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  1. #1
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    backpacking with a folder - advice needed

    im planning on taking a trip to europe this summer and i want to have a bike with me

    i want to be able to carry everything i need on my back... including the bike

    that means i need a pack that can carry it all. i currently have a hiking pack and want to carry the following things:

    basic necessities/clothes
    a trifold garment bag (already tested and it fits)
    folding bike

    id prefer to use my current bag as it has good waist support. i dont like packs that load down only on your shoulders

    anyone have any experience with backpacking with a folder? is it reasonable to think that a folder will fit in my hiking pack?

    anyone want to recommend any good bags?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyDan
    is it reasonable to think that a folder will fit in my hiking pack?
    No !

    A few months ago I jumped around New Zealand with a Ritchey Break-away ( 700c wheels ) in a 26"x26"x10" airline friendly bag. I also took trail walking gear and tent etc. The whole lot weighed 22Kg and was a right pain to carry around.

    However, you might fit 20" or smaller wheels and the rest of your stuff in the pack if its 75 litres or larger. If your prepared to strap the frame on the outside of the pack, you should be able to do it.

    Even though it will be a lot easier to move around than my big box shaped bag, it will still annoy you at times. But the inconvenience will be worth it - local hire bikes are never any good .

  3. #3
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyDan
    is it reasonable to think that a folder will fit in my hiking pack?
    No.

    They're too heavy and bulky. With a half-way reasonable folding bike, the lightest ones are around 22 lbs, the smallest folded (which isn't the lightest) around 22" x 22" x 10". Not to mention that riding a bike with a massive backpack pretty much sucks.

    You'd be better off just renting a bike every once in awhile.

  4. #4
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Agreed. Not for backpacking. The one thing that will get you close is a titanium Brompton with MKS pedals (or take the pedals off every time you pack). When I travel, I use a regular, smallish computer backpack. Even for 3 month stints. If the weather is universally warm, you can get away with an extremely light shirt, a few thin tees, and travel underwear (silk, wicking). I take it from your name that you are male. If so, underwear, believe it or not, take up the most space. Silk or wicking underwear can be washed in a sink at night and will dry in the morning.

    With this set-up and a 19 pound Brompton in a plastic bag, and a ginormous frame pack, you might kind of sort of be able to pull something off.

    Also, I think there are some single speed folders with rollerblade sized wheels that are ultralight, but I don't know anything about them.

    When I travel with the bike, I bring a huge 29" oyster and look completely silly in guest houses/hostels.

  5. #5
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    It depends how good of a bike you want. You could carry a small single speed bike like an A-bike, a Handybike, or a Carryme, but you aren't going to be riding any centuries on them.

    What kind of riding do you plan on doing? Keep in mind that most people in this forum are interested in folding bikes that are almost equal to nonfolding bikes (in fact, most people around here seem to only ride folding bikes), but the world of folding bikes is bigger than that. You can get a much smaller bike if your willing to sacrifice ride quality. Like I said, you won't be riding any centuries, but it will still be heads and shoulders better than running, skating, or scootering.

  6. #6
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu
    It depends how good of a bike you want. You could carry a small single speed bike like an A-bike, a Handybike, or a Carryme, but you aren't going to be riding any centuries on them.
    Come now, my friend. Can you picture someone riding on a Handybike or an A-Bike carrying a big backpack?

    He might be able to carry an A-bike, but in that case he'd be better off with a high-quality scooter. The Xootr MG has bigger wheels than the A-bike, weighs 5 lbs less, is mechanically simpler, and costs less.

    Meanwhile, in places like Belgium it's easy to rent a bike. At many train stations, you can put your pack into a storage locker, and rent a touring-type bike right at the station for 6.50 for a half day, 9.50 for a full day (http://www.b-rail.be/nat/E/practical...ting/index.php).

    So, you stop off at the Brugge train station, rent a bike, head up to Damme, get some lunch, ride around, go back, get your stuff, and walk over to the hostel for some Vlaamse Stover and a pint of Leffe Donk....

  7. #7
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    The only way your plan would work is if:
    1) You plan on going every where by bike. You could load you stuff on the bike and either ride it or push it along.

    2) You are planing on staying in one place and would store your bike there.

    Hiking, as in walking long distances, with the bike in your pack will not work.

