Bicycles

The Ultimate Bike Friday New World Tourist Review

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The Bike Friday New World Tourist is thought by some to be the ultimate travel bike for long distance tourists. It’s small wheel base, low-step over feature, fully-loaded capabilities and its ability to fold up and fit inside an airline standard suitcase (thus saving you huge amounts of money when flying with your bicycle) are certainly appealing features for any world traveler.

But does the bike really live up to its reputation? That’s what I set out to see!

Here’s my story: I purchased a Bike Friday New World Tourist in the summer of 2008 and used it on a short 8-day trip to the island of Aruba in the Caribbean Sea. I had purchased the bike, planning to use it on similar short trips and never planned on using the small-wheeled folding bike as my ultimate travel vehicle for a 9-month tour through central and eastern Europe. But that’s exactly what happened.

Since purchasing my New World Tourist in mid-2008, I’ve been riding the bike almost every single day since then. In that time, I’ve spent more than 250 days on the bike, traveled with it on 4 airplane trips, 35 train rides, 2 boats and a handful of cars and trucks. I’ve ridden on paved roads, volcanic rock, ice, snow, mud and stone. I’ve used the bike loaded and unloaded, with the optional suitcase/trailer and without. And after all of this, I feel like I finally have enough information to properly review the bike and give you my full assessment.

So, here it is. My complete review of the Bike Friday New World Tourist:

Ordering Your Bike

Picking Your Parts And Selecting Your Ride

Ordering a Bike Friday is a unique process. The bikes, made by Green Gear Cycling in Eurgene, Oregon, are, for the most part, custom made. You can get one made to fit just about any body type and with practically any kind of gear arrangement you can think of. You pick the gearing, the handlebar style, and the size of the bike itself.

This custom set up, however, does take time. If you’re ordering a Bike Friday and getting a custom built ride, it’s wise to order with plenty of time between the date you make your order and the day you plan to use the bicycle on your tour.

Bike Friday says the usual build time on any of their bikes is 5-9 weeks and that when you place your order they will give you a “promise date”, which is a date on which they guarantee your ride will get to you.

My recommendation here is that you leave plenty of time between the date your bike arrives and the date you depart on your tour. For some people, riding the small-wheeled bike may take a little getting used to. Bike Friday suggests you spend “a few days getting acquainted with your new Bike Friday” before taking it out on a long trip. But I think that some people may require more than just a few days, especially when you combine the feel of a folding bike with the weight of a full-loaded bicycle.

When I ordered my bike, I was in a rush and decided to get a used stock bike instead of a custom built bike. This saved me a little money, but didn’t get me the exact bike I wanted.

The photo at the top of this article shows my New World Tourist. As you can see, I have flat handlebars with cheap plastic shift grips. I can understand why these kind of shifters are put on a folding bike like the New World Tourist (to save space when packed), but they are (in my opinion at least) far from ideal for long distance riding.

Additionally, I would have preferred a different color bike (black or gun metal gray perhaps?) and opted for a third chain ring in the front to help get me and my loaded bike up over the long steep hills any world tourist is sure to encounter.

But again, this is why ordering your bike far in advance is so important. If I had planned out my trip to Aruba further in advance and ordered my bicycle at an earlier date, I would have the bike I “really” wanted.

Customer Service

A big part of what makes a company like Bike Friday (really Green Gear Cycling) so unique is that these bikes are, for the most part, custom built. And because of this, the service one receives from the company needs to be phenomenal.

Companies that create stock bikes and sell to bike stores around the world don’t have as much of an opportunity to excel in the customer service department as a company like Bike Friday does.

According to numerous people I’ve talked to online, their impressions of the customer service at Bike Friday were, for the most part, stellar. I on the other hand (and this is hard for me to admit, because I am close with a number of people who work at the company) feel the customer service could use improvement.

When I go to buy a bike from a small business like Bike Friday, I want to feel like they really care about me, my adventures, and my overall satisfaction with the bike I order. But at the time I ordered my bike, I never really got that feeling.

Maybe because they knew I was an experienced bicycle traveler and because I run the website here at BicycleTouringPro.com, they didn’t feel the need to treat me the same way they would treat one of their traditional customers. But in reality, they should have treated me even better. Because now, here I am, writing a review where I have to say I think their customer service is not as high as it could be.

While the people at Bike Friday have done nothing in particular to wrong me or make me feel as though their company is flawed in some way, I simply feel that a company that builds custom bikes should have a customer service team that is so far above and beyond any other bike company that it makes me feel like my decision to do business with them was the best decision I ever made. I feel like they have an opportunity to be that kind of a business, but they aren’t yet living up to it. If they could make that change, then I think their sales numbers would skyrocket and everyone who ever does business with them in the future would be extremely happy.

First Impressions

Do you have to pedal more?

One of the first thing most people ask me when they see me on my Bike Friday is, “Don’t you have to pedal more in order to ride that thing?”

And the answer I always give them is easy: “No!”

No, you don’t have to pedal more. It rides very much like a normal 26 inch or 700c wheeled bike. According to Bike Friday, “it’s all in the gearing.” The gears on a Bike Friday are set to match that of a full size bicycle, so one revolution on a folding bike matches (or nearly matches) that of a full size bicycle.

So, no! You don’t have to pedal more on a Bike Friday.

Is It Twitchy?

The second big question I am constantly asked about the bike is, “Does it feel twitchy because of the smaller wheels?”

The answer here is, “Kinda…. To a certain degree.”

When I stepped onto the bike for the very first time, the bike did feel a bit twitchy. It wasn’t as though I felt like I was going to fall over or anything, but it did make me feel as though I might be a bear riding a unicycle.

That said, the initial twitches go away after just a few minutes of riding. And after about 5 days, the twitch goes away almost completely. So much so, that you don’t really notice it on flat level roads.

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

The only time the small wheel size concerns me is when I’m riding over big, rocky cracks, which the smaller wheels are more likely to get caught in and be unable to roll over.

How does it feel?

Those that have never ridden a folding bike before usually want to know, “What does it feel like?” And I typically answer that question by explaining that the Bike Friday New World Tourist (the way I have it configured with flat handlebars) feels very much like riding a mountain bike.

After you get used to the handling of the bike and the stares that one gets when riding around on a small-wheeled bicycle (more on this in a minute), you actually forget that you are riding a folding bike at all. I personally no longer see my bike as a “folder.” It’s just my bike! And it feels just like my normal mountain bike back home. I don’t know how else to explain it.

It Looks A Little Funny

The last thing you should know about riding a folding bike is that in some parts of the world, the bike attracts strange looks from people you pass on the road.

In Switzerland and Austria, few people turned their heads when I rode past on my Bike Friday. Folding bikes are fairly common in these countries. But in Montenegro, for example, adults and children alike stopped and stared as I rode past, wondering how I was moving so quickly on such a strange looking bike.

When you purchase a folding bike like a Bike Friday, you have to realize that some people are going to gawk and stare (and occasionally make comments about your bicycle). If you’re okay with that, then great! But if you want a bike that doesn’t draw as much attention, then a folding bike may not be the best choice for you.

Experiences From The Road

Folding Speed

The advantages of having a folding bike are obvious – especially for the world traveler.

Having a bike that folds allows you to travel by train, plane, boat and automobile and, in many cases, avoid paying the excess baggage fees that are most commonly charged to passengers traveling with a full size bicycle.

The Bike Friday New World Tourist excels in this department because it is a fully-equipped touring bicycle that folds up and fits inside an airline standard suitcase.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve now flown with the bike four separate times and have yet to have any problems with the bike at the airport. I haven’t been charged extra for flying with the bike, nor have airport security or baggage handlers given me any problems.

That said, many airlines are now charging extra for checked baggage (or at least charging extra for a second checked bag), so being able to fly a folding bike for free may not last forever. However, I assume the costs associated with flying a compact folding bike that fits inside a normal sized suitcase will be dramatically less than the cost of flying a full-size bicycle.

One of the biggest reasons I wanted a folding bike in the first place was because I’ve flown with my bicycle a lot over the years… and I plan to fly with my bike a lot more in the future. I wanted to have a bike that I could bring with me on my travels and that did not require me paying hundreds of extra dollars each time I flew. In this regards, the Bike Friday New World Tourist is superb.

That said, the time it takes to get the bike folded down and into it’s travel suitcase is not nearly as great.

When I first purchased the bike, I was expecting to get a vehicle that folded down in 12 seconds or less, much like Bike Friday’s Tikit folding bike. However, the New World Tourist is no fast folder.

Taking the New World Tourist apart requires Allen wrenches, about 15 minutes, and a little practice. You not only have to fold the bike in half, but you have to remove the front wheel, take off both the front and rear racks, remove the fenders and unscrew the water bottle cages from the frame.

When I first purchased the bike, I set up my video camera and recorded the process of me putting the bike back into it’s travel case for the very first time. The result was an hour-and-a-half long video of me struggling to wrestle the bike into place, finally getting it inside its case only after removing both water bottle cages from the frame.

The next time I tried to get the bike in its case, it took no more than 30 minutes. And each time after that has taken me no more than 15.

