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Urban Chic - it's Hip to Fold!

Charles Lee - 19th May 2017

Folding bicycles, or simply Foldies, are all the rage nowadays!

Folding bicycles, or simply Foldies, are all the rage nowadays! Since its steady inception into the local market about three to four years ago, more cyclists have taken an interest in riding folding bikes, discarding their prized mountain-climbing rigs and road racing gizmos to make space for the smaller-sized two-wheeler (well, in fact, many sold them away online at a third of their original prices).

 

The proliferation of folding bikes is astounding yet bewildering! 10 years ago, we dare say that you would not be able to find a decent folding bike anywhere in Singapore. Things are different today. These compact, easy-to-fold bicycles occupies every corner of the street. That being said, the popularity of folding bikes actually started way back in the eighties, when folding bike specialists Brompton and Dahon introduced their tiny-footprint models.

 

The modern folding bicycle is a truly versatile rig to own and ride! Want to rub shoulders with the speed-chasing roadies along the Tanah Merah Coast Road? Just slap your foldie with a good pair of road slicks and you are good to go! Thinking of commuting to work on the MRT with your foldie? Just twist and turn and you are ready to roll your two-wheeler into a form that is no bigger than a duffel bike! From well-designed folding mechanisms to lightweight components, every model offers a spectacular mix of style, compactness, folding ease, weight and portability. We call this Chic.

 

In this special issue, we have turned our attention to four particular brands which shaped the definition of the term "Chic". These four bike makers - Java, Vert, BIRDY and Oyama - are considered giants in the foldie community. Although folding bicycles formed the main component in their business equations, the bikes made by them carry a unique style of their own. In so many ways, these brands became the iconic symbols for "Chic".

 

C - Java Bikes are COMPACT

 

Java folding bicycles have been around for as long as we can remember. And indeed, Java produces some of the most good-looking foldies.

 

Versatility and portability are the combined hallmarks of Java Bike's foldie series. Available in 14-, 16- and 20-inch wheel sizes, Java Bikes currently offers six different models that cater broadly to different riding profiles. Even though the geometry and handling of each model is distinctive, the thing that matters to most riders stays the same: Compactness!

 

An all-time Favourite amongst working commuters, every Java foldie can be stowed into a compact form by simply folding the main tube into halves and lowering the stem. Constructed from aluminium 6061 series, the bikes can be carried on board buses and trains without much efforts. For the weight weenies, the 20-inch Java Carbon Air 20S is the ultimate commuting choice, thanks to its lightweight all-carbon body and the Deca Four Bear wheels. The bike tipped the scales at a mere 9.8 kilogram even in stock-part configuration.  

 

Riders who are in search for newer technology will appreciate the 14-inch Java X3. Whilst it may disguised itself as an ordinary folding bicycle, it offers something that an ordinary folding bicycle generally cannot provide: a maintenance-free ride. 

 


 

The Java X3 is a bike that promises to deliver never-ending fun and nothing else, thanks to its signature 3-speed internal gearing system. Despite being on the weightier side, internal gear hubs are better than standard rear derailleurs due to its sealed design. Unlike derailleurs, the components in an internal geared system are kept free from water, dirt and grime. This means that gear shifting will always be smooth. With the ability to withstand impacts from accidental drops and crashes, owners of the Java X3 have little to worry about when it comes to maintenance and repair. 

 


 

Did we mention that the Java X3 weighs only 10.2 kilograms?          

 

H - Vert Bikes are HANDY

 

Folding bicycles from Vert are a distinctive lot. And the reason is simple - each of these bikes is thoughtfully conceived and designed in Singapore by a group of local cyclists. The team behind Vert Bikes is so confident of the products it manufactured that every model comes with a one-year frame warranty.

 

Just like Java foldies, Vert folding bicycles are folded by twisting the centre part of the frame. The neat thing about Vert foldies is that they are awfully light. This makes any Vert model an ideal commuting choice. Another plus point is the ingenious application of detachable rollers that can be used to push the bike around when it is in its compact form. 

