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Watching my Watts

Blog by Kent Peterson: 

Alan Scholz recently gave me a new KT-LCD6 display console for my e-bike. It’s a bit bigger than my old KT-LCD5 console, but it shows me a few things that my old display didn’t. In addition to the usual speed, average speed, trip distance, and total mileage, the new console also shows me the current temperature, my cadence and the number of Watts the motor is consuming.

The temperature sometimes reads a bit high if the bike has been sitting in the sun, but once I’m rolling it seems to be pretty accurate. I couldn’t find an explicit way to select Celsius or Fahrenheit for the degree display, but if you select kilometers for your distance measurement the console assumes you’ve bought into the metric system and will display the temperature in Celsius degrees. If, on the other hand, you measure your distance in miles, the console figures that you are one of those quirky Americans who still measures the temperature in Fahrenheit degrees.

The cadence reading tells me what I already knew, that I tend to spin in the 80 to 90 RPM range. It’s a habit that got drilled into me early on. Several years of fixed gear and single-speed riding expanded my cadence and power range so I can comfortably grind uphill and spin down the other side, but given multiple gears and choice, I tend to settle in around 85 RPM. With my e-bike I often leave the power level set at three (out of five) but I use the gear shift quite a bit to keep my spin rate and effort in the same comfortable range as the terrain or winds change.

The Watt reading is the one I’ve found the most informative. While articles like this one:

https://www.electricbike.com/watt-hours/

provide a good explanation of Watt-Hours and try to inject some reality into the often inflated world of e-bike range claims, the truth of the matter is people ride e-bikes in a wide range of ways and the phrase “your mileage may vary” is very, very true.

Take for example the “real world” estimate of 20 Watt-Hours per mile. Even before I got the Watt Meter, I knew that I wasn’t that many Watt Hours. I knew this because of math. I have a 36 Volt 12.5 AmpHour battery on my bike. Since

Watts = Volts * Amps

My battery’s capacity is 36*12.5 or 450 Watt-Hours. Taking the 20 Watt-Hours per mile estimate, I should expect 450/20 or 22.5 miles of range. But I was regularly going 50 or 60 miles before my battery meter would read ¼ full and then I’d charge it up. Alan told me he was getting similar results. Obviously, we weren’t using 20 Watt Hours of electricity to go a mile, something else was happening. Getting mileage like that would indicate that Alan and I regularly use more like 6 or 7 Watt-Hours to go a mile.

There are several factors that contribute to our better than expected numbers. First off, Bike Fridays, even with the added weight of motors and batteries, are lighter than most other e-bikes. A lot of e-bikes are heavy and frankly not much fun to ride with the motor off. They need their motors to overcome their portly design. My Bike Friday, with the motor off, still rides like a bike.

Second, both Alan and I are what I call “fit old codgers.” I’m sixty and Alan’s a few years older. We’ve been riding bikes for years. We don’t want electric motorcycles. When we get on a bike, we expect to pedal and we do. We’re willing to have the motor help a bit, but we still tend to do the majority of the work involved in keeping our bikes rolling down the road.

Finally, Alan and I both live, work, and shop in the relatively flat Willamette Valley floor. When we do go out on spirited weekend rides in the hills or carry touring loads in the mountains, we wind up using more Watt Hours. But even then, we both find we do quite a bit better than the pessimistic 20 Watt-Hours per mile estimate.

I’ve found riding with the Watt Meter to be quite informative. The motor provides most of its kick when I pull out from stoplights, that’s when the Watt number climbs. When it comes to maintaining cruising speed, I can see that as I push a higher gear, the motor draws fewer Watts. And, of course, when I’m coasting or in a tuck going downhill, the motor doesn’t have to do anything.

I find myself doing a bit of mental math, calculating Watt Hours per Mile as I go along. If the meter is showing 100 Watts and I’m doing 16 miles per hour then 100/16 equals 6.25 Watt-Hours per mile. If I’m climbing a hill at 8 miles per hour and the motor is drawing 120 Watts than I’m using 15 Watt-Hours per mile. Going down the other side of the hill, I’m using zero Watt Hours per mile.

The Watt Meter lets me see how adjusting what gear I’m in or what power assist level I’ve selected affects my range. I’ve always been more interested in going far as opposed to going fast, so I find myself trying to minimize the motor’s contribution and maximize my own. But I have found that for my commute if I have the assist level set to 2, I average about 13 mph while drawing 80 Watts. If I punch the assist up to level 3, my average speed climbs to 16 mph while the Watt draw is 100. Running the numbers on this I get:

80/13 = 6.13 Watt-Hours per mile to go 12 mph

or

100/16 = 6.25 Watt-Hours per mile to go 15 mph

I find the small decrease in mileage to be worth the extra three mph. At levels 4 and 5, however, the power consumption is quite a bit greater. Wind resistance increases exponentially with speed, so moving at greater speed takes quite a bit more power. For myself, I virtually never use the higher power settings. I also tell customers that the higher settings (4 and 5) are designed to spin the motor fast, not really provide more power. When climbing, you are going to be going slow and the lower settings (1 through 3) will be more efficient in terms of helping you out. As Alan says “it’s an e assist, you’re still going to be getting a workout climbing a hill.”

One final word of caution with the Watt Meter: like any gadget, it can be a distraction. Don’t forget to keep your eyes on the road.

Blog first posted on Kent’s personal blog: – Click Here –

Ehicle in Tokyo, Japan

Ehicle is our premier dealer/partner based in Tokyo, Japan. They have been meeting the needs of cyclist in Japan for many, many years and a trusted partner in every way. Their team has now even taken their love of Bike Friday to the next level by importing and being a reseller reaching out to other local bike shops with the Bike Friday brand of folding bikes.

Bike Friday Dealer, Call for test ride availability
Details from Google Maps
Japan, 〒162-0066 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku City, 新宿区Ichigayadaimachi, 13−2, 観音ビル 1F
+81 3-6691-6468
Ehicle Blog: – Click Here –
Ehicle Facebook Page: – Click Here –
Ehicle Instagram Page: – Click Here –

