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Panniers for Folding Bicycles?

Old 11-09-23, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
I did not attempt to bike out of the airport on any occasions, but some people do that regularly. If that works for you, great.
That has always been my preferred mode of operation. There is something satisfying about just unpacing the bike and starting the ride IMO. Not for everyone though I guess.
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Old 11-09-23, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
Can you say more about how Amtrak treats folding bikes?
....
To expand on what TCS said:

Since the folding bike is one of your allowed carry on bags, you have to cut your carryon allowance by one.

But it is quite generous. Carry on bag size limit is essentially a checked bag size limit for an airline, plus the personal item.
https://www.amtrak.com/carry-on-baggage

Keep in mind that many stations are not baggage stops, in which case all of your luggage has to be carry on.

Their folding bike policy has been in place for years, but when it was first implemented, a lot of people were denied the ability to carry on their bike. Initially it was recommended (in the folding board on this forum and elsewhere) to carry a paper copy of the Amtrak policy that you could produce when they said no.

The last time I rode Amtrak, I checked my full size bike in a box, the photo below was my carry on luggage. The black and red duffle is 28 inches long. And I could have also had a folding bike as another carry on and still have met their criteria too.



It however is possible that my grocery bag above is slightly oversize.

I have an orange backpack in the photo in post 19 above, that is a 115 liter backpack, and that meets the Amtrak size limit for carryon, just barely.

Officially, Amtrak does not consider an S&S coupled bike or Ritchey Break Away bike to be a "folding" bike because it does not fold. But some people have put the parts in a bag and when Amtrak said that was too big to be a carry on, they said it was their folding bike and managed to get away with it.
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Old 11-09-23, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
That has always been my preferred mode of operation. There is something satisfying about just unpacing the bike and starting the ride IMO. Not for everyone though I guess.
I probably could do it if I had to, but I would rather assemble my S&S bike out on the patio at a hostel. It is too much effort to want to do that while at the airport where I feel rushed and I have security staff giving me funny looks.



I can pull the side pieces out and fold the empty case up to be much smaller, but it still would be a big item to strap onto my bike. Since I need to take the case to a place to store it, might as well build the bike there too.

I think part of the situation is how much time you have on your hands. If you have a week long vacation and have to cram your bike tour into 5 or 6 days, then I can see assembling your bike at the airport. But, if I am on a long trip, I do not want to be rushed.
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Old 11-09-23, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
A few notes on that. I spend zero on alcohol so I save a bunch compared to some. I tend to camp for free a lot. Flying out of the Baltimore MD area wasn't bad. Tallahasse is, but I haven't toured much since I have moved here. Also my touring has been continental US. So I get sticker shock when i see folks talk "many thousands". Not doubting you or saying anything negative about it, I just have a hard time relating.

Some folks do some touring carrying moderate lods on Dahons or similar bikes. They aren't likely to be carrying heavy loads or takling mountainous terrain.
My Iceland trip, my second checked bag was $100 each way. If it was oversize, would have been another $150 each way. That was before Delta dropped their oversize fees for bikes. But yeah, a full size bike, transport round trip would have cost $500.

I met a couple from Utah when I was in Iceland, they were traveling extremely light, they had Ritchey Breakaway bikes. They managed to fit all their gear into their carry on, personal item, and a lot of their gear was also in the Ritchey cases which they managed to keep from going overweight. They were using bikepacking gear, no racks. Delta for international at that time gave you one free checked bag, which was their Ritchey cases. So, they did not have to pay any baggage fees at all.
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Old 11-09-23, 10:06 AM
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Perhaps getting further afield from our OP's initial inquiry, but then other folks will stumble upon this thread, too.

They make flight cases for trifold bikes that - ta dum! - also fold when you take the bike out. They're too big to be practical to take along on tour, but you can mount them on the bike's luggage carrying system and tote them to your hotel/warm shower. Example:



The Radical Designs Chubby bike trailer is designed to contain a folded trifold bike plus its own wheels and hitch bar for flights. When you arrive, you unfold the bike and set up the trailer, with a choice of employing it on tour or leaving it at your drop point.


Last edited by tcs; 11-09-23 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 11-09-23, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
I probably could do it if I had to, but I would rather assemble my S&S bike out on the patio at a hostel. It is too much effort to want to do that while at the airport where I feel rushed and I have security staff giving me funny looks.