Now that I’ve taken the bike on 35+ trains and numerous plane rides, I can pack and unpack the bike in just a matter of minutes. And surprisingly enough, the bike does a pretty good job of staying in gear and not getting too whacked out of place, which would require me to make adjustments to the derailleur(s) each and every time I unpacked the bike.

The fold isn’t the quickest in the world. But for a folding bike like the New World Tourist (which many people will use with both racks and fenders) maybe it doesn’t need to be?

The Fold Joint

Other reviews of the Bike Friday New World Tourist talk about the fold joint (or hinge) being the weakest part of the bike. But I disagree. From my experiences, the hinge itself is quite strong.

The weakest part of the New World Tourist’s design, in my opinion at least, is not actually the hinge where the fold occurs, but the place where the back half of bike locks into place with the front half of the bike via the quick release (See photo above).

It’s a weak point on the bike because it’s difficult to tell when the quick release is set correctly. Sometimes it feels as though you have it set too tight… and other times it feels too loose.

With a little practice you discover how to quickly and easily set the quick release and properly lock the rear half of the bike in place. But for new owners of a New World Tourist, I could see how this might be a bit worrisome.

Carrying Gear

You would think that carrying a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, clothes, food, computer and all your other travel gear on a tiny little folding bike would be almost impossible. But this again is an area where the New World Tourist excels.

Just like my normal, full-size touring bike, the New World Tourist is capable of carrying panniers on both the front and back of the bike. In addition, an optional handlebar bag and/or trailer can be used as well.

There are two water bottle cages built in, just like most touring bikes on the market. And if you opt for the foldable rear rack (like I did), then you’ll save even more space when packing the bike inside its suitcase on trips made via plane, train or automobile.

If you want a folding bike that can handle the demands of a fully-loaded bike tour (whether that be with the use of panniers or a trailer), then the New World Tourist is for you!

The Suitcase/Trailer

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to buy the optional suitcase/trailer when I first purchased the bike. I did end up getting one (a used one) however… mainly because I wanted to review it here on the site – as I believed it was a crucial part of telling the bike’s story.

I purchased the suitcase and trailer, which are sold separately and cost a good bit more than one would expect for a plastic suitcase and a homemade aluminum trailer.

I used the suitcase/trailer on my trip to Aruba and here is what I have to say about it:

As a suitcase, the Samsonite case that Bike Friday sells is great. The bike fits right inside and airport officials have never questioned me about it or it’s contents.

That said, the suitcase as a trailer, is a different story.

My experiences pulling the trailer in Aruba left me in a state of fear. On narrow windy roads with tons of traffic and no shoulders, the wide “travelcase” (as Bike Friday calls it) was not only a hindrance to my riding, but it caused cars to slow behind me before swerving into oncoming traffic in an attempt to get around me and my bike.

By the time I arrived at my hotel (only 6 miles from the airport) I was thinking to myself, “There is no way I could ever imagine myself pulling this trailer behind my bike for days on end!”

There were two reasons the Bike Friday trailer left me in such a negative state.

The first reason I don’t like the suitcase as a trailer is because it is just too wide. It sticks out into traffic. On narrow roads with no shoulders, the trailer requires you to ride almost completely in the lane, forcing cars to come to a near stop before scooting around you. This is just plain dangerous… and something you don’t experience when riding with panniers or with a more narrow trailer, like a BOB.

The other reason I don’t like the trailer as a whole is that it is just too flimsy. It’s not really made to be a bike trailer. It is, in fact, just a suitcase, which has been bolted to a homemade aluminum frame with two wheels on it.

It’s a great idea and works wonderfully for short trips on bike paths or roads with wide shoulders. But if you are considering the use of the suitcase/trailer as the ultimate round-the-world luggage transport system, I’d encourage you to think again.

Trains, Planes, Boats and Automobiles

I’ve touched on this a little already, but let me reiterate. The Bike Friday New World Tourist is made for world travel. If you travel a lot by plane, train or boat, the New World Tourist might just be the perfect bike for you.

In regards to saving money when traveling by plane, train or boat, the Bike Friday has exceeded my expectations. I’ve yet to pay extra for the bike on an airplane. and I’ve only had to pay for the bike on three different trains in Europe (a total of less than $50 for all of those three tickets).

That said, some of the trains and boats I’ve run into here in Europe did not allow bicycles of any kind – whether they were folders or not. And even though that was the case, I was able to wiggle my way onto these various modes of transport, simply because I had a folding bike and not a full sized rig.

Other than those two incidents, traveling with the Bike Friday has been a breeze.

Summary

The big question now is this: “Would I recommend the Bike Friday New World Tourist to you?“

Before I answer that, let me tell you what I would change if I were to purchase my Bike Friday all over again.

What would I change?

If I were to change anything about the new World Tourist that I have now, I would:

  1. Add a third chain ring to the front of the bike, allowing me to more easily climb my way up the steep inclines any world traveler is sure to encounter. I didn’t order a bike with this option, but you can! Bike Friday does sell New World Tourists with three front chain rings.
  2. Swap out the flat handlebars and twist shifters for something like the STI Touring Bars and Shimano STI lever shifters that Bike Friday advertises on their site.

So, would I recommend it?

“Yes! I would recommend the Bike Friday New World Tourist”

The bike does take some getting used to and because it is a folding bike, it’s not going to appeal to everyone.

But if you are someone who travels a lot and wants to take a bicycle with you on your travels, then this is a great bike for doing that. If you want a bike that you can use on long distance tours and treat just like any other loaded touring bike, then the New World Tourist is an excellent pick. And if you want a bike that can handle all kinds of conditions, from smooth paved roads to rocky, ice covered slicks, then the New World Tourist is an fantastic choice.

I’ve received a number of emails asking me, “If you could buy just one bicycle, would the New World Tourist be the one?”

My answer: “Maybe?”

For the past year-and-a-half, the Bike Friday New World Tourist has been my one and only bicycle. I’ve ridden it through all kinds of weather, on all sorts of roads, and traveled with it on numerous kinds of public transport. But faced with the decision of never riding another bike ever again, I don’t think I’d go quite that far.

The New World Tourist is indeed a great bicycle, but full-size bicycles certainly have their place in the world. For some, the New World Tourist might just be the ultimate travel bike. For others, like me, it will be just one of the many bicycles in a long line of bikes that make up my arsenal of non-motorized transport.

Photos From The Road

Finally, I’ve decided to share some of my Bike Friday New World Tourist photos with you. These are just a few of the thousands of photos I have taken over the past year while traveling with my bike. Enjoy!

Here I am in the snow with my Bike Friday New World Tourist outside Luzern, Switzerland.

Cycling through the woods in the Swiss countryside.

The red paint of my bike nearly matches the paint on the bench.

The silhouette of me and my bike while on a day ride around Lake Luzern – Switzerland.

Traveling in the winter required me to wear a face mask and ski gloves almost all the time.

Stealth camping in the forests of Switzerland.

Traveling over ice and snow with my Bike Friday New World Tourist.

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

Crossing a Swiss river in the middle of winter.

Exploring Austria on my New World Tourist.

Traveling by train with my fully-loaded bike.

The Bike Friday New World Tourist folded and stored on an Austrian Train.

Cycling through Austria in the dark.

On a day ride outside Schonberg Palace in Vienna, Austria.

I cycled to the Danube River in Vienna, Austria and spent the day working on my computer.

Because the bike looks so small, my hotel in Salzburg had no problem with me bringing it up into my room.

Crossing a bridge in Innsbruck, Austria.

The New World Tourist folded up and waiting to board a train bound for Slovenia.

My fully-loaded New World Tourist in Split, Croaita.
About to boat a boat bound for the island of Korcula.

Waiting to get on the ferry boat that would take me and my bike from Korcula to Orebic, Croatia.

I spent many of my days in Croatia cycling to beach, sitting in the sand, and reading.

Using my bike as a laundry rack to dry my clothes in the Croatian sun.

Sitting on the strairs outside a Croatian church with my New World Tourist.

Cycling down the Croatian coastline north of Orebic.

At the peak of a mountain pass in Croatia.

My New World Tourist loaded with panniers and gear cycling down the Croatia coastline.

The Bike Friday New World Tourist in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

My Bike Friday in Aruba – 2008

If you have any questions about Bike Friday, the New World Tourist, or anything I’ve mentioned in this review, just leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I possibly can!

About Darren Alff

Darren Alff is a world-renowned authority on bicycle touring and is the founder of BicycleTouringPro.com - the world's most popular bicycle touring website and how-to information source. He is the author of "The Bicycle Touring Blueprint" and three additional cycling books. Darren has dedicated his life to helping others conduct the bicycle tour of their dreams. His websites, books, email newsletter, products and public appearances now inspire and assist hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world.

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88 Comments

  1. Nick Andrew

    June 30, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Do you find any more flex in the frame compared to a standard diamond frame bike…?? (I notice that in my brompton a lot), and is your position on the bike more upright than on normal touring bikes…??