One Bike Shop

WE STARTED OUR BUSINESS BY SELLING DAHON FOLDING BIKES FROM HOME IN 2007. WE THEN OPENED OUR FLAGSHIP STORE ONEBIKE SHOP IN BINTARO JAYA TANGERANG IN FEBRUARY 2008 AND EVENTUALLY MOVED OUR STORE TO STC SENAYAN JAKARTA UNTIL NOW.
OUR STORE IS AMONGST THE FIRST TO SELL FOLDING BIKES IN INDONESIA.
OUR STRONG BELIEF IN THE FUTURE OF FOLDING BIKES MATCHED THE NEEDS OF PEOPLE WHO PREFER TO TRAVEL IN HIGH MOBILITY BY THE SIMPLEST WAY, EITHER FOR BUSINESS OR FOR LEISURE. WE ALSO CONSIDERED THE FOLDING BIKE AS THE BEST CHOICE FOR PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN LIMITED SPACE TO STORE BIKES.
CURRENTLY, WE ARE FOCUSED ON SELLING PREMIUM FOLDING BIKES SUCH AS BROMPTON & BIKE FRIDAY APART FROM SELLING REGULAR BUT SELECTED BIKES IN LIMITED BRANDS AND NUMBERS. WE ALSO SELLING ACCESSORIES FOR THAT BIKES.
WE PROVIDE ADVICE & RECOMMENDATION TO CHOOSE FOLDING BIKES THAT SUITS YOUR BUDGET & RIDING STYLE.
name
ONE BIKE
Bike Friday Dealer, Call for test ride availability
Shop located now at: TC Senayan LG.131. Jakarta, Indonesia
Shop phone: 62 21 5793 1993 & 62 21 74863830
Contact: iwan tenggono

 

 

Find One Bike Shop on Facebook!

Electric Expectations – What to Expect from a Bike Friday Electric Assist System (BF EAS)

Design Goals At Bike Friday we start with the end goal in mind. Bicycles are already so special and refined it makes no sense to add things that do not add to or enhance the wonderful experience of cycling. We usually think of cycling as self-powered, so efficiency takes more thought than when designing powered things. Since electric assist is adding power the handling of this needs to be very careful so as not to destroy the magic and joy of the cycling experience. Our list of requirements is lightweight, quiet, unobtrusive to our cycling skills and to those around us also cycling. To make it better. The goal then is to make it possible for any cyclist to ride as a strong cyclist without a major downside.

Do you need an assist? – Ask your average capable cyclist and they will tell you, they do not need a motor. For over 40 years of my 50+ years of cycling, I would have said that also. Turns out it was because I was human, selfish, and ignorant. I was a strong cyclist. Being strong I have come to understand is to be able to ride at 15 to 17 mph without undue effort for an hour or two at a time. (24 to 27 kilometers per hour) The kind of speeds you would see on Cycle Oregon by those finishing each day in the middle of the finish times. (40 to 90 miles a day) This I found was my preferred commute speed also. For me that range optimizes travel time, cooling effect, ability to ride & talk with others & the safest speed with others on shared routes. (Bikeways to appropriate roads with light car traffic.) Turns out one of the most cycling experienced areas of the world also agrees. European electric assist laws allow motor assist to 25 kilometers per hour. If above that you must supply the power yourself. Or get licensed and insurance!

How much pedal assist is needed? – This can be pretty simple. The best way to measure human power is in watts. Average Humans on a bicycle are producing in the range of about 50-150 watts for 1 to 8 hrs. Tour de France heroes are not average. They can support from 200 to 300+ watts for many hours. They are working really hard to do so! Those 20-30 second 40 mph sprints at the end of the stages? About 1000 watts. World hour record, about 400 watts! Aerodynamics plays a huge role in your speed at 20 to 40 mph. The hour record was about 30 miles! The faster you go the more your power goes to the wind. Your important number.

How fast can you comfortably ride? That is your personal optimal wattage. Here is how to find that. Based on a 150 lb rider, on a well-fitting lightweight bike, with good tires on flat pavement. Can you ride 9-11 mph? You produce about 30-50 watts. That is 3 times faster than walking, making you the most efficient mover on the planet! 11-13mph? You produce 50-75 watts. 13-15 mph>75-100 watts. 15-17mph>100-125 watts. 16-18mph>125-150 watts. 18-20mph.>You are putting out about 150-200 watts, & for regular riding probably do not need an assist. But if the friends you regularly ride with do ride this fast &regularly drop you, some assist might enhance your experience as it is more enjoyable to be able to keep up. If people you ride with have trouble keeping up then some lightweight assist might be good for them! How about your spouse? Sound familiar?

So what does a Bike Friday Assist System look like? – Researching electric assist and electric bicycles can be quite confusing. A Bike Friday systems’ #1 goal is to get you into the 125-watt range or to the 25kph (15.5mph) speed if you are pulling a trailer, heavily loaded, or on a cargo bike with kids, or special hills and challenges on a route you struggle with.

That means you may need an extra assist of 25 to 100 watts plus the potential of maybe another 75watts in some conditions. Online research will see suggestions of 750-1000 watts needed. And many folks say you need a throttle. A throttle & over 500 watts means an electric motorbike! At best you would be assisting the motor. More likely your 50 watts are irrelevant & no need to pedal at all! Motors and batteries to achieve 1000 watts are large and heavy. Motors and batteries for Bike Friday assists are small & light. Adding typically only 10-11 lbs (5kilo) to your bike. On a typical Bike Friday assist, you can easily remove the wheel with the motor and put in a standard wheel when the assist is not needed or wanted. Same with the battery. Easy to take off when not wanted. There is no throttle in sight. In fact, no controls really. The system needs to be turned on like turning on a bike computer.

Your regular bike skills do everything else. When you start to pedal, the BF EAS adds the necessary watts you need to get to your goal. It does this while it seems to you that you are doing it. You are just feeling especially good today and strong! A Bike Friday with assist is typically well under 40 lbs and can be under 30 lbs. Typical Electric bicycles are over 50lbs. Even very expensive so-called light ones are in the 40s. The lightweight means they ride well even when the power is not on. It means they are lift-able. It means they are more useful and fun and easier to take with you.

In addition to being light & quiet, BF EAS is designed to be legal. – Most of the world where electric assist is popular have specific laws for them to be on the road as a bicycle rather than a motor vehicle. The core restraint is 25 kph maximum speed with an assist. Not surprising to find it is in my sweet spot above. Some laws talk about different wattage limits. Higher wattages can accelerate faster but the speed limits are usually similar. In the US we still have areas with no law, or they are illegal, or the laws have 20mph, 28mph, and 750-watt limits. Still the wild west. None of these will be problems for the BF EAS because its intention is just to assist you to be a strong cyclist and to be able to travel. One of the most difficult legal restraints for electric assist is traveling by air with them. The problem here is batteries and flight safety. Bike Friday systems are all available with airline legal certified batteries! And many packed Bike Fridays with assist will fit within the 50 lb weight limits for a minimal or free check on.

Control System

Design is personal. – why the use of an assist might be relevant for you. I have been a bicycle commuter, a sport rider, and a tourist most of my adult life. Cycling was core in raising my children, both in pulling them in a trailer and riding with them in tandem. I feel their confidence as adults and their connection with me has been much enhanced by raising them close to the concept of personal power that cycling has at its core. There are times looking back where a little assist would have made it so much better or have been essential if I was not such a strong cyclist. No wonder more haven’t found that child raising magic.  But they could with an assist!

