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PRODUCT REVIEW

ABOVE AND LEFT: The folding sequence is fast and easy, and can be carried out with the bike standing on its end. The result is a rather long but thin and tidy package which fits easily inside the carry-bag – a heavyweight fabric design with full zips for easy access. It folds into its own end pocket and can be attached under the saddle.

at the rim. Sealed cartridge bearings are visible either side. ‘Chain tugs’ serve to position the rear wheel and so tension the chain, which is a small-pitch industrial type. This is necessary to work smoothly around the very small, 14T back sprocket, which is in turn needed to provide the huge step-up gearing to give a sensible (48") gear ratio. The matching chainring, with 84 fine-pitch teeth, fits onto a standard five-arm alloy crankset. A trouser protection ring is also provided. Brakes are side-pull callipers, with quite a long ‘drop’ from mounting hole to braking surface. This means a certain amount of flexibility is inevitable, but you’re unlikely to achieve huge speed anyway except perhaps downhill. I’d take great care, or walk, on any serious descents. Weight as tested was around 8.16 kg. As several accessories were fitted, the claimed weight of 8 kg for the bare bike is quite believable. Not ridiculously light like a 5.7 kg A-bike, but still pleasantly easy to carry.

THE FOLD The CarryMe folds into a fairly long, thin package. It’s going to take longer to explain it than it does to achieve. There are two main parts to the fold: first the front section, then the seatpost support. You finish up by folding handlebars and pedals. The front end’s mechanism is rather ingenious. The hefty aluminium collar around the head tube pivots on the frame. So when you undo the thumbscrew, that releases the collar to slide up the shiny, machined surface of the head tube. As you slide it up, the connecting rod at the top of the tube pushes the whole assembly round, so that eventually it lies along and below the main frame tube. A stainless steel spring plate (with rubber-coated finger tab) then hooks over a bolt head to keep everything secure. You may have dropped the stem before doing this, though the sequence is flexible. A simple quickrelease unlocks it. The stem can be positioned lower than shown in

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VELOVISION ISSUE 32 DECEMBER 2008

the pictures if required, although everyone who rode it preferred it as high as possible. A stop prevents you pulling it out further than is safe. The next stage is the seatpost support structure. To release this you have to slide up a small stainless steel tab, just above the back reflector, so that the linkage can move. I found this slightly fiddly – it would be better if the catch was a little further up above the reflector, as my large fingers struggled sometimes to get in between. Anyway, the seatpost then simply swings forward. Again, you can drop the saddle either before or after. You need to turn the saddle sideways before locking it in its lower position, to clear the stem. Finally, fold the pedals and handlebar. The bars have simple quick-releases which secure the bar ends. A neat plastic rail, anchored at the centre of the bars, lets them slide out and fold without dropping off completely, and it also keeps the brake levers more or less in the right orientation when you reassemble. Incidentally the whole bike stands

neatly on its back wheel and casters while you fold it. You can also roll the folded package around on the caster wheels to avoid lifting it. The optional dust cover is a simple bag to conceal the bike, in a rather thin fabric. It weighs just 121 g – so maybe good for carrying with you. But I was much more taken by the (also optional) carry bag, a heavier (661 g) fabric item which folds away into its own end pocket. Long zips mean it opens up along its whole length, making it very easy to put the bike inside. And unlike some, the bike really is entirely inside, without any wheels poking out to give the game away. When folded up, the bag attaches under the saddle and onto the seatpost. The bag measures around 91 x 30 x 27 cm – Pacific say they have customers who have had it accepted as carry-on luggage for many airlines, and it’s hardly larger than, say, a violin case. I’d be happy taking it onto a bus, for example – not the case with many folding bikes. And it’s robust enough to wear well, I think. PACIFIC CARRYME

LEFT: A stainless steel spring catch holds the folded bike together: lift the rubber-coated end tab to release.

BELOW LEFT: When folded the handlebar ends are kept captive by a plastic strip which runs through the central section.

ACCESSORIES A quick word about the carrier racks. The front one is seen fitted on the photos: it bolts securely to a boss on the head tube, and the load bed folds up flat when not in use, secured by a small Velcro strap. I guess it could be useful if you want to strap on a waterproof or something, but I’d imagine most riders will be carrying a small rucksack or courier bag anyway. I don’t really see the need for a carrier on a bike this small. The back rack is similarly tiny

BELOW: I'm not sure how useful the Carryme's tiny luggage racks are in practice: most riders will just carry a bag instead.

