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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 03-21-12, 08:08 AM   #1
garethzbarker
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Bike friday questions

I'm really thinking of buying a pocket rocket or NWT this spring. Can some owners answer some questions for me?

What kind of problems have you had with these bikes if any?

Has anyone ordered a custom from a different country and how was that handled? I'm in Korea and there is a Seoul BF but I guess the frames are made in the US then shipped here, the prices are a little higher and I'm not sure they offer the same components.

What's the real benefit of getting a custom frame besides a closer fit without stem change? I can't figure out how much extra a custom fit frame is compared to a stock unit.

How much do the stock NWT and PR weight?

Is the bike pretty safe to throw in a box for flights? I don't want the suitcase/trailer.

Will it mess up the folding/packing on a PR to put a shallow drop bars that are wider than the stock bars?

Anyone do randos on either of these bikes?

Any other tidbits of advice or information are welcome. I have a full touring bike and a road bike. We have really good public transportation here but generally bikes aren't allowed. I want to be able to just bus or train out anywhere in Korea and ride.
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Old 03-21-12, 10:09 AM   #2
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I can give my thoughts on a couple of these questions:

Quote:
Originally Posted by garethzbarker View Post
Will it mess up the folding/packing on a PR to put a shallow drop bars that are wider than the stock bars?
I know it's quite common to put drops on the PR and NWT. I don't know how this affects packing, however I hope you realize that the standard PR and NWT stem+steerer tube do not fold and instead separate from the bike. Bike Friday also has a folding stem for the PR and NWT, but I don't believe these are standard. As such, I don't think drops would change the fold that much since you're basically free to position your separated handlebar/stem/steerer however you see fit.

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Any other tidbits of advice or information are welcome. I have a full touring bike and a road bike. We have really good public transportation here but generally bikes aren't allowed. I want to be able to just bus or train out anywhere in Korea and ride.
I would be very hesitant to suggest the PR or NWT if one of your primary concerns is multimodal involving public transport. (of course the order you listed your concerns seem to suggest that this would just be an added benefit) I like to think of them as really nice riding bikes that also happen to fold :-P

The fold is not very compact (compared to other bikes designed with multimodal commuting in mind) As mentioned above, the handlebar part of the bike actually just separates from the bike. Additionally, none of the other folding sections "lock" into their folded positions (making it a bit more tricky to transport)

Of course, other people on the forum may have differing opinions on this subject
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Old 03-21-12, 10:44 AM   #3
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I've had a Pocket Rocket for three years now, and I love it. My two cents worth:

What kind of problems have you had with these bikes if any?

Gear cables got kinked and the jumped as I changed gears. Easy fix. Could have happened to any bike, but is probably more likely with a folder.

Has anyone ordered a custom from a different country and how was that handled? I'm in Korea and there is a Seoul BF but I guess the frames are made in the US then shipped here, the prices are a little higher and I'm not sure they offer the same components.

Components are stock Shimano, so I'd assume you could get them anywhere.

What's the real benefit of getting a custom frame besides a closer fit without stem change? I can't figure out how much extra a custom fit frame is compared to a stock unit.

They didn't do the stock when I bought my bike, but my husband bought a second hand bike from them (so clearly non custom) and he's very happy with it.

How much do the stock NWT and PR weight?

I come in just under the airline's 50 lb limit with the PR, the case, pedals and some other stuff -- usually shoes and some clothing. I have never weighed the bike itself.

Is the bike pretty safe to throw in a box for flights? I don't want the suitcase/trailer.


Can't answer that one. I have the case and find it very useful.

Will it mess up the folding/packing on a PR to put a shallow drop bars that are wider than the stock bars?

The drop bars break in two. They do shallow drops, but I don't know how it would work with bars that are wider than stock. I can't see that it would mess up the packing

Anyone do randos on either of these bikes?

I've done a 100 mile ride, with no problems. It's the rider, not the bike, that would prevent longer rides than that.

Any other tidbits of advice or information are welcome. I have a full touring bike and a road bike. We have really good public transportation here but generally bikes aren't allowed. I want to be able to just bus or train out anywhere in Korea and ride.

As mentioned elsewhere, the Friday is packable not foldable. There is a softcase that you can carry, rather awkwardly, over your shoulder to take the bike on a train or a bus. But the bike is pretty vulnerable in that case. I would not like to have some bus driver throw a heavy case on top of it while it's in the hold of the bus.
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Old 03-21-12, 10:44 AM   #4
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.

