After 23 days of waiting (a story for another day), my new red Strida LT and I embarked on our maiden voyage this past Tuesday - 3 miles (~5km) through the streets of Chicago from the dealer’s storefront in Wicker Park to my home in River North. It was a mostly easy ride down Milwaukee Avenue, the city street most heavily travelled by cyclists. En route, I was asked by a passerby at a stop sign to fold and unfold the Strida so he could record video of it on his cell phone. A similar request (sans video) met me from the loading dock security guard in my building. My first bicycle ride in roughly 30 years was so much fun I followed it an hour later with a 2 mile (~3.5km) ride on the lakefront bicycle path.
LIKES: Did I mention it’s fun? The genius of the single speed in a flat city like Chicago is that you can concentrate on just riding and enjoying your surroundings. The belt drive is silent and the frame doesn’t creak in the slightest under my 230lb (~104kg) weight. The Strida is in my experience the easiest bike to ride slowly while maintaining one’s equilibrium - exactly what I want in the stop-and-go of Chicago traffic. Folded, the Strida is ideally configured for riding the elevator in my building. Stored vertically, it fits neatly between two bookcases in the tiny but book-laden apartment my wife and I share.
DISLIKES: The very first time I activated the safety catch on the left handlebar, the button disappeared into its hole and hasn’t returned. The handlebar is stable when unfolded and the quick release is tightened, but I’d still like to have both safety catches in working order. As my dealer isn’t a bike shop (as usual with Areaware’s dealer network), I’ll be taking my Strida to Rapid Transit Cycle Shop (Chicago’s folding and recumbent bike specialist) to see if they can repair it. The stock saddle brought me discomfort early and often. It’s too narrow for riding in an upright position (for me, anyway).
Inspired by another poster, I replaced the stock saddle this morning with a Specialized Expedition Plus saddle. It was much easier to get the stock saddle off the bike than it was to get the Specialized saddle on. In all, it was a 90-minute job finished only when I recognized that attacking from above, using my (considerable) weight, would be the easiest way to fit the rails onto their mount. However, the results were well worth the effort: My 3-mile (~5km) lakefront ride this afternoon brought none of the saddle soreness that plagued me on Tuesday.
I now fear that my happy, carefree days with the Strida LT are numbered. My wife is making noises about riding and finds the red LT très chic. Meanwhile, my extensive reading here, on Bike Forums, and elsewhere has me dreaming of a single-speed Brompton in British racing green (which is at least thematically coherent, as both the Strida and the Brompton are quirky, British, engineer-designed folding bikes ). A test ride at Rapid Transit (when I get the safety catch fixed) awaits.