I rec’d my Bike Friday New World Tourist folding travel bike in early Jan 2009. So It’s not really a year old, but I’ll be gone to Baja over it’s birthday so I thought it would be appropriate to share my thoughts so far about this bike:
- This bike has lived up to the hype on the net about Bike Friday’s travel bike line up. It’s a time proven design that is stiff and fun to ride with the obvious benefit that it folds when you need to store or transport it.
- Does it ride like a full size bike? Mostly. I was impressed how stiff the frame is. When I’m cranking out of the saddle from a stop sign or up a hill I don’t think for a second about the fact I’m riding a folder. I just hammer and the bike goes forward. The smaller wheels and short wheel base [for a touring bike] make it very maneuverable without any hint of instability.
- My Tikit is a folding bike that’s awesome – my NWT is an awesome bike that folds.
- The NWT fold is very useful for storage and travel, but unlike the Tikit I wouldn’t want to have to fold the bike multiple times a day. The NWT’s fold is not effortless, but as a result you get a stiff frame which seems like a fair trade.
- I haven’t toured on this bike yet. 2009 wasn’t much of a touring year for me. Hopefully I’ll get out on this bike in 2010 for some loaded touring action. I have ridden the NWT around town on utility rides with loaded panniers and it handles very well with some weight on the frame. My friend Amy bought a Bike Friday Pocket Sport [similar to the NWT] and went on her first ever bike tour [Lake Louise to Vancouver] a couple weeks later. She cannot stop raving about how great her Bike Friday is.
- The 8 speed Nexus 8 IGH drivetrain has been flawless. I have it geared really low for touring and I should probably swap in a bigger chainring for about town use. OTOH I can do 30kph+ on it at the moment and that’s pretty good for a city bike.
- I should make special note of the JTek Shimano IGH bar end shifter. This works very well and has been a great addition to my NWT. I started with a gripshift attached on the end of a HubBub drop bar adapter. It worked, but nowhere near as ergonomically as the JTek unit.
- I’ve got the front derailleur and shifter on the bike even though I only have 1 chainring. I’ll be dropping this extra gear, but I just haven’t been motivated to strip it off the bike and wrap the bars again.
- Dynohub and LED headlight are a great addition. I always have light without thinking and even run the light during the day as a daytime running light.
- The Greenspeed Scorchers TR tires I love on my Tikit have proven to be a good choice on the NWT as well – fast, comfy and no flats so far.
So what’s not to like?:
- a custom NWT isn’t cheap OTOH neither is a custom frame from any other US builder.
- the Bike Friday front rack uses some plastic spacers to achieve the correct offset when mounting the rack. This puts the mounting hardware into a bending moment situation vs. shear where they would be stronger. This rack has been used lots by other people without issue so perhaps I’m just being picky. I haven’t had any issues carrying groceries and such. Time will tell.
- small 406 wheels are strong, but you feel rough pavement more than you do on larger 700c wheels. The Greenspeed Scorchers TRs go a long way to evening out the score on this issue.
- the folded bike does not stay together very well unlike the Tikit. Bike Friday does include a velcro strap that you can wind around the folded frame which does help a lot. This isn’t an issue as long as you bought the NWT as a travel bike. If you want to fold the NWT 5 times a day+ you’ll get frustrated.
I have quite a few nice bikes and it’s always interesting to see what sort of riding I end up doing on which bikes. Since I didn’t get up to much bike touring the NWT mainly saw action as my about town bike when I wasn’t doing lots of errand stops. It’s a fun nimble bike to ride and with fenders, racks and a dynamo light it’s always ready for whatever the day may throw at me. If I was going to stop lots I’d take my Tikit instead for the hyper fast fold.