The Strida

The Strida

No Nicole today as she is feeling under the weather – Get well soon!

Instead here’s a guest post by WallToAll who I invited along to instil us with the virtues of the Strida!

Those brave hearts who weave in and out of London’s motor traffic use a variety of devices based on the bicycle: to wit: road-bikes, off-roads, BMXs, hybrids, fixed-gears, dutchies, exotics and other variations of an implement first invented some 200 years ago to negate walking but little improved since. Some use ‘fold-ups’, a great nuisance we avow on public transport. The logic of design and use escapes us though we know what they’re trying to achieve, but at what social cost? The only thing more annoying than a foldable bike in a train gangway is an un-foldable one.

The exception to the folding bike awkwardness

Visualise a Brompton being lugged along a platform or being transformed among pedestrian traffic in a station. It’s one thing to lug a large bag of shopping on public transport or a furry pet in a basket but a fold-up bicycle? Quite frankly, if one intended to re-invent or re-parcel a bicycle for the 21st century, would a kissing gate be the most obvious place to start (even if the forge were down the same cul-de-sac). The idea of a folding bicycle is not a bad one; the implementation is generally terrible. Thankfully there is an exception to the awkwardness of folding bicycles in general and that exception is "Strida". (Very Googlable word "Strida"; don’t you think?) The unique device is at once a concept, an innovation and a solution, brilliantly succeeding in coupling the 19th century to the 21st without even nodding at the 20th. And yet you never see a Strida on the streets of London. The ill logic escapes us. Why don’t we see Stridas on London’s streets apart from the one we use? Maybe you should ask yacht skippers and private-plane pilots who apparently secrete the vast majority of the world’s production in their holds.

We use Strida rather than a bicycle because chronic ME, borne now for some 25 years, put a brake on exuberance and made us rather bear the ills we had than fly to others that we knew not of. We’re by no means ready for a wheelchair, nor do we need to make a point of how fit and able we are or aren’t. Being of advanced years tones down one’s competitive streak. Been there. Done that. Wore out the tee-shirts. Got the Strida.

ME is an odd ‘disability’, described succinctly as ‘the healthiest looking patient in a doctor’s waiting room’. For us, ME means being able to walk only short distances; daily and weekly amounts being of necessity accumulative: overdo it and the price is three days supine for each day’s stupidity. Having been Strida’d now for some five years, the ME goalposts have been totally repositioned and redefined. Strida allows lots of high physical mobility with a minimum of downtime.

The name "Strida" itself is not lost on the user who can Strida six or more miles anytime, without personal pain whereas that distance might take a month on foot. London Underground destroys us. One long day out (sans Strida!) a pedometer device strapped to the leg clocked up some 2.5 miles of walking: most of it entering, transiting and leaving underground stations. F’Krisake at Monument you can plod over half a mile just changing lines. More than once we spent a week in bed recuperating after a day like that before we got a astridastrida.

We have a Blue Badge for our car AND a dispensation for London, but refuse to abuse this wonderful privilege by bringing a VERY large vehicle into London either regularly, irregularly or even occasionally. Domiciled in the sticks, one uses a train to get to London and a skateboard would be very useful to get around the city. But dignity decrees we are too old for blades, roller skates, skateboards or other such options which can speed a body along a city street and can be stuffed in any available corner, or under an armpit, when not actually transporting said body.

strida3_highrez

Strida has active steering, as in VERY active steering which calls for dextrous balancing and manipulation, all of which makes the aging brain work that little bit harder and slows the gaga-making process more than somewhat. Yeah! We need mobility that looks like a bike, works like a skateboard but is appropriate to decorum for a worn-out pensioner who must perchance use wheels to get around the city. Strida’s the man: a foldable un-foldable skateboard that acts like a bike, wheels through a station concourse like a tiny golf trolley and in the final analysis is considerably more than the sum of its parts. I can bring it upstairs on a 205 and tuck it in so no seat is wasted.

