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Is any bike under 16" viable for touring?

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Is any bike under 16" viable for touring?

Old 11-19-11, 02:26 PM
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Is any bike under 16" viable for touring?

I have been doing a lot of research (my productivity at work must have reached an all-time low since I started looking for a bike), and I have found rich information from this forum and links some of you have given me regarding my upcoming trip in Europe.

I used to think using a 20" for touring was not viable because the only reference I have is from BMXs built from free-style and were even a bit uncomfortable for my 1 km commute. At this point I have even found out about a guy that crossed the desert and circumvented the polar line in a Strida. I have yet to try a folding bike, but from what I hear, the ride and comfort will blow my mind despite the look and my previous experience in with BMXs built for free-style.

However, I would like to take it down a notch: I would like a bike that I can fit inside my hiking backpack, let's say... this osprey: https://www.ospreypacks.com/en/produc...specifications
It is a big pack, but still, a strida is still a few inches taller. Other than that height problem, it seems it would be able to hold the rest of my stuff along with the bike. The downside would be: where would I hang this huge pack when riding? Any other folder that goes into a more 'square' form needs a wider backpack.

So I wonder if any of those ultra compact folding bikes with rubber wheels is viable for touring. I would say 'no', but I used to think the same about the strida. Anyone you heard of has tried it? Do 14" or 12" folding bikes even exist or should I look in the runner tire category?

Otherwise, I will need a separate pack for the bike and in many flights would be paying 2nd bag fees or the bike fees if I am not lucky.

At this point, my research is leading me to conclude I will need a separate bike bag, pay more in plane tickets sometimes for the extra bag or bike fee, figure out each train company policies. I was hoping something totally innocuous and no one to notice I had a bike with me when folded and packed. In the end, a folding bike does not sound like a huge difference against a regular bike. Maybe I was hoping for much. Well, surfers, snowboarders and golfers deal with this anyway. I may just have to spend more, and travel a little less light than I hoped.

Still, I would prefer a folding bike I can take inside rather than lock out a huge old bike and cross my fingers for it to not be stolen, something below 30 pounds I can take on my shoulders if needed. But I had hoped for the size of the A-bike with the proven touring capacity of dahon, brompton, and even strida. I am not a pro-biker, I just want to get from a to b. I don't mind the speed because I have the rest of my life and I enjoy the rainbows as much as the pot of gold, if you know what I mean. However, I want something comfortable I can sit on for most of the day.
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Old 11-19-11, 02:45 PM
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The CarryMe from Pacific Cycles might do it. They have a 2 speed version and it has a little rack at the back on which you could stand a pack.
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Old 11-19-11, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jur
The CarryMe from Pacific Cycles might do it. They have a 2 speed version and it has a little rack at the back on which you could stand a pack.
Jur,

Poster wants bike to be comfortable enough to sit on for most of the day. Question: Would you have done any of your well-documented tours on a Carry Me? Curious.

Lou
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Old 11-19-11, 06:14 PM
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Good question. I do think it's doable but with a lot more time, and that is what the OP indicated is available. I got to comparing plain walking with the pack versus being able to ride a large part of the journey, albeit at a slower pace than a full touring bike. And that's how I reached the conclusion that it is doable. :-)
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Old 11-19-11, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by jur
Good question. I do think it's doable but with a lot more time, and that is what the OP indicated is available. I got to comparing plain walking with the pack versus being able to ride a large part of the journey, albeit at a slower pace than a full touring bike. And that's how I reached the conclusion that it is doable. :-)
...but, might you be walking a bit strangely after a day on the Carry Me???

Lou
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Old 11-19-11, 10:16 PM
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Hehe, thanks guys.

I'll give it some thought. My original plan was to walk and hitchhike, so the CarryMe will be ok as long as the surface is even enough for 8" wheels. I should give it a test ride.

The worst case scenario would be that I get it, I hate it, and trade it for another bike. No biggie.
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Old 11-20-11, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Foldable Two
...but, might you be walking a bit strangely after a day on the Carry Me???

Lou
Heh heh, no that depends on the saddle. I assume he will get the right saddle, then sure you can spend a day on it.
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Old 11-20-11, 04:37 AM
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Similar to the carry-me is the Clou and the A-bike.
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Old 11-20-11, 08:49 AM
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Brompton with gearing. https://www.facebook.com/heinzstucke
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Old 11-20-11, 02:17 PM
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+1 on Bromptons, lots of those in use around the world already.

used to think using a 20" for touring was not viable because the only reference I have is from BMXs built from free-style and were even a bit uncomfortable for my 1 km commute.
And Look at all the people using a 406 wheel Bike Friday on tours ,
and re think that 20" wheel thing..
design is made around packing in a suitcase for Air based travel ,
to the start of your trip, and return .