A couple of years ago I started having issues with hips and a leg and for a time I wondered if I would need to give up cycling to work and give up my core exercise and social/ fitness outlet. I lucked out and was able to find the wonderful secret that appropriate assist was for me. What it has allowed me to do is continue to ride to work and back on a predictable schedule. Sometimes pulling a trailer that I need to get things from my home shop and back from Bike Friday Central. Some days I am better than others. The BF EAS allows me to dial in 25 watts or 100 watts or 150 watts. Whatever I need that day based on how I feel, how much I am carrying, & whatever the conditions. Because I can, I actually ride more & make more trips than I used to do, because I can add a bit of assist to bring me to that normal joyous sweet spot. My design is personal & I want the best for you also.

Best in Cycling,

Alan Scholz

The only Electric Bike you can travel with…

How to fly and with ease, bring your electric bike. LiGo Batteries are the only electric bike battery you can legally enter a plane with and Bike Friday was/is the first travel bike to employ them into the design.

The Battery: The LiGo by Grin Technology

Yes, these batteries really can be carried on passenger aircraft in carry-on luggage. Both we and our customers have clocked hundreds and hundreds of flights with LiGo batteries going through security without any incidents. Aaron, from Grin, even caught on video what happens when LiGo batteries go through the scanning belt. We recommend removing the LiGo packs from your baggage and plugging the pair of Anderson connectors on each pack into each other so that there are no exposed terminals and each pack is clearly individually contained. Airport personnel has been well trained at looking for the watt-hour rating lithium batteries and seeing if they are compliant or not.

While most airlines do not have a firmly defined maximum number of batteries under 100 Wh that can be brought aboard, we’d suggest traveling with no more than 4-5 LiGo’s per person in order to avoid extra scrutiny. Grin has had customers travel by air with as many as 12 LiGo modules on them, but we wouldn’t recommend that as a matter of course.

Travel with the LiGo powered E-Bike Friday:

Bike Friday E-Bike packed and ready for travel *photo: Ruth K.

Bike Friday E-Bike almost ready to ride *photo: Ruth K.

Bike Friday E-Bike ready to ride after being unpacked *photo: Ruth K.

Rear Hub Drive(our most popular system for NWT and Diamond Llama)

Motor replaces rear hub in the rear wheel.  This is a Bafang motor which has been tuned to perfectly work with our wheel size and bikes.  It’s the quietest system you can buy and is super smooth which you will love.

– This kit is compatible with all Bike Friday models –

This is the most popular system that we sell for our bikes! This system packs easily and pairs well with Ligo batteries making it the best option for travelers!

Strengths:

  • Is similar to the front hub motor kit but also has an 8,9,10 spd cassette driver. This allows it to work with all rear dérailleurs.
  • No motor resistance
  • Fits all 20” wheels (406mm & 451mm)
  • Very light! Adds only ~ 11 lbs to your bike
  • Ligo travel battery option makes for a light electric assist bike that is legal to fly with.
  • Very Quiet!
  • Easiest to pack into the suitcase for air travel.
  • Disc brake compatible

Limitations:

  • Rear frame dropouts on a bike need to be sized to 137mm – 140mm (wider than usual)

System price for Motor and Battery kit starts at $1320 (bike price not included)

Front Hub Drive:

Motor replaces front hub in the front wheel with a specially designed Bafang motor which is optimized for our wheel size, is the quietest you can buy and works effortlessly.  With this option, you are able to remove it when you want to lighten the overall bike weight depending on its use.

Front Wheel Electric Assist Kit with Ligo Travel Batteries on a Bike Friday New World Tourist Silk

– This kit is compatible with all Bike Friday models –

Strengths:

  • No motor resistance when coasting or riding without power
  • Fits both 20-inch wheel and 16-inch wheel Bike Fridays
  • LiGo travel battery upgrade option available (as seen in the picture above)
  • Comes standard with pedal assist
  • With a second front wheel and 3 minutes you can take off all but one lb of the weight (removing motor and battery) and have your light non-assisted bike ready to ride

Limitations:

  • Puts weight in front of the bike which isn’t natural to everyone.
  • Harder to control in slick or loose-dirt situations

System price for Motor and Battery kit starts at $1275  (bike price not included)

LiGo(the only travel-approved E-bike battery in the world) 3 Batteries and bag $525

LiGo 4 Batteries and bag $700

Charger: $49.00

Contact us and a bike design expert will help you with your questions and find the best electric kit for your situation.

For retrofitting older Bike Fridays into E-Bikes with an electric assist there are additional costs. Contact us for details.

Bonus Material: Walk assist on every Bike Friday E-bike which means stair assist. Life changing!

The first Bike Friday –

Eva Heyman 

Eva Heyman was a Hungarian Jew during World War II. She was deported to Auschwitz and gassed there when she was only 13 years old.

Shortly after the Nazi’s invaded Hungary, she wrote in her diary:

Today they came for my bicycle. I almost caused a big drama. You know, dear diary, I was awfully afraid just by the fact that the policemen came into the house. I know that policemen bring only trouble with them, wherever they go. My bicycle had a proper license plate, and Grandpa had paid the tax for it. That’s how the policemen found it because it was registered at City Hall that I have a bicycle.

Now that it’s all over, I’m so ashamed about how I behaved in front of the policemen. So, dear diary, I threw myself on the ground, held on to the back wheel of my bicycle, and shouted all sorts of things at the policemen: “Shame on you for taking away a bicycle from a girl! That’s robbery!”

We had sold my old bicycle, my layette and Grandpa’s old winter coat and added the money we had saved. My grandparents, Juszti, the Ágis, Grandma Lujza and Papa all had chipped in to buy my bicycle. We still didn’t have the whole sum, but Hoffmann didn’t sell the bicycle to anyone else, and he even said that I could take the bicycle home. My father would pay, or Grandpa. But I didn’t want to take the bicycle home until we had all the money. But in the meantime, I hurried over to the store whenever I could and looked to see if that red bicycle was still there. How Ági laughed when I told her that when the whole sum was finally there. I went to the store and took the bicycle home, only I didn’t ride it but led it along with my hands, the way you handle a big, beautiful dog.

From the outside, I admired the bicycle, and even gave it a name: Friday. I took the name from Robinson Crusoe, but it suits the bicycle. First of all, because I brought it home on a Friday, and also because Friday is the symbol of loyalty because he was so loyal to Robinson. The “Bicycle Friday” would be loyal to “Éva Robinson”, and I was right because for three years it never gave me any trouble, that is, it never broke down, and there were no expenses for repair. Marica and Anni also gave their bicycles names. Marica’s was called Horsie, and Anni’s was called Berci just because that’s such a funny name.