I can pull the side pieces out and fold the empty case up to be much smaller, but it still would be a big item to strap onto my bike. Since I need to take the case to a place to store it, might as well build the bike there too.

I think part of the situation is how much time you have on your hands. If you have a week long vacation and have to cram your bike tour into 5 or 6 days, then I can see assembling your bike at the airport. But, if I am on a long trip, I do not want to be rushed.
No S&S case here so that isn't an issue for me. As a result the assembly is quick. I am rolling in maybe 20 minutes or less. I either have a soft case that rolls up small or a cardboard box that I discard at the airport. The case is small/light enough to carry a while if I want to mail it home when I get to a post office, but I have put it off and carried it the whole way once when I never got around to finding a post office. The soft case is a cheap light one that I pad with some cardboard. The cardboard gets discarded upon unpacking. I generally have been on tours that were at least 10 days or more and Iam not rushed to get back so that hasn't been a factor for me.
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Old 11-09-23, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by tcs
Looks like a pretty nice setup.
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Old 11-09-23, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
Looks like a pretty nice setup.
Not everybody's cup of tea, but yeah. The movie version:

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Old 11-09-23, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by tcs
Brand new Dahons available for $600 (Hit) or just over (Mu D8), with an advertised 15% off that. Derailleurs, though.

........

Priority Bikes has just introduced a folder with hub gear and belt drive, $750. Unfortunately, they bodged the fold design.
What is the problem with the fold design on the Priority Bike? The rack looks like in isn't tall enough to accept conventional panniers. I would love to have a belt drive.

Can you get 20" TPU tubes? Maybe that falls into the weight weenie category but probably saves a 1/4 pound.
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Old 11-09-23, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by kevmcd
What is the problem with the fold design on the Priority Bike?
Okay. Here's a standard Dahon bifold, a widely copied folding design that dates to the early 1980s.



Note the two wheels are together, co-axial and parallel. This allows rolling while folded*, which is a valuable asset going from Uber-to-train or train-to-train (&etc.).
Also, note the handlepost is between the two wheels. This makes the fold smaller, corrals sticky-out things like brake and gear shift levers and reins in the cables. This is advantageous for maneuvering down a train or bus aisle and getting through the historic inn's doorway (&etc.).


*This is subtle, but in this particular example, you can just make out there's actually another little, optional 'trolley' wheel just ahead of the bottom of the seatpost.


Now let's look at Priority's fold:




The wheels are neither coaxial nor parallel. There'll be no rolling this baby folded, so the owner will be carrying it down the train platform (&etc.).
Also, the handlepost is outside the wheels. It's a bigger fold, and there are lots of snag issues.

The hub gear and belt drive are great, but I'm baffled that Priority didn't just copy the Dahon bifold design as a dozen or more companies have. Did they not understand the folding bike product?

Last edited by tcs; 11-09-23 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 11-09-23, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
Can you say more about how Amtrak treats folding bikes?
"Folding bicycles under the dimensions of 34" x 15" x 48" (860 x 380 x 1120 mm) will be allowed onboard all trains in lieu of a piece of baggage.

Only certain passenger cars can accommodate folding bicycles as carry-on baggage, otherwise they must be checked.

Only true folding bicycles (bicycles specifically designed to fold up into a compact assembly) are acceptable. Generally, these bikes have frame latches allowing the frame to be collapsed, and small wheels. Regular bikes of any size, with or without wheels, are not considered folding bikes, and may not be stored as folding bikes aboard trains.

You must fold up your folding bicycle before boarding the train. You may store the bike only in luggage storage areas at the end of the car (or, in Superliners, on the lower level). You may not store bikes in overhead racks."

Bring Your Bike Onboard the Train | Amtrak
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Old 11-09-23, 02:09 PM
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That is disappointing. I don't have experience to know how important parallel alignment of the wheels is. But the less than compact folding sucks.

Maybe I will contact them and tell them I have "heard on the street" that their bike doesn't fold properly and ask if it is true or they have a fix.
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Old 11-10-23, 05:56 AM
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Originally Posted by kevmcd
That is disappointing. I don't have experience to know how important parallel alignment of the wheels is. But the less than compact folding sucks.

