The Final Bike Friday New World Vacationer Evaluate – Bicycle Touring Professional

by jpc_touring-bicycle

The Bike Friday New World Vacationer is assumed by some to be the final word journey bike for lengthy distance vacationers. It’s small wheel base, low-step over characteristic, fully-loaded capabilities and its skill to fold up and match inside an airline commonplace suitcase (thus saving you big quantities of cash when flying together with your bicycle) are actually interesting options for any world traveler.

However does the bike actually stay as much as its status? That’s what I got down to see!

Right here’s my story: I bought a Bike Friday New World Vacationer in the summertime of 2008 and used it on a brief 8-day journey to the island of Aruba within the Caribbean Sea. I had bought the bike, planning to apply it to comparable quick journeys and by no means deliberate on utilizing the small-wheeled folding bike as my final journey car for a 9-month tour by means of central and japanese Europe. However that’s precisely what occurred.

Since buying my New World Vacationer in mid-2008, I’ve been driving the bike virtually each single day since then. In that point, I’ve spent greater than 250 days on the bike, traveled with it on 4 airplane journeys, 35 prepare rides, 2 boats and a handful of automobiles and vehicles. I’ve ridden on paved roads, volcanic rock, ice, snow, mud and stone. I’ve used the bike loaded and unloaded, with the non-obligatory suitcase/trailer and with out. And in any case of this, I really feel like I lastly have sufficient info to correctly evaluation the bike and provide you with my full evaluation.

So, right here it’s. My full evaluation of the Bike Friday New World Vacationer:

Selecting Your Elements And Deciding on Your Trip

Ordering a Bike Friday is a novel course of. The bikes, made by Inexperienced Gear Biking in Eurgene, Oregon, are, for essentially the most half, customized made. You will get one made to suit nearly any physique kind and with virtually any type of gear association you possibly can consider. You decide the gearing, the handlebar fashion, and the scale of the bike itself.

This practice arrange, nonetheless, does take time. In the event you’re ordering a Bike Friday and getting a customized constructed experience, it’s sensible to order with loads of time between the date you make your order and the day you intend to make use of the bicycle in your tour.

Bike Friday says the same old construct time on any of their bikes is 5-9 weeks and that if you place your order they gives you a “promise date”, which is a date on which they assure your experience will get to you.

My suggestion right here is that you just depart loads of time between the date your bike arrives and the date you depart in your tour. For some individuals, driving the small-wheeled bike could take a bit of getting used to. Bike Friday suggests you spend “just a few days getting acquainted together with your new Bike Friday” earlier than taking it out on an extended journey. However I feel that some individuals could require greater than only a few days, particularly if you mix the texture of a folding bike with the burden of a full-loaded bicycle.

After I ordered my bike, I used to be in a rush and determined to get a used inventory bike as a substitute of a customized constructed bike. This saved me a bit of cash, however didn’t get me the precise bike I needed.

The picture on the prime of this text reveals my New World Vacationer. As you possibly can see, I’ve flat handlebars with low-cost plastic shift grips. I can perceive why these type of shifters are placed on a folding bike just like the New World Vacationer (to avoid wasting house when packed), however they’re (in my view not less than) removed from very best for lengthy distance driving.

Moreover, I’d have most well-liked a distinct coloration bike (black or gun metallic grey maybe?) and opted for a 3rd chain ring within the entrance to assist get me and my loaded bike up over the lengthy steep hills any world vacationer is certain to come across.

However once more, because of this ordering your bike far prematurely is so vital. If I had deliberate out my journey to Aruba additional prematurely and ordered my bicycle at an earlier date, I’d have the bike I “actually” needed.

Buyer Service

An enormous a part of what makes an organization like Bike Friday (actually Inexperienced Gear Biking) so distinctive is that these bikes are, for essentially the most half, customized constructed. And due to this, the service one receives from the corporate must be phenomenal.

