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Folding Bikes Discuss the unique features and issues of folding bikes. Also a great place to learn what folding bike will work best for your needs.

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Old 01-13-08, 09:11 AM   #1
teamcompi
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Please help me out

How good are these folding bikes for going the distance?
I am an avid rider with a number of different bikes and am lucky in that I can switch around between the tandems, 29er, touring, bent and mountain bike with no real problems. I am looking for some sort of bike I can ride while traveling. My rides will be between 20 to 30 kms up to about 150-200 km per ride, just packing the ususal stuff in a seat bag and a camera sort of stuff. I really do not mind spending 10-20 minutes putting things together.
My question is should I get a convential road type bike with S&S couplers, or maybe a BF pocket rocket? or? My main concern is I want to be able to fit it in one suitcase that is airline legal, for weight and size.
One thing that might be a problem is I am not tiny guy, I am 6'2", and on a good day tip the scales at 250 pounds, I have no problems riding from one cookie joint to the next....
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Old 01-13-08, 11:07 AM   #2
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For your height and weight, your best bet might be Bike Friday. They can custom fit a bike to you.

http://www.bikefriday.com

Several models to choose from, but my current favorite is the Tikit... all of them are out of my price range though.

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Old 01-13-08, 11:25 AM   #3
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Well, there are a few of us here that have done centuries and club rides on Bike Fridays and Swiftfolders. I know others who really enjoy their Airnimals and Moulton/Pashley bikes.

I have a Bike Friday NWT. So I will discuss it specifically.

The S&S couplers obviously give you an identical ride relative to your full sized bike.

A Bike Friday will give you excellent performance but the ride will be a bit different from a full sized bike. Generally a bit more responsive and harsh with respect to certain road imperfections. Performance-wise, you will have a bit of a weight penalty relative to the super-high-end bikes and the gearing is a bit trickier. Today, most people go with the Capreo hub/cassette that is quite wide relative to most road cassettes. Hence, there are times when one will want gearing with greater granularity to get the perfect gear. Note that you could have Bike Friday or the Harris Cyclery create a custom Capreo cassette with a 9-21 or 9-23 spread instead of a 9-26. That should take care of the granularity issue I just mentioned.

A Bike Friday will pack/unpack in about 1/2 the amount of time of an S&S coupled bike. Folding the bike is great during travel. Folding allows my wife an I to rent a regular car without any rack to transport the bikes. If I remove the front wheel, I can fit both of our Bike Fridays in the trunk of our Toyota Echo. Cabs are much less of a hassle with the folding bike ... a nice perk if you break down/cramp/etc., somewhere along your trip.

If you doubt that folding the bike is in your future, you might want to consider the travel seat mast instead of the folding mast. Otherwise I would stick with the folding mast.

Your weight will not be an issue with the Bike Friday. Although it will prevent you from getting a Pocket Rocket Pro/Pocket Crusoe.
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Old 01-17-08, 09:15 AM   #4
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I doubt 250 pounds would be much of a problem for any of the high end bikes, but you'll want a high spoke count or smaller wheels. Bike Friday is custom, and thus the best for your size. Birdy will need a green elastomer, and you'd be best off with the monocoque frame (in the US, it comes with a silly spoke count--the 36 spoke wheel amounts to something like 72 spokes on a full size wheel).

