Honestly, I think someone should give a Nobel to the guy who first thought of making bikes that twist, fold, and morph to just a fraction of their original size. Whoever you are sir, hat’s off to you! There’s just an undeniable quirky geeky coolness in these two-wheeled gizmos that easily reminds you of a Swiss Army knife or the Transformers—and I’m talking here of the beloved 80s animated series and not that Michael Bay abomination.
I’ve been lusting after folding bikes for some time now. But due to my severely limited financial capacity, all I could do was eyeball them from afar. My luck changed last month however. I got asked to test what is undoubtedly one of the quirkiest folding bikes out there—the “CarryMe” by Pacific Cycles.
Light and Compact
This is one strange-looking creature. Quirky doesn’t even begin to do it justice. Pacific Cycles says the CarryMe is the smallest folding bike in the world. It’s hard to argue with that.
The first thing that strikes you about the CarryMe is how compact it is. Folded up, this thing is just 91cm tall and 25cm wide. Yes, it’s barely a meter tall. Meanwhile, its wheels measure just eight inches in diameter. My nephew’s kiddy bike has bigger hoops that this!
The second thing that strikes you about it is that it is unlike any bike you’ve seen before. “Ano tawag dyan?” is a common reaction from pedestrians you pass. “Di ba mahirap pidalin?” is a common query from bikers you meet on the road. “Astig!” meanwhile is a frequent reaction from folding bike enthusiasts you meet on a ride.
It weighs just 8.8 kilos or roughly 19.5 pounds. While this is lighter than most mountainbikes and commuter bikes, that may still count as a lot of weight for most people. But thankfully, you don’t have to lift all that weight around. The CarryMe is designed to be rolled like a trolley when folded up.
And this thing folds like a badass. When you get the hang of it, it folds in less than a minute. In the words of one folding bike enthusiast: Malupet ang fold nyan!
According to Pacific Cycles: “The idea behind the CARRYME concept all began when George Lin (the company’s founder) imagined having a bike that could easily be carried with you on a train, bus or plane—then after reaching your destination just jump on your bicycle and ride off.”
I just had to put these claims to the test. True, I had ridden the bike around UP for quite some time after Glorious Ride Bikeshop loaned it to me. My wife and sis-in-law also tested it, and both loved it. But could this thing really be lugged around and matched with public transpo?
The Bus Test
First let’s be honest. You can’t really carry anything besides a small backpack when you board a bus during rush hour. You’d be lucky to just get a seat between 6:30am to 9:30am on a weekday. Buses are like mobile moshpits during these times. But at other times of the day, most buses are half-full.
It was during such a ‘calm before the storm’ when I brought the bike with me on a bus. Some people may scoff at this as cheating, but Hey! I am just acknowledging that the whole Metro Manila public transport system is broken.
Folded up, all I needed to do was to hoist it into the bus and roll it to the nearest vacant seat. I had to squeeze through several people who preferred to stand up near the door instead of sitting at the back, but it wasn’t that big a hassle.
It was an easy uneventful bus ride from Philcoa to Cubao.
The LRT Challenge
Next stop was the Araneta Center in Cubao. I originally wanted to bring the CarryMe aboard the MRT, but I changed my mind after getting flashbacks of my last ride on this hell train. Last time I rode the MRT, it took me 45 minutes just to get a ticket. Getting inside the MRT coach meant plowing through a solid wall of angry seething, grunting, perspiring humanity. Han Solo frozen in carbonite probably had it better.
What can I say? The MRT is on the ropes. It doesn’t just stink, it reeks of bad government.
The LRT2 meanwhile was something else. As I rolled the CarryMe into the escalator, I was reminded of train rides in Singapore and Bangkok. This is how things are supposed to work.
The guards at the entrance of the LRT2 station smiled at me on seeing what I was carrying. They even asked me how much the bike was and where I bought it.
Bringing the CarryMe inside the LRT coach was absolutely hassle-free. The ride from the Cubao Station to the Katipunan Station, was amazingly trouble-free.
Yeah, I know; trouble-free isn’t supposed to be amazing, but Philippine reality is so warped towards disaster and failure that you become thankful when things just work.
Anyway, I finally got down at the Katipunan station and proceeded to unfold the bike. “Ang galing ah!” I heard someone say. “Bike pala yun!” I heard another.
Standing at 5’9, I must have looked like Hagrid riding a broomstick to some of these people. So I just went on my way and left them dazed by the magic.
While I was riding the CarryMe to UP, an MMDA traffic enforcer aboard a motorcycle rode up beside me and asked me (again) where I got the bike and how much it was. I guess that when you’re riding a bike as quirky as this one, you have to get used to all the attention. Other than that, it was a relaxing bike ride all the way to UP’s green campus.
So what’s the verdict? The CarryMe is probably the best bike out there for urban warriors who like to mix their bike commutes with bus and train rides. I think this is also perfect for people who live and work in places like the Makati CBD or the Bonifacio Global City. You can park your car in one spot and not have to worry about how to get around the sprawling commercial center.
Buses, trains and planes right? Yes you can bring it on a plane.