Advice on Touring Europe with Bike Friday NWT
I was hoping to get some advice on some experienced touring types here. I'm an avid road cyclist who will be doing my first touring trip in September. I will be doing two weeks in Italy with a bunch of relatively experienced touring cyclists, averaging roughly 50 miles of riding a day at a 15-16mph pace. I am about 6' 2" and 220 lbs (although I hope to be closer to 210 by the trip).
I do not have a touring bike yet and the question I have is whether a Bike Friday New World Traveler is a realistic option for me. I want a folding bike to use when I am traveling and was hoping to kill two birds with one stone. I've read some stories of people doing some serious touring with Bike Fridays but wasn't sure if they could keep pace with other regular touring bikes. Just in terms of some additional info, I don't expect that I'll be a heavy packer/need lots of clothes. I use icebreaker and other merino wool garments so will probably have 50% of the clothing others will have (just thinking in terms of the weight and or space restriction of using a smaller bike/panniers).
Thanks in advance.
Every day a winding road
This is amazing! I was going to ask the same questions. With all of the new charges for transporting bicycles on airlines, a folding bike might be the way to go. I understand a number of people do it.
I'd like to add to your list of questions.
Cost of a decent folding bike.
Availability of tires / tubes on tour..
Availability of other repair parts on tour.
You might want to post on the "Folding Bikes" branch of this forum, if you haven't already. There are lots of us who have toured on Bike Fridays all over the world. I've had a NWT for about 7 years. It's a superb bike. I ride just as fast (and just as slowly) on my NWT as on my other bikes. Actually, I rarely ride my other bikes anymore because I prefer the ride of my NWT. I've toured on it across serious mountain passes and in third world countries, in addition to more common touring areas in North America & Europe. You don't have to use small panniers, though of course, it's always a good idea to travel light.
it's an option
My wife and I just spent three months touring on Bike Fridays in New Zealand. I'd say we were easily the slowest cyclists we met and we're no slouches on our regular bikes at home. Keeping a 15mph pace while touring seems a little tough, especially on a small-wheeled bike.
While the bikes do pack in a suitcase, we didn't use the suitcase as a trailer so we had to find a place to stash them until we finished. Finding a bike box is easy on the other hand.
The small wheels also transfer more road shock to the rider if the road seal is rough, which was the case in New Zealand. If you'll be riding on butter smooth roads the whole time a folder will be fine, but once you hit some rough stuff you'll really feel it. Also the steering is very twitchy/squirelly/lively without weight on the front rack. I dislike the handling so much I have a hard time riding the bike without front panniers.
The advantage of the BF is really its gearing. I think my lowest gear is something like 16 gear inches with a road crank 30T in front and a 34T rear. You can ride up any hill. The wheel size also makes for very strong wheels. We met several other tourists who were dealing with broken spokes.
My advice would be to stick to a 700c touring bike if you want to keep up with those other speed demons. At your size, just make sure you put most effort in finding the strongest wheelset possible.
Also, merino wool is awesome! I brought one merino t-shirt as an off the bike top that I used on a few multi-day camping trips. I washed it maybe only five times in 12 weeks and the thing never smelled bad. My wife's synthetic shirt however reeked after just a few days and needed consistent washing. Go wool!
If you do want a folder capable of riding like a road bike then I would suggest that you have a look at an "Airnimal" http://www.spacycles.co.uk/products.php?plid=m1b41s19p0
These do seem to combine the virtues of a folder with those of a road bike.
Thanks a lot for the feedback/advice. Yes, merino wool is perhaps the world's best kept secret. I can't get enough icebreakers gear. It's incredible. It seems expensive at first but once you start to see/understand the benefits, it actually seems like a bargain.
Originally Posted by niknak
I'm currently riding my NWT from Phoenix Az to Canada, at the moment in a hotel near Zion park in Utah. The NWT rides great, but it has some disadvantages. The ride is more harsh over bumps and I don't feel confident riding at high speed, 25 or more mph. I put on a Pantour suspension hub, a softride suspension stem, and a suspension seatpost, and finally it's smooth enough for me on dirt roads. And my cycle partner doesn't like fast decents, so the bike is working fine for me.
In the future i'm going to use the NWT for shorter tours and a 26" tourer for longer expeditions.