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Old 10-23-08, 09:08 PM   #1
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Ride/Handling differences between a BF NWT and PL?

I'm wondering if anyone who has some experience with Bike Friday travel bikes can comment on the practical differences in ride/handling between the New World Tourist & Pocket Llama?

I don't really need the larger tire clearance of the PL at the moment, but having it does give me flexibility should I want to run Big Apples down the road. However, the BB of the PL is higher than the NWT and it has a different steering geometry. If all else was equal I'd take the bike with more tire clearance, but I don't want to give up on handling for that feature as it isn't critical to me.

I'll be using the bike primarily for loaded touring on paved roads. I don't see myself doing any dirt road touring or off road riding with the bike.
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Old 10-23-08, 09:43 PM   #2
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Vik,

I gave it a thought at one point, but at 6'3" with long legs, it would just put me even higher off the ground. The seat on my NWT is already 42" off the ground.

Also, at 65, I really don't need to get involved in off-road riding, because I don't need to add to the athletic injury list at this late date. You can put 1.75" tires on a NWT, and I know from experience on my Dahon S1 that that 1.75" gives a decent ride on rough pavement. Also I have had no problems with my NWT in its first year.

The two bikes are shown below. The NWT shown here with the original 1.50" tires is now running on 1.35" Marathon Plus tires, which are great.
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Old 10-24-08, 12:46 AM   #3
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Vik I have a good story for you.
So I bought a used NWT and rode it across Sweden. I was very happy with the bike, but I was always having some post-purchase remorse that the Llama would have been better choice since I love riding off road and I like versatility ueber alles.
So I asked BF to swap bikes and they let me since the original was used. Now that's a friendly company. So I got the Llama, road it around for a few days on dirt trails and really liked it. Super fun. However, not long after, I decide to load it with 40lbs of gear and suddenly I didn't like the handling anymore ! It was much more squirrely than the NWT. I tested it out for a few more days and felt double wammy remorse.
I called BF again and asked them for my original bike back. At this point they were pretty fed up with me, thinking I'd never be happy, that I was wasting their time, but implored them and they eventually let me swap bikes again back to a NWT. Now that's stunning customer service!!! I put 40 lbs of gear on the NWT again and I confirmed that I like the handling much better.
Well that was 2 years ago and I've since rode it across the USA. I really like the bike.
A few more things: It can do dirt roads just fine. I run 1.5" width tires (max 1.75" on the NWT) , so the extra clearance of the Llama is not an issue for me.
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Old 10-24-08, 06:31 AM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback that was helpful....
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Old 10-24-08, 08:36 AM   #5
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bokes,

Thanks for sharing your experience with both models.
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Old 10-24-08, 09:47 PM   #6
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I bought a PL this summer and my experience is that loading it improves the ride and slows the handling just a bit making it a very good touring bike. I weigh 145.
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Old 03-03-10, 04:58 PM   #7
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Does anyone else have input on handling of a loaded Pocket Llama as compared to an NWT? I'm debating between the two as a replacement for my Surly LHT while in Japan for 2 years. I already have (and love) a Pocket Rocket, which will definitely be coming along with me. The new BF would likely be used for commuting/touring, fitted out with racks and fenders. I'm interested in the PL because it seems like a lot of people tour on it and then I'd have the flexibility of some offroad capability too. I already have a full size mtn bike too, but haven't decided if that will come with me or not yet. Thanks!
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Old 03-07-10, 08:25 AM   #8
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I have both of the same size except I got the NWT with a larger Llama fork thinking I wanted the option of a larger front tire since the bike would be loaded with front panniers and gear piled up on rear rack. I set up the NWT with drop bars 2.0 Big Apple front tire and 1.6 Schwalbe Marathon rear. For touring the BA tire makes for a very comfy ride with no speed penalty for touring efforts. The reason for the NWT was a preconceived notion that a lower bb would be preferable to the higher bb on the Llama(I assumed it had a higher bb). Then I got a regular Llama for my gf that was the same size.
It turns out the higher bb had no difference in handling. Unfortunatly the Llama I got pulls to the right which pretty much makes hands off riding impossible, not that hands off riding on a 20" bike is recommended to begin with. I did lots of grocery runs with both bikes set up with front panniers heavily loaded and rear rack loaded to the seat with the primary diference being the NWT had drop bars and the PL had straight bars. I didn't find an objectionable difference between the two except my preference for drop bars.
I'm pleased with my decision to get a Llama fork on the NWT as the BA tire is a uniquely suited to touring on 20" wheels. It has less rolling resistance than the Primo V monster 1.95 and similar looking 1.5" Kenda tire that came with the bikes. The 2.0 size is much more preferable with a loaded bike on 20" wheels. Especially hitting potholes and rocks.

I'm speaking from ignorance of the custom high mounted rear rack/pannier set up on the BF but the high/rear mounted panniers just doesn't look right. I installed a cheap Sunlite brand rack that has the adjustable height struts. By cutting the struts short the rack mounted just above the fender like any other bike. Using this Jandd rear rack http://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FRRPII in the expanded mode put the angled top of the bag right under the seat. With a bungie holding it firm it won't wobble side to side when loaded.

I opted for a 58cm equivalent size over 56cm(standard road size for me) with the idea the 58 had a slightly longer equivalent top tube and for a front loaded pannier that would handle better. Lots of guessing on my part but I'm pleased with the set up. I would pick the Llama if you wanted to get a 2.0+ tire for the rear.

Regarding options, if you are getting the custom bend stem make absolutely SURE you have the seat to bar dimension correct. I totally misunderstood the measurments and ordered the wrong size. After getting a straight steerer tube and using regular clamp on stems I could get the exact dimension right. If I did it again I'd go with the straight tube and have the option of different clamp on stems to dial in the distance right.
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Old 03-08-10, 01:54 PM   #9
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Just a follow up to this thread I started in 2008! I got a Bike Friday NWT. It's a super fun bike to ride and has become my go to bike for blasting around town.

NWT Blog posts

NWT Photos
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Old 03-08-10, 01:57 PM   #10
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Vik, those front racks are great aren't they, what's the gear range you have ?
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Old 03-08-10, 03:56 PM   #11
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I've got a 46T up front and a 23T in the rear with a Nexus 8 in between, That gives a gear range of ~65"-21". That's good for loaded touring. For general city use I'd like to move the whole range a bit higher. I haven't bothered yet, but I'll probably get to that this summer when I'm in the mood to tinker.

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Old 03-08-10, 07:05 PM   #12
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Wow! That's a great looking little bike!

I'm just starting to research folders for loaded touring, Bike Friday seems like the one to look into.
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Old 03-08-10, 07:15 PM   #13
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Wow! That's a great looking little bike!

I'm just starting to research folders for loaded touring, Bike Friday seems like the one to look into.


My friend Amy got herself a Pocket Sport and hit the road for her first ever tour from Banff to Vancouver and then flew to Hawaii for more riding on her Bike Friday. She's had a blast so far and is planning more touring this summer. Keep in mind this is one of the least expensive Bike Fridays.

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Old 03-08-10, 07:40 PM   #14
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I've got a 46T up front and a 23T in the rear with a Nexus 8 in between, That gives a gear range of ~65"-21". That's good for loaded touring. For general city use I'd like to move the whole range a bit higher. I haven't bothered yet, but I'll probably get to that this summer when I'm in the mood to tinker.
I went for a Capreo 9-26 cluster that gave me a 32-91" range. Someday I've got to set up an 8spd IGH. I loaned my bike to my nephew and he did a messy shift that tossed and twisted the chain
didn't realize how flexible 9spd chains were, I just replaced the chain since replacing a link on a partially worn chain didn't seem worth it.
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Old 03-08-10, 07:49 PM   #15
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I went for a Capreo 9-26 cluster that gave me a 32-91" range. Someday I've got to set up an 8spd IGH. I loaned my bike to my nephew and he did a messy shift that tossed and twisted the chain
didn't realize how flexible 9spd chains were, I just replaced the chain since replacing a link on a partially worn chain didn't seem worth it.
Beware once you go IGH you'll never go back... I can't see myself building up another bike without an IGH....
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Old 03-08-10, 08:13 PM   #16
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Thanks for the pics! I need to ride one to see how I like it. From reading about the folders, it makes perfect sense for us, we like to travel take bikes with us, if possible. After taking full size bikes in bike boxes to France, dragging the boxes up and down the stairs several times, on and off the trains, we were destroyed! This looks much more manageable.

What about all those racks and fenders when packing for travel? Do they have to come off?
(Sorry, for hijacking the thread)
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Old 03-08-10, 09:47 PM   #17
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Thanks for the pics! I need to ride one to see how I like it. From reading about the folders, it makes perfect sense for us, we like to travel take bikes with us, if possible. After taking full size bikes in bike boxes to France, dragging the boxes up and down the stairs several times, on and off the trains, we were destroyed! This looks much more manageable.

What about all those racks and fenders when packing for travel? Do they have to come off?
(Sorry, for hijacking the thread)


Hijack away! It's my thread from 2008! I'm surprised to see it still going!....

The racks come off in a minute or two and stow away in the suitcase or box you pack the bike in. They are in the two yellow bags in the photo above.
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Old 03-08-10, 11:20 PM   #18
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Vik,

How is the Singleator doing? Is it still working fine? I've read elsewhere that people have had to resort to zip-tying the tensioner to the frame and such. What has your experience with it been?
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Old 03-09-10, 07:57 AM   #19
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Vik,

How is the Singleator doing? Is it still working fine? I've read elsewhere that people have had to resort to zip-tying the tensioner to the frame and such. What has your experience with it been?
It's working fine. There isn't much to it and the parts seem quite robust. I can't see it needing much attention. I haven't heard of any issues with the current generation of Surly Singlenator.
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Old 03-09-10, 06:28 PM   #20
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That looks very promising. Thanks again!

I found a local store that carries Bike Fridays, I'm going to check them out and test ride.
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Old 03-09-10, 11:25 PM   #21
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lucille, you must be talking about Urbane. If you do get one (or more) make sure that Carey helps you assemble it for the first time. He's EXCELLENT!

http://community.bikefriday.com/dealers/urbanecyclist

Which model were you thinking of getting?
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Old 03-11-10, 07:51 PM   #22
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Yes, I was talking about Urbane. Thanks for the tip, I will remember to ask for Carey.
Not sure which one yet, doing my research.
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