Tag Archives: cycling

Designing in 12 Dimensions

Welcome to the ‘Designing in 12 Dimensions’ blog. It is about cycling, cyclists, and thoughts motivated by 50 years of cycling and meeting cyclists of all stripes. Its focus is also on designing new bikes & new systems at Bike Friday. Written with a makers & pantologist’s perspective, and as an introvert with the bicycle as my muse. It talks of design & materials, human scale, health/fitness/diet, work physiology, riding skills, safety, living as cyborgs, designing in your head, family & community, 60+ years of dramatic changes & potential healthy life styles as a world citizen. And the lessons of kindness. Always remembering a thank you to all your kindnesses. A jumble of topics that seems to have come to interrelate as a bicycle shaped reality for me. I would like to share the latest research results I find, where ever they are to be found. All for a better life for the individual and potentially for all of us. There is a huge bunch of really exciting stuff happening/exploding in the world. Not at all just the seeming disasters in the news. (To add to that maybe I can share a few pics to how we weld, braze, ride and destruction test the new bikes before BF releases them for your enjoyment.)
After starting to write a bit again, the realization came that there is much to comment on and share with you. Hope you enjoy and it adds some light to your day. Some of the best critical thinking seems to come from writing and seeing if what you say is really what you believe.

Thanks for the opportunity!

Not Science fiction

’12 Dimensions’ may sound like advanced physics, super-string or M-theory but I assure you it is not! It is very much about you, cycling, about life and bicycles. At Bike Friday we love bicycles, cycling and cyclists! The supreme elegance of the bicycle cries out to be explored.

Three Dimensional Bicycles

In the beginning, & I don’t mean the Big Bang, but in the 70s, Hanz and I started to think about bikes having multiple dimensions. (ok in1970 Hanz was 10 and I was 20 but formative years for him that took him onward) The seed for Bike Friday was planted. This is when trains would no longer take an un-boxed bike. And forget flying. I (& the other Great Plains Bike Club members of Fargo) liked to take the train with our bikes to the Twinn Cities for cycling events and races. Without the train this option to Minneapolis & St Paul, the hub of cycling in our neck of the woods, became harder to reach. We began to dream of high performance folding bikes and their potential to add back the dimension of traveling easily with our bikes.
Fast forward to 1992 April 1st (yes 500 years exactly after Columbus’ difficult travel across “the big pond” to the New World, (or was that Loo Flirpa from Scandinavia?) It was no Joke and about time! Bike Friday was started. From that time BFs have been consistently conceived as an evolution of the bicycle. Travel challenged bicycles, although one of the worlds greatest inventions, are fairly one dimensional. Designed to excel for one use and one sized rider. Like a Camel or Giraffe, elegant in adaption in their natural setting (straight out of the garage), not so much in others (flying!, need a roof rack & an automobile to go on that trip?). (Elephant in the room?) Bike Friday exists to be more convenient & capable of more. Only recently has it become clear to me how much we’ve added to the original 3+ dimensions of the original Bike Friday Travel System. Great fit (made to order), foldable (easy to store & carry), packable (carry on & check on to public & commercial travel options), & most important still – extremely ridable (not to lose a 100 years of performance design just to make them foldable.). OK I guess the original BFs were at least 4 Dimensional! Ok & Dimension 5. Users involvement with the design of their bike, and the sharing of their experiences with other cyclists! – With the ‘electric enhancement program’ & a new bike I am working on, I realized that at least 12 dimensions are now noteworthy & more might be coming.

So here is a list of the possible dimensions rolled into your Bike Friday design.

