Touring - Whats up with folding bikes?
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04-22-08, 08:32 AM
Can someone explain why people buy folding bikes? They just dont seem as cool as regular bikes. Are they easier to ride, more comfortable, harder to ride?
I don't have a folding bike. I have a coupled bike that can be uncoupled and put in a suitcase for travel. I have it because I want to be able to fly or drive with my bike without all the hassle. I'm sure this is the same reason people have folding bikes. Also, not all bike riders are concerned with not looking dorky.
I have two folding bikes and the rest of my bikes are "full size". Although the folders are not quite as efficient as the bigger bikes I find myself riding my Bike Friday Tikit (http://www.viks-tikit.com/) more than any of my other bikes. It is just a lot of fun to ride, more than fast/efficient enough for trips in the 5-15km range. Best of all when I get to my destination I just fold it up and take it in with me.
I'll probably tour on my Tikit this summer, but I'm not selling my LHT or Thorn Sherpa!
Folders make a lot of sense for commuters who ride public transit, folks with storage issues and people that travel a lot.
BTW - "cool" is relative...I get way more positive attention from cyclists and non-cyclists when riding my Tikit than I do when I am riding any of my full size bikes. So far 3 of my friends have bought folders once they saw how useful/fun mine are...a couple more are on the fence and likely to get one this summer.
BTW2 - I should point out my Tikit is meant as a commuter short haul bike - although you can tour on it. Bike Friday makes a whole range of folding touring/travel bikes designed specifically for full on long distance touring just like a full size bike.
04-22-08, 09:32 AM
I couldn't care less if my BIke Friday New World Tourists doesn't "seem as cool" as a regular bike. Anyway, cool is in the eyes of the beholder. I have received many favorable comments about my bike while touring or simply riding around town. It not only flies for free, it flies will far fewer packing hassles (see the current thread about flying with your bike). I think I've already saved the cost of my Bike Friday with airline fees I've avoided, not to mention the hassle factor I've avoided. You can also take it on transport that normally doesn't allow bikes. Like vik, I find it fun to ride. And to be honest, I haven't noticed any loss of pedaling efficiency. I've got a couple of "cool", "regular" bikes gathering dust in my basement.
04-22-08, 10:25 AM
Im glad to hear everyones opinions, it's changing the way I think about folding bikes. Using the word 'cool' in my original post was not a good word choice. I have just always thought of folding bikes as being like a chihuahua, while am more drawn towards bigger dogs (and bikes).
04-22-08, 10:35 AM
Can someone explain why people buy folding bikes? They just don't seem as cool as regular bikes. Are they easier to ride, more comfortable, harder to ride?
People at the destination airport think it's really cool to see someone...
1) Put their Samsonite suitcase down, open it and pull a bicycle out.
2) Put their other checked bag in the now empty suitcase, which they've also now added wheels to.
3) Ride away from the airport about 30 minutes from the time they get their luggage.
In 2006 we flew to Switzerland with our Bike Friday NWTs and spent about a month riding through the Alps. You can see more images of the bikes on that tour in this JOURNAL. (http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/1390)
In any case, quality and capability are things I base our touring bike selections on.
04-22-08, 12:41 PM
In addition to avoiding air surcharges, folding bikes are better for multimodal transport. For instance, when we travel, we can fit both of our bikes in a small rental car and join local club rides. Often one can carry a bag and bring a bike onto trains, cabs, and so on too.
It isn't clear to me that big wheels are more efficient either.
One that that does hurt small wheel bikes is the available gearing and super-high-end components like factory wheel sets. For most people, these considerations really have little impact.
04-22-08, 12:49 PM
This bike gets more attention than anything I ride save for my 1940 CCM "Scorcher" bike.
It's a little bigger than a chihuahua and more like my Miniature Pinscher and has no problem running with the big dogs.
Also... since I have some trouble swinging my leg over a regular bike at the moment this folder and it's sister (they were identical twins) is what has kept me riding.
The sister is a little more practical...
04-22-08, 02:11 PM
Oh ... I should point out that small wheels are considerably stronger than big wheels. Probably a big advantage for touring.
04-22-08, 02:42 PM
I have a Bike Friday "Pocket Rocket" (the unfortunate shared namesake for their road bike model that also refers to a popular model of vibrator) and love it. It's my "fast" bike for real. I keep up with all the venture capitalists riding carbon fiber on local weekend routes. They're not cheap (all models except the aforementioned Tikit are custom built in Eugene, OR), but they also don't feel like they're cheap. I've tried out cheaper models that are designed specifically for quick-folding or multi-modal commuting and they felt...cheap. Very useful, but not something I'd want to ride 70 miles on.
Something others have not yet mentioned is that there is some getting used to the way bikes with smaller wheels handle. In general, the handing is "quicker," which some folks might call "squirrelly" before growing accustomed to it. Once you get used to it, though, the handling is great. I'm generally a chicken on descents, but I've noticed I'll do the same runs quicker/more confidently on my folder.
I take it with me when I fly on business trips and also like riding 40-50 miles to a good state park to meet my girlfriend for some hiking. After some nature-walking and a picnic lunch, I just fold it up and stick it in the trunk of her compact car. I haven't toured with it yet, but foresee using it for shorter trips overseas.
04-22-08, 11:53 PM
I commute on one. I fold it up and bring it into the office, no one can steal it.
04-23-08, 04:03 AM
Couple of reasons...it travels well, you don't have to wait for the next bus if the racks are full, it is easy to "conceal" or put away so it doesn't get stolen... I am 6'2" 200# so I push the envelope on the folders, but they work for me. Currently I have a ancient "sort of a folder" 1968 Raleigh Compact RSW. I am working on getting a Brompton.
I have a Bike Friday road bike (Pocket Rocket Pro). It's very cool. I take it places that my full-size bike cannot go conveniently, like Europe and on trains. It rides as well as my custom full-size bike, but it's a little bit heavier.
I don't understand why more folks don't have folding bikes. If I had to choose just one bike, I'd choose my Bike Friday.
04-24-08, 10:59 AM
More points for the small wheels...
Rode 20 miles in really wet weather yesterday and went through sections where there was both water and potholes that look like puddles... the bike took some pretty massive hits when avoiding the potholes was not an option and the 20 inch bmx wheels handled them fine.
When I was dodging potholes the small wheels really make for some nimble handling and great stability.
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