Author Archives: mattc

Love of Bike Friday Wins the Day (and a Prius)

 

Lovemark Bike Friday Family Tandem

What is a Lovemark? According to Saatchi & Saatchi, Lovemarks are products that “reach your heart as well as your mind, creating an intimate, emotional connection that you just can’t live without. Ever.” And every year to demonstrate the power of connection between manufacturers who truly understand and serve their loyal fans, Saatchi & Saatchi hosts a Lovemark Contest.

In ’04, Family Tandem owner, Richard V. won a Prius with this glowing testimonial in the Lovemarks contest:

My Bike Friday Family Tandem is a flying carpet of great magic, the perfect solution to the eternal quest of doing something with your kids where you can both have fun and truly communicate. My rides with my son (14 now, 8 when we bought the bike) on our Family Tandem are the BEST, absolutely the best memories he and I have. We’ve had a complete Blast! on this bike – physically close enough to talk and hear well (and conspire), with the bicycling effortlessly filling any gaps in conversation. I’ve learned everything about my son by being close enough to hear as his thoughts and impressions burble out during long Family Tandem rides. So many times, it was just we in our own world, father and son on the Red Bike. Bike Friday is my Lovemark.

And his acceptance speech was no less heartfelt:

If you want to know excitement, hearing you’ve won a car will address that emotion pretty well.

If you want to know challenge, keep the secret from your family for five days, while luring them here tonight without telling the real truth.

If you want to know INSPIRATION, learn that a 35-person company called Bike Friday shined more brightly in this competition than Apple Computer, Harley Davidson, or Honda.

I am just SO enthusiastic about tonight – NOT just because I won a Prius, because we get to SPOTLIGHT such a deserving company. Bike Friday DEFINES a Lovemark. They really, truly do. In winning, all I did was post part of a heartfelt thank you letter I wrote to Bike Friday’s management, telling of my experience with their product. THAT was my Lovemarks entry.

Winning this contest is not about something I did, it’s about something Bike Friday does, and does every day. What they make is custom bicycles, almost all of which fold and go in a suitcase. What they market is enthusiasm, dreams of cycling in far off places, and a worldwide community of owners. And in the case of their Family Tandem that we own, they market precious moments with your children.

When Kevin Roberts describes a Lovemark, he is talking exactly about Bike Friday, and how they do business. Their products DO inspire Loyalty Beyond Reason. I’m living proof. Living proof that now drives a Prius!

Love of a Bike Friday won a Prius

Bike Friday Family Tandem Lovemark wins contest

To learn more about the bike that brought this father and son closer together, check out the Family Tandem.

A Bike Friday Story Almost as Old as we Are!

We’re Celebrating Our 25th Anniversary!


An original Bike Friday New World Tourist

To help celebrate, we asked the Bike Friday Community to share some of their favorite stories. We just received this  great note from David B. in the UK:

My Bike Friday story goes back 24 years, not quite 25, but close (25 by association)

I am from the UK. While biking from Alaska to California to raise money for charity in the summer of 1993, I ran into another cyclist on the road on the Oregon coast. I had actually tried to avoid her because she was obviously a local not a tourist (no panniers). We became friends. She introduced me to her parents (Bill and Bonnie Brod) whom knew Hanz. I was a guest at their home, and they had a pair of the original Bike Fridays, with the two tubes rather than the single.

They were very keen I take one of the bikes for a ride. I was extremely resistant, and refused for a number of days. I was committed to my traditional 700c touring bike, and wasn’t ready to be seen riding something with small wheels. One has to remember that back then this was pre Brompton explosion etc etc. Small wheels were in my mind to do with granny shopping bikes – at least this was from my English biking upbringing.

After a few days I relented and took the Bike Friday for a ride. Within the hour I had decided it was the best bike I had ever ridden and and I wanted one. I still had to complete my journey to California and finished up with a trip around the Olympics on my 700c bike.

On returning to the UK I contacted the UK dealer by phone (no internet back then!). I discovered the price – way beyond my budget!

Six years later on receiving some money as a wedding gift, my wife and I ordered a pair of custom NWT’s. And made the three hour journey to the dealer twice, once to order, and subsequently to collect. This was 1999. Both bikes are still in regular use today.

In 2006 I sold my NWT on eBay, as is was at that time a bad memory of my failed marriage.
Quite by magic/chance it returned to me several months later – much the worse for wear!
I returned it to the factory for a respray and rebuild. This made it into a new bike for me (the marriage association gone).

A colorful repainting of a New World Tourist

A colorful custom painted folding bike

In the last 18 years I have bought and sold several 700c and 26in bikes. Each time thinking I might go back to big wheels, and each time coming back to the Bike Friday, nothing else has endured.

In 2008 I made a pilgrimage to the factory in Eugene. I bought two Tikits (I brought back to the UK with me). A standard one as a gift, and a Carbon Express for me (which was unfortunately stolen), I miss that bike – it was so very pretty in red and black/carbon.