1) Touring Bike (The first 3D Bike Fridays. Built to fit, travel, ride and store. Performance that Packs.)
2) Road Bike (Sport)(with folding & other extra features. Designed/built to ride & be easy to travel by all means)
3) City Bike (w/ folding, carrying & other useful features for a bicycle life style. Still built to ride & be easy to transport)
4) Xlite Cargo Bike (one designed especially for mom, passengers, loads, and the rest of the family)
5) Travel Bike (Suitcase-able! In most formats, plus the supper handy BF Travel Trailer & your accessories.) Bike Fridays, since the original seed of vision, have always been planed as systems. One dimensional standard bicycles require you to work out your own system. I support anyone doing that. But travel systems have a lot of demands and planning for the Bike Friday Travel Systems smooths out a lot of roughness and saves money, time, and hassle when traveling. The new ‘Bike Friday Electric-Enhanced Travel Systems’ are an especially focused example of that.
6) Expedition Touring bike (or work horse family touring bike) coming is a Gravel Bike (or an especially cushy touring bike. This would be the new ’12th Dimension Friday’)
7) Fully Adjustable bike tech (riders age 8 to a young 90 & 4ft tall to 6ft+) Began as SRTS class training bike.
8) Guest Bike (this bike could replace a garage full of extra bikes & fit most any guest you might have)
And what are rental bikes for if not for the rental companies guests and clients?
9) Bike Club Bike (Better an uber Rental bike) from an old British cycling magazine comic of, ‘the bike the club gets together to argue about who gets to use the bike!’
10) Electric Enhanced Bike Fridays (actually 10 more dimensions folded into this one as there are different optimized versions for the first 9 dimensions. Some that travel easily, conveniently, and legally. Yep that means more than 12 dimensions but who is counting anymore!)
11) This one I think of as the MacGyver Dimension. What you might call the Dimension of Potential. It is like a Swiss army knife but way more. The Potential Dimension is made possible by the “Bike Friday mass customization rapid Production system!” A great system borrowed from ‘Toyota Production System’ for you to get what you want, when you want it. For instance we build for the Little People of America. Who else does that? Adding potential for riders from the 5th to the 95th percentile. (This is called “the long tail”) Standard mass produced bikes by necessity are for the center of the bell curve. Approximately 30th to maybe the 70th percentile for size with a few if any color choices. Are you mid bell curve? Do you think mass produced bikes have your specific wants and needs in mind?
12) One more important dimension that all Bike Friday owners have come to be part of. And it originally just sort of happened! This is the Belonging Dimension. Community. Bike Friday ownership has become a very inclusive world wide if non-official Community. Ask long time Bike Friday owners who have traveled ‘what is the best dimension.’ I have heard from many Bike Friday owners that they really like belonging to a world wide group of recognizable friendly bike travelers and having friends at the factory.
13) Stock ownership – a New dimension just in the last 6 months!

When a bike is so much already some folks expect it to do everything. Unfortunately not true or possible even at infinite cost. (not even the ‘Friday 12th Dimension’ that I am currently working on. It does more than any bike I have ever heard of but it doesn’t fold!)* A bike does not need to be good at everything. But it does need to be good at what you need it to be good for! Those specific dimensions are what make your Bike Friday a fine travel companion. It is a high standard we hold for them being the namesake bike of Robinson Caruso’s ‘Man Friday’. Our one big goal is for your multidimensional bike to be your ‘Bike Friday’.

Note: There are clearly more than 12 dimensions of potential to think of when designing the perfect 2 wheel companion. But it could be enough for what you need. Thanks for taking part. We are all in it together. Keep sharing your ideas for dimensions with us!

Best in Cycling –

Alan Scholz – designer & serial entrepreneur 2018

PS – Having a Philosophy has always been an important place to start when designing, so I leave you with one that always gave me a chuckle. In the subtle deep words of Red Green, “ If women don’t find you handsome they should at least find you handy”
* Now available as the Ever-E-Day

6 Reasons Why Cargo Bikes Are The Next Big Thing

We already have seen the impact  of Cargo Bikes. Have you?

