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  1. #1
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    Flying with a folder

    Hi everyone!

    I'll be buying a folding bike soon. I think I want a Bike Friday NWT, but before I actually take the plunge, I thought I'd ask some advice from everyone here.

    Background - I lived in Maryland, now I live in Costa Rica. Though you see lots of bikes here, the traffic and drivers are insane. I only ride outside on Sundays on a nice "safe" 4 mile loop where a lot of other serious cyclists go. During the week I remain indoors on my trainer. Which isn't fun.

    When I return to the states I look wistfully around me at the bike paths, the wide streets, and at my old bicycling routes. So I got it into my head that if I can buy a bike that I can fly easily with, then when I do go home stateside I can ride easily there.

    I've done some research, and as far as I can tell, the BF's are the best bicycles to pack in a suitcase and haul internationally. Am I wrong? Are there other options? The easier it is to take on a plane, the more likely I'll take it with me and unpack it on the other side!

    Oh, and I liked the performance claims from other BF owners. I plan to go home at some point in the future and ride a century on this bike as well.

    Any advice?

    Thanks!

    Teresa

  2. #2
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    you answered most of your questions

    join the fold
    thor

  3. #3
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teresa View Post
    I've done some research, and as far as I can tell, the BF's are the best bicycles to pack in a suitcase and haul internationally. Am I wrong? Are there other options? The easier it is to take on a plane, the more likely I'll take it with me and unpack it on the other side! Any advice?

    Thanks!

    Teresa
    Bike Friday is well known as a brand of high performance bikes that can be packed in a suitcase and haul internationally. They are far from being the best bicycles to pack though. be prepared to spend aproximately 30 minutes (without practice, up to one hour) to pack your bike and aproximately 20 minutes (up to one hour) to make it ride-ready after your arrival. Give or take a few minutes here and there.

    If you are willing to give up a little bit on performance, I would suggest a 16" bike that can be fitted without any complex disassembly. The Bike Friday Tikit might be an option, but you still need some patience.

    After trying a broad variety of the 20" bikes in the market, I decided to buy a Brompton and even though I am not the fastest boy on earth, it was the most intelligent choice (under my unique needs) that I made. I travel very often, all the time with my bike (This year 7 trips: 3 internationally, 4 domestic. 2 more domestic trips scheduled and 2 more international ones also purchased. My bike goes with me to all of them). it takes me 5 seconds to pack my bike. Once I arrive, all I have to do is to place the chain back where it belongs and pump air into the tires.

    I currently DON'T HAVE A BIKE (I sold my Brompton to a friend on my last trip and I am waiting for my new one to arrive) but if you line up all the folding bikes in the world and ask me to pick one completely free, I would pick a Brompton 10 out of 10 times. Too bad it's an overpriced product. But buy it once, cry only once.

    Good luck with your final purchase. Come back and let us know what you end up getting. And don't forget the nice pictures of your bike!

    14R.

  4. #4
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    As per 14R -- Bromptons will be the easiest to pack. I'd do a test ride first though to make sure you like the ride.

    NWT will likely have a better ride. One thing to keep in mind is that it is essentially a touring bike, i.e. generally made for loads. If you want to do some regular road riding, you might want a different model.

    By the way, is it not an option to buy a cheap standard bike and leave it at someone's house in MD? Unless you plan to do a tour, that may be the most efficient option....

  5. #5
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    Thanks, guys!

    I have considered leaving a bike in MD. But I also visit my parents in AL, and my sister in VA, etc. And I may still go that route with multiple bikes if I have to, but I just love the idea of a folder.

    So Bromptons pack? I couldn't get any definitive answer on that question. I might get a chance in November to visit a store that sells folders in MD and I can try a Brompton and ask them about it.

    I love the idea of a touring bike, but I have found that the idea of touring and the actual doing of touring just don't come together for me very often. If not NWT, is the Pocket Rocket better? And how does the Tikit ride?

    Thanks!

    Teresa

  6. #6
    Senior Member jnb-rare's Avatar
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    Packability is very important for your plans, of course. But gearing may be so as well, depending on how hilly the terrain may be, and your fitness level/riding style.

    Some riders have no problems with a 3-speed. For me (older, less fit, and having to be careful with knees), a wide range (lowest to highest) and larger number of intermediate gears is helpful. I use a 9-speed, 32 to 93 gear inches, which works pretty well for me. If I were doing loaded touring, or riding lots of big, long hills, I might be looking for a lower gear and even more of them.

  7. #7
    Seņor Mambo
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  8. #8
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    Is the Brompton really a legal carry-on bike on US airlines, or people just get away with it? I don't think a Brompton fits into the "carry on box". Airlines are getting stricter about this stuff every year.

    The Tikit packs quickly and rides pretty well. I had a NWT and thought I'd keep it when I bought my Tikit, but after a month of riding the Tikit I couldn't figure out what I'd keep the NWT for. So the NWT was sold.