A well worn folding Bike Friday New World Tourist

Sometimes I think about a new Bike Friday, but what would happen to my NWT? I love it so much, it has been through so much with me. Done thousands of miles, had almost every component beside the brakes and the wheels replaced. I imagine eventually spare parts for the 21 speed dual drive will become unobtainable, and this will precipitate a replacement. Though I do wonder if it will outlast me! Not great for your sales, but speaks volumes about the quality.

Thank you for producing the best bike in the world.

Very best wishes
David

Have a Bike Friday story you’d like to share? We’d love to include you in our ongoing 25th Anniversary celebration! Email us with your favorite moment, story, or photos: info@bikefriday.com

Want to learn more about David’s rock solid bike the New World Tourist? Follow the link!

The Joys of Traveling Japan on a Folding Bike

 

A Bike Friday Pocket Crusoe has been a part of my bike collection since 2011.  In the past I have owned more bikes at a single time, but at present, my “stable” consists of three quite different types – a road bike made by Giant, the BF, and more recently a Brompton ML6.  I guess you could say that the Bike Friday sits in the functional middle of the group, as it rides and nearly as fast as the Giant (and was built to be similar in dimensions to it), yet it is able to fold for transportation and storage, like the Brompton.  The Bike Friday is my touring machine, and have been extremely pleased with it since it arrived.

I have lived in Japan since 1989, first in Nagasaki, where I spent thirteen happy years riding a mountain bike through the hilly countryside and swimming in the ocean six months of the year. In 2002, a university in Tokyo offered me a post, and only a couple of things caused me to consider declining the offer.  Looked at from Nagasaki, a provincial city surrounded by nature, the metropolitan Tokyo-Yokohama area appeared to be a concrete jungle pierced by either narrow, meandering roads filled with pedestrians, or thundering expressways clogged with cars and trucks.  Swimming was obviously out, and cycling appeared to be a less than pleasant prospect.

I eventually decided to take the job, and worry about my hobbies later.  I am a classical musician (pipe organ performance and choral conducting are my specialties), and the difference, career-wise, between a provincial town and a world capital are obviously considerable.  For the past fifteen years I’ve been very happy here – as a musician.  But how about as a cyclist?  As it turns out, Tokyo is a wonderful place for riding.  Like any large city, cars rule the streets, but I have found drivers here to be uniformly cautious when it comes to cyclists, and have never encountered any aggressive behavior.  Early mornings rides through the wide city streets can be great fun, especially when passing famous spots such as the imperial palace or Ginza shopping area.  I am lucky in that I live 10 kilometers from the Arakawa River.  From the point at which I enter the river system, I can ride upriver to the countryside of Saitama Prefecture and beyond, or 20 kilometers downriver to Tokyo Bay.  From Tokyo Bay it is a short hop to another grand set of cycling paths on the Edogawa River.  Follow those upriver and you wind up on an even greater system along the Tonegawa River.  In other words, I have a virtual expressway for bikes within 30 minutes ride from my home.  I can ride hundreds of kilometers without encountering a car (once I hit the river, that is).  For fifteen years now I’ve used this system of cycling roads as a way to get out of the city easily, as a training course with infinitely flexible courses, and a place to simply get away from work and the city life.

Photo Credit: ©Hikaru.⭐︎

Getting back to bikes, it took several years to make the jump from mountain bike to road bike. Once I did, I was happy for quite a few years with only my road bike for the river rides. Eventually, though, I realized that I had covered just about all the area one could in a day ride, and was just recycling my routes.  An overnight ride with two companions that included bagging up our road bikes for a train ride home was an eye opener. With that strategy, I could ride as far as I liked in any direction without worrying about the return trip, thus doubling my effective cycling range.  For me, the problem was the bothersome process of bagging a road bike.

A colleague at work suggested I look into Bike Friday, a make I had never even heard of at the time, and which was only available from two dealers in the Tokyo area.  The idea of getting a hand-built steel touring bike that would ride well AND fold really appealed to me though, so I ended up ordering my Pocket Crusoe from Cycletech in Takasaki City.  I’ve done a lot of long rides on it over the years, and have really appreciated its stability when loaded, its reliability, and the fact that I can bag it up in a few minutes and use the great public transportation here to train home.

Twice a year the chapel choir at my university goes to the countryside for a week of intense training, which I lead.  I always take one of my bikes along.  The spring camp is held on the coast in Chiba Prefecture, and the summer one in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture.  For the past several years I’ve departed several days before the choir in order to do a mini tour, staying in hotels and hot spring facilities on the way.

