This is the new bike in my stable, the Giant Halfway folding bicycle. I'd long wanted--but didn't need--a folding bicycle. Many of my friends had them, and they're just very practical and fun. After test riding a few folding bikes from different makers, I bought this Giant Halfway a week ago at Pacific Bicycles in San Francisco, using my San Francisco Bicycle Coalition membership to save an additional 10 percent. (Yes, membership pays for itself.)
What finally prompted my purchase of a folder? Short answer: higher gas prices. As most conscious bicycle commuters understand, recent increases in gas prices have caused many motorists to reexamine their standard commute mode. Many drivers are flocking to bike shops and emerging as bicycle commuters, and many are also fleeing to transit. Which means increasingly crowded transit systems, and growing competition by multimodal bike commuters for space on buses and trains. As many bike commuters who rely on Caltrain in the Bay Area will tell you, overcrowded transit can mean bicyclists waiting for later trains or buses.
A folding bike avoids this challenge. Nearly all transit systems in the U.S. allow folded bikes onboard, even during peak rush hour periods. My present commute--between home in Sacramento and office at UC Davis 17 miles away--is made with a combination of bicycling and transit. I usually board with my bike on the Amtrak Capitol Corridor, but I also occasionally use the UC Davis shuttle bus or Yolobus. (Most days I use transit for morning commute, and bicycle the entire distance home.) All these transit services have been much--much!--more crowded, and I have been anxious about getting stranded or delayed by a lack of bike capacity. Hence the Giant Halfway acquisition.
Of all the folding bikes available, what was appealing about this bike? First, the Giant Halfway is relatively affordable, sold at an attractive price point. Depending on your needs, it might work for your budget. Second, it is relatively quick to fold. Many folders, such as some models of the Bike Friday line--are really travel bikes--offering great ride quality but requiring more time to collapse; suitable for a trip to Europe or elsewhere, but maybe not the best option for quick folding as you rush to your bus or train.
This Giant Halfway is affordable and quick folding. It is also very smartly designed. The geometry is great; meaning the ride quality doesn't feel cramped, "squirrelly," or uncomfortable. The single front fork (above) facilitates quick folding, and also easy repairs of flats. You don't need to remove the entire wheel, just the inntertube.
The Giant Halfway also offers great features, such as fenders, kickstand, and a rear rack. The designers even created a special mount (above) for the fenders and kickstand, showing the Halfway's intended purpose as a practical commuter. It's a smartly designed bicycle.
Again, there are many great folding bicycles on the market today, another sign that the bicycle industry is moving to better serve the commuter market. Great folders include the Breezer Zigzag, the Brompton, and the KHS Mocha/Latte. If you are a multimodal bicycle commuter fearful of rapid crowding on transit systems, or live in a small apartment, or lack secure bike parking and need to bring your bike into your office/workplace--you might want to consider a folding bike.
Any other suggestions you might share? Your experiences with folding bikes?
Images: Paul Dorn.
Visit: Folding bikes win new fans on region's packed buses, Arizona Republic
Visit: The Best of the Best: Folding Bikes, ecogeek
Visit: The Folding Bike Solution, Transportation Alternatives
Visit: The Folding Cyclist
Visit: Folding bikes for crowded transit, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site