Author Topic: small wheel folding bikes vs. traditional frames with S&S couplers  (Read 7373 times)

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Offline edmilkman

I'm thinking I need to buy an airline, Greyhound, and even cruise ship, friendly folding bike to get me to lots more bike tours in the next 20 years.  I would like to stay with a conventional frame and have never tried a "Friday" type bike. It seems the touring bikes available with the real nice looking S&S couplers all cost over $2500 which is hard to swallow with my current priorities.

Any suggestions of how the small wheel bikes would work for me? I'm tall and have used a basic aluminum  60cm frame racing bike for 6 years that I've beefed up by building my rear wheel with a Mavic CPX rim and double butted spokes. This bike pulls a BOB trailer.  If I had a steel frame instead of aluminum, it looks like (according to the sandsmachine website) I could just send it to one of many custom bike frame shops for a $700 retrofit of the S&S ?

I look forward to what the magazine says about this in the near future since Dan D' Amborosio has a great article this month on traveling with your bike but he says he'll cover folding bikes and S&S couplers in an upcoming issue.

Edwin in Alabama

Offline Tourista829

Re: small wheel folding bikes vs. traditional frames with S&S couplers
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2010, 03:32:06 pm »
Edwin-I know Bilenky in Phila, Pa. Retrofits S&S couples for around $495 steel. plus shipping. I think you may be out of luck for an aluminum frame. Airlines are brutal these days with their charges. I picked up a 3 speed folding bike for $10 at a garage sale. I added $50 in accessories. When I travel and want to ride, I pack it in a normal sized suitcase and pay on line $15 each way. What they don't know won't hurt you in your wallet. If you live in Alabama there is a great shop in Birmingham called Tandems Limited. Although he specializes in Tandems, he does touring bikes as well. His name is Jack Goetz. He is a good guy knows his stuff, and has been doing it for almost 30 years. Good luck. Bob

Offline lewislw1

Re: small wheel folding bikes vs. traditional frames with S&S couplers
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2010, 07:27:31 pm »
If your Al frame has round tubes of a standard diameter, I thik it can be retrofit with S&S couplers. Check Ritchey bikes. They make several models of ful size frame travel bikes with a slightly different coupler mechanism than S&S. And I think their steel frames are well less than the number you quoted above.

Offline bogiesan

Re: small wheel folding bikes vs. traditional frames with S&S couplers
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2010, 09:25:14 am »
In 2003, Bike Friday encouraged riders from all over the world to participate in the Cycle Oregon tour. There were a lot of them with a wide collection of vintage and current folders. All of the people I talked to would not hesitate to purchase another Friday, citing ther bike qs well as the company for reasons. I rode alongside dozens of them for a week, noting the minor compromises in climbing and cruising abilities that must accommodate the folding mechanisms but these bikes are no slouches. I admired the ability to take your own bike anywhere in the world.
 
I have no long distance experience with Bike Friday's products and riding one of the touring models around a parking lot doesn't count for much but each of the bikes I rode was sound even after tens of thousands of road miles and hundreds of thousands of air travel.

Some of the BF group also had other folders along including those British bikes. Another level of craftsmanship above the Friday and another tier of cost, I think.

david boise ID
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline waynemyer

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Re: small wheel folding bikes vs. traditional frames with S&S couplers
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2010, 11:18:38 am »
The S&S coupled frame is a zero-compromise platform.  Shipping is a little more complex because of the disassembly, but if the most traditional ride feel is what you are after, I think you will be hard-pressed to beat an S&S coupled bike.

Another folder option might be the Dahon Tournado (http://us.dahon.com/bikes/1672/tournado).  I have not experienced this bike myself, but everyone I have talked to with a recent Dahon says that the customer service is awesome and they love their bike.

I owned a Bike Friday New World Tourist with 406mm wheels (now called the Pocket Rocket).  I also owned the trailer/suitcase.  It is indispensable and immensely rewarding to be able to ride my bike to the airport, pack it up, and then get right back on my bike at the other end.  I only incur the extra bag cost (never tell the airline you have a bike).

Your height will be mostly inconsequential with a Friday.  They design the bike around you.  You will have a little more leverage on the masts because of the height, but I think this will work to your advantage (more on that in a moment).

Make no mistake, even with experience, packing up a BF into its suitcase is a 15 to 30 minute affair.  Allow yourself at least an hour you try to pack up a BF.

As Bogiesan mentioned, the BF (like anything) is a aggregate of compromises.  Interestingly, the compromises add up to way more than the sum of their parts.  There is flex in the stem, but this works to smooth out the bumps transmitted by the small wheels.  The small wheels are insanely strong; I built up a custom set of wheels with 28 spokes and those wheels took loads of abuse on Vermont roads.  BFs also accelerate like a shot from a gun.

Another surprise was the stability at speed.  I descended Vermont and Oregon hills at up to 48MPH without any hint of shimmy.  If anything, the BF was quite confidence-inspiring.  The only platform I have ever ridden that was more stable is my Burley tandem.

Service and support from Bike Friday is stellar.  Their frames are guaranteed for life, and you can always get parts for your generation of BF.  They even have a retrofit service to allow use of modern components on older platforms.

Bogiesan also mentions the Bromptons (English folders).  They are a cut above with the exception of size of fold.  Bromptons do not fit into their own suitcase.  Or any suitcase.



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Offline tonythomson

Re: small wheel folding bikes vs. traditional frames with S&S couplers
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2010, 05:19:50 pm »
I owned a Bike Friday New World Tourist with 406mm wheels (now called the Pocket Rocket).  I also owned the trailer/suitcase.

I'm looking to do the coast to coast of Australia next spring - as I live in the UK (although over here riding at the moment)  my biggest stress is always when I have to get off the bike and ship it, especially airlines.

So really interested to read the comments here and just wondered about this trailer/suitcase.  I had planned to tow a trailer across Australia simply because of the amount of water I will need to haul. 
Is this trailer tough enough do you think/know to take that sort of trip and weight?

Any other thoughts on BF for a trip like would be appreciated as have no experience with machines like these.

Thanks Tony
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline waynemyer

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Re: small wheel folding bikes vs. traditional frames with S&S couplers
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2010, 06:51:57 pm »
The trailer is definitely up to the task.  The suitcase is your garden variety hardsided Samsonite.  Nearly bulletproof, and able to carry just about anything you can strap to it.  The trailer frame itself can take either 55 pound gross or 100 pound gross, depending on which model you get.  For crossing Australia, I am guessing you'll need the heavier trailer.

One of the slick things about the NWT is that they have an integral trailer hitch.  This is amazingly convenient over other trailer hitch designs.

I have only good things to say about my BF.  If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask.
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Offline tonythomson

Re: small wheel folding bikes vs. traditional frames with S&S couplers
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2010, 09:13:01 pm »
Thanks for that, have also been in touch with BF - but it's great to hear from someone who has first hand experience.  Just wondered if you can point me to any pics of it as can't find any on their web site. 

Really excited about them now as like I said I hate traveling with a bike (except when sitting on it of course) 

Used to be easy but airlines have made it expensive and hassle or that might just be my paranoia  ;)

Regards Tony
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline waynemyer

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Re: small wheel folding bikes vs. traditional frames with S&S couplers
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2010, 05:04:35 pm »
Pics of what, a NWT?  If that is what you're after, here is my NWT: http://picasaweb.google.com/wayenmyer/BikeFridayNWT/.
waynemyer.com
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