One of the policemen was very annoyed and said: All we need is for a Jewgirl to put on such a comedy when her bicycle is being taken away. No Jewkid is entitled to keep a bicycle anymore. The Jews aren’t entitled to bread, either; they shouldn’t guzzle everything, but leave the food for the soldiers. You can imagine, dear diary, how I felt when they were saying this to my face. I had only heard that sort of thing on the radio, or read it in a German newspaper. Still, it’s different when you read something and when it’s thrown into your face. Especially if it’s when they’re taking my bicycle away. Actually, what does that nasty policeman think? That we stole the bicycle? We bought it from Hoffmann for cash, and Grandpa and all the others worked for this money.

But you know, dear diary, I think the other policeman felt sorry for me. You should be ashamed of yourself, colleague, he said, is your heart made of stone? How can you speak that way to such a beautiful girl? Then he stroked my hair and promised to take good care of my bicycle. He gave me a receipt and told me not to cry because when the war was over I would get my bicycle back. At worst it would need some repairs at Hoffmann’s.

Ági said that we had been lucky this time, but that next time we should let them take whatever they wanted. In any case, nothing could be done about it, and we shouldn’t let those stinking scoundrels see how much we suffered. Still, I don’t understand Ági. What do I care whether they know or don’t know that we suffer? It isn’t hard to see that if everything you own is being taken away from you, and soon you won’t even have money to buy food, you suffer. But what does it matter? Ági doesn’t have to hug the bicycle wheel and sob. Anybody looking at her can tell that not only does she suffer, but day and night she trembles over what is in store for Uncle Béla.

Next time you are out on your little red bike, please remember the first bike Friday and Eva.

Trans Asia Gear Packing List thanks to Adventure in Tandem

This is the list you have been waiting for.  Well thought out and boy oh boy is it helpful.  This is a rather extended trip so it takes a bit more work to pull it all together. Very special thanks to our friends at Adventure in Tandem for this very extensive list:

Adventure in Tandem Packing List:

Our Trans Asia Gear List

Everything you need plus some for a round-the-world trip on a tandem bicycle, or really any bicycle.

The gear you bring with you on a trip around the world by bike is essential. There is simply no other way to put it.
You are dependent on your gear, especially the bike, to hold up against the strain of loaded touring going up and down mountains, across terrible road surfaces, through many a pothole among many other issues.

The hope is that it all holds up without issue, but that is never going to happen as we quickly found out as we started our tour in Thailand. Nevertheless, we still think we are quite prepared for our tour since we have all the gear required and works very well for our tastes.

As a couple touring on a tandem bicycle we have to pare down our gear even further than most touring cyclists because we have the same room for luggage as a normal touring bicycle, but it now has to do for 2 people.

Without further ado, below you will find our categorized gear list and a summary of all weights at the bottom.

Bike Gear:

Gear Details Weight
bike Bike Friday Tandem Twosday 23,030.00
bike computer Garmin Edge 1000 116.3
bike computer Garmin Edge 800 98
bungee cords 2x bungee cords 117.5
Dynamo hub Shutter Precision PX-8 dynamo hub 0
headlight B&M IQ Cyo headlight 0
kickstand single kickstand 0
rack trunk Performance Transit Epic rack trunk 658
rear panniers Vaude Aqua 50L 2,436.00
rear rack Bike Friday folding Rear Rack 0
saddle captain Brooks B17 captains saddle 0
saddle stoker Brooks B17S Stokers saddle 0
seatpost stoker Kinekt BodyFloat Seatpost 0
Storage Under-bag goes under the rear rack 76.5
taillight Spanninga taillight 0
tires Schwalbe Marathon 20×2.25” 0
Trailer Samsonite Flight suitcase/trailer 9,088.00
Trailer Trailer kit for a suitcase 0
water storage 4x 1L Nashbar water bottles

 

We chose the Bike Friday Tandem Twosday for our ride around the world due to its packability. We wanted a bike that could fold after we saw a couple in Cambodia roll up to the hostel, quickly fold their bikes and walk right in. Our Tandem Twosday does not fold nearly as quickly or cleanly as a Brompton, but it folds quickly enough to get it stuffed under a bus or in the back of an SUV when needed.

The small wheels allow us to have lower gears and the trailer allows us to pull all the weight behind the bike instead of having it all loaded on the bike. All the gear on the bike leads to extreme flex and wobble in a tandem that does not allow you to stand, and standing is essential to give your butt a rest while riding for hours each day.

The trailer is pretty sweet, being a regular suitcase that is attached via a frame and quick-connect hose fitting to the bike. It allows us to offload almost all of our weight from the bike to the trailer making for a smoother more responsive ride on the bike. We are also able to pack our entire tandem into the suitcase for travel on airlines. The downsides to the trailer are maneuverability, maintenance, and extra weight. As you can see, there is an extra 9 kg, or 20 lbs that we are carrying just due to the trailer.

We also set up our bike with a generator front hub from Shutter Precision that is an excellent replacement for a Schmidt hub for about 40% of the price. To go along with that we have front and rear generator lights that I can activate from the front of the bike. We would have liked to have USB charging available from the front hub as well, but it was simply too expensive for the size and we could not justify it.

We tour with Garmin Edge GPS computers to record our rides and post to Strava because if it is not recorded it didn’t happen! Check out our Track Us page to follow along. We actually had an issue with the Edge 1000 where it quit working probably due to the humidity, but we were lucky that my dad had my Edge 800 with him that I was able to take back so we would have a functioning GPS. In the end, we could use our phone as well, but it is not quite as durable as the Garmins are on the front of the bike.

The last things of note here are the Brooks saddles which are pretty much a given for long distance touring and an awesome Kinekt BodyFloat Seatpost that keeps Cara comfortable when I drive over bumps and don’t let her know. It also smooths out the choppiness of the road and keeps everyone happy.

Camp Clothing

Camp Clothing Cara

Gear Details Weight
Bathing Suit 147.5
bra 1x Chinese cheap bra 62.5
insulating jacket North Face down parka 502.5
jewelry bracelets 16.3
short sleeve shirt 1 short sleeve athletic shirt 71.0
Shorts 1x lightweight athletic hiking shorts 94.0
sleep clothes sleeping tights 130.5
sleep clothes 1x lightweight shorts 63.0
socks 1 heavyweight wool socks 71.5
street clothes 1x lightweight shorts 71.5
street clothes 1x short sleeve shirt 80.5
street clothes 1 elephant jumper 93.0
street clothes 1x sleeveless shirt 94.5
street clothes 1 wrap-around skirt 144.0
street clothes 1x elephant pants 164.0
street clothes 1 long black t-shirt dress 199.0
street clothes 1x maroon hiking pants 222.5
street shoes homemade huaraches 184.0
street shoes Merrell Trail Glove 4 362.0
sunglasses Goodr 28.8
underwear 4x 51.0

 

Cara brought only the essentials on this trip. When we are traveling on a tandem, space is limited and we were able to pare down to the bare essentials. This is done primarily by bringing only one of everything and preparing for the cold by assuming you will wear everything.