Check out this post on Grist.org




You Won’t Believe What This 80-Year-Old Did on Her Bike Friday


EDITOR’S NOTE: It has been nearly five years since Dolores McKeough sent us this email, reminding us that it’s never too late to chase your dreams!

Hi, I got home 24 hours ago.

What a fantastic, beautiful summer. The adventure, fun, stress, friends made, country seen, and on and on.

The trip started innocently enough with friend Cathy in Tampa on April 3. It ended yesterday after I biked from Malibu where I was camping with three companions, whom I met in Big Sur, to Santa Monica where I folded my Bike Friday into it’s suitcase (after I took the wheels off since it had been serving as my trailer).

So many good things happened on this extravaganza trip including the folding experience in Santa Monica. I didn’t want to disassemble the bike on the beach, although it was a beautiful day, there was too much sand.

So, I went to the REI store where Robbie, the bike repair manager, suggested I use part of his work space. What a generous offer. I took him up on it and had the trailer wheels and attachment off in no time. I then folded the bike (taking the accessories off is the most time consuming part of the process) and put it in the suitcase (the former trailer).

The suitcase with the bike weighed in at 52 pounds at the airport (even though it was two pounds over the allowance Suncountry let it go). My duffle bag with camping stuff, clothes etc weighed in at 28 pounds. And, I had two carry-ons.

So I figure the bike plus all my stuff was about 85 pounds. That’s a lot of weight to ride across the country and partly up and down two coasts. But, I did it and feel great.

I just added it up! I think I rode about 1,000+ miles from Mt. Dora, Florida, to Williamsburg, Virginia; then 4,500 TransAm miles from Richmond, Virginia, to Florence, Oregon; then 1,100 miles from Florence to Santa Monica California.

That’s 6,600 miles on my Bike Friday with 85 pounds, from April 3  til August 29. That impresses even me.

As you know it is not simply the miles that count but the terrain, the road surface, the elevation, the weather …

It was wonderful. The picture was taken North of San Francisco. Note the long sleeves; the weather did not warm up til Santa Barbara.


7 Steps to Buying a Bike on a Budget


[EDITOR’S NOTE: Before opening Bike Friday in 1992, Co-Founder Alan Scholz owned and operated a few bike shops, and spent time as a national level racer.  Here are his expert tips on how to spend your money wisely when buying a bike.]

By Alan Scholz

Here are the basics I learned long ago about buying a bike on a budget, in order of importance.

1. Make sure you get a good frame in the right size. Get help making sure the frame fits your body by someone who is knowledgeable about fitting. Look for the best frame you can afford for the right type of riding you plan to do. Nothing else matters as much if you are on a budget. Everything else can be upgraded later if you are short on funds. Good designers, cyclists, and shop employees know this. It’s a good test of their basic knowledge.

2. Ride the saddle if it came with the bike just long enough to see if you can put up with it. If the bike does not come with saddle and pedals, thank the designer. That means they invested that money into the frame and wheels for you! Get a saddle that works for you — it is worth the individual focus. Price and weight are not good criteria to use to choose a saddle. You need to test ride a number of saddles and buy one  that is acceptable.

After you have been riding a while, you will be ready to trade up to a better saddle. When your butt is new to cycling, an acceptable saddle is as good as it gets. When you can ride 15-25 miles a day regularly get a nice saddle if you feel you need a different shape. Don’t believe anyone who says “this is a men’s saddle, or this is a women’s saddle.” Get one that fits and feels good. Ignore the rest.

3. If you can afford it, get a good set of wheels. After getting a frame that fits, wheels that are relatively light will give you by far the most bang for your buck.

4. If you are pushing your budget, buy cheap heavy tires. You will be replacing tires eventually, and then you can get some good tires. Wearing out tires will happen sooner than you think. That’s when you can buy better tires. You will be best served to really enjoy your bike, although frame and wheels will do the most toward that goal.

