Commuting, racks, and stranded at a remote air field
July 7th 2018
This weekend takes us to the Arlington Fly-In, an event in northern Washington State heartily recommended by several Flatbike customers. The shared issue is this…. You’ve just flown into a remote airfield, your plane is secured—and now you’re stuck at a remote airfield without a car. Don’t you wish you had a bike?
That’s exactly the situation we tried to model when we arrived. My daughter drove me here with a set of folding full-size bikes and nifty components, and then drove home with the truck. Suddenly, I was at a remote airfield without a car, and my hotel was miles away.
The bike I chose for my commute was the CHANGE 702 commuting bike… with a twist. I also wanted to answer a question that several customers had asked about fitting a rack on the 702. Which racks fit? Do we have any recommendations?
Fitting a rack to the CHANGE 702
The ‘pinch point’ of adding a rack to the CHANGE 702 is the ability to latch the fork to the frame when folded. If the rack gets in the way of the handlebars, the bike will fold, but it won’t latch together.
For this test, we got the widest rear rack we could find. This Topeak rack has a center guard that doubles as a rear fender, a spring-loaded clamp….and at 5.5 inches wide, it’s a steel behemoth.
Remembering that the pinch point is partly driven by the handlebars, we swapped out the relatively long 120mm CHANGE stem with a 65mm Dimension stem.
The result is a load-ready bike that folds and latches just fine, and is adjusted for a more upright ride.
If you prefer a more forward, aerodynamic ride, then keep the initial stem and aim for a narrower rack.
Here’s an extreme example.
Riding to the hotel with a suitcase.
Properly attached, a small suitcase isn’t that different from a loaded pannier—you feel it at first when you get on the bike, but then it blends into the background as you enjoy the ride.
And what a ride there is from the Arlington Municipal Airport to the Smokey Point Motor Inn. Nearly all on trail, the route changes personality along the way.
Yes, we probably could call an Uber and wait for a pickup (since a CHANGE bike will fit in an Uber), but why lose the chance for adventure?
Once at the hotel…well…we’ve covered this before, but it’s still fun to put a CHANGE bike anyplace.
Discoveries at the show.
Unlike a typical bike show, with biking-related gadgets and gizmos galore, any bike-related vendors at this event are here to solve the same problem—getting from the airport to civilization and back.
There are only three bike vendors here, and Flatbike is the only non-e-bike, although I keep hearing about other makers… Dahon from folks looking for larger wheels, and Montague in strange ways. Yesterday, someone asked what I’d give him to trade in two Montague X50s—at first in jest, then seriously, as they folded up too wide and hadn’t been ridden since purchase. Then an ex-Montague dealer went out for a very positive test ride on the CHANGE 612.
The most intriguing bike in the same market area was the Jupiter. This is an e-bike designed entirely around the goal of going from airport/dock to town and back. It has a top speed of 15 miles/hour and a range of 10 miles on flat ground.
The most amazing thing is that the Jupiter folds down to a solid block the size of a stack of three pizza boxes. If you’re just going into town and back, it doesn’t get any more efficient than this.
Batteries lose their charge over time, and I have questions about weight capacity, but it has its place. I found myself simultaneously glad that we’re delivering our part of the airport-to-town solution and impressed at how others are doing it. Three pizza boxes, and they’ve solved the “last mile “problem with a device that goes 10 miles.
Ultimately, that’s what we’re all here to do–to identify obstacles to convenient biking and overcome them. What challenges you?
Bob Forgrave is president of Flatbike, an
ecommerce company offering full-size folding bikes
and kits to make any bike take up half the space.