After living in NYC for over ten years I finally started riding around the city on a bike this past spring. Of course, as these things go, I now have all sorts of opinions on the urban bike experience. While I'm now surveying all different bikes, the Folsom from Swobo is my new favorite. (Click image for detail.)
The Folsom is like a featherweight tank. An aluminum frame and lack of external brakes, gears and other attachments makes for a lightweight bike. But unlike other pared-down models, the frame tubes are fatter like a mountain bike and the tires are also a slightly oversized—almost like a hybrid road bike/BMX.
The coaster brakes—like the ones from when we were kids—require some adjustment. Learning to pedal backwards to stop took a few minutes and a couple minor crashes, but now that I've got the hang of it, it's very simple. Being in NYC, which is mostly flat-land, no gears are needed. Nothing on the Folsom has a quick-release so all the parts are relatively secure from theft.
Minimal details and a lack of giant flashy logos also deflect the attention of would-be thieves. Coupled with its matte gray color, the Folsom is understated, stealthy and chic. My only gripe is that wide handlebars, though custom-designed for a range of riding styles, makes riding between cars in NYC streets tricky.
Available in two frame sizes (medium and large), the Folsom is a reasonable $500 from Swobo.
We threw a few questions at Swobo founder Tim Parr who responded with some insights about their mission to get people on bikes, their history and the thinking behind the design of their three models.
When and why did you start making bikes? Where are they made? Who is the Swobo team?
We've been around for 16 years, but we started making bikes about a year ago, because we knew the world is ready for a Swobo complete point of view. They're made in Taiwan, which is a good thing.