5. Next change your steel stuff out for entry level alloy if you must limit funds. Steel chainrings, brakes, seatposts, and derailleurs are a dead give away that they are sub-standard for someone who wants to be a real rider and can afford more than the minimum frame and wheels. They may work fine but they were put there to save money and they are heavy. Your motor cannot be changed. Weight matters. Used parts are often a good choice, but you need to really know parts design. Brand is not always a clear indicator. Ask a knowledgeable friend or expert consultant.

6. If your ship has come in, you can be picky but not arrogant about parts and prices. People who ”buy” into the sport usually do not become good nor happy cyclists. The most pricey and light gear will not perform for you out of the box if you have not already gained top level skills to utilize and appreciate them. From the experience in my shop days starting hundreds of folks to cycling, it takes as a minimum, three progressively better bikes as an adult to get to the top level, best for you. It doesn’t matter how much money you have.

7. Full Custom is usually not available or understandable to you until the third level of bike and thousands of miles. Small custom builders must charge 2-5 times as much as off the shelf mass produced bikes. If you do not know that they still mostly make less than minimum wages doing so, you will not appreciate their output anyway. Your best choice then is to buy an off the shelf imported bike and think you got a good deal. All small manufacturing concerns, one person to 60 people are squeezed by this math. Imports are cheaper because the factories are larger and they have the economies of scale. But they often also practice a lack of respect for good design that a small custom builder will have. Inexpensive or dear, a bike can serve you well if you take the time to choose. Take a ride with the local bike club and you will find there are far more important skills than a full wallet to keep up.

Testimonial from a Hardcore Roadie

Jeff Linder on his Bike Friday Haul-a-Day Cargo Bike with BionX electric pedal assist

Jeff Linder on his Bike Friday Haul-a-Day Cargo Bike with BionX electric pedal assist

By Jeff Linder
Bike Friday Angel Investor

I really don’t know where to begin …

The new Bike Friday Haul-a-Day has so captured my imagination, making it difficult to prioritize the long list of things I truly like about this bike.

The global view is that this bike has the potential of freeing the up the younger families from dependence on the second car. At least that’s the way it presents itself to me.

A car can be, and most frequently is an essential tool in today’s family experience but just as commonly the use case for the second car is not quite so compelling and if you can be offered an alternative that can help you do those collateral essentials then hey, fantastic. AND if you can make it fun too — holy Toledo, Batman, what a score.

I’ve been riding the Haul-a-Day now for a few months and have had just the best time. It’s so versatile and delightful and it brings a smile to my face every time.

My Haul-a-Day has the BionX electric assist installed and I’m nothing short of a convert. Full disclosure — I’m the kind of guy who likes to ride with the assist at full tilt-boogie, allowing me to cruise at 20-plus mph in virtually all conditions that include some pretty significant hills.

I really enjoy loading up with the Costco goods or packages from local retail outlets to the bewilderment of many onlookers. I’m quite certain that I’m often pushing 75-100 pounds worth of bike and cargo, and have passed my local litmus test of getting up my 22-degree driveway, which is borderline insanity.

This is easily one of the best things to ever come out of the skunk works at Bike Friday and I’m pleased and honored to have one of the first production bikes to test and enjoy. Here are a couple of pictures of yours truly and the Haul-a-Day in action.

A Bike Friday Haul-a-Day Cargo Bike with BionX Electric Assist loaded with supplies from Costco.

A Bike Friday Haul-a-Day Cargo Bike with BionX Electric Assist loaded with supplies from Costco.

A Bike Friday Haul-a-Day Cargo Bike loaded down with Propane tanks.

A Bike Friday Haul-a-Day Cargo Bike loaded down with Propane tanks.

Pedaling My Arse Around Ireland

Bike Friday owner Erica Stevenson spent three weeks touring Ireland on her Pocket Llama, and she shares her tales.

By Erica Stevenson

The title of this journal was inspired by a comment from a man on my last long bike tour. He called out: “Y’all know over here, you can’t be peddling your ass around here!” – or something like that.

