Downtube folding bike

Since my first days on the job as a new-products editor for Pilot, it seems I've been a magnet for folding bikes. We've tested a few, pedal-powered and motorized- and they offer great utility for pilots. The latest innovation in this area is from Downtube.

Yan Lyansky based Downtube on his experience cycling cross-country. By designing and importing the bikes and processing every order himself, he's created a cost savings that he passes along in an extremely competitive price. The Mini, which we tested, and the FS which an AOPA staff meber owns, are both rugges, yet light, snap open with ease, and ride well around airport terrain and local roads.

The mini features an eight-speed internal shifting crank hub ( so there's no rear derailleur and no gears ) and rear suspension. The forged crank has a replaceable chainring, and the wheels have stainless steel spokes and V shaped rims for additional strength. The handlebars fold down- when the post is extended, the wide handlebars fit me well, giving me an almost upright riding position. The seat post also drops so that the bike essentially folds into it's rear wheel and crank hub-measuring 10 inches by 20 inches by 29 inches and weighing 24.5 pounds.

The Mini features smaller tires than the FS, which helps on size ( the FS folding dimensions are 12 inches by 24 inches by 33 inches and weight is 27.5 pounds ). the only drawback is a slightly twitchier handling-when you initiate a turn. It happens a little more quickly than if you had a larger diameter tire. But I adjusted quickly and don't forsee this as a problem for most pilots. The bikes do have a maximum rider size- the Mini tops out at 225 pounds, and the FS allows for  245 pounds.