    I was surprised that you are suggeting that this is an excellent pick for pure cycling tours as well as tours that will always include plane/train/boat trips that necessitate bikes being packd away….. or at least that’s how I read the sentence…. “If you want a bike that you can use on long distance tours and treat just like any other loaded touring bike, then the New World Tourist is an excellent pick. And if you want a bike that can handle all kinds of conditions, from smooth paved roads to rocky, ice covered slicks, then the New World Tourist is an fantastic choice.”…. it seems to me that the Bike Friday should not be a serious consideration for a pure cycling tour, but only for cycle-travelling type tours… would you agree…?

  2. Chris Jones

    July 1, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Hi there Darren, i travel a bit with the suitcase trailer and love it for its low profile and ease of getting at stuff inside. If you look at your photo of you in Switzerland sitting with ski gloves and face mask, you will notice that your Bike Friday with panniers in the background is probably as wide or a smidge wider than if you had the trailor attached. So some of the downside of the trailor that you mention in terms of width may not be valid, cheers, cj

  3. Norm Michaels

    July 2, 2009 at 6:02 am

    Love all the fantastic Pictures from the tour…To me Pics enhance the quality of most author’s stories by a factor of ten. As for the Bike Friday review…lets just say we see many items differently about not only the Bike but also about customer service offered from “Companies that create stock bikes”

    “D.A. say’s
    Customer Service
    Companies that create stock bikes and sell to bike stores around the world don’t have as much of an opportunity to excel in the customer service department as a company like Bike Friday does.”

    I find the above statement completely false in reality. Large “stock bike companies” like a C-dale, Trek and many other leaders work hard with stocking LBS dealers to make customer’s happy in every way. A prime example would be bike fit, It’s this working relationship between “stock bike companies” and LBS dealers which allows a free stem change, handle bar or seat change sometimes many weeks after the sale all in an effort from the “stock bike company” to keep customer service at high levels and to promote repeat sales at the LBS. Of course if a customer wants to upgrade then dollar charges do apply.

    I find on ALL Bike Friday models that steering geometry needs improvement and has for many years…I tell new riders to relax and not “Death Grip” the handle bars…this reduces the highly technical “Twitchy” feel. However when encountering any chuckholes or uneven pathway the tendency for the rider is to tighten the grip and make handling even worse while navigating the terrain. I don’t care what any review says…small wheels have way to many draw backs for long touring on anything less than smooth surfaces: and lets not even get into things like rolling resistance, tire patch area, Hub bearing wear rates and the list goes on.

    “D.A. say’s
    How does it feel?

    Those that have never ridden a folding bike before usually want to know, “What does it feel like?” And I typically answer that question by explaining that the Bike Friday New World Tourist (the way I have it configured with flat handlebars) feels very much like riding a mountain bike.

    After you get used to the handling of the bike and the stares that one gets when riding around on a small-wheeled bicycle (more on this in a minute), you actually forget that you are riding a folding bike at all. I personally no longer see my bike as a “folder.” It’s just my bike! And it feels just like my normal mountain bike back home. I don’t know how else to explain it.”

    My simple reply to the above paragraphs is that if any MTB or Road bike felt like the Bike Friday’s it would not be in my stable for long tours even if others do it. You only need ask one question…if the folders with small wheels are so great then why is the market not huge compared to the relatively new 29er movement in the States which is even getting ready to burst in opposition Europe?

    Folders with small wheels hold a place in riding for well known reasons and I don’t mean to bash them if they get people riding.

    I appreciate the time in writing this review and really enjoy the fact you can make a living from internet marketing.

    On an off Topic note: It’s one thing to say you want to compete in the GDR next year but an entirely different animal to commit to Extreme Endurance Racing and the training required…I wish you well and See you on the race circuits?

    Norm Michaels.

  4. Darren Alff

    July 2, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Chris,

    In regards to the width of the trailer, I understand that the difference between the width of the trailer and that of a full set of panniers is not all that different.

    The difference, however, is that with a two wheeled trailer on narrow roads with no shoulder, the far right wheel forces you to ride several inches further out into the lane.

    I’ve created the image below to demostate my point.

    The bicycle on the left is using a set of panniers. Because it only has two wheels, it can hug the shoulder of the road and ride with the panniers hanging off the shoulder. The bike as a whole only sticks out a few inches into the lane.

    The bicycle on the right, however, is pulling a two-wheeled trailer. While the bicycle wheels are centered in the middle of the trailer, the right wheel of the trailer pushes the bike out into the lane. The left wheel of the trailer, therefore, is pushed even further out into the lane.

    And this is, in my opinion, the biggest disadvantage of any two-wheeled trailer. The difference in width between a full set of panniers and that of a trailer may not be all that different, but it is the wheels on the outside of the trailer that, when used on a road with no shoulders, can make for a dangerous situation.

    This is what I was refering to in the review… and I stick with what I’ve said. I hope this helps to clarify.

  5. Darren Alff

    July 2, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Norm, I’m not sure if I agree with or completely understand what you are saying in regards to the Bike Friday and the comments I made about the bike in this review… so I’m not even going to respond.

    But in regards to my Twitter comment about one-day wishing to complete the Great Divide Mountain Bike race, I think you should be careful when telling other people what they are and are not capable of. You will be surprised what people are capable of sometimes. Give people a chance… and they will amaze you!

    I never said I was going to become a bicycle racer. And I have no interest in ever becoming one. I may do some races in the future, but I never said I was going to win. I would do these things more for fun than for anything else. Sorry if you misread that somehow.

  6. Darren Alff

    July 2, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Nick,

    I see how you could have read it that way. And yes, I agree with you. I do think that the Bike Friday would be better for “cycle travel” rather than a pure “bicycle tour”.

    I personally would not buy a folding bike if I were just to use it at home and never travel with the bike on a plane, train or boat. But because I do travel so much on planes, trains and boats, the Bike Friday New World Tourist is an excellent choice, because it can do everything my full-size bike can do.

    That is what I was trying to say. I was trying to say that if you want a bike that you can travel with and that is capable of doing everything a full size touring bike can, then the New World Tourist is one bike that can do exactly that.

    Does that make sense? I hope so.

  7. Nick Andrew

    July 3, 2009 at 12:28 am

    Darren,

    thanks for the reply…. your reply does make more sense. I didn’t think the act that this bike was for bike travelling rather than bike touring was properly explained in your article, which may have been a part of the point that Norm was making also. This should be made clear to readers of this website, since the title of the website is bicycleTOURINGpro, but the bike that you are recommending is for bicycle TRAVELLING…. and is not the best bike for a bike tour by a long way, as it is a compromise of foldability and useability.

    A proper explanation of the pros and cons of travelling with a folding/non-folding bike might have also helped to explain this.

    Lastly, whilst I understand that this is your website and I continue to get a lot of useful information from it, I do have to second Norms opinion that the article did come across as a piece of marketing material… whether it was meant that way or not, and I presume not as I would like to think that the articles on here are unbiased… that was how it read to me as well.

    Nick.

  8. Darren Alff

    July 3, 2009 at 12:58 am

    Nick,

    Thanks for your follow up here. And I never answered your first two questions so here it is:

    1) Yes, the bike does have more flex than my traditional touring bike. A side to side flex. Not an up and down flex. I noticed this more at first. Now I don’t really notice it at all.

    2) Yes, the bike does have a more upright riding postion than my traditional touring bike. This is why I said it feels more like riding a mountain bike. But according the the company, they can create your bike with nearly any adjustment you would like. So I’m sure if it I had ordered a more custom bike or a bike with dropped handlebars I could be leaning over a whole lot more if that is what I wanted.

    Finally, I’m sorry if the article seemed to come across as a piece of marketing material. I certainly didn’t mean for it to come across that way, but overall I am really pleased with the bike, so maybe that’s why it came across like that.

    Actually, I thought I came across as too harsh in some areas where I discuss the negative aspects of the bike (as well as the customer service of the company). So I’m a little surprised I guess.

    As far as me explaining the difference between “bicycle touring” and “bicycle travel”, I’m not sure it matters all that much. I say time and tie again throughout the review that I got the bike because I travel on planes so much… so I think I make the point that I bought this bike for trips where I would be traveling on a plane or train and wanted to bring a bike with me.

    That said, I think if someone did get a New World Tourist for a traditional bike tour, they would be more than fine. I don’t think they are comprimising all that much by riding a folder. You seem to think it is a comprimise in some way to get a folding bike… but I don’t really think it is. The biggest comprimise is that you get so many funny looks from people. Otherwise, the bike is capable of just about everything a full-size bike is capable of. It rides a little differently, but it can cover the same distance and get you to your final location – just like a big bike can.

  9. Ron Taylor

    July 4, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Darren;

    I fi read it right, you like your NWT. I would have suggested you go with the Pocket Llama or Air Llama. The NWT is a great bike but might limit your options. I think I mentioned before (previous post) that I have owned a Pocket Llama since 1993. Since then I have had two minor breaks in the frame. Both times the BF guys have rushed to get me back on the road within a week or two (it took that long to ship the frame back and forth). The second time was 10 days before the 2006 Tour de Wyoming and they rushed it to me to ride that trip. Also, the frame is gauranteed for life…so no charge. I think their customer service is top notch.

