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  1. #1
    Pecan Lady
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    Folding Bike for Australian adventure

    Hello everyone:

    I'm in the market for a new or vintage folding bike. I've researched Bike Friday, but would like to know of my other options.

    The bike will be purchased for an fully-loaded, self-supported trip riding at least 6 weeks straight in Australia, and then it will join me in a rental car or bus or train for the rest of the trip. This is the reason I need a folder. I want to take the bike along to explore the rest of the continent by bicycle, but will need other means of transportation to get from one destination to the next.

    When I return from Australia I have high hopes of taking this bike along with me to visit various parts of the US and Canada. I normally ride with my little dog, Lucy, so the bike must also be able to accommodate her. So it will need the ability to handle a trailer and racks.



    I am open to any suggestions however my budget is not unlimited, hence the reason I'm researching other options besides the Bike Friday. So I'm looking for something that is economical, sturdy, compact and reliable. Not to much to ask for, eh?

    Thanks for your help and suggestions.

    Jenia
    Last edited by lucy's mom; 03-21-07 at 01:34 PM.

  2. #2
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    First of all, I wouldn't cheap out on the bike unless your bike mechanical skills are very good. The last thing you want is to have something critical break when you're in the middle of Left Nowhere, Queensland.

    Second, for that same reason I'd make sure that any folding bike you wind up with has as many standard parts as possible, and maybe even opt for an internal hub. The latter pretty much puts you into custom territory. (I wouldn't worry about frame material though.)

    Third, any really good folding bike will pretty much be in the price range of a Bike Friday.

    So, I'm seeing....

    1) Bike Friday -- New World Tourist or Llama.
    - used may be an option
    - or, call them and say "I'm touring Australia soon, here's my budget, what can I get?"

    2) Swift -- either the stock Xootr with a few upgrades (e.g. smaller chainring, 11-32T cassette, a usable saddle, plush tires), or something custom with an internal hub. $1000 or less (not including a case).

    3) The Dahon Tournado (http://www.dahon.com/us/tournado.htm). Not cheap, but can (in theory) replace an existing 700c bike. Packable rather than foldable. Case is included in the price tag.

    4) Buy a used touring bike when you get to Australia, and sell it when you're done with the bike portion of the trip.

  3. #3
    Pecan Lady
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe

    1) Bike Friday -- New World Tourist or Llama.
    - used may be an option
    - or, call them and say "I'm touring Australia soon, here's my budget, what can I get?"
    yep, already done and I know what to expect here. They were extremely helpful and I can say without being an actual customer yet - that their customer service is impeccable. Right now I'm just looking at other possiblities

    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    2) Swift -- either the stock Xootr with a few upgrades (e.g. smaller chainring, 11-32T cassette, a usable saddle, plush tires), or something custom with an internal hub. $1000 or less (not including a case).
    This seems like a great option. I will call and see how it goes

    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    3) The Dahon Tournado (http://www.dahon.com/us/tournado.htm). Not cheap, but can (in theory) replace an existing 700c bike. Packable rather than foldable. Case is included in the price tag.
    I've seen this and must say that I like this option very much. You're right it's not cheap, and I'm a bit leary because it's brand new for this year. I typically like to see how the first year goes before I jump on the bandwagon, you know?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    4) Buy a used touring bike when you get to Australia, and sell it when you're done with the bike portion of the trip.
    No can do on this one - I will want to keep the folder for future use as well. I've got family and friends all over the place so I will want to take my new folder with me everywhere I go.

    Thanks for your suggestions. This is a new world to me (folders) but the more I look into it the more I like the "have bike, will travel" idea.

  4. #4
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Austrailians are crazy about the Birdy (http://www.birdy.com.au/carriers.htm), and you may be able to get one there for a reasonable price. (They tend to be in the Bike Friday price range.) Lucy will have to sit in one of the front panniers unless you get a handlebar bag.

    The upside of the Birdy is that it fits in an airline legal Samsonite 29" without too much hassle, it rides more like a big bike than most, and it's smaller than most Dahons. The disadvantage is that it is quirky. For instance, the chain can fall off when its unfolded. For some reason, they ship with thick slow kevlar tires, but are very fast and very comfy, so you can do 100Km a day without a problem. Much more comfy than a BF.

    Aussies have some Bianchi Frettas floating around, too, which are essentially the same bike, but distributed in Japan.

    My guess is that Birdy means something else in Austrailia, which explains it's popularity...

  5. #5
    Senior Member Polaris43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucy's mom
    I normally ride with my little dog, Lucy, so the bike must also be able to accommodate her.



    I can't offer any recommendations as I haven't toured with my Downtube (yet) but I did want to comment on Lucy... she is very cute! Are you taking her with you on your Australian tour?

    Good luck with your search for the right folder and be safe in your travels.

  6. #6
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    Bike Friday New World Tourist with Rohloff the best what money can buy( I don t work for them),I just came back from my trip 5,5 weeks in Cambodia (bike load 25kg)bad road with a lot of holes and the bicycle did a wonderful job
    www.colmanlerner.zenfolio.com
    http://submit.shutterstock.com/?ref=60183
    “No Sueñes Tu Vida, Vive Tus Sueños“
    There is a driving force more powerful than steam, electricity and nuclear power: the will.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Polaris43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gdlerner
    Bike Friday New World Tourist with Rohloff the best what money can buy( I don t work for them),I just came back from my trip 5,5 weeks in Cambodia (bike load 25kg)bad road with a lot of holes and the bicycle did a wonderful job
    Do you have photos (bike, loaded / unloaded, trip)?