Happy riding!!
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Old 01-17-08, 07:16 PM   #5
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How good are these folding bikes for going the distance?
I am an avid rider with a number of different bikes and am lucky in that I can switch around between the tandems, 29er, touring, bent and mountain bike with no real problems. I am looking for some sort of bike I can ride while traveling. My rides will be between 20 to 30 kms up to about 150-200 km per ride, just packing the ususal stuff in a seat bag and a camera sort of stuff. I really do not mind spending 10-20 minutes putting things together.
My question is should I get a convential road type bike with S&S couplers, or maybe a BF pocket rocket? or? My main concern is I want to be able to fit it in one suitcase that is airline legal, for weight and size.
One thing that might be a problem is I am not tiny guy, I am 6'2", and on a good day tip the scales at 250 pounds, I have no problems riding from one cookie joint to the next....
For traveling with disregard of the fold, it's hard to beat the Ritchey break-away bikes. You don't seem to sacrifice any performance with those bikes. Dahon has a couple cheaper knockoffs using a similar system. They have video of a woman packing a Ritchey into a suitcase on their website (www.ritcheylogic.com). Bike Friday's beefiest bike tops out at about a 230lb rider limit. Skip the folders since that's not a priority. Most of them seem to top out at a 230lb rider.
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Old 01-17-08, 07:40 PM   #6
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Dahon has a couple cheaper knockoffs using a similar system.
They're not knockoffs. Dahon licensed the technology.
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Old 01-17-08, 09:04 PM   #7
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Bike Friday's beefiest bike tops out at about a 230lb rider limit.
Not true. They can be configured to hold much more. Recently there was a small, used Pocket Llama for sale on their site with a 275 lb weight limit.

Suggest a phone call to them - or an e-mail to find out what they can do for you.

Just one comment - I have been to both 100 Mile House and Prince Rupert; they are in the boonies and you are long way from each of them! From where do you fly out of???

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Old 01-18-08, 12:23 AM   #8
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Packing a bike with S&S:
http://www.bilenky.com/packing%20instructions.html

A steel framed Xooter Swift might also be a possibility. Strida 5 or Brompton could also be considered although 16" wheels are a tuff sell for touring.
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Old 01-18-08, 08:22 AM   #9
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Packing a bike with S&S:
http://www.bilenky.com/packing%20instructions.html

A steel framed Xooter Swift might also be a possibility. Strida 5 or Brompton could also be considered although 16" wheels are a tuff sell for touring.
While I love my Strida5 for short rides in town, it should not be a candidate for the type of riding the OP is describing: 30 -200 kilometers. No way !
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Old 01-18-08, 08:43 AM   #10
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Bike Friday's beefiest bike tops out at about a 230lb rider limit. Skip the folders since that's not a priority. Most of them seem to top out at a 230lb rider.
Those are just the general specs. Bike Friday can and will do custom jobs for heavier riders.

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Old 01-18-08, 01:58 PM   #11
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Those are just the general specs. Bike Friday can and will do custom jobs for heavier riders.

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That may be, but even so why bother with a folder for touring? Try a Ritchey. It is a superb ride, its designed to go in a suitcase, and as a true full-size it will outperform any folder. You can even go carbon fiber and titanium. For this man's purpose I don't see why you'd entertain a folding bike when there is no advantage to having the ability to fold here. Again, try a Ritchey.
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Old 01-18-08, 02:34 PM   #12
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That may be, but even so why bother with a folder for touring? Try a Ritchey. It is a superb ride, its designed to go in a suitcase, and as a true full-size it will outperform any folder. You can even go carbon fiber and titanium. For this man's purpose I don't see why you'd entertain a folding bike when there is no advantage to having the ability to fold here. Again, try a Ritchey.
The Ritchey's are no doubt great bikes but:

The Ritchey bag appears to be 26" x 29" x 9" so the sum of dimensions is 64" which is I believe above the airline legal size and according to the OP, "My main concern is I want to be able to fit it in one suitcase that is airline legal, for weight and size."

Also, I'm not not convinced that they would be more comfortable than a Birdy if the road is a bit rough. This may or may not be important depending upon the individual.

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Old 01-18-08, 02:45 PM   #13
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That may be, but even so why bother with a folder for touring? Try a Ritchey. It is a superb ride, its designed to go in a suitcase, and as a true full-size it will outperform any folder. You can even go carbon fiber and titanium. For this man's purpose I don't see why you'd entertain a folding bike when there is no advantage to having the ability to fold here. Again, try a Ritchey.
I already wrote the obvious reasons for getting a folder for travel/touring below.