We were able to keep the shoe weight down by making a pair of huaraches for Cara that is extremely light and work for your everyday sandal. She also brought barefoot hiking shoes as her only closed-toe shoe. The Merrell Trail Glove 4 is an awesome shoe for hiking and also makes a great travel companion.

Camp Clothing Justin

Gear Details Weight
Convertible pants Columbia convertible pants 297.0
Gym shorts 2x gym shorts 307.5
insulating jacket Lama Sweater 372.0
Long sleeve shirt not cotton Under Armor long sleeve cold gear 236.5
short sleeve shirt TheSWPlace t-shirt 86.0
street shoes Merrell Vapor Glove 3 442.0
street shoes homemade huaraches 254.0
travel shirt Magellan Outdoors long sleeve travel shirt 178.0
travel shirt Off-brand short sleeve travel shirt 166.0

 

I also brought only the essentials, which amounts to essentially 2 changes of clothes for off the bike. Since all of my stuff is much larger than Cara’s it still weighs about the same.

Being unsure as to the weather when we reach Northern China and Asia in general, we brought only light cold weather gear. I brought one insulated shirt from Under Armor and my favorite sweater from Peru to go along with my cycling jacket. Altogether, we should have plenty to stay warm. As for now in the tropics, it all sits at the bottom of the bag never to come out.

I brought the same footwear as Cara, bring a pair of homemade huaraches that I hike and walk in, and a pair of Merrel barefoot running shoes.

Cycling Clothing

Bringing cycling specific clothing is something that is debated in the touring circles. Since I have ridden for many years as a racing and endurance cyclist, I love to wear cycling clothing so we bring it along. Many others tour in regular shorts and travel shirts. This may end up with us having slightly more clothing, but the comfort gains from wearing cycling specific clothing are worth it.

Cycling Clothing Cara

Gear Details Weight
bras 3x sports bras C9 210.0
Cold weather gloves Defeet wool gloves Pink 54.0
cycling shoes Shimano Cycling Shoe / Sandal SH-CT46LW 619.0
Head covering Vaude buff 28.5
Helmet Cannondale Ridge Helmet 278.8
insulating jacket Pink generic jacket 288.0
Jerseys 3 short sleeve jersey 293.0
leg warmers Defeet wool arm warmers as leg warmers 94.0
rain jacket Nature Hike nylon poncho 214.0
shorts 3 pair of shorts 372.5
socks 3 pair Defeet cycling socks 87.0
Sunglasses Foakleys 32.2
wind jacket Off-brand from China 101.5

 

For Cara, we have 3 changes in cycling clothing along with the cold weather essentials. For cold weather, she wears my wool arm warmers as leg warmers and then pulls on the insulating jacket and wind jacket and gloves. All those together will bring us down to comfortably riding in 40F / 5C temperatures.

For rain, she has a silnylon poncho. We have not yet tested this while riding, but expect it to work well, once we figure out how to really attach it / anchor it on the bike.

Cycling Clothing Justin

Gear Details Weight
Arm warmers Defeet neon arm warmers 79.0
Cold weather gloves Defeet wool gloves 77.0
cycling shoes Shimano Cycling Sandals 1,108.5
Head covering cycling cap 25.0
Head covering DIY green fleece beanie 50.0
Head covering buff 47.5
Helmet Bontrager Oracle helmet, Now Wheeler 336.1
Jerseys 3 short sleeve jerseys, The Black Bibs Summer Pro+ 410.5
Knee Warmers Defeet wool knee warmers 116.5
rain jacket Nature Hike silnylon poncho 227.5
shorts 3 bib shorts CN Ride and The Black Bibs 582.5
socks 1 heavyweight wool socks 84.0
Sunglasses Foakleys 33.5
wind jacket Off-brand from China 116.6

 

I also brought 3 changes in cycling clothing to go along with the cold weather essentials. All told, this should be more than enough clothing and can bring me down to comfortably riding in 40F / 5C weather. Now if it is raining at that temperature, there is certainly another story to be told.

I had to replace my helmet after only 2 weeks of riding as it was cracked in the back. This turned out to be a good move because my new Wheeler helmet is more comfortable and is white which helps to reflect the sun and keep me cool while riding.

Camping Equipment

Gear Details Weight
camp pillow Nature Hike x2 inflatable camp pillows 246.0
cutting board Cheapo flexy cutting board 80.0
Day pack Nature Hike packable day pack 173.0
dish towel Norwex heavier 50.5
Flashlight rechargeable headlamp x2 153.0
Lighters lighters 40.0
Mess Kit Cooking kit bag 27.0
Mess Kit Snow Peak Ti Sporks 31.0
Mess Kit 1.8L ti pot lid 55.5
Mess Kit 1L ti skillet 161.0
Mess Kit 1.8L ti pot 167.5
Mess Kit Cooking knife 100.0
multitool Leatherman 169.0
rope Spare bag of rope, very light cord for drying line 36.5
shelter Chinese cheap tent with aluminum poles, and stakes in bag 2,204.5
sleeping bag Cara Ozark trails 32F down bag 796.5
sleeping bag Justin Ozark trails 40F down bag 742.0
sleeping pad Cara Thermarest 34 pad 674.0
sleeping pad Justin Thermarest long pad 639.0
Stove folding windscreen 80.5
Stove BRS fuel bottle 530 mL 110.5
Stove Primus Omnifuel knockoff 401.5
Stove fuel pump 127.5
Toilet paper toilet paper
Water storage 10L MSR Dromedary 264.5
water Universal Water Spicket tool 59.5
Water Filter Gravity Filter 38.0
Water Filter hose and MSR dromedary attachment 40.9
water hose Drinking hose for MSR Dromedary 85.0
Zip Lock Bags zip lock bags 0.0
Stuff Sacks silnylon stuff sacks x5 90.5

 

For camping, we brought what we thought were the essentials along with a few extras to make our potential many nights under the stars more comfortable.

Typically, we just use our stuff sacks full of extra clothes as pillows, but this time we brought some blow-up pillows from China that are quite comfortable. We brought an extra rope for stringing up clothes to dry and an extra stuff sack for dirty clothes and cleaning clothes in. The day pack has gotten more use than I expected so has actually worked out quite well.

We are quite proud of our mess kit as it is a titanium beauty that is actually big enough to cook for 2 people in. We have a 1.8L pot and lid with a large skillet that goes with it. We also brought a small cutting board and a kitchen knife with a duct tape guard. This is all put over our brand new multi-fuel stove from BSR. Yes, you read that correctly BSR, not MSR. We are running an off-brand multi-fuel stove from China because our Primus Omnifuel hose failed at an o-ring and was going to be as expensive to replace as a whole new stove from BSR. So far it works the same as the Primus and we have no major complaints besides it not going low enough in terms of power.