With their Suitcase-trailer option , the bike tows the suitcase,
and you would stuff the empty suitcase with the contents of a soft bag
your Carry on, you can stow in the OH compartment

Last edited by fietsbob; 11-20-11 at 02:25 PM.
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Old 11-21-11, 10:06 AM
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I wouldn't trust anything smaller than a brompton for long rides.
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Old 11-21-11, 10:43 AM
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i have seen some posts and web sites where people do it on bromptons
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Old 11-22-11, 12:09 AM
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Also using the 349 wheel is Bike Fridays Tikit, their folded arraignment
wheels on its front wheel with a handle on the back..
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Old 11-22-11, 12:47 AM
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It probably wouldn't be too hard to attach a shoulder strap to a Carryme. It could be carried over your shoulder, or on your back, like a golf bag or rifle. I was thinking of doing this for some exploring around the hills in Kamakura here in Japan. Not sure, however, if this could work while wearing a backpack.

I've taken the Carryme on several rides between 30 to 40 kilometers. For such a small bike it really rides surprisingly well.
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Old 11-22-11, 09:04 AM
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Depending what your trips look like. Fly there without a bike...buy something low cost 2nd hand and sell it when you leave. That way you can fly without a bike at all and if you are going to compromise so heavily on a bike to fit it into a backpack just about any low cost bike at your destination will work as well for the actual pedaling part of the equation.
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Old 11-22-11, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by alf41
I have been doing a lot of research (my productivity at work must have reached an all-time low since I started looking for a bike), and I have found rich information from this forum and links some of you have given me regarding my upcoming trip in Europe.

I used to think using a 20" for touring was not viable because the only reference I have is from BMXs built from free-style and were even a bit uncomfortable for my 1 km commute. At this point I have even found out about a guy that crossed the desert and circumvented the polar line in a Strida. I have yet to try a folding bike, but from what I hear, the ride and comfort will blow my mind despite the look and my previous experience in with BMXs built for free-style.

However, I would like to take it down a notch: I would like a bike that I can fit inside my hiking backpack, let's say... this osprey: https://www.ospreypacks.com/en/produc...specifications
It is a big pack, but still, a strida is still a few inches taller. Other than that height problem, it seems it would be able to hold the rest of my stuff along with the bike. The downside would be: where would I hang this huge pack when riding? Any other folder that goes into a more 'square' form needs a wider backpack.

So I wonder if any of those ultra compact folding bikes with rubber wheels is viable for touring. I would say 'no', but I used to think the same about the strida. Anyone you heard of has tried it? Do 14" or 12" folding bikes even exist or should I look in the runner tire category?

Otherwise, I will need a separate pack for the bike and in many flights would be paying 2nd bag fees or the bike fees if I am not lucky.

At this point, my research is leading me to conclude I will need a separate bike bag, pay more in plane tickets sometimes for the extra bag or bike fee, figure out each train company policies. I was hoping something totally innocuous and no one to notice I had a bike with me when folded and packed. In the end, a folding bike does not sound like a huge difference against a regular bike. Maybe I was hoping for much. Well, surfers, snowboarders and golfers deal with this anyway. I may just have to spend more, and travel a little less light than I hoped.

Still, I would prefer a folding bike I can take inside rather than lock out a huge old bike and cross my fingers for it to not be stolen, something below 30 pounds I can take on my shoulders if needed. But I had hoped for the size of the A-bike with the proven touring capacity of dahon, brompton, and even strida. I am not a pro-biker, I just want to get from a to b. I don't mind the speed because I have the rest of my life and I enjoy the rainbows as much as the pot of gold, if you know what I mean. However, I want something comfortable I can sit on for most of the day.
It really depends on your definition of touring and also which airlines you are flying with. With airline fees imposed on checked in luggage, a lot of people bring on carry on into the planes. Again, depending on which airlines you fly with, the feeder low cost airlines are going to be the ones you WILL NOT have room to put your small bike into the overhead luggage compartment because everyone else wants to put their stuffed up bags. This occurred on my recent trip to the sun belt. Secondly, any bikes that has wheels smaller than 20 inches are going to transmit more road shock to your spine. Every ruts and potholes are going to be amplified even more. If you plan to sit all day on the bike, plan on riding bigger bikes.

Personally though and I do not want to get into the debate that some famous guy rides a Strida across the poles or Mr. Heinz with his Brompton, you can tour with any bike given that you have lots of free time. Do you? And what are the distances we are talking about on your tour? 80 miles, 100 miles touring? Or just 30 miles? That makes a difference which bike is more appropriate and efficient for the job.

Lastly, it is actually more economical and enjoyable to just rent a bike for tours or races. I was down at Phoenix over a few weeks and noticed that a few Ironman athletes coming down for Ironman Arizona rent their race bikes. They just give up bringing in their steeds except the professionals because of costs and inconveniences.
Some people might suggest, yeah someone can do an Ironman with a Brompton. Sure, but at what speed and time limit? And is it competitive and enjoyable enough?