Maybe I will contact them and tell them I have "heard on the street" that their bike doesn't fold properly and ask if it is true or they have a fix.
The pictures on their web site verify it, so I doubt they have a fix. Feedback may give them some motivation to fix it in future models though.
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Old 11-10-23, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by kevmcd
Can you get 20" TPU tubes?
Yes.
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Old 11-10-23, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by kevmcd
That is disappointing. I don't have experience to know how important parallel alignment of the wheels is. But the less than compact folding sucks.

Maybe I will contact them and tell them I have "heard on the street" that their bike doesn't fold properly and ask if it is true or they have a fix.
It is only disappointing if you planned on doing something and later find you can't.

I can't roll my folding bike (Airnimal Joey), I have to remove the front wheel to fold it. And the rear wheel that is in the folded bike won't turn. But, I have always just carried it.

It was easier to carry my bike into the room on the second floor, thus I did a quick first fold, takes maybe 2 minutes. New ones are disc brake, that would cut the time in half.



This bike as 24 inch wheels, does not fold down to a airline sized bag, but if you disassemble it you can put it in a S&S case. That said, it takes almost as much work and time to do that as an S&S bike which I think is a better choice. So, I do not recommend this bike for airline travel. I made a mistake by buying this, it was advertised as being the most ridable bike that fit in an airline approved case, BUT, it is built and mostly sold in the UK. At that time they were correct about the airline case because British Air at that time had a more generous size policy than the USA 62 inch policy.

To fit into a smaller size, it would take another minute to disconnect the stem extender and the seatpost. Photo below, I left the seatpost and saddle attached in the photo but disconnected stem extender. This would meet the Amtrak criteria, this is roughly 32 X 32 X 10 inches. The front wheel is just leaning against the bike. I use the Ezy MKS pedals to disconnect the pedals on this bike.



So, if I wanted to take it on Amtrak, I would use maybe a half dozen velco straps to tie it all together and probably wrap it up in a small $5 tarp from Harbor Freight, with just enough duct tape so it is easy to unpack later. Or maybe make a case from a $5 tarp on my sewing machine, if it would sew in that material.

But, this was not easy to pack in an S&S case.



It is heavy enough that it is not easy to carry with one shoulder strap, but the S&S Backpack case was very easy to carry it.
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Old 11-10-23, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
"Folding bicycles under the dimensions of 34" x 15" x 48" (860 x 380 x 1120 mm) will be allowed onboard all trains in lieu of a piece of baggage.
Given that and the newer policies of airlines eliminating oversize charges for bikes I wonder about how much advantage there is to fitting a folder in a 62" case. It makes me think going to the trouble of packing my Helios in the Oyster case just isn't worth the trouble and I'd be better off finding some oversize bag that packs more easily, perhaps a soft case that can be padded with cardboard that could be discarded upon arriving at the destination. That has worked out well with the soft case for my non folding bikes. I also wonder if some of the advantages of the bikes that easily pack to 62" like the brompton are negated in some use cases by current airline and amtrak policy.

I think that if I were to find myself flying or using amtrak with my helios I might be looking for a different bag that was over 62" in order to allow easy packing. As it is my family situation currently prevents much travel so I am unlikely to bother unless I happen to run across a bag I like at a price I can't resist.
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Old 11-10-23, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by kevmcd
That is disappointing. I don't have experience to know how important parallel alignment of the wheels is.
It's not particularly the coaxial folded wheels as having some way to roll the bike in the folded state. Some folders have small wheels on their rack, some roll on the front wheel, wheelbarrow style, and there are other designs. This isn't the be-all and end-all of folding bikes, but it is very, very handy. Some folding bike designs are really great with this, some are workable, and some don't make any provision at all, forcing the rider to either unfold the bike or carry it.
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Old 11-10-23, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
The pictures on their web site verify it, so I doubt they have a fix. Feedback may give them some motivation to fix it in future models though.

I called Priority Bikes customer service number and asked about folding and whether the wheels would have parallel tracking when folded. The tech wasn't much help and basically just agreed with whatever I said about the folding. I got the impression he had not yet had a chance to put his hands on one and he didn't know if they were going to make any design changes. Maybe I will send an email and the issue will get in front of a decision maker.


I really like the feature set of the Priority on paper even with the folding problem. However, I don't like being the guinea pig for new products.


