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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 06-02-12, 11:52 AM   #1
gringo_gus
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seeking intelligence on Michigan - Ann Arbor and East Lansing

Hi folks, I am going to Michigan, Ann Arbor, and East Lansing from the UK to do research at Michigan U and Michigan State U libraries. I have a budget, but its not great, and the hotels away from the libraries a lot cheaper. An excuse, I thought to bring one of my folders - I think probably the DT mini - and get a cheaper hotel and have the fun of cycling to work for the week or so I am there.

But does anyone know what these places are like for (folding) cycling, or how I might find out ?

thanks

Gus
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Old 06-02-12, 03:43 PM   #2
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I commute in EL area about 8 km each way. Most way I can do it on sidewalks that are mostly wide and of which I tend to be the only user for most of the year. In winter, they clear the snow off these sidewalks just for me . The edges of essentially all sidewalks are sloped at crossings. There is some bike theft in the area, but it affects mostly MTB bikes and bikes that are poorly locked. After sports events there is some vandalism problem with drunken students going on a rampage - they can destroy bikes that happened to be in their way.

Myself, most of the time I ride a full-size bike, but my second most often used bike is a folder. On one occasion I lent a folder to a visitor and a local hotel had no problem with him keeping the folder inside his room. In my somewhat limited so far but broadening experience, the hotels in the US tend to be fine with a guest keeping a folder in his room. Incidentally, it might be a good idea to check ahead of time and to ask for a room on the ground floor.
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Old 06-03-12, 05:38 AM   #3
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thanks, this is really helpful. And the ground floor thing hadn't occurred to me, and is a great idea.

Of course, now I am on the "bring an empty case and buy a xootr while I am in the US" thing again. Which is not healthy. But tempting, so tempting.
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Old 06-03-12, 07:09 AM   #4
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Maybe a couple of more tidbits. The investments in public infrastructure in Michigan, and likely in many other areas of the US, are inconsistent and often done reluctantly. In effect, the roads can be in bad shape, particularly towards their shoulders. With this, kevlar-lined tires are a must. During my first travel in the US with a new folder, that came with some stock Kenda tires, I had a flat nearly every day. Another issue is that of road illumination. Not just roads but even crossroads can have poor or no illumination in spite of an urban area. With this, a good bike lighting setup is a must.
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Old 06-03-12, 06:51 PM   #5
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Ann Arborite here. It isn't so much that the roads have potholes rather, the potholes are surrounded by a bit of road here. However, there are designated bike lanes on some roads and elsewhere you can ride on the sidewalk. There are buses that will get you most places you want to go and every bus has a bike rack that can hold 2 bikes. If you have a folder you are allowed to fold it up and take it on the bus. That's what I do. I think it is quite easy to commute by bus and bike here. For night riding you will need lights but it is still quite light out here at 9pm at this time of year.

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Old 06-04-12, 08:06 PM   #6
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You could buy a $88 Walmart bike. It may just last the entire week and would be the cheapest option. Buy a Walmart lock you can take back with you. Leave the unlocked bike somewhere it looks like it might get used when you go back home. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Roadmaster...-Bike/15711164
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Old 06-05-12, 07:49 AM   #7
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You could buy a $88 Walmart bike.
gringo_gus may still need to carry the bike between EL and AA. There is a bus service between the two, called Michigan Flyer (continues to Detroit Airport), and there is no problem taking a bagged folder along (have done it) but I am not sure about a full-size bike. It might be worth calling them and inquiring when deciding on a full-size bike. Other than that, for me at least, the quality of the bike I am riding during a trip can project on my perception of the whole trip. An exception might be when I want to ride a bike characteristic for the area I am visiting.
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Old 08-22-12, 05:49 AM   #8
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Guys, this is a bump - but thanks for this advice. I took my brompton to E Lansing and Ann Arbor, and it was the best thing I've done traveling for a while. First and foremost, it was a blast just being able to ride. But also, I felt I had a lot more independence and was able to travel around a lot more than if I was just on foot.

In both cases, the bike also helped me get to the university archives where I was working. So, thanks for the encouragement.

The brompton hard case worked well. The is a lot of space to pack stuff in between, and I took the "padding" at the base of the case out, and used clothing instead. The issue was more one of weight, and I ended up paying to check a second suitcase on the way home.

Can also recommend Jen Munford at Jeff Zuck's tattoo shop in A2, if that is your kind of thing.....
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Old 08-22-12, 10:54 AM   #9
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I took my brompton to E Lansing and Ann Arbor, and it was the best thing I've done traveling for a while. First and foremost, it was a blast just being able to ride. But also, I felt I had a lot more independence and was able to travel around a lot more than if I was just on foot.
Congratulations on this having worked out! From personal experience I know how well this kind of success feels .
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Old 08-22-12, 08:09 PM   #10
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Good to hear it went well. Coincidentally, just a month ago I was in Ann Arbor attending a conference and brought my Tikit along. Biked back and forth between downtown and the North Campus, and all around the local area, and it was great. Ann Arbor is a great biking town.
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Old 08-22-12, 08:25 PM   #11
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Ann Arbor is a great biking town.
Agreed!