    As to the trailer, I have travelled all over, thousands of mile and much of it with the trailer. it does stick out a bit but I have never had any problems or experienced any trepidation about narrow roads or cars too close. The trailer is not for everyone but it works great for me. Also I take some exception to the term “homemade” when referring to the trailer. I think it is a work of brilliant engineering and besides, the suitcase has always been a waterproof option that has ALWAYS kept my stuff dry on tour.

    I am completely sold on my Llama and commute with it and have toured with it everywhere…it is my primary bike. One more tip; I had a touring bike that I loved because its geometry fit me perfectly and BF build my llama to that exact geometry…just another option for people buying a custom bike.

  10. B-rad

    July 20, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Hi Darren,
    I find it interesting that you decided not to use the TravelCase trailer after your experience in Aruba. I’ve been considering the purchase of a NWT because I’d like to be able to travel with a bike and avoid airline fees. However, I’m not sold on the idea of using the suitcase/trailer either – I’d prefer to go with a set of panniers, especially if doing a light-weight, hostel-hopping trip. But then you have a problem: if you don’t use the suitcase, what do you pack the bike in for air travel that still gives you the advantages of a BikeFriday? If you do use the suitcase, where do you store it upon arriving at the beginning of you cycle-trip? And what if you don’t plan to fly home from the same city/airport?
    Back to cardboard boxes?

    How did you pack and transport your bike on your European trip, if you didn’t use the suitcase?

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with your NWT!

  11. ren beckerleg

    August 1, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Hello I liked your write up . where could I get more info. and may be a stockist in the uk. Cornwall. or catalouge. thanks . Ren

  12. Darren Alff

    August 2, 2009 at 2:19 am

    Ren, this page on the Bike Friday website lists all their dealers worldwide.

    http://community.bikefriday.com/DealerLocator

    It looks like there are a few in the UK

  13. Galfromdownunder (upover, though)

    August 4, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    What can I say – I work for BF now, after traveling/touring/swanning around in 4 countries over 7 years, but I certainly don’t do it for the money (god forbid – in fact, make that true for ANYONE who works in the bike industry that isn’t connected to Lance).

    In the words of co-founder Alan Scholz “Not everyone is meant to have a Bike Friday.”

    In the words of a customer, “When I don’t want anyone to talk to me, I ride my [insert any full-sized bike brand here]“.

    In the words of people who are hard to fit – petite, seniors, otherly-abled, the average height ‘merican woman and most Asians like me etc – read the article Darren asked me to write a while ago: http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/a-little-wheel-goes-a-long-way-why-folders-are-the-cars-of-the-future/

    In the words of some pretty famous people who can ride whatever they durn well please and are probably pretty obsessed with looking cool too: http://www.bikefriday.com/famous

    So if any of the above resonates with you, consider the non-obvious before going for the obvious. Otherwise, ride whatever turns your crank.

    Oh, and I like the trailer sticking out in the road. It makes vehicles steer a wider berth around me. I have many, many miles to prove it. Except in NY traffic if course, Then, everyone’s squeezing everyone off the road. But only at 6-7 mph.

    http://www.galfromdownunder.com/movies/bikinginnyc

  14. ftmsb

    August 5, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    I second B-rad’s question/comment above from July 20. Does anyone have experience or suggestions as to what to do with the travel case if you are riding with paniers and not pulling the case as a trailer? Particularly if returning from a different airport than from where you arrive? If returning from the same airport, I suppose you can find a locker or baggage check that might work, but otherwise it seems you are stuck hauling a suitcase whether you want to or not.

    Thanks for taking the time to write up your experience with the bike.

  15. Darren Alff

    August 5, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    B-rad and ftmsb,

    As far as transporting the bike without the suitcase goes, yes, I think that brings us back to cardboard bike boxes. However, I don’t think that’s really all that bad. In fact, I think it’s a whole lot better than having to carry a suitcase around and/or tow the trailer behind you on an extended trip.

    For my current trip in Europe, I transported my bike to Switzerland in a cardboard bike box I got for free from my local bike shop. I cut the box down to size so it not only held my bike, but also fit the airline regulations for a standard piece of checked baggage. See this article to read more about how I got to Switzerland with the bike: http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/packing-for-the-plane-getting-your-gear-to-the-start/

    As for how I will get back home with my bike now that I don’t have a bike box. That’s easy! I just went to a bike shop in Athens, Greece and got a bike box for free. And just like when I flew to Switzerland, I will cut the box down to size, take it to the airport, check it in, and pick it back up again when in land in Los Angeles.

    I hope that answers your question. This might be a bit of a pain for people going on shorter trips (these people might prefer just towing the suitcase/trailer that Bike Friday makes), but for me, being away for 9 months, I can’t imagine having to carry that trailer behind me the entire time. I never would have made it! And since getting the coardboard bike boxes is so easy and so cheap, I think it’s a perfectly fine solution. Getting to the airport with the bike and the bike box might be a little bit more difficult, but even that is relatively easy to figure out in the big scheme of things.

  16. Paul Davison

    August 13, 2009 at 9:25 am

    I bought a used Pocket Llama from Bike Friday and it has worked very well. To date it has saved me hundreds of dollars in airline baggage charges. I cannot comment on the quality of customer service since I simply selected an appropriate model that was my size from a list of clearance items, and the staff made few modifications to the existing components.

    A also tried using the suitcase as a trailer with less than stellar results. I tried towing it around the Gaspe peninsula in Quebec. The pavement was in poor condition in many places and the trailer bounced around too much on the bumpy surface. In a few places the road had a paved shoulder, but it had been paved at a different time than the travelled lanes of the highway. Over time, water got into the seam between the shoulder and the road and eroded longitudinal cracks that went on for miles. The left wheel of the trailer was constantly getting caught in the cracks and trying to slew the trailer around. Most roads in Canada lack paved shoulders and the severe winter weather creates frost cracks that little wheels don’t like crossing. I won’t use the trailer for long tours again.

    The bike is good for travel (not commuting) due to the length of time required to pack it up and unpack it. I have used it for trips in North America and Europe but wouldn’t use it loaded on truly ghastly roads because over time it would shake it up too much, loosen the hinges and linkages, and fatigue the frame. Not sure how the small wheels would perform on badly-corrugated roads either.

    I’m glad I bought it, but I’m not throwing away my Stumpjumper or Wester Ross road bike any time soon!

    PD

  17. Francis Harvey

    August 14, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Great report. Really enjoyed it for the assessment of the bike and description of travel. Two questions come to mind. First, since I also have a NWT with travel case, but don’t like to use it in Europe, how did you pack the bike for travel to Europe and back by air if you didn’t use the case? Second, what maps/GPS did you use to find your way?

  18. Tim Hazen

    August 14, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Hi Darren,

    Enjoyed your thorough and candid New World Tourister review. I just arrived in Kosovo with my Bike Friday – Pocket Rocket Pro. My long-distance bike travels (across the U.S. and others) have all been “credit card” trips with ten pounds of gear on a seat tube rack on a standard road bike, which is why I bought the P.R.P. instead of the touring version.

    I’ll be in Kosovo for a year and plan to do some Bike Friday touring around the Balkans, at least. What was your experience riding through Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece? The roads in Kosovo appear to be horrible and the drivers insane.

    Ciao,
    Tim Hazen

  19. Jonathan Krall

    August 14, 2009 at 11:20 am

    I feel like some of the other commenters are missing some of the positives of the Bike Friday as a touring machine, whether traveling by plane or not. As the reviews says, the Bike Friday is smaller than the equivalent standard bike, so it engenders fewer “get that filthy bike out of here” responses from hoteliers and the like. It also attracts friendly comments from passers by–these comments can themselves lead to new and positive adventures. This bike will simply get you into more places than a normal bike would. And isn’t getting places what touring is all about?

    My experiences with my Pocket Crusoe (light touring bike) have been very positive for day rides, commuting, fully-loaded tours or SAG-supported tours for over 7800 miles and 14 airline round trips. The bike performs so well that I haven’t seen the need to get a standard touring machine. Sure there is a small penalty in weight, ride and handling (unless you like a responsive bike), but the positives more than make up for it.

  20. Tom

    August 15, 2009 at 6:03 am

    I too have a NWT that I bought for occasional riding and trips and have carted it all over the place.
    I thought that the suitcase (by the way your suitcase is a Carlton not a Samsonite) was a little flimsy but I have taken it on 32 flights, 8 bus trips and several train and boats with no breakage. The newer samsonite cases are more substaintial but heavy and awkward. I have toured with it out of necessity several times including 600 and 850 mile trips in alaska and BC-Alberta. I preferr panniers but after a day on the road you don’t notice the trailer. It is great for dry sucure storage.
    Gearing, I went with internal rear hub and have 19″ low gear – what more could you want. 15,000 miles and no problem even with ultegra sti shifter
    I would never opt for flat handle bars – you could easily convert to a clamp on stem with drop bars.
    I agree on the clamp beingthe weak point. Mine broke at the where the forked plate plate is welded to the seat stay. Bike Friday took care of it and repainted rear triangle. I think it was cased by flexure at the pivot at the bottom bracket. That has been troublesome and I have gone through three designs of that with Bike Friday. I have what you have now but the older designs allowed some flexure after the wore.