Our water setup is pretty slick as well. We are still using the MSR Dromedary 10L bag that I bought for my cross-country US tour back in 2008. 11 years later it is still kicking and we love it. You can fill it up and use its gravity filter into our bike bottles and also drink straight from the filter. We are carrying an awesome Sawyer Mini filter from Walmart that works as an inline filter.

Electronics

Gear Details Weight
Books Cara’s Kindle 201.0
Books Justin’s kindle 209.5
Camera The G9 charging cable is the same as an external drive 0.0
Camera A spare battery for YI 4K 26.5
Camera camera tripod plate 28.0
Camera Olympus TG-4 charging cable 49.0
Camera Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 70.0
Camera 1 spare battery 76.5
Camera Rode Microphone w/ fuzzy wind canceling cover 82.0
Camera YI 4K Action Cam 87.0
Camera YI 4K Action camera waterproof case 101.0
Camera Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 117.5
Camera Olympus 45mm f/1.8 129.0
Camera bendy tripod 135.5
Camera Small Ballhead for tripods 180.5
Camera Olympus TG-4 242.0
Camera Panasonic G9 722.5
Camera carbon fiber tripod 737.5
cell phone Google Pixel with Google FI 175.0
Chargers micro USB cable 29.0
Chargers USB C – A cable 29.0
Chargers USB C – C cable 34.5
Chargers double USB charger 2.4A 39.0
Chargers USB C 60W Anker charger 149.5
Chargers 20000 mAh power storage pack 368.5
Chargers a short micro USB cable 12.5
computer Small travel mouse 44.5
computer WD external drive 2TB 258.5
computer Dell XPS i7-8550U 8GB 1,233.0
computer HP Envy 13t i5-8250U 8GB 1,289.0
Electronics bag generic 0.0
Watch Casio G-Shock 60.7
Watch watch mount for bike 28.8

 

Now our electronics gear, weighing in at nearly 7 kg or 15 lbs is pretty ridiculous, but as we are working on the blogs and web programming while traveling it is a necessary evil. In these days of constant connectivity, you need the electronics working and with you in order to stay on top of everything.

We discussed the computer situation before leaving and decided on 2 computers since we both have things to work on (ie Youtube videos, blog posts, web development, etc.). However, it was not to be. After less than a week, the Dell XPS crapped out on us with a display issue that freezes the screen. It is some hardware issue after many hours of troubleshooting, so we sent it home with my dad and are looking for a new computer to replace it.

We brought computers that could both be charged off of USB-C so that we could bring a single fast-charger to save a little bit of weight. There is a whole slew of other cords as well to charge the remaining electronics. The 20,000 mAh power bank from Xiaomi is quite nice and is about the lightest of that size that you can buy. The only downside is that is not Power Delivery compatible so it cannot charge the laptops.

We have quite the array of camera gear to go with us as well. The Panasonic G9 is an awesome camera that deserves its own post, so suffice it to say, we love it and it is perfect for travel as both a stills and video camera. To go along with that camera, we also have a Rode microphone, USB charger, extra battery, and 3 prime lenses that end up weighing less than our old zoom lens. Along with the camera, there are also 2 tripods, one bendy Gorillapod like a tripod, and one nice extendable carbon fiber tripod. The 2 tripods share a single ball-head to save a little on weight.

Besides the setup for the Panasonic G9, we also have our Olympus TG-4 which is a tough camera that is waterproof, dustproof, and drop-proof, making it perfect for carrying while riding or in the rivers/water. We also have an action cam that we have mounted off the front of the bike for taking FPV video while riding. Our action cam is the Yi 4K which is an excellent camera considering the low price tag of $175.

We also do a lot of reading on our travels, so the ever-present Kindle Paperwhite is a must.

Miscellaneous

Gear Details Weight
cards 2 decks playing cards 198.1
cash cash 10.0
ID passports x4 including old passports with China visa 78.2
Lock cable lock 535.0
paper and pens small notebook and pens 126.7
Sunscreen sunscreen 103.0
wallet wallet and credit cards 64.3

 

The leftovers that are not categorizable all come here. Obviously, for traveling we need money and passports. These are essentials and are the only parts that are not easily replicable. We actually already replaced our passports. We had to get new ones as soon as we started so that we would have room for the Laos visa. After living in China for 4 years, I had wasted some 12+ pages on Chinese visas and stamps taking up almost all the blank pages.

Who knew that the last 3 pages of your passport can’t have visas in them either?

That little tidbit is why we ended up with new passports.

We also brought a big heavy cable lock for the bike but rarely use it as I don’t think anyone is going to steal our tandem bicycle. It is simply too big and bulky to take and there are precious few buyers in a poor country for something like that.

We also brought a couple of decks of cards for games when we have the time. They haven’t been used yet, but I am sure the time is quickly approaching.

Bike Repair Kit

Gear Details Weight
cables spare shift/brake cable x 3m 45.5
Cassette Tool 47.5
chain lube ProLink 67.0
Crank Puller-Bottom Bracket Tool BB tool 30.0
Electrical. Tape electrical tape 45.5
Frame Bolts spare bolts M5 53.5
frame pump Lezyne Pump HV w/ gauge 214.0
grease generic grease 0.0
housing housing for the bar end shifter to attach to the segmented housing 183.0
multitool generic multitool with chain tool 220.5
Sewing Kit sewing kit 0.0
Sewing Kit floss 0.0
spare brake pads Spare brake pads x2 sets 33.0
spare chain links/masterlink spare chain links / 3x masterlinks 34.5
Spare Spokes spare spokes, 2 of each length, 182, 184, 186mm 34.5
spare tire 12×2.00” Schwalbe Big Apple 288.5
spare tire 20×1.75” Schwalbe Marathon 662.0
Spoke Wrench spoke wrench 35.0
threadlock Loctite Blue 6.8
tire boots Park Tool tire boots 8.5
tire levers Pedros tire levers 42.0
Trailer Trailer spare parts 118.5
tube patch kit 2 patch kits 39.0
Trailer Trailer spare hose connection
tubes 2 tubes 12” 191.0
tubes 6x tubes 20” 910.0
wrenches Small spanner, 8, 10, 15, Brooks Wrench 363.5
Zip Ties zip ties 5.5

 

The bike repair kit is quite possibly the most essential part of our setup. Without this, it is very easy to get stranded on the side of the road having to flag down passersby for rides to town to get your bike fixed. We have still had to do that once, but with the repair kit, it is a much less often occurrence.

I brought tools to fix most everything on the bike. The only tools I did not bring were wrenches big enough to turn the BB and cassette pullers. Besides that, I have tools and spares to fix anything that happens. However, I did find that I should have brought a large roll of duct tape. Apparently, they don’t have duct tape in southeast Asia. The Thai guys looked at the little I had and said they had never seen such a thing before.