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Originally Posted by garethzbarker View Post
What kind of problems have you had with these bikes if any?
I've had my NWT for two years with no problems. I love it, it's a great bike.

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Originally Posted by garethzbarker View Post
Has anyone ordered a custom from a different country and how was that handled? I'm in Korea and there is a Seoul BF but I guess the frames are made in the US then shipped here, the prices are a little higher and I'm not sure they offer the same components.
I'm in Canada. I ordered the bike dealing directly with BF sales rep and it was shipped to a local Bike Friday dealer.

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How much do the stock NWT and PR weight?
When I pack the bike in suitcase with all the racks and fenders, I usually only add water bottles and bike comes closeish to 50 lbs limit. I think the suitcase is something like 12-13 lbs, but not 100% sure.

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Is the bike pretty safe to throw in a box for flights? I don't want the suitcase/trailer.
I think that if you pack it carefully, it would be fine. In a regular bike box you could probably just turn the handlebars and the whole bike would fit in. However, you're paying the fee for a bike. If you have it in suitcase you're not paying, or you're paying for second piece of luggage. On my last flight that was a $30 difference each way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quiwi View Post
I know it's quite common to put drops on the PR and NWT. I don't know how this affects packing, however I hope you realize that the standard PR and NWT stem+steerer tube do not fold and instead separate from the bike. Bike Friday also has a folding stem for the PR and NWT, but I don't believe these are standard. As such, I don't think drops would change the fold that much since you're basically free to position your separated handlebar/stem/steerer however you see fit.
Yes, folding stem is an upgrade but worth the money in my opinion. I have drops on my bike, but I'm thinking of converting to trekking/butterfly bars.
It is a bit of a challenge to fit drop bars in a suitcase, you have to kind of tuck them under. But with a bit of practice it's definitely doable.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Quiwi View Post
I would be very hesitant to suggest the PR or NWT if one of your primary concerns is multimodal involving public transport. (of course the order you listed your concerns seem to suggest that this would just be an added benefit) I like to think of them as really nice riding bikes that also happen to fold :-P
The fold is not very compact (compared to other bikes designed with multimodal commuting in mind) As mentioned above, the handlebar part of the bike actually just separates from the bike. Additionally, none of the other folding sections "lock" into their folded positions (making it a bit more tricky to transport)
Agreed again. I tried commuting on my NWT and found it a major pain. Folded bike doesn't roll, so you have to carry it through the lobby etc and at 40ish pounds is not exactly light.
The bike was great on tour for getting it on occasional trains or folded and bagged into hotel rooms, but I wouldn't want to be folding and unfolding it several times a day. It's just not made for that.

Overall it's a great bike and I'm glad I got it. My only complaint would be that it's not great for commuting, but I bought it for touring after all
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Old 03-21-12, 11:11 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by garethzbarker View Post
What kind of problems have you had with these bikes if any?
Outside of standard stuff, I once bent the front derailer mount a bit and had a terrible time readjusting it due to the cable pull coming from the side instead of below. Consequently, I had to get the tab adjustment just right otherwise the cable would pull the derailer out of alignment.

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What's the real benefit of getting a custom frame besides a closer fit without stem change? I can't figure out how much extra a custom fit frame is compared to a stock unit.
There is a lot of fuzziness with regards to frame/bike geometry and how it affects handling and performance. So I think it will be hard to write about this broadly.

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Is the bike pretty safe to throw in a box for flights? I don't want the suitcase/trailer.
When I box a bike, I always remove the rear derailer and bunch of other things to protect the components. I suspect that boxing your folding bike relative to a suitcase will require more disassembly than using a suitcase. Moreover, I think it will create more questions and hassles at the check-in counter than a standard suitcase.

http://www.gaerlan.com/bikes/case/case.html

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Will it mess up the folding/packing on a PR to put a shallow drop bars that are wider than the stock bars?
I strongly doubt it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by garethzbarker View Post
Anyone do randos on either of these bikes?
There are quite a few people. A few google searches will often find examples. You can also look on the Bike Friday Yak for several posts.

My general Bike Friday recommendations and comments ...
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Old 03-21-12, 11:15 AM   #6
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Great blog post invisible.
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Old 03-21-12, 11:38 AM   #7
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Because of the building jigs for the main frame portion, there are 8 top tube lengths,*
that is the 'geometry. how long , 48 - 62 in 2cm jumps.
dont obsess over that, just get the right top tube equivalent length.

seat pillar under seat post, and stem stanchion are removable parts .

medium is a 56.. works for me..

