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Foldable or portable bikes for touring.

Old 05-01-15, 07:05 PM
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Foldable or portable bikes for touring.

I know you can tour on anything, in fact, I preach it all the time.

What I am curious about is for those who have actually toured on one of those. You know the 20 inch tires and low center of balance. How did the bike handle???? Was the low center of gravity a concern???? Stuff like that...
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Old 05-01-15, 07:39 PM
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I've had my Bike Friday New World Tourist for over 15 years and have toured on it a lot. I also commuted on it a lot. The only real difference I notice is that the steering is more precise. For urban riding, I prefer that. I don't think there's a huge center-of-gravity difference. The seat is the same distance off the ground, though it's true that the center of the wheels is lower. On the other hand, smaller wheels stay true much more readily than larger wheels. I've toured in some fairly mountainous places on the bike and it rides and handles great. It has certainly saved me lots of money not having to pay the outrageous bike fees most airlines are charging now.
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Old 05-01-15, 07:50 PM
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I bought my Bike Friday Pocket Rocket in '94 and have used it for a number of tours as well as many shorter rides. Handling is very similar to my bikes with 700c wheels, in fact in most respects it's in between my quicker handling Cannondale crit. bike and my Specialized tourer. There's more flex in the longer stem and unsupported seat tube, but I don't feel that affects my ride. Initially I had some problems with the headset needing more frequent adjustment (I think due to the long stem exerting more force on it), but an additional lock ring solved that.
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Old 05-01-15, 08:31 PM
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Many seem to think smaller wheels equal harsher ride. I haven't found that with the Bike Friday Pocket Llama. I'd rate the ride with my other touring bikes, although the comment about the steering more "precise" is also true, along with prathman's observation about a little more flex in the steerer. The PLs come with suspension seatposts, so any flex in the seat post is not so evident.

I also suggest keeping an eye on the baggage limits published by each of the airlines. I have already observed some have started to reduce the maximum size limit based on L+W+H, which might make packing a 20" wheeled BF a little more challenging.
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Old 05-02-15, 05:05 AM
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I have not toured on a folding bike, but I did go on a week long group self supported tour where there were a total of 16 riders, one had an S&S bike, two (a married couple) had Bike Fridays with the shipping cases as trailers and one had a Bike Friday with rack and panniers (rear only, no front panniers) but no trailer.

One of the Bike Friday owners had a Sachs three speed hub with cassette and was saying that he wished that they had not gone out of business because his wife really could use one too. She wanted a higher high gear to avoid spinning out, on shallow downhills or on the flats with a tailwind she spun out with a 52/11 gear and 20 inch wheels. I informed him that the Sram Dual Drive hub replaced the Sachs hub he had and that they were readily available. Thus, he could go out and buy one any time. The reason I am explaining this about that hub is that with a 20 inch wheel, you might want a higher gear than a regular hub offers. So, think about how high a gear you want for the bike.

I have an Airnimal Joey that I have considered trying for a tour, I can't fit a front derailleur on it so I instead bought a Sram Dual Drive for it. This bike has 24 inch wheels and does not fit in a standard 62 inch size airline specification case. I should not have bought this bike, when I bought it I was told that it would fit in a case that did not cost more to travel on an airplane. But, they did not explain that only British Air allowed the case for it for no oversize charge. A year after I bought it, I tried to buy the case and that is when I learned that my expensive new (now a year old) bike was not the great travel bike I envisioned when I bought it. So, if the reason you are looking for a folding bike is airline travel, do better research than I did. The only reason I did not try to sell the bike is that I can take it on Amtrak as a carry-on under their folding bike policy, but have not done so yet.

A friend of mine has a Bike Friday. I think he planned on touring with it when he bought it, but he is afraid he would look odd on it so he instead pays the extra shipping charges to travel with a full size bike.

Last edited by Tourist in MSN; 05-02-15 at 05:09 AM.
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Old 05-02-15, 05:10 AM
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I don't find the center of gravity or quick handling to be a big issue, but do hate the extra flex in the tall masts on the steerers and seat posts (mostly the steerer). On the ones I have ridden the flex was bad enough that I only would use it where it was necessary or for short errands. Mine is a Dahon Helios and I would not even consider using it for most tours. The Bike Friday may be better in that regard, but it seems to me that there is likely to be a lot of flex on any bike with masts that tall.

As far as the airline issues... If you will be primarily touring in the US, IMO it is probably easier and better to just use a regular bike and fly a bike friendly airline (Southwest) or ship the bike.
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Old 05-02-15, 07:14 AM
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I haven't experienced any extra flex in the mast on my Bike Friday. Maybe it's a Dahon issue.
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Old 05-02-15, 07:18 AM
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MSN tourist has a good point, according to Sheldon's gear calculator, a 53 x 11 combo on those 20" wheels produces a maximum speed of 24 mph at a cadence of 90 rpm.
Over the years, I have toured with several people that love their Bike Fridays but after seeing what modifications have had to be made with that bike, I would tend to use a more standard frame such as a Surly LHT with the S&S couplers.

Last edited by robow; 05-02-15 at 07:22 AM.
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Old 05-02-15, 07:27 AM
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My P20 is among my favourite bicycles when I am looking at riding a lot of miles and have to carry a lot of gear... it has spent weeks doing 100 km a day and been on many a century ride and the comfort level and handling are on par with the nicest bicycles I have ridden. It compares pretty closely with a Bike Friday NWT for as far as geometry goes although that was not the intent when I built it up and it fits me like an old glove.

