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)

2 Responses

  1. We own 2 BF NWT bikes. The first one was set up as an Ebike from new by BF in 2018. The second I converted to an Ebike using a kit from Grin, including their LIGO batteries etc. We love the electric assistance offered. We have flown with these bikes twice and had no trouble re the LIGO batteries at airports. We have toured long distance with our Ebike BF NWTs and they were great to use. We have had one problem. The LIGO batteries have a failure rate much higher than that of our other Bikes, both European, two Bosch powered and one a Gazelle powered by a Tempest system. The Bosch and Tempest batteries have given faultless service over a much longer time frame than for which we have had the BF bikes. Whereas we have had to replace batteries on both our BF bikes. We are right into regular charging. We live in a very mild climate compared to North America ie no sub zero temperatures in winter. Can GRIN up the battery quality?

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