… but sometimes they do!
i picked the proposal: “Perhaps your first impressions”, so here’s my first impressions.
It started when i thought i might wish to have a folding bike for occasional use. That said, a used one or an affordable one would be the most reasonable solution.
I didn’t want to have two rim brakes.
I wanted a compact folding bike for jumping on and off trains, buses, trams, subways…
I thought it advisable to look for a clean solution, like belt drive or a chain drive well hidden between the wheels of the folded bike.
There are not that many options in the market and design wise i leaned towards the Strida more than any other folding bike.
12 days ago i went to get a used SX 18" Strida and i already knew, that i’d try to mount wider tyres on the Strida should i actually buy it after a test ride.
The test ride: That must have been my first impression, mustn’t it?
I only gave it some 50 meters uphill, downhill, around corners and over two steps in the pavement. Huh! Not at all like anything i am used to, but as there had been enough challenges in my 30 second test ride i was willing to give it a try. I purchased it!
The first impression i had originally planned was yet to come:
Find my way back home using a tram and three trains should give me a good impression of how it actually feels to fold it, unfold it, carry it upstairs in a two story train or up and downstairs between railway platforms.
But this is not, what happened …
I stood at the bus stop and waited for the bus to come. And i waited. And i waited …
Some 10 minutes after the buses scheduled time i thought to myself, that it should not be too difficult to find the next larger city where i was to enter the first train.
For what had i purchased a folding bike only 20 minutes ago? Mount the Strida and off i went the direction the bus would have gone!
It so hapened that i was heavy laden because i had some 15 kilograms in a backpack. And i rode the Strida. And yes, it felt nervous. Touchy! Yes, i felt i was quite cramped as i held the handlebar like an athletics bar. The road led me downhill so i eventually engaged the brakes to keep the speed in reasonable limits (some 25 km/h maybe). I knew that i’d have to get used to it. I knew, that the front brake was still on the left hand where i am used to have it on the right hand.
I rode carefully to avoid any critical situation with the brakes in the wrong hands.
And then it went uphill and i felt, that the gear inches were not at all bad.
However i felt, that the lightweight production saddle - a passe par tout saddle for sure - was not my cup of tea. Everyone can ride on such a saddle but everyone will feel their seat bones after some time. It took me something between a quarter and a half of an hout wo wish for another saddle. Of course i knew, that it might be difficult to find a saddle matching the proprietary Strida seat post.
Well, i survived and arrived at the first train station.
Now was that my first impression?
I folded the Strida effortlessly and pushed it towards the platform like a one handed wheelbarrow. I liked the handling of the Strida as a peace of luggage pretty much right away. Mark Sanders’ concept was the main reason why i went for it with a Strida.
A very cheap alternative would have been to pick a good old Dahon Classic and mount a coaster brake 5 gear hub to it (Not two rim brakes!). As i have assambled my first bicycle wheels of hubs, spokes and rims four and a half decades ago, that would have been a routine task for me.
It was only the second railway station that i stood on the platform with my Strida folded and resting on wheels and rack, as it is so comfortable.
Two meters next to me someone arrived with a Brompton and folded it together. A very small package looking like a small amount of scrap metal was the result of it.
Compact they are, these Bromptons! And i envied the rider for his saddle … But i didn’t envy him for the folding mechanism, the breaks and the look of the folded Bromton. It was when another person came near and asked me what kind of a thing that was i had pushed before me.
So it’s true. You will be adressed by curios people if You use a Strida for commuting.
I showed him how i unfolded and folded the Strida. “Where did You buy it?” he asked. I recommended he’d find the name “Strida” and find more informations about it.
The second train arrived. The first two story train and i love to sit upstairs and have a somewhat better view from the windows. Here’s where it is really strong, that Strida bike. Just take it with You and there You are. As not too many people carry luggage upstairs, i am used to finding empty luggage racks in these trains.
And so it was! Travelling by train it was as if it just couldn’t be any better.
The third train was routine (upstais, better view …) and there i was in my hometown.
Well yes. That was more of a first impression than i had planned for!
By the way: Somewhere after 20 minutes or half an hour of riding, i had figured out, that i didn’t wish to ride as cramped as i had started. So i found a way to relax. Put my weight on the saddle (even though i didn’t like the production saddle much) and touch the handle bars with relaxed fingers only.
It’s only, that the steering axes goes right through the riders body. It is not the most stable ride You can get and it will never be. I’ll never feel as safe on a Strida as on my good old road bike or my usual Dutch bikes. But that’s O.K. I didnt purchase it as a race bike. I’ll play it safe while riding the Strida and get me from A to B.
The brakes are so wonderfully strong and sensible. One or two fingers on the lever and You have all the power to make it handstand on the front wheel! That is, if the road has enough grip and the front wheel doesn’t block and slide.
I had originally started to think about a folding bike for a reason. There is a person in a town, where i’ll have to go to more often in the future. There’s a bridge to cross on that route and the bridge has a slope to it…
In the town, where i live, we have a comparable bridge so i took the Strida to gain the according up- and downhill experience. Up it went good enough and down the slope i would eventually stop pedaling or even engage a brake ever so slightly to control the speed.
Okey-dokey! That was a test. I won’t need an Evo. The SX fixie is fine for me.
I had mounted a Brooks B67 to the Strida (not easy to mount at all! You might wish to remove one or two screws off the Brooks Saddle to make the frame more flexible. And You’ll need to tweak the specification of the Strida seat post anyway. It’s not a strict match.)
The other saddle gives me so much more contact to the Strida! It’s not that it’d feel like i could slide off the saddle in any direction. I feel (and in fact i am!) so much more connected to the Strida with a decent saddle! It doesn’t neet to be the B67, of course, but You know it. Bicycle riders and their saddles! It’s worth considering this on the Strida, too.
However, when i came back from that test ride, i noticed something odd:
Fixing the rear brake (now left hand side) i noticed that there was as good as no breaking power to the rear wheel. I had engaged the rear brake only a few hundred meters before arriving so what was that?
It felt like i had lost a brake pad! I took the Strida inside and investigated the rear brake. No pad was gone. Only the brake had lost as much as some 95% of power.
That’s critical. If this happened on the remaining brake, too, You’d be in grave danger.
But it took me only an hour to resolve the situation. Everything of the brake was fully intact, but only the setting had been lost with as good as no warning. The 5mm allen key screw to adjust the frame side brakepad had turned loose. This could only happen because the 2 mm allen key screw to fix the 5mm screw was not engaged.
So i even had my first thorough brake check much sooner, than i had planned for.
Yes, i will make it “my folding bike”!
That’s my “first impressions” with the Sky-Blue SX.
I have mounted 44-35 tyres and 40-355 tyres on the Strida and all i say for now is that once You know the difference, You won’t want to go back to 32-355. But that’s no longer a “first impression”.
I’m looking forward to share more insights and experience in “Tips and Techs” or “Strida Problems”.