Monday, March 21, 2016

Checking out small wheeled bicycles

I have been having thoughts of replacing my road bike with 700cc wheels with a folding bicycle or mini velo with 20inch wheels. I went around the Marina Reservoir area on Saturday using a Giant mini velo and a Strida. I believe the mini velo had 20inch wheels while the Strida had 16inch wheels.

I cycled approximately 11+km on each bicycle to get a feel of the bicycles.

Starting things off with the Giant Escape Mini which was a 7 speed bike, I cycled towards the Gardens by the Bay. The route was mostly flat, but I found myself struggling a little. Perhaps I was too used to having toeclips on my own bike.

 The geometry of the bike was not really good for me. The bicycle had a 16.5inch frame, but it didn't feel as comfortable as my 16inch frame mountain bike and I found myself engaging my core quite a bit.
Speaking of the frame, the reason I was drawn to the Giant was due to its cool looking frame which reminded me of the Tyrell brand of bicycles.
What I loved about the frame is that its lack of a top tube makes it easy to step through. Although trying to carry it up 3 flights of stairs to my house might be a little troublesome without a top tube to rest on my shoulder.
Up next was the Strida. This singlespeed belt driven bicycle was pretty interesting to look at. Most bicycle aficionados would easily identify it due to its unique look.

The 16inch wheels definitely took some getting used to. Handling was pretty twitchy and there was the worry that hard breaking would lead to a ball crushing incident. Lol.
What I really liked about it was the upright sitting position. In most bicycles, you are crouched foward slightly. This felt like riding a dutch bike, my back was straight.
The downside of the Strida was the seat height. It was too low and my legs could not fully extend causing some knee pain during the 11+km ride.
Another gripe I had was with the bottom tube, my feet are only a size US 8. However, my right heel kept knocking into the frame where there is a bend to accommodate the wheel.
While it might not be great for long commutes, this is probably great solution for the last mile commute problem. Its compact size, both folded and unfolded make it a reasonable option for use on our crowded sidewalks. The use of a belt drive also means there is no need to worry about grease stains on your legs or pants.

After riding those two bicycles, I am reconsidering my plan to make the switch from 700cc wheels to 20inch or lower. It does seem a lot easier to ride around on my road bike as compared to the Giant and Strida.
Shall test out some foldies next week before I make a final decision.

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