451 rim is for a skinny-race bike like ride, narrow tires , PR

406 is the common BMX bike tire size , better for touring. 1.5" wide tires.

I have a Pocket Llama , higher BB and wider clearance , I use 1.75" wide tires ..

but they are travel bikes, they knock down to fit in a suitcase,
the seat mast hinges as does the rear portion,
and there is an optional folding steering mast
but it is not a convenient fold, to do several times a day, and still rather wide,
until dismantled, front wheel is removed etc..

For multimodal transportation the BF Tikit is a better choice .[s,m,l]
they do fold conveniently, and quickly. and will roll on the front tire when folded.
the wheel is a 349, same as Brompton, so there is that tire source.

same * frame size[length] , and a lot of component choices.
including drop bars, and brifters if you wish .
They will fit all sorts of common bike components,
Campag SRAM Dura Ace, and so forth, If you wish..
and you can can swing the top tier costs...

or buy bike with basic components but all the brazed fittings .. ,
and upgrade if Korean component Purchase prices are better.

FWIW, I'm told all sorts of bikes are on the road to Brest and back
in the traditional PBP brevet. including Bike Fridays and Bromptons.

*
XXS 48cm 18.9"
XS 50cm 19.7"
S 52cm 20.5"
S/M 54cm 21.25"
M 56cm 22"
L 58cm 22.8"
XL 60cm 23.625"
XXL 62cm 24.4"

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Old 03-21-12, 12:00 PM   #8
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The disclaimer first: I have a Pocket Rocket select custom on order and it is due to be shipped directly to me from the factory in about another week or week and a half. I'll explain the "select custom" below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by garethzbarker View Post
What's the real benefit of getting a custom frame besides a closer fit without stem change? I can't figure out how much extra a custom fit frame is compared to a stock unit.
For each model, Bike Friday offers three sizes of standard configurations and a fully custom configuration. You fill out their fit guide and they manufacture the bike geometry to fit you. I purchased one of the standard configurations, but the top tube was slightly short. At no additional cost, they are manufacturing the bike with the correct length top tube to fit my body. That is the "select custom" referred to above. A standard select bike, but with a couple of custom modifications from the standard specs.

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Is the bike pretty safe to throw in a box for flights? I don't want the suitcase/trailer.
I wouldn't do this. Air porters are pretty brutal in handling luggage. You don't have to get the trailer, or you can order the suitcase from a less expensive source. If you want the packing kit, just order that separately and the suitcase from somewhere else. Your bike will get trashed if you try to send it via air in a box.

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Will it mess up the folding/packing on a PR to put a shallow drop bars that are wider than the stock bars?
The other "custom" on my "select" bike, (in addition to a traditional riser and stem), is a traditionally shaped drop handlebar. I don't like these new style ergonomic handlebars. I'm more old-school. The bars will not be broken in half, just the standard sized - one piece handlebars. Mine will be 44cm width, the largest standard size readily available from most manufactures. It will fit into the suitcase, 'cause that is how the bike will be shipped to me. I've been assured that it will fit. Guess I'll know for sure next week.
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Old 03-21-12, 12:11 PM   #9
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Yeah, thanks for the blog posting, invisiblehand!
It reminded me of a day that we arrived too late for the ferry to St Malo and had take a cab. Two folded NWTs and most of our luggage fit in a trunk. Even cabbie was impressed.
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Old 03-21-12, 12:15 PM   #10
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I'll chime in with my limited NWT experience. I had one built up with discs and a 3X9 setup. I use it for multimodal commuting, but don't fold it unless I need to. I previously had both a Tikit and Brompton, but I found the constant folding to be a PIA. I'd rather just throw the bike on a rack, if available. I don't find folding it and putting into a bag all that bad when I do have to do it.

As for being a bike, I love my NWT. I had it built with discs, so I could use 451 size wheels if desired. I'm currently debating the merits of going for a full IGH setup.
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Old 03-21-12, 01:04 PM   #11
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The THREE frame sizes, and limited component choices apply to "stock" and "select" Bike Fridays. "Custom" Bike Fridays can be made in any frame size and just about any components. My custom NWT is slightly larger (like a 62cm frame) vs. my stock Pocket 8's Large frame (60cm). I dialed them in thru a stem riser adjustment and different stem lengths.

On their current web pages they differentiate between "Personalized" (aka: "Select") vs. "Custom" bikes.

Here's a quote from the Bike Friday Companion 16 info page:

Each year our designers search the globe to come up with the best group of components for the price. This Companion 16 speed group works well together, and gives you what you need to hit the road with no worries.

