Author Topic: folding bike  (Read 6620 times)

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kcafmeyer

  • Guest
folding bike
« on: December 04, 2010, 11:16:04 pm »
Is there a really great folding tour bike?  I'm looking for a bike that will do well on the Transamerica route with panniers.  It seems that most folding bikes are more for cross town commutes.  Any suggestions?

Offline whittierider

Re: folding bike
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2010, 01:14:05 am »
I don't have any experience to speak of on any, but here's a directory of folding-bike manufacturers.  This page may be of some help too. 

Lucky13

  • Guest
Re: folding bike
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2010, 07:18:22 pm »
Bike Friday folders have been used by more than a few bicycle tourists. In particular, the New World Tourist and Pocket Llama models are well regarded.

www.bikefriday.com

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: folding bike
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2010, 09:55:41 pm »
Is there some reason you need to have a folding bike?  You can likely either take the bike with you to the start (or from the finish), boxing it at the airport or train station, or have a bike shop near you ship it to an LBS near the start if you feel mechanically challenged.

Other than the BFs, an S&S coupled bike (sandsmachine.com) is a standard answer.  Somebody else came out with a folding bike last year, but I can't remember who it was and I don't think it was intended for touring.

Offline geegee

Re: folding bike
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2010, 09:59:13 pm »
Just wondering about the reasons why you are considering a folding bike for doing the Trans America. I own a Bike Friday as well as regular touring and urban bikes. I take the folding bike on tours where I know it would be an advantage, such as having to take segments in the middle on trains or buses, or taking it along on business trips. If you are thinking of riding the entire TA and just worried about transporting your bike to the start and at the end of your trip, I would opt for a regular non-folding bike. Using a folding bike if you are not going to fold it during much of your tour is a bit like using a swiss army knife in your kitchen at home.

kcafmeyer

  • Guest
Re: folding bike
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2010, 09:48:48 am »
I was wondering about folding bikes because I've done most of the Northern Tier (Seattle - Michigan) and the Transam (Yorktown - Missoula), but I live in Alaska and trying to get from Anchorage to the starting points of the routes, as well as the hassle of getting my bike home again has been a real pain.  In spite of taking care to pack my bike carefully in a box, the airlines have banged it up on route as well - I had to stop at a bike shop to straighten my derailer last summer! I own a 10-year old hybrid bike right now, and I'd like to get a bike that would hold up for the long routes, but be more manageable in getting to and from the routes.  The foldables look kind of strange to me - could I really zoom across Kansas with a good tail wind with one of those?  Could I load it up with panniers?  If I buy a folding bike, I'd be spending serious dollars.  I'm willing to do it, but I don't want to make a big mistake!

Offline rvklassen

Re: folding bike
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2010, 10:06:13 am »
Given your reason for looking at a folding bike, I would suggest considering the alternative of a coupled bike.  The S+S website http://www.sandsmachine.com/, describes them and will point you at sources for frames, bikes, or retrofits.  Couplers aren't by any means cheap either, (and they add several hundred grams) but then you have no limitations on the bike frame design.   As far as folders are concerned, Bike Friday is likely your best bet.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: folding bike
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2010, 02:42:47 pm »
If you are still planning on flying, I am not sure a folding bike alone solves the problem of in-flight damage.  You might need a hard case.  Unless things at Friday have changed, you can buy a hard case for your Friday that can double as a trailer to carry your gear.  While doing part of the TA, I rode for a week with a couple on a Bike Friday tandem pulling their gear in the trailer.  They had no problem making good time.

I have an older Friday New World Tourist  (maybe 6 years old) that I bought for commuting reasons.  I persoanlly cannot imagine loading it with gear and touring on it.  The bike doesn't feel stiff enough for by 6'2", 215 lbs. frame with gears, and the small wheels aren't as smooth as larger ones.  But but many people do tour on them.

Another shipping option is UPS and/or FedEx.  Last year I shipped from the east coast to Whitefish, MT for a hair under $50.  The airline I was flying wanted something like $175.

Offline geegee

Re: folding bike
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2010, 03:04:40 pm »
If I am reading your response right, you are doing the TransAm in stages?  A folding bike will save you hassles at the airport and other methods of transport, so if that is a big factor for you since you'll be doing multiple trips, there is merit to considering one.

