Why Folders Are The Automobiles Of The Future – Bicycle Touring Professional

by jpc_touring-bicycle

Noticed on a journey throughout my latest go to to Australia: a poster celebrating “Seniors Week”:

What’s your intestine response to this picture? Aspirational? Respectful? Predictable? Was it something like the moment response it acquired from the group of folding bike homeowners I used to be using with, aged late 50’s to early 70’s

1. “Shoot me please.”
2. “Is that uninspiring or what?”
3. “If that’s a senior second, simply put me down now.”

Now earlier than I’m berated for dissing over-sized polo shirts, polyester pants or massive vinyl totes, let me say that nobody within the group had something towards the girl within the poster. What we unanimously objected to was yet one more patronizing instance of stereotyping and the resultant marginalization of seniors by a society that “worships a youth all of us lose”.

So what’s this acquired to do with bicycles?

Little or no, except you’d choose to see your future ageing self depicted extra like this:

I used to be requested to jot down about my travels on a Bike Friday, however after trying over my ADD-inducing website, I declined. I’m however one among 20,000+ Bike Friday prospects doing the identical. Plus there’s an growing development in the direction of “touring in your personal again yard”, with the bicycle evolving accordingly – witness the rise of the extracycle or cargo bicycle, and bicycle commuting typically.

Nor am I going to underestimate your eco-awareness and beat the “how inexperienced is my folder” drum I’ve been beating ever for the reason that launch of the tikit. It goes with out saying that if an everyday bicycle can prevent fuel, time, gymnasium charges and the planet, a conveyable bicycle should do it in spades.

As an alternative, I need to speak about an earthly, seldom talked about, but totally futuristic function of lots of at present’s folding bikes: low stepover.

The Low Down On A Folder’s Finest Function

Low stepover means, you will get on a motorcycle extra simply. Your can get your leg over it, so to talk. Your granny can get her leg over it, bless her. Your nice, nice granny can too, even when the opposite one is within the grave.

Low stepover makes a bicycle “human scale”, accessible to all riders nice and small, younger and chronologically previous. On this means, you’ll be able to journey it from Sesame Avenue proper as much as that nice relaxation cease within the sky, lengthy after your loved one Pinarello has turn out to be a hand-me-down.

Low stepover provides a rider psychological assurance that they’ll simply make contact with the bottom if issues get a bit thrilling.

“It turned actually simply. I may put on a skirt to work on the bike. I needed to come off the bike actually shortly as a result of a automotive turned in entrance of me and I by no means considered how you can do it. After I stopped at intersections and needed to straddle the bike, it felt steady and simple to get again on. It’s a lightweight bike and simple to maneuver. It may change my life as a result of I’ve been fascinated about how you can use my automotive much less.”


In my time at Bike Friday, I’ve recognized 4 teams of people who find themselves usually sidelined relating to biking:

Thankfully, the growing variety of folding bikes popping up in bike store home windows and our burgeoning supplier community appears to sign a change to the angle “they’re not actual bikes”. Change. Maybe somebody has noticed Obama tooling round Chicago on a folder and blogged about it?

Let’s check out these 4 teams:


“Outdated fuddy duddies journey folding bikes,” I used to be advised by one bike store. “The sweetness about being a senior is that you simply’ve reached an age the place you don’t care about being Lance anymore,” mentioned one buyer. “You need one thing that works, that retains you match, which you could journey with you youngsters and grandkids.” And that in case you so want, you’ll be able to journey the edges of nations and win gold medals with.

“Though I’m a “candy, little previous girl” who’s a 1937 mannequin, I’m the world’s main perimeter rider, having bicycled the edges of 21 completely different nations – 12 on a Bike Friday. I set 3 US perimeter data bicycling Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania this previous summer time. I plan to proceed “perimetering” on my Bike Friday so long as I dwell. The bike is hard and survived the Latvian roads. The bike tires you despatched me did get me via 2,000 miles and that folding additional tire was good. Additionally my Bike Friday matches me – a 67 yr previous girl whose legs are getting stiffer and stiffer – sure, I’ve bother getting my leg over the bar on an everyday bicycle!”

