About a month ago, I was having a tough time deciding which folder to get. The Bromptons were (and continue to be) appealing, but I had a hard time rationalizing spending $1400-$1600 on a commuter which is, let’s be honest, less than sexy. I’d much rather put that type of money towards a new Canyon or some other type of road bike. As a result, I had really decided on either a Tern or a Dahon.
However, on a whim, I decided to check out the Performance Bike website. After all, I had purchased my Roubaix through them and it continues to serve me well, as well as being an excellent value. While some have an issue with Performance Bike since it is a chain and not a local bike shop, they’ve always done well by me. Anyways, I went onto the website and typed in “folding bike.” One result came up. Just one.
The photo had an error, I couldn’t find any reviews online, and there were none in stock. However, it was listed on sale for about $450. That was less than half of what I was thinking I was going to need to spend on the Tern that I was considering. I decided to take a chance. After all, I’d get a warranty and Fuji’s quality has been pretty good on our other bikes.
About a week later, the bicycle arrived at the local shop. I went to pick it up. It was strange not having to bring a bike rack and to have the ability to throw it in the trunk. I get the feeling that someone may have returned this bike at some point as it had a few chips in the frame and a tiny crack in the shifter plastic. However, it was special order only and half of the cost of my other alternatives. Who knew if they would even have any others in stock? Happily, I took my bizarre clown bike and went on my way.
I’d be lying if I said that it was initially easy to start my multimodal commute. On my first day taking the express bus, a rude bus driver was unwilling to allow me to board the bus home and unwilling to review the policy which I attempted to provide him which indicated that folding bikes were permitted onboard. This culminated in a telephone call to Valley Metro, as well as an online complaint which included multiple bicycle advocacy groups here in the metropolitan Phoenix area. The issue was quickly addressed by Valley Metro and they were very receptive to hear about my complaint. As a matter of fact, the next day, I boarded the bus with no issues and the driver even showed me the memo which he had received about folding bikes. I felt somewhat bad that he had to receive the complaint, but, since I had attempted to show him the policy, I knew that this had to be done.
Since that time, I’ve continued to use the little Fuji. It’s not perfect as it does have a few issues. The bottom bracket creaks under a heavy pedal effort and the front folding handlebar can rattle over very rough roads. The front V-brake also creaks under heavy braking, which I’ll need to address. I’m also going to attempt to grease the folding mechanism as it seems somewhat stiff to operate. Last Friday, I also walked out to the garage to discover a flat tire on the front Kenda Kwest. A large thorn had punctured through. I don’t fault the bike for that as flats happen. This was easily fixed through an Amazon Prime order and I also took the opportunity to fill both tires with slime. While I was at it, I also ordered an asset tag and registered the funky little thing with Bike Guard.
Now, it sounds like a nightmare at first and I don’t mean to discourage anyone from bike commuting. Now that I’ve identified the challenges, my commute continues to get easier. Each day, I am saving 52 miles of travel from my car. This is greatly reducing my personal expense, as well as reducing my carbon output and providing me with the ability to continue to bike commute. Consequently, I’d highly recommend a folding bike to anyone. They may look weird, but the benefits are worth it!