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Old 11-21-07, 10:46 AM   #1
Fat Boy
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Any feedback on an Air Friday?

So that's it. Has anyone ridden an Air Friday and has some opinions on it? There's a bunch of feedback on the Bike Friday website, but you wouldn't guess that they'd put up the 'bad' stuff.
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Old 11-21-07, 12:23 PM   #2
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This hardly counts, but I pulled one down off the wall in their showroom and sat on it briefly!

It was pretty springy, but I do weigh 205-207 fully dressed, which is like 15-17 lbs over the limit for a normal "Air" Model, per their website.
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Old 11-21-07, 01:13 PM   #3
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I wouldn't buy one without trying it out first. Some people love them, I didn't like it. Instead I got a NWT, which I think is a superb folding bike for loaded touring.
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Old 11-21-07, 01:25 PM   #4
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What about it did you not like? Was it the 'springy' thing that F2 mentioned?
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Old 11-21-07, 01:49 PM   #5
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Guess I should mention, I also have a NWT. Rides great and fits my 6'3", 200 lb body along with my 6'6" arm span.

Don't need that much technology (as on the Air Friday) for 20-30 mile max rides on streets and bike paths.

(Like the abbreviation of Foldable Two to F2.)
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Old 11-21-07, 01:58 PM   #6
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Guess I should mention, I also have a NWT. Rides great and fits my 6'3", 200 lb body along with my 6'6" arm span.
You must look like Grape Ape riding a circus bike! I'm not a big guy at 5'9" and 155#. I seem to fit on pretty much any folder. The 'springy' thing is something I hadn't thought of. I can see it being an issue, similar to a rear suspension that's too soft on a MTB.

The NWT seems to get pretty much rave reviews from everyone. I might be able to get ahold of a used AirFriday, so that's why I'm interested in feedback. Obviously, the beam is meant to flex, but I can see the lower hinge also being a possible flex point which could amplify the problem.
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Old 11-21-07, 02:28 PM   #7
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My wife is 5'8" and has a Crusoe - she says she's gotten used to the 20" wheel "look" and doesn't think of them as clown bikes any longer, but yes, I am mostly arms and legs - very ape like for sure.
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Old 11-21-07, 03:06 PM   #8
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Guess I should mention, I also have a NWT. Rides great and fits my 6'3", 200 lb body along with my 6'6" arm span.

Don't need that much technology (as on the Air Friday) for 20-30 mile max rides on streets and bike paths.

(Like the abbreviation of Foldable Two to F2.)
Do the streets have bad potholes? I know that the 4130 steel frames from BF supposedly have enough give for a comfortable ride, but I'm wondering whether an aluminum bike with suspension like a Birdy, a Moulton, or a Reach would be more comfortable. Of course, BF is custom fit, but I still wonder whether their unsuspended frames might be too harsh.
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Old 11-21-07, 03:17 PM   #9
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Again, went with the NWT - price and foldability drove that decision (I fold it every day). From what I've seen, the air friday's are closer to the 'packable' side of the foldable spectrum.

As for harshness of ride, the NWT is fine. I'm running Conti Contacts and just dropped the front pressure to 55 lbs (per Jan Heine's recommendation in Bicycle Quarterly). Holy smokes! Comfort factor went way up, and my speed went up too!

So, the only downside an an Air Friday I really see is the ease of folding, which may not be an issue for you. The flex is obviously intended - that's why it's designed that way. From what I've seen, it just means that you have to have a smooth pedal stroke. Of course, you should have that regardless of the bike, the AF just magnifies issues.
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Old 11-21-07, 05:56 PM   #10
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Do the streets have bad potholes?
The Evergreen Hwy, which we use to get to Camas (it's the old Hwy before the FWY was put in) has lots of potholes and multiple layers of pavement spots, but most streets are pretty good and the bike paths are great for the most part.

We do have Thudbuster seat posts but we both have elastomers for the next highest weight setting installed so there is not so much give. They work well. I have one on my Dahon S1, too.

The tire pressure, as gazer mentions, is also a factor. Our Schwalbe Marathons are very harsh at 100 PSI. 70-80 PSI is a better ride - not sure just how low we can go without slowing down the bikes.

Currently working on how to quickly fold and strap the bikes (individually) when putting them in our lift back or SUV. The Dahon fold is really good - need to get BF's to where I don't mess up the finish when putting them in the car. The ease and quality of the BF ride is worth the little extra trouble in transport prep.
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Old 11-21-07, 06:15 PM   #11
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If you are running thin 120 PSI tires, some form of suspension really makes a difference. This is especially true if you are going to ride more than 50 miles at a stretch; you can't stand every time you hit a rough patch. Moreover, it teaches good riding technique. If you lift and push at the same time, you don't bob. If you think about it, bobbing occurs on an unsuspended bike as well, just to a much smaller extent. By training yourself to have a more circular motion, you'll develop better habits on any bike.
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Old 11-21-07, 07:12 PM   #12
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Again, went with the NWT - price and foldability drove that decision (I fold it every day)......

