AOPA Pilot Magazine - July 2013 - 38
All buckle under the pressure
B Y I A N J. T W O M B LY
THE SETUP WAS SIMPLE. Grab four bicycle riders from AOPA
headquarters, get four folding bicycles, and put each through a
series of tests with no prior instruction to the participants. Then
sit back and watch the fun.
Through a little cunning research and a little luck, we stumbled upon four unique models—the Strida, Montague X50,
Raleigh Folding i8, and Columba 2P26S. The truth is you could
pick any four models and pit them against each other and get
different results. There are more than 100 folding bike manufacturers in the world, so you have to start somewhere.
The STRIDA is the most unusual bike of the bunch. It features
a triangle frame, which is odd when you see it set up. But fold it
down and the genius becomes readily apparent. The Strida folds
pretty much flat, allowing it to be easily stored and shoved into
almost anything. It’s also belt-driven, which means no grease
inside the airplane. There are lots of cool features, such as the
ability to roll it almost like a walking stick with wheels when
folded. To store it, simply grab the brake and attach the little
cord that hangs from the handlebar. Simple and brilliant. It’s also
light, and folds and unfolds faster than any of the competitors.
Riding it is a different story. Pilots will instantly recognize the
38 | AOPA PILOT July 2013
inherent instability because of the high center of gravity. Taller
riders will find it more comfortable. And while it does take some
getting used to, once you get the hang of it the ride is enjoyable.
Moving up the tire-size scale is the RALEIGH FOLDING I8. Our
riding group loved the Raleigh, as did the throngs of people who
tried it around the office. To a person, all commented on the high
build quality, great components, and nice ride. The Raleigh also
has a nice folding mechanism. The seat, handlebar, frame, and
pedals all fold down to make a compact package. All this takes
about a minute, and it’s so well built that the folding process is
pretty much effortless once you figure it out. The 20-inch tires
are a nice compromise between full-size road bike and urban
cruiser. Of all the bikes in our test, the Raleigh is probably the
nicest and best all-around performer.
Of the two full-size bicycles we tried, the COLUMBA 2P26S
was the runaway favorite. This late entrant to our test is a bit
of an unknown, and came to us through a staff member who
had purchased it for personal use. With full 26-inch tires, a nice
ride, decent components, a kickstand, and an acceptable folding
mechanism, the Columba is a good choice.
When you consider the price, however, it’s a winner. For less