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Quick folding tours

Old 11-07-21, 09:53 AM
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Quick folding tours

I live near Montreal, and can make multi destination nonstop flights to some beautiful places in France. I'm thinking about flying out on a Friday after work, perhaps to Bordeaux, then credit card touring from vineyard to vineyard and flying home from Toulouse the next Sunday. I could do similar trips from other cities (aix-en-provence, Lyon etc).

Would a Bike Friday work well for this? I'm not very heavy and it would be credit card touring. Is a new world tourist overkill? I could also fly to a Sprint or Olympic triathlon, which makes me want something lighter. Should I use panniers or the suitcase system?
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Old 11-07-21, 10:15 AM
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I've toured in that region on a Bike Friday NWT a few times, the last time (4 years ago) with 2 other friends who also rode NWTs. We used panniers and credit card toured on that trip. We left our bike suitcases at a friend's place near Paris, and took a train to Libourne, and returned to Paris by train from Bordeaux. A Bike Friday works very well for touring there or pretty much anywhere else.

The vineyard areas near Libourne and St. Emilion are very pretty, as is the vineyard area near Bergerac. My own opinion, however, is that as you ride eastward up the Dordogne valley, the scenery gets better and better. The vineyards are replaced with gorges, castles, medieval villages, caves, & walnut orchards. On one other tour there, my friend & I began in Bordeaux and ended in Toulouse, but we took more than a week for that. We went from the Dordogne valley to the equally gorgeous Lot valley, then turned south toward Toulouse passing through Najac, Castres, & Albi. If vineyards are really your thing, however, you could do a loop after going up the Dordogne valley, then down to the nearby Lot, then westward down the Lot passing through the Cahors wine area.

Are there really nonstop flights from Montreal to Bordeaux? That seems unlikely to me, though I suppose they might exist in the summer. BTW, all of my tours in that region were in either June or September, which I think are the best months to tour there. The weather is generally excellent (not too hot) and the crowds aren't as large as in the summer.

If you really love vineyards, it is also a nice ride going from Lyon to Dijon. Starting in Macon, there's an excellent paved rail-trail through the vineyards in that area, and northward, there are some nice small paved farm roads through the Cote d'Or in Burgundy.
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Old 11-07-21, 11:14 AM
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Thank you for the tips! I'll have to spend some time looking into those spots. I don't do many miles in a day, and I'm fine with using trains to fill in a few gaps.

Air Transat has seasonal flights to tons of smaller airports in Europe from Montreal. I like that airlines are moving toward a "point to point" model with smaller flights between medium sized cities rather than forcing you through hubs. They can do it b/c of the efficiency of newer small airplanes (ie the airbus a321neoLR).

How do you pack your panniers when you fly?

What are your thoughts on New World Tourist vs Pocket Rocket for my purposes? I'm leaning toward the pocket rocket, b/c I only weigh 160lbs and I'm not touring fully loaded. I also want to plan some separate trips to do a short distance triathlon in a beautiful european lake (ie Lac Annecy). (I have thought about a full-sized bike with S&S couplers, but I'm leaning toward a Bike Friday).
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Old 11-07-21, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Samcls04 View Post
I'm thinking about flying out on a Friday after work, perhaps to Bordeaux, then credit card touring from vineyard to vineyard and flying home from Toulouse the next Sunday.
That sounds lovely.

How do you envision dealing with the bike's flight travel case emptied in Bordeaux and required again in Toulouse?

Would a Bike Friday work well for this?
It would be fine. Like any 20" wheel folding bike,







some disassembly is required to get it into its flight case, and reassembly is necessary upon arrival. Some tri-fold 16" wheel bikes of the Andrew Ritchie design, like the Brompton and Dahon Curl, will drop right into an "airline legal" suitcase with no disassembly/reassembly required.



Dahon even offers a ~folding~ travel case for their little folding bike:




If you don't have a way to get the travel case from tour start to tour finish, BikeFriday offers their travel case that converts into a small trailer to be pulled behind the bike. Radical offers their Cyclone Chubby IV trailer for folding bikes:


If your destinations include Grenoble: a short tour of French 'balcony' roads

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29278225


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Old 11-07-21, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Samcls04 View Post
I also want to plan some separate trips to do a short distance triathlon in a beautiful european lake (ie Lac Annecy). (I have thought about a full-sized bike with S&S couplers, but I'm leaning toward a Bike Friday).
We started talking about touring, now we're doing triathlons.