A ride to spring camp a few years back took place after a heavy March snow.  Though it had mostly melted by the time I started, a layer of black grit coated the roads for the entire 130 kilometer ride.  A relentless rain added to the bleak atmosphere.  The latter half of the ride was in the mountains, and before I knew it, the grit and rain combination had worn my brake pads down to nubs.  I will never forget coasting into the hotel parking lot at high speed with my feet jammed to the pavement as ineffective makeshift brakes.  The hotel’s wonderful hot spring bath and fine food did help to compensate, though I think I lost a few months from my lifespan, thanks to that last hill.  The following day involved riding down to the Pacific coast, which was supposed to have been a reward for the climbs of the first day.  Without brakes, though, it was a bit trying.  Every time the bike picked up speed I’d either hop off and run beside it, or try the shoe brake trick.  In the end, the road leveled out, and I did enjoy a sunny coast ride.  I suppose the village bike shops I appeared in still remember me, smoking shoes and all, as I searched their shelves for brake pads.  None of them stocked normal road bike brake pads, though, so the rest of the day was spent wearing out my shoes.  I did solve the problem by calling Cycletech, who kindly shipped out new pads by express mail so that I could swap them out the following day and ride in much calmer fashion from day three.

Another ride to choir camp was also cursed by rain, though this time the brakes did hold up.  In early September I rode the first leg of the trip along several river dike systems up to the foothills of the mountains in Gunma Prefecture. Summers are extremely hot in Japan, even when it rains, so rain gear is useless – you just get wet. The second day involved a 1500 meter climb into the mountains in hard rain. Looking back at the day, though, I realize the rain was a blessing in disguise, as it kept the summer heat at bay.  There are fond memories of the ride, of course.  My bike was as comfortable as anything on the road, and as stable as a little truck with 10 kilos of gear on the rear rack.  Since a Bike Friday is completely customizable, I ordered mine with a relatively low gear ratio, which has worked out nicely for climbing even when the bike is loaded with gear. A chance happening onto a century-old Japanese farmhouse that had been turned into a museum made a wonderful break spot. Long tunnels on deserted mountain roads made for good singing and whistling (and shelter from the rain). And once again, a successful arrival at a traditional Japanese inn, complete with hot spring bath and great food, erased any negative feelings from the day that might have been dancing around in my mind.

That year a large typhoon hit while we were at camp. Though we experienced no flooding, areas downriver were devastated, with rivers breaking through dikes and flooding homes. The conditions for the ride home were too dangerous, so it was a lifesaver to have a folding bike which could be popped into the luggage hold of the bus for the trip back.

I do still ride my road bike on occasion, but I have to admit that I prefer my Bike Friday, and mainly keep the Giant around for others to use when they visit.  As I have gotten older, I have come to find an upright riding position more and more comfortable. Thanks to the fact Bike Friday uses standard components, it is possible to completely change one’s setup – I’m considering swapping my drop bars for flat ones, along with the gear and brake component changes that will entail. It is great to be able to have the freedom to make these changes as desired. I think the BF and I have many more adventures ahead as we continue to explore Japan together.

Scott Shaw is a conductor and organist in Tokyo. When he isn’t teaching or playing music he’s probably cycling. Find more of his stories and images at http://scottshaw.org/ and follow him on Instagram @senkawascott

Follow the link to learn more about Scott’s intrepid bike, the New World Tourist Lite (formerly the Pocket Crusoe).

Expedition Cycling Across Europe on a Folding Bike

Pocket Rocket Pro on gravel path in Crete Greece

Professor, Photographer, and Expedition Cyclist Joe Cruz Shares Some of His Favorite Moments With His Pocket Rocket Pro