So, the only downside an an Air Friday I really see is the ease of folding, which may not be an issue for you. The flex is obviously intended - that's why it's designed that way. From what I've seen, it just means that you have to have a smooth pedal stroke. Of course, you should have that regardless of the bike, the AF just magnifies issues.
Once I get the bike ready to ride, I leave it that way for several days. I have a Downtube right now. I could fold it up if I wanted to, but there's just no real reason for me to because of how I use it.

I am contemplating a long ride (for me) next summer (350+ miles) that would have to be on a folder, and it would have to happen in a 3 day time period, so I'd need to be reasonably fast. Doing that on the DT would be a little heroic for my tastes, but on my road bike I don't think it would be that big of a deal physically (beyond the obvious downside(upside?) of 3 century plus days back to back).

Anyway, I'm looking for something that I can make some time on and is a folder. The Pacific Reach and AirFriday are the 2 bikes that seem to fill that bill for me right now.
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Old 11-21-07, 07:48 PM   #13
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... I don't think it would be that big of a deal physically (beyond the obvious downside(upside?) of 3 century plus days back to back)....
That would be neither upside or downside, but backside.
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Old 11-21-07, 08:56 PM   #14
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That would be neither upside or downside, but backside.
No kidding!!!!! I have a feeling if I do that, **everything** would be hurting except my ego, if I made it.
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Old 11-22-07, 04:41 PM   #15
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I've owned and ridden an Air Friday since 2004 and am very happy with it. You do have to have a fairly smooth pedal stroke to avoid bobbing, although when you order a new one the factory does tune the stiffness of the Ti boom tube according to your preferences for ride stiffness. I've gotten pretty good at spinning really fast, as I occasionally have to.

You can get a Shimano Capreo 9-speed hub/cassette, which goes 9-26 and gives you a pretty decent low and high with a standard 39x53 double. You can also get larger chainrings, though it gets expensive. I have a 9-speed Ultegra with 39x53 front and 11-23 back. When you work the numbers it's close to having a 700c bike with a compact double, if a bit lower. It's hard work keeping up with a fast peloton in the flats, but it climbs fine for a 21 lb. bike (you can get the weight down to around 17 lb. by spending lots of money on carbon components), and I can go faster on descents than most riders on full-sized bikes.

Both the sales process and post-sales support from the factory have been exemplary.

Michael Khaw
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Old 11-22-07, 07:01 PM   #16
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I am an early Bike Friday client. I bought one of their test bikes in 1992 or 93. It is Pocket Rocket serial number 2. It is what Bike Friday calls a classic frame with a two tube center frame. I has been a great bike although I have tweaked to my liking. I seem to do that with all my bikes. I believe the only bike in their line that I would up grade it to is one of the Air bikes. I have ridden several of the Air bikes and was very satified with them. Maybe I am just to cheap to do the upgrade. My wife who is not quite 5' 2" and has always had bike fit problems finally followed my advice and about 1 year ago bought a Pocket Crusoe Petite and it is the first bike that has ever fit her out of the box perfectly. She has had it out of the country twice and is able to take it total apart by herself. It is the first bike she feels she can repair if necessary on the road. The people at Bike Friday are wonderful people to deal with from the owners to the builders to the sales people. In all owning a Friday is a great experience. Roger
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Old 11-23-07, 10:07 PM   #17
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Well, I bought it. I'm hoping it'll work for me and if it doesn't, I think I can get out of it for about what I got into it at. I'll be modding some of the parts on it, but I do that on every bike, so......

Anyway, I gave my Downtube to my nephew who is a Marine at Camp Pendleton (on loan), and I'm off to Friday-world. I'll give you all the poop when I've figured it out.
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Old 11-23-07, 11:18 PM   #18
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Fatboy, off topic, I remember you took your DT's suspension apart. Can you describe how - were there any tricks? I have had a crack at my Mini's removed a bolt but the rest seems stuck. It's not urgent, it's not tight or binding, I just want to check it out for possioble improvement.
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Old 11-24-07, 09:51 PM   #19
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Jur,

My DT is a FS IX, so it might be quite a bit different from what you have, but here's what I found.

