Bigger wheels mean more stability and regular-bike feel, but it comes at a price.
When we talk about Tern, it is usually about their e-bikes. But while looking into their new HSD, I came across the BYB, a very interesting folding bike, developed for the multi-modal market. Josh Hon, Tern Team Captain, explains:
"Some people might find it a bit surprising that we're launching a non-electric bike since the trend is going to electric," continued Hon. "But we see micro-mobility as a continuum of different types of trips and different sorts of mobility options. An ebike lets you do the entire trip by bike and skip cars and public transport. But for many people, public transport is still the fastest and most cost-efficient option, and all they need is a last mile mobility device to get them to and from the station. Others might work in a city center that is car-restricted. For such short trips, people don't need electric—they need a mobility device that packs small and isn't a hassle to move and store. Hence the BYB."
This bike addresses a lot of the problems that people who have folding bikes will recognize. It has 20 inch wheels, which is larger than those on a lot of folders, including Bromptons or my Strida. In fact, they are the same size as the wheels on the GSD or HSD e-bikes. It folds up to be 30 percent smaller than Tern's other 20 inch folding bikes (but still bigger than a Brompton) because of the clever double-folding mechanism. Why the bigger wheels?
"Some argued for using a smaller wheel which of course results in a smaller folded package. But smaller wheels come with a compromise in ride quality. In the end, ride quality won out because if we and our customers are going to be on a bike, putting in miles day in and day out, it has to ride well."
The video shows some of the real benefits of a folding bike besides the ability to take it on trains. Our tourist is checking it like a bag, keeping it at her side in restaurants, carrying it up escalators, and then parking it on her tiny houseboat.
She has a tendency to leave it unlocked for the minute she takes a photo, which I would not recommend in London, but other than that this is a great representation of life with a folding bike.
There are some really nice touches for the multi-modal traveler. For instance, there are spinner wheels on the back (like on a Brompton) "Wheeling the folded BYB on crowded subway platforms or rolling it into an elevator— all while holding a cup of coffee in the other hand—works just like trolleying a suitcase."
They even sell a PopCover to put over it. Back when TreeHugger's owners had offices in New York City, Founder Graham Hill was told he couldn't bring his Strida on the elevators. But they would have had a harder time arguing about the BYB in its cover, this should be able to go anywhere.
And then there is this terrific AirPorter Slim suitcase. Years ago I was flying to Boston with my Strida in its case, and was charged a lot of money because "it's a bicycle." I argued that it was in fact a suitcase, and fought it right up the line to the air transport regulator, where I lost. With this, there is no question; it's a suitcase. It won't go in an overhead bin, but it should go on the plane without a fight or a lawsuit.
With the BYB, a whole new world of flying with your bike becomes possible (and easy). The bike folds and fits into its own specially-designed hard-shell suitcase, the AirPorter Slim. Sixty seconds and your bike is packed and protected for your next flight—no tools or disassembly required.
Going Multi-modal dramatically increases your range, and folding bikes make it easier; we once showed a photo of 42 folded Bromptons fitting into one car parking space, it's so much more efficient. For commuters, a folding bike makes a great deal of sense.
We also talk a lot about the last-mile problem, but any bike can handle a mile. This is a serious bike that costs serious bucks, with the BYB P8 starting at $1295, and BYB S11 at $2495. But if it is built like the other Terns I have seen, it will be a solid, long-lasting machine. The more expensive model has 11 speeds and higher-end parts that make it four pounds lighter. Reviewer Riley Missel at Bicycling magazine says "The BYB is definitely the heartiest folding bike I've ever ridden. There's an overriding sensation of stability I've not found in other folding bikes, and the ride feels more like a non-folding bike."
Team Captain Hon says "we're excited because new folding bike paradigms only come along every few decades or so, and we think the BYB falls into that milestone category." I am not yet convinced about that, but it looks like a nice bike, a folder with the rigidity and ride of a regular bike.
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