I’ve been bicycle touring for nearly thirty years, sometimes on repurposed mountain bikes, sometimes ‘cross bikes, or road racing bikes, or full suspension bikes or recently frequently on fat bikes. All of these have a place, and the variety confirms for me that the joy of being on the road is less about the bicycle than it is about attitude, openness, curiosity. I aim to let go of expectations and to reach for possibilities that I didn’t know in advance. Yes, exploration can be the breathless adventure of remote weeks of lost trails at high altitude, but it can also be the serendipity of a place with a whorl of life where one doesn’t know how the days will go or how the bike will play a role in moving forward, even if one knows it will. Those are the trips I take on my Pocket Rocket Pro, and I flat out couldn’t do them with any other sort of bike.
I think back to a winter visit to Greece a couple of years ago that started with the descending stairs of a Brooklyn apartment, then into the subway to the airport, a flight, a metro ride in Athens and finally a ferry to Crete. We debarked just before sunrise, and I remember unfolding the bike and pedaling away for a serene overlook in Chania to sip a coffee and greet morning over the sea. That was the beginning of weeks spent in dreamy quiet, a loose route linking together gravely tracks through olive groves then over mountain passes with barely a lane’s width cleared of snow. In between I’d stop in small towns for a meal and to watch the body language of locals talking politics or just exchanging a bit of news. I camped a fair bit during that trip, as I usually do, but when I checked into a tiny guesthouse on the other side of the island, I folded the bike and carried it in under my arm. There was another ferry ride back to the mainland to pedal more sights and history.
Bike touring on gravel mountain road in Greece
Minimal gear for a bike expedition in Greece
Cycling through a snowy mountain pass in Greece
Or last summer when I led the first leg of the Search Brigade, an open-to-all self-supported trans-USA group ride. I only had time to join from Times Square down to Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania. The route included remarkable urban riding, kilometers of canal tow path, beautiful Amish country and the legendary hills of the state. We shivered in pummeling rain, rode abandoned miles of turnpike, joked with locals in diners. In Pittsburgh, after saying goodbye to my travel companions, I queued up on the Amtrak platform, folded the bike and stepped aboard. There is no bicycle or baggage service on the Pennsylvanian line, but no matter. When I arrived at Penn Station in Manhattan, I unfolded and rode home with that silly grin of a successful plan realized. 
Cycling through wooded countryside on the Search Brigade Ride
I’ve toured on the PRP in Ireland, New Zealand, both sides of the Pyrenees, Italy, the Western US. Like so many Friday owners, I’ve flown into airports, unfolded the bike and ridden to friend’s homes or to lodging or straight into the wild. I set out to travel fast and light, to cover distance and not think much about the equipment in the knowledge that it’s reliable and it’s everything needed. I don’t shy away from the dirt roads that I prefer. It’s not a mountain bike, of course, but the 1.7 tires are big enough for me to ride with confidence off tarmac. 
Stopping for rest by the Mediterranean Sea in Greece
The Bike Friday feels fast and free and nearly unladen with a bikepacking setup—that’s where I bring a bedroll hanging from the bars and a oversized saddlebag and little else. But it’s also stable and happy with two small rear panniers, far more so than a full sized bike because the load is low and doesn’t tend to push the bike around like a rudder. It even works terrifically well to have just a pair of front panniers as is popular in some touring circles these days. The fork trail on the Friday keeps it well behaved with that front load. 
For our honeymoon Margaret and I flew into Munich, tucked the bikes in the boot of a tiny rental car and set off on a trip that included northern Italy, the Austrian Alps, Budapest, Prague, and the Danube. We’d arrive in a small town or a beautiful European city, and first thing unfold our bikes to explore. We rode to the opera and dinner, we rode well outside of town to see a Soviet era statue park, we participated in Dolomiti Bike Day, where the roads were closed off around a circuit that included the Passo Sella and the Pordoi.  In the Czech Republic we rode deep into the countryside, often along the double dirt lines created by farm equipment. Margaret dubbed it agribiking, a kind of agricultural tour where we waved and laughed and ate fruit by the side of the track. 

What was vital was that the folding bikes were an expression of the way we were traveling, with a traced sketch of where we’d be but no insistent view on how we’d be once there.

Biking on farm roads in the Czech Republic

A beautiful stone church in Italy

beautiful graveyard in Budapest

The Danube River in Europe

Biking to an ancient Greek Church

Cycling to Prague in the Czech Republic
What’s next on the Friday? Well, certainly any trip with a multimodal travel component, where I want to step on a train or bus or hire a taxi or small boat to cross a bay. But the practical things about the folder are only the surface. A Bike Friday is a bike for not being sure of what’s ahead and therefore for taking anything as it marvelously comes. It’s for not being able to picture the road and so picturing instead the lifting time spent in a place and a culture. I’m thinking of checking out some of the back ways ‘round in Indonesia or Hawaii or Sri Lanka.

 

Joe Cruz is a professor of philosophy and an expedition cyclist who splits his time between his native New York City and Vermont. Find his stories and images at joecruz.wordpress.com and follow him on Instagram @joecruzpedaling.

Follow the link to learn more about the Pocket Rocket, the adventure-ready bike that Joe rides all over the world.

Cycling through snow on an overcast day

A Tiny House + A Folding Bike = A Perfect Fit

How a Tiny Home and a Folding Bike Can Help You Live a Simpler, More Sustainable Life.

A diverse movement of tiny home dwellers is emerging all over the country and growing fast. At it’s foundation, it is a social movement where people are choosing to simplify and streamline the space that they live in. The average home in the U.S. is about 2,600 square feet, whereas the average tiny house is between 200 and 400 square feet. Everyone from millennials scarred by the housing crash of ’08, to aging homeowners looking to downsize, to environmentalists concerned about their carbon footprint, is among the avant-garde of this exciting new trend. There are a number of key factors that make tiny homes so appealing to such a wide range of people:

  • Affordability
  • Lower Environmental Impact
  • Simplicity
  • Adventurous Living

Interestingly, these are many of the same reasons that people choose to own a Bike Friday- a love of adventure, with earnest practicality, rugged-individualism, and the environmental and financial benefits of cycling over driving. Folding bikes and tiny homes are so well aligned in terms of their mission and application that it’s worth highlighting them side-by-side:

Affordability

There are so many reasons why a tiny home can be a better housing solution than the conventional alternative. Probably the most compelling reason is just how affordable and fiscally sound a tiny home can be. First, consider this 30 year cost analysis of home ownership from the Wall Street Journal:

With the true cost of an average home being over 1 million dollars it’s no wonder that nearly 3/4 of Americans are trapped in a cycle of debt in which 1/3 to 1/2 of their income is dedicated to the roof over their heads. Compare that $1M to the average cost of building your own tiny home- $23,000 –  less than half of the downpayment on the house listed above. Of course, not everyone has the time or skills to build their own home, but even if you buy one readymade they start as low as $38,000, still well underneath the down payment of the typical single family home.

