Dahon Bullhead: On the trail in Columbia, Missouri

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I have always thought of myself as a road cyclist. And the reason is pretty simple: if you want to ride a bicycle from your front door to the store, bike shop, work, wherever, you use a road to get there. And since I didn’t own a car until I was 29, I spent a lot of time pedaling on the road, developing favorite routes and hoping for better street design and maintenance.

It would have been nice to have a Midtown Mini folding bike like the Dahon Bullhead back then: a bike with a wide tire but a responsive ride, a bike easily stashed inside a friend’s Subaru DL at the end of a long day, a bike that would have fit behind the couch I slept on during those magic days when Don Johnson’s two-day stubble was in style.

Folding bikes make riding a bike so much more convenient

Folding bike on the MKT trail

Folding bike on the MKT trail

If the this folding bike had existed 30 years ago, it would have been a great bicycle for transportation riding. It certainly is today. Relatively lightweight yet wide-tired, it’s perfect for spending more time watching traffic and less time actively negotiating the road surface. And because the Dahon bikes fold, you can easily park one in the best parking spot there is: your living quarters.

So it surprised me how much I liked riding the Dahon Bullhead on the MKT Trail in Columbia, Missouri. After all, the crushed limestone surface would seem to reward somewhat taller wheels. Until you take those 20-inchers out for a spin and find, surprise, that they spin quite well.

Before pedaling off, I raised the my folding bicycle‘s handlebars. This was, after all, a pleasure cruise, not a fight through high headwinds. A 5mm wrench lets you angle the quill of the Bullhead’s stem upwards; a 4mm lets you rotate the handlebars within the stem so the brake levers and shifters are at the proper angle. Takes just a few seconds.

A beautiful trail to cruise on my folding bike

The city maintains the first 4.7 miles of the MKT; Boone County takes care of an additional 4.2 miles before the MKT meets the state’s crown jewel, the KATY Trail, which follows the Missouri River through the center of the state, from St. Charles (near St. Louis) to Sedalia in the west. I read recently that the trail may, after 30 years, finally be extended to nearly reach Kansas City.

Unlike many recreational trails, you can actually use the KATY to get to towns dozens of miles away, as long as your destination is somewhere along the Missouri River. In both width and length, it is a superhighway of a trail and, because of geography, relatively free of road intersections. I especially like the eastern part of the KATY, in part due to its proximity to several wineries, including my favorite, Montelle. I didn’t have any time for the big trail during my visit, but I’ve ridden it many times in the past, usually on a tandem. Despite its shorter length, the MKT looks and feels just like the KATY.

Short rides are easy with a folding bicycle

Dahon Bullhead, folding bike meets falling rocks

Dahon Bullhead, folding bike meets falling rocks

But this weekend the folding bicycle wasn’t the focus of the trip, and so I was riding solo. One reason I went for a short ride was simply because the Dahon Bullhead made it so convenient to do so. No rack on the car, no taking wheels on and off—I didn’t even feel like I had to dress the part, except for a helmet. The nice thing about a solo ride, on a folding bike or any transportation-oriented bicycle, is being able to start and stop whenever you want to.

And I stopped quite often to take pictures. And said hello to every rider who apologized for riding into the shot of them I intended to take. Which was virtually every other picture I took.

Friendly folks. Nice trail. Great day. And no need to hitch a ride in that old Subaru. I headed back into town under my own power, smiling.

Fantasy Vacations on a Folding Travel Bike: Mediterranean

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Folding travel bikes are great for bike touring.To start off, let’s get one thing straight: there is no better way to see the world than from the seat of a bike, especially a folding bike. That’s because bike tourism gives you a freedom you can’t get anywhere else. It’s just you, your folding travel bicycle, and the open road. Talk about an adventure! I’ve been thinking about what cool vacations I could take with a folding travel bike. Now I want to share the fantasies with you.

Part one, folding travel bikes on the Mediterranean!

For number one in this 3 part series, let’s say I’ve flown to destination X, a beautiful city on the Mediterranean. Now I want to see the sights, but I don’t know how to get around. I would rent a bike, only I don’t speak the language very well and I don’t know where to go. This is the perfect time for a compact travel bike to shine. Luckily, I thought of this before I left and found a great folding travel bike to take with me.

Let’s say my folding travel bike is a Brompton, which fit right into my suitcase, so there was no trouble with luggage at the airport. In fact, I could have ridden right up the the terminal entrance and stashed it for check in! It is reassuring to know that it is safe from damage and will be there at the baggage claim when I arrive.

Once I’ve landed I can take a cab right from the airport to my hotel. Any cab will do, my compact travel bike fits into the trunk with room to spare. It’s a short ride to the hotel. When I arrive, I can’t wait to get out and see the city.

Getting around on a compact folding bike

With a smile, I pull my folding travel bike from my suitcase. It’s light enough to carry with one hand, so I grab my camera and head to the street. Unfolding it is a snap. After a few seconds of dazzling folding action, possibly gathering a crowd of curious on-lookers, I get in the saddle and start exploring.

Being on a folding travel bike gives me the option to come and go as I please. On a whim, I stop at a shop. The owner lets me bring the folded bike inside, it hardly takes up any space at all. After some shopping it’s off to an outdoor cafe, where I park the folding travel bike right next to my table. With no need to coordinate my schedule with public transit or find a cab I can take as long as I want. Getting around is as easy as unfolding my compact travel bike and pointing it in the right direction.

After a full day of riding around the city, taking in the sights on my folding travel bike, I decide to head back to the hotel. When I arrive, I take the travel bicycle right up to my room. It’s safer there than leaving it outside in an unfamiliar city. Now all that’s left to do is tuck it back into my suit case. Pretty neat, huh?

Folding travel bikes are the icing on the cake.

There are many occasions where a folding travel bike can turn a hum-drum vacation into an engaging personal adventure. The best folding travel bike for the job is a Brompton folding bike. These folding bikes are incredibly durable, super compact when folded, and a pleasure to ride. Next time you think about traveling, think about folding travel bikes! Read more about folding bike travel and take a look at some of our great folding travel bikes.

Check back for 3 Fantasy Vacations on a Folding Bike, Part 2 later in the week!