At home my bike is in constant use. Sure – a big city like Munich can be explored much better by bike than by car. So why should I change to taking a taxi or public transport while on a trip? A proper bike holiday, however, exclusively by bike is not something I wanna do. I don’t want to give up the freedom to also use a bus, a train or a plane without a hassle. See here what advantages and disadvantages a trip with a folding bike gives you!
The idea with the folding bike
Here I am, sitting one day in the subway station, ‘Giselastraße’ in Munich and wondering about my upcoming trip. Suddenly, a nice young man joins me and folds his bike together.
– Huh? What is he doing? Oh … this is a folding bike.
– Yes …a folding bike. That’s how it is called. Actually it is a Brompton. They are as good a regular bicycles, but they fit into the trunk of a car and also don’t need an extra ticket on the train or subway.
– Really??? Can you travel with it? I mean like long-distance travels … backpacker and stuff?
– Sure, why not!
And so the idea was born. Of course, a whole intensive research has pulled up. But half a year and some test rides later, I’m sitting with a backpack in hand luggage size and a checked-in folding bike (Brompton), on the plane towards the American continent. Here you can read my story.
Folding bike vs. normal bike
I know what you’re thinking: A folding bike could never be as good as a normal bike. But of course it depends on the selected folding bike. Which models there are and why I ride the ‘Mercedes’ among folding bikes – a Brompton, learn it here .
Basically, there are two drawbacks for me compared to a normal bike:
Problem with gears
Having only 6 gears, I do have some problems going up-hill sometimes. But the transitions on my Brompton are really good so that I’ve done almost everything – though sometimes at a snail’s pace. However, thinking about going mountain biking… this is definitely not the case. But slopes on a normal road are never a problem.
Problem with weight
My Brompton, which weighs 14.7 kg including equipment is of course a bit obese compared to any good bike.
Absolute freedom when going around
With my folding bike I can always decide how I want to move around: At the airport instead of a Troley I use my folding bike and shove my backpack through the area. In a city like Mexico City, where there are no-go areas, I simply throw the little one into the trunk of the taxi (better yet Uber) and let them drive me into a safer area. In Lima, I take the bus to a surf destination 200 km away. And my folding bike disappears in the hold.
No separate bike ticket needed, no excess luggage
You don’t need an extra ticket for your bike in German trains or any other public transportation. It doesn’t even has to be folded and travels for free. But here comes the best: When flying, I check my bike just as normal luggage and don’t pay an extra penny. Soon you can read an article about ‘Bike on the plane: How to check in your bike for free’ here .
Traveling with a folding bike vs. traveling with a normal bike
Well, where should I start … Imagine yourself landing in an exotic country, alighting from the aircraft, getting your luggage, and off you go to your accommodation .. by bike. No idea how much taxis cost here. No idea when or where the next bus leaves. It doesn’t matter. In 17 seconds my bike is ready. It takes the same 17 seconds to fold it back again !
Probably some of you are surprised that I only have a backpack in the size of a carry-on baggage next to my bike. That means, you’ll have to pack light. Since I like minimalistic travel and because I mostly travel in summer, I enjoy this ease. However, if you need hiking boots, warm jackets, etc. that could be a challenge to pack lightly.
Even if I am forced to pack in carry-on size, I wouldn’t want to miss the freedom that a folding bike gives me. Within seconds, my luggage turns into my ride. Just as fast it will return to baggage and fits in any car boot. And you’ll never have to pay extra for your ride.
Have fun and keep on riding!