 

Available in two colours - red and black - the 20-inch Radical, the latest incarnation from Vert, is a formidable representation of what Vert has to offer. Built with the Shimano Altus 8-speed gear system and hydraulic disc brakes, it is clear to us that the Sub-10 kilogram Vert Radical is not just a handy-mandy bike for the daily commuter. With the donning of cycling apparel, the Vert Radical can transform itself into a decent contender for the weekend enthusiast or the competitive cyclist.

 


 

I - BIRDY Bikes are INNOVATIVE

  

Folding bicycles from BIRDY are interesting rigs that we are not going to miss out! Famed for their highly-innovative folding and unfolding approach, we really adore BIRDY bikes for their lightweight and rigid structure, as well as their consistent appearance. Something that many do not know about BIRDY bikes is that they are the world's first folding bicycles to be designed with front and rear suspensions. 

 

Whilst folding a BIRDY bike can be a little tricky for first-timers, the gradual ease of folding and its on-road and off-road abilities have won our inclination to confer the "I" - which stands for INNOVATIVE - on BIRDY!  

 

Part of Pacific Cycles, the global manufacturer that distributes high-end brands like IF and Reach, BIRDY has seven models that carries the same signature folding design. Regardless of which BIRDY foldie you have chosen, each model is an excellent choice for both performance and leisure uses. There are, however, two particular models that stood out from the fleet - the BIRDY GT 10SP and the BIRDY R 11 SP.  

 

Believe it or not, the 18-inch BIRDY GT 10 SP is a versatile powerhouse for roadies and mountain bikers. Tipping the scales at a low 10.3 kilograms, the BIRDY GT is a considerable opponent of road bikes, thanks to the Schwalbe Black Jack rubbers. Long-distance riders who have a penchant for hilly rides in nearby Bintan will appreciate the BIRDY GT's Sram X5 10-speed system, which offers an exceedingly-decent range of gear shifts to keep the bike's speed in check. Although it cannot undertake big drops, the suspension-enabled BIRDY GT tackles technical ascents and descents fairly well too.

 


 

For riders who have an insatiable taste for high-performance foldies, the BIRDY R 11SP is, perhaps, the one for them.

 

With a monocoque disc-compatible frame, the 10.2-kilogram BIRDY R boasts itself as one of the lightest suspension bikes in the market. Coated with a highly-polished purple hue, the BIRDY R does not compromise on performance. Installed with a pair of Hubsmith high-profile wheels and Schwalbe Kojak road slicks, it can be as fast as you want it to be. The Shimano 105's 11-speed derailleur and shifters are a great boost to the BIRDY R's capability as a do-it-all bike.

 


 

C - Oyama Bikes are CONTEMPORARY

 

Oyama is not a brand that you will associate folding bicycles with. Some may even asked: "What? Oyama?" 

 

The fact is this: Foldies from Oyama are up and rising. In the inner folding bicycle circles, Oyama foldies are rather sought-after, thanks to a fusion of Japanese-inspired and mountaineering designs.

 

Exclusively available from Woop-Plus Pte Ltd, each of the 16 bike models has its own personality and characteristics. From the most basic model such as the Oyama Elite Dolphin M-300 to the Oyama FBI-OX5HD, there is a foldie for everyone.

 

The Oyama FBI-OX5HD is our pick of the day. And we know you will agree with us. Just like the BIRDY foldies, the FBI-OX5HD is a full-suspension folding bicycle. Exuding a modern feel, the FBI-OX5HD is armed with a 10-speed cassette and a triple chainring, effectively making it a very agile climber. The Schwalbe 2-inch tyres on the FBI-OX5HD aren't wafer-thin. With its 20-inch wheel size and mud flaps to keep mud and grime away, riders will find the FBI-OX5HD a delightful ride in the local trails. Of course, the FBI-OX5HD is as fun in the urban environment as it is in the trail, thanks to a folding-unfolding setup that is quite similar to those from Java and Vert.

 


Staying Hip and Chic

 

At prices within reach, augmented with solid components and well-designed frames, the models featured in this issue are likely to create a sleepness dilemma for those who are thinking of upgrading their foldies.

 

But really, no matter which bike you have picked, one thing is for sure: You have selected one of the most chic-looking foldies that the bicycle industry has to offer.

 

Go ahead! Ditch your road or mountain bike!