Bike Friday and Brompton use a lot of steel. The website says Bike Friday custom makes their luggage rack out of chrome-moly. I've seen the Dahon rack that TCS shows in a picture in his post above and it is pretty beefy even though it is aluminum. The Priority Bike luggage rack looks flimsy in comparison and I would be concerned about their "braze-on" rack mount. To me that looks like it might be a fatigue point on an aluminum bike. I also worry about the hinged handlebar stem. I trust that Brompton has done it right but a new manufacturer may not understand all the issues in a design they are copying.


The Priority bike is intriguing. Hopefully someone knowledgeable will do an in depth review.
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Old 11-10-23, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
Given that and the newer policies of airlines eliminating oversize charges for bikes I wonder about how much advantage there is to fitting a folder in a 62" case. It makes me think going to the trouble of packing my Helios in the Oyster case just isn't worth the trouble and I'd be better off finding some oversize bag that packs more easily, perhaps a soft case that can be padded with cardboard that could be discarded upon arriving at the destination. That has worked out well with the soft case for my non folding bikes. I also wonder if some of the advantages of the bikes that easily pack to 62" like the brompton are negated in some use cases by current airline and amtrak policy.

I think that if I were to find myself flying or using amtrak with my helios I might be looking for a different bag that was over 62" in order to allow easy packing. As it is my family situation currently prevents much travel so I am unlikely to bother unless I happen to run across a bag I like at a price I can't resist.
It's kind of quaint that Bike Friday's logo is a suitcase with wings lol. You're kind of right that it matters less these days, and when we were in the Malaga, Spain airport with our Bike Fridays we saw a handful of folks with bicycles in bigger cases. But when we got to our home airport at 3:00 AM, the two Bike Fridays in their suitcases plus our panniers fit easily in the back of the Toyota Highlander Lyft that we got. Had we had two larger boxes, we likely would have needed a larger vehicle. Likewise when I took an Uber between hotels - the suitcase slid easily into the trunk of the midsize sedan.

So I think folders still have their benefits.
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Old 11-10-23, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
Given that and the newer policies of airlines eliminating oversize charges for bikes I wonder about how much advantage there is to fitting a folder in a 62" case. It makes me think going to the trouble of packing my Helios in the Oyster case just isn't worth the trouble and I'd be better off finding some oversize bag that packs more easily, perhaps a soft case that can be padded with cardboard that could be discarded upon arriving at the destination. That has worked out well with the soft case for my non folding bikes. I also wonder if some of the advantages of the bikes that easily pack to 62" like the brompton are negated in some use cases by current airline and amtrak policy.

I think that if I were to find myself flying or using amtrak with my helios I might be looking for a different bag that was over 62" in order to allow easy packing. As it is my family situation currently prevents much travel so I am unlikely to bother unless I happen to run across a bag I like at a price I can't resist.
Next time I fly somewhere with a bike, it is likely to be my S&S bike in the S&S case. I think the last taxi company in my community that had any minivans have gotten rid of them. Thus, a Prius is probably the biggest taxi in my community that I can use to get to the airport. I can fit two checked airline size bags in a Prius trunk.

Since you travel ultra light and only tour where you will find grocery stores every other day if not more often, maybe a big bike box and a carry on bag works for you, but not for me.
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Old 11-10-23, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Next time I fly somewhere with a bike, it is likely to be my S&S bike in the S&S case. I think the last taxi company in my community that had any minivans have gotten rid of them. Thus, a Prius is probably the biggest taxi in my community that I can use to get to the airport. I can fit two checked airline size bags in a Prius trunk.

Since you travel ultra light and only tour where you will find grocery stores every other day if not more often, maybe a big bike box and a carry on bag works for you, but not for me.
Maybe weird, but none of my bikes have ever been in a taxi or uber. I've been dropped off by family or for shorter trips used long term parking. I've also used rental cars now and then for some legs of trips where my trip started or ended a long way from an airport.
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Old 11-11-23, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
Maybe weird, but none of my bikes have ever been in a taxi or uber. I've been dropped off by family or for shorter trips used long term parking. I've also used rental cars now and then for some legs of trips where my trip started or ended a long way from an airport.
I have no family in my community, so it is a taxi if I do not want to pay exorbitant parking fees at the airport. Friends and neighbors do not have vehicles that can hold a big bike box.

