Over the years I have been using various foldable bikes to commute and travel in other countries. While I am not a daily bike commuter, I have been in the business of foldable bike design and representing good foldable bike brands in South East Asia for more than 12 years.
When we first started, we got ourselves two cute looking triangular-shaped bikes called Strida from Ming Cycle in Taichung, Taiwan. The FedEx charges cost about the same as the cost of the two bikes.
The Strida foldable bike is a belt-driven foldable bike. No-fuss, no grease and no bike chain to de-grease! It is notably a single speed bike with a new option of a dual speed Strida kitted with a dual-speed drive system.
The Strida is 10kg and can carry weights of up to 100kg and heights of up to 1.8m or so. I used the Strida to cycle to nearby towns such as Hougang, Serangoon and Punggol. It was so fun! I even put it on a bumboat and cycled in Pengerang, Southeast Johor, Malaysia few times to stay overnight at the small town hotel and soak in the pasar malam festivities (night market). We trundled through villages, coconut trees and pebbled roads, clocking 50 to 60 km before reaching a seafood coffeeshop for lunch!
Then I bought a Brompton foldable bike in London two years later, a three-speed model as it was a popular model in London. I rode it in Paris and London and along the River Thames and it was enjoyable. Back in Singapore, I would cycle to the supermarket, get some groceries and cycle back with my bags. I had even cycled back with bags of toilet paper rolls strapped to my Brompton, looking like a bona fide Aunty on wheels!
The Brompton has one, two, three and six-speed models, making it easy to climb slopes and do long distance touring. Now, we even have the option of the B&W travel case to store our Brompton bike for our next overseas bike trip. In the early years, the only option was the Brompton B Bag. Andrew Ritchie, the founder of Brompton Bicycles, just swears by, travelling the world with his Brompton in his scrubby B Bag. He visited us twice in Singapore and always just stored his bicycle in his B bag with zero padding!
I also own two CarryMe foldable bikes myself. One is an old White model from the early years, another is the latest single speed model with improved features.
I cycled with my friends on overseas trips to Penang – with more than 20 CarryMe foldable bikes in tow. We used the CarryMe travel bags which were designed for travel in the early days. In Penang, it was fun to cycle along roads as a group, stopping for food and chendol. We even cycled in the rain which was exhilarating! With our CarryMe bikes, we also took the bus coach to Malacca for a weekend ride. Once, I got chased by wild dogs as I sped on the road, trying not to break away from my buddies. It was harrowing but boy, was it memorable! All for a plate of grilled chicken wings and a cold bowl of ice kacang.
The new CarryMe foldable bicycle I have has the option of a new and sturdier travel case made of ABS/TPU. I put my CarryMe into the travel case within a minute, packed my tools, some clothes and I am ready to travel with my foldable bike!
I have travelled to Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea with my CarryMe in its travel case.
Looking for food on the CarryMe in overseas countries is enjoyable and easy. I can cycle on pavements and sidewalks to get to street food and coffee shops and restaurants.
A new up and coming foldable bike is Iruka, designed by Japanese bike designer Masaki Mark Kobayashi in Tokyo. It is the latest foldable bike I bought when I was bike shopping in Japan!
Iruka comes from “ruka” which means dolphin in Japanese, symbolising freedom, intelligence and agility. Riding Iruka in Tokyo and Singapore, both densely populated urban cities, is a joy and so much fun to have!
I’m definitely very familiar with foldable bikes, having owned more than 5 different types of commuter foldable bikes! When I first set my eyes on the Iruka, I was drawn by the clean lines of the bike design and intrigued by the story told by the designer himself.
Masaki-san was the Chief Financial Officer of Opt Inc, a JASDAQ-listed internet advertising company for many years before. He left it in 2008 to open Iruka Inc to follow his vision of building a foldable bike that he wanted other people to ride it everywhere they went. He told him he called the Iruka a mobile transformer bike.
Masaki-san told me excitedly that Iruka’s 18-inch wheels would propel me 6.9 metres with one single pedal in top gear. He was not wrong. The Iruka was smooth and buttery in my rides, like it was gliding on the road
It’s Shimano Alfine 8 speed hub makes it easier for me to do high-speed cruising or steep climbing. I find that the small rotor disc brake on the Iruka operates efficiently and effectively.
All the foldable bikes that I own – I can fold and roll them. This is one of the criteria I have for a folding bike that I would ride and own. The CarryMe, the Brompton and now the Iruka foldable bike, can fold and roll with such ease that Masaki calls them mobile transformers.
Bring able to travelling with my foldable bikes is also something I really enjoy doing my holidays. I can cycle to more new places to visit new cultures and try new food!
So when you are looking to get a good foldable bike, think of your specific needs first and then shop for a foldable bike that fits your needs and budget.