03:18 PM   #2
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I am going to be getting a Brommie for travel. Most bike share bikes are too short for me to ride comfortably, my wife is on the other end of the spectrum, too short for most bike share bikes.

We have used bike share in Denver and will give it a try in Boston the next time we visit. I don't like the helmet requirement, I seldom wear a helmet when I ride my bikes.

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Old 08-14-11, 03:25 PM   #3
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I think it's nice to have your own bike. But I don't fly so I don't have that issue to deal with.
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Old 08-14-11, 03:26 PM   #4
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Getting through airports, even with only handbaggage, is as much hassle as a person needs, let alone carrying a bike, in or out of a suitcase. If its just a business trip to a city you're not familiar with and you just want to ride a bike around to explore and get feel of the place, then bike hire is fine, I've used them in Milan and use then all the time in London, sure they can be hard work sometimes, but there is a benefit to that as well, calorie burning. If you have to ride to get your adrenaline fix, or whatever it is that plays with your neuro-receptors, then hump your own wheels, or go and hire something strange and exotic when you get there. At the end of the day riding a bike is riding a bike, you either love it, or you don't.
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Old 08-14-11, 05:33 PM   #5
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Depends on what you are looking for. To me bike-shares are for getting from point to point unencumbered. My wife and I belong to the DC bike-share program. We can pick up a bike 2 blocks from home and drop it off downtown by the theater or a restaurant. No hassle, no worry about where to lock up our bikes. We love it. I would like a similar system in a city we are visiting for a few days but I would not view it as a replacement for regular bikes for longer rides (10M+).
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Old 08-15-11, 06:41 AM   #6
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are you in San Antonio for the AoM meeting maybe ? I am visiting the city too. Where are the bikestations here ? Being a brit I also have a cycling on the wrong-side-of the road thing, so maybe won't do it anyway....

Oh, and there's a $400 strida in the local craigslist .....
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Old 08-15-11, 05:22 PM   #7
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A folding bike isn't that useful for city tourism. I'm sure they wouldn't let you take it up the Eiffel Tower, and it's a pretty high crime area, so I wouldn't be confident about coming back to it if I locked it nearby. I haven't actually used Velib as most of the time I'm in Paris, I like to walk. I've used folding bikes there, but only to get from train station to train station.

London, definitely use boris bikes.

Melbourne, no.

San Antonia? http://www.sanantoniobikeshare.org - $10/24 hours, and only 14 stations all within a couple of miles of each other? Not worth the bother of wrangling a credit card. Just walk it if you don't have a bike.

http://www.parisavelo.net/

vs

https://web.barclayscyclehire.tfl.gov.uk/maps

vs

http://www.melbournebikeshare.com.au/stationmap

vs (most expensive of the four chosen at near-random)

http://sanantonio.bcycle.com/home.aspx

(when they introduced the bike share to London, I wondered if I had wasted my money on a folding bike. It became clear that despite the numbers, they are not a reliable commuting option for me)
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Old 08-15-11, 05:33 PM   #8
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I like having my own bicycle so usually bring my Dahon . Yes it's a pain checking and waiting at the other end for it. But if the trip dictates a layover of 2 or 3 days it's worth it for me to bring the bike along.
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Old 08-15-11, 05:35 PM   #9
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Melbourne, no.
Just curious, what do you mean by "No"? (heh NO means NO) The schemes here in Aus have been used very little, because of the helmet laws from hell. The provision of $5 helmets and even free helmets elsewhere haven't made much difference at all.

That means there are always bikes at every station if you are willing to schlep the helmet around. Personally I probably wouldn't use it, because of the helmet hassle.
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Old 08-15-11, 09:10 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by donheff View Post
Depends on what you are looking for. To me bike-shares are for getting from point to point unencumbered. My wife and I belong to the DC bike-share program. We can pick up a bike 2 blocks from home and drop it off downtown by the theater or a restaurant. No hassle, no worry about where to lock up our bikes. We love it. I would like a similar system in a city we are visiting for a few days but I would not view it as a replacement for regular bikes for longer rides (10M+).
Glad that it's working for you. I've heard from 2 people that have told me that they've had problems returning the bikes to where they want to go. They are forced to go to another station putting them further away from their destination. Hence, they have had to hoof it somewhat to their meeting/lunch etc.

I am not a dc bikeshare member but just what I've heard...
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Old 08-15-11, 11:56 PM   #11
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There's all the difference in world between using a bike share for work or leisure. I've walked over a mile of a 3 mile journey to find a bike to take me back to the station, and then half a mile at the other end because the station rack was full.

But we took them out for a day zooming around the city with a tourist, and it was perfect.

