Thank you Dominic for the review of the Strida EVO and demonstrating how useful the Strida can be as a travel bike for flight attendants and pilots. Dominic Lavoie writes a blog for flight attendants and pilots called Taking Care Of Passengers.
If you have never ridden a Strida, or if you are an experienced Strida Fan I am sure you will enjoy reading Dominic’s first experience with a Strida EVO. Also of interest is that Dominic is almost 6′ 4″ tall, and he lives in Montreal.
TRAVEL GEAR REVIEW
Review of the STRIDA EVO FOLDING BIKE
I’ve had a long-time love affair with bicycles – from my first shiny red BMX with training wheels all the way to my current collection, which includes a rough-and-tumble mountain bike, a hybrid bike, touring/road bike, and an impeccably kept 1970’s three-speed classic city bicycle. On my layovers, I often look for bike rental shops – in my mind, there’s no better way to spend a day away from home than exploring a new destination along bike paths.
I know that many crew members with regular layover destinations keep bicycles at their hotels, ready to use whenever they’re in town. Kudos to the hotels that allow this. But if you’re not holding a schedule that brings you back to the same destination week after week, and there’s no easily accessible (or affordable) bike rental shop nearby, what’s one to do?
I’ve long been curious about the folding bike option; what if I could simply and quickly reduce the bicycle’s size and take it with me whenever I have a bike-friendly layover, ready to use and easy to bring home with me?
As it turns out, it’s feasible, and can actually be a worthwhile endeavor – depending on your individual employer’s tolerance for non-crew luggage coming with you while on duty. I recently had the opportunity to try out the Strida Evo 3 folding bike for several days, and it was an absolutely unique experience. Here’s the rundown.
When you first see a Strida, your reaction is usually a mixture between ”Hey, that’s beautiful art.” and ”Hey, why are there wheels on that large triangle?”. There’s no denying the fact that as far as bicycles go, this thing looks weird. Not unattractive, just weird. Remember the first time you saw a Smart car? Same deal – it’s a significant paradigm shift. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the Strida is featured in a Smithsonian exhibit, and has been featured in the sci-fi series Almost Human.
Same goes when you take it out for a first ride. For the first few minutes, I felt like a bear on a unicycle. I was wobbly, insecure, and convinced I was about to plummet face forward into a manhole. But after a few minutes of awkward pedaling, with occasional flashbacks of my first-ever graceless bike ride as a kid, something happened in my brain, and I got it. Reality shifted, I stopped thinking of this bike as another one of my regular bikes, and I adjusted my way of thinking, and moving. And simultaneously, it became fun. Like, really fun.
On a Strida, you’re sitting straight up, and the distance between wheels is considerably shorter than on a regular bike, so it feels wobbly at first. But then the wobbliness turns into extreme maneuverability, a big part of my enjoyment of the ride. The other part is how smooth it rides once you get a hang of it, and how many people stare at you, bemused, as you ride by them on what appears to be an impossible means of transportation. Gobs of people stopped to ask me about the bike, so if you’re in the market for an icebreaker, this may be what you’re looking for. Riding it on a bike path is an experience not too dissimilar to driving a classic car downtown – it’s a tiny bit more challenging than a standard vehicle, but you feel pretty darn special as you peacock through town. Some people will think you’re a weirdo, but many others will think you’re cool, or beyond trendy.
The model I was loaned by Bill Wilby, Strida’s friendly Canadian representative, was the Evo 3, in gleaming white, with 18-inch wheels (you can opt for 16 inches also) and a three-speed internal hub, which you shift by backpedaling about half a turn. The Evo has a nice small bike rack underneath the seat, a merry little bell, and a nifty kevlar belt, meaning maintenance is minimal, and you don’t get gear oil rubbing into your pants while riding.
The Strida is ingenious – the bike can be folded along its height in a few seconds, transforming it into what looks like a unicycle, which you can then wheel beside you when walking in train stations or airports. Folded up it’s incredibly easy to store, or hide in an office or underneath a row of bus seats. While I did get pinched fingers a couple of times when trying to match the 6-second speed fold I witnessed on some Youtube videos, it’s still a very easy mechanism to understand. I did find it easier to walk it when it was unfolded, holding it by the stem, with folded handlebars and pedals rather than fully folded up, which requires some effort to maneuver.
I rode the bike uphill, downhill, on bike paths and on city streets – no complaints. And I’m almost 6 foot 4; I was surprisingly comfortable on the Strida (the seat height is extremely adjustable, and can accommodate somebody as short as 4’9”). You may not be quite as fast as some of the other riders on full-sized bikes given the smaller wheels, but keeping a fair speed was never difficult. I averaged around 18-20km/hr, without counting the number of times I stopped to answer questions.
I also took the bike with me on a business trip, by air. I’d been provided with a flexible bag that keeps the bike, folded up, while still allowing the wheels to roll with you for ease of transport, which was much appreciated, as the model I was riding weighed about 30 pounds. I had no intention of checking the bike – if I had, I would have opted for the padded bag to avoid damaging the Strida. Although I received some friendly inquiries at security, they allowed it through with no problems. I’d expected some issues during boarding, and had prepared some adequate excuses, but as it turns out I knew the agents and crew working the flight, and was allowed to check it at the gate.
Now the reality check. If you’re on duty, and you’re confident that you can bring the bike with you onboard, in a closet or other large area, and your employers don’t mind you bringing this along with you at work, then you may be in for some pretty exciting layovers ahead. If I were to buy the Strida with this purpose in mind, I would possibly opt for the single-speed rather than the three speed, to reduce the weight of the bike from 13kg to 10kg. You could also go for smaller wheels to reduce the weight a bit more, especially if you’re under 5’10. I’m not saying that it’ll be a walk in the park to bring this with you everywhere, but if you’re a dedicated layover cyclist, this may be your dream come true, and it may be worth your time and efforts.
This would also be a great purchase if you’re planning a long trip (as we are wont to do) and would use a bike with you along the way. Having done many multi-week backpacking trips, I would have loved to have this bike on several of my jaunts. The Strida would also be extremely appreciated by city-dwellers with small living spaces, or somebody who commutes to work (flight attendants not-included, the luggage rack is too small for our luggage!) using public transit. Bonus: you probably will never have to lock the bike outdoors, which eliminates the chance of theft!
The prices for Strida models vary considerably depending on options – the model I tested retails for $1,295.00, but the least expensive model, the single-speed Strida Lt, goes for $695.00.
For more information, contact Bill Wilby at Strida Canada West at 250-584-4231, or visit his website below:
And if you’d like to read another user review including a video of the folding process, check out the link below: