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Old 02-24-08, 05:38 PM   #1
CrimsonEclipse
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Pondering a Bike Friday... PL questions.

I have just returned from a 15 day tour of New Zealand. The tour gave me
hours of time to think of a new travel bike. The Pocket Llama seems to be
the best solution due to its extra strength. I'd likely use the travel trailer.

Can the PL handle real off road conditions. Not extreme drops, I mean a
challenging hard packed trail with bumps and roots.

Can the PL take disk brakes?

Besides a Thudbuster, does it have any suspension?

I'd LOVE to buy an Airnimal Rhino, but I can't see spending $4K US right now.

Cheers

CE
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Old 02-24-08, 06:02 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by CrimsonEclipse View Post
Can the PL handle real off road conditions. Not extreme drops, I mean a
challenging hard packed trail with bumps and roots.
Not speaking as a BF owner, taking a bike off-road depends on one's own skills and the durability of the bike. For the sort of riding you describe, special skills are not necessary. I commute sometimes with my Mini (which I suppose most people would not take "off-road" having 16" wheels), off-road every time over roots, very loose deep gravel, sometimes slippery wet clay, ruts from storm water, etc. I have also ridden a long steep off-road mountain pass which was in appalling condition, only really fit for high clearance vehicles, and that was also fine. No doubt a big-wheeled MTB may have fared easier, but I don't have MTB-ing skills. It just takes the occasional jerk upwards on the bars to jump a deep rut or some gravel or a root to clear the front wheel, and unloading the saddle so the legs can take the shock off the seatpost.

Fat tyres pumped a bit softer are necessary.
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Old 02-24-08, 07:40 PM   #3
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[Speaking as an Air Friday owner...]

Contact Bike Friday about disc brakes on the Pocket Llama. My guess is the forks aren't beefy enough to handle the twisting forces generated by disc brakes.

They might also be able to refer you to Pocket Llama owners, who'd be glad to share their experiences with you. You might even find one in your vicinity who might be willing to let you test-ride theirs.

At one time there were models with suspension forks (a la Cannondale), the Pocket Gnu and the Air Llama. However, they're not on the current list of models.

You might consider the Air Glide, which has a Softride-style beam in place of a top-tube or seat-tube. The beam acts like a suspension. It's similar to my Air Friday, but comes with 406 mm wheels and wider tires.

I've ridden my Air Friday offroad on essentially fire trails, with some ruts and potholes and stretches of crushed rock. I wasn't carrying anything heavier than a 100 oz. hydration pack, but was able to stay with my friends on mountain bikes, much to their amazement.
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Old 02-24-08, 07:46 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by CrimsonEclipse View Post
I have just returned from a 15 day tour of New Zealand. The tour gave me
hours of time to think of a new travel bike. The Pocket Llama seems to be
the best solution due to its extra strength. I'd likely use the travel trailer.

Can the PL handle real off road conditions. Not extreme drops, I mean a
challenging hard packed trail with bumps and roots.

Can the PL take disk brakes?

Besides a Thudbuster, does it have any suspension?
I debated getting the Llama instead of the NWT. As you might already know, I went with the NWT.

I recall that the differences are as follows:

The NWT has a lower BB and a more traditional touring geometry.

The Llama can fit wider tires.

The Llama is about 1-1.5 pounds heavier.

The NWT can fit smaller chainrings ... the Llama runs into chain interference with the cantilever brake mount with 26t chainring.

The Llama can be fitted with a front suspension ... they used to call it a Pocket Gnu. It is still available.

I concluded that the Llama would be overkill for me and that the touring geometry was a better fit.
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Old 02-24-08, 08:42 PM   #5
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Can the PL handle real off road conditions. Not extreme drops, I mean a
challenging hard packed trail with bumps and roots.
I used my Bike Friday NWT on the Rainbow Road on NZ's South Island. It handled it very well, including the roughly 30 streams that I had to ford and the few inches of snow on the road on my second day. I don't know if you cycled on this road during your tour, but it is a 4x4 only double track that had excellent riding.

There are a few photos here:
http://phred.org/~alex/pictures/nz02/rainbow-road/

None on the second day (with snow), I was just worried about getting below the snow line and warm again.

Quote:
Can the PL take disk brakes?
They can add disk brakes to most of their models, call and ask. I didn't use them, but I also don't liek them.

Quote:
Besides a Thudbuster, does it have any suspension?
The flexible seat mast adds some passive suspension. I used larger low pressure tires too. I did have a suspension seatpost (Tamer Pivot Plus...that is a similar design to the Thudbuster ST and about as effective) on that ride, but removed it later because I didn't think that it was worth the weight.

alex
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Old 02-24-08, 10:00 PM   #6
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My guess is that the PL, if fitted with wide tires, probably could take a hard dirt or gravel trail.

If I may suggest a dark horse candidate , if you plan to do a fair amount of off-road touring, Surly is coming out with the "Traveler's Check." It's their cross/all-rounder bike which has S&S couplers. Rock solid steel frame, bar-end shifters, easy to change the transmission to a triple (or compact double), and BB is pretty high. Frame is $1000, so a full bike would probably run $1600-$2000 depending on the components.

What did you use in NZ, by the way?
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Old 02-25-08, 02:27 AM   #7
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Have a look at this similar thread:
Bikefriday Llama vs a conventional MTB?

I have not got much to add to my post (#4) other than:

I love my PL
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Old 02-25-08, 10:26 AM   #8
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If I may suggest a dark horse candidate , if you plan to do a fair amount of off-road touring, Surly is coming out with the "Traveler's Check." It's their cross/all-rounder bike which has S&S couplers. Rock solid steel frame, bar-end shifters, easy to change the transmission to a triple (or compact double), and BB is pretty high. Frame is $1000, so a full bike would probably run $1600-$2000 depending on the components.
Don't forget the $500 suitcase.
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Old 02-25-08, 11:20 AM   #9
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Don't forget the $500 suitcase.
or...just grab a some free cardboard and fabricate a box using some duct tape.
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Old 02-25-08, 11:56 AM   #10
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Don't forget the $500 suitcase.
I ordered a BF NWT over the phone last summer and went step by step through what I wanted, and when we toted up the price I had severe sticker shock - it ended up much more expensive than I had expected. With shipping to Canada, fenders, rack etc. etc, it would be about $3000. However after a slight hesitation I went ahead and bought: it's a lifetime purchase. I haven't toured, but I flew with it on a consulting trip and trained for an hour or two every day after work, and it was a great experience.
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Old 02-25-08, 12:46 PM   #11
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or...just grab a some free cardboard and fabricate a box using some duct tape.
That does work when shipping a bike; although I suspect not as well as a hard case.

Would you really send your $1600 - $2000 bike on a plane in a cardboard box?
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Old 02-25-08, 12:50 PM   #12
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I ordered a BF NWT over the phone last summer and went step by step through what I wanted, and when we toted up the price I had severe sticker shock - it ended up much more expensive than I had expected. With shipping to Canada, fenders, rack etc. etc, it would be about $3000. However after a slight hesitation I went ahead and bought: it's a lifetime purchase. I haven't toured, but I flew with it on a consulting trip and trained for an hour or two every day after work, and it was a great experience.
Do you pay an extra tax for purchasing it from the US? Was that a significant portion of the $3K?
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Old 02-25-08, 01:46 PM   #13
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I think there was about $300 in tax and duty.
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Old 02-25-08, 02:23 PM   #14
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Actually, $317: Friday footprint seen!
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Old 02-25-08, 03:59 PM   #15
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Would you really send your $1600 - $2000 bike on a plane in a cardboard box?
Sure, why not? It got to the LBS in a cardboard box; plenty of people ship their full-sized bikes in a cardboard box.

Plus, with cardboard you don't necessarily need to do a loop. If you have a hard case, you've got to take care of it.

Oh, and don't forget that the Samsonite hard-shell suitcases may not cost $500, but they aren't free either.
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Old 02-26-08, 03:43 PM   #16
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The pocket Llama can certainly handle most of what you throw at it. The major problem I found was in fine, loose gravel at higher speeds. The smaller wheels made it a bit treacherous but still managable. Here's a link with a bit of a review. I can't really speak much more about the PL because I've only used it sparingly since I've returned. I'd rather not subject it to the road salt and snow up here.

BF Pocket Llama in Ecuador
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Old 02-26-08, 07:02 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
idate , if you plan to do a fair amount of off-road touring, Surly is coming out with the "Traveler's Check." It's their cross/all-rounder bike which has S&S couplers. Rock solid steel frame, bar-end shifters, easy to change the transmission to a triple (or compact double), and BB is pretty high. Frame is $1000, so a
Looks like that's already available on JensonUSA.

Anyone that's had experience with the S&S coupled bikes will tell you how much easier something with small wheels is to get into a normal suitcase, let alone not needing to have the square suitcase. S&S have their place if spending a lot of time in the destination, but if needing to pack up much, it takes way too much time.

ps - you can pick up standard cyclo bikes (ie Jamis) and have couplers retrofit for less than the $1000 tag on the Surly.
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Old 02-27-08, 10:15 AM   #18
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Sure, why not? It got to the LBS in a cardboard box; plenty of people ship their full-sized bikes in a cardboard box.

Plus, with cardboard you don't necessarily need to do a loop. If you have a hard case, you've got to take care of it.

Oh, and don't forget that the Samsonite hard-shell suitcases may not cost $500, but they aren't free either.
Anecdotally, I get the sense that airlines are a bit rougher than say UPS with boxes. Moreover the bike box sent to the LBS is probably packed with special material to protect the bike and a bike shop has a lot of things handy to fix the bike if something arrives broken.

Your second point did cross my mind. I agree that it would be beneficial under certain circumstances; although you would need to find another box with the appropriate packing material to send the bike back.

The Samsonite suitcases can often be found used; but even brand new, it isn't close to the $500 tag for the S&S coupler suitcase.
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