BTW, I wouldn't necessarily want to turn up at a meeting with folding bike, either.
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Old 08-16-11, 12:36 AM   #12
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Not traveling for work, just holyday. I like to take my bike, not trusting the bikeshare, especially during holydays. Payed more for bringing own bike this summer than paying for rented would cost. If I had to fly with it often I would get a Brompton or strida.
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Old 08-16-11, 04:07 AM   #13
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Just curious, what do you mean by "No"? (heh NO means NO) The schemes here in Aus have been used very little, because of the helmet laws from hell. The provision of $5 helmets and even free helmets elsewhere haven't made much difference at all.
That means there are always bikes at every station if you are willing to schlep the helmet around. Personally I probably wouldn't use it, because of the helmet hassle.
I was in Melbourne last June, just as it opened. I had a look at the station near the city baths. What I particularly noticed is that is wasn't obvious to me about the helmet law. It was like they were trying to entrap tourists!
I didn't notice any other stations while I was there and when I look at the map, they are pretty bunched together: by the time you have wrangled your credit card, picked a bike, sorted out your helmet and luggage, travel 2 km and then the same at the far end it would have been as quick to walk, and much simpler to hop on a tram - which as we were staying in the suburbs, we already had paid for.
And we were probably the perfect candidates: visitors who know the city (and the trams) and find themselves without bikes.
The helmets were the final kicker, but I don't think I'd use them either way. Last June, the helmets were an insuperable barrier, as I wasn't spending $60 just to test the bikes.
The London scheme covers most of the places a visitor might want to go. Greenwich and Canary Wharf are notable exceptions, but it's moving out that way next year. Most users would struggle to move between the remotest stations within the half hour limit. And they prove the nonsense of the helmet laws: 6 million journeys, most without helmets and no serious injuries - though we must be due for one (statistically) soon.
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Old 08-16-11, 06:06 AM   #14
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Most bike shares in the US require memberships. The ones that don't are spread out across the country. So, it really depends on the destination.

B-Cycle doesn't need a membership, just a CC. So, if the city has B-Cycles, you may be better off. But, come to Buffalo? Our Bike Share is not operating right now. You can, however rent a bike from a couple of locations, none near the airports, or near downtown. So, I'd bring your own.
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Old 08-16-11, 06:58 AM   #15
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walked past a rack of bike shares in San Antonio - only one bike, its basket full of trash.

Of course it may mean all the others are being used by happy riders, but it was a hot time of day.

But the commitment to cycling infrastructure here is impressive, and better than my hometown.

I'd bring a folder rather than bikeshare though, but it would be worth doing here. Kudos San Antonio
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Old 08-17-11, 12:31 AM   #16
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The US b-cycle schemes seem to be taking the piss. Eg Chicago, 6 stations, $20 for a day pass? San Antonio, 14 stations, $10, and they close at night? Are they successful? I'm not sure how Velib and the London systems cover their costs, but you get hundreds of stations all over Paris for €1. And for that, you get Paris.
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Old 08-17-11, 12:45 AM   #17
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well I had a great experience with the San Antonio bike share. (and yes, I was there for the AoM)

it was $25 for a weeklong membership. I was there 5 days, and I used bikes every day. sometimes it was point-to-point to get to a restaurant in a few minutes instead of a half hour. on Sunday i did a 15 mile loop around high noon.

the bikes were clean and in good repair. I read that they fill the tires with nitrogen to prevent leaking (does this work??). true, 3 gears leaves you in-between a lot, but overall i was pretty pleased

(they say the station close at night but I think that is just to discourage people from riding around. the machines don't shut down or anything. I picked up a bike at 10:15, well after closing time, and it was no problem)
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Old 08-17-11, 12:53 AM   #18
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Bixi's right? That's what London uses, too. I'm not a huge fan, find it's like a bus after getting off a folder (oh, and the folder felt as twitchy as hell after a week of bixi). Also, the lowest gear is so low, I don't think I can pedal fast enough to stay up right, so they are two speeds for me. Still, they are nearly bullet proof, and amazingly popular in London and I'd love to be able to use them as an alternative to my folder: they don't go to my work place yet.

I was impressed by this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environmen...amo-boris-bike Guy did 120 mile unsupported overnight ride on one of them!
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Old 08-22-11, 08:11 AM   #19
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well I had a great experience with the San Antonio bike share. (and yes, I was there for the AoM)

)
so what would you recommend for next year's meeting in Boston - near you I think - bring or hire ?
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Old 08-22-11, 07:53 PM   #20
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i would hire, if only to try it out. but check to see that you can get a one-week membership instead of having to sign up for an annual membership, which will be pricey
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