Joan Axtell Joesting, 71

“Some walked steepest parts after all, however I rode the entire thing. I used to be honored to compete with a really well-known man amongst Senior Cyclists all over the place, Gordy Shields, 89 – a fantastic man. In contrast along with his experience and expertise, I’m however a novice although in nice well being. Subsequent time, Gordy’s trying to see what he can do at 90 and I’ll be only a whipper-snapper at 84! Throughout my latest Huntsman World Senior Video games warm-up runs previous to precise races, I had a few close to falls when efficiently leaping off the bike on the run – it stored me vertical. It will not have labored so properly with escaping over a traditional bar, as I can attest from practically killing myself solely 16 months in the past when taking a header over handlebars of my nice previous Fats Likelihood/IF mountain bike.”

Frank Pierson, 83, World Senior Video games.


Who hasn’t seen a child straining to journey a motorcycle that’s too huge, as a result of the common mother or father doesn’t need to be investing in bicycles in addition to new socks and faculty uniforms yearly? Who’s shuddered at seeing a tiny tot perched precariously atop a full-sized tandem, unable to simply attain terra firma in the event that they wished to – and all youngsters need to.

A low stepover bicycle is kid-friendly by design and may ideally regulate to take all of them the way in which from pram to promenade evening. When youngsters can place their foot on a bar and cope with a wheel that’s nearer to their head dimension, it makes for a much less threatening expertise.

Automotive-free Paul Adkins Household

“My Bike Friday Household Tandem is a flying carpet of nice magic, the right answer to the everlasting quest of doing one thing together with your youngsters the place you’ll be able to each have enjoyable and actually talk.”

Richard Vallens


I guess that is only a class of “greater child” and I’m a card-carrying life member. The peak of the common American girl is reported to be round 5’4″, and for a Chinese language, of which there are a number of billion potential cyclists, round 5’zip.

Sure, there are “girls’s particular bikes”, providing cautious gal-geometry, smaller entrance wheels, scaled down parts. However you’ll be able to solely achieve this a lot with wheels of a sure dimension. Small wheels afford a lot extra flexibility with body sizing.

Jeri El-Swaify, triathlete and biking coach, Hawaii

“It’s a no brainer,” says Irv Housinger, an early Bike Friday adopter and co-designer.

Which brings us to …


Should you’re actually Lilliputian, a low stepover bicycle is the one bicycle you’ll be able to journey. For years, Little Individuals have lamented being caught with crummy, ungeared child’s bikes “with Disney graphics throughout them”. A large number of bodily issues typically include the gene, making train essential to keep away from weight problems, however troublesome by typical means. What they want is a bicycle constructed for youths – however fitted for a grown-up.

Dennis Healy – learn extra about Particular Wants Bike Fridays

I’ve achondroplastic dwarfism and am 47 inches tall with a 16 inch inseam. Final weekend, I participated within the 2006 Chicago Bike the Drive 30 mile journey. It was a really pleasing journey and I used to be capable of full it within the allotted time, one thing I’d not have thought doable a number of years in the past.

Judy Badner

Achondroplasic dwarf Dan Okenfuss, rides his folding highway bike to and from his workplace in Sacramento. “I wished a motorcycle to maintain up with my 6’4″ brother Chuck on the 115-mile El Tour de Tucson,” he mentioned.

However I’m Younger, Good Wanting, Athletic, Immortal…

So that you’re neither a senior, a junior, a small journey or a dwarf. What does all this imply to you?

You’ll not be Endlessly 21. You would possibly have to cease laughing at small wheels and begin studying one thing from these fuddy-duddy, low stepover, folding bikers. The extra we journey a bicycle, the extra we profit ourselves, our households, the well being system and our planet.

And the longer we will achieve this, the much less bingo we’ll play, the sharper our minds and extra respect we’ll acquire from the youthful era, together with people who manufacture posters about Seniors Week – and people vinyl totes and polyester slacks.


The Galfromdownunder admits to having a twisted view of seniors after been surrounded by adventurettes like 70-something  Margaret Day, who rode throughout Australia’s Nullabor Desert on her Bike Friday. Yup, that’s how she’d in all probability wish to be depicted in that poster.

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