  21. Paul

    August 15, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks for the great review Darren.
    My wife and I took our NWT’s to Europe for 6 months, but we didn’t cycle as far as you. Our longest cycle trip was 800 km around the west coast of Ireland. WE are fairly bike friendly – we don’t own a car and we travel everywhere around home (Victoria, BC) by bike or public transport.
    I agree with all the comments that you made, and I think that you mentioned all the positives. I would add as negatives:
    1. We found the bikes in their suitcases heavy to carry around (e.g. up three flights of winding uneven stairs in a Moroccan hotel).
    2. Traveling by train was easier when the bikes were unfolded because it was difficult to transport the folded bikes and pannier bags across several platforms when changing trains. There weren’t any luggage trolleys in the UK or Ireland. I don’t know how you managed this with a bike and four bags?
    3. It is very awkward to carry the bikes any distance in the soft carry-bag. The weight distribution in the bag is poor and there is always a pedal or something else sticking into your side.
    Have fun on your bikes.
    Paul.

  22. Eric

    August 16, 2009 at 3:21 am

    Plane, train, boat, what about bus? I often fold my NWT and slide it in the luggage compartment of a bus. In many parts of Europe buses are much cheaper than trains and go to more out of the way locations. I only got charged for it once in Ireland when I asked the driver if it was OK to bring the folding bike. After that I don’t bother to ask any more, and no bus driver has mentioned anything to me about it.

  23. Jerry

    August 16, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Darren – what a great review. I am curious about one thing. When you tour on a fully loaded bike, how do you sight-see when you want to enter buildings? What do you do with the bike then? What about if you want to enter a restaurant? Presumably if your bike wasn’t loaded with touring gear you’d just fold up the bike and bring it in with you, but what do you do if it is loaded? Of course not a problem if you’re staying in hostels or hotels, but I have a assume you did a lot of camping on your trip.

  24. Doug

    August 18, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Nice review and mostly nice comments.

    I bought a BF Pocket Rocket about a year ago to carry on my sailboat. Thought a nice folder would would be a good boat toy, but I never bought the Bike Friday line that it would be my full time ride.

    But I ended up riding my “big” bike just once since buying the Friday, and then sold it within the week.

    My Friday hasn’t toured much yet, but it has done a couple thousand miles of centuries, club rides, and weekend tours. Next Spring I’ll do my third run down the Pacific Coast, and I’ll ride the Friday.

    Also, I travel a lot for work, and the greatest thing is the bike lives the trunk of the car. It takes seconds for me to go from working in some little town on the road to riding through some little the town on the road. I’ve also left boring, day long meetings, opened the trunk to throw in my bag of paper work only to see the Friday sitting there ready to go. It takes longer to out on my shorts and shoes than to get the bike out and on the road.

    If I add to that the fact the bike fits under the V berth in my boat I can honestly say this is one of the most functional and best bikes I’ve ever owned.

    The best bike for everyone? Doubt it.
    Last bike I’ll ever own? My history says that’s not likely.
    A real bike far more serious than it’s little wheels suggest? You bet.

  25. Tim Hazen

    August 18, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Bought my Pocket Rocket Pro originally to carry on my sailboat, but it hasn’t made it on the boat yet because I am living in Kosovo (landlocked) for a year.

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  29. Harvey

    October 4, 2009 at 4:44 am

    In 2006, like Darren, I purchased a used “Bike Friday New World Tourist.” I only buy used bicycles. As with any used vehicle, you have to take what is available. My NWT came with a triple chainring; nine cogs; flat handlebars; and thumb (rather than twist) gear shifters. My last 700 cc. bicycle had drop handlebars and shifters on the downtube. It is simply what is available. I did not change anything but I did purhase the folding racks from Green Gear/Bike Friday®.

    I ride about 6000 miles a year, about 2/3rds of it loaded touring and the remainder of that distance training time and local rides.

    I write and publish (Cyclotour Guide Books) bicycle tour guide books on North America’s Great Lakes, New York State’s (U. S. A.) Canal System (four canals, the Erie Canal being the most famous) and New York State’s Finger Lakes (11 Lakes) wine growing region. My books are written and used like AAA triptiks® are used by motorists! Each year I bicycle at least one of the routes to check it and then make necessary revisions to the books.

    Interestingly, I have not used the hard case tor transporting my NWT since I usually travel to either by bicycle or public ground transportation (train or bus) to the tour’s starting point. I never purchased the trailer option since I prefer panniers and see no reason to haul the extra weight of the trailer.

    I always use the soft bag (1000d Cordura®) to carry my NWT on to a train or bus. My bikes are dirty, really dirty. I feel it is inconsiderate if not rude of me to not take the simple precaution of using the soft bag to protect fellow passengers’ luggage and clothing from bicycle grease, oil, and dirt. The soft bag folds to a small package and sits on top of my front or rear rack.

    Interestingly, a folding bicycle (as of 2006) can be carried on to the passenger car of Amtrak® trains without being encased in any type of bag. A folding bicycle is usually not counted as a piece of luggage by Amtrak.

    VIARail has a different set of rules for the carriage of folding bicycles and non-folding bicycles.

    On Greyhound® and Trailways® buses a folding or non-folding bike must be in a “sturdy bag” or other container. In the case of folding bicycles, the bicycle travels as a piece of luggage at no extra charge on buses.

    My NWT was stolen in August and was purchased by the Sales Manager at a local producer of industrial heat exchangers (Graham Corp.) with the idea of calling Bike Friday to find out the owner of the stolen NWT. Sales people who travel love Bike Fridays!

    Bike Friday called me with his name & contact information at 8:30 AM eastern time. Now that is customer service! Which I have found to be excellent.

  30. Dan Kisacky

    October 8, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Hi bro first I want to tell you I love your site being new to cycling and planning my first tour from FL to PA is so exciting and I must check your site out all most everyday for advice. I have found a ton of help. So here is my question I ride in PA now and its getting cooled so I started riding in jeans and pants and have been rolling them to keep them out of the gear and then i saw your pics from your last trip what is that strap around your leg and were do i get one or is that just a velcro strap you use. My up coming trip will be my first tour and I plain on buying your guide soon. Thanks you from a newer rider for putting such a great site together because I had no clue we to start with planning this trip or what gear to buy and now I know what panniers I want what tent,stove,pot, just about everything I needed. I cant say enough about this site and I hope sometime I get the chance to meet you and even ride with you sometime. I also want to add that coming from someone who also keeps a journal I feel the same way you do they could take the bike but I would die if I lost me journal. Thanks again Darren from you friend in PA Dan Kisacky carpewavem.

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  32. Dale

    October 23, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Really good travel discussion & much appreciated. I’ve really enjoyed my llama for daily travel over the last two years but mainly only had a chance for short travel trips although I’ve got about 13,000 miles on it now.
    I did just complete two weeks in Oregon and had the opportunity to use the travelcase. I was very impressed and did not find the width to be much of a problem. There were times when I took up more space in the lane due to narrow shoulders but that had a positive benefit as I was sweeping for my 10 month old grandson who was in a chariot trailer. The wheels were sturdy and handled the rough areas I pulled it well. The tour was great and this trailer experience will certainly be followed by more. I won’t be giving up solo travel via panniers but this is now a new travel tool. I’ve also picked up a used 99 pocket rocket recently and can use this system for either bike now.
    Thanks, Dale

  33. Lee

    December 12, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Thanks Darren for your thoughtful, experienced review of the NWT.
    What are the gears you had – gear inches?
    Thanks very much.

  34. Dennis Connor

    December 21, 2009 at 11:22 am

    I could not make out your Panniers. Which ones are those and would you recommend them over others?

  35. Darren Alff

    December 27, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    The panniers are Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus (on the back) and Sport Packer Plus panniers (on the front). They are great panniers. Held up wonderfully, waterproof, snow-proof, etc. I would highly recommend.

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  37. Tim Grebner

    February 21, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I wanted to comment about the suitcase/trailer. When travelling by plane, I fly with the suitcase. When I arrive at the start of my tour, I send the suitcase to the end. You can send to a UPS store or use someone from warmshowers or a hotel or campground at the ending point of the tour. It will cost about $25 or so to ship the suitcase. By the way, I put my nicer airplane clothes in the suitcase so when I end the tour I have some fresh clothes for the return flight.

  38. Mark Weintstein

    March 13, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Awesome trip! Wonder how you secure the bike when you leave it behind for some on-foot exploring?

    Oh and … Norm Michaels is a douchebag.

  39. Bicycle Touring Pro

    March 13, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Mark, for this particular trip through Europe I rented apartments along my route and stayed there for most of the time. So when I went out on foot I usually just left the bike in the apartment. But there were times when I could not do this… and it is really, really tough sometimes.