If you want to Personalize your Bike Friday you will want to choose another Select model or a fully custom Bike Friday. This is the one if a much simpler choice of 3 sizes and colors meets your interest.

As with all Bike Fridays, we measure a rider's body to find the best fit of our three basic frame sizes (52 cm, 56 cm, 60 cm), or you can upgrade to Customized sizing anywhere from 48 cm to 62 cm.


Companion 16 web page is here:


http://www.bikefriday.com/bicycles/touring/1161

The Companion 16 is the closest thing to a "stock" bike they have right now.

Lou

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Old 03-21-12, 01:19 PM   #12
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wow this is great info, thanks. I should maybe make my intentions more clear. They sell bromptons and other folding bikes here and those seem like great bikes but they don't have the gearing I want. I'm not using the bike or multimodal commuting. When I do travel it will be weekend trips and day trips, I'm also planning on doing a few of the easier brevets next season and it's possible I would use this bike if it felt right (though it's much more likely I'd use the surly). The reason I asked about brevets really was to see if it was comfortable enough for some people to do distance on.
I want a bike that can perform in the steep mountains and deep descents we have here, I'm looking for a bike that handles well and I can stretch out on for long rides. So I guess I'm looking for performance but I'd like to be able to get it on transportation my larger bikes aren't allowed on like trains and buses. Recently the rules have changed, we are not allowed to put our bikes on the subways except on certain days.
I'm a bit surprised by the weight, but I've carried my steel trucker with panniers loaded up with camping gear up subway steps a bunch of times so it can't be worse than that. maybe putting lighter components on her might help out a bit.
I know packing is a long ordeal. But I've never even seen one folded in a video. How fast can it be done? folding is secondary to function with what I want it for. My idea was to get the BF bag (or any bag). Ride the bike to the bus, unfold it and throw it in the bag then bus out to the train or where-ever and ride. bagging it doesn't require tools, does it?

wandt i'm interested in IGH. have you decided what gearing you are going? I'm not a fast rider but I like to keep high cadences at all times and the hills here are brutal so I need to set the bike up like MTB/touring gear range with fairly low lows.
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Old 03-21-12, 02:02 PM   #13
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Folding the bike to fit into the soft bag takes not time at all. Getting it packed into the suitcase means taking some things apart. When I did it for first time it took me over an hour and a lot of swearing... With practice you can get it down to 20 minutes.
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Old 03-21-12, 02:09 PM   #14
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Twenty minutes sounds about right.

But then you look around, and you forgot to put in some key part that needs to nestle in at the bottom of the case, and you have to take everything out and start again.
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Old 03-21-12, 04:50 PM   #15
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i'm interested in IGH. have you decided what gearing you are going? I'm not a fast rider but I like to keep high cadences at all times and the hills here are brutal so I need to set the bike up like MTB/touring gear range with fairly low lows.
Folders with 20" wheels climb better than 26" & 700C wheeled bikes, but do not carry momentum as well = a bit of an advantage uphill, and a bit of a disadvantage downhill.

If you want/need low gearing, I suggest "Dual Drive" set-up (3-speed hub with 8 or 9-speed derailleur) = 24 or 27 speeds with gearing down to 20" range. You can adjust the range by swapping out chain rings. (We started with 42T chain rings on our custom Fridays, but I have since swapped them out for 46T chain rings, which puts the gearing in the range we like.

Lou
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Old 03-21-12, 05:51 PM   #16
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wandt i'm interested in IGH. have you decided what gearing you are going? I'm not a fast rider but I like to keep high cadences at all times and the hills here are brutal so I need to set the bike up like MTB/touring gear range with fairly low lows.
Right now, I have about 18-110" with the DD, but I sort of want the simplicity of a single cog. I'm not really in need of one, but it might simplify matters for our mucky roads in Seattle. I'll probably end up going with an Alfine 11, simply due to cost. I would love to get a Rohloff, but they are too spend for my budget. I'll probably end up staying with as similar gearing as possible. When not commuting, I plan to use the bike for touring and brevets, so I definitely want the wide range.
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Old 03-21-12, 06:04 PM   #17
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Interesting that nobody has raved about the Capreo hub, which BF seems to push quite hard. I don't have it and don't miss it.
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Old 03-21-12, 06:58 PM   #18
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Interesting that nobody has raved about the Capreo hub, which BF seems to push quite hard. I don't have it and don't miss it.