Strida fits anywhere a golf-bag or tuba case fits but takes up rather less space than either. It can be transformed in 15 secs and can belt along at 6-9 mph which in the City is quick enough to get from Aldgate to Marble Arch in 30 minutes. The single gear keeps things simple as does the Kevlar belt which drives the sprockets; no adjustment, no lubrication, no maintenance. The high gearing is not designed for climbing Villiers St. out of Embankment for The Strand, so you get off and mingle happily with the pedestrians. This puts civilized City progress into perspective. The comfortable bolted-up saddle obviates adjustment and the upright sit-stance is ergonomically great for the back. One doesn’t experience bike-lash even on ‘pavements’. People, including even bobbies, tend to stare and then grin. There is something whimsically nonsensical about a Strida in use.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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31 Responses to The Strida

  1. Sabinna 29/03/2011 at 10:53 am #

    It’s a great design and hats off to the designer, Mark Sanders. Here’s an interview from a while back with details on how it came to be, includes original drawings http://bit.ly/eGBEQS

  2. skippy 29/03/2011 at 12:18 pm #

    What a great invention !

    Does the user carry a “health certificate” to flash at “officious busybodies ” that decry the use on pavements ?
    Looks like the implement below the seat could carry a fair load of shopping or a briefcase .

    What sort of pricing is involved and availability ? Dimensions also please ?

    • Shaun 31/03/2011 at 11:43 pm #

      Hi Skippy, Well I do carry in my wallet a congestion charge exemption card, but I’ve never felt obliged to pull it out. Humour and good manners suffice, as I tried to show in the article. The little basket at the back is too small to be really useful. Strida CAN be bought in London for about £500 depending on spec. Dimensions? I can only ask to to read the article kinda slowly. lol

  3. skippy 29/03/2011 at 12:21 pm #

    Forgot to mention the fact that you would not have to worry about theft which is the subject of the blog on skippi-cyclist recently . Very few bosses could complain about this item being parked in a corner in the office !

    • Shaun 31/03/2011 at 11:47 pm #

      I’ve parked it under restaurant tables more than once. It’s been up and down John Lewis escalators. You could store it under your desk or in a broom cupboard.

  4. bycostello 29/03/2011 at 1:15 pm #

    I hope they don’t catch on embarasing enough when some one on a bromton goes flying past me!

    • Philip 29/03/2011 at 3:30 pm #

      Embarrassed when a brompton passes you? Are you serious? Why? (Mind you I always find commuters in lycra (esp. team gear) a bit of a giggle :- ). PS Yes, I am a bromptoneer …

    • Philip 29/03/2011 at 3:31 pm #

      … oh. Just realised you weren’t criticising bromptons! Many apologies. We brompton riders are such sensitive souls …

  5. JonF 29/03/2011 at 1:29 pm #

    You can see a Strida SX at Walden’s Cycles of Kingston. I’m not even sure it’s for sale, though I understand that if you want to buy one they maybe can source one. “Mr Walden” warns people off of the older versions as he’s seen a number that have failed at the front of the cross-member (I think).

    Or you can see it here (scroll down) at: https://docs.google.com/View?id=dc8j2cpf_64fk9kzfg6

    678 Euro for the SX model and 578 Euro for the LT(polycarbon wheels)

    • Shaun 31/03/2011 at 11:59 pm #

      The very earliest Stridas, years ago, had engineering problems with the ‘steering head’ ball joint but the inventor sorted that out in short order. Up to about 2008? Stridas had drum brakes. Useless. Stridas now they have powerful disks which work. My earlier Strida had polycarbon wheels, current one has wire spokes. Do NOT buy a s/h Strida with drum brakes.

      • Alan 20/02/2013 at 1:40 am #

        I’ve got a second-hand Strida with drum brakes and it’s excellent. I’ve had it for three years. I live at the top of a steep hill and I’ve never had any trouble stopping at the bottom of it. The bike was in fairly new condition when I bought it but I’ve been using it regularly since then without a problem.