    Read this: http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/my-disappointing-trip-to-dubrovnik-croatia/ and http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/how-to-secure-your-bicycle-belongings-when-going-inside-a-building/

  40. Zaharan Razak

    April 6, 2010 at 12:09 am

    I’m an avid follower of your website. Some comments: I assume (and hope) that your positive comments about the Newt are applicable to all small wheel folders as a choice of a travel bike as the one I plan to buy in September for my travel in Taiwan, south China, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia is either the Birdy Touring or the Dahon Speed TR. Of course each bike will be different in some details but as a whole they are all well-established in the market and have their keen followers. The latest versions – 2010 models – all sport upgrades addressing owners’ past gripes or wishes. The Birdy even has a travel case trailer similar to BF’s while the Speed TR has new front and rear racks and an iphone charger! I’m counting the days as I prepare for my trip and eventually lay my hands on my new toy, er, tool, well, toy then! You can take a peek at my utter-mutter about bike travel and other stuff at zveloyak.blogspot.com.

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  42. Douglas Straight

    May 26, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Darren- I bought my Air Llama in 2002 custom made for me. I don’t drive autos and just bike and use public transport. Before my BF I had some very nice 26 inchers, but going on planes was getting so expensive and such a hassle not to mention trains, buses,etc. I saw the BF ad in a magazine and decided to go for it. I was really questioning the small wheels and performance. So for 8 years I’ve been travelling and doing all my commuting with the Air Llama. I love this bike and have no intentions of using any other bike except for the new Pocket Llama that is presently being custom made for me. I have had great customer serv ice and great dealings with the BF folks. I use four ortlieb panniers on distance travelling. What a great setup. Love your website and great to see a BF customer review from you. Enjoy your NWT. Hope to see you on the road sometime. P.S. I meet such great people because of the curiosity that is attracted to this bike.. A great plus! Happy Trails, Bro.

  43. Anthony

    June 21, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Can you use a BOB trailer with a bikefriday?

  44. Bicycle Touring Pro

    June 21, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Anthony, Yes, you can use a BOB trailer with a Bike Friday bicycle.

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  46. VilleFromFinland

    July 28, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Hi,

    I have same kind of BF as you have. I noticed that your tires look great. Could you share your opinion about them (model, size included of course ;-))? I am going to tour my BF in Tasmania or New zealand and I am planning to use gravel roads also. Would you recommend those tires or do you have better options in mind?

    Thank you!

  47. Bicycle Touring Pro

    July 28, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Ville, I’m actually not sure what tires I used on my trip through Europe last year. They lasted the entire trip, but I have since replaced them with Schwalb 20″ tires. The tires I used on that trip through Europe were just the ones Bike Friday sent me with the bike. The Schwalbs I have now are recommended because I think they are a good tire that will last a long time, but they are SUPER difficult to get on and off the wheel. They are so tight that it takes forever to 1) get them on the wheel and 2) get them to rest in in the rim properly.

  48. VilleFromFinland

    July 29, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Thank you for your opinion. About getting schwalbes on the wheel. I don’t know do you have same rims as I do, but I blame rims for thightness. My wife has a Dahon speed tr with different rims and getting Schwalbe big apples on is easy. When I tested how much tire clearence I have with Big apples on BF, I got blisters to my thumb, those tires felt super tight.

    Anyway, which Schwalbes are you using? I love big apples 2inch, but I have only 1 mm tire clearance. I don’t think thats enough for touring ;-). I want to be on safe side. I am considering Schwalbe marathon 1,5inch tires, but I am thinking, are those too narrow for real bad road with pot holes and rough gravel.

    Thanks, I enjoy reading your views about touring. Altough I don’t always agree, your case is always well made!

    Ville

  49. John Fabian

    August 11, 2010 at 6:17 am

    Darren,

    Great review. I envy your touring experiences. I came across your review while googling around for “special” bikes. I want an about-town, go to the grocery store, ride down a country lane, bike. My days of grand touring are over. I’ve aged. But my love of bicycles endures.

    I’m thinking of things like carrying groceries, step through frame, 3-speed internal hub. Folding is not important to me. It’s nice to know Bike Friday is out there. I shall be contacting them.

    Again, thanks for your great review & photos. Keep pedaling!

    John

  50. Phil Robinson

    August 19, 2010 at 2:43 am

    Shipped a new NWT in late 07 to the UK to circumvent mindless Brit anti-cycling regulationalal mentality (active and passive – unless its on an advert for a Bank etc) and with dreams of unfettered world travel.

    First was a demand for an additional £464 in within five days (or its going back) for the Duty (14%) and the VAT and the VAT on the Duty.
    This helps Brompton avoid open market competition. Tax on Tax… mmmm Berliners!

    I ditched the Schwalbes in favour of Bulletproofs from Conti as I can change flats and dont need extra practice at inconvenient times with full loads on. Rubber gloves entered ‘Permanant Pile of What If…’ stuff at the bottom of my Orliebs – (now There is a Product!) so folks turning up for hand / wrist physio don’t ask if a rubber mallet would help improve range.

    Late 08 the pawls in the SRAM went with intermittant ‘giving’ in low gear progressing to fully kaput. NWT was idle till this year. BF suggested that ‘there is a problem’. London has one self-presenting SRAM shop in Notting Hill (great place but a day out): SRAM support was minimal. DIY replacement ensued but only for the greasy minded with net skills and a ‘so if
    theres a Great PyongYang leaving cogs embedded in the ceiling so be it’ attitude … there wasn’t but alert Mr Rubrik and anyone interested in delaying the onset of dementia. SF,SG.

    SRAM = Le Shrug Francais in most Shop De Velo Anglais

    Oh and the QR bolt holding the frame together sheared off. Finally phoned BF after generics failed to appear, and presto but an interesting ride home. Not as bad as a seat-post QR on a regular but I remain anxous about demonstrating ‘yes this folds’ to staff on the Underground during journeys. The universal electrical tie doesn’t acutally problem solve so well here.

    A bike shop in Bonn had matching Yellow Guards for 20E, but 20″ Presta tubes are ‘rare’ on the road – use Conti BP’s and buy a stash to take on hols. The rear wheel spanner should also be carried at all times.

    Good things include: Turning up at Aviemore (Och Aye) peak season and being asked for 16 quid for a bit of grass on the office verge for one bike and one tent and showing them the finger. Buying a ticket to Inverness the wee man says (you need yer best Sean Connery accent here) ‘You’ll be lucky to get yer bike on the train – it’ll likely be full’ so I say with the verve of laying out a royal flush ‘its a FOLDING bike’ to which he says ‘aye, and you’ve done yer homework there’.

    Too bloody right mate. So now when the gate dude say ‘where are going?’ I just say ‘Folding Bike’…

    FYI ScotRail permits only 2 bikes on any one train at anytime and its usually booked years ahead – you can tell by the groups of cyclists leaving Inverness
    two at a time to get to Kyle of L. over the course of a day :~): see above. DBahn charge you but hey, yer on.

    So its fairly unblockable as a bike/transport option and this is a great bike to chuck in the car with tons of other camping crap for long days out in foreign fields.

    The brakes need a fair bit of optimising and clearly the wheel radius reduces the lever arm of same (less effective) The rear brake clearance is tight and after a fold and unfold, the gears need juggling. Oh, dont leave home without a very clear idea of DualDrive operations or instructions (if this is the story for you).

    The low COG is a bit hairy on slippy non-level sideway surfaces, is good for doing front-end wheelies to hop the rear up kerbs BUT The derailleur looks well vulnerable. It hasn’t worn it yet, but having left my daughter to sleep away the day on the grass surrounded by our valuables at Morton on Marsh (Cotswolds) while I cycled to Cirencester and back by train (amazingly with the parts) after she tore hers off a regular, its worth noting. More Must Haves in obscure places.

    Its also fairly heavy (or sturdy) but locking it is a challenge compared to a diamond frame as there aren’t many secure throughs that don’t have a QR bolt defining them.

    Think I still have some collecting to do on the investment. Its got some real pluses: lots of conversations and a sense of adaptability. Yes thats it. Adaptability.

    Trips: Cologne down the Rhine, and Scotland where I would not have had a bike at all without the fold. That alone blunts the hassles.
    Lots of day circuits on tour. It takes a full load: front n rear Orts plus tent n stuff. I bought the case and soft bag but the logistics so far have discouraged me from attending airports.

    Folding it up makes no sense on trains unless you like pack-hauling four bags, handlebar bag, bundled tent / mat / etc, and a large metally thing and have to. A liesurely assemble with croissants and coffee would be the go at airports but things with wheels move around so much better, as the hosties demonstrate regularly.

    This sounds more -ve than +ve. Like most things there is a tool for the job (unless you are one already) and this has its place in life. Not sure I’d do 1500GBP again: the drops and STi’s pushed it up but BritTax is in the Eq big time. There are times and places that you just wont get to without this. Select the correct spanner, and life is a downhill breeze

    Phil

  51. Alex

    October 11, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Hey guys

    I´m alex from germany and currently thinking about getting a bike friday.
    One question, isn´t it possible to use the suitcase with a BOB YAK so we dont have the problems on roads without shoulders and so force..

    thx,
    alex

  52. Alex

    October 12, 2010 at 3:57 am

    i mean bob yak or another one wheel trailer…

  53. Bicycle Touring Pro

    October 18, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Hi there Alex (Supertramp). It’s funny that you wrote when you did, because I just happened to be watching “Into the Wild” when your comment came in. I thought that was funny.

