Author Topic: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers  (Read 5913 times)

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Offline msullivan

Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« on: September 07, 2011, 05:43:48 pm »
I am planning on riding across the U.S. of A on the Southern Tier route with 2 friends. We are only able to ride 1 week at a time due to life obligations. We will ride in March 2012 from San Diego to Phoenix. Phoenix to El Paso will be later in the fall. We live on the East Coast so we will need to ship our bikes to and from several times. I need a touring specific bike to do this and I wonder what would be the easier: a folding Bike Friday or a conventional bike with S&S couplers? Please offer your opinions and ideas.
Thanks.

Offline PeteJack

Re: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2011, 07:25:36 pm »
I'm agonizing over the same thing. I did part of the Serra Cascades with two riders on Bike Fridays and they loved 'em. one of the few people I met also doing the Sierra Cascades had ridden from San Diego to Mt Shasta on Bike Fridays and seemed happy enough. But I've met people with coupled bikes who poo poo Bike Fridays. Is this Coke versus Pepsi or are there some significant considerations?

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2011, 08:07:37 pm »
You should discount the opinions about BFs from people who own the competition. I own neither, but have done extended touring with others riding both. They are both expensive, they both require some practice and some time to assemble, they pack in similar sizes of case, and they both ride like regular bikes.

The only difference that seems significant to me is that the smaller frame of the BF affords less opportunity for racks and panniers, whereas the S&S accommodates all the front and rear hardware of any full-size bike. The BF is great for credit-card tours and short camping tours with little or no cooking gear. For a long tour with the customary XC load of about 40 lb., I'd prefer the cargo capacity of an S&S bike. No doubt BFs have been heavily loaded, too, but it would take more doing.

Fred

Offline scayford

Re: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2011, 08:24:23 pm »
I've done a couple short self-supported tours on paved roads in the US on my Bike Friday Pocket Llama and it worked great.

On my next tour (starting in a month) I'm hoping to ride on a lot of dirt roads and tracks in addition to paved roads so I bought a S&S-coupled Long Haul Trucker. The thought of long days riding 20-inch wheels on rough roads didn't appeal to me, but I'm sure someone's done it.  I should have better idea of the differences after this next trip.

My guess is that the most "convenient" bike would be a Bike Friday with a suitcase trailer, but that assumes you want to use a trailer.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2011, 08:29:28 pm »
Disclaimer: I don't own a Bike Friday, but I do have a sport bike with S&S couplers.

It takes me about an hour, even after some two dozen trips, to assemble or disassemble and pack the S&S bike.  Part of that's due to size (I have to almost completely disassemble mine because of the large size; fork, bars, seat/post, derailer, and cranks -- shorter people don't have to take the cranks off).  That doesn't include fenders or racks.  Also, packing is tricky, because just the bike fills the case.  I'd suggest going with 26" or 650B wheels, so you don't have to partially dismount 700C tires to get the front tire in and the case closed.  The case is bulky, and would require some shipping (UPS or similar) from your departure to your arrival location.

As Fred notes, when it's together, it's as solid as any other bike, just about a half pound heavier.  The only adjustments needed are seatpost height and handlebar tilt.  It's a beauty.  

The S&S premium seems to be $600, which is a lot on a Long Haul Trucker frame, but it's not as significant when you put it on a custom $2000-4000 frame.

I think the BF case is slightly smaller than the S&S case -- check out their web site for details.  (I think the S&S case is 26"x26"x10" for comparison.)  I'm intrigued by the BF idea of using the case as a trailer.  Pack the trailer and your gear in a duffle, unpack the bike, stack the case on the wheels, dump duffle contents into case, and ride off.  That's the advertising, but I'd like to hear from someone who does it to see if it's really that easy.

Offline bogiesan

Re: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2011, 08:47:19 am »
whichever decision you make is going to be under your butt for thousands of miles. That's a tough call. You've got to figure out a way to ride the Bike Friday on varied terrain, loaded with the gear you anticipate carrying, before you decide.