Duct tape would have made a much better rim strip for our rims that overheated and melted on the descents and also would make taping down our bar tape better since the electrical tape peels up and doesn’t like to stick.

On such a long tour, we also brought spare tires. Normally, there is no need to bring spare tires, but when you are riding for 8 months it is nice to have a spare with you when the time comes.

Toiletries / First Aid

Gear Details Weight
Fingernail clippers Fingernail clippers 20.1
First Aid tweezers 11.9
First Aid gauze 0.0
First Aid neosporin 0.0
First Aid thermometer
First Aid medical tape 9.1
First Aid scissors 32.0
hair bobby pins x2 13.8
hair folding comb/brush from hotel 16.2
hair hair ties 0.0
hair mirror 160.0
Insect Repellent insect repellent 45.5
medicines ibuprofen 55.1
medicines Anti-diarrheal 23.4
medicines probiotics 0.0
medicines motion sickness 0.0
medicines birth control 51.0
medicines Rock Tape kinesiology tape 26.6
medicines petroleum jelly 54.5
medicines chapstick, Burt’s Bees 10.6
medicines Vitamin C 0.0
Pack towel pack towels x2 240.5
razor girls razor 55.7
razor Small portable head shaver 95.7
soaps Dr Bronners Lavender soap (magic soap) 122.8
soaps face wash 190.0
soaps his deodorant 131.0
soaps her deodorant 126.0
soaps Oil absorbing sheets 11.0
toiletries cue-tips 47.1
Toiletries bag Nature Hike toiletries bag M 199.0
Toothbrush toothbrush x2 40.1
Toothpaste toothpaste 127.0
Washcloths Norwex cloth x2 62.5
Washcloths hand washcloth 35.4

 

For toiletries, we have the essentials plus many others. We bought a toiletries bag while we were in China that we thought would be plenty big enough, and it is stuffed to the brim. I guess we should have got the larger one…

We have stuff in there for first aid and medicines for the inevitable illnesses that we will get from traveling in foreign countries for so long. We also have many varieties of soap with our favorite brand, the Dr. Bronners soap that works for most everything. It is a special natural soap that doesn’t harm your things or the environment.

We were also wonderfully presented with 3 Norwex washcloths from one of our friends before leaving. These leave us feeling nice and fresh without the need for a real shower. They seem to magically soak up the oil from our skin just by rubbing it across. The bummer is I promptly lost one only 3 weeks in so we are down to one. Hopefully, I don’t leave another one somewhere…

Consumables

Gear Details Weight
soaps shampoo 0.0
soaps conditioner 0.0
food 3 days worth of food w/ lots of snack food 0.0
gas unleaded gas 0.0
soap minimal small bottles of soap 0.0
water 4 full bottles 0.0

 

For the consumables, I did not put weights since they would be bought while on the tour, and I did not bring a scale with me. Trust me, I thought about it, but in the end, I didn’t bring a scale.

We haven’t been carrying much food with us at all. We have just had snack foods of cookies and crackers since the food is so cheap and plentiful in all the places we have been so far.

Summary Totals

Category Weight (kg) Weight (lbs)
bike 35.62 78.5
Camping 7.70 17.0
Repair 3.68 8.1
Toiletries 2.07 4.6
Cycling Clothing Justin 3.29 7.3
Camp Clothing Justin 2.34 5.2
Cycling Clothing Cara 2.67 5.9
Camp Clothing Cara 2.85 6.3
Electronics 6.95 15.3
Others 1.12 2.5
Consumables 0.00 0.0
Totals 68.30 150.4

 

As you can see we have quite the load of stuff. Over half of the weight is in the bike + trailer + bags. That is insane!!!

We could have cut 15+ pounds off by leaving the trailer at home, but it would have made the bike less stable. I am pretty happy with our setup as is and am not really looking to change it unless we start to run into more bike mechanical issues.

This setup should be good for the whole of our tour and we will certainly report back if we have any issues and update this gear list as we go along.

Three Guys wandering around Italy from Florence to Rome on Bike Friday folding bikes…

Three sixty-something guys went cycling for eight days through Italy, more or less Florence to Rome. The trip turned out to be much more of an athletic event than expected, with some of the steepest hills I have ever cycled. Also, I had heard that Tuscany was over-touristed.  Could we, on bicycles, discover the real Tuscany?

This trip began as a vague idea. Lyman and I had been searching for the next big bike ride in Europe, preferably Italy, Spain, or southern France. Lyman’s friend (now also my friend) Randy Greenberg, a computer professional, taught Lyman some tricks when searching online for airfares. We needed a low price to anywhere.

I live in Chapel Hill NC. The closest airport is Raleigh/Durham. Lyman and Randy live in Austin TX. Using Randy’s suggested apps we found roundtrip on American Airlines RDU airport to Rome airport in early April for only $ 533.00!! A short flight to Charlotte NC, then nonstop to Rome!! Only $633.00 round trip Austin TX to Charlotte to Rome!!   Lyman and I could go most of the way on the same airplane!!

These deals were too good to pass up.  As it turned out, these prices were only available for a few days. Lyman and I agreed to fly to Rome in early April. A few days later Randy agreed to join us. We hurriedly bought the tickets while the price was still low. We could work later on the details.

The flights going over had issues. There were thunderstorms in Charlotte that delayed me twenty-four hours. Due to that same weather, Lyman and Randy were transferred by American Airlines to British Airways who subsequently lost Lyman’s luggage (i.e. bicycle) for an even longer amount of time. We were two days behind schedule when at 12:45 PM on a Thursday we stepped off the high-speed rail line at Santa Maria Novella station in central Firenze (Florence). It had taken us from central Rome to Florence in under two hours.

In the Florence train station, we put together our folding bicycles, all Bike Friday brand.  We would make a good commercial for them.

Read more of their great adventure here(trust me you want to read this): –} Click Here {–

Traveling with your Electric Assist E-Bike

Things to consider about traveling with your E-Bike Friday

Why travel taking along an electric assist Bike Friday?

It opens up amazing travel route options

It can be argued that the best way to arrive is by bike. Certainly, a great way to meet wonderful people everywhere in a low key way. Mountains and long forest roads can be breathtaking and memorable but not all of us have hundreds of hours to train our legs to pedal those routes.

Adding electric assist to your bike opens up a whole lot more options for your cycling adventures.  As good as the bike trip can be as a cyclist we still need to get to the start and home from the end. This means that you need an electric assist bike that travels easily and has airline legal batteries.

How to make travel with your electric assist Bike simple?

Use a Bike Friday with LIGO batteries

It can be extremely stressful to travel with a conventional bicycle just because it is a large odd package to carry and store (costing extra luggage fees to). Trying to travel with an electric assist battery can be even more difficult because of restrictive safety laws and regulations around batteries, especially on airlines.

