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Norman bicycle shop fills a niche market for 'folders'

Al's Bicycles has expanded its selection to three brands of folding bicycles and riders seeking the convenience and portability of the bikes seek them out.
BY JENNIFER PALMER Published: January 10, 2013

Customers have traveled to the Norman bike shop from Arkansas, Kansas, Texas and across Oklahoma specifically to test drive the folders.

“Other bike stores have other specialties; we want this to be ours,” said Ann Ryan.

“We offer a full line of standard bikes and accessories and full repair service, but we want to focus on folders. With the ever-increasing interest on greener living, bicycles are becoming more central to not just exercise and recreation but transportation. Folders are good for all three.”

In his search to replace a stolen bicycle, Dr. David Myers, a pediatric nephrologist (kidney disease specialist) at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, bought a Brompton folder from Al's Bicycles. Though it hasn't arrived yet, he believes owning a folder will alleviate the risk of theft and still allow him to commute from his home in downtown Oklahoma City to his office.

“It didn't matter how pretty the bike was or how little you invested in it, someone always wanted it,” he said of the eight or so bicycles he's lost to theft over the past 20 years.

Myers also plans to pack his new bicycle when he travels to Estes Park, Colo., to visit family each year. And, like Butler, who has carried his bicycle into the bank and the dentist's office, expects to take it into restaurants or wherever else he needs to go.

“I'm curious whether a coat check will take it,” he said.