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The New York Times

Physical Culture: Gear Test, Folding Bikes

The New York Times

This new folding bike has "cute" reflective stickers, said Ms. Borgeson, who was "really impressed" over all and liked how she could adjust the handlebars with a quick release.

June 24, 2009

TWO million Americans ride their bikes to work, says Transportation Alternatives, a New York City-based advocate for biking, walking and public transit; bike commuting in New York City grew 35 percent from 2007 to 2008.

And with full-size cycles cumbersome (or forbidden) in apartments, office buildings and subways, folding bikes have become the vehicle of choice for many. "In 2000, people would stare at you on a folding bike," said Hannah Borgeson of Bike New York, which leads the annual Five Boro Bike Tour. "Now, when you’re out riding on the Greenway, practically every third bike is a folding bike."

Today, prices for folding bikes range from about $200 for basic models to more than $1,000 for designs that fold into tiny packages. Gears, brakes and latching mechanisms vary; racks and fenders may be standard or optional but most models now have folding pedals to save more space.

"They’re like children," Ms. Borgeson said of the five folding bikes she tested in Manhattan. "You love them all, but sometimes you love them differently."

CITIZEN BIKE MTA METROBIKE - $299, citizenbike.com. This new folding bike has "cute" reflective stickers, said Ms. Borgeson, who was "really impressed" over all and liked how she could adjust the handlebars with a quick release. "Why doesn’t every folding bike have this?" she asked. The MetroBike has a 6-speed gear system and 20-inch wheels. "I was more aware that I was on a bike with small wheels," she said, "but once I got going, I was fine."

The New York Times Website: see the complete slideshow.

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