Anyway, our interactions with the local people in each town were the funniest and most memorable experiences of the trip. Meeting some good Irish people (and especially seeing my family) is what has encouraged me to ride my bicycle around this beautiful little island.

So, this is my first solo bike tour and sort of my first solo vacation, though I’ve traveled on my own quite a bit for new jobs.


In the last year, everywhere I’ve traveled by car has just made me think: “Hmmm, this would be so cool on a bicycle.” The speed of biking is a great way to see local life as it is and still actually go places.

Since moving back to the Bay Area, I’ve been thinking about what it would be like to tour just about everywhere in the world, but Ireland seems like the next logical place to go … I can visit family, it’s somewhat familiar, English, island (can’t get too lost!!) — perfect for a three-week time frame and my first solo bike tour. I’d love to have longer to tour, but I also have a rather cool job, so a crazy chunk-of-year(s) tour will have to wait.

About five months ago I booked a flight and started telling people, I’m going to Ireland!!, and that got the ball rolling.

The bike: I bought a folding bike a couple of months ago through a local Bike Friday dealer, Chain Reaction Bicycles in Redwood City, with the dream of easily flying and riding my own bike in far flung places.

I researched these cute little bikes to death and I was able to pretty much custom choose all of my components (without having the worry or cost of them not working out, which was nice!)

I chose dropbars, bar-end shifters, V-brakes, and I upgraded from their standard headset, seat post, and chain. I’ve put a few hundred miles on my Pocket Llama over the summer and he is AMAZING (and adorable).

Except for being a bit unsure when confronted with rocks, he feels very much like my full sized bikes, nimbly climbs up the steepest of hills, and is quite confident when loaded down.

You can read about Erica’s entire journey here.

Momentum Magazine’s Review of the Haul-a-Day


by: Sandra Allen

The Haul-a-Day is Bike Friday’s addition to the growing cargo bike market. Bike Friday is an Oregon-based bike building company who use words like local, organic, community, and handcraft to describe what they do. They specialize in custom folding and travel bikes, which means the Haul-a-Day has many of the inventive conveniences of those types of bikes and can be customized to your desire.

The Haul-a-Day is a mid-tail cargo bike so it has a smaller footprint but can still carry huge loads without being ‘tippy’ thanks to the 20” wheels giving it a low center of gravity. It adjusts to fit riders 4-foot to 6-foot-4 (1.2-1.9 m) and has a low step-over height which is immensely helpful when hopping on and off with kids aboard. Disc brakes front and back, a stabilizing two-leg kickstand, huge front basket and a plate-deck rear rack round out the specs, while you’ve got the choice of 8 or 24 speeds. The Haul-a-Day is light and agile and rides like a real bike while doing 10x the work. One can customize everything from the rear rack, the front basket, saddlebags, colour, and kid-attachments – Bike Friday loves to work with their customers to create the best bike for your lifestyle.

TELL YOUR FRIENDS You know that classic scene from E.T. that every cyclist loves to reference? Elliot on his bicycle flying through the sky, red hoodie up, E.T. tucked in the front basket. I feel like Elliot in that scene when I ride the Haul-a-Day. Maybe it’s the big basket in the front, or the upright riding position, or the fun, red colour of this model. It just feels like flying on this beautiful bicycle. I get compliments on it ALL the time, and the girls I nanny used to always ask why people were staring & waving at them all the time. I’ve had to explain that we just look so cool & unique, so that’s why all the attention!

I find the basket and 2 huge saddle bags handle all my loads perfectly. The basket is so solidly attached to the bike frame itself – and the wheel turns freely below it – which allows the bike to turn smoothly even in tight places. I don’t think I could handle the loads I do without such a low step-through and the small wheels. This makes it super sturdy and stable when loaded to the brim with cargo or kids or both! I am a small person and manage the bike just fine; I’ve even read an older child could use this cargo bike, which I believe is the only one on the market able to adjust for such a wide variety of people. Great disc brakes ensure I can stop no matter what and the SRAM dual drive 24-speed lets me gear down if I get stopped suddenly and really tackle those hills with ease.

