As someone very lazy who likes to drive everywhere whenever possible, but also likes a bit of exercise every now and then, I’ve always been a bit intrigued by folding bikes — something I can keep in the boot and use whenever I want. I also like smart things — and that’s why I think this Red Dot award-winning bike, which has built-in GPS and a digital display built into the handlebars, is a little bit cool. It’s also called the Galaxy.
The Galaxy By 700Bike is apparently the brainchild of a Chinese mobile app development guru who threw away his role at the top of a NASDAQ-listed company to… build bikes. But smart bikes, and ones built for urban environments — where most of China’s population lives. 700Bike is a social community as much as it is a product-driven company apparently, but I’m interested in the bike. So I had one shipped over to me.
Folding bikes are a dime a dozen, but the Galaxy has two things that set it apart from the crowd. In the folding centre post that connects its handlebars to the frame, this bike has a waterproof circular digital display that almost replaces the need to mount your smartphone on the handlebars. It syncs over Bluetooth with your phone — there’s an app for Android and iOS — and can display directions or a digital clock, as well as acting as a digital read-out for speed or distance travelled.
The same built-in hardware and wireless syncing means this folding little Galaxy will keep track of all the rides you take — as long as you remember to charge it — and display them in the app for you to check up on later. 700Bike has a community of riders that share their stats, apparently, although there’s no Australian userbase to speak of. It’s easier to just leave Strava running on your phone while you ride if you already use it, to be honest, but the integration with the built-in display is a nice touch.
The real appeal of the Galaxy is how it looks, though. 700Bike says it’s inspired by Star Wars and Star Trek, but I can see some pretty clear Mass Effect and Mirror’s Edge cues instead especially in the black-on-grey colour scheme. It’s pretty small once folded up — small enough that I can keep it in the back of my hatchback and keep a bit of room for groceries or an overnighter or gym bag. Unfolded, as long as you can get over the small wheels and weirdly high seating position — a problem for any folding bike — it’s actually reasonably comfortable for workday commuting.
There are a few quite cool things about the bike, too, that 700Bike carries over to its other models like the Backstreet. The integrated GPS and Bluetooth and internal distance tracking are four times more accurate than a third-party aftermarket bike computer, the company says — although I wasn’t able to test this to make a conclusion one way or another. The built-in screen, although it’s small, is always easy to see even in bright light, and it just feels cool and space age to have integrated into the chassis itself.
The digital display is super simple, but it’s a great concept. It’ll tell you how fast you’re going, which is actually pretty important for cyclists in New South Wales at least, and it’ll tell you how far you’ve travelled — which is nice to know, even if you wouldn’t normally use a dinky little folding bike for actually riding for exercise. Beyond that, it’ll tell you the time. None of this is something that a smartwatch won’t do — I use my Apple Watch as a cycling computer of sorts sometimes — but it’s a fun novelty nonetheless.
At around $1000 shipped and landed into Australia, 700Bike’s Galaxy is a high-tech indulgence. It won’t exactly replace your smartphone for logging your fitness workout or tracking the distance that you’ve commuted in the sweltering heat this summer, but it will fill the niche that a folding bike should — small, convenient, trouble-free — as well as being a little bit smart. Now all it needs is an electric motor in the rear wheel. [700Bike]