I've ridden supported tours with dozens of BF riders; Cycle Oregon has been the Homecoming Event for Bike Friday a couple of times. What I learned by talking to many BF owners and to the mechanics who work on them:
1. The owners are passionately committed to the company and to the concept of folding bikes.
2. The small wheels are compensated for by extra gearing; it's a very cool engineering accomplishment.
3. The cockpit can be cramped.
4. The process of setting up and striking the bike is part of the adventure.
5. The trailer can really only be used for getting your traveling gear to your hotel; it is useless as a touring cargo hauler.
6. According to the mechanics on Cycle Oregon and Ride Idaho, Bike Friday owners, generally and inexplicably, tend to not pay an acceptable amount of attention to their bikes. That is, the wrenches on these events had to deal with far more mechanical issues caused by lack of proper and conventional maintenance. I noticed this myself by just looking at the awful condition of the bikes that could not be explained by regular wear and tear. Don't be those guys.

There are other choices for portable and folding bikes. If you are attempting to remain within a budget, Brompton may not be on your list. But I've never seen a Brompton on a tour.

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I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline waynemyer

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Re: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2011, 11:34:39 am »
I owned a BF NWT. I'll break precedent here and say that I think it's six of one, half dozen of the other when all factors are considered.

The only difference that seems significant to me is that the smaller frame of the BF affords less opportunity for racks and panniers

I disagree with that (image from Fully Loaded Touring):


It takes me about an hour,

My NWT took me about 90 minutes on the first try and 20 to 45 minutes on subsequent trips. Either way you go, pack rubber gloves and rags in your suitcase.

2. The small wheels are compensated for by extra gearing; it's a very cool engineering accomplishment.

There is a small amount of flex in the masts that more than compensates for the small wheels.

3. The cockpit can be cramped.

Eh?! Most open cockpit I ever had.


5. The trailer can really only be used for getting your traveling gear to your hotel; it is useless as a touring cargo hauler.

How's that? Put stuff in the case. Strap stuff to the case. Take off the case and put a board on the trailer frame. Pile on three dead bodies to the board. Not that I, uh, have any experience doing exactly that.

6. According to the mechanics on Cycle Oregon and Ride Idaho, Bike Friday owners, generally and inexplicably, tend to not pay an acceptable amount of attention to their bikes. That is, the wrenches on these events had to deal with far more mechanical issues caused by lack of proper and conventional maintenance. I noticed this myself by just looking at the awful condition of the bikes that could not be explained by regular wear and tear.

My guess is that many owners pack their bike into the case, go home, and then forget about the bike until the next biking vacation. I have certainly left my bike in its case for a while after a vacation, but always got around to busting it out and playing with it.

There are other choices for portable and folding bikes. If you are attempting to remain within a budget, Brompton may not be on your list. But I've never seen a Brompton on a tour.

Brompton capacity may or may not be to your liking: Path Less Pedaled, Bromptons.

There is a funny thing that happens with confirmation bias. My guess is that, regardless of which choice you make, you will be overjoyed with your decision and think that anyone riding the other solution is just an idiot.  ;D
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Offline DaveB

Re: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2011, 12:16:28 pm »
I also have an S&S coupled bike, a Co-Motion solo that I have traveled with a fair bit and done some credit card touring with.   I don't own a Bike Friday but my son-in-law does (a Pocket Rocket, not a tourer) and I have ridden it several times.

My experience is that the Bike Friday packs and unpacks more quickly and packs into a smaller travel case.  The BF case is small enough checked baggage and is very likely to remain so.  The S&S travel case is right on the ragged edge of the airline's maximum total size and any change in their regulations will disqualify it.  Packing and unpacking an S&S bike requires a fair level of mechanical knowledge, a few tools and a tire pump.  It definitely not for those who have problems changing a flat tire.

Riding a BF takes some getting used to as the small wheels make the handing noticably different from a standard bike.  You do adapt pretty quickly but there is some adjustment.  An S&S bike is just a regular bike and the couplers have no effect on its ride or handling.