Something like a Bike Friday can be configured to ride just like a regular touring bike, however, it is not without a few compromises. Smaller wheels do mean more tire wear, so expect to change them more often. To get the high gears that some cyclists want, you'd have to go with a Capreo hub, parts for which a regular bike shop would not normally stock if it breaks during an epic tour. Also, if you do not have the right rack/pannier combination, there is more tendency of your heels hitting loaded saddlebags.

With regards to packing, I find it takes about the same amount of time and care to prepare my regular or folding bike for flights. You complained about a bent derailer — I never leave mine bolted to the frame, it takes a few seconds to undo it and tape/zip-tie it to the frame. Leaving such a vulnerable part on is asking for trouble. Despite just wrapping the frame in cheap pipe insulation and bagging it in clear plastic, I have not suffered any damage to my full-sized steel bike in over a dozen flights. The advantage of the Bike Friday is that it can fit in a suitcase, but if you're not doing a loop, you'll still have to figure out how you'll get the hard case to your endpoint. There's towing it, but that comes with its own set of compromises on shoulderless roads and busy urban areas.

Folding/break-apart bikes excel in situations when you are not riding the bike (like taking a plane, train, bus or taxi) and if those factors surrounding those situations are critical in your trip, take a folding bike, if not just pack your regular bike more carefully. If it is just flying that concerns you, most large planes are no longer loaded on the tarmac — containers shaped to the fuselage are loaded in the terminal which has reduced the amount of manhandling. In my experiences, a bagged bike is usually laid on the top of the container since it is odd shaped, while bikes in concealed boxes (or in a suitcase) risk being crushed in a pile.

Offline MIBIKER

Re: folding bike
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2010, 02:57:10 pm »
Have you thought about shipping the bike UPS or FEDX to the starting point.  Then ship the bike home again UPS or FEDX.  I do not know what the cost would be.  You could also put some of your equipment in the box so you would have less to deal with at the airport.   I have shipped two bikes UPS. I remove the rear derailleur and zip tie to it the frame and had no problems.

Offline staehpj1

Re: folding bike
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2010, 06:58:10 am »
Is there a really great folding tour bike?  I'm looking for a bike that will do well on the Transamerica route with panniers.  It seems that most folding bikes are more for cross town commutes.  Any suggestions?
A Bike Friday could work, but I'd be inclined to use a regular bike and stay with bike friendly airlines like Northwest Southwest or Frontier.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2010, 09:52:37 am by staehpj1 »

Offline DaveB

Re: folding bike
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2010, 07:39:19 am »
A Bike Friday could work, but I'd be inclined to use a regular bike and stay with bike friendly airlines like Northwest or Frontier.
Uh, do you mean Southwest Airlines whose current motto is "Bags Fly Free"?

Even at that a full size bike will pay significant excess baggage charges.  A Bike Friday or S&S coupled bike packs into a case that meets standard size luggage requirements so there is no surcharge.

Offline staehpj1

Re: folding bike
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2010, 09:51:59 am »
A Bike Friday could work, but I'd be inclined to use a regular bike and stay with bike friendly airlines like Northwest or Frontier.
Uh, do you mean Southwest Airlines whose current motto is "Bags Fly Free"?

Even at that a full size bike will pay significant excess baggage charges.  A Bike Friday or S&S coupled bike packs into a case that meets standard size luggage requirements so there is no surcharge.
OOPs.  Yes I'll edit the original post...

On the BF on S&S bikes...  They may work for some, but it depends on how much you fly and whether you start and end your tour in the same place.  For me dealing with a case would be a huge hassle since I seldom would fly to and from the same location.  A 62" (L+H+W) cardboard box would work but getting/modifying/making the right box for the return trip seems like a hassle.

Significant excess baggage charges?  Depends on what you consider significant.  With Southwest I pay a total of $50 for the bike and the rest is free. I consider that a pretty good deal.

All that said it really will vary depending on when where and how often you fly.  For the OP and the TA I would just go with a regular bike.  For someone who often travels with their bike, and for who dealing with the case isn't a big issue, the S&S couplers or a Bike Friday might be perfect.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2010, 10:10:14 am by staehpj1 »