A new bicycle shop in St. Petersburg caters to enthusiasts who want the zip and portability of bicycles that can be folded to the size of carry-on luggage. Or tucked into a back pack.
On May 10 Michael Davis will hold a grand opening for Two Fold Bicycle Shop
at 657 N. Central Ave. The shop, which quietly opened at the beginning of the month, deals exclusively in folding bicycles made by major brand names Brompton
. Shortly Davis will add bicycles from Bike Friday
, an Oregon company that custom-makes folding bicycles.
"They are fun to ride," says Davis, who also designs and builds wheel frames. "People who are into them really get into them. You can see them out there. It is a trend that is picking up now."
Their popularity makes sense to a lot of people who are embracing the new urban lifestyle. And, while his shop is in St. Petersburg, his first two sales were to residents of downtown Tampa's growing high-rise community.
The folding bicycles have smaller wheels, quick acceleration and ease of steering. Hinges allow for the bicycles to be folded up for easy storage at work or at home. And for multi-modal commuters they are easily carried on and off buses.
Prices range from about $400 for a one-gear folding bicycle to more sophisticated models that can cost $3,500 or more.
Davis is an avid bicyclist himself. He formerly owned 66 Fixed Gear and Singlespeed, a St. Petersburg shop that did repairs and sold custom-made bicycles. But it was a trip last year to the Interbike International Bicycle Expo in Las Vegas that spurred Davis to focus his newest business on the expo's break-out star.
"Everybody was talking about folding bicycles," he says.
The bicycles originally were invented for use by military forces in war times in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Until recently they often were novelty items tucked away in a shop corner.
That is changing along with the urban landscape.
Condominiums and apartments are going up in downtown St. Petersburg and Tampa. The Central Avenue district in St. Petersburg is stirring to life with new boutique shops, art galleries, restaurants, offices and neighborhood bars. College students and young professionals are embracing the urban experience.
Tampa has at least five residential towers slated for construction in the next few years in downtown and Channel District.
The folding bicycles are the right fit, Davis says, for people who have to go up and down elevators, share space with roommates or just want a healthier living environment with fewer automobile trips.
"Once you get folding bicycles in front of people, they practically sell themselves," says Davis.
Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Michael Davis, Two Fold Bicycle Shop