For touring there is a strong argument that the Bike Friday is superior to any full-sized bike. That is, I think you have it backwards.

What do you mean by outperform? If you are going to do high-end FAST club rides with a really high-end bike, I can see going for the full-sized bike for a few reasons. For instance, if you want the experience of a $5000-7000 bike, then at the moment, I don't think that one can match that combination of weight, componentry, gearing, and so on. But you don't have to go very far below that before distinguishing between the two is really about personal preference instead of measurable differences. And there is little difference between the $5K and $3K bike. Mind you, I am just considering what people do with Bike Fridays and Airnimals. Comparing it to a Moulton is a little more difficult.

That written, I would always try out the options. Although with an S&S Coupler or Ritchey bike, you are really just testing out the unpack/pack sequence.
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Old 01-18-08, 04:12 PM   #14
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Try a Ritchey. It is a superb ride, its designed to go in a suitcase, and as a true full-size it will outperform any folder.
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What do you mean by outperform?
I'll bet he's never tried a Break Away bike, and is just doing more theoretical analyses on "potential" performance gains based on YouTube videos.
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Old 01-18-08, 04:28 PM   #15
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it never stops to amaze me that there is a poster with very basic questions in week no one( there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that .. there is no stupid question) ...... and only a week later he has pretty solid experiences about all kinds of differnt bikes and concepts... knocking brand X suggesting brand Y and so forth ....

having said that the Ritchey bikes are nice ..
but I prefer my 20 incher


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Old 01-18-08, 04:34 PM   #16
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but I prefer my 20 incher
+1

jur
who regularly outperforms ppl on "full-size" bikes
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Old 01-18-08, 06:18 PM   #17
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jur
who regularly outperforms ppl on "full-size" bikes
What do YOU mean by outperform?
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Old 01-18-08, 06:43 PM   #18
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What do YOU mean by outperform?
Show them that it's the engine that matters, not the wheel size.
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Old 01-18-08, 10:29 PM   #19
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+1

jur
who regularly outperforms ppl on "full-size" bikes


But Jur, can you outperform Stevegor on the Wasp???.......oh wait, Stevegor ain't no people

+1 on it's the engine that makes the difference. I'm gaining a reputation of the guy on the funny small bike that blasts around the streets flat out.
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Old 01-18-08, 11:26 PM   #20
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After the AAC I'll come to Bendigo and you can take us on a ride to Mt Wallace.

(Not sure, is that the name?)
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Old 01-19-08, 01:22 AM   #21
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I wouldn't want to take Jur on. While there is no real performance difference by wheel size, anyone who can win a time trail UPHILL on a heavy R20 with a hub gear gets my immediate concession.

The only advantage he had on that ride was the small wheels, which have less moment, thus climb better.

By the way, here is some info on the small wheel performance issue: http://www.alexmoulton.co.uk/frames.asp?id=questions

This seems to be the collective opinion in the forum on this:

Small wheels: less air to displace at any given pressure (PV = nRT), but the smaller contact patch can create more tire deformation under smooth conditions and lower pressures. Less wind resistance (which is significant given fewer spokes and shorter spokes than an equivalent 700cc wheel). Less ability to absorb shock (and thus slower on rough surfaces) than bigger tires. More hub resistance, which plays a tiny role. Less moment: better able to get out of tough situations in traffic and great on uphills, but bad on downhills. Less total rolling resistance on tests biased against small wheels (small diameter drums with or without a smooth surface) at high pressures and lower wind resistance makes them ideal on smooth surfaces and uphills.

Big wheels: a more comfortable ride on rough surfaces, more moment and thus more stability and speed downhill, better tire selection. Bad on climbs, but this is more than compensated for by the lighter road bike to which it is attached. I've never seen anyone provide documentation that big wheels are more efficient, but tons providing documentation that small wheels are more efficient. This is probably more due to big wheel advocates never testing the theory.

