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  1. #1
    Senior Member sprockets's Avatar
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    BF Pocket Llama in Ecuador

    So I'm in Ecuador touring around on my new Bike Friday Pocket Llama.

    The Good:

    The first test: how will it deal with some offroading? I signed up for a tour with "the Biking Dutchman" tour company out of Quito for the one day Cotopaxi tour. Cotopaxi is the worlds highest active volcano with jeep trails and off road parts. The tour company usually provides high end, but beat up bikes with front suspension. The Pocket Llama kept up with everybody else in our tour group with relative ease. By lunch however the headset needed to be tightened because of some of the rough terrain the bike handled at pretty high speeds. After tightening it I was back on track for the afternoon and had a blast.







    Cycling through Cuenca: Today I rode from Cuenca to Banos which was mostly up hill on the way there. Some of the roads were quite steep and I had the Pocket Llama in the lowest granny gear for some parts. My girlfriend, a former bike tour guide was impressed with the bike's ability to tackle hills that her rented, full sized mountain couldn't tackle. Being at altitude it is especially difficult to tackle any incline. I found nothing that the Pocket Llama couldn't handle. On the way back from banos, the Pocket Llama handled the high speeds admirably. I had no problems keeping up with cars and decided to "play with the steering" a bit. It does feel a bit less stable with the smaller wheels but there were no real problems.

    The bad:

    While riding down Cotopaxi there were certain portions of the road that were "washboard". With the 20" wheels this was particularly tooth rattling but easing up on the grips helped. By lunch some of the group was complaining of wrist pain. I had none. Still, I know that some of the bumps would have been easier with 26" wheels and some of the loose trails were a bit tricky with the 20" wheels.

    In Cuenca, some of the curbs were very high. Not easy to "curb hop" as it would be with 26" tires.

    The big problem: Flying. Every time I get on an airplane with the bike and the hard shell case I find that the large chain ring gets bent. I follow the packing instructions to the letter but still, bent chain rings. I'm a tall guy so my bike is as big as they come. This means less room for the chain ring and it bashes against the side of the hard case, bending. I've had the ring bent back in Quito and tried to get it fixed in Cuenca but can't find a replacement chain ring anywhere.

    The ugly: Bike Friday is supposed to be known as a company that puts customer support first. This is not what have found by personal experience. I have emailed and phoned Green Gear cycling. Not only have they not provided me with any solutions to fix my problems. My first email was ignored completely. I phoned from Ecuador and was promised an email response, I received none. This is not exactly what I had envisioned when I made the decision to purchase.

    I have sent Bike Friday a follow up email and will base my final decision on how to deal with the situation.
    *************************
    As god as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

  2. #2
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Glad to hear you are having fun in Ecuador. Not sure when you have been trying to contact BF, but over the holidays most companies are closed or only have a skeleton crew working. Perhaps that may be contributing to the lack of response you are getting.

    BTW - thanks for the pics....your bike looks great.
    safe riding - Vik
    VikApproved

  3. #3
    Senior Member sprockets's Avatar
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    Update: I sent a somewhat scathing email to BF today regarding the problems I had been having. I received email responses quickly from the salesman and the tech support person I had been in contact with. The solution I was given was to remove the chain ring when packing. It's a bit of a troublesome solution as it puts the onus on me to do the extra work to solve the problem. They are however willing to ship me the parts to repair my bike, which is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately this isn't really practical given the nature of my vacation. I'm going to try to keep working with them at this point as I really enjoy the performance of the bike.
    *************************
    As god as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

  4. #4
    Senior Member Foldable Two's Avatar
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    It's part of the 'fun' of being taller than normal - it means our custom-made bikes are also larger than normal.

    At least long pants are easier to get today in the proper length.

    Just one question: Do you need that large a BIG chain ring? Might a slightly smaller one pack more easily and not drop your top speed that much?

    Just curious.

    Looks like your having a pretty neat trip.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
    Senior Member sprockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foldable Two View Post
    It's part of the 'fun' of being taller than normal - it means our custom-made bikes are also larger than normal.

    At least long pants are easier to get today in the proper length.

    Just one question: Do you need that large a BIG chain ring? Might a slightly smaller one pack more easily and not drop your top speed that much?

    Just curious.

    Looks like your having a pretty neat trip.
    I've thought about that, however I've already topped out the gearing on the way back down the inclines.
    *************************
    As god as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

  6. #6
    Bop
    Bop is offline
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    [ The solution I was given was to remove the chain ring when packing. It's a bit of a troublesome solution as it puts the onus on me to do the extra work to solve the problem.]

    I am tall as well; all my bikes are big. My packable bikes (2 Bilenky coupled frames and a Swift) are equipped with self-extracting crank bolts. It adds a couple minutes to the disassembly and re-assembly process, but it isn't much of a task. I does make packing easier. Just make sure you secure the chainring/crank-arm to the frame or some other large component (I use velcro tape), so it doesn't move around in the case during shipping.

    This thread shows the packed Swift with the drive side crank and chainring taped to the rear wheel:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...01#post3956301

    Looks like high times in Ecuador. Have fun.

  7. #7
    Senior Member jnb-rare's Avatar
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    Too bad about the chainring, but it sounds as if you're having a blast on a very cool vacation in Ecuador. If it will make you feel even better, we got another dump of snow in Toronto today (wet this time). Tomorrow's forecast is -26C with the windchill (around 15F).

  8. #8
    Senior Member sprockets's Avatar
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    Just got back from my vacation and wanted to provide an update. Tim from Bikie Friday tried his best to get me some replacement parts but Fed Ex down there is even worse than it is up here. None the less I was able to get some use out of my Pocket Llama. After a cruise through the islands I went for a bike ride through the Island of Santa Cruz. It started off well enough but we ended up getting caught in the rain. There was a tourism sign on the side of the road and we figured we might find some shelter. We sure did! There was a "Lava tube" chich is like a big cave in the ground.



    Later on we went for a hike in the area and found a wild giant tortise. The Galapagos is really a magical place
    *************************
    As god as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

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