Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Foldable Bicycle and Public Transport

First, watch this video made by Jurong Secondary School. I don't know why they did this, and knowing the Singaporean education system, they can't be doing this for nothing. There's probably a grade involved, or CCA points. Whatever it is, it is well thought of and makes a lot of sense. It's excellent!

Should a foldable bike, therefore, be the ultimate tool for bike commuting in Singapore?

Yes. Absolutely. I have a foldable bicycle - a Dahon Speed D7. It's an absolutely amazing bicycle, with quite a hefty price tag. For what it's worth, however, it is worth it. Let's not digress, however, since the article is not gonna be on how wonderful my Speed is, but how useful a foldable bicycle - no matter if it's an $180 Aleoca or a $3,000 Brompton. It makes no difference - both fold to different degrees, but because of its ability to fold, it makes it totally distinct in a commuter's arsenal of wheels.

The distinct difference between a foldable bike and a rigid bike is that it can fold. The ability to fold makes it so much more versatile. It can save you. Let me elaborate.

Did you notice the weather these days? It's December. Monsoon season. Rubbish weather. The worst thing that can happen to a bike commuter is to be caught unprepared for rain. Especially if you commute in your work clothes. That could ruin your whole day with a cold. The thing is, though, if you rode a hybrid/MTB/road bike, you just gotta bite the bullet and ride on. It's business as usual, but with rain - which is like business with a recession. Don't get caught in one, at least be prepared with rain gear. With a foldable bike, however, you can be a bit slack with your preparations, or more euphemistically, "travel light". If the cold wind blows, if it thunders and if you see cats and dogs in front of you, you always have to option to keep work and take a taxi/bus/the train instead.

Terrible things happen at unopportune times, as proven above - don't we all know that as bike commuters. Ever had a flat that happened at the worst possible time? While I'd argue that there never is a 'best' possible time to get a flat, but it does happen, and nobody ever factors in the time to fix the tyre. In fact, often, I bet, few bike commuters carry a repair kit around. Repairing your bike on the road can be sibeh leceh too. That's where the fold comes in. Take a taxi to the nearest repair shop or just rush straigh to work. Simple.

Did I mention that work can be excruciatingly tiring? We live in Singapore - this isn't Australia or Canada where some of my friends are PRs and tout to me the good, relaxed life they have. Often I finish work totally depleted, and sometimes, I really don't feel like bike commuting. It's very, very difficult to start commuting when you are so freaking tired. You just want to go home and crash. So what do you do? Call a taxi, take public transport, call your wife, etc. Note well, however, that often it's easy to overcome the lack of desire to bike commute when you are on the bike. The hardest part often is starting the ride. The brain just screams "NO, FOOL, NO!". It quells itself once the heart starts pumping.

To summarise: what a foldable bike gives the bike commuter is choices. Choices to make his life better and simpler. Sure, a road bike will get you there faster - my road bike gets me to work around 20 minutes faster - but it does not have its versatility of the foldable bike. If I feel tired after work, it makes my life easier. If the shit hits the fence in the midst of commuting, I have an emergency exit provided by the folding mechanism of the bike.

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