I test drove and bought my shiny silver 18 inch Evo one week ago.
During the first minutes of the test drive i was sure that i don´t want this bike after all, despite all the enthusiasm gathered while reading about it during the last weeks (much of it in this forum ). To call the experience wobbly would be an understatement. “Better get that Montague Paratrooper after all” is what i thought at that moment. It quickly turned out however that between too little pressure in the rear tire and a loose seat mount the initial setup was far from optimal.
After fastening the seat and a quick return to the dealer for more air only the squirrely steering and the unusual posture were left. After a while i got used to the former and even enjoyed the latter.
Let me explain: I´m 191 cm with long legs and the seat mount is on the highest setting of the lower hole and back as far as it goes. Both of my feet firmly touch the ground when i sit on the saddle, the handlebar (regular short one, not bended) is just far enough away so i don´t touch it with my knees and my legs are not extended for optimal power.
I´d describe the whole experience as “Dutch BMX”: Dutch because of the straight back and BMX because of its nimbleness and bent knees. And this is great!
It´s a very different experience than riding either of my other bikes (full supension 26" MTB, 28" Cyclocross).
So i drove around for 20 minutes over different terrain having a lot of fun before i looked on my phone realizing i was several kilometers from my point of origin. Going back i tried out the folding mechnism and found the folded bike fitting very comfortably into the trunk of my car, leaving more than enough room for the rest of my luggage.
Combine all that with a very friendly dealer (Mr. Bumb of MEZ in Worms) and a deal was quickly made
In the evening i went on a little tour. Taking the Strida into the supermarket on the way i found out / confirmed several things: Even though it´s quite heavy when folded you don´t feel the weight most of the time because rolling it is so easy. Standing in line i kept it almost straight, only letting it roll slighty against my foot for a secure position. Getting the money out and paying while handling the bike with the other hand was a challenge but doable (one more reason to look forward to the start of Apple Pay in Germany later this year …). A fellow folding bike enthusiast (who uses it for business trips & the trunk, like me) asked for the name of the bike seeing me waiting in line and i happily, if unelegantly, demonstrated the folding mechanism.
Then i paid for my bento box dinner and drove to the other side of the river, a place i had often longingly looked at before while on foot. On the way there were two foot bridges, with stairs as well as a “bike spiral” to drive up. Being equipped with a healthy dose of new-owner-enthusiasm i tackled both driving of course . I find the gear change to be the most difficult part of the bike to get used to so far: While 2nd gear is just about perfect and 3rd is very welcome some times 1st is strange. With any other bike i owned (hub or chain transmission) i could pedal up to the foot of a hill with a high gear to gather speed, then switch to a lower at the last possible moment and immediately pedal at full power. Not with this bike: It seems to need a few rotations to “get used to the new gear”. That is fine when changing to a faster gear and very inconvenient when changing to a lower one imho.
Still i was able to tackle both bridges, even with the far from optimal (power wise) leg position, without the ability to stand on the pedals and frankly without much bike fitness (10kg overweight and have not ridden a bike in a while).
There was also a bigger bridge on the route where the only immediately obvious way to get up was stairs. I decided to carry the bike up half-folded (not the pedals or handlebar) and found it quite easy to carry when grabbing it under the seat mount and leaving my arm fully extended.
Later, sitting in the inflatable chair i brought with me and enyoing first my dinner and then a bit of my current book, “Bullshit Jobs” by David Graeber, i looked longingly at the Strida several times. When it was time to pack and drive back to my AirBnB i took the scenic route
In the morning i had half an hour of spare time on my hands and instead of surfing on my phone, as i usually would, i went on small tour in another direction, exploring a new part of the city i´m currently in. The quietness of the morning was really nice. The only thing i heard was the regular clicking of the transmission. Rolling resistance and comfort seem very good to me, comparing favorably to my other bikes. The tires are inflated to 3,5 bar at the front and 5,5 at the back (apparently near the maximum of 5,8 of the Innova).
I arrived for breakfast at the bakery with a smile on my face.
The gearbox currently seems like a solid tradeoff to me: Regular clicking noise + quite a lot more weight vs the ability to go faster at some times (for first gear: faster than walking with the bike would be). I think i would also have been content with the singlespeed model.
The DIY-Efneo sounds very interesting: Silent (i assume), slightly less weight and an even greater range of gears while keeping that perfect 2nd gear …