Firms that create inventory bikes and promote to bike shops world wide don’t have as a lot of a chance to excel within the customer support division as an organization like Bike Friday does.

In accordance with quite a few individuals I’ve talked to on-line, their impressions of the customer support at Bike Friday have been, for essentially the most half, stellar. I then again (and that is onerous for me to confess, as a result of I’m shut with quite a lot of individuals who work on the firm) really feel the customer support may use enchancment.

After I go to purchase a motorcycle from a small enterprise like Bike Friday, I need to really feel like they actually care about me, my adventures, and my total satisfaction with the bike I order. However on the time I ordered my bike, I by no means actually bought that feeling.

Perhaps as a result of they knew I used to be an skilled bicycle traveler and since I run the web site right here at, they didn’t really feel the necessity to deal with me the identical means they might deal with one in all their conventional prospects. However in actuality, they need to have handled me even higher. As a result of now, right here I’m, writing a evaluation the place I’ve to say I feel their customer support will not be as excessive because it might be.

Whereas the individuals at Bike Friday have accomplished nothing particularly to unsuitable me or make me really feel as if their firm is flawed not directly, I merely really feel that an organization that builds customized bikes ought to have a customer support crew that’s thus far above and past some other bike firm that it makes me really feel like my determination to do enterprise with them was the most effective determination I ever made. I really feel like they’ve a chance to be that type of a enterprise, however they aren’t but residing as much as it. If they may make that change, then I feel their gross sales numbers would skyrocket and everybody who ever does enterprise with them sooner or later can be extraordinarily glad.

Do you need to pedal extra?

riding a bike friday bicycle

One of many very first thing most individuals ask me once they see me on my Bike Friday is, “Don’t you need to pedal extra with a view to experience that factor?”

And the reply I at all times give them is simple: “No!”

No, you don’t should pedal extra. It rides very very like a standard 26 inch or 700c wheeled bike. In accordance with Bike Friday, “it’s all within the gearing.” The gears on a Bike Friday are set to match that of a full dimension bicycle, so one revolution on a folding bike matches (or almost matches) that of a full dimension bicycle.

So, no! You don’t should pedal extra on a Bike Friday.

Is It Twitchy?

The second massive query I’m always requested in regards to the bike is, “Does it really feel twitchy due to the smaller wheels?”

The reply right here is, “Kinda…. To a sure diploma.”

After I stepped onto the bike for the very first time, the bike did really feel a bit twitchy. It wasn’t as if I felt like I used to be going to fall over or something, however it did make me really feel as if I is likely to be a bear driving a unicycle.

That stated, the preliminary twitches go away after only a few minutes of driving. And after about 5 days, the twitch goes away virtually utterly. A lot so, that you just don’t actually discover it on flat stage roads.

Now that I’ve been touring with my Bike Friday for over 250+ days, I don’t really feel the the slightest bit twitchy on the bike.

The one time the small wheel dimension issues me is once I’m driving over massive, rocky cracks, which the smaller wheels usually tend to get caught in and be unable to roll over.

How does it really feel?

Those who have by no means ridden a folding bike earlier than often need to know, “What does it really feel like?” And I usually reply that query by explaining that the Bike Friday New World Vacationer (the way in which I’ve it configured with flat handlebars) feels very very like driving a mountain bike.

After you get used to the dealing with of the bike and the stares that one will get when driving round on a small-wheeled bicycle (extra on this in a minute), you really overlook that you’re driving a folding bike in any respect. I personally now not see my bike as a “folder.” It’s simply my bike! And it feels identical to my regular mountain bike again house. I don’t understand how else to clarify it.

It Appears to be like A Little Humorous

The very last thing it’s best to learn about driving a folding bike is that in some components of the world, the bike attracts unusual seems to be from individuals you cross on the highway.

In Switzerland and Austria, few individuals turned their heads once I rode previous on my Bike Friday. Folding bikes are pretty widespread in these international locations. However in Montenegro, for instance, adults and kids alike stopped and stared as I rode previous, questioning how I used to be transferring so rapidly on such an odd wanting bike.