    Anyway, as for your question, yes you can pull a BOB trailer behind a Bike Friday bicycle and that will give you a narrower profile on the road. The bad thing about using the BOB vs. the Bike Friday trailer, however, is that the Bike Friday is designed to fit inside it’s own suitcase/trailer. it is not designed to fit inside a BOB trailer. This means that if you plan to fly or take a train/boat/bus/etc with your bicycle, you will not only have to pack up your bicycle, but the BOB trailer as well.

    The BOB trailer would be a better trailer to use if you don’t plan to travel on a plane/train/bus/boat, but the Bike Friday Suitcase/Trailer might be better if you plan to use any of these other means of transportation.

  54. gerardo

    December 11, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Hi Darren,
    nice review of the bike,I also own a BF NWT,you can check my web under cycling an see the placess I been.One thing you are wrong about the BOB Yak,bike friday don t recommend to use a BOB yak because of the rear triangle.I know that because I also own a Yak,and I already ask them they told me will be much better to use a two wheel trailer,so I got the best 2 wheel trailer the carry freedom y large,because of the same wheel size 20″
    http://www.carryfreedom.com/Y-Frame.html
    Regards
    Gerardo

  55. Mandy Creighton

    February 18, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Best review of this bike I’ve seen anywhere. We are considering these for our next tour to screen the film, since we would be traveling via Amtrak and bike. Do you know (in the States) if you have to have the suitcase in order to bring in on Amtrak? Or can you just bring it in folded up like you show in many of the photos?

    Thanks,
    Mandy

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      February 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      Hey Mandy! The answer to this question is… it depends. It depends on which AMTRAK train you are taking and which route you are traveling on. There are some trains in Southern California, for example, that you can just roll your bike right on and not have to worry about it. But most of the time, your bike has to be boxed up or in a protective case of some kind. So having the suitcases for your trip around the US might certainly come in handy. It sucks, I know, because it would certainly be nice it Amtrak did more to accommodate cyclists on their trains, but that’s simply not the case at the moment. Good luck… and let me know what you end up doing!

  56. Laura

    March 19, 2011 at 2:42 am

    Nice post.
    I was looking for this information.
    This is quite good information thanks for sharing this.

  57. LARRY KENNEY

    March 22, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I HAVE A NEW WORK TOURIST AND WOULD LIKE GET A FRONT RACK. THE BIKE FRIDAY WEBSITE DOES NOT LIST THIS ITEM. WHAT FRONT RACK IS ON YOUR BIKE?

    THANKING YOU IN ADVANCE

  58. Jason Beck

    July 21, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Hello, I’m wondering if anyone out there knows of a good place to list and sell a New World Tourist in good condition. I dislike ebay for lots of reasons, and I don’t live near a city where I could simply list the bike locally. Great post, by the way. My life has changed since I lived on my bike (I have kids and a wife now), and I never ride it.

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      July 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      I know that you can sell the bike back to Bike Friday. They have a place on their website where they sell used bicycles… so that might be a good place to start.

      And on the Bike Friday forum they have a place where you can list your used Bike Friday. http://www.bikefriday.com/forum/

      Other than that, I’d just try Craigslist or something similar. How old is the Bike Friday and how much are you trying to get out of it?

  59. marty

    August 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Last year I purchased a Pocket Companion with suit case. To this date I am totally disappointed in the bike and the case. First off, even though I got the “heavy duty tires” I got more flats riding on the STREET than any other bike I have ever owed or now own. The tires are cheap.
    The bike has been nothing but a disappointment. Locks don’t hold. Levers broken. Adjustments have to be made ALL the time to the bike. Suit case is too flimsy for carrying the bike and that weight.
    Constantly having seat post problems.
    The chain derailleur is junk. There are many other problems with the bike.
    The bike and suit case are far over rated and over priced as well.
    To top it off, I had to pay EXTRA to the guy in the Portland store to show me how to pack the bike in the suit case. Wow what a rip off. I say it again, a RIP OFF.
    Whenever I hear of anyone thinking about buying a Bike Friday, I tell them NOT TO. Save their money and time. You can find better bikes for far less hassle and money.
    I will never buy a Bike Friday again. I think many of the BF owners feel the same but are ashamed they were shammed too…so they keep their mouths shut instead of being known to be a fool.
    Over rated and overpriced. Save your money…Go elsewhere.
    Top it off when calling the Portland factory…the woman who answers the phone gives you the 5th degree. “Why calling?” “Who are you?” “Did you call before?” duhhh you think at least the receptionist would be nice about it.
    Recommendation: don’t buy one.

  60. Doug

    August 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    I’ve got to take Marty’s comments with a large grain of salt. There’s more than a few things about the review that don’t make sense:
    Bike Friday is based in Eugene, not Portland.
    Bike Friday’s service has always been good to stellar when I’ve called or stopped by.
    Complaints about tires, or “chain derailleurs” are miss-directed: Components are off the rack & often selected by the customer. For example, my BF Pocket Rocket has the exact same make & model of tires and derailleurs as the Specialized Roubaix sitting next to it. Any problems with this gear should be directed to Schwalbe, Shimano, or whoever made it.
    As for the cost: Yep, it’s a pricey machine. and yep, there are some design quirks. That being said I’d like to see any other bike that can deliver what my Friday does for less.

  61. Tomas

    August 15, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Wow!
    Marty has some real problems. . I do think that you need a little basic mechanical sense to own a Friday and that may be Marty’s problem.
    Flats? Can you blame that on the bikebuilder? My Specialized Tricross set the record for flats out of the box but i didn’t blame it on Spedialized (even though it came with “(Specialized tires). I found Gatorskins work on that bike. I have had several different brand tires on the Fridays and like most people settled in on what works the best for me.
    I have logged over 20,000 on the two NWTs that I have owned over the last 15 years. Te suitcase hase been on over 35 flights and is still going strong. I have recommended Friday to people – 9 sales have resulted and people are happy with them. The friday is not my principal bike of the 5 bikes that I own (I ride 9000 miles /year) but if I were only allowed one I guess it would be the Friday.

  62. Pete

    October 3, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Hi-
    Great review. I’m thinking of getting a NWT and this is very helpful.
    One question – you discuss the time required to pack the bike for travel, which requires pretty substantial disassembly, however in most of your “on the train” pictures the bike is just folded, not broken down. How quick is the “train-fold” as compered to the “plane-pack?” I’d mostly be putting the bike in a car trunk or on a train, so this is all the fold I’d usually need.

    Thanks,
    Pete

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      October 3, 2011 at 6:38 pm

      Good question Pete. Packing the Bike Friday New World Tourist into its suitcase is a lot more work than simply doing a quick fold and getting it ready for a trip via train, boat, car, etc. However, the quick fold on the New World Tourist is not really very quick in comparison to other commuter-style Bike Friday models and other folding bicycles on the market. The New World Tourist requires a few Allen wrench tools to take off the handlebars, seat post, etc in order to quickly fold the bicycle up for train travel, etc. For me, this quick fold usually takes about 3 minutes or so. That’s 3 minutes to take off the panniers, remove the seat post and handlebars with an Allen wrench, and then fold the bike in half via the built in Bike Friday quick release. I’m sure that with a little practice I could perform all this a bit quicker, but 3 minutes is probably a realistic estimate for a quick fold situation.

  63. Deepak Rao

    November 3, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Hi,

    Thanks for a great review, with great pics. Was wondering how sturdy/stable the folding rear rack is? Would you buy it again?

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      November 3, 2011 at 5:36 pm

      Yeah, the folding rack from Bike Friday worked great. No problems with it. Before I left on my tour, however, I did go to Home Depot and purchase some extra screws for the rack, just in case they were to pop out on my during my tour. But that never happened thankfully… and the rack worked great! I would recommend it if you are looking for a rack that doesn’t take up as much space as a traditional rear rack.

  64. vikas

    December 14, 2011 at 5:14 am

    How many kilometers u ride in one day?

    I am vikas from India. I travel with my Trek 4300 mountain bike. plz reply

    and best wishes for u r next journey…

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      December 14, 2011 at 7:03 pm

      Hi Vikas,

      Typical bicycle tourists cover about about 40-60 miles (65-95 kilometers) per day. Of course, some people do a whole lot less than this… and some people do a whole lot more.

  65. mini moto

    December 19, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Great pictures and I cant believe how compact that bike is! Beats burning fossil fuels!