A folding bicycle that is well tailored to your sizing and lifestyle can have just as much of an impact on your bottom line. You may be wondering how a custom built bicycle that costs upwards of $1,000 could save you money, especially when a cheap bike from Wal-Mart costs $200. The comparison though, is not really between bikes, but rather between modes of transportation. If you re-imagine your bicycle as a car-replacement, or even just as a way to reduce your car usage, the savings can be tremendous.

According to a study by AAA the annual costs of a car are nearly $10,000. That number may seem outlandish, but when you consider the combined costs of car payments, insurance, registration, fuel, parking fees, and maintenance it’s actually spot on. A custom folding bicycle from Bike Friday, typically $2,000 in price, will last decades, doesn’t require insurance or fuel, and, for daily riders, averages about $300 per year in maintenance at a bike shop (replacing tires, tubes, chains, overhauls, etc.). Over ten years a car would cost you more than $90,000, whereas a Bike Friday would cost about $5,000. And that figure doesn’t even take into account the positive health benefits and lower medical bills that the exercise from cycling would provide.

But could a bicycle truly replace a car? Absolutely, just as there is a growing number of people downsizing their homes to “live tiny,” there is a growing movement towards living car-free or car-lite. The primary car-replacing bicycle that we build is the Haul-a-Day, a size-adjustable cargo bike, capable of carrying kids, groceries, or even construction supplies. Our latest model, the pakiT, is perfect for urban commuting and combined with a mix of public transportation and Uber could definitely replace a car.

The pakiT fits into a backpack for tansportation

The pakiT fits into a backpack for easy urban commuting

Lower Environmental Impact

Even given the materials, manufacturing, and servicing of a bicycle over it’s lifetime the European Cycling Federation conservatively calculates that a bicycle puts 13 times less carbon into the atmosphere per km traveled than a car. That’s nothing to say of all of the other noxious gases emitted from the tailpipe, the massively destructive infrastructure cars require, and the damaging effects of drilling and shipping of oil from around the world.

A tiny home has very similar CO2 savings to that of a bicycle. When compared to the average US house a tiny home uses 93% less electricity and heating, resulting in 14 times less carbon emissions. The materials needed to build a tiny home are far less as well, important when considering that more than 25% of our solid waste stream comes from construction, and that 75% of all lumber used in the US is for home building.

Simplicity 

A tiny home takes the best space-saving techniques of RVs and boats, and combines them with the charm and comfort of a beautifully built home. The savings in space and finance of a tiny home translate into a much simpler and more efficient lifestyle. Firstly, a smaller home is far easier to clean, organize, and upkeep. Don’t like vacuuming? Well, you’ll only have to do 1/10 of what you used to. Have a tendency to hoard? A tiny house will keep that in check. But those aren’t even the best parts of the life simplification that a tiny home provides. Because “living tiny” costs so much less than traditional housing, it really opens up the possibilities of working fewer hours, early retirement, and increased time traveling. A tiny home can free you up to do more of the things that you love to do, like spending time with your kids, getting out into the garden, or riding your bike.

Teri Page & Brian Thomas built theirs debt free, allowing more time for homesteading and homeschooling- www.homestead-honey.com

A folding bicycle is a simple and approachable vehicle, especially when compared to a car. Cars have around 10,000 moving parts, where as a bicycle has fewer than 100. Basic servicing on a bicycle can easily be done by yourself using only a few tools. Cars, however, require incredibly specific knowledge and training to service and maintain them, not to mention dangerous power tools and a lot of space. Bicycles don’t require insurance, a license, registration, street parking, fuel, or… (the list goes on). And a folding bicycle makes life even simpler by not requiring you to lock your bike outside- keep your folding bike stashed inside out of the elements and away from thieves.

Adventurous Living

With a custom-built folding bike you have the flexibility to travel with your bike wherever you want, whether that’s around the world or around the block. A Bike Friday pakiT easily fits in the trunk of your car, checks in a suitcase on a plane, goes into a backpack, or stows in the hull of your Oru kayak.