Whenever you buy a folding bike like a Bike Friday, you need to understand that some individuals are going to gawk and stare (and sometimes make feedback about your bicycle). In the event you’re okay with that, then nice! However in order for you a motorcycle that doesn’t draw as a lot consideration, then a folding bike might not be your best option for you.

Folding Velocity

Bike Friday New World Tourist folding packed in suitcase travel case

The benefits of having a folding bike are apparent – particularly for the world traveler.

Having a motorcycle that folds permits you to journey by prepare, airplane, boat and car and, in lots of circumstances, keep away from paying the surplus baggage charges which are mostly charged to passengers touring with a full dimension bicycle.

The Bike Friday New World Vacationer excels on this division as a result of it’s a fully-equipped touring bicycle that folds up and matches inside an airline commonplace suitcase.

As I discussed earlier, I’ve now flown with the bike 4 separate instances and have but to have any issues with the bike on the airport. I haven’t been charged further for flying with the bike, nor have airport safety or baggage handlers given me any issues.

That stated, many airways are actually charging further for checked baggage (or not less than charging further for a second checked bag), so with the ability to fly a folding bike totally free could not final eternally. Nonetheless, I assume the prices related to flying a compact folding bike that matches inside a standard sized suitcase will probably be dramatically lower than the price of flying a full-size bicycle.

One of many largest causes I needed a folding bike within the first place was as a result of I’ve flown with my bicycle loads through the years… and I plan to fly with my bike much more sooner or later. I needed to have a motorcycle that I may carry with me on my travels and that didn’t require me paying lots of of additional {dollars} every time I flew. On this regards, the Bike Friday New World Vacationer is excellent.

That stated, the time it takes to get the bike folded down and into it’s journey suitcase will not be almost as nice.

After I first bought the bike, I used to be anticipating to get a car that folded down in 12 seconds or much less, very like Bike Friday’s Tikit folding bike. Nonetheless, the New World Vacationer isn’t any quick folder.

Taking the New World Vacationer aside requires Allen wrenches, about quarter-hour, and a bit of follow. You not solely should fold the bike in half, however you need to take away the entrance wheel, take off each the entrance and rear racks, take away the fenders and unscrew the water bottle cages from the body.

After I first bought the bike, I arrange my video digital camera and recorded the method of me placing the bike again into it’s journey case for the very first time. The outcome was an hour-and-a-half lengthy video of me struggling to wrestle the bike into place, lastly getting it inside its case solely after eradicating each water bottle cages from the body.

The subsequent time I attempted to get the bike in its case, it took not more than half-hour. And every time after that has taken me not more than 15.

Now that I’ve taken the bike on 35+ trains and quite a few airplane rides, I can pack and unpack the bike in only a matter of minutes. And surprisingly sufficient, the bike does a fairly good job of staying in gear and never getting too whacked misplaced, which might require me to make changes to the derailleur(s) every time I unpacked the bike.

The fold isn’t the quickest on the earth. However for a folding bike just like the New World Vacationer (which many individuals will use with each racks and fenders) perhaps it doesn’t have to be?

The Fold Joint

Bike Friday frame connector

Different evaluations of the Bike Friday New World Vacationer speak in regards to the fold joint (or hinge) being the weakest a part of the bike. However I disagree. From my experiences, the hinge itself is sort of robust.

The weakest a part of the New World Vacationer’s design, in my view not less than, will not be really the hinge the place the fold happens, however the place the place the again half of motorcycle locks into place with the entrance half of the bike by way of the short launch (See picture above).

It’s a weak level on the bike as a result of it’s troublesome to inform when the short launch is ready appropriately. Typically it feels as if you have got it set too tight… and different instances it feels too free.

With a bit of follow you uncover find out how to rapidly and simply set the short launch and correctly lock the rear half of the bike in place. However for brand new homeowners of a New World Vacationer, I may see how this is likely to be a bit worrisome.

