Making friends with the “clown bike”

Discovering that the church in Warwick plays a different tune every day, added to the pressure to complete my allocated miles, has meant I’ve been riding the folder rather a lot these past couple of weeks. I’ve done 17 miles on it just since Monday, and I’m starting to get the hang of it. It helps that I’ve now got functioning brakes of course.

I suppose what’s put me off before are two things: the riding position and the steering. There’s not much I can do about position, as I’ve got the longest seatpost anyone makes (400mm) and the handlebars only go forward so far. It’s far from ideal but it works ok for little trips. The geometry of the frame is a lot less relaxed than my other two, which means it feels subtly different to what you’d expect from looking at it. The steering is particularly twitchy, and I’ve really only recently started to get used to it.

The positive quirks of the bike are the acceleration and the cornering. Because the wheels are smaller (much smaller!) there’s less rotational inertia, so in this sense at least it give the feel of fast acceleration. It’s also geared a little lower (easier) than my other three-speed. This is just as well in hills, as it’s quite a heavy bike. The lack of rotational intertia also means it feels like the bike runs out of steam earlier. The cornering is a curious one, I’m not sure if it actually handles well or if it’s a misleading sensation, but I’m a lot happier leaning the bike over in the corners. It just seems to roll into a turn really nicely.

It’s still a daft bike, and I still get funny looks, but it’s serving its purpose and helping me get out and about now the evenings are a little longer. My mileage quotas are really ramping up now (I’m on the steep part of the sine wave) so this little bike’s going to have to continue to make a contribution.


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