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  1. #1
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Bike Friday for my wife...

    About a year ago my wife and I spent a week in Holland. Friends lent us two Bromptons to get around. That experience, which turned me on to folders, and resulted in the purchase of a Bike Friday NWT, turned my wife off on folders. She didn't like the ride of the Brompton, and the folding ability didn't overcome that dislike.

    So, fast forward a year. I've got my NWT, and she's heard me compliment the ride. At her request I adjusted the bike so she could ride it for a couple of long rides. After riding it for two fiftyish mile rides and several shorter rides she declared that she wants a Bike Friday just like mine.

    I am, of course, very pleased with this because the usefulness of my Friday goes up if my wife has one to use with me. However, we've been married for 19 years, so I understand that "I want one just like yours" means "I want one with the same color paint". I've spent the last week or so trying to figure out what her real requirements are. As I currently understand them, they are:

    Model: One that looks sort-of like my NWT. So, NWT, Pocket Crusoe, Pocket Rocket will work.
    Handlebars: Drop handlebars
    Shifters: She says that my bar end shifters are causing her to get tendonitis in her wrists. I understand that to mean that brifters are cooler, and that's what she wants.
    Gearing: Top end gears that are somewhat higher than my NWT. She tends to bash rather than spin, and she found my 95 inch top gear confining.
    While I hope to tour loaded with my bike, she only wants the ability to carry a small rack-top bag.

    After looking over options, I think that the version of the Pocket Rocket with drop bars, Tiagra brifters and front derailleur, Shimano 105 triple crank, 105 rear derailleur, and Capreo hub and cassette should be a good starting point. But I have some questions, which some Bike Forums experts might be able to help with.

    On a BF Pocket Rocket with Shimano 105 brake calipers, is there enough fork/brake clearance for fenders? (Planet Bike or similar.)

    I looked at the Tiagra brifters in a store. They look kind of plastic-y. Will they hold up?

    Are you Tiagra users out there happy with Tiagra components in general?

    Are you Capreo users out there happy with your hubs and cassettes?

    I don't have any experience with really big chain rings. Are there any funny issues associated with using a really big ring (say 58 or so) to plus up the top gears?

    If I use a really big top ring, do I need to make all the chain rings somewhat larger?

    Thanks
    Speedo

  2. #2
    Prodigal Son
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    I don't know about the questions regarding Tiagra or fenders, but I'm really happy with the Capreo (if you are worried, you can buy a spare cassette for the future, which is what I did) which then allows you to forgo the big chainring in front.....the capreo allows for gearing that is very, very close to a 700c bike. I run a 53/42 in front with the standard Capreo cassette in back.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ICU Doc
    I'm really happy with the Capreo (if you are worried, you can buy a spare cassette for the future, which is what I did) which then allows you to forgo the big chainring in front.....the capreo allows for gearing that is very, very close to a 700c bike. I run a 53/42 in front with the standard Capreo cassette in back.
    Thanks. I'm leaning that way. Keeping your own sparing inventory for the "odd" parts is a good idea.

    Speedo

  4. #4
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Briefly (meeting coming up)

    (1) I have a bike with Tiagra derailers and hubs. They work fine. But can't answer the question about the brifters.

    (2) Capreo hub and cassette have worked out well for 1500 miles.

    (3) Big chainrings run into issues with the shape of the front derailer resulting in sub-par shifting. Another issue is the the big chainring gets close to the outside of the case when traveling, making it easier for damage to occur.

    (4) Generally brifters are not able to handle really disparate chainrings as well as bar cons.

    (5) My wife is very happy with her Crusoe. It could fit fenders if the Pocket Rocket is an issue. Note that she has v-brakes with travel agents to work with the 105 brifters.

    -G

  5. #5
    Seņor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedo
    Model: One that looks sort-of like my NWT. So, NWT, Pocket Crusoe, Pocket Rocket will work.
    I think you need a tandem: an XL if you want performance, or a Two'sDay if you need the fold.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand
    Briefly (meeting coming up)

    (5) My wife is very happy with her Crusoe. It could fit fenders if the Pocket Rocket is an issue. Note that she has v-brakes with travel agents to work with the 105 brifters.

    -G
    Ah. Travel agents. I forgot about travel agents.

    I don't know if you can get nine speed 105 brifters any more. It seems like Shimano has that nine speed niche filled with Tiagra. I toyed with the idea of going 10 speed, but the available cassettes go the wrong way. 12 tooth smallest cog.

    Thanks for the other answers too.

    Speedo
    Last edited by Speedo; 05-10-07 at 12:33 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spambait11
    I think you need a tandem: an XL if you want performance, or a Two'sDay if you need the fold.
    Ohhhh no. On a weekend at some tandem equipped friends house we awoke to find that our pedals had been stolen from our single bikes and installed on their tandem. We tried it. It was not pretty.

    There are some people who are meant to ride tandems, but the Speedos are not among them!

    Speedo

  8. #8
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedo
    I don't know if you can get nine speed 105 brifters any more.

    Thanks for the other answers too.

    Speedo
    That is damn good question. But I ordered the boss' bike last fall. And she has 105 brifters that work with the 9 speed (rear) drivetrain. Is there a setting withing the brifter itself? I see that Bike Friday still sells such models too. So I don't think that it is really an issue.

    And you are welcome.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand
    That is damn good question. But I ordered the boss' bike last fall. And she has 105 brifters that work with the 9 speed (rear) drivetrain. Is there a setting withing the brifter itself? I see that Bike Friday still sells such models too. So I don't think that it is really an issue.
    Can you point me to one? I couldn't find any that still used 105 brifters.