  8. #8
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucy's mom
    I've seen this and must say that I like this option very much. You're right it's not cheap, and I'm a bit leary because it's brand new for this year. I typically like to see how the first year goes before I jump on the bandwagon, you know?
    Fortunately, Ritchey's made their take-apart frame for years, and Dahon has licensed the design for several years as well. So it's not really a "new thing." $2000 for a steel touring bike with Ultegra and a case seems like a pretty good deal to me.

    Check in the Swift thread for the options on custom Swifts.

  9. #9
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucy's mom
    The bike will be purchased for an fully-loaded, self-supported trip riding at least 6 weeks straight in Australia, and then it will join me in a rental car or bus or train for the rest of the trip. This is the reason I need a folder. I want to take the bike along to explore the rest of the continent by bicycle, but will need other means of transportation to get from one destination to the next.

    When I return from Australia I have high hopes of taking this bike along with me to visit various parts of the US and Canada. I normally ride with my little dog, Lucy, so the bike must also be able to accommodate her. So it will need the ability to handle a trailer and racks.
    **Sigh** When I grow up, I want to be you!

  10. #10
    Pecan Lady
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    Quote Originally Posted by pm124
    Austrailians are crazy about the Birdy (http://www.birdy.com.au/carriers.htm), and you may be able to get one there for a reasonable price. (They tend to be in the Bike Friday price range.) Lucy will have to sit in one of the front panniers unless you get a handlebar bag.
    I have seen the birdy and I like it very much. Maybe I can contact a bike dealer in Australia and see about them selling me one when I get there. It really would be nice to get to know my new bike before I set out to ride it for 6 weeks straight, but hey sometimes you just have to go for it.

    Thanks for your help.

    Jenia

  11. #11
    Pecan Lady
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polaris43
    I can't offer any recommendations as I haven't toured with my Downtube (yet) but I did want to comment on Lucy... she is very cute! Are you taking her with you on your Australian tour?

    Good luck with your search for the right folder and be safe in your travels.
    Lucy is blushing and says thank you for the compliment.

    This is one trip Lucy might have to stay home for. I'm afraid of the flight time. I may look for something where I can break up the flight - like staying over for a couple of nights someplace interesting instead of getting there all at once. It will be strange to ride without her and I will miss her very much. Not to mention the fact that she will probably disown me if she finds out where I was So in order to take her with me we might have to force ourselves to make a quick stop in Hawaii or something.

  12. #12
    Senior Member caotropheus's Avatar
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    Lucy's mom

    I would suggest you have a talk with Jur before your departure to Australia. He and his wife travel a lot in australia with folding bicycles and his information might be very useful for you. You may also have a look at his threads about his trips.
    Last edited by caotropheus; 03-22-07 at 05:28 AM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucy's mom
    This is one trip Lucy might have to stay home for.
    Australia has strict quarantine laws. Lucy would probably not be able to join you until after a month in quarantine. http://www.daff.gov.au/content/outpu...ntType=outputs

  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    www.colmanlerner.zenfolio.com
    http://submit.shutterstock.com/?ref=60183
    “No Sueñes Tu Vida, Vive Tus Sueños“
    There is a driving force more powerful than steam, electricity and nuclear power: the will.
    A.Einstein

  15. #15
    Pecan Lady
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB
    Australia has strict quarantine laws. Lucy would probably not be able to join you until after a month in quarantine. http://www.daff.gov.au/content/outpu...ntType=outputs
    Thank you. There was no mention of this in my guidebook. It mentions all kinds of restrictions on plants, fruits, and vegetables among other things but nothing on bringing in your pets. My original intention was to leave her home because of the flight time. Now I know she will have to stay home. But now I have an excuse and she can't blame me.

  16. #16
    Hauja
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    Dogs are quite forgiving.

  17. #17
    Pecan Lady
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    Quote Originally Posted by James H Haury
    Dogs are quite forgiving.
    You obviously have never met a Jack Russell Terrier :>)

    She will forgive me eventually - but it's going to take a heck of a lot of milkbones and many miles of riding.

  18. #18
    eternalvoyage
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    There are some other options you might consider.

    If you get a compact-frame mountain bike (26" wheels) -- a small frame, somewhat smaller than you would usually ride -- and compensate by putting on a longer stem, you might be surprised by how compact the frame is once you take off the wheels. With quick-releases, removing the wheels is very simple and quick, especially once you've practiced a few times. The top tube makes an excellent carrying handle, and it will fit just fine in just about any car.

    I've seen people do this, and they almost have a 'folding bike', but save a lot of money (especially if you can find a good used vintage mountain bike, many of which can make great touring bikes).

    They use a few Velcro straps to strap the wheels alongside the frame, and it becomes a nice, compact bundle that you can put in a nylon bag. Loosening the stem allows you to remove the bars, if desired.

    If you don't need to fold and unfold terribly often (it sounds like you do not need to do so), then this might work just fine.

    Also, many people find that the larger wheels (26") are better for long tours. And everything would be much more standardized and easy to set up for self-supported touring -- more so than most folders. Tires, rims, racks, panniers -- a much wider selection. Easy to find parts, etc.

    ***
    Airlines might charge you extra; but if you can get the size of the box down far enough, you might be able to get away with it.

    S&S couplers are another way to go. An older mountain bike with these installed would be even more compact when packed. It would still be cheaper than most folders, and you would have a better bike for self-supported touring.

  19. #19
    Pecan Lady
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H.

    S&S couplers are another way to go. An older mountain bike with these installed would be even more compact when packed. It would still be cheaper than most folders, and you would have a better bike for self-supported touring.
    Hi Niles:

    I actually have this option in the works and I may end up going this route. But I guess the idea here is to get the most convenient thing available that meets the best of both worlds. So I'm going to try travelling with both first before making the big decision to see how things go. That is, of course, assuming that I find an acceptable folder to compare the coupled bike to.

    Thanks for your suggestions. I'll let you know if I end up using the coupled bike.

    Jenia

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