The custom wheels I built have stayed within 2/1000 over many many thousands of km and I am going to use these in a custom cargo bike project as they are actually overbuilt for touring and I have some new touring wheels in the works.

By their nature, (well built) smaller wheels are stronger and can take a lot of abuse that would mess up larger wheels.
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Old 05-02-15, 07:28 AM
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At first the flex of the tall seatpost on my Airnimal Joey drove me nutty. But, I eventually got used to it, it does not bother me at all now. There is a bit of flex at the front too, but that was less noticeable.

Maybe the tall mast flex and tall steerer flex is a function of rider height and rider weight? A shorter lighter rider I suspect would find this less of an issue.

I should have mentioned this in my post above but forgot to - smaller wheels likely means shorter chainstays. Before you buy, assess potential for heel strike on rear panniers. While it might be possible to push a pannier further back on a rack, if the center of gravity of your panniers is further behind the rear axle, poor handling and shimmy can be the result.
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Old 05-02-15, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
At first the flex of the tall seatpost on my Airnimal Joey drove me nutty. But, I eventually got used to it, it does not bother me at all now. There is a bit of flex at the front too, but that was less noticeable.

Maybe the tall mast flex and tall steerer flex is a function of rider height and rider weight? A shorter lighter rider I suspect would find this less of an issue.

I should have mentioned this in my post above but forgot to - smaller wheels likely means shorter chainstays. Before you buy, assess potential for heel strike on rear panniers. While it might be possible to push a pannier further back on a rack, if the center of gravity of your panniers is further behind the rear axle, poor handling and shimmy can be the result.
With people obsessing over weight and using lighter materials it should not be a surprise that there will be flex in longer seatposts and stems... the old steel seatposts from my P20 makes an excellent snipe / prybar while the new seatpost (and stem) have not caused me any issues although I am pretty light.

The NWT is a well designed bicycle and would top my list of excellent touring bicycles regardless of the wheel size... the dual drive really is the way to go if you want the widest gear range possible and if you want to really get crazy, keep a double up front so you have a super low bailout range. My friend did this on his NWT when he changed the 9 speed to a dual drive and it actually saved his butt when he was touring in Europe as he just needed a little extra low when he was climbing in the mountains.

He makes the switch to the small ring manually... 3 shifters would be too confusing.

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Old 05-02-15, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by gpsblake
I know you can tour on anything, in fact, I preach it all the time.
I met an older fellow who said he and his friend rode the golden triangle here which is 1000 km of roads and mountains... they used a Raleigh 3 speed and a coaster equipped roadster and carried backpacks.

They did it in ten days.
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Old 05-02-15, 10:28 AM
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Heinz Stuke went from a big wheel bike to a Bike friday , and now is on a Sponsored Brompton.. 30 years on the road .. HEINZ STÜCKE - WEB SITE OFICIAL

Mis bicicletas

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Old 05-02-15, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by axolotl
I haven't experienced any extra flex in the mast on my Bike Friday. Maybe it's a Dahon issue.
I doubt it is only a Dahon issue but, I wouldn't be surprised if the Dahon was worse than the BF in that regard. Still, two people in this thread already mentioned more flex in the BF than in a "normal bike. They said it wasn't a problem for them, but they did notice it. I am sure that some folks are more tolerant of the flex than others. Also riding style, weight, and height all are factors in how much flex there is going to be. I tend to flex even regular frames a noticeable amount on many bikes.

Originally Posted by prathmann
There's more flex in the longer stem and unsupported seat tube, but I don't feel that affects my ride.
Originally Posted by Rowan
I'd rate the ride with my other touring bikes, although the comment about the steering more "precise" is also true, along with prathman's observation about a little more flex in the steerer.
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Old 05-02-15, 01:06 PM
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Just finished touring with a couple of fine individuals that enjoy their Bike Fridays but I could see how that long stem could easily flex and might not work for some.

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Old 05-02-15, 01:32 PM
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It's 4130 steel Tube.. custom bent for customer preferences. all quite adequate , Thousands of BiFris will be touring this year.. all parts of the world..

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-02-15 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 05-02-15, 03:14 PM
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The flex in the mast is overstated by those who haven't ridden them. I am certainly not fussed by it because it is marginal.
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Old 05-03-15, 06:02 AM
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Sixty-Fiver's colleague Arvon built me a "disassemble able" touring bike that I started touring on east of Perth Australia. The bicycle was/is great but the SA 8-speed had BIG issues that resulted in me cancelling the tour. I rented a car instead... In July I will take my big diamond-frame tourer with 4 panniers and start that tour all over again.

Sixty-Fiver may still have pictures of the bike as it was being built. I don't want to reassemble it again just to post pics.
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Old 05-03-15, 08:47 AM
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I have a Bike Friday NWT, and have toured with it several times. I did notice considerable stem flex in the original 1-piece riser/stem; I've since replaced that with a straight riser, and a separate stem (so that I could change the stem length), which doesn't seem to have the issue to the same extent at all. The steering is definitely quicker than my larger-wheeled bikes, but you get used to it quickly. I'm happy touring with it, but, with a load, do prefer my coupled bike.
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Old 05-03-15, 05:54 PM
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Thanks for the replies, been looking at a smaller bike that can be transported much easier, say on a greyhound or when I ride up north with the family. Wanted to hear opinions directly from here.
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