2001 Bike Friday New World Tourist

Type: Folding touring 24-speed

Purchased: January 2001 from Bike Friday

Made: Oregon, U.S.A.

Frame: Steel

Components: Shimano 105 cranks, 58T front chainring, SRAM 3X7 rear hub, Shimano XT rear derailleur, Shimano XT RapidFire shifters, Diatech Vc711 brakes, Shimano 105 hubs with Sun CR18 wheels, Chris King headset, BF "H" handlebars

Additions: Speedplay Frog pedals, Terry Liberator saddle, Cateye Tomo cyclometer, BF rear rack, BF fenders

My Grand Illinois Trail rides introduced me to touring, and the portability of a folding bike that could be packed in a suitcase and checked as ordinary luggage (as opposed to paying a surcharge of $75 or more) intrigued me. Bike Friday offers fully customizable bikes--the frame is custom made, the riding position is based on how you like to ride, most components can be upgraded and there are many drivetrain options. I chose a 24-speed with mountain bike-style RapidFire shifters and Bike Friday's unique "H" handlebar (like a straight bar with bar-ends pointing forward and rearward). I also upgraded to a Chris King headset (the best) because the headset takes more stress with the long stem. The gearing is unusual, and some who are unfamiliar with the concepts don't understand how it works. The rear derailleur works like any other rear derailleur. However, in lieu of a front derailleur (which tends to become misaligned or damaged in transit), this bike has a SRAM 3X7 rear hub. Both shifter cables are routed to the back of the bike. To make it all work with the 20" wheels, an especially large front chainring is required. This one has 58 teeth. The 3X7 hub makes it act like a 75 tooth chainring in its highest gear. All of this works together to create gearing somewhat equivalent to that of a mountain bike with 26" wheels. I planned to do a lot of touring on this bike, so I geared it low.

Less than two weeks after it arrived at my house, my Bike Friday was on a plane headed to Phoenix. It was a real baptism by fire--this would be only the second time I had ridden the bike. After I landed, I took a bus out of the airport because it was surrounded by expressways. A few miles later, I got off the bus and opened my suitcase. It was like something out of a spy movie, the way I unpacked and reassembled the bike. Then I mounted a yoke, an axle and wheels on the suitcase, turning it into a trailer. I had carried my clothing and such in a soft duffle bag, so I dumped the bag into the now empty suitcase. I hooked up the suitcase-trailer to my Bike Friday and rode to the motel. It worked perfectly. I rode on four of the five days I was in Arizona, and each day was a great experience.

Another thing I like about folding bikes is that I can transport them in a car without a bike rack. Folding and unfolding the bike is less hassle than putting on and taking off the rack. This keeps dead bugs and road grime off the bike, too. My Bike Friday was my favorite bike from the day it arrived until I got my Co-Motion.

In retrospect, I geared this bike too low. Without a load, I sometimes run out of gears on the top end. I could probably correct that by putting on a bigger chainring. However, the other mistake I made when I ordered would be much more difficult to undo: I'd rather have drop handlebars like a road bike than the H-bars. To change would require new shifters, brake levers, etc., plus the special split handlebar (for packing) and perhaps a new stem, too. I still enjoy riding my New World Tourist, but sometimes I think about trading it in for a different kind of Bike Friday.

Memorable Rides:

2001 Central Arizona trip (265M)

2001 Eastern Iowa 200K Brevet (152K of 200K)

2001 Trek 100 (103.5M)

Quad-County Illinois River Ride (73M)

2003 Ride The Wind On Buffalo Ridge (36M)

Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (53M)

Copyright 2002-2013 David Johnsen. All rights reserved.