How is a tiny home adventurous? (You mean other than feeling like your own personal version of Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond?) Because many are portable and, just like a Bike Friday, you can take it with you either as a trailer, or as the vehicle itself. A transportable home frees your inner nomad to wander as far as the roads will allow, always having your sanctuary right by your side. But even if your tiny home isn’t on wheels, the tiny-lifestyle lends itself well to adventure; requiring less money and maintenance, you’re left with more time spend outdoors or traveling.

Sprinter Van & Airstream tiny home conversions by Bohemian Cottages 

Right at Home

A tiny home and a folding Bike Friday are pretty much a match made in heaven, perhaps rivaled only by peanut butter and jelly. As space is the highest premium inside of a tiny home, there couldn’t be a better bicycle for it than the pakiT. When folded, the pakiT is a mere 10″ wide by 38″ long, making it very easy to store in tight spaces like a closet, behind a couch, or under a table. And since the pakiT is belt driven (which doesn’t require any lubrication) you can bring it indoors without fear of it getting grease on your upholstery or clothes.

So if you are thinking about a life simplification, a tiny home in combination with a folding bike like the pakiT might just be the recipe. By joining the clever space saving designs of each, you can lower your physical footprint drastically, not to mention your carbon footprint as well. Who wouldn’t want to save precious resources, have less clutter, spend more time doing the things they love and be poised for any sort of human-powered and human-scaled adventure? At Bike Friday, we couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of the movement away from over-consumption, suburban sprawl, and oil dependence. We hope you’ll join us one folding bike at a time!

 

 

 

New York City Adventures on a Folding Bike

New Yorker in City with Folding Bike Friday

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New Yorker and Pocket Rocket owner Newton D. has always loved bicycles, but didn’t buy one for himself until he was an adult. In fact, his very first bicycle was a folding bike:

“It all began with seeing my friends wife zipping around on a Xootr scooter which prompted me to visit NYCEwheels, a bike store specializing in folding bikes, e-bikes, and scooters. The Xootr had a decent amount of speed and I began traveling with it. San Francisco, CA was my favorite city to ride the Xootr until I fell hard on a crooked street. After that trip, I made the immediate decision to go with a folding bike. The move to a folding bike that I could travel with was natural decision.”

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Newton’s progression through world of folding bikes is an evolution we’re very familiar with, as we hear it from customers all the time. “My first folding bicycle was a Dahon, I liked it, but it had some mechanical issues so I sold it and bought a Brompton.” Much happier with the Brompton, Newton joined a local NYC Brompton club and started riding regularly with other Brompton owners.Bike Friday Pocket Rocket “Some of the other riders in the club also had Bike Fridays and they told me ‘when you’re ready for a more comfortable bike for longer rides, get a Bike Friday.” Newton had never heard of a Bike Friday before, but he jumped on our website and he was hooked.

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“I spent a lot of time on the website, reading people’s stories and doing research,” and at first Newton “was determined to purchase the New World Tourist, even though the Pocket Llama was suggested because of my size and posture.” But after several conversations with a Bike Friday Design Expert and a test ride at NYC Bike Friday dealer Bfold Bicycles, Newton started leaning in a different direction. The conversations with one of Bike Friday’s in-house Design Experts were particularly helpful in narrowing in on the perfect bike: “Then after reading through the Bike Friday website many times and speaking with Buck Olen, I was fixated on the Pocket Rocket. Based on my riding style, I wanted to go light and fast and cover long distances.”

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Newton could hardly contain his excitement for the Pocket Rocket, he did a lot of research, talked to plenty of local Bike Friday owners and kept coming back to Bike Friday’s website. “At the time that I decided to get the bike, the timing was right. I had to save for a couple of months to make it happen.” As soon as every last penny was accounted for, Newton “got on the website and saw [that our live chat status said] ‘on a bike ride,’ so I’d come back and check again and it was ‘on a bike ride,’ ‘on a bike ride,’ and then ‘how can we help?’ I called up right away, placed my order and I’ve never looked back! Sure enough, friends that I spoke with were correct about the Bike Friday’s performance, and reliability.

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With all of the extra power he’s getting out of his bike, Newton is making bold strides towards his personal cycling goals, “My daily routine consists of 20-30 mile average rides before work. On days off, I like to cover the 50-80 mile range.” The longer rides are making a big impact, “I’m losing weight,” says Newton, and after each ride “I come into work feeling great.” Plus, the connections that Newton’s made in all of his outreach appear to be turning into the unofficial Bike Friday Club of New York City- several rides are already in the works!

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Long Island Bike Ride on a folding Bike Friday

Taking a trip out to Long Island and back

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Newton describes the Bike Friday owners he’s met as “more adventurous” than the average NYC folding bike rider. “If you have a Bike Friday you really want to go the distance, its not just about looking cool, its saying ‘I want to ride to New Jersey and back’ and then doing it.” As for the cyclists in the Big Apple who aren’t familiar with our bikes, he says they’re really impressed “On a hilly climb in Great Neck I caught up with a couple of riders and they were amazed with the bike.”