I think it's funny that people will try to make head-on-head comparisons using average speeds on one trial. A power meter is really needed. But a collection of many average speed reports over a large number of trials, conditions, and riders on identical tires and similar bike will support (but not likely reject) rough equivalency, the null hypothesis. We tried that here, but it didn't go anywhere. Psychological factors play a huge role as well, so any test will be biased unless it is mechanized.

A suspended small wheel is great for most applications, and may well be faster than an unsuspended large wheel on roads. But when I hit deep dust powder, pesky rocks, or ruts on descents, I'm less happy with my suspended small wheels. My back tire lock broke on the last flight, so I'm unable to do bunny hops, which makes off road riding even more problematic.
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Old 01-19-08, 02:02 AM   #22
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I already wrote the obvious reasons for getting a folder for travel/touring below.

For touring there is a strong argument that the Bike Friday is superior to any full-sized bike. That is, I think you have it backwards.

What do you mean by outperform? If you are going to do high-end FAST club rides with a really high-end bike, I can see going for the full-sized bike for a few reasons. For instance, if you want the experience of a $5000-7000 bike, then at the moment, I don't think that one can match that combination of weight, componentry, gearing, and so on. But you don't have to go very far below that before distinguishing between the two is really about personal preference instead of measurable differences. And there is little difference between the $5K and $3K bike. Mind you, I am just considering what people do with Bike Fridays and Airnimals. Comparing it to a Moulton is a little more difficult.

That written, I would always try out the options. Although with an S&S Coupler or Ritchey bike, you are really just testing out the unpack/pack sequence.
Sorry to cause a hubbub. I was just suggesting the original poster (apparently a large man at over 6' and 250+ lbs) might feel more at home on a full-size bike and therefore should try out a Ritchey bike, which is a very competitive bike in the market alongside many very competitive bikes. I looked at a steel Ritchey recently which was quoted to me at $3000 even. I did not quote the titanium/carbon version because I didn't discover it until I hit Ritchey's website, and that is also more bike than I personally need while traveling. The shop I looked at did not have one of those bikes in stock. Regardless, it is the only separable bike I know of thus far to offer a titanium/carbon option. Further, I could tell absolutely no difference between the Ritchey or another nice road bike. The feel was identical and lovely. I have not yet ridden a really high end 20" folding bike, so I can't comment on the ride. Certainly it must be unique in some way as compared to a full-size bike in the handling. The Bike Fridays as I understand are steel. A heavier rider will require more material obviously in the frame, and therefore more weight. That is assuming Bike Fridays clearances are tight because of the fold and the only way then to increase the moment of inertia is to thicken the walls of the frame section rather than the radius of the tube. Recall steel has a density of about 490 lbs/ft^3. The lighter Bike Fridays come in at just over 20 lbs, but realistically for that size rider I would bet closer to 30lbs. You can get a Ritchey under 20. Anyway, there is no doubt there are other large men that find completely different bikes suitable. No bike should be left untested if there is time to do so and dealers with stock nearby, however.

Can the Moultons pack? It's probably illusion, but they look so fragile. Many of the tubes in the space frames look to be 1/4" or less, but I've never seen one in person. I would fear a good blow by the ever careful TSA and baggage handlers would do in the frame.
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Old 01-19-08, 05:52 AM   #23
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After the AAC I'll come to Bendigo and you can take us on a ride to Mt Wallace.

(Not sure, is that the name?)

