Review: A Day with the Strida Folding Bike [Verdict: Wear a Cup]

strida.jpg

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.

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20 Responses to Review: A Day with the Strida Folding Bike [Verdict: Wear a Cup]

  1. Steven Leckart says:

    @Aaron, good call. I meant to mention Bike Friday. I’ve ridden one, but not the Tikit. Def want to.

  2. Gronk says:

    @14: The front-braking thing does not, it would seem, apply to this special bike. Apparently it’s not quite as stable as conventional bikes and tends to dump its rider over the handle bar when going at a decent speed and relying on the front brake only. So, for this bike it’s rear brake first to reduce the speed a bit and then cut in the front brake when it’s safe(r) to do so. Sounds a bit stupid to me.

  3. nixiebunny says:

    Bikes may stop with brakes, but this one apparently breaks your balls when you stop. So I can understand the use of the word ‘break’ in that context.

  4. The Life Of Bryan says:

    Pedantic bike safety tip: The most effective and safe braking technique is to use primarily the front brake and to keep your ass in the saddle. It’s counterintuitive, but true. (Of course, that assumes you’re riding a bike without a flagpole leaning up against your cockandballs.)

  5. Anonymous says:

    I wonder what its top speed is with such a small wheel ratio. Gearing can make up for that somewhat.

    This is the greener segway with health benefits. Except for deze nuts.

  6. Halloween Jack says:

    I’m pretty sure that Sharper Image used to sell this.

  7. Steven Leckart says:

    Yikes, good catch. Brakes/Breaks fixed.

  8. Galoot says:

    Missed two in the “Not-So-Good” paragraph. An honest misteak.

    :D

  9. Anonymous says:

    It might be because I’ve got the old Strida S3 with drum brakes instead of disc brakes, but I’ve never had a problem with running my crotch into the frame, even on some very steep descents and some quick braking. Either I’ve never decelerated quickly enough, or I’ve always compensated by pushing back with my legs and arms, I guess.

  10. Aaron says:

    Since Joel is now in Eugene, he really ought to do a matching review with the Bike Friday Tikit.

    Compared to all the other bikes Steven mentioned, the Tikit has the fewest tradeoffs. It rides like a “full-size” bike, and it folds in literally five seconds.

    Oh, and it won’t crush your ‘nads like the Strida.

    Tradeoffs with the Tikit: It’s got a chain, so you need to peg your cuffs if you want to avoid grease on your work slacks. It folds 5 times as fast as the Brompton, but the folded size is a smidge bigger.

    It’s not the cheapest folder out there, but you’re paying for serious quality and a real steel frame. Bike Friday will outfit it in all sorts of gear configurations including a fixie, internal hub, and the crazy fast Capreo. I’d consider trading mine in if they swapped out the chain for a belt drive.

  11. Chrs says:

    I know folding bikes are a lovely idea and all, because you can bring them inside, but I’d rather buy a $300 bike and lock it up well on the street. I’ll probably have to replace the bike (or at least some of its component parts) a couple times, due to weather or theft, but it will be a bike that feels nice to ride.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Two “break/s” fixed, two more to go. Perhaps you’re fixating on the ball-breaking action of the brakes.

  13. Jonathan Kist says:

    Is anyone having an issue with the Seat gradually sliding down or twisting? I have to mess with mine every couple of days to get it to the height that I need. I have a 5.0 Such a pain in arse.

  14. Anonymous says:

    > if you learn to break slowly

    Great unintended pun.

  15. Anonymous says:

    @CHRS #6: Hereabouts, the ‘able to take a bike inside’ angle isn’t the seller on folding bikes — those who ride them do so because they’re generally allowed on public transport.

    So you can head into the city on the train (where ‘proper’ bikes aren’t allowed during the rush hours), then unfold and cycle across the city to your destination/place of work without a long underground ride then a long walk.

  16. Anonymous says:

    brakes.

  17. Anonymous says:

    From a marketing in Japan perspective, “forcefully thrust your junk into the frame” sounds like an added bonus rather than a flaw….

  18. kentsbike says:

    Nice to know I’m not the only one who finds the Strida groin-threatening. My instinct when coming to a stop is to want to slide forward off the saddle. I’m sure natural selection will breed this trait out of future generations of Strida riders.

    By the way, bikes stop via brakes, not breaks. The Strida breaks down into a small package and has nice disk brakes.

  19. Mark says:

    Sorry but the whole package-crushing thing is just not true. I’ve commuted on a Strida 5.0 for over a year in NYC. This just doesn’t happen in real-world riding.

    When riding a normal bike and braking, do you slide over the tip of the front (nose) of the saddle?

    No.

    And it doesn’t happen on a Strida either. I don’t know how the author was riding it to have this happen.

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