My domestic (in USA) bike trips have all been on Amtrak or a really long drive. The friend that I have done several bike trips with likes to drive and does not like to fly, so several trips were in his car or Jeep.

One exception to that, I did an ACA trip in 2018 that involved flying. The local Trek store called me when they had a box available for me to pack my bike, I planned to ship my bike by Bike Flights to Texas, I was doing the trip with two others and they were using Bike Flights. When I went to pack the bike, the box was too small. Other bike shops in the area did not have a big enough box. So, I could not make the deadline for shipping by Bike Flights. I did not want to use my S&S bike on that trip, as it was a van supported trip and that bike is quite heavy for a trip with an unladen bike. So, I decided to put my folder into my S&S case and take it on the plane. We flew Southwest with two free checked bags, the bike flew for free.

Other than that one ACA trip, all of my flying for bike trips has been to foreign countries.

My community airport is consistently one of the top ten for most expensive airports to fly in and out of, thus I have often saved a lot of money by taking a bus to Milwaukee or Chicago to fly out of. Full size bike box on a bus still requires that I get the bike box from my home to the bus stop.

You are lucky if you are near an airport that has several airlines to choose from that offers a lot of direct flights.

Immediately after that ACA Texas trip, I got a fantastic deal on a new Ritchey Break Away bike, but have not yet flown anywhere with that bike, covid disrupted a couple of my trip plans. On that ACA trip, two of the participants had Ritchey Breakaway bikes, they were very happy with them. So, when I got an opportunity to get one for better than half price, I grabbed it. It was from Amazon, so I know it was not stolen, but the price was about that good.
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Old 11-11-23, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
You are lucky if you are near an airport that has several airlines to choose from that offers a lot of direct flights.
That was true when we were in Baltimore. Not so much in Tallahassee. Flights from here (TLH) tend to have stops in Atlanta or somewhere else. They also tend ro be pretty expensive with some exceptions. The exceptions are really hit or miss, but once in a while you can get a great deal. Smaller regional airports that are within a few hours away often are cheaper and you can even manage free parking in some cases, but you definitely don't get direct flights to many places..

I don't have any family here that will give me a lift other than my wife who currently is restricted from driving after pacemaker defibrillator implant surgery. I wouldn't leave her to go on a tour at the moment any way though. I do have some very nice neighbors who would give me a lift if asked. Some have big enough vehicles to easily haul a bike box.

I too like to drive to tours. I actually enjoy driving across the country and have done it for backpacking trips. The problem is that I prefer my tours to be long and one way so it is a long way back to the car making that idea not work much of the time. I may at some point do more off road touring/bikepacking which may work better for driving to. Also I may do more travelling by car or rv that involves trail riding, hiking, and doing other stuff in various destinations along the way. I have a senior dog that I won't leave at home. She was my trail running and hiking buddy and loyal friend who logged many thousands of miles with me. Even in the pup's advanced age and poor health she looks after my wife in her recovery. She need a lot of attention that I won't leave to anyone but myself or my wife and my wife isn't really up to all that she needs. Marley is a fairly large dog and needs help getting up at times. She needs help (getting lifted) into the car for vet visits. My wife isn't able to do all of that.

The result of all that is that when the dog passes it is likely that I will travel with my wife and ride trails in places we visit. Most likely that will be with a trailer or pickup camper. At the moment I will be here taking care of the two of them and enjoying daily trail rides locally on my MTB.
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Old 11-11-23, 11:48 AM
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The idea here is the bike is packed in a soft, pack-along bag (in this case, Ikea Dimpa, $7USD) armored with throw-away recycled cardboard for flights. Again, this 16" wheel tri-fold bike requires no assembly/disassembly to fit in the bag. This is also handy if one takes transit that requires bikes to be bagged.




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Old 11-11-23, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by kevmcd
The Priority bike is intriguing.
Suggestions descending from "welllll, maybe" to "oh, that's absurd!"

Dahon offered a nifty bike a few years back, the Mu Uno. It was a single-speed and chain drive, but not hard to convert to hub gearing and belt drive:



Dahon also offered (past tense) a small number of Mu Rohloff Belt & Disc. $$$$$ I've never seen one come up for sale.




Strida folding bikes have belt drive and disc brakes. They readily fly as 'golf clubs' and come in single, 2- and 3-speed models. Arguably the fastest fold/unfold of all folding bikes.

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