The Ideal (IF) Mode of Transportation

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Can a work of art also be a practical mode of transportation? Can a vehicle that prompts an onslaught of questions from admiring children and astounded adults alike be a utilitarian, even integral aspect of a city-dweller’s daily life? After spending a weekend getting to know Pacific Cycles’ gorgeous IF Mode folding bike, my answer is a definitive yes.

Now, I have a unique perspective on this already highly unique bicycle. A newcomer to New York City, I have been learning my way around the subway system for the past month. Simultaneously, I have been hopping on bikes of all kinds for short jaunts between apartments in Queens, cafes in Brooklyn, and storefronts in Manhattan. While the IF Mode’s smooth, futuristic lines turned heads everywhere I took it, the bike’s true beauty can be found in how seamlessly it bridges underground and overland transportation.

Because of its ingenious design, the IF Mode not only folds to perhaps half its fully unfurled size, it can also be wheeled about while collapsed, not unlike a unicycle or wheelbarrow. This is immensely helpful while traversing the unending labyrinth of hallways connecting trains at Penn Station or Union Square. Weighing no more than your average hybrid commuter, the IF Mode is also easy to haul up and down stairs, which is truly essential if you are taking your bike on the subway.

I enjoyed combining the subway and IF Mode to get a lot errands done efficiently, and had a lot of fun doing it. A typical Sunday with this bike started with pedaling to brunch with friends, then walking the collapsed IF Mode down the block to their apartment. Next, I hopped the F train into the city, where I trotted up the subway stairs, flipped open the bike on the sidewalk, and was cruising down 5th Avenue in no time flat. A quick stop at the bank was followed with folding IF Mode to navigate my way through the densely packed throngs of shoppers at the Sunday street-market on Broadway, where I picked up some delicious halal food from a cart. A little grocery shopping closed out the afternoon, after which I rode to the nearest A train stop to take me express back to Brooklyn. By using both modes of transportation, I saved time and actually enjoyed getting around.

Some worry that the IF Mode might be too heavy on concept and too light on helpful features, but I found the bike to strike an ideal balance between the two. Some features, like the rock-solid disc brakes and large 26-inch wheels, are tried and true hold-overs from more traditional bikes. Others, like the magnetized wheels that snap together to ensure proper alignment while collapsed, are elegant and useful touches.

My very favorite aspect of the bicycle, while perhaps conceived of as a solution to some of the engineering constraints of the IF Mode’s unique take on folding technology, ultimately seemed unrelated to the fact that it’s collapsible. A two-speed setup, the shifters are brilliantly built directly into the crank arms, so that shifting involves simply clicking your heel against side of the bike–left heel to shift up, right heel to shift down. The feeling was exactly that of spurring on a wild stallion, and I delighted in feeling my steed eagerly rush forward at the tap of my heel. The gears ratios are also well thought out, such that I used the low gear to get going from a standstill and to climb hills, and the high gear to cruise at warp speed. Much as I appreciate the simplicity of the single-speeds and fixies that have become so popular lately, every time I have ridden one, I have found myself wishing there was just one lower gear to ascend up the first half of that bridge, or one higher gear to help bomb down the other side. The IF Mode fulfilled that desire completely, and I rarely found myself wishing for any more gear options than what was presented.

I enjoyed my time with the IF Mode immensely, and so did everyone else who saw it. Never have I experienced so much enthusiastic, spontaneous energy from the usually rushed, aloof New Yorkers around me. This is one bike that draws admiring stares from all in its vicinity–and whats more, the IF Mode truly deserves the attention.

To learn more about the IF Mode, visit www.nycewheels.com/if-mode-folding-bike.html

About the Author
Miles Schneider is a folding and electric bike specialist at NYCeWheels in New York City, an electric violinist, and a dog lover.