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So what adventures does the future hold for Newton and his Rocket?

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Europe. Before we could even finish the question, Newton had the answer, “I have dreams for this bike.” First inspired by the organized Brompton rides overseas, his aims have shifted now with his Pocket Rocket “I’m much more interested in doing climbs and long distance rides between countries. There’s this great site, Euro Velo, with routes to go between countries and the Pocket Rocket would be perfect for that.”

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Newton, we can’t wait to see to pictures from your adventures in Europe, and updates from your group rides in New York City! Thanks so much for sharing your story with the Bike Friday Community. To join the new NYC Bike Friday Club, stop by  to sign up! To learn more about Newton’s awesome bike, the Pocket Rocket, click the link!

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Cycling by the One World Trade Center in New York City

The One World Trade Center in Manhattan

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The Mystery of Electric Assist #1

The Mystery of Electric Assist 

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Mechanical doping could make your life better. Alan Scholz, Cofounder/designer of Bike Friday & Burley Design

I have watched bicycle assist systems be innovated since the 1970s. Back then they were little wheel drive gasoline motors. Noisy, dirty and to me as a cyclist not at all attractive. They did not do well. A couple of years ago customers started talking to me about their interest in electric assist. I have been watching the development of battery systems for bicycles for about 20 years now but the ones I had seen or tried were still lacking to my sense of matching a bicycles quiet elegance & filling needs that I understood.

But then I started designing a cargo bike system optimized for women to compliment and improve on my many years of trailer design work. (I invented the Burley Bike Trailers for my own kids.) Near the same time customers finally were able to make me understand that there were all these other potential values in having a boost.

And then the frosting. Professional cyclists began showing up in the news “mechanical doping”! That my friends means the electric assist has come of age when it can be stealthed into the echelon. Wow! You need to get some of this for yourself. I know I want some. Small, quiet, light. All the things necessary to help in our evolution towards being cyborgs. Don’t be offended. Even eye glasses make you a cyborg. It just means a mechanically enhanced human. We all like enhancements. Right?

The challenge I found was that the field of electric assist is confusing! In 2013 I started my in-depth education. What I learned was the electric assist was quite viable addition to our individual needs and also gave an experience that I found as a real surprise to me. I also found that true assist was only a small part of the potential and that it came with a lot of confusion. Many folks in North America are in a similar place to me about electric assist. Interested to very interested but not sure of the best way to proceed for a positive result in both the cost and the experience.

So here is my venture into become capable of walking this wide exhilarating confusion of innovation going on. I hope it will help you understand how it could make you more powerful and be part of the climate change solution while making your home economy significantly better.

Subjects that I will cover while serializing how my education & expertise developed with battery boosting:

Dope like a pro – Cyborgs are us, Human assist or Electric assist?,
V
iral Ephemeralization – things have changed,
Surprise! – Better motivation gives better exercise, 
It feels good to fool yourself,
Motors,
Batteries, Its all about control, keeping it light – thats heavy!, cost rationalization,
Keeping up is great – Climb with the best,
Getting older & faster is real,
Improving your outgoing reputation, C
limate Change fighters,
Solarizing your ride – the sun is not just for vitamin D,

Isn’t saving the climate all of our responsibility?, Climate change heroes are good looking,
Your grand kids will love you – your kids still need a good example set,
Education can be expensive or cheap – save a bundle,

Now you can take it with you – flying with an electric assist bicycle – a new Bike Friday exclusive,
Electrify your Bike Friday – I can show you how,
Better than an electric car – a 50% solution at a 95% discount,

A travel bike abroad, and an e-bike at home

e-assist Folding Bike on Beach in Oahu Hawaii

 

Aloha!

 

I am extremely happy with my Bike Friday Pocket Llama and my only regret is not buying one 15 years ago.  The ordering process was smooth and I found all the staff at Bike Friday to be very knowledgeable and helpful.  Communication was excellent and they met their production timelines.  And, I thought the cost was very fair for a custom bicycle.  The company and bike has exceeded my expectations.

 

My Pocket Llama was originally purchased as a travel bike.  Being a lifelong cyclist I grew tired of poor fitting rentals.

 

Over many years I have dialed in an upright riding position that is ideal for my style of riding.  I provided Bike Friday with accurate measurements of my “favorite” bike and they duplicated the position on the Pocket Llama.  I’m on the tall side and was concerned that something might not be right but they nailed it.

 

We have a lot of poorly maintained roads on Oahu so I wanted the fattest tires possible for a cushy ride.  The Pocket Llama offers the widest tire clearance of the various models.  The ride is very smooth and comfortable.

 

At home in Hawaii I have a Bionx system installed.  But, the motor is too heavy to travel with and airlines will not allow the battery.  So, when I travel the Bionx system stays at home.

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BionX Pocket Llama folding bike in Hawaii.

The Pocket Llama in Boulder Colorado.