Carrying Gear

touring bicycle that folds and is small

You’d assume that carrying a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, garments, meals, pc and all of your different journey gear on a tiny little folding bike can be virtually inconceivable. However this once more is an space the place the New World Vacationer excels.

Similar to my regular, full-size touring bike, the New World Vacationer is able to carrying panniers on each the back and front of the bike. As well as, an non-obligatory handlebar bag and/or trailer can be utilized as nicely.

There are two water bottle cages in-built, identical to most touring bikes in the marketplace. And in case you go for the foldable rear rack (like I did), then you definitely’ll save much more house when packing the bike inside its suitcase on journeys made by way of airplane, prepare or car.

In order for you a folding bike that may deal with the calls for of a fully-loaded bike tour (whether or not that be with using panniers or a trailer), then the New World Vacationer is for you!

The Suitcase/Trailer

Bike Friday trailer

I wasn’t certain if I needed to purchase the non-obligatory suitcase/trailer once I first bought the bike. I did find yourself getting one (a used one) nonetheless… primarily as a result of I needed to evaluation it right here on the positioning – as I believed it was a vital a part of telling the bike’s story.

I bought the suitcase and trailer, that are bought individually and price an excellent bit multiple would anticipate for a plastic suitcase and a home made aluminum trailer.

I used the suitcase/trailer on my journey to Aruba and here’s what I’ve to say about it:

As a suitcase, the Samsonite case that Bike Friday sells is nice. The bike matches proper inside and airport officers have by no means questioned me about it or it’s contents.

That stated, the suitcase as a trailer, is a distinct story.

My experiences pulling the trailer in Aruba left me in a state of worry. On slender windy roads with tons of site visitors and no shoulders, the extensive “journey case” (as Bike Friday calls it) was not solely a hindrance to my driving, however it brought about automobiles to gradual behind me earlier than swerving into oncoming site visitors in an try and get round me and my bike.

By the point I arrived at my resort (solely 6 miles from the airport) I used to be pondering to myself, “There isn’t any means I may ever think about myself pulling this trailer behind my bike for days on finish!”

There have been two causes the Bike Friday trailer left me in such a damaging state.

The primary motive I don’t just like the suitcase as a trailer is as a result of it’s simply too extensive. It stands proud into site visitors. On slender roads with no shoulders, the trailer requires you to experience virtually utterly within the lane, forcing automobiles to return to a close to cease earlier than scooting round you. That is simply plain harmful… and one thing you don’t expertise when driving with panniers or with a extra slender trailer, like a BOB.

The opposite motive I don’t just like the trailer as a complete is that it’s simply too flimsy. It’s not likely made to be a motorcycle trailer. It’s, actually, only a suitcase, which has been bolted to a home made aluminum body with two wheels on it.

It’s an amazing thought and works splendidly for brief journeys on bike paths or roads with extensive shoulders. However in case you are contemplating using the suitcase/trailer as the final word round-the-world baggage transport system, I’d encourage you to assume once more.

Trains, Planes, Boats and Cars

folded Bike Friday on train

I’ve touched on this a bit of already, however let me reiterate. The Bike Friday New World Vacationer is made for world journey. In the event you journey loads by airplane, prepare or boat, the New World Vacationer would possibly simply be the proper bike for you.

With reference to saving cash when touring by airplane, prepare or boat, the Bike Friday has exceeded my expectations. I’ve but to pay further for the bike on an airplane. and I’ve solely needed to pay for the bike on three completely different trains in Europe (a complete of lower than $50 for all of these three tickets).

That stated, a few of the trains and boats I’ve run into right here in Europe didn’t permit bicycles of any variety – whether or not they have been folders or not. And although that was the case, I used to be capable of wiggle my means onto these numerous modes of transport, just because I had a folding bike and never a full sized rig.

Aside from these two incidents, touring with the Bike Friday has been a breeze.

