Boaters have traditionally relied on the kindness of strangers for transportation to get around a port they are visiting. This can make provisioning and obtaining spare parts problematic, never mind seeing the points of interest which make each port unique. Some traveling boaters have strapped bicycles to the rail or hardtop where they get in the way and the harsh salt environment quickly causes corrosion. There has been an evolution in personal transportation, from light weight stowable bicycles to powerful new electric powered devices that give new options for cruising boaters.
The first folding bicycles began appearing in the late 1800s. They were invented to allow for easier storage and portage. The portability of folding bicycles make them perfect for multi-modal transportation. From the marina to the bus stop, on the bus, on a train or on other forms of public transportation. Today there are hundreds of models to choose from and they range in design and price from the sublime to the ridiculous. From the micro A-Bike that folds down to 27x12x7 inches and weighs 12 pounds to the massively expensive full-size Dahon Mu Rohloff which collapses to 16x32x27 inches and weighs a mere 21 pounds. The A-Bike is impractical due to its small solid wheels that cannot traverse uneven surfaces. It is currently selling for $120.00 on Amazon. Also currently selling on Amazon, for $5,499.00, the Dahon Mu Rohloff has myriad tech features including top-of-the-line component package, alloy 18 inch wheels and dual mechanical disc brakes.
Dahon specializes in folding bicycles and the Dahon Mariner D7 was designed with boaters in mind. Weighing in at 26 pounds and folding in less than 15 seconds to a relatively small 22x11x33 inches. This 7 speed bicycle can be found online at BikeShop Liquidators (www.bikeshopliguidators.com) for $550.00.
West Marine offers two models of Montague full size 18 speed folding mountain bikes. The Crosstown is designed for riders 5 foot 3 inches and the Swiss Bike designed for riders 5 feet 11 inches and taller. They both fold to 36x28x12 inches and are currently priced at $640.00.
On the more economic side, there are several manufacturers that make folding bikes for under $300.00. The Columbia SP26S with Shimano 18 speed model has 26 inch wheels and weighs 35 pounds. It sells for $220.00 on Amazon and eBay. Citizen Miami Model is a 20 inch wheel, 6 speed folding bike that has a MSRP of $199.00 and has lots of options http://www.citizensbike.com. Xspec offers a 20 inch, 7 speed compact folding urban commuter that folds neatly in 15 seconds and weighs 31 pounds. Crosslinks Sports and Outdoor has it online for $159.00 at http://www.crosslinksmart.com.
Add an Electric Motor and Go
For boaters who prefer to go places without breaking a sweat there are many folding electric bike options. Prodeco Technologies has several models ranging from $750.00 to well over $2,500.00. The Prodeco Mariner Sport is capable of speeds up to 17 miles per hour and a range of 25 – 35 miles. It folds down to 14x34x23 inches and weighs 46 pounds. West Marine is currently selling the Prodeco Mariner Sport for $750.00.
For those who end up riding at night, Enzo has introduced the “First Glow-in-the-Dark Ebike.” Reaching speeds of up to 20 miles an hour it can range from 20 – 50 miles, according to the terrain. Weighing in at 44 pounds it sports 20 inch wheels and dual disk brakes. Enzo list online (www.enzobikes.com) for $1,750.00. B&J Bicycles is currently offering these models for just under $1,500.00.
Personal Transportation Vehicles
Since first unveiled on Good Morning America in December of 2001, the Segway Personal Transporter (PT) has remained the leading electric, two-wheeled, self-balancing personal transportation device. However, weighing in at 100 pounds with its battery and costing over $5,000.00 it seems a bit impractical for taking on an off the boat and making up for the cost of the cab rides.
An alternative, an IO Hawk Intelligent Personal Mobility Device, which is mini-Segway with no handlebars. It takes some practice and good balance. It weighs 22 pounds and can travel up to 12 miles at a top speed of just over 6 miles an hour. Advertised at $1,800.00 the IO Hawk is expensive. However, there are companies that rebrand the device and you can find it online as low as $331.00 plus shipping.
Googling “Personal Transport” yields numerous single wheel self-balancing unicycles that can be stood on or sat on. Airwheel offers several models of stand on models that range from $430.00 to over $1,000.00 MSRP. They weigh under 30 pounds and some models can be found on eBay for less than $350.00. The sit on devices tend to be heavy and larger than the stand on models and probably not very practical on a boat.
One of the most intriguing personal transportation devices will be available in the Spring of 2016. Walkcar is a 6.6 pound device the size of a small laptop with four wheels that can be stood on and by leaning, it moves in the direction of the lean. The projected price of $800.00 is a bit expensive. See the video http://www.cocoamortors.com. The best thing is its portability, it fits neatly in a backpack or tote.
Whether you cruise fulltime or occasionally, portable personal transportation will make the trip that much more enjoyable. The type and cost of your personal transporter device will depend on your personal preference and budget.