  6. Dave Escandell 29/03/2011 at 1:34 pm #

    That’s pricey for what you get, in my opinion.

    Also, it’s driven by a belt. I’m sure strida advise that the belt can do X amount of miles, but at the end of the day it’s still a rubber band. At that tension, a sharp stone, bit of glass/debris could potentially leave it’s owner without transport and I suspect (currently) with few options for sourcing a replacement.

    Also – looks like no front reflector – tut tut :o)

    • Shaun 01/04/2011 at 12:11 am #

      Misapprehension! You really should consider re-reading the article lol. The belt is made of Kevlar. Kevlar does not stretch and does not break. Conceivably one could strip the teeth from the belt but I rode my first one in all sorts of conditions even off road and never had a problem. The latest one I’ve now had for three years and to give you an idea of usage I’ve worn out two front tyres and one rear on city streets and paved country roads. The belt is showing no sign of wear nor the disk pads! BTW, a front reflector is not a legal requirement. I added tiny electronic lights front and rear to comply with night-time legislation. There are ALL sorts of accessories you can get if you want.

    • Adrian 01/04/2011 at 12:38 pm #

      I wish more bikes would come with belts. There’s a reason cars and other engines use belts rather than Chains:

      1. Lower Maintenance
      2. Less problems with chain Stretch (which we know is really wear of the metal chain joints)
      3. No Need for lubrication
      4. Longer lasting,
      etc.

      I’d even wager that a Kevlar Belt would be stronger than a standard bike chain.

      It would be interesting to see if they’ve thought about an internal rear hub gear to give some form of gearing.

  7. Andreas 29/03/2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Could only see it listed in one Bike Shop for just under £500

  8. steve 29/03/2011 at 3:06 pm #

    If this uses the Gates carbon belt drive then you won’t have to worry about it failing. I have used one for 6 months every weekday and not a bit if wear or stretch…

  9. Nick Rearden 29/03/2011 at 5:50 pm #

    Attn: Dave Escandell re: drive belts. There’s a rather nice Buell motorcycle lives around the corner from me; the owner tells me the engine produces 120-odd bhp and the drive belt has so far lasted longer than three traditional chains. It is, in short, as far removed from a ‘rubber band’ as you can possibly imagine and definitely the way forward for one-human-powered machines where the gears are of the single-speed or non-derailleur variety.

    • Dave Escandell 29/03/2011 at 8:54 pm #

      that’s good to hear. heard a lot about belt driven bikes but have been rather sceptical.

      What’s maintaining the thing like? and can these things be replaced with enough tension easily?

      • Shaun 01/04/2011 at 12:15 am #

        Totally the only maintenance either of my Stridas had was maintaining tyre pressure at exactly 50psi, which I found prevents even negates punctures. The belt tension is adjustable and is set as part of the assembly process. Mine has NEVER loosened in any way

  10. idavid 29/03/2011 at 6:32 pm #

    I bought one of the first ones, 20 odd years ago. Matt black to match my Sinclair ZX81. As I recall, the novelty wore off in the first pothole. Yes it did “belt” along at sub 10 mph but tiny wheels, over-sensitive steering and a single gear made it a toy not a tool.

    No doubt v.8.1 or whatever has improved, but I quickly moved on to a Brompton which is in a different class of usability.

    • Colin 19/02/2012 at 10:56 am #

      Oddly, perhaps, I’ve had the opposite experience. I had a Strida 5 and a Brompton. Ended up selling the Brompton as the Strida was so much more convenient and requires practically no maintenance. Not had a puncture yet, and if I do, the single-sided axle will make sorting it a doddle. Not so on the Brompton’s back wheel. In this case I found that less really is more. I’ve done journeys of over 20 miles on it too, and though it’s obviously slower than a Brompton (though not as much as you might think), I’m not racing but cycle for enjoyment. The upright ride seems to suit me very well, and I buzz along at 12mph getting a great view of the countryside around me. A really great ‘pootling’ bike.

