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Autore Topic: ENG - Folding bikes are just the ticket for space-conscious cyclists  (Letto 2517 volte)

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Offline NessunConfine

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Direttamente dagli Emirati

Even before The Jetsons planted the concept of a futuristic folding car that could be stored away under the work desk in our collective conscience, there were vehicle manufacturers applying the same mechanics to a more modest mode of transport.

The folding bicycle is often thought of as a modern invention, but they go back to the 19th century, when blueprints for the first portable versions were drawn up. The high price point has kept these nifty two-wheelers off the cycle track for years, but a recent surge in popularity worldwide has been fuelled by an increasingly cramped urban lifestyle. One of world’s leading manufacturers of folding bikes, the UK-based Brompton, produces 50,000 each year and is set to double the size of its factory to meet global demand by 2021. The company this year noted a strong demand for them in Asia and the United States.

With a resurgence of cycling for recreation and for commuting in the Emirates, more residents are seeing the value in investing in folding bikes to adapt to space constraints.

Abu Dhabi-resident Vijay Cowlagi replaced his conventional bicycle with a folding bike when he moved to a single-bedroom apartment with his wife seven years ago.

“We bought the bikes when not many people were aware of such bikes,” says the 39-year-old project manager who has a Galaxy folding bike, which is produced in Thailand. At the time the bikes were only being sold at Dragon Mart in Dubai.

“These bikes work in the city where space is an issue. We were in a one-bedroom apartment, so space was always limited at home,” he says.

“Also, parking a conventional bike is difficult. If you park them below the building they can get stolen or misused. The folding bike fits perfectly in the boot of the sedan.”

Cowlagi, who works in the oil and gas industry, uses it on work sites, as well.

“I have a job where we can’t take our cars to the main sites of the power plants, so I park my car at the main entrance and ­cycle,” he says.

People always enquire about the bike when he unfolds it during his rides along the Corniche.

“People are only now warming up to the idea of a folding bike and I’ve seen a lot more ­residents riding them in Abu Dhabi.”

To garner interest in folding bikes, Dubai-resident Moises Dacuycuy started the Folding Bike Society UAE Facebook page in 2011, when he purchased his first one, a handmade ­Brompton.

“I’ve had this for five years,” says the 42-year-old businessman, who had to import directly from the UK because there ­weren’t any distributors in the UAE back then.

“When I started the community, none of the shops were selling these bikes and we were ordering them online,” he says. “Now most shops stock them because the bikes are gaining popularity.”

Dacuycuy, who often rides at the Nad Al Sheba Cycle Park after hours, says it’s hassle-free for busy people on the go. He has two Bromptons stashed away in the back seat of his Jeep.

“You don’t even have to wear cycling gear, just a helmet is enough,” he says.

Anthony Bonzon, who works at Beyond A Bike shop in Dubai, says he carries the folding bike with him in the metro. “These bikes become so compact that you can put them away in the luggage compartment of public transport,” says the Sharjah resident. “A lot of them turn into trolleys so you can roll them around with your laptop bag on it. They are pretty light.”

Beyond A Bike is the exclusive distributor of Brompton and Tern folding bikes in the region. Other folding bikes that can be purchased in the UAE include Birdy, Dahon and Strida. Some bikes require only two folds to pack away.

Art director Bong Micu is a folding bikes enthusiast and says they are addictive. He has three different models: a customised Mini, a Brompton and a Strida.

“Either you want to buy several or you want to upgrade them,” he says. Micu says an improvement in technology and compactness has made these bikes a front runner in the consumer market.

“The components used are quite superior. The same material that is being used for road and racing bikes are now being fitted into folding bikes,” he says.

“We have more gear options and high-end tyre companies like Schwalbe are making 16-, 18- and 20-inch tyres for folding bikes, too.”

He says one of the biggest advancements has been the weight. “They are getting lighter with more lightweight and stronger material like titanium and carbon-fibre.”

Hummingbird, a new folding bike company from the UK, has started taking orders for the world’s lightest folding bike at 6.5kg, after successfully concluding a Kickstarter campaign this month.

Micu says a basic folding bike can be made lighter by swapping out bigger wheels and can be upgraded by adding a suspension fork, leather saddles and custom wood fenders.

Bike manufacturers have also created electric versions of the folding bike, although they are heavier.

Dacuycuy says a casual cyclist is often put off by the price of folding bikes, but they are sturdy investments that last for years when well-maintained. Prices for folding bikes begin at Dh1,000, which can be found at Dragon Mart, and go up to Dh25,000 for options made of carbon fibre.

“They are all good bikes. The price difference generally indicates innovative design and how lightweight they are.”


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« Ultima modifica: Gennaio 22, 2016, 01:52:48 pm by NessunConfine »
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