Testing the new Strida Evo 3-speed

strida on street
CC BY 2.0 Lloyd Alter

In 2008 I first rode my Strida folding bike down to Toronto's Island Airport, folded it up and flew with it to New York City. It became my standard way to travel. Back home, I would check my bike like people do strollers instead of leaving it outside. Then the problems began about two years ago, and I couldn't get service or parts. The people I bought it from stopped selling it because they were having the same problems. When someone tweeted me a few weeks ago to ask about it, I tweeted back that I couldn't recommend a Strida right now.

© Mark Sanders with the first Strida in 1985

Little did I know that the Strida's inventor, Mark Sanders, followed me on twitter. Within minutes I was contacted by Bill Wilby of Strida Canada West, who told me that there was a whole new Strida out there. He and Mark wanted me to see that both the bike and the backup were fixed, and shipped me out a Strida Evo 3-speed bike to review.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

I thought I wouldn't have much trouble assembling the Strida, owning one already. However they have changed the seat design, figuring out how to make it adjustable. In the older bikes, this was not easy at all; now you can do it in a minute or two by undoing the clamps and pressing that red button. This is a great improvement, but I needed to look at the instructions. These are supplied in six languages on a CD, but CD players are not in every computer anymore and I couldn't find it online. Once I borrowed a computer with a CD drive I was able to assemble the clever new mechanism. Everything else is assembled and ready to go out of the box. Beside the seat, a lot of things have changed.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Those two little brass buttons on the handlebars are new; my old bike didn't have them, it just had a pin. As things wore down, the handlebar wouldn't stay in place.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Now, you undo the clamp and press those two buttons and the handlebars fold down nicely.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Then there are the gears, built into the crankset. You change gears by a bit of a backpedal and I found they worked perfectly every time. I wasn't at all convinced that gears were a good idea; on my old one-speed I had no trouble getting up the few hills I have to deal with in Toronto. It turns out my one speed was this bike's low speed; where before I described the Strida as having a stately urban pace, now I can actually make the thing move. The gears are very nice to have.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

The Strida remains a different riding experience, described by many as "twitchy". I like the small wheels and the incredible maneuverablility; Bill Wilby tells me that the 18" version rides more like a conventional bike. I like how light it is, how easy it is to fold. I even still like all the attention it gets and having to demonstrate how it works all the time. It is also the perfect multi-modal bike; it is easy to roll through a train station while folded, and fits under most subway car seats, at least in Toronto and New York. Just don't fly Air Canada with it.

The LT model starts at C$ 695 from Strida Canada West, or $US 650. It's worth it.

And here is me demonstrating how you fold and unfold a Strida in 5 or 6 seconds.

Tags: Bikes | Biking

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