Folding bikes? Unravelling more like...

By Rob Spedding | Monday, September 29, 2008 10.19am

It was Helen's idea. She'd seen a folding bike down in the garage here at CPlus Towers. Bored of walking into work after dropping our daughter off at nursery, Mrs Spedding thought that a folder would be the perfect solution...

And yes, I know, we should put Spedding junior in a trailer/on a bike seat and ride all the way but, well, you know....

Anyway back to the folder...I'll admit I've never really fancied folding bikes  - and I know there'll be plenty of you who are of the same small-minded, small wheel-phobic mindset - but the latest models look kind of nice, and they have plenty of gears for the hills around Bath, and they'll fit in a small hatchback. So, Helen starts using said folding bike. After a short lesson on the folding technique from workshop manager George, she gets to grips with the art of bicycle origami very quickly. Soon, she's raving about the convenience of a bike you bend. I'm almost convinced.

So, yesterday, I'm on daycare duty and take the folder. It's incredibly simple to unfold - a catch here, a catch there and it's ready in just a few seconds. As rides go? Well, I won't be taking a small wheeled commuting bike any further than a couple of miles, but it's more than fit for purpose. Sweet. That was the morning.

In the evening it went bad. 25 minutes after arriving at the car, the nice couple at number 7 were quite obviously enjoying the show. The shouting man had thrown off his coat and chucked his helmet at a tree and now he seemed to be dancing around the small, decidely unfolded bike while swearing. Very. Loudly. Mr number 7 came out. "Lost the instructions?" Erm, yeah. It's harder than it looks. "If you want to leave it in my garage you can." Oh, thanks. No, I'll ring my wife. She knows how it works. 

Defeated I simply rmoved the saddle, vaguely folded the front wheel, put the back-seats down, chucked folder into the car and drove off, tail between legs. Once safely home, I clicked on the manufacturer's website, ready to send a letter of complaint outlining the many shortcomings of its machine. First, though, I checked out the PDF instructions on the website. And followed them. And it took all of one minute to fold the thing. The moral of the story? Read the instructions. Oh, and I am quite probably an idiot.

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