    Brompton Dahon Birdy Bike Friday all have light bikes.
    2000 Montague CX, I do not recommend it, but still ride it.
    Strida 3, I recommend it for rides < 10mi wo steep hills.
    2006 Rowbike 720 Sport, I recommend it as an exercise bike.
    1996 Birdy, Recommend.
    Wieleder CARiBIKE (folding), decent frame.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    Come now, my friend. Can you picture someone riding on a Handybike or an A-Bike carrying a big backpack?
    You mean like this?



    http://www.yo.rim.or.jp/%7Etomooki/zerobike_diary.html

    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    He might be able to carry an A-bike, but in that case he'd be better off with a high-quality scooter. The Xootr MG has bigger wheels than the A-bike, weighs 5 lbs less, is mechanically simpler, and costs less.
    I disagree. The Xootr MG is about 2.5 pounds less than the A-bike (10 pounds compared to 12 pounds, which is really splitting hairs) and the wheels are only an inch bigger (7" compared to 6"). Also, scooters are completely useless on even the slightest hills and are much less efficient on flats.

    Don't underestimate the utility of mechanical leverage. Even a guni (geared unicycle) is probably more useful than a scooter (not to mention simpler, lighter, and smaller), but for ungeared rolling skates are by far the best choice. You can get a nice pair of skates for about the same price as a Xootr; They would be lighter (5 pounds tops for a midlevel pair), smaller (less than a cubic foot), more efficient, and more maneuverable. About the only things a Xootr could beat a pair of skates at is quick disengagement (but then there are always skates with quickly detachable wheels like Hypno Skates) or downhill rolling (a scooter would probably be a bit safer than a pair of skates due to the slightly bigger wheels and ability to bail out).

    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    Meanwhile, in places like Belgium it's easy to rent a bike. At many train stations, you can put your pack into a storage locker, and rent a touring-type bike right at the station for €6.50 for a half day, €9.50 for a full day (http://www.b-rail.be/nat/E/practical...ting/index.php).

    So, you stop off at the Brugge train station, rent a bike, head up to Damme, get some lunch, ride around, go back, get your stuff, and walk over to the hostel for some Vlaamse Stover and a pint of Leffe Donk....
    Fair enough. I'd still take my Carryme if I were going and save the bike rentals for very hilly terrain or trips over 2-3 miles, except perhaps if I were sleeping at a different place every night; Then I'd probably prefer to pack as light as possible. One thing I can say for sure is I would take a minifolder over a second pair of shoes.
    Last edited by makeinu; 04-15-07 at 01:42 PM.

  9. #9
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    im thinking of something like a dahon d7. 20" wheels. im not planning on doing long bikes, just use it to get around in each city

  10. #10
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    The D7 is around 27 lbs, 32" x 25" x 13". I'm looking at mine right now, there is no way you can put that in a backpack. Carrying one around all the time inside a bag is, well, slightly absurd:



    Fortunately, there are a few alternatives.

    1) Aforementioned rental

    2) Ride your bike from city to city. Great way to see the countryside. Requires a little bit of experience and a good saddle.

    3) Take the bike with you from one city to the next, i.e. take it on the train or bus or whatever. You could even put your bags right on the bike, so no need to carry your pack on your back all the time. D7 would be OK for this, I used one in Belgium. Or, get a really junky used bike and a strong lock when you get to Europe, so that you won't care much if it ever gets stolen.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyDan
    im thinking of something like a dahon d7. 20" wheels. im not planning on doing long bikes, just use it to get around in each city
    Well, I think everyone that's responded so far agrees that there's no way you're going to carry a 20" bike on your back and I doubt you'll find anyone in this forum that disagrees. However, you don't have to take our words for it. Go to a bike shop and see for yourself.

    If the only time you plan on carrying both your pack and the bike is when you go from one city to the next then you might manage with something like a Dahon Curve, Brompton, or Downtube Mini. You won't be able to fit any of them in your back pack, but you might be able to carry the bike in your arms and the rest of your stuff on your back (provided you're strong and won't be walking long distances). You shouldn't have any problem riding any of these bikes for getting around each city (even 20km from one end of the city to the other), but most of these bikes will be more expensive than the Dahon D7.

    Other than that, the only kinds of bikes you'll get in your pack or on your back with your other stuff are bikes with less than 10" wheels. If you left your pack in your room or a locker then such a bike would be perfect for riding up to 5km or so, but you probably wouldn't be happy riding 20km clear across a city. However, I personally wouldn't consider this a problem since I'd rather take a bus or train than ride such a long distance (and taking one of these smaller bikes on a bus or train will be much easier). That's just my opinion. In the pics I posted above those guys were reaching 100+km a day.