The swingarm rides on 2 nylon (Delrin?) bushings that takes radial and axial loads. The axle that supports the bushing comes together in the middle with a male/female mating surface. On mine, there was something like 1mm of crush on the nylon bushings. Because of this, there was very little movement on the swingarm. That was how I noticed it, actually. I removed the shock and still could barely move the swingarm. Anyway, by putting a spacer in the middle of the axle mating area, I reduced the crush to about .2mm. This was enough to allow the swingarm to move, but not allow 'too much' side to side motion. Keep in mind, the more crush you have, the 'tighter' the ride will feel, but as shipped, you might as well have a hardtail. In fast corners or when pedaling hard, I can feel some frame flex. I've never felt this on any other bike, so I'm not too sensitive to it. I'm used to it, and it doesn't seem like that big of a deal at this point.

I don't know if the Mini is anything like the FS. It might be a completely different beast.
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Old 11-26-07, 10:25 AM   #20
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I have a Bike Friday Air Glide and NWT. I can only comment that the Air Glide is very comfortable ad pretty much elliminates all road shock especially frm the rear wheels. Of all my bicycles big and small wheel the Air Glide is the most comfortable ane this includes recumbents that I've owned.
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Old 11-30-07, 11:29 AM   #21
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OK, I stuck my Air Friday together last night and cruised around the 'hood.

First, coming out of the suitcase, it's not a 'folder' as much as it is an easy to pack bike. The rear triangle swings around and such, but ultimately, it's a different sort of beast than my DT in terms of packing. Having said that, it probably went together quicker than my DT when it was packed in the F'Lite case. I'm going to get a tote bag and see how I can get it small without actually packing it in the suitcase. In this respect, I'm going to have to say that the DT probably gets the nod for quick packing ability in the softside case.

So, once I stuck it all together, I took on on a ride. The seating position is very similar to my road bike, as is the overall feel. It's definitely a different beast than the DT. It has a completely different vibe. This thing wants to go FAST.

Remember, I changed my DT gearing to a 53 tooth chainring. Well, this has a double on the front (Shimano 600 groupset). The gearing is 62 / 52. That's right, folks, it's pretty steep. At first I pedaled around on the 52. Believe it or not, it felt too short. The 62 in the middle of the cassette felt like what I would actually ride on this bike. It is essentially the difference between mountain bike and road bike gearing. The 451 tires roll very free. The rear wheel has a little wobble which truing will fix, but you can tell that this thing is meant for speed.

I didn't ride over anything rough, so it was hard for me to really evaluate the seat boom. I bounced on it a little and it flexes (duh!). When I was pedaling, though, I didn't notice any bobbing at all. Probably due to my ultra-buttery-smooth pedaling technique......or just that I don't notice that type of thing. It is _nothing_ like having a rear suspension bob. On a short jump out of the saddle, it just squirted forward. The frame didn't move around underneath me, which is a big step forward compared to the DT FS.

So there are things I want to change and fix up, but overall, I'm glad I bought the Friday. I think it's gonna be a real good friend. Oh, ya, at it's only about 21 pounds. Not as light as my road bike, but a lot lighter than the DT.

Ebay is a wonderful thing.
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Old 11-30-07, 11:46 AM   #22
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The 62 in the middle of the cassette felt like what I would actually ride on this bike.
This is endemic to folding bikes in general without the Capreo option. I would also agree that anything in the 60T range makes a folding bike feel more like a full-size bike in terms of gearing, but the problem is that 60T rings on a folding bike make the bike look out of proportion.

Oh well. You wanted speed and comfort anyway. Can't go wrong with a Bike Friday. By the way, seems like it fits you very well. You really got lucky.
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Old 11-30-07, 12:12 PM   #23
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So can you adjust the stiffness/suspension on the fly? Or is it that they will put the tube in a different spot to make it more or less bouncy?
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Old 11-30-07, 12:32 PM   #24
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Size wise, the bike was within a cm of what I would have ordered for myself new, so I was pretty confident on getting it. You're right, the gearing *looks* weird, but in use, I bet it's more efficient than running a Capreo cassette. a 9 and 10 tooth cog is just a bit too small for me to be comfortable with. I will probably change the cassette and small chainring. Right now the cassette is an 11-23, and my 'granny' gear is 46 gear-inches. That's pretty steep. Hopefully I can pull the small chainring down to a 48 or 50 and use an 11-27 cassette. That will get me down to 36 gear inches in the 'granny' and still keep the 114 at the top end. The trick to that is going to be to get all the derailleurs to play well together.

You can't adjust the stiffness on the fly. You can just change the insertion depth of the seat boom. I haven't played with that, so I don't know how much softer it gets. Apparently, there is something else that they use with the boom to stiffen the ride if you want.

It's one of those things I'll just have to experiment with, but I don't see it being a big deal.
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Old 11-30-07, 12:34 PM   #25
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Sounds awesome. Enjoy!
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