You might think of this style of quick, ‘umbrella’ type folder as a fairly recent appearance in the bike world, but the Strida has been around for knocking on 20 years. Mark 1 and 2 versions were criticised for a frame that flexed under pedal pressure and some rather wobbly handling. Mark 3 changes aim to improve these faults and better the ride in other ways too – and they have largely succeeded.
All three ‘members’ of the triangular frame are now made of neat-looking 7000 series aluminium, handily concealing all cable runs, and your pedal power feels like it’s going pretty directly to the wheels. The slightly altered frame geometry helps, putting the rider’s weight towards the back of the machine – I found the more I leant back, the smoother the steering became (while remaining aware that it’s quite easy to wheelie the light front end).
Other improvements include cartridge bearings on the 16-inch (40-305) 65psi Kenda Kwest tyres, a flange on the front chainwheel to stop the chain coming off, and better braking from the one-piece drum brakes.
The original design features are still what capture the imagination though, and make the bike work so well as a very low maintenance, almost ‘instant’ folder. The bottom frame releases at the simple push of a catch so all three members can swing together in the style of a kid’s buggy, with strong magnets keeping the wheels stuck together. The new QR folding handle (an optional extra) will narrow the package still further, though personally I wouldn’t bother folding them unless really necessary, because the brass push studs proved to be the fiddliest bit of an otherwise outstandingly simple fold.
The very unusual Kevlar belt drive works well, with none of that treacle-like pedalling sensation associated with other chain-free designs such as shaft drive, and has a claimed life of 50,000 miles.
The seat, mounted on the rear frame member, can now be altered to three positions which, together with the new stem angle giving more knee clearance, mean a better experience for taller bikers.
The resulting ride is still an acquired skill, but lots of fun once you’ve mastered it.
It nips up to about 12mph where the 56-inch gear runs out of steam, and will also cope with moderate hills, though standing up to pedal is a definite no-no. A three-speed hub gear would be a great upgrade option if this could somehow be incorporated without spoiling the bikes simple looks and design ethic. The current singlespeed version fits the bill for those wanting to combine shorter, gently hilly rides with hopping on and off public transport – an ideal big city bike for certain types of commuter perhaps.
Tough plastic in the wheels (mounted on monoforks), chainwheel and bottom bracket mounting keeps the weight down to 10kg for the basic package – not that you’ll need to carry it around because the folded package is designed to be wheeled. Cords on the end of the handlebars can be used to hold the brake levers on and enable you to lean the bike up.
If you want the most useful version there is a ‘performance kit’ which seems overpriced at £84.95, though it includes practical additions such as folding bars, mudguards and a mini rear rack (most useful in helping to lay the bike on the ground squarely but very little use for carrying any meaningful luggage). Other optional extras include a padded carry bag and lights.