I briefly mentioned the Strida bike, designed by Mark Sanders, several months ago. The current version of the Strida, which was originally designed nearly twenty years ago and has only recently become available in the United States, was picked as one of the top 3 bikes at the Taipei Cycle show earlier this year (incidentally, another of Sanders’ bikes, the Swivel-head, was also in the top three). Areaware, the company that just recently started distributing the bikes in the U.S., sent me a Strida 5.0 to try out for a week or so, so you can expect a full review later.
I received my Strida yesterday, so I was anxious to get it out and take it for a spin last night. As you can see from the photograph, the riding position is drastically different than that of the bikes that I usually ride, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. As it turns out, the Strida was a lot of fun to ride and the riding position didn’t feel as cramped as I expected. I am 6’ 2”, so I was a little concerned about the close proximity of the seat to the handlebars (like an old highwheeler). I don’t think I would want to ride 50 miles on the Strata, but that is not what the bike is for. For a short urban commute, especially one that includes a partial ride on public transit, a bike like the Strida would be great.
I was very curious about the belt drive so I immediately put it to the test by riding as fast as I could up a short, but very steep, grade near my house. The bike is not exactly designed for steep climbing (as mentioned before, that is not really the intent of an urban folding commuter), but it still did pretty well. The belt performed flawlessly with no slipping under the increased load of a few fast uphill sprints. I won’t be taking the Strida on my next group ride over Paris Mountain, but I did enjoy my first short ride on it, hills and all.
When I got home, I played around with the bike a bit. It really is fun to fold and unfold and some of the design details are very well thought out. In the folded position, the bike is still pretty long, so I am not sure it would work well as a travel bike to take on an airplane. It does, however, fold very quickly and has a very small footprint when upright, so wheeling it onto a subway car or bus would not be a problem. I’ll comment more on the features that I like and don’t like after I’ve had some time to use the bike. For now, I just wanted to quickly share my first impressions. Speaking of first impressions, after I opened the box and assembled the bike (basically just unfolding it and installing the seat) my four year old commented that the “little triangle bike” was the coolest thing he had ever seen. That is pretty high praise; we will see if it can live up to that in a week or so.
Oh yeah, one last thing. I probably won’t get a chance to post again before Thursday, so I want to wish all of my U.S. readers a happy Thanksgiving. Make sure that you all get in a nice long ride after stuffing yourself with turkey.