There's the Ron English folding road bike system:

https://www.englishcycles.com/custom...-road-concept/

and the Airnimal Chameleon:

https://airnimal.co/products/chamele.../#.YYgR_C2cZTY
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Old 11-07-21, 12:06 PM
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Those are all great bike recommendations. For touring with a Bike Friday, I have thought about both panniers and the travelcase - has anyone tried both? How much does the case slow you down? It probably wouldn't matter too much given my speed and daily mileage.

The Airnimal is a beautiful bike - I can see how it would be useful for triathlons. I don't know if it would work for touring too though. :/

Has anyone had derailleur problems in packable bikes? It seems vulnerable.
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Old 11-07-21, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Samcls04 View Post
.... (I have thought about a full-sized bike with S&S couplers, but I'm leaning toward a Bike Friday).
Do not rule out Ritchey Break Away bikes. That is another bike coupling system. It is less robust that the S&S system, but for a road bike it is perfectly adequate.

The Ritchey case is slightly bigger than the 62 inch criteria that most USA airlines use for oversize. I do not know what size criteria you would have to follow for the airlines you use in Canada. I have only flown Air Canada once, and I used my S&S bag for that. The Ritchey case is close enough to the 62 inch criteria, that the Ritchey owners that I have talked to have generally not had to pay the oversize fee when flying on USA airlines.

The two bikes below belonged to a couple I met five years ago in Iceland. I had my S&S bike, lots of gear. They chose to pack very light and rode their Ritchey Break Away bikes with bike packing gear. They said that their only checked luggage was their two bike cases, they had put some of their other gear in the cases and then the rest was carried on.






Originally Posted by Samcls04 View Post
Those are all great bike recommendations. For touring with a Bike Friday, I have thought about both panniers and the travelcase - has anyone tried both? How much does the case slow you down? It probably wouldn't matter too much given my speed and daily mileage.

The Airnimal is a beautiful bike - I can see how it would be useful for triathlons. I don't know if it would work for touring too though. :/

Has anyone had derailleur problems in packable bikes? It seems vulnerable.
By travelcase, do you mean pulling the suitcase behind on wheels? If so, I can't see that as being slower than panniers. But it does mean that you have three tire tracks instead of one, so where there are potholes or road debris, that is an issue to consider.

I think rear derailleurs should be removed from the frame before packing for most bikes. Otherwise you can bend the hanger. Most steel bikes do not have replaceable hangers, but I think every non-steel bike I have seen has a replaceable hanger.

I suspect that the number of people that have toured on an Airnimal is pretty small. But it has been done for credit card touring. And Airnimal has cited a past Airnimal that was on a podium for a triathalon.

The Airnimal has 24 inch wheels. To pack that into a case that does not trigger oversize fees, you likely have to do more disassembly and re-assembly of the bike than you would with a Bike Friday with 20 inch wheels.

I have an Airnimal Joey (a different model than the one cited above) and it takes me almost as much time to pack that for air travel as it takes to pack my S&S bike.
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Old 11-07-21, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
My own opinion, however, is that as you ride eastward up the Dordogne valley, the scenery gets better and better. The vineyards are replaced with gorges, castles, medieval villages, caves, & walnut orchards.
+1 !



Beynac-et-Cazenac (Dordogne)
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Old 11-07-21, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Samcls04 View Post

How do you pack your panniers when you fly?

What are your thoughts on New World Tourist vs Pocket Rocket for my purposes? I'm leaning toward the pocket rocket, b/c I only weigh 160lbs and I'm not touring fully loaded. I also want to plan some separate trips to do a short distance triathlon in a beautiful european lake (ie Lac Annecy). (I have thought about a full-sized bike with S&S couplers, but I'm leaning toward a Bike Friday).
I put my panniers, handlebar bag, & helmet in a duffel bag. I've got a duffel bag with wheels, so it's easy to handle.

I converted my BF suitcase to a trailer on one occasion. A friend & I were flying to the Iles de la Madeleine in Quebec, and flying home from Charlottetown on PEI. I was touring with a friend who also has an NWT and conversion hardware to turn the suitcase to a trailer. In reality, we only had to pull the trailers on one day because we just did day trips on the Iles de la Madeleine. We took the ferry to Souris on PEI and biked with the trailer to Charlottetown. We were able to leave the trailers at a B&B in Charlottetown while we did a loop tour for several days on PEI. The bike & trailer were very stable, and part of that day's ride with the trailer was on the unpaved Confederation Trail with some rain. But my preference is to tour with panniers only. All of my other tours with my Bike Fridays (after my last bike trip to France I bought a NWT Lite, a more lightweight bike for lighter cyclists. (I'm smaller than you.) My original NWT is over 20 years old. I've packed and unpacked the NWT a few dozen times. I don't find it difficult, but with the trailer hardware, it was definitely more challenging to get everything to fit in the suitcase. The NWT was designed as a touring bike and travel bike and it performs exceedingly well, including in the mountains. I doubt any other folder out there is as good for touring. I've never had any serious damage to my NWT when turned over to an airline, train, or bus.

