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Pilot Products: Two for the road

Folding bicycles are traveling transportation

Depending on where you fly, transportation at your destination can range from easy and affordable to not available or pricey. While Uber may be a good option for cities, you’ll be waiting a long time for someone to pick you up at a rural airport. One solution is to invest in a bicycle. Better yet, try one of the many new folding electric bikes on the market. Here are two we’ve recently tested:
October Briefing

X-Bird

One of the least expensive choices is the X-Bird, a folding self-contained model manufactured in China with a California-based distributorship. The X-Bird is a unique dual-rear and single-front wheel bike that folds flat, making it especially easy to slide into a baggage compartment. The clever design contains the batteries completely within the frame, and folding and unfolding the bike takes no more than a few seconds.

The X-Bird weighs 34 pounds, takes around five hours to charge, has a range of 20 to 30 miles, and cruises along at around 13 miles per hour. Riding it takes a bit of practice. With a short wheel base it can feel unstable at times, although we didn’t have any spills, even over lousy pavement. Certain functions are controlled by an iOS application that is a bit lacking, but the basic bike controls are intuitive and work without the app.

The bike turns heads. Everyone who walks past asks what it is and wants to go for a ride. If you’re looking for an entry-level electric bike that’s easy to store and light enough to be there when you need it, the X-Bird is worth a try.

Price: $999
Contact: www.xbirdusa.com

Bike Friday pakiT

Electric folding bikes can be a bit like flying cars. They often don’t make great bikes and they aren’t great electric vehicles either. Bike Friday thinks it has created the right solution with pakiT, one in a line of creative folding bikes from the U.S.-based manufacturer.

The pakiT has small wheels and a lower frame, but it has full-size components. To that platform Bike Friday adds electric assist to the front wheel, an optional system that takes a normal bike and gives it zoom. Battery packs strap to the seat post and connect to a small controller on the handlebars. In keeping with the pakiT’s theme, the heaviest bits of the system can be removed and reassembled easily, and the battery packs are safe to bring on an airplane.

We loved the pakiT’s rugged construction and ease of use. Since it rides like any bike you’ve ever owned, you don’t need transition training to avoid falling over. It cruises at a nice pace, and the system can be customized with more or fewer batteries depending on need and budget. Finally, the belt drive means no mess in the airplane.

Although once assembled the pakiT was easy to partially fold, we don’t think we’d use it for its original purpose, which is the ability to fold small enough to fit into a large suitcase or backpack. We simply couldn’t get the hang of this complex procedure. That said, for your typical airplane trip, the basic fold was quick and easy.

If you can justify spending more money to get a true bicycle that adds on the benefits of an electric bike, Bike Friday’s pakiT is a great option.

Price: Varies; prices start at $2,385
Contact: www.bikefriday.com

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.

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