Bike Fridays require odd gearing to compensate for their wheels so components are harder to find.  Tires for 451 wheels are hard to find anywhere and tires for 405 wheels are difficult to find in good quality.   An S&S bike takes all normal components and any 700c tire (or 26" if you use them).

 

Lucky13

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Re: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2011, 12:27:24 pm »
Bike Friday makes its own chromoly pannier racks - front and back. My Pocket Gnu has worn a pair for a few years now. They work just fine. The only issue concerns possible heel strike on the rear end. My bags are vertically oriented and provide just enough clearance for my large feet. Most full-size touring bikes would probably offer a bit more clearance. It would most likely be an issue only with wide/horizontal shape panniers.

The custom BF fenders provide adequate coverage and are very easy to install/remove. I can only guess as to the fit of generic fenders. Planet Bike?

I've never towed the trailer but it has a proven track record among self-contained travelers.

Everything else being the same, smaller wheels tend to be stronger than larger ones.

The step-thru nature of a Friday frame is a real pleasure. Mounting/dismounting - especially with a load - is a very simple process. Also, the quick fold ability can open up different possibilities.

Whichever you choose, it should work out just fine.

Offline msullivan

Re: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2011, 07:44:18 am »
Just thought I would let everyone know I received my new Bike Friday Pocket Rocket yesterday. It took about 40 minutes to unpack and assemble. It's very easy to do. I watched the video from Bike Friday on youtube.com a day or 2 before it arrived. (They include the DVD with each new bike.)
The hard part about making this decision was switching to the small wheels. It looks kind of like a bike for Circus Bears. But it's sturdy and comfortable and very easy to ship or transport.
Thanks to all for your advice.
My plans are all set to start the Southern Tier in San Diego March 2, 2012.

Offline mucknort

Re: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2011, 08:19:28 am »
The hard part about making this decision was switching to the small wheels.

You may want to consider putting on something like Schwalbe Big Apple tires. (The 20" tire comes in several widths.) They provide a more cushy ride and are quite bombproof w/Kevlar.

http://www.amazon.com/Schwalbe-Bicycle-20x2-35-Allround-Beaded/dp/B000OZGVWM

Offline DaveB

Re: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2011, 10:16:22 am »
You may want to consider putting on something like Schwalbe Big Apple tires. (The 20" tire comes in several widths.) They provide a more cushy ride and are quite bombproof w/Kevlar.

http://www.amazon.com/Schwalbe-Bicycle-20x2-35-Allround-Beaded/dp/B000OZGVWM
The Pocket Rocket uses ISO 451 wheels and tires.  The Amazon ad doesn't specify but I wouldn't be surprised if these are ISO 405 tires.

I assume the OP knows the Pocket Rocket is a road bike, not a tourer, and will not take the multiple racks and panniers that fully loaded touring bikes will.  If he is credit card touring it should be fine.   

Offline msullivan

Re: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2011, 06:12:42 pm »
No, my Pocket Rocket came with rear panniers and a small handlebar bag.

Offline bogiesan

Re: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2011, 08:43:14 am »
That's what we were all hoping for, observations from experienced owners.
The BF transit trailers I have seen had wheels that were far two small to provide safe and reliable touring. Maybe that has changed.
We apparently differ on the term "cockpit." My cockpit reference comes from my perspective as a recumbent pilot. I forget the rest of the world chooses not to experience the comfort I enjoy.

There are only a few 451 tires available in the States. I always buy them in pairs for my Easy Racers Tour Easy recumbent. The 406 is popular with BMX and kid bikes. You can get those anywhere but they will not fit the 451 wheel. They are both called 20" tires but the 451 rim is about 20mm taller and a bit narrower.

I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline Trek950

Re: Bike Friday or S&S Couplers
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2012, 01:47:05 am »
If you go S&S what will you do with the travel case?  Ship it to your destination every time?
With BF you take it with you.  Much less hassle IMO.