An update on the CHANGE Century
September 21st 2019
The CHANGE Century is designed as a true road bike, suitable for fast and easy 100-mile rides, yet convenient enough to fold into a car trunk for transportation. The prototype was first shown at Bike Expo NY in May 2019, and test-ridden in the Five Boro Tour the next day.
This article provides an update on developments since then, including size-testing, component selection, final specifications, and timing of planned availability.
The sizing challenge
There is a good reason for the scarcity of folding road bikes; during folding, drop bars can easily become entangled with the rear wheel. Even if that problem is solved through creative engineering with one size of frame, it can still reappear with other frame sizes. So it’s no wonder that anyone trying to design a folding road bike simply takes the easy shortcut of just combining the drop bars with tiny wheels that don’t get in the way.
At Flatbike, we refuse to make that compromise. The bike would have drop bars and standard 700C wheels, yet need to fold in half at all frame sizes. Between largest and smallest frames, that’s a 10 cm difference in head tube length alone–quite a challenge when trying to fit a drop bar!
When folded, the large size of the CHANGE Century is 35 inches wide and 33 inches tall.
With a four-inch difference in frame head-tube sizes, it was essential that we also mocked up a CHANGE Century on the smallest frame size (18″, suitable for riders 4’11” to 5’3″).
Ignore the portion of the fork steerer tube sticking up here on the small frame; since this is not yet the right fork, we did not cut it down to size. Instead, this photo is to show what makes the bar-wheel fit possible, in all sizes of frames. The Revelo THINstem, which uses a cam lever to fold your bars 90 degrees, is more than an interesting add-on; it is a component essential to the folding process, providing the flexibility to maneuver the bars around a fixed wheel.
Components selected for the CHANGE Century
By far, the biggest challenge has been the fork. The original prototype had a steel fork that rode well–but the frame manufacturer went a different direction, to an aluminum fork, and we did not follow, opting instead for an ISO-4210-tested, one-piece monocoque carbon fork. All we needed to do was find one that met that high a quality bar.
We were particularly impressed at how it was tested. We want impact-testing to happen successfully here before any Flatbike customers hit a speed bump or curb at high speed.
From there, other selections were easy. The CHANGE Century will have Shimano RS wheels with Continental Gatorskin tires to add some flat-resistance.
The entire groupset (derailleurs, shifters, crank) is Shimano 105, with second-generation pop-off pedals.
On the back, we opted for an 11-34 cassette–wide enough range for high road speeds and some ability to conquer hills.
With the seat, we opted for narrow yet comfortable, combined with an Opera carbon seat post.
The handlebars are FMF Sport Aerobars, not as much for the aerodynamic quality as for the ergonomic quality of a widened palm area on a long ride.
And then everything gets finished off with Salsa blue gel cork tape to match the blue seat.
Putting it all together.
That’s a lot of pictures, so here’s the spec list in a quickly consumable format.
For sizing, we have…
On specs alone, that’s a sweet road bike…and it folds down for car or boat travel, as well as urban storage inside and out of the weather. Anticipated cost is $1,780, with free shipping as always in the US and Canada. Colors will be black and white.
So when will it be available?
We expect to be able to build this for sale starting at the end of October. That’s a while since we first introduced the CHANGE Century concept in May, but we still have one more slow step for a proper roll out. We want to limit the first batch to just five bikes, at an early adopter price of $1,480, to get valuable feedback on how well it meets your needs–not just whether I enjoy riding my prototype!
In exchange for a $300 discount, we’re asking for CHANGE Century early adopters to share their experiences, verbally and in pictures, to both validate/improve the bike and provide guidance to other potential buyers. Who is this right for and who needs a different feature set?
If you are interested in CHANGE Century progress, make sure to sign up for the monthly Flatbike newsletter. And if you are interested in being one of our five CHANGE Century early adopters, contact me personally, so we can have a bike built for your size.
Happy riding, and thanks for your patience!