On most of my tours, I haven't had a friend who could store my empty NWT suitcase & duffel bag while I toured, like my Paris friends. I've usually arranged to leave the empty luggage at a hotel I stayed at on at least the 1st night, and at least my last night. I've never had a problem. The only time I ever had to pay was a nominal amount in Thailand. My last real tour, the winter before Covid hit, was in Colombia. Ultimately, my hotel in Medellin was willing to store the suitcase & duffel, but before I had arranged that, I asked a Warmshowers member there if he could store them for me. He said yes.

The SNCF (French national railroads) has been making it more difficult to travel with a bike in recent years. 10 years ago, it seemed that every non-TGV train had self-roll-on service. That's no longer true. Some TGV lines accept a limited number of bikes (with a paid reservation, and you turn over your bike to them). I read a tip from a French cyclist many years ago, that I've since done multiple times on TGVs: I pack the largest plastic garbage bag I can find. I remove the pedals on my bike, and then fold it and put it in the plastic bag to take on a TGV. Conductors have always been OK with it. The 3 of us did that for the TGV from Paris-Libourne, and our return from Bordeaux-Paris. We were willing to pay to check our bikes, but there was no bike space left on either train.

There are so many interesting things to see and do in the Dordogne & Lot valleys, that we were not riding vast distances each day. We visited multiple chateaux, caves, gardens, & museums, in addition to exploring some of the wonderful medieval villages. I'd be happy to give you suggestions.

You also mentioned flying to Aix-en-Provence. Just north of there is a very nice signposted suggested bike loop in the Luberon region. I think it extends from Cavaillon to Forqualquier and back. One-half is on the south side of the Luberon range, the other half on the north side. It's mostly on small roads with minimal traffic. The northern half has more people and more traffic. Both halves have some extremely pretty villages. It is not at all flat (I think that Forqualquier is about 600m higher than Cavaillon), but it wasn't very difficult. West of Cavaillon, there was pleasant and mostly flat cycling near the Pont du Gard & Arles. This region would have comfortable cycling temperatures, I think, in late-April & May, as well as late September & October. I was there in the 2nd half of May and it was pretty hot.

The 1st photo is a couple of our NWTs in the Dordogne valley in a village which happened to have been on that summer's Tour de France route. The village still had Tour decorations up.

The 2nd photo was taken from a promontory at the Chateau de Marqueyssac gardens overlooking the Dordogne river toward the village of La Roque-Gageac.

I forgot to mention that between Lyon & Macon, you'd be riding through the Beaujolais region. I haven't bike in that one section, however, but since you mentioned vineyards, I thought I should add that.




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Old 11-07-21, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Samcls04 View Post
...
How do you pack your panniers when you fly?
....
The last time I flew somewhere with my bike, one of my rear panniers met the airline dimensions for carry on to stow in the overhead and one of my front panniers met the airline dimensions for personal item to carry on to put under an airline seat.

I do not want luggage handlers having a chance to damage my helmet, I wear that onto the plane and put it in the overhead. Within the airport, I attach the helmet to the shoulder strap that I used for my rear pannier that was the carry one.

The photo below shows my S&S Backpack case (black), most of my bike was in that case. A large backpack was my other checked bag (orange), and you can see the two panniers and helmet to carry onto the plane.

The orange backpack had camping gear, some of my food, a few bits of my bike as my bike and the S&S case together would be overweight, etc.

This was for a five week trip where I was camping almost every night.



I am not a light weight packer, this was probably a bit more than most would carry for a five week trip.

The bike in the next photo while on tour.

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Old 11-08-21, 01:21 PM
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One more thing to consider if you are going to pursue a 20 inch folder like a Bike Friday. They lack the higher gears with a 20 inch wheel. There are some ways around that, bigger chainrings are an option. On my Airnimal I have a Sram Dual Drive (no longer manufactured) which is an internally geared hub that also can be fitted with a standard cassette. When I have my Dual Drive in high gear, that is like running an overdrive. I think Sturmey Archer makes something similar to the Dual Drive.

