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Bike Friday vs. full size bike

Old 03-16-21, 02:14 PM
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jpjuggler
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Bike Friday vs. full size bike

,Bike Friday vs. full size bike, for flying international, and then touring... your thoughts ?

obvious pros and cons but wondering what side peoples opinions fall on....
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Old 03-16-21, 02:30 PM
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Are you going camping touring, or touring lite where you stay in places, and eat in restaurants part of the time?

Have you ever ridden a bike like a Bike Friday 60 or more miles? Which is my way of saying I would pick a regular bike, if not a full on touring bike.

What's the budget? Do you know where you are going?
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Old 03-16-21, 02:39 PM
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There are plenty of old threads detailing the many virtues of a Bike Friday. I got my 1st Bike Friday New World Tourist (NWT) 21 years ago, and got a newer NWT Lite (lighter frame for lighter riders) 2 1/2 years ago. I've toured on both of them and flown lots with them. I saved enough money on airline bike fees to more than pay for my first NWT. It is so much easier to fly with them than my older touring bike. It's made it worthwhile to bring my bike even on short trips which aren't tours. Finding a place to store the empty suitcase has not been a problem, though I arrange that before I begin a trip. The folding ability has also been helpful for taking my bike on other forms of public transportation.

It rides like a "regular" bike. I have toured in several mountainous regions on these bikes with no issues, and also nearly every continent. I don't think I'm sacrificing anything with the smaller wheels. My sense is that I average a smidgen lower speed on my BF than my "regular" bike. Many years ago, I read of a sort of time trial done by a rider on a Bike Friday and a "regular" bike, and found no speed difference. I like the precise steering that results from the smaller wheels, since most of my riding is in an urban area. I've never had any sort of failure on any of my tours on my NWT. Another plus is that the company which makes them is very nice to deal with.
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Old 03-16-21, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by late View Post

Have you ever ridden a bike like a Bike Friday 60 or more miles? Which is my way of saying I would pick a regular bike, if not a full on touring bike.
I have, many times. It's a non-issue. I feel no different after riding 60 miles on my Bike Friday than after riding any other bike that distance or more.
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Old 03-16-21, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by late View Post
Are you going camping touring, or touring lite where you stay in places, and eat in restaurants part of the time?

Have you ever ridden a bike like a Bike Friday 60 or more miles? Which is my way of saying I would pick a regular bike, if not a full on touring bike.

What's the budget? Do you know where you are going?
Thanks for your reply. My post is just kind of a general query. Thanks.
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Old 03-16-21, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by late View Post
Are you going camping touring, or touring lite where you stay in places, and eat in restaurants part of the time?

Have you ever ridden a bike like a Bike Friday 60 or more miles? Which is my way of saying I would pick a regular bike, if not a full on touring bike.

What's the budget? Do you know where you are going?
Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
There are plenty of old threads detailing the many virtues of a Bike Friday. I got my 1st Bike Friday New World Tourist (NWT) 21 years ago, and got a newer NWT Lite (lighter frame for lighter riders) 2 1/2 years ago. I've toured on both of them and flown lots with them. I saved enough money on airline bike fees to more than pay for my first NWT. It is so much easier to fly with them than my older touring bike. It's made it worthwhile to bring my bike even on short trips which aren't tours. Finding a place to store the empty suitcase has not been a problem, though I arrange that before I begin a trip. The folding ability has also been helpful for taking my bike on other forms of public transportation.

It rides like a "regular" bike. I have toured in several mountainous regions on these bikes with no issues, and also nearly every continent. I don't think I'm sacrificing anything with the smaller wheels. My sense is that I average a smidgen lower speed on my BF than my "regular" bike. Many years ago, I read of a sort of time trial done by a rider on a Bike Friday and a "regular" bike, and found no speed difference. I like the precise steering that results from the smaller wheels, since most of my riding is in an urban area. I've never had any sort of failure on any of my tours on my NWT. Another plus is that the company which makes them is very nice to deal with.
thanks for the info!
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Old 03-16-21, 03:27 PM
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You did not say which Bike Friday you have, but I assume that you have a model that is capable of touring.

I have considered a tour on my folding bike (not a Bike Friday), but have not done so. But I have three touring bikes to choose from, so the folding bike would have tough competition.

I have flown with my folding bike in a S&S Backpack case. And I have flown with my S&S coupled touring bike in the same S&S Backpack case.

I have never flown with one of my regular (non-coupled, non-folding) bikes. The hassle of dealing with a full size bike in a bike box to get to the airport, home from the airport, in the airport, and unknown ground transportation in another country would make it a no brainer, they would be the wrong bikes for that kind of trip.

