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?