A bike tour should be an enjoyable experience. You are trying to compromise this by penny pinching to get away from luggage fees. By the way, some airlines allow bikes to be onboard for free, or little fees to reasonable fees. All you have to do is put your clothes on into panniers and stuff them into a backpack duffle bag. Then, at your travel location, mail that duffle bag to your destination.
A classic touring travel trick.
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Old 11-23-11, 08:06 AM
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Great answers, and now I feel I am start being able to draw some conclusions.

vik/pacificyclist: what vik says about buying one once I get there makes a lot of sense. I have checked craiglist for london and paris, and there are several good looking bikes that are very affordable (more affordable than some 2 hour train rides, or to take the bike in 2 or 3 flights paying the rates published in RyanAir).

I am flying out of Costa Rica, then spending a week in NYC (where I was originally considering to buy an used folding bike - lots in craiglist and good stores), then I am flying to either London, Paris or Milan via Icelandair.

Since this will be still in winter, I doubt it is a good idea to pedal out of Paris. I am very likely to fly to Portugal to visit a friend, and I could wait to get my bike once I am there. I would ride towards the Mediterranean in the mild portuguese winter and then ride generally near the coast in Spain, France, cross Italy through Tuscany around spring, ride across Slovenia (one of my favorite places in the itinerary). I have 3 months to do this, and speed won't be much of an issue, even if I fall behind schedule a couple trains should get me back on schedule. Trains are very bike-friendly in some parts of Europe.

At 3 months in, I have to get out of Schengen due to visa restrictions, Croatia is not part of the treaty, so I can just slide there (I have a train ticket just to show a proof of exit of Europe). At this point, depending on how I am faring financially, I can try to get a job and a work permit somewhere in Europe or Near East. I may sell the bike at this point and fly to India instead.

Rental wouldn't make much sense, except for seeing Paris or something, but in general, my tour is not a circuit.

You are right that very small wheels may subtract a lot of riding comfort as I may end up in eastern Europe countries with so-so road conditions (otherwise would love the CarryMe, Owen), and I would rather have a good time than spoil it trying to save a few bucks.

Mailing a duffle bag to my next location sounds good, interesting idea.
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Old 11-23-11, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by alf41
Great answers, and now I feel I am start being able to draw some conclusions.

vik/pacificyclist: what vik says about buying one once I get there makes a lot of sense. I have checked craiglist for london and paris, and there are several good looking bikes that are very affordable (more affordable than some 2 hour train rides, or to take the bike in 2 or 3 flights paying the rates published in RyanAir).

I am flying out of Costa Rica, then spending a week in NYC (where I was originally considering to buy an used folding bike - lots in craiglist and good stores), then I am flying to either London, Paris or Milan via Icelandair.

Since this will be still in winter, I doubt it is a good idea to pedal out of Paris. I am very likely to fly to Portugal to visit a friend, and I could wait to get my bike once I am there. I would ride towards the Mediterranean in the mild portuguese winter and then ride generally near the coast in Spain, France, cross Italy through Tuscany around spring, ride across Slovenia (one of my favorite places in the itinerary). I have 3 months to do this, and speed won't be much of an issue, even if I fall behind schedule a couple trains should get me back on schedule. Trains are very bike-friendly in some parts of Europe.

At 3 months in, I have to get out of Schengen due to visa restrictions, Croatia is not part of the treaty, so I can just slide there (I have a train ticket just to show a proof of exit of Europe). At this point, depending on how I am faring financially, I can try to get a job and a work permit somewhere in Europe or Near East. I may sell the bike at this point and fly to India instead.

Rental wouldn't make much sense, except for seeing Paris or something, but in general, my tour is not a circuit.

You are right that very small wheels may subtract a lot of riding comfort as I may end up in eastern Europe countries with so-so road conditions (otherwise would love the CarryMe, Owen), and I would rather have a good time than spoil it trying to save a few bucks.

Mailing a duffle bag to my next location sounds good, interesting idea.
The idea of owning a folding bike to do travels has to do with ride fit. If you have special fitting needs, then it's a good idea to have a bike that's custom fitted. But judging from your posts, you are not buying a custom fitted folding bike, so which means the Craiglist option is a better bet.
Here's my observation. I am seeing less and less common people bringing on their folding bikes to some US sun belt or world destinations seemingly because, you can rent a pretty nice carbon bike for like $250/week in some US destinations. Add another $100 for a Madone 5.2 and up class bikes will start to look more financially viable than say buying a Bike Friday Pocket Rocket Pro and equipping it like a Madone 5.2 or 6.2 rental. Unless you are travelling for more than 6 months at a time, it is best to just buy a bike at each destination and sell it at the end in your case. The only people who bring bikes on planes are basically 2 kinds. Serious cycle tourists who want a specific bike for their trips and athletes, namely triathletes with their custom fitted and dialed in tri-bikes or road/MTB tour riders.

It took awhile for my Dahon Mu SL to pay itself off to justify its travel existence, namely with some US carriers like Piranha type US Airways charging $200 each way for a bike!

Hope this helps.

Last edited by pacificcyclist; 11-23-11 at 09:09 AM.
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