Flying international and touring, if the trip was all going to be on pavement, not gravel, I would take the Bike Friday. (I am assuming you do not have a coupled full size bike, if you did you likely would have mentioned it.)

My first ACA tour was Glacier Waterton Loop. Three people had Bike Fridays, two pulled trailers and one had a rear rack and rear panniers. I do have one suggestion, if you use the trailer option, use a flag pole with a very visible flag on it. The Bike Fridays without panniers that were pulling a really low trailer were not very visible from behind. Flag poles with visible waving flags helped a lot.

That Glacier trip, the Bike Fridays with trailers were parked on the left side in the photo.

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Old 03-16-21, 03:54 PM
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I can't ride just any bike, so when I went to Italy, I used a service that guaranteed everything. Worked out fine, but it was massively expensive.
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Old 03-16-21, 04:20 PM
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My Bike Friday NWT on top of Mont Ventoux, France, and in Sukhothai, Thailand.


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Old 03-16-21, 11:43 PM
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If you find the bike comfortable and don't have a problem with the downside of small wheeled bikes, I say ride.
I knew a 70+ gentlemen who toured much of the world on a folder.
The best bike for touring is the one between your legs
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Old 03-17-21, 05:50 AM
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Your experience may be different, but...

The folders I have ridden suffered badly from two problems. First the tall masts made the bike flex like crazy and second I was not able to get a cockpit position I liked on the ones I rode. I own a Dahon Helios and it is okay for short rides around town to run short errands but much more than that is a stretch especially if there is any climbing involved, When the road tilts up the flexy masts really become apparent.

The Bike Friday is said to be better than the run of the mill folder by some of it's proponents, but I'd want to have a long test ride in varying conditions before I committed to the purchase. I am a skeptic, but have not ridden a BF.

On folders I have ridden I didn't find the small wheels to be the problem so if they make a rigid frame that allowed a position you like it may work well.
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Old 03-17-21, 05:51 AM
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I picked up a smoothound second hand a few years ago because the seller didn't understand the pricing! Small wheels are very twitchy and I cannot imagine riding one for long distances, especially going down mountains.

https://eu.dahon.com/bikes/smooth-hound/
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Old 03-17-21, 07:02 AM
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Based on my experience riding one, I would never tour on a Friday NWT.
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Old 03-17-21, 10:19 AM
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When I wrote my previous post where I was not opposed to a folder for a tour, I should point out that on my folder I am running a Sram Dual Drive rear hub. That allows me to have higher gears that are as high as on a full size bike with 700c wheels.

Typically we think of touring as needing lower gears than normal, but a Bike Friday with 20 inch wheels, some such bikes lack the higher gears that you might want on a bike tour. So, that should be assessed too.

Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
...
The folders I have ridden suffered badly from two problems. First the tall masts made the bike flex like crazy and second I was not able to get a cockpit position I liked on the ones I rode. I own a Dahon Helios and it is okay for short rides around town to run short errands but much more than that is a stretch especially if there is any climbing involved, When the road tilts up the flexy masts really become apparent.
...
On folders I have ridden I didn't find the small wheels to be the problem so if they make a rigid frame that allowed a position you like it may work well.
I fully agree that they are flexy, and it took me quite a while to get used to that.

But eventually I got used to it. My folder is not a Bike Friday, so I can't say if my tall seatpost and extension, plus the tall extension on the fork steerer is more or less flexible, so, my experience might be quite different than the OP would have. And my folder has 24 inch wheels, not 20, so I can't comment on wheel size.

I have wondered what my folder would be like for a tour, so a couple years ago I brought my folder instead of a full size bike on a week long ACA fully supported trip in West Texas. The van hauled our gear, all we had to haul each day was our water, lunch and any change of clothes we might want during the day. Being West Texas, I brought a saddle bag that could carry extra water.

My goal here was to give my folder a test without a heavy load on it to see what I thought of it for full day long rides, day after day. And a 300 plus mile length week long trip sounded like a good way to test it. If there were shortcomings that I did not anticipate, with only a week long trip I felt that it would not cause significant regret.



And by the end of that trip I decided that as long as adding some panniers to it did not grossly upset the handling, that I would be perfectly content to tour on that bike.

In my case, I was able to get the fit to work for me. The reach is much shorter than on my other bikes, but in part I compensate for that with lower handlebar position.

The flexibility of the seat mast and steerer tube extension are clearly evident, but I got used to it. But if you could not get used to it, I am sure that it could impair your confidence in teh bike and curtail enjoyment of the tour.
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Old 03-17-21, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
You did not say which Bike Friday you have, but I assume that you have a model that is capable of touring.

I have considered a tour on my folding bike (not a Bike Friday), but have not done so. But I have three touring bikes to choose from, so the folding bike would have tough competition.