  9. #9
    Seņor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by awetmore View Post
    Is the Brompton really a legal carry-on bike on US airlines, or people just get away with it? I don't think a Brompton fits into the "carry on box". Airlines are getting stricter about this stuff every year.
    I'm not sure how Todd does it, but he's done it more than once: at least once to Beijing and once to Vegas.


    Quote Originally Posted by awetmore View Post
    The Tikit packs quickly and rides pretty well. I had a NWT and thought I'd keep it when I bought my Tikit, but after a month of riding the Tikit I couldn't figure out what I'd keep the NWT for. So the NWT was sold.
    Glad this bike it working out. Do you see any weaknesses (other than the one addressed by your cool rack) that you'd want addressed in the future? For example, I know it's held together by cabling, but what kind of stress is on the cable (i.e. do you see it wearing out?), etc.?

  10. #10
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    I got a Bike Friday NWT this summer and it takes me 20-30 minutes to pack and unpack it after 2 or 3 tries. I didn't like the feel of a Brompton - too upright. The NWT feels more like a full size bike. I had a bit of buyer's remorse at the price - I wonder if I should have got a somewhat cheaper Swift which can also be packed in a near-enough legal suitcase. However I took the plunge on the NWT and I enjoyed riding it almost every day on a 7 day contract in Northern Ontario in Augst. I will mainly ride it on trips...I don't seem to use it much at home.

  11. #11
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Even if it is not a carry on bike, there is no bike that is easier to pack than the Brompton, which was my point.

  12. #12
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    It's extremely unlikely any bike other than a novelty bike is going to work as carry-on. The big issue for most of us is choosing a bike that is legal as normal check in luggage. Bike Friday fits in a suitcase that is a smidge over the official limit for flight cases (length plus height plus width < 62"), but most people check it in with no trouble.

  13. #13
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teresa View Post
    Hi everyone!

    The easier it is to take on a plane, the more likely I'll take it with me and unpack it on the other side!
    I believe the biggest issue is the amount of time spent on packing the bike.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 14R View Post
    I believe the biggest issue is the amount of time spent on packing the bike.
    I think that depends on how you are traveling. If you are spending a day or two in one place and then moving on (by train, car, plane, etc.) then 5 minutes vs 30 minutes packing is a big deal. If you are spending 3 or 4 days (or more) before having to pack the bike then 30 minutes to pack/unpack is not such a big deal.
    '07 Bike Friday New World Tourist www.TheMadBrewer.com

  15. #15
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Going by car is also different in that you don't have to "pack" the bike - just fold and throw in the trunk.

  16. #16
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teresa View Post
    The easier it is to take on a plane, the more likely I'll take it with me and unpack it on the other side! Teresa
    My understanding was that Teresa wants something easy to fly with. Did I miss anything?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by spambait11 View Post
    Glad this bike it working out. Do you see any weaknesses (other than the one addressed by your cool rack) that you'd want addressed in the future? For example, I know it's held together by cabling, but what kind of stress is on the cable (i.e. do you see it wearing out?), etc.?
    I don't see the cables wearing out. There are two of them for redundency. There are rumors that Bike Friday is coming out with a locking stem hinge for those who aren't comfortable with the current system.

    My only complaint about the bike is that the stem riser is a little too flexible. I'd like to see a stiffer riser used. I am going to experiment with using a steel riser instead of aluminum to see if that improves the ride. I expect that Bike Friday is working on other options here too. I'm running drop bars, not the stock flat bars, which make also make a difference.

    Otherwise the bike folds fairly small, packs very quickly, and fits like a full size bicycle. I can't say that for most other small folders (such as the Brompton and Dahon Curve). All of the parts are standard except for the front hub (it is narrow) making upgrades easy. It looks like there are Tikit dealers in many cities now, so I'd recommend checking one out if you are interested in them.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheMadBrewer View Post
    I think that depends on how you are traveling. If you are spending a day or two in one place and then moving on (by train, car, plane, etc.) then 5 minutes vs 30 minutes packing is a big deal. If you are spending 3 or 4 days (or more) before having to pack the bike then 30 minutes to pack/unpack is not such a big deal.
    I think it depends on how often you ride more than how often you move.

    I was taking my NWT on trips (with my non-cyclist wife) and using it for one or two 20 mile rides. That means that I'd spend an hour of packing and unpacking for maybe 4 hours of riding. That ratio gets to an annoying level.

    A "clean" fold (one that keeps the drivetrain away from the outside of the bike and where your hands never get dirty in folding or unfolding) is also nicer if you are putting the bike into or out of a car trunk frequently.

  19. #19
    Seņor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by awetmore View Post
    All of the parts are standard except for the front hub (it is narrow)...
    Interesting, didn't know that. Must be using Dahon's or Brompton's front hub size? ~74mm?

    I'm set as far as folders go. I will, however, entertain the thought of a full Ti tikit if they ever become available.
    Last edited by spambait11; 10-06-07 at 09:54 PM.

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