WISH LIST There isn’t much I would change on this bike, it’s pretty darn awesome as is. But hey, we may as well try to get it perfect. So here’s what I’d like to see:

  • An option between the open-back hoop and the full hoop-la. Kids want independence when getting on & off but need the security to not fall off the back. Maybe a gate would help?
  • Stronger internal front shifter. I ride bikes hard it seems and needed to get it readjusted twice over six months.
  • More high gears for speed! I often topped out when riding on my own.
  • Built-in lights. When I attached a light on the back where it could be seen while carrying kids meant it got stepped on while the kids got on and off. Built-in lights are ideal for commuting bicycles!

SUMMARY A light, easy and fun mid-tail cargo bike. Having tried a lot of other load-hauling contraptions, getting on the Haul-a-Day was a pure delight! To not feel like the bike is out of your control or struggle much on any sort of incline, I really appreciated all the thought that went in to this beautiful bicycle. If you’re looking for a bike that can haul big loads safely and easily without being a huge presence, then the Haul-a-day is for you.

Read Sandra Allen’s review of the Haul-a-Day in Momentum magazine.

Haul-a-Day Camping in Style

Check out the great photo of a Haul-a-Day with the coolest camper on the planet.

View here

Haul-a-Days Shine at Eugene Disaster Relief Trials

Jordan and Eli Bishko won the Family Division of the Eugene Disaster Relief Trials on a Haul-a-Day.


Bike Friday Haul-a-Days proved their mettle with another strong showing at the Eugene Disaster Relief Trials at Alton Baker Park on October 17th.

We counted 12 Haul-a-Days in the field of more than 50 riders, and Bike Friday Operations Manager Jordan Bishko and his son Eli led the parade by winning the Family Division and crossing the line as the first finishers of the event.

Jordan and Eli Bishko work at one of the obstacle stations in the Eugene Disaster Relief Trials.

The Disaster Relief Trials (DRT) is a cargo bike event designed to help demonstrate the capabilities of bikes in disaster situations.

The riders planned and navigated a course of their choosing to designated check points in order to fulfill the criteria of the trials, with fully loaded bikes on city roads. At each check point riders encountered obstacles or complete tasks to assist response teams (like a neighborhood Community Emergency Response Team – CERT group).

The DRT is a fundraiser for Eugene-Springfield’s Safe Routes to School Bicycle Education Program.

Bike Friday Co-Founder Alan Scholz prepares to compete in his third DRT, and placed third in the Resilience Class.

To help raise funds for Safe Routes to School, Bike Friday donated a Haul-a-Day as the grand prize of a raffle. Emma Newman of Springfield (former Springfield Schools Safe Routes to School Coordinator) won the bike.

Seven Bike Friday employees competed on Haul-a-Days including (from left) Damon Vold and his daughter, Jordan and Eli Bishko, Robbie Dow and Kent Peterson.

In addition to the 12 Haul-a-Days competing, we counted eight others rolling around Alton Baker Park, enjoying the Resilience Fair.

Bike Friday’s Kelly Humber (left) and Michael Macemon (right) also competed. Macemon finished second in his class on a Haul-a-Day powered by BionX electric pedal assist.

With its low center of gravity and easy step-over, the Haul-a-Day can handle whatever challenges daily life — or a disaster — might throw your way. Being able to control a bike with a load is the key to success, and the Haul-a-Day’s pedigree as a Bike Friday performance bicycle makes it a great choice for a family cargo bike.

Bike Friday Sales Manager Robbie Dow competed in the Resilience Class.


Momentum magazine Haul-a-Day review

Read Sandra Allen’s review of the Haul-a-Day in Momentum magazine.