I have flown with my folding bike in a S&S Backpack case. And I have flown with my S&S coupled touring bike in the same S&S Backpack case.

I have never flown with one of my regular (non-coupled, non-folding) bikes. The hassle of dealing with a full size bike in a bike box to get to the airport, home from the airport, in the airport, and unknown ground transportation in another country would make it a no brainer, they would be the wrong bikes for that kind of trip.

Flying international and touring, if the trip was all going to be on pavement, not gravel, I would take the Bike Friday. (I am assuming you do not have a coupled full size bike, if you did you likely would have mentioned it.)

My first ACA tour was Glacier Waterton Loop. Three people had Bike Fridays, two pulled trailers and one had a rear rack and rear panniers. I do have one suggestion, if you use the trailer option, use a flag pole with a very visible flag on it. The Bike Fridays without panniers that were pulling a really low trailer were not very visible from behind. Flag poles with visible waving flags helped a lot.

That Glacier trip, the Bike Fridays with trailers were parked on the left side in the photo.

thanks for the info. Any trouble getting getting the SS coupled bike all the way into the SS backpack?
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Old 03-17-21, 10:34 AM
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I did not know it but being short has it's advantages. For years I was caught up in the whole "how to not get stuck with oversize baggage fees" issue. I built these S&S coupler (pain in the ass to pack) bikes, and even came up with my own patented take apart system. At some point I figured out that if I cut down a bike box to just the right size, I could fit my frame in it and still be under the 62" limit. It might be difficult to fit much bigger than a 46cm/ 18" frame in the box though.
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Old 03-17-21, 11:33 AM
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I've used my Bike Friday NWT on 4 different short tours -- once pulling the suitcase trailer, and the other times using panniers. The only issues I have with the NWT are slightly quicker steering due to the smaller wheels (and you rapidly get used to that), and the fact that it has no top tube, so I can't just brace the bike with my thigh.

I've also used S&S coupled bikes on a number of short tours, and been perfectly happy with that. I slightly prefer the full-size bike to the Bike Friday, but if it were just for a weekend, the ease of use for the Bike Friday would definitely win.

It's definitely faster to set up or pack the Bike Friday, and both solutions allow me to transport the bike in a small car or a cab, which shouldn't work with a non-coupled full-size bike.
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Old 03-17-21, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by jpjuggler View Post
thanks for the info. Any trouble getting getting the SS coupled bike all the way into the SS backpack?
It helps a lot that the bike has 26 inch wheels. I can leave the tires on the rims, but to get my 57mm wide tires packed they have to be deflated.

The S&S bike has a Rohloff hub, that is pretty wide, that makes it a bit more difficult to pack. My folding bike which is a derailleur bike, I take the cassette off and that makes it easier to pack. And it has drop bars, I think flat bars would pack a lot easier.

I worked in a bike shop years ago and I built up most of my bikes from parts. So, disassembly and re-assembly does not give me any fear of doing it wrong, but it is time consuming when you have to even remove the water bottle cages.

I carry a photo of my headset parts on the steerer tube in the correct order on my phone so I do not get things assembled wrong.

I keep on my phone a sequence of photos showing the order of things when I pack it, that helps a lot.

My S&S bike is a heavy duty expedition bike, that and the S&S Backpack case weigh more than 50 pounds, so I carry some parts (pedals, saddle, a few other bits) in my other checked bag. And my rear rack has to go in the other checked bag. Fenders do not fit, they stay home. That said, I am slowly migrating towards using some small mini fenders that fit. A luggage scale is the travelers best friend.

I wrote up a bunch of comments on S&S couplers at this post:
Air Travel with Bicycle

This is my S&S bike on my last tour.



The first in the sequence of photos on packing order, I added a sheet of white 26 X 26 Corroplast to the sides of my case as extra stiffeners. Some people use a lot more padding than I do. I just pad the parts that are in contact with other hard surfaces, I do not use the tubes of packing that some people use that go over frame parts.



Last in the sequence:



If you pack an S&S bike (or a folding bike or a Ritchey Break Away) and it all fit well, take lots of photos as you unpack so that in the future you can see what worked.

In the photo below I am wearing my S&S Backpack case on my back as I leave an airport, this trip was with my folding bike in it.