I have it and like it.
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Old 03-21-12, 07:02 PM   #19
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I have posted this before but this is my PR that I bought new/used from Bike Friday in 1994 and have really found no reason to update. It has been tweaked by me over the years but still rides as good as the first day I got it. This one was a test mule and is technically PR #2. Roger
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Old 03-21-12, 08:55 PM   #20
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What's the real benefit of getting a custom frame besides a closer fit without stem change? I can't figure out how much extra a custom fit frame is compared to a stock unit.
I recently bought a Pocket Llama and went with a custom frame because the current "Select" PL has disc brakes and folding seat mast, while I prefer cantis and wanted the removeable mast. They also took my measurements, and the frame + stem work out to the same as the bike I had it modeled on, but I`m sure they could have worked that one out satisfactorilly on a stock size. Surprisingly, my custom cost almost 500 USD less than the stock price. Part of that is because the brakes and seat mast I wanted are both less expensive than the Select options, and I opted for 3 x 8 rather than 3 x 9, which probably saved me a few dimes also. Bottom line, custom isn`t necessarily more expensive when you`re talking Fridays- just a longer wait.

I`ve only had my BF for a month now, and most of that time I was getting ready for, riding, then doing post trip stuff for a tour on a different bike, so haven`t had much time to play with the newbie yet. As of now, I think the longest I`ve ridden it for was maybe 30 miles, but I`m happy to hear reports of people doing long rides on theirs because I plan on using mine as my "roadie" as soon as I finish a rack. Can`t stand the thought of riding more than a couple hours without a way to carry at least a sweatshirt and a lunch
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Old 03-21-12, 09:55 PM   #21
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Just got an e-mail. My Pocket Rocket has shipped from the factory. When it shows up, I'll start a new thread with pictures and initial impressions.
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Old 03-22-12, 12:28 AM   #22
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Whao! that Sram dual drive looks nice. I guess with that and a barend shifter you're set.

So what's wrong with the Capreo hub Boudicca and what would you suggest as a replacement?
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Old 03-22-12, 12:49 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by volosong View Post
Just got an e-mail. My Pocket Rocket has shipped from the factory. When it shows up, I'll start a new thread with pictures and initial impressions.
Whoohoo!

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Originally Posted by garethzbarker View Post
Whao! that Sram dual drive looks nice. I guess with that and a barend shifter you're set.
So what's wrong with the Capreo hub Boudicca and what would you suggest as a replacement?
I could be mistaken, but I`m pretty sure barends won`t be compatible with Dualdrive because of the rear friction shifter. If you want that como, talk it over with a BF rep and I`m sure you`ll get a more solid answer one way or another.

Regarding Capreo, hopefully Boudicca will give his own answer, but I think he only meant that he`s happy with his standard setup, not so much that Capreo would have been a problem. The main downside of Capreo is that it`s a special purpose hub and cassette. The system is not specific to Bike Friday, so it can be ordered easilly enough, and might even be in stock at a bike shop specializing in recumbents or folding bikes, but don`t expect to find a hub, wheel, or cassette at your favorite LBS. There are very few cassettes available (just one officially, though at least one recumbent company sells customized versions), and they take a special wrench to install and remove. That said, the inner workings of the hub, the shifter, and the RD are plain old Shimano 9 speed, so any bike mechanic should be able to figure the stuff out as long as he can get the cluster off. If you want high gears and know you won`t miss super granny, Capreo still probably a good option, just need to consider the "specialness" of it before you decide for sure.
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Old 03-22-12, 08:08 AM   #24
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What kind of stem is this? http://www.bikefriday.com/bicycles/road/1124 can you move it up and down? I'm over weight. every year, since I started biking, I loose a little weight (just a little) and I noticed I've been riding in lower positions. Sometimes I pull my back and throw a short stem on. Are you stuck with this position?

How do you protect those beautiful powder coat paint jobs from getting wrecked each time you fold the bike up and put it in the travel bag?

You have all certainly given me a lot to think about. I'd kind of like to build the bike up light. I'm just guessing here but if you used a standard compact cassette with a 28t you would have a pretty low gear ratio with those little tires right? Anyone running 10 speed road on these things?
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Old 03-22-12, 09:24 AM   #25
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I believe that`s the custom stem, which isn`t adjustable in any way. It sure is purdy, though
I don`t know what they call the stem they gave me, but it`s adjustable for height (not for reach), and nearly as purdy as the custom. Mine is probably a good bit heavier, though.

Personally, I don`t worry about powder coating, so don`t know what to tell ya there. Mine will eventually get to looking just as ugly as the paint jobs on my other bikes, but I imagine it`ll take me longer to get there with PC than if it were painted.
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