With just weeks away, 2013 will draw to an end.
I think it was a really exciting year with a few surprises to boot!
In late November, Malaysians had a taste of the best 24" folding with the introduction of the Tern Eclipse X20.
About a dozen of these bikes found its way to some passionate owners. Whether they see action or end up as a wall-hanger, much is to be said.
But, even with that, the public has a shallow perception of the folding bike.
They still think that it's a toy.
"Why pay so much?", asks a curious onlooker.
Compared to its larger peers such as the Mountain and Road bikes, a folding bike has more moving parts that are secured by a locking latch.
Its expensive to produce them and the good ones are never cheap.
Why? You put your life on it and the least you'll expect is for it to fail on you.
|Terning heads: The Eclipse X20|
I don't think folding bikes would sell very well due to its reputation and pricing factor.
Many cyclists still scoff at it for its "handling" and "image" issues.
Yet, the top-selling brand in the country is Dahon bicycles and with a solid reputation, its become well-known.
Thanks to the cyclists who have shown what the bike can do by engaging it on long-distance rides.
Some maniacs even went offroad with the bikes.
Second only to Dahon is Tern Bicycles. I don't need to elaborate on the brand as its being accepted by the folding bike community here.
Dahon, back to thrill..
We knew that there was a spat between Dahon's founder and his son.
This issue has been settled.
And Dahon is back for good after the trademark issues where many Dr Hon bikes were sold here.
As consumers, we can expect some interesting bikes like the Dahon Vigor P9.
I've seen the bike up close and its targeted for experienced cyclists with its aggressive styling.
Pound for pound, I'd say that Dahon had cut corners in terms of "giving the best" with good components.
But, nevertheless, you can see that the fit, finish and quality is just average.
|The Vigor P9|
For 2014, we can expect a lot from Tern Bicycles.
There's the Verge P9, a basic ride to complement the Verge platform.
It's a 9-speed bike with no frills.
Speaking of 24" folding bikes, I am very excited with the Eclipse P18, which is a cheaper version compared to the Eclipse X20.
Another bike to lookout for is the Eclipse S18i. I am very excited with this bike as its a touring bike straight out of the box!
|Tern's Road Warrior: The Eclipse S18i|
And its also been extensively tested in Taiwan where it's made...
Fei Lee of GW Cycles had taken over the Birdy brand from a former distributor.
He's been busy marketing the bikes and is now the man about town if you want the best bikes from Pacific Cycles especially the birdy classic.
This is of course, a niche market product and there aren't many Birdy owners around the country compared to Dahon and Tern bikers.
That said, we can look forward to many cool Pacific Cycle bikes from Lee's showroom!
|Birdy redux: the Classic returns!|
Popular British brand Raleigh will continue to be a preferred beginner's bike with their Ugo-series folding bike.
It's one of the cheapest bikes around.
The only beef one would have is the weight and poorly designed drivetrain.
China-made Java Fit folding bikes are as good as they get.
It's also a value for money bike with a decent component set-up. Beyond some slight improvements, I don't see much coming out of this manufacturer..
Taiwan's Hasa bikes came up with an impressive line-up with their folding bikes.
They had some really good models like the Hasa F-1.
Right now, the only bike that is still being sold here is the M-2. Which is quite a decently-priced folding bike...
I first saw this bike in an upmarket shop.
Personally speaking, it didn't quite hit the mark even with the "designed in Japan" backing that it has. Some company is aggressively marketing this bike and has a Club to support it's owners. Their first appearance was at the 2013 OCBC Cycle Malaysia.
This made in the UK folding bike will remain as one of the most popular "upper crust" bike in the Klang Valley.
Favoured by aristocrats, yuppies and wannabes, it will continue to flourish under a new distributor.
Personally-speaking, I don't think it will sell that well considering the fact that its an expensive bike.
A cut above the rest, this one is show-stealer. But I doubt that many cyclists, especially beginners would go for it.
An aggressive Japan-made bike and the marketing is just mind-blowing! Sponsor some state riders and win many trophies, this brand is here to stay. At least for the time being.
Bikes from the motherland..
Five years ago, we can hardly experience variety in terms of the brands of folding bikes available in the country.
Today, there are at least a dozen brands from China, fighting for a piece of the action.
The market is accepting China-made folding bikes for its pricing factor.
You can forget about built-quality and reliability with "cheap" as the deciding point in one's acquisition of a new bike.
There's just too many bikes out there from China and right now, we're spoiled in terms of choices.
Bike shops: Love them, hate them, but you can't kill them!
Make or break, dealers are the backbone of the bicycling industry.
You've heard horror stories about brands coming and going. And the dealers have to push their brands to earn their keeps.
Here in Malaysia, I'd say that there are two schools of thoughts. Good dealers who are friendly and only sells you the average bike. These are the people that will become your friend as you stay loyal to the store and their wares.
The other end of the spectrum are high-end bike boutiques that caters to the rich and famous.
So, if you ever step into such a store, be prepared to be looked down upon or pay a premium. Good dealers are far and few in between. Its always the case of landing in a shop that gives you the half-assed service..
A word of advise
"Look before you leap..", there are many choices out there, before you commit, learn more about your purchase and if permissable, ask for a test-ride..