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Old 03-17-21, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by jpjuggler View Post
Any trouble getting getting the SS coupled bike all the way into the SS backpack?
Originally Posted by headwind15 View Post
I did not know it but being short has it's advantages. For years I was caught up in the whole "how to not get stuck with oversize baggage fees" issue. I built these S&S coupler (pain in the ass to pack) bikes, and even came up with my own patented take apart system. At some point I figured out that if I cut down a bike box to just the right size, I could fit my frame in it and still be under the 62" limit. It might be difficult to fit much bigger than a 46cm/ 18" frame in the box though.
IME packing an S&S coupled bike (60 cm C-T) is tricky, but not all that difficult. Unpacking takes 45 minutes to an hour, while packing takes me 50 minutes to an hour and a half. If I haven't taken it anywhere for a while, it takes a while to remember how the fork and (drop) bars go in just so. There's a trick that makes it trivially simple, but I haven't figured out how to document that in a picture yet. I normally dismount the front tire, so that TSA doesn't dislodge the struts when they open things up to inspect it.
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Old 03-17-21, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by waddo View Post
I picked up a smoothound second hand a few years ago because the seller didn't understand the pricing! Small wheels are very twitchy and I cannot imagine riding one for long distances, especially going down mountains.
I suspect that I'd really like it, if I could get stretched out enough. I always kind of lusted after some of the mini velos. I kind of like a twitchy ride. I remember seeing a break apart Dahon Hammerhead back in maybe 2008 or 2009 and thinking it looked interesting. I never toured on a small wheeled bike though. I did ride the ST from San Diego to Pensacola on a Canondale Crit bike and was very happy with the choice, but while twitchy it wasn't twitchy like a 20" wheel bike..
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Old 03-17-21, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
... packing an S&S coupled bike ... ... but I haven't figured out how to document that in a picture yet. ....
I actually found it easiest to take the series of photos when I unpacked it after a successful packing job. That way I knew that everything in the photo actually worked. Without my series of photos, it would take me at least another hour to pack it. End up with a series of 6 or 8 photos in my case.

I also have a separate text file on my computer that is saved as an image with my photos that clarifies some of the important aspects of packing. Since I only do that twice a year (in 2020, no tour, thus not packed), I need the documentation to help me figure it out.

But no two frames are shaped exactly the same way, so no two bikes will pack the same way. In my case the manufacturer said that my bike at my size would not fit in the case. I made it fit.
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Old 03-17-21, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by jpjuggler View Post
,Bike Friday vs. full size bike, for flying international, and then touring... your thoughts ?

obvious pros and cons but wondering what side peoples opinions fall on....
Maybe this video will inspire you to decide...

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Old 03-17-21, 04:52 PM
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Packing an S&S bike up

Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
IME packing an S&S coupled bike (60 cm C-T) is tricky, but not all that difficult. Unpacking takes 45 minutes to an hour, while packing takes me 50 minutes to an hour and a half. If I haven't taken it anywhere for a while, it takes a while to remember how the fork and (drop) bars go in just so. There's a trick that makes it trivially simple, but I haven't figured out how to document that in a picture yet. I normally dismount the front tire, so that TSA doesn't dislodge the struts when they open things up to inspect it.

I have packed up a 62cm bike before. Sure I did it, it took an hour, but I believe that if you took a pole, most cyclists would prefer an easier way. I was a bike store owner for over 12 tears, have done bike mechanicing for over 45 yrs (started to build wheels at age 15). I I am extremely mechanical. I had a guy in Texas who I had built a disassemble frame for him and he wanted to disassemble and pack the 54 cm bike in a suitcase to make his noon flight. Despite me talking with him at length over the phone, sending him pictures, he still was unable to pack it up in time to make his flight. (He had to reschedule). So yea, I still think that a lot of people who have packed up an S&S bike, would have to agree it is a PITA.
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Old 03-17-21, 05:43 PM
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Even worse, I had a guy who flew out to pick up a take apart bike, that I had built a few weeks ago. He was insistent that he wanted to pack it without any help. After nearly three hours, he packed it up (sort of). He actually ended up caving on where to place the handlebars and carried them separately.
I am just trying to say that an S&S coupler bike can be a pain to pack unless you do it all the time, compared to a Brompton folder that for sure folds up in something like fifteen seconds and is so simple that virtually any one can drop one in a box in 30 seconds. There is some value to that ease of packing up a Brompton (or other folders) that a lot of cyclists will appreciate. I have considered designing a telescopic type of frame that could easily pack in an under oversize box, where the wheels and other stuff go in a second (26") box. Lets face it no one can fit as S&S bike with all their touring gear in one box anyways.
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Old 03-17-21, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by headwind15 View Post
... So yea, I still think that a lot of people who have packed up an S&S bike, would have to agree it is a PITA.
I do fully agree, but when I consider the other aspects of being able to use a regular taxi, carry a bike on my back with shoulder straps, it prevents a lot of other PITA aspects of international travel. So, it is balancing the various inconveniences. Different people will judge which inconveniences are best avoided differently.
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