I love to ride the bike paths in Boulder, Colorado.  I finally have a bike that fits perfectly and is super comfortable.  On my last trip I was surprised how many compliments the Bike Friday received.  I’m talking heads turning, pedestrians stopping to admire it, and positive comments from the young and old.  It really says something when you hear that many compliments in a bike town like Boulder.  My last trip to Boulder was extra special thanks to Bike Friday!

David F.

Kaneohe, Hawaii

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Thanks David for sharing your experiences with the Bike Friday community. To learn more about David’s bike, follow the link to the Pocket Llama. And to learn more about the BionX system, click here: e-assist.

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Made By Hand in Eugene, Oregon

Two Generations of Passion for Personal Liberation in Our Modern World

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It all began in the chilly plains of North Dakota  where co-founder Alan Scholz started cycling to get a Boy Scout merit badge. He fell in love with cycling, the adventure, the personal freedom, the feel of his own human power to fly across the plains one pedal stroke after another. His passion led him to start his first bike shop at age 18 in his parents basement. Younger brother Hanz, showing early mechanical genius, was kept busy by helping work on bikes and teasing the dog.

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Later moving to Eugene, Oregon, Alan started Burley Design Co-operative in 1977. Alan designed the, now world-famous, Burley Child Trailer to carry his two young daughters Hanna and Fraeda.

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In 1985, Alan’s brother Hanz Scholz took a trip to Europe with an inexpensive (then state-of-the-art) folding bike. He came back “with a sore butt” and vowed to invent a high quality travel bicycle of his own. The two brothers joined forces and thus began Bike Friday.

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Alan attributes Bike Friday’s resilience (still going strong after nearly 25 years) to the personal nature of the way we do business – forming a one-on-one relationship with each customer; the custom nature of the bikes; and intrepid nature of cycle tourists in general.

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“We believe so strongly in matching a person to their very personal machine – their bike – that our whole organization runs backward from most manufacturing. Our design process starts at the customer instead of ending with the customer simply buying the results.”

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The vision of the company isn’t just simply to build bikes, but to create a more sustainable and just planet with tools for a cycling lifestyle. Back in 1995 Bike Friday built the Family Tandem, the affordable, kid-friendly travel tandem that got big and little riders pedaling in unison all over the world. This bike initiated many programs for disabled children, including the Adapted Physical Education Project at Wayland Public School, MA., and the Tandem program at the L.A. Braille Institute.

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So what about the future?

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Hanna Scholz, Alan’s daughter, has assumed leadership of the company and is excited to boldly lead it forward, “As the second generation I am passionate about using the experience and wisdom from my father’s 25 years of customer focused bike innovation, to create what the next generation needs to live an active mobile lifestyle. Inspired by the unmatched efficiency and elegant impact that a human on a bike has for the world community, I want to make our world a more beautiful place one personalized, versatile, bike at a time.”

20 Years with Bike Friday

Bike Friday by British Telephone Booth in Scotland

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Having been around for nearly 25 years, it’s not uncommon for us to receive updates from customers who bought their Bike Friday 20+ years ago. The following was a lovely note that we recently received from Steve S. in the UK:

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In the Nineties, I started to travel a lot on business in the UK, spending two or three nights away during the week. I wanted to take my bike in the car so that I could cycle for exercise and exploring. Staying in hotels, for security I wanted my bike to be in the car not on a rack on the outside. I saw and rode a Bike Friday on a cycling holiday on Nantucket Island – the perfect answer to my needs. You replicated the geometry of my lovely Raleigh touring bike in a New World Tourist, # 3397, and I paid up at the end of October 1996.

Since then, this Bike Friday has been my only bike. Over the last twenty years, through my fifties and sixties, I have ridden it from home, on business trips and on holidays, for exercise and day touring. Whenever I take it somewhere new to me, I like to find the nearest summit or pass. I love the climbing and revel in the descending. The bike is stiff for climbing and responsive for flying down hill.

It has never let me down. It’s used some consumables: brake blocks, cables, tyres, chain wheel, chains and sprockets. The last rear set I fitted included two lower gears to help me up the Brendon, Blackdown and Quantock Hills locally, as well as favourite areas of Scotland. I’ve worn out a saddle. I even managed to cycle many miles with the bottom bracket pivot bolt missing. (I check it regularly now for tightness.)

I changed from toe straps to spd clips (and haven’t fallen off (yet)). I celebrated your anniversary by fitting a ‘since 1992’ headstock badge.

The climate here allows me to cycle all year round. Now I’m retired, as well as UK holidays, I go out twice a week and do at least twenty, hilly miles. I still average 12 miles an hour which was all I did in my forties.

This bike will see me out. I can’t see any reason why it shouldn’t go on for ever.

Many thanks to you and all your team for the concept, detail design and manufacturing quality of your exceptional product.

Very best wishes

Steve

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To learn more about Steve’s bike, the New World Tourist, click the blue link!

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