– and with your heels flashing past it too, you’ll struggle to find a load to challenge its 10 kg capacity. The optional rack extension attaches using the trolley wheel pivot bolts, and increases the length of the load bed by about 6 inches. Again, I couldn’t see much point. Perhaps with small feet and a custom bag… One adaptor we didn’t receive is the arguably rather more useful bottle cage adaptor. This bolts onto the front carrier mount – perhaps a good option for longer trips. We also didn’t get to see the mudguards.

THE RIDE Riders pushing the height limit will first notice that the seat extension is limited – it was a few inches short for

me at 6' 2" (an inch over-height for the bike). Shorter riders will have no problems. The bars are in a fairly sensible position – fairly close to you, but at a good height. And they turn as you’d expect – not like the Strida, for example, which has the pivot very close to your body. So, having sorted the fit, set off and ride! With memories of the A-bike ride still unpleasantly vivid, the CarryMe is a very agreeable surprise. It’s very much a get on and go bike, with none of the unpleasant squirming, sticky steering and other quirks which plagued the A-bike. Every rider who tried it just got on and rode comfortably up the street. On my first ride I was happy to take a hand off the bars to indicate after just 100 yards. The frame is fairly stiff – sure, you can make it flex, but it’s more than solid enough for a decent ride. The transmission feels solid too, with the ratio just about right for a decent top speed without overly compromising acceleration. I found it best to scoot forwards a bit pushing with a foot and then start pedalling, to ease pressure on my legs and the transmission. I didn’t notice a propensity to do wheelies – often a problem on short-wheelbase bikes where your weight is close over the back wheel. Top speed isn’t fantastic (you’ll need the two-speed for that) but Debz kept up a quite reasonable speed as I rode alongside on a conventional bike taking photos. 10 mph (15 km/h) or so is no problem at all. You’d have to adapt your riding style if you’re used to keeping up with the traffic on a full-size bike, but that’s enough to be useful on the road. And it’s more than twice as fast as walking… The 8" wheels coped surprisingly well with the minor bumps of roads and junctions. I bumped up easily enough over (at a guess) 20 mm steps where two surfaces joined, and ran it over several speed bumps and drain covers. No problem. Maybe 8" is the practical minimum for street use. The brakes are reasonable if not spectacular – all you need really from low speeds, and anything more

powerful might risk either locking wheels or an over-the-bars incident. Overall, the CarryMe was a surprisingly capable ride. Its range is certainly longer than the A-bike; it’s also more suited to use in traffic. But like all minibikes, its natural environment is probably away from main roads, on either cycle paths or quiet streets where it can offer a faster, more convenient alternative to a journey on foot. If it fitted me I wouldn’t have a problem doing a five-mile ride or longer on it – given a reasonably flat, smooth surface.

CONCLUSIONS For the average-sized or shorter rider who needs a very public transport friendly folder for fairly short, flattish journeys, the CarryMe is certainly worth considering. It’s not particularly expensive as folding bikes go, and the bad reputation which other micro-bikes have given to tiny wheels is rather refuted by the CarryMe’s performance. It’s generally well designed and built – only the (optional) carrier racks seemed a little pointless to me. But the carry bag is a very worth while option, to protect and conceal the folded bike. I’d say the CarryMe deserves rather more recognition in the folding bike world. I can’t think of any other roadworthy bike which is as light without spending hugely more, unless you get a much more bulky Strida or more expensive Airframe. Very few bikes are as small, unless you completely disassemble an Airnimal, for example – and again, that’s much more expensive. Sure, the wheel size and speed do inevitably compromise the CarryMe compared to larger machines, but not to the extent that it’s not useful for practical transport, at least in the right conditions. So if you get the chance, take the CarryMe for a test ride. It might surprise you! Peter Eland

AVAILABILITY Manufacturer: Pacific Cycles. See www.pacific-cycles.com. UK Importer: Airnimal Europe. Tel 01954 782 020 or see www.pacific-products.co.uk

ISSUE 32 DECEMBER 2008 VELOVISION

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