  66. Mark

    January 9, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Great review Darren! My wife and I are considering BF’s for two different purposes. The first is for our sailboat. Limited room and need to be portable aboard an inflatable dinghy. The second is for travel abroad, where we would use the bikes for touring. It seems obvious that the Tikit would be an attractive option for the boat. The question I have is ‘is the Tikit a viable consideration for touring?’
    Again, really enjoyed reading your review.
    -Mark

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      January 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      My guess is that the Tikit is not intended to be used for bicycle toruing, as it is not listed in this category on the Bike Friday website: http://www.bikefriday.com/bicycles/touring It may not have the holes needed to attach a rear rack, which would mean that you would have to carry and of your bicycle touring gear on your back – something that is best avoided if at all possible. I have not used the Tikit myself, so I don’t really know a whole lot about it. The best way to get a good answer on this would be to contact Bike Friday themselves and see what they recommend.

  67. B-rad

    January 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Hey Mark
    I’ll second Darren’s advice, and add my own 2 cents.
    Back when I was in the market for a pair of touring bikes for my wife and I, I was considering a Tikit – mainly for it’s significant advantages in size, weight, and rapid foldability. For these reasons they might be great for your sailboat. However, they were not designed for touring.

    I was interested in buying touring bikes for long distance (~1000km), self supported, tours around Europe and NA, which would include cobblestone streets, country roads, gravel paths, as well as the usual paved roads.

    I spoke at length with Walter, one of the customer service / sales agents at Bike Friday (who are extremely helpful and always willing to chat, btw). He suggested that the Tikit was not designed for extended riding of this type. The Tikit is essentially an urban commuter bike – it was very purpose built for this role, and thus the overall ride and durability are somewhat compromised.

    While it is possible to attach racks to the Tikit, I don’t think they will be capable of carrying the same loads as the NWT or other bikes. The smaller wheels are stiffer and twitchier, and will feel less stable when loaded with panniers.
    Likewise, the “finer boned” frame will not put up with the abuses of extended touring over the long term. Your options with gearing are also more limited with the Tikit.

    Walter suggested that a NWT or Llama would be much more practical, cost effective, and enjoyable bike for the type of touring I wanted to do.
    The NWT is what we ended up buying, and they have served us very well on trips through Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

    All that being said, you’ll have to decide what your primary use for the bikes really is. The Tikit would probably be ideal for storage on your sail boat, and would be quick to unfold & refold for your shore excisions.
    The NWT still folds up fairly small, but the “quick-fold” procedure … takes some getting used to. I find it takes about 1-2minutes to get it really squared away.

    Hope that helps.

  68. Mark

    January 22, 2012 at 4:44 am

    Thanks Darren and B-rad. Your feedback was very helpful. My wife and I went down to Eugene this past week and ultimately ended up ordering 2 Llamas. Can’t wait to get out on the new bikes when they arrive next month.
    -Mark

  69. paul

    February 6, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Just got back from Japan , where I rode for 31 out of 42 days on my Pocket Llama. Had one recurring problem that no amount of help from some of the best bicycle mechanics I could find, could fix. Every day my headset would come loose and I’d have to find someone to tighten it.Spent more time trying to get help than actually sightseeing while touring.As for Bike Friday’s customer service, I would have to give them a three out of ten. Totally disappointed in them, they may as well have told me I was lying. I’ve ridden since I was 5 years old and am now 61 I’ve even built a couple of bikes myself and I’m a tradesman who takes a pride in doing a good job and feels proud that my clients don’t have to chase me for shoddy work.I just hope that my LBS who I got the Llama from can resolve this problem . As for BF they really need to treat customers a lot better than how I felt they did to me.

  70. Lynn Hummel

    February 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Darin: Thanks for the great review! This may be a dumb question but where do you store the travel suitcase for the BF new world tourist once you get to your airport destination?
    thanks

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      February 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      Lynn, that isn’t a dumb question. I get this question quite a lot actually.

      If you plan to fly in and out of the same location, then you can use the travel case and simply store it with a friend, hotel, or bike shop while you are touring… and then pick it up on your return trip home.

      If you are planning to fly into one location, ride your bike to another far off location, and then fly out of that distant location, you have a couple options:

      1) You can pull the travel case behind you as you travel (the case can convert into a trailer, but I don’t recommend this).

      2) You can ship the travel case from your starting location to your ending location.

      3) Or you can do like I do, and simply leave the travel case at home and pack the bicycle in a cardboard box instead. Then, once you get to your starting location, you simply unpack the bike and throw the cardboard box away. And when you get to your final destination and are preparing to fly home, you simply find a new cardboard box, cut it down to size, and pack your bike in that box for the return trip home.

  71. Tomas

    February 24, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    A couple of options: Local storage units rent for $30/month. Warmshowers members will sometimes offer storage. Local bikeshops can be help in locating storage.
    I have pulled the trailer on several long trips and don’t find it as much of drawback as other people do. There is some advantage in using the trailer: It is waterproof, it is bear and vermin proof and is lockable when parked curbside. I did a trip of 960miles through the canadian rockies with the trailer and after day one didn’t notice it was there.

  72. Phil

    March 4, 2012 at 10:35 am

    I once toured on a Specialized Rock Combo with the 26″ wheels and found this bike to be extermely stable, but quite a bit slower than a touring bike with 700 cc wheels and 700X32 tires. How does the BF compare as far as average speed?
    Is the BF stable on steep, curvy descents when carrying a big load? Also, I would expect the rims to heat up more quickly due to braking on long, steep descents? Does BF offer disc brakes?

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      March 4, 2012 at 11:28 pm

      I do think the Bike Fridays may be a bit slower than full-sized bicycles (especially on steep downhills, etc), but for long-distance touring the small difference in speed is almost unnoticeable and is really not that important.

      I have found that my Bike Friday is surprisingly stable on downhills and even in off-road scenarios. You just have to get used to the bike and then you will feel comfortable zooming around on it – unloaded or fully-loaded!

      After thousands and thousands of miles with my New World Tourist I’ve had no problem with the rims getting excessively hot while braking. And as far as I know, Bike Friday does not offer Disc Brakes (probably because they are larger and take up more space), but I could be wrong… and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them offering disc brakes in the near future.

  73. walin

    March 18, 2012 at 3:53 am

    I put my giant chiron27 foldable in a carry bag – with paddings around the gears, etc, of course, and when I arrived at Yangon airport, unzipped, folded the bag and stored it in my pannier. I find its a convenient way to bikepack…

    http://shopping.howei.com/index.php?route=tips/tips&tips_id=42

  74. Jen

    May 20, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    I’m touring in South America with a NWT. I didn’t have the trip all planned out and we’ve ended up on unpaved loose gravel roads mainly. It has definitely not been the best bike for these types of roads and I am wishing perhaps I had purchased a pocket llama. I’m wondering what tires folks are using with the NWT and if they’ve faced problems on gravel roads with mainly loose rocks and even sand.

    thanks

  75. Jimbo

    September 18, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    The “Pocket Llama SELECT 2012″ has disc brakes…
    http://www.bikefriday.com/bicycles/touring/1297

  76. Paul

    September 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Just back from a 2,500 km tour of Germany with my Bike Friday NWT.

    Two suggestions:

    1. Carry a wrench that fits the larger nut on the head-set. The Bike Friday supplied wrench only fits the smaller nut, and two wrenches are needed to tighten the headset.

    2. Fit a bike stand. The absence of a top tube (between the seat and handle bars) makes it hard to balance the bike between your legs if you stop to take a photograph, and when leaning the bike against a tree, for example. The bike’s tendency to fall over is worse if you fit a handle-bar bag, because the weight of the bag causes the front wheel to twist backwards when stopped.

  77. David Mercado

    November 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Hi Darren,

    I like your bike stories….If you can, come to Bolivia, my country, where there are fantastic places for a bike friday aventure. Last week a Japanese cyclist cross the salt flat in Uyuni with a llama bike friday.

    Regards

    David

  78. CJ

    April 4, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Great review. After traveling with my BF for 10 years now I can say it is still going strong. Even though all working parts have been replaced. I have flown over a dozen times and still haven’t paid a charge. You can still pack this bike and trailer setup and keep it under 50 lbs. My experience with their customer service was not as good. They even made errors making the bike that I had to correct and still deal with today. When I talked with one of the owners he just said he didn’t want me to have his bike and would give me my $ back. Nice attitude. Still the CS is poor and I just try to deal with them at a minimum and do not advertise for them via word of mouth. Unfortunate.

    However I really like their bike for trips. Even the trailer, but it requires a more attentive riding style.

    Great review!

  79. Larry D Graham

    August 14, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    I have a Metro, which looks to just be the single chainring version of the test bike. I picked up the bike used for my 5-12 mile bike commute to work. I did not find the bike twitchy at all, not even the first time I rode it. The small wheels does make it handle quickly, maybe that is what new riders are feeling.
    While I really like riding the bike, it would not be my first choice (or second or third or…) for a bike to take on a long loaded tour. I’d be hard pressed to want to ride it more than 20 miles.
    I find the stem riser very flexy, to the point of being of concern. With all the pivots and hinges I keep looking for the source of all the squeaks and creaks.
    Just how would you improve the customer service? I do wish they offered support for their older models. Looking at the website, it appears that the only replacement part offered for my Metro is a headtube badge.

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