The massive query now’s this: “Would I like to recommend the Bike Friday New World Vacationer to you?“

Earlier than I reply that, let me let you know what I’d change if I have been to buy my Bike Friday another time.

What would I modify?

If I have been to alter something in regards to the new World Vacationer that I’ve now, I’d:

Add a 3rd chain ring to the entrance of the bike, permitting me to extra simply climb my means up the steep inclines any world traveler is certain to come across. I didn’t order a motorcycle with this selection, however you possibly can! Bike Friday does promote New World Vacationers with three entrance chain rings.
Swap out the flat handlebars and twist shifters for one thing just like the STI Touring Bars and Shimano STI lever shifters that Bike Friday advertises on their web site.

Would I like to recommend the Bike Friday New World Vacationer?

“Sure! I’d suggest the Bike Friday New World Vacationer.”

The bike does take some getting used to and since it’s a folding bike, it’s not going to attraction to everybody.

However in case you are somebody who travels loads and desires to take a bicycle with you in your travels, then this can be a nice bike for doing that. In order for you a motorcycle that you should utilize on lengthy distance excursions and deal with identical to some other loaded touring bike, then the New World Vacationer is a superb decide. And in order for you a motorcycle that may deal with every kind of circumstances, from easy paved roads to rocky, ice coated slicks, then the New World Vacationer is an implausible selection.

I’ve acquired quite a lot of emails asking me, “In the event you may purchase only one bicycle, would the New World Vacationer be the one?”

My reply: “Most likely not.”

For the previous year-and-a-half, the Bike Friday New World Vacationer has been my one and solely bicycle. I’ve ridden it by means of every kind of climate, on all kinds of roads, and traveled with it on quite a few sorts of public transport. However confronted with the choice of by no means driving one other bike ever once more, I don’t assume I’d go fairly that far.

The New World Vacationer is certainly an amazing bicycle, however full-size bicycles actually have their place on the earth. For some, the New World Vacationer would possibly simply be the final word journey bike. For others, like me, it will likely be simply one of many many bicycles in an extended line of bikes that make up my arsenal of non-motorized transport.

Photographs From The Street

Lastly, I’ve determined to share a few of my Bike Friday New World Vacationer photographs with you. These are only a few of the hundreds of photographs I’ve taken over the previous yr whereas touring with my bike. Take pleasure in!

red bike friday new world tourist folding bicycle in swiss forest

Biking by means of the woods within the Swiss countryside.

red Bike Friday folding bicycle

The pink paint of my bike almost matches the paint on the bench.

man in ski clothing next to loaded bike friday touring bicycle

Touring within the winter required me to put on a face masks and ski gloves virtually on a regular basis.

Bike Friday New World Tourist folding bicycle handlebars in the snow

Touring over ice and snow with my Bike Friday New World Vacationer.

Darren Alff sits next to his Bike Friday New World Tourist

My fully-loaded bicycle and I taking a break within the woods.

loaded Bike Friday folding bicycle on train with panniers

Touring by prepare with my fully-loaded bike.

folded Bike Friday New World Tourist on train

The Bike Friday New World Vacationer folded and saved on an Austrian Practice.

bike-friday-new-world-tourist review

On a day experience outdoors Schonberg Palace in Vienna, Austria.

bike friday folding bicycle inside hotel room

As a result of the bike seems to be so small, my resort in Salzburg had no drawback with me bringing it up into my room.

red bike friday new world tourist on bridge in austria

Crossing a bridge in Innsbruck, Austria.

folded bike friday bicycle at train station with four panniers

The New World Vacationer folded up and ready to board a prepare certain for Slovenia.

Bike Friday Darren Alff profile photo

Sitting on the steps outdoors a Croatian church with my New World Vacationer.

light touring with bike friday new world tourist

My Bike Friday in Aruba – 2008

When you have any questions on Bike Friday, the New World Vacationer, or something I’ve talked about on this evaluation, simply depart a remark beneath and I’ll reply shortly.


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