After eying the Strida for a good two years, I finally had the chance to ride and manhandle one this week, when I demo'd the folding bike at Pop-Up Magazine. The short of it: The Strida excels at being one of the quickest, easiest folders I've broken down and put back together -- but it is also one of the most testicle-threatening little bikes I've ridden.
Details after the jump, but for now enjoy this Strida commercial from Japan (awesome, despite the fact I have no idea what they're saying).
I'm no stranger to the range of decent to not-so-decent folding bikes from makers like Dahon, Brompton, Breezer and Birdy. Not one of them is perfect for every ride or rider. Dahon offers excellent sporty components (for a price). Brompton makes a luxurious city cruiser (a bit on the heavy side). Point being: if you want to be George Jetson, you've got to be comfortable with some trade-offs.
The Good: Instead of a greasy chain, the Strida features a Kevlar belt drive (great if you're commuting to work in decent pants). The ergonomic grips provide excellent padding for your palms and the seat is equally comfy. After about an hour in total, I was able to get the folding and unfolding down to about 15 seconds give or take. Intelligent design: magnets on each of the wheels hold the two wheels together when folded (some of Dahon's bikes do this, too). The disc
break brakes are solid, which leads me to the...
Not-So-Good: Slamming the
breaksbrakes, especially on a downwhill, will forcefully thrust your junk into the frame. There is no way to avoid this. Believe me. The triangular design is unique and smart, but creates a roadblock your manstuff will simply not appreciate. On the plus side, if you learn to breakbrakes slowly, incrementally and carefully over time, the frame-smacking can be avoided.
Good-to-Know, also: This ride wasn't designed for hills, at all. It's a single-speed with tiny wheels and a seat that doesn't necessarily offer the longest of strides a particularly tall rider would want (not an issue for me, just saying).
Overall, for $800, you can sit atop a user-friendly, smooth-riding folder that's great for mostly-flat commuting. But again, that's only provided you ride safely. And by safely, I mean:
break brake like a surgeon or wear a jockstrap and cup. Or maybe both.