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Old 08-23-12, 12:58 AM   #12
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Good to hear it went well. Coincidentally, just a month ago I was in Ann Arbor attending a conference and brought my Tikit along. Biked back and forth between downtown and the North Campus, and all around the local area, and it was great. Ann Arbor is a great biking town.
Agreed doubly. Me too, I was working on N Campus, but in a motel on E Stadium Boulevard other side of town. I got good route advice from a German guy moving to U of Mich staying in the motel over breakfast, there were some hills, enough of a challenge for my 2 brompton gears, but not too outfacing. Loved it loved it loved it.
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Old 08-23-12, 01:31 AM   #13
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Ahhh the freedom of a Brommie. Fits in a case wihtout disassembly and even room for packing clothes! Nice one Gringo_gus!
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Old 08-23-12, 07:09 AM   #14
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Agreed!

Yes, I went to law school in Ann Arbor, so spent three years there. Although I had a car, my main transportation was a bike. It's a great biking town, as others have said, but the Siberian climate will seem quite harsh to someone from the UK. I think I saw -30C one winter! You will need to take great care in selecting clothing for cycling in the winter.

Make sure and buy a good lock, and use it. I had a bicycle stolen there -- one I built myself and had ridden all over Europe Scrotes . . .
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Old 08-23-12, 07:39 AM   #15
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Yes, I went to law school in Ann Arbor, so spent three years there. Although I had a car, my main transportation was a bike. It's a great biking town, as others have said, but the Siberian climate will seem quite harsh to someone from the UK. I think I saw -30C one winter! You will need to take great care in selecting clothing for cycling in the winter.

Make sure and buy a good lock, and use it. I had a bicycle stolen there -- one I built myself and had ridden all over Europe Scrotes . . .
The winters can be wicked, that's for sure. In addition to the sharp cold, you know they get sloppy, too, with the snow and the briny slurry created from it when they salt the roads.

I've lived and ridden here my whole life-- aside from a 5 year stint in E. Lansing and 8 months in Avon, Colorado-- and although I don't have the opportunity to really commute by bike anymore, I did spend '94 through '07 doing it full time, year round, and did assemble a very specific set of gear to get through those winters.

Spring, fall, and summer are great, though, and in addition to the civilised in-town riding, there are great road rides through the countryside right outside of town, and a network of great singletrack dirt riding nearby, too.

If only we had mountains, I'd call Ann Arbor a cycling paradise!

I'm sorry I didn't catch this thread before Gringo Gus arrived and left; it would have a been a pleasure to show you the town by bike, Gus!
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Old 08-23-12, 07:44 AM   #16
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It's a great biking town, as others have said, but the Siberian climate will seem quite harsh to someone from the UK. I think I saw -30C one winter! You will need to take great care in selecting clothing for cycling in the winter.
It is not as good anymore around here - when it is around -15C, you are cheering. I am thinking about moving farther north .
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Old 08-23-12, 07:56 AM   #17
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It is not as good anymore around here - when it is around -15C, you are cheering. I am thinking about moving farther north .
Hey, I'm enjoying not having to wear goggles when I ride lately!
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Old 08-23-12, 10:14 AM   #18
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My wife and I might head to Ann Arbor for some shopping. Any recommended bike routes, particularly paths along rivers, etc.? What would be nice is if there is a place we could park the car - preferably close to some restaurants, shops, funky cafes, etc.; unload the Bromptons and then go cycling for an hour or two along the river; and then come back and have a late lunch!

Thanks!

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Old 08-23-12, 02:17 PM   #19
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Oz,

You could park down in Kerrytown, ride Huron River Drive out to the village of Dexter and back, and then lunch at Zingerman's Deli right next to Kerrytown.

It's a scenic, 22 mile round trip street route, and definitely the most popular cycling route in town. Dexter is, itself, quaint, and cyclists often take coffee downtown Dexter at ZuZu's Cafe before heading back to Ann Arbor.

Let me know if you need any other info or would like additional suggestions.
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Old 08-23-12, 02:19 PM   #20
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Oz,

You could park down in Kerrytown, ride Huron River Drive out to the village of Dexter and back, and then lunch at Zingerman's Deli right next to Kerrytown.

It's a scenic, 22 mile round trip street route, and definitely the most popular cycling route in town. Dexter is, itself, quaint, and cyclists often take coffee downtown Dexter at ZuZu's Cafe before heading back to Ann Arbor.

Let me know if you need any other info or would like additional suggestions.
Thanks! Just to double check... Kerrytown is the historic downtown area with all the shops/cafes, etc. in downtown Ann Arbor, right?
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Old 08-23-12, 02:21 PM   #21
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Pretty much, yes. It's also the location of a farmers' market. The main part of downtown Ann Arbor is a couple of blocks away, too, easily rideable (or walkable).
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Old 08-23-12, 02:41 PM   #22
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Okay... great... I know where you're referring to then... we were at the Farmer's market some time ago - no Bromptons back then! - I got a parking ticket too! Such pleasant memories...

Thanks for your help!
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