Old 02-23-18, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by NoControl View Post
What's it like to tour on a folder? Any special considerations other than the usual maintenance? The wife an I have a matched pair of old Raleigh folders. They are fun rides in Boston, but they would need some serious mods in order to tour with them.
I found that I could put a full-sized rack on my Raleigh Twenty, which meant I could put full-sized panniers on there if I wanted to. Can't remember if heel strike was an issue, because I mostly used the rack for commuting, and had a different solution for touring: Bike Friday's luggage trailer frame combined with my own luggage. It worked. I think it's a question of how comfortable you are on your folding bike. Apart from a joint in the middle to be aware of, there's not much different maintenance wise, depending on your bike. Depending on what you have and haven't tried to do with your Raleigh's, you're probably aware that they do not take standard parts in many places, so swapping parts can be a pain. On mine:
  • Used a hacksaw and file to trim the bottom bracket to a more standard width, so I could put in a cartridge bottom bracket and modern cranks/pedals
  • Replaced the front fork
  • Used a quill extender to make the steerer tube long enough to attach my trekking bars
  • Modern headset -- that was a weird set up, but I can't remember how I managed it.
  • New wheels with aluminum rims
  • Cold set the dropouts to accommodate a modern gear hub
  • Added a Nuvinci hub to give me a decent range without having to figure out a front shifting solution
  • Filed out the dropouts to accommodate a wider axle

So, yeah, some mods. But that's not to say that you couldn't ride it stock or close to it. And a lot of those mods have more to do with it being a 50-year-old, proprietary, incompatible design than to it being a folder.

One mistake was replicating the gearing on my 700c bike. The small wheels meant that I was now seriously undergeared. On my full sized bike, some hills were challenging in the minimum allowable low gear. On the Twenty, getting up to a reasonable speed was a challenge.

Ultimately I've found it easier to get comfortable on a full-sized bike. I eventually abandoned the Twenty for my S&S coupled bike that was portable like the Twenty but more comfortable for me to tour on. Still, the Twenty wasn't bad, and being able to ride out of the airport ready for your trip was a very nice feature. But the final straw was when I had to rent a car because my particular set-up was too unusual to quickly fix and move on. The Nuvinci hub had an axle that was flat on two sides, like a Sturmey Archer but a little wider. It barely fit in the dropouts, and then only if you slid it in just right, which was convenient because I would have had to file the dropouts a little more to get the anti-rotation washer in there. But since the axle was in there tight, and couldn't rotate, I didn't bother. But after a year or two of that, it seems the axle bit into the dropouts enough to wear at the steel, and one day, heading out from the airport, the hub started to spin in the dropouts, and no amount of tightening could make it stop. It needed the anti-rotation washer, and it needed a little more filing to fit the anti-rotation washer. On an extended tour, I could have taken a couple of days to get the required part and fixed it up, but I was on a weekend trip, and had a pre-determined destination the following night, so the bike went back in the suitcase, and the suitcase went into a rental car. So there's a bit of maintenance that's not folder-specific for all folders, but really was unique to my specific set-up. Still, you start modding a 50 year old bike to use modern components, and that's the kind of thing you might run into.
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