Traveling on a Bike Friday that is packed in a suitcase, fitting standard Airline size and weight requirements make your travel package smaller and more standard to carry and store. Using LIGO batteries (the only airline legal bike assist battery)  with your electric assist systems allows you to easily un-hook your batteries and carry them in your hand luggage for free with no issues. Now you have a standard package and everything is legal and easy to take with you.

Note on weight and local laws on e-bikes: The average electric bicycle is both large and quite heavy. Averaging around 50lbs/22 kgs they cannot really fit the weight requirements. The legal challenges on electric bikes are not just the airline restrictions on batteries but also most jurisdictions you will fly to have legal limits on motor power, assist speeds & disallow throttles. The European standards are what most are based on now if you want to stay legal where you visit to ride. The Bike Friday design & development came up with nearly the same conclusions as they fit our design philosophy that is cyclist centered not motor centered. Read more of the Cycling on Sunshine series to understand where this all comes from for fun, safety, & the pursuit of cycling joy

Note on 20inch wheels: Some folks think we chose 20” wheels for some other design statement. But it was actually to fit the case size constraints. It is almost impossible & very slow to pack anything close to full-size wheels into air requirements. So they almost always go with expensive special extra costs and handling at the airport. And they are so inconvenient lots of folks just ship them separately. We lucked out to find that the smaller wheels were actually very comparable in performance if they had good tires and were well built light wheels. This secured our ‘Performance that Packs’ byline that we have used for many years. Along with “Bikes that Fly!

Which Bike Friday electric assist works best for your plans?

Even tho we have designed assist systems that work with all Bike Friday models (even upgrades for older models!) there are models, features and equipment that pack the easiest, and the fastest.

If you are looking for a bike for:

  • Touring and daily use bike that also quickly folds and packs = New World Tourist
  • Expedition Touring, rough roads, and quickly folds and packs = Diamond Llama
  • Fast sport and road riding and quickly folds and packs = Pocket Rocket
  • Fast sport and top of the line components with the ultra-light frame, and quickly folds and packs = Pocket Rocket Pro
  • Folding and Touring Tandem than packs into 2 suitcases = Tandem Two’sDay
  • Light Touring and Road Tandem, with lots of size adjustment for children in the back = Family Tandem

Features that make your bike easier to pack & travel with to chose are; chain drives are easiest to manage as belts are more rare to find parts for on the road, conventional rim brakes are easier to manage as disc require special care to protect packed & some new skills to adjust. The Bike Friday design handlebar series are easiest to pack & some of the most comfortable you have ever ridden.

Electric Travelers start as low as $1,800 & under 30 lbs!

Call our knowledgeable cyclist/consultants to talk through the potential for you. We promise it will help you with a stress-free trip to & from your destination & a joyous bike trip!

Traveling with an Electric Bike

Tips on traveling with an e-assist Bike Friday

-By Alan Scholz (Bike Friday designer and co-founder) From the Joy of Cycling on Sunshine Series part 3

 

It can be argued that the best way to arrive is by bike. Certainly, a great way to meet wonderful people everywhere in a low key way that brings the best out of the people you will meet. The world is full of wonderful places to visit & some incredibly interesting folks we might never meet if we traveled as regular tourists. As good as the bike trip can be, as a cyclist we still need to get to the start and home from the end. I can still remember the stress of traveling by my travel challenged bike to New Zealand & to Europe BBF. (Before Bike Friday).

For nearly 15 years my brother Hanz & I thought someone would make something to fix it, or the trains & planes would get friendlier. “The Problem” was the extreme stress to travel with a conventional bicycle. With the advent of good electric assist, traveling by air & rail has gotten even harder. But the value of the assist, for many, makes the trips even better.

Up to the early 90s traveling by bike by air & train got worse & harder. I vividly remember one wonderful, horrendously stressful trip. It was in 1990 to France & Luxembourg for a bike rally. Every leg of the trip there & back was a nightmare of physical stress and worry stress. Getting the bike box on & off the planes, on & off the trains, using a taxi, etc. The bike trip was wonderful. The trip there & back left many more memories & scares that overwhelm the good ones.

Compact, Light & Legal. “Traveling Stress-free with your BFE.”

To make bicycles easy to travel with, we did what was needed to make them compact & light enough to fit in the most constricted requirement. The Airlines suitcase size & weight limits. Some folks think we chose 20” wheels for some other design statement. But it was actually to fit the case size constraints. It is almost impossible & very slow to pack anything close to full-size wheels into air requirements. So they almost always go with expensive special extra costs & handling at the airport($150-200 vs. $35 for an extra standard suitcase with a bike inside). They are so inconvenient lots of folks just ship them separately. We lucked out to find that the smaller wheels were actually very comparable in performance if they had good tires on well built light wheels. This secured our ‘Performance that Packs’ byline that we have used for many years. And “Bikes that Fly!‘.

In order to fly with an Electric Bike Friday, it needs to meet the same requirements with a few more added steps. Compact & Light were still required. But Lithium batteries are very restricted to airlines. The average electric bicycle is both large & heavy. Averaging around 50lbs/22 kgs they cannot really fit the weight requirements. The legal issue on electric bikes is not just the extreme airline restrictions on batteries but most jurisdictions you will fly to have legal limits on motor power, assist speeds & they do not allow throttles.

The European standards are what most laws are based on now if you want to stay legal where you visit to ride. The Bike Friday design & development came up with nearly the same conclusions. They fit a design philosophy that is cyclist centered not motor centered. Read more of the Cycling on Sunshine series to understand where this all comes from for fun, safety, & the pursuit of cycling joy. Travel capably with a BF e-assist/E-bike that meets all 4 requirements. Plus the extras you get with a Bike Friday & it’s growing Community!

Which Bike Friday electric assist works best for your plans?

Even though we have designed assist systems that work with all Bike Friday models (even upgrades for older models!) there are models, features and equipment that pack the easiest, and the fastest.

Here is a list of uses and bike models:

  • Expedition Touring, rough roads, and quickly folds and packs = Diamond Llama

  • Fast sport and road riding and quickly folds and packs = Pocket Rocket

  • Fast sport and top of the line components with an ultra-light frame, and quickly folds and packs = Pocket Rocket Pro

Tandem bike fording a small river in New Zealand

  • Light Touring and Road Tandem, with lots of size adjustment for children so they are able to be the stoker = Family Tandem

Call or email our knowledgeable cyclist/design experts to talk through this potential for you. We promise it will help you with a stress-free journey to & from your destination & a joyous bike trip!

From the Joy of Cycling on Sunshine Series part 3

-Alan Scholz (Bike Friday designer and co-founder)

info@bikefriday.com