Outside magazine, March 1996
Maps fold. T-shirts too. So-called folding bikes, on the other hand, generally demand skills in the ancient art of origami. And, after all that "unfolding," the bike generally gives a less than satisfactory ride.
But the Slingshot MTQ1 folding mountain bike is something else. Where other bikes have a down tube, it has a tensioned cable, and its top tube is filled with a fiberglass leaf spring. This setup makes the MTQ1 a superior folder: It requires less struggling over assembly and disassembly than stiff, unyielding tubes. Plus, it's basically the same construction as on Slingshot's nonfolding models, so there's no compromise in performance.
Unfurled, the bike handles nimbly, as torque normally damped by a stout down tube plucks the cable for a springy ride. And thanks to that built-in elasticity, the rear wheel is always digging in, so traction is exceptional. The bike is quick enough on steady climbs that it feels light, though it actually weighs a slightly pudgy 25.5 pounds. Only in miles of waterlogged clay does it seem to get overwhelmed.
Although the folding Slingshot comes out of the box pretty trick, the rigid front is a little harsh, so I'd recommend upgrading with a suspension fork or stem. Also slightly harsh is the $1,895 price tag. But for the peripatetic mountain biker who's willing to invest in a ride away from home, the folding MTQ1 should be as much a travel staple as a map and a T-shirt. A soft ($299) or hard ($349) custom case is available as an option.
From Slingshot Bicycle Company, 2335 Byron Center Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49509; 616-530-5556.
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