Sunday, May 6, 2012
Review: A-bike Chinese Replica
At 6.88kg it's probably one of the lightest folding bikes around, if you think this is considered a bike at all. I mean, look at it. While I was commuting to my uncle's place, a kid commented to his mum,
"What is that? A scooter or a bicycle?"
Than it hit me, it was a scooter with pedals and a seat.
When I bought it off a Togoparts seller for $100, I rode it from his place to a coffee shop, folded it, had my lunch than off I go to the MRT, an interesting experience as you find out what it is like to bring your bike on the train. Unfortunately things became clear that carrying the bike was a pain! Even at 6.88kg! I can't imagine carrying the mainstream brands like Dahon/Tern folding bike at 10kg around...
Wheeling the bike while it was completely folded was tiring as I could not stand straight and had to bend down to reach the stem. Although there is an option to half fold it and wheel it, unfortunately it then falls outside the restrictions of the dimension allowed for a folding bicycle to be brought on board!
First impressions was immediately that the bottom of the seat post connecting to the "A" frame was too flimsy, thus resulting in a lot of flex when you ride. I weigh less than 50kg and to experience that kind of flex just puts a lot of doubt as to what this bike can handle. It's like riding your bicycle with the seat clamp at full release! Try it! The seat just twists and turns at every pedal stroke.
Talking about pedal stroke the tiny cranks of the bike meant again huge flex. And to move off, you got to mash on the pedals pretty hard... It's like running at 53-11 (front-rear chain ring teeth numbers, aka the highest gear on your bicycle), than when you get it up the speed you realize you are riding at a really slow speed.... Slight inclines (even those wheelchair friendly) turn into that time when you first attempted riding up Mount Faber.... You put so much effort to go slow! I eventually learned that to start off, pushing off, like a scooter is much easier than pedaling.
The ride itself it actually quite comfortable, despite it's tiny plastic wheels, probably got to do with it's flexy frame. It's short wheelbase makes riding in tight spaces, a little hair raising... I mean in a wide pavement I couldn't keep the bike in a straight line! I had to ride pass pedestrians with caution. Which is when I discovered it had a built in bell! That was cool!
I don't know if the original Sinclair A-bike has these problems but I would think it has, albeit a bit less severe.
Foldable and small
Too much flex in frame and crank arm
High gearing, slow speed
Twitchy steering (I suppose you might get used it)
Awkward wheeling position when folded
Verdict: I could skip it. If you can get pass the cons, or if you have a really short commute, I guess it would be fine. But I guess as a cycling enthusiast I was expecting more than I paid for.