    I'm converging on a Crusoe with Capreo, the Tiagra components, with travel agents and v-brakes. I don't see a model quite like that either, but they seem quite willing to improvise there at BF.

    Speedo

  10. #10
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Well sure enough ... I don't see it listed today. But as you suggest, there is a Tiagra version there.

    What do the BF guys say?

    -G

  11. #11
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand
    Well sure enough ... I don't see it listed today. But as you suggest, there is a Tiagra version there.

    What do the BF guys say?

    -G
    I haven't asked yet. I was initially so unclear on where the sweet spot is on this. The next step is to present some general options to the "customer". Then I can flesh out the details with BF.

  12. #12
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    Tiagra is just fine. The one to avoid is the Sora triple shifter, which has no fine "trim" adjustment.

    I don't understand the concern with big chainrings. If you get the Capreo hub, you don't need a big ring. That's the beauty of Capreo. You get standard gearing with a standard chanring despile the little wheels.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Nachoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedo
    I don't know if you can get nine speed 105 brifters any more.
    I bought a Pocket Rocket a few months ago with nine speed 105 brifters.
    .
    .

    Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noahj
    Tiagra is just fine. The one to avoid is the Sora triple shifter, which has no fine "trim" adjustment.
    TNX

    Speedo

  15. #15
    jur
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    Quote Originally Posted by noahj
    I don't understand the concern with big chainrings. If you get the Capreo hub, you don't need a big ring. That's the beauty of Capreo. You get standard gearing with a standard chanring despile the little wheels.
    There are a few (IMHO) major problems with Capreo hub setups:

    1. The sprocket set may become obsolete in a short time. Spares will only get you so far. Then it's game over, get a new wheel built. If Shimano don't make adequate profit off this, they'll yank it.

    2. The smaller sprockets mean bigger chain tension, which means faster wearout, which means faster replacement.

    3. Smaller wheels rotate at a higher rate, which means faster wearout, which means etc. Of course this applies to conventional clusters too, but you can get those easily and cheaply enough.

    So, not only do you risk obsolescence, but you are extremely likely to have to replace sprockets more often than other ones. The Capreo fetches a premium, too, from prices I have seen.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  16. #16
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Rats!
    Quote Originally Posted by jur
    There are a few (IMHO) major problems with Capreo hub setups:

    1. The sprocket set may become obsolete in a short time. Spares will only get you so far. Then it's game over, get a new wheel built. If Shimano don't make adequate profit off this, they'll yank it.

    2. The smaller sprockets mean bigger chain tension, which means faster wearout, which means faster replacement.

    3. Smaller wheels rotate at a higher rate, which means faster wearout, which means etc. Of course this applies to conventional clusters too, but you can get those easily and cheaply enough.

    So, not only do you risk obsolescence, but you are extremely likely to have to replace sprockets more often than other ones. The Capreo fetches a premium, too, from prices I have seen.
    I share all those concerns. I remember once giving you some advice that boiled down to: "As long as your wife is happy, everybody will be happy." This bike is for my wife and she wants the bigger gears. Big rings only get you so far, and my wife doesn't have the patience to deal with any big ring funnies.

    I'm not above buying a stack of Capreo cassettes, and even a spare Capreo rear hub or two. An investment in domestic tranquility! Worst case is that at some point in the future, when we run out of spares, she'll have to downsize her gears. We're not getting any younger, so maybe that'll work out.

    The alternative is talking her in to lower gears now. I'm not sure that I'm up to hearing about it every time she runs out of gears at the top!

    Speedo

  17. #17
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    I think Jur is overstating the case. It's true that the Capreo is a niche product, but it's a growing niche, and I think it has been a successful product for Shimano. And it really is the only no-compromise option in gearing for small-wheeled bikes. I have a 60/50 chainring setup on my PRP, and it really is less than optimal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedo

    The alternative is talking her in to lower gears now.
    Oh, mercy. There are a few things you might talk your wife into, but this is not one of them
    Last edited by noahj; 05-14-07 at 12:52 PM.

  18. #18
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jur
    There are a few (IMHO) major problems with Capreo hub setups:

    1. The sprocket set may become obsolete in a short time. Spares will only get you so far. Then it's game over, get a new wheel built. If Shimano don't make adequate profit off this, they'll yank it.

    2. The smaller sprockets mean bigger chain tension, which means faster wearout, which means faster replacement.

    3. Smaller wheels rotate at a higher rate, which means faster wearout, which means etc. Of course this applies to conventional clusters too, but you can get those easily and cheaply enough.

    So, not only do you risk obsolescence, but you are extremely likely to have to replace sprockets more often than other ones. The Capreo fetches a premium, too, from prices I have seen.
    I had all of these concerns too. But at 1500+ miles, the cassette seems to be doing fine with respect to wear on both the NWT and Crusoe. It is anecdotal, but at least you have two data points. Moreover, well maintained hubs should last a LONG time.

    So you will probably have to replace the cassettes more often. But from conversations on the Bike Friday YAK group, no one has really complained about the issue. So my guess is that the difference is probably pretty small.

    I just packed up the Bike Friday for our trip to Santa Fe. I can tell you that a big chainring will be pretty close to the corner of the case and the suitcase wheel well.

    Hey ... Anybody going to ride in the Santa Fe Century? You will see us on our Bike Fridays.

    -G

  19. #19
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Many thanks for all the replies.

    I'm definitely over into Capreo-land. I presented options to the "customer" over the weekend. Now I need to get some additional model details from Bike Friday.

    Speedo

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