So, if you go further down the road towards a 20 inch folder, you should look at the gearing of road bikes that you have ridden and think about what gears you would want on your travel bike.
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Old 11-08-21, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
One more thing to consider if you are going to pursue a 20 inch folder like a Bike Friday. They lack the higher gears with a 20 inch wheel.
That is not correct. I've got pretty much the same gearing at the high & low end that I've got on my old Bridgestone touring bike. My newest NWT has 50-39-30 chainrings, with a 11-32 9 speed cassette. My older NWT has a SRAM internal rear hub shifter so it acts like a triple crankset. I biked up the Col du Tourmalet in the Pyrenees and Mont Ventoux, both with full panniers and a handlebar bag. I did a 1,600 ft climb in the Appalachians of Virginia this year, and I survived (too) many long climbs in extremely mountainous Colombia. Riding a Bike Friday feels scarcely any different from riding a bike with bigger wheels.
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Old 11-08-21, 05:18 PM
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To my comment:
One more thing to consider if you are going to pursue a 20 inch folder like a Bike Friday. They lack the higher gears with a 20 inch wheel.

Response was:
Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
That is not correct. I've got pretty much the same gearing at the high & low end that I've got on my old Bridgestone touring bike. My newest NWT has 50-39-30 chainrings, with a 11-32 9 speed cassette. ....Riding a Bike Friday feels scarcely any different from riding a bike with bigger wheels.
I might have gotten a cog or two wrong when I guessed at what your nine speed cassette is, but your gearing is approximately:




I copied that graphic from this:
https://gear-calculator.com/?GR=DERS...N=MPH&DV=teeth

That indicates that your low and high gears with a 40mm wide 20 inch tire are 18 and 88 gear inches. I configured it to avoid the two most cross chained gears on each chainring.

He is considering using the bike for competitive racing and for credit card touring. If he competes, he likely is used to road bike or time trial bike gearing.

I suggested that he compare that gearing with road bikes he was familiar with. I do not know what his road bike is like but the gear chart for my road bike with a Campy compact double crank and Miche 12/29 10 speed cassette looks like this with 700c 28mm tires:





Thus, my road bike has a range from 32 to 114 gear inches.

I pasted that from:
https://gear-calculator.com/?GR=DERS...N=MPH&DV=teeth

If he runs a really high cadence, maybe he could compete with a top gear of 88 gear inches, but if he wanted to, that would be his call.

That is why I suggested that he assess the gearing when I said:
..., if you go further down the road towards a 20 inch folder, you should look at the gearing of road bikes that you have ridden and think about what gears you would want on your travel bike.
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Old 11-11-21, 12:33 PM
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I know a couple who travel extensively with their folding bikes. It allows them to travel about easily while in a country and the folding bikes can be put on a train or bus or in a taxi or brought into an elevator with no issues. Usually they land at the airport and then use a bus to get to their hotels.

I would chose the bike based on parts availability in foreign countries. No reason not to buy the bike in France and many folding bikes come with lights and racks and fenders already installed. The Decathalon bike shops will even deliver the bike to you hotel when you buy one from them. Be careful as to the tire sizing and bring your own tubes and patch kit. A limitation of most folding bikes is the limited speeds, with most having 8-speeds which is far from ideal for traveling outside of the cities.

Folding Bike Manufacturer Directory - The Folding Cyclist

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Old 11-11-21, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If he runs a really high cadence, maybe he could compete with a top gear of 88 gear inches, but if he wanted to, that would be his call.
The OP is not limited to my top gear. A Bike Friday NWT is custom-built for each rider. A customer can get any gearing or components that he or she wants. I got what I wanted. I made some gearing and component changes on my newer NWT Lite compared to what I have on my much older NWT. The OP can get what he or she wants. 20" wheels don't change that. Given what the OP asked and the main intended use, I believe that a Bike Friday is the best solution for multiple trips by air and relatively short tours, although Bike Fridays perform well on long tours, too. Personally, I wouldn't mess with an off-the-shelf "city bike" type of folder with limited gearing and unknown durability for actual touring. My 2 NWTs give me a ride which is 99% like my older Bridgestone RB-T with full-sized wheels.
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Old 11-13-21, 03:48 PM
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I think the defining feature of the tours I'm considering is how short they are. None of them will be far away from civilization. I think a Bike Friday makes good sense - and I should be able to do some short triathlons on a Pocket Rocket or NWT. If I did a half ironman then I would just rent a bike at the destination.

That folding bike directory is huge. I glanced at a few other manufacturers. Tern has some interesting models.
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Old 11-15-21, 05:40 AM
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I toured with Bike Friday using panniers; never used the suitcase (did not buy the suitcase trailer). It works fine, and the gearing is whatever you spec.

I also agree with Axolotl that going east up the Dordogne valley is beautiful.
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