Jur,
Mt Alexander is the place,
Have a good ride next weekend, I hope the weather is kind, some of my bike friends will be on the 200km ride and I've told them to look out for a crazy loony on a blue Swift who climbs like a mountain goat. I've described you to a friend, so if he reconizes you I'll know what I'm up against if we ever meet in the flesh for a ride.....if the report is too scary don't be surprised if I'm hard to find when you get to Bendigo
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Old 01-19-08, 06:27 AM   #24
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Jur,
Mt Alexander is the place,
Have a good ride next weekend, I hope the weather is kind, some of my bike friends will be on the 200km ride and I've told them to look out for a crazy loony on a blue Swift who climbs like a mountain goat. I've described you to a friend, so if he reconizes you I'll know what I'm up against if we ever meet in the flesh for a ride.....if the report is too scary don't be surprised if I'm hard to find when you get to Bendigo
Ha ha, don't worry mate, I have a bigger mouth than is good for me. I have decided to try and go easy on the AAC so as not to wear myself out before the end. Let's hope my ego can fit into that small space I have allocated for it. So the report, if any, will be "What was all the fuss about? All I saw was a skinny dude crawling up some lame hill!"
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Old 01-19-08, 07:51 AM   #25
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Sorry to cause a hubbub. I was just suggesting the original poster (apparently a large man at over 6' and 250+ lbs) might feel more at home on a full-size bike and therefore should try out a Ritchey bike, which is a very competitive bike in the market alongside many very competitive bikes. I looked at a steel Ritchey recently which was quoted to me at $3000 even. I did not quote the titanium/carbon version because I didn't discover it until I hit Ritchey's website, and that is also more bike than I personally need while traveling. The shop I looked at did not have one of those bikes in stock. Regardless, it is the only separable bike I know of thus far to offer a titanium/carbon option. Further, I could tell absolutely no difference between the Ritchey or another nice road bike. The feel was identical and lovely. I have not yet ridden a really high end 20" folding bike, so I can't comment on the ride. Certainly it must be unique in some way as compared to a full-size bike in the handling. The Bike Fridays as I understand are steel. A heavier rider will require more material obviously in the frame, and therefore more weight. That is assuming Bike Fridays clearances are tight because of the fold and the only way then to increase the moment of inertia is to thicken the walls of the frame section rather than the radius of the tube. Recall steel has a density of about 490 lbs/ft^3. The lighter Bike Fridays come in at just over 20 lbs, but realistically for that size rider I would bet closer to 30lbs. You can get a Ritchey under 20. Anyway, there is no doubt there are other large men that find completely different bikes suitable. No bike should be left untested if there is time to do so and dealers with stock nearby, however.

Can the Moultons pack? It's probably illusion, but they look so fragile. Many of the tubes in the space frames look to be 1/4" or less, but I've never seen one in person. I would fear a good blow by the ever careful TSA and baggage handlers would do in the frame.
You are absolutely right that a high-end triangulated frame will be stronger or lighter than a partially triangulated from on a folder (probably not 33% lighter, but lighter), but the wheels will be weaker, too. If the specs show no weight limit, it is undoubtedly a good choice so long as a bit of extra $$ at the airport is not an issue.

The Moulton is indestructible as far as I can tell. I'm not an engineer, but if the propaganda is to believed, the pylon design is significantly stronger than a triangulated frame. On top of that, the bike is overbuilt, so there is probably nothing stronger. Bikes built to last all weigh more than racing bikes (with the possible exception of a small number of very expensive bikes, like the litespeed). It would nice to see a Moulton for more petite folks that shaved a few extra pounds off. The Dura Ace model comes in at 10Kg, which could probably only be safely lightened further with Tune components.

Incidentally, the Tune Birdy model also weighs in at 10Kg with Marathon Racer tires installed, so both bikes are probably about the same weight. I really like the ride of both bikes, but they say the Moulton (taken to 52MPH on a flat to set the world upright speed record for bikes) is more stable at high speeds. I've never gone over 42 on a downhill.

Does the Moulton pack? Anyone know the answer to that question? I would think not too terribly well given that it is not a folder, but definitely better than a Ritchey. I don't know how I would feel traveling with an expensive bike (either the Moulton or Ritchey). I also would be leery of a non-folder since they are more difficult to take into guest house rooms, restaurants, etc. Traveling with a lock is a drag.
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