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Foldable «Universo» bike
Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 06/06/2009 - 21:40
Today I went to the La Merced area to finally buy a foldable bike. There were basically four options: Benotto's 20" Utopia, Alubike 16" Foldingbike, Alubike 24" and a custom-made bike at a smaller store, Bici Universo. In Mexico it is also possible to buy a Brompton, although they are not available in larger stores and their pricing is prohibitive. Sergio Mendoza advised me to look for the Dahon bikes at Benotto, but they have discontinued them in favor of their own making.
I ended up buying the Bici Universo one. I must say this: I sincerely hope not to regret this option — I got this bike because neither of the other ones satisfied me, and this one was at about two thirds the price (MX$1800, plus some extras I requested, MX$2100 — That means, US$187 or €113).
First of all, after thinking about it for a while, I decided I didn't want a larger, more normal wheel — The Alubike 24 (which I'd have to build shopping piece by piece, as they had only the frame for sale — Would be a good ocassion to learn more about the whole process!) is basically a great regular bike you can put in a regular car trunk, but is still too large for taking it into public transport or lugging along when travelling, by bus or by plane. Besides, the handlebar1 is not foldable. So it is basically as portable as this venerable Compaq.
The Benotto's manubrium does fold, but the bike does not hold itself together when folded, it is not stable. You have to explicitly keep it folded. Not exactly comfortable.
I had tested the smaller Alubike at another bike store closer to my home. It feels a bit freer than the Universo one (I'll get to it soon), but still feels a bit kludgy... And at a price about MX$1000 higher, I decided against it.
Now, why am I wary with the Universo? Because after all... It is just a bike for kids age 4-7 and 7-12 (?) cut in half, and with a hinge soldered on:
It is also a heavy bike (I have not weighed it yet, but comparative guesstimates puts it over the Alubikes), so it might be problematic when travelling... I'll see when in Nicaragua in a couple of weeks ;-) I have yet a couple of adjustments to make to it, but I am very looking forward to travelling with my bike on. I hope it turns out to be comfortable.
And in any case, I can —of course!— donate it to my nephews... who are in the right age group.
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