  12. #12
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    From experience: categorize your toys, trip phases, and luggage format. Bipedally carrying a folder AND your baggage will get old very fast. I'm sure you're strong enough, but strength isn't the primary determinant of "enjoyable trip". I sometimes travel (as in leaving this Wed.) with a folder/separable and cycle gear, inline skates (uses protective gear of cycling), and motorcycle touring gear (separate set of gear, e.g., armored pants, jacket, gloves, helmet), in addition to business clothes and mobile office. The MTB shoes and daypack with bladder double for hiking. Motorcycle rental is easier in Europe than anywhere else in the world, and is possible in Japan and some other places in Asia. So... I suggest you real decision is about whether you will need a luggage trolley or whether you can get by with a "train" of suitcases. If I have too much stuff for normal baggage allowance on international flights, I use a full size, hard bicycle case and fill it full of everything but a bicycle. The bicycle is in its own suitcase (either an S&S case for the separable ISO 620 bike or a F'Lite for the Swift). A full size "bicycle case" counts as one piece of standard luggage on many international flights, even though it is way over 65". So, I am travelling with a bike, and a bike case, but the bike is not in the bike case. The bike case option means taking a luggage trolley. I use a heavy duty luggage trolley so that the bike case, checked bag, and carry-on bag can all ride on the trolley to simplify using elevators and escalators.
    Last edited by maunakea; 04-16-07 at 11:57 PM.

  13. #13
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    I have to suggest strapping everything to your bike instead of strapping everything to your back. If that is possible with the type of trip you are planning.



    I'm selling a bundle of my bike touring and camping gear on eBay right now. In case you are interested. You would need a 26" wheeled bike to make it work.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...7605&rd=1&rd=1

    I wouldn't want to walk around carrying my bike + my gear. To me, that would not be a vacation.

    Best of luck in your decision.

  14. #14
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    The essence of backpacking ( as opposed to cycle touring ) ... around Europe, Australia and New Zealand, is in my experience: using public transport ( busses, trains, ferries and occasionally planes ) to move between cities and hostels.

    Lugging a bike and pack around is practical with a folder if the intention is to city hop then use the bike for day trips exploring the local area.

    The best plan if possible is to leave the flight case at the first hostel ( and pick it up on your way home). They you can travel lighter - a 30 Litre day pack and the bike. A 'trifold' garment bag is a bit OTT though !

  15. #15
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    Now, I would like ZippyDan to carry a folder around Europe in a backpack and read his report. IMO, the backpack and cycle would part company fairly quickly, but who knows, and it would make great reading.

  16. #16
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    you are all very funny... and helpful thanx

    as you may be able to tell, i am kind of new to the world of bikes, especially the folding bikes...

  17. #17
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    I have a similar idea, but the emphasis is on touring, rather than backpacking. I've bought a Bike Friday New World Tourist, so that I can hitchhike with my bicycle. I doubt I'll be carrying the bicycle much, way too heavy. I much rather cycle with a lightly made back pack tied to either the back rack or trailer. Let me know if you have any questions about doing something similar.

  18. #18
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    What you have to remember is that good quality folding bikes are real bikes, not toys, and weigh around 25ib, which doesn't sound much but after walking a mile with that on your back it will start feeling like 50ibs (and that's just the bike, not incl. yr luggage). You can get a folding bike bag that straps onto yr back like a backpack from Max Radel in Berlin, but you wouldn't carry much else with it. I too am planning a trip to Europe (I should say 'continental Europe' as I am in the UK) this summer but will not so be backpacking as such. I shall travel thru Normandy, Brittany and end up in the Loire Valley. However, I plan to take my Dahon Speed TR on the train and boat to France first (in a carry bag) then cycle with light luggage on my back and rack, visiting friends and staying in hotels on the way. If I get behind schedule, or get tired, or it's raining, (or I drink too much wine at lunch!), I shall simply fold up the bike, put it in its carry bag, and get on a bus or a train. To me, this is the best type of biking holiday you could imagine (also a folding bike is so secure because you can take it into your hotel room or secure it at a hostel and forget about it and go for a walk). I think it's crazy to hire bikes if you're serious about cycling...all the aggro about finding a place to rent one, paying for it, making sure it doesn't get stolen, making sure it's back in time before the place closes. Who needs it when you can get really high quality folders now (and we have to pay effectively twice the price for them here in the UK as you do in the US - you could probably sell it for more than you paid for it in Europe before coming home). Only logistic is making sure you take a big enough case to pack it for the plane. If you don't intend bringing the bike back ie selling it in Europe, then buy a cheap secondhand case and dump it when you get to Europe. It is akin to backpacking without the hard work. You should be thinking of using a bike to carry your backpack, not using yr back to carry your backpack and yr bike! To paraphrase a famous saying, why backpack when you can ride?

  19. #19
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    By the way...this backpack always amused me. I can't imagine anyone actually using it as a regular pack but...http://www.birdybike.com/Accessories/accessories.html

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