For people who commute longer distances and would like to combine public transportation or driving with biking, a folding model makes sense. “You can drive partway with the bike in the car, park in a convenient free place, and ride the rest of the way,” says Dave Widing, part of Montague Bikes’ communications office, who commutes by bike nearly every day.
Most folding bikes are lighter weight, small-wheel versions such as the popular Dahon, which is made with an aluminum or steel frame and starts at $379 for the Eco3 model. Montague makes a full-size model, the SwissBike TX. Why choose a full-size foldable over a small one? In a word, standardization, says Widing. The parts are interchangeable with any other full-size bike, and you can add on any standard accessories, such as trailers and racks.” The SwissBike’s aircraft aluminum frame is light, strong and salt-water resistant, Widing says, and, at $699, competitively priced.
Another advantage of foldable bikes: While many cities ban bikes on subways during rush hour, some will allow a folded bike that’s tucked into its own carry bag.
When it comes to family bikes for carting kids, playthings and groceries, there are a variety of cool and clever models. The Bucket Bike by Madsen was inspired by the traditional container bicycles of the Netherlands, says founder and owner Jared Madsen, who used to live there. “Our first prototype had a wheelbarrow bucket on the front, just like in Holland, but their bike paths are perfectly smooth, with no curbs; so we swapped things around and put the cart on back for better maneuverability,” Madsen says. The rigid, low-density polyurethane bucket’s engineering is “just like a kayak”s, made to pop back into its original shape if hit,” Madsen notes, and the frame is high-tensile steel, the most widely recycled metal. Price: $1,300 with either a bucket or a rack.
Also aimed at the tandem parent and tot, the ingenious, three-in-one Zigo Leader is a bike plus front Child Carrier Pod that converts to either a stand-alone bike or a jogging stroller, starting at $1,349. For a basic cargo utility bike, check out the Xtracycle with an extended, low-rider frame and a bigger back wheel. The Xtracycle can be outfitted with a LongTail accessory kit, with capacious totebag holders, and its accessory trailers let you pull surfboards, ladders, musical instruments, whatever, with panache; price: $939 for the base model.
Of course, the greenest choice is to not buy a new bike at all. Many cities and colleges have bike-sharing programs. Old bikes can be bought for cheap from bike and thrift shops and annual city traffic department auctions; just make sure to get them tuned and safety checked, including tires.