      Colin

  11. Andrew 30/03/2011 at 9:45 am #

    A friend has one of these (or, dare I say it, something remarkably similar). He goes fast and swears by it…however, he also (picking up idavid’s comment) swears at the pot-holes…such small wheels can get lost in London’s decaying roads.

  12. JonF 30/03/2011 at 11:55 am #

    On belts: This is further insight into what Trek are doing http://www.gates.com/ptdesign/trek.html

  13. Anna 01/04/2011 at 4:54 pm #

    oh no..i had a go on that at the Cycle show last year and because I was wearing a skirt I had to let myself literally fall of it to dismount!!! No likey!!!

  14. PaulM 01/04/2011 at 6:06 pm #

    I wasn’t quite sure what the dig at “fold-ups” in train gangways was supposed to be about. I have had various folders and NONE beat the Brompton on the folding stakes – rapid, easy (when you have mastered it) and most important for train transport, tight. A folded strida is a lot more cumbersome than a folded Brompton. Perhaps a Strida will go on the overhead rack but so will a brompton – if you are strong enough to lift it up there.

    The Brompton doesn’t have as good a ride quality as some, certainly not as good as the Birdy, but as an overall multimodal commuter machine, it is still the King.

  15. Andrew Ebling 02/04/2011 at 7:12 am #

    I recently tried out a number of different folding bikes including a Dahon, Brompton and Birdy. In the end I went with an entry level Dahon with 20″ wheels as it represented the smallest compromise of ride quality while still meeting size restrictions for all rail operations and also happened to be the cheapest. Anything with smaller wheels felt twitchy and downright hard work to ride – so I’d approach the Strida with some scepticism. I’m riding a total of around 18 miles a day though – perhaps the Strida would be a better compromise for shorter trips?

    Despite the relatively large size of my folding bike, I’ve never really detected any angst from fellow passengers. Provided you are thoughtful and courteous I don’t think it’s really a big problem.

    I think folding bike owners should feel good about taking their bikes on trains if it means one less person on already crowded tubes and busses.

  16. Shreds 02/04/2011 at 6:16 pm #

    Strida’s are supremacy in the design stakes, and have stood the tet of time, but have you ever compared the weight and unweildiness with a Brommy?

    I would never put either on an overhead train rack, it wouldnt do you any good if it braked sharply and they have been known to rattle off such racks with devastating consequences. Stridas probably take as much space as a normal bike when lying flat. I tripped over one on my local train which was right across the vestibule. Not good and almost certainly not welcome in the rush hour or on the tube. Shame really.

    Just needs to be lighter and fold even smaller then it would be unassailable. However how you make it go smaller (and get slightly larger wheels into the bargain for potholes) and lighter is probably the Catch 22 that means it just remains a style over substance icon.

  17. jes benstock 02/05/2011 at 5:24 pm #

    The Strida is a joy to ride – long cranks make it very easy to pedal
    It is also low maintenance – I had one service after 3 years

    I’ve been riding mine (a strida3) around London since 2007
    Until this Saturday past when it was nicked from outside the Rio cinema

    I am heartbroken and too broke to buy a new one
    Anyone who has an unused one (strida 3 or later) I’d love to talk to and make an offer

    Cheers
    Jes

  18. jes benstock 03/06/2011 at 4:46 pm #

    I just took possession of a fab barely used strida 3.2 – so a notch better than my old model and only a couple of months younger. and in such good nick! thank you ukpaul1968 from ebay

  19. Nycstrida 17/07/2013 at 2:20 am #

    Really the perfect urban tool- you don’t need to go fast in Manhattan traffic, you need to start fast, turn fast, stop fast. The Strida is a bit unstable, which makes it the most maneuverable bike out there. The upright riding postion and unique look makes you very visible as well.

  20. Mark 09/03/2014 at 2:03 am #

    Purchased my Strida 5.0 March 2008, and today it broke at the pivot anchor. I had already slowed after the steering became erratic, and a moment later I was face down on asphalt.

    Aluminum tends to suffer sudden catastrophic failure rather than bend like steel.

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