I’m a New World Tourist!

18 05 2011

My Bike Friday NWT chilling by the gorge waterway...

In Calgary I was a Tikiteer for sure and my Bike Friday NWT was a fun bike to ride, but if I had to choose I would have picked my Tikit. Lately I’ve realized that I am grabbing my New World Tourist for most rides into town and if you made me choose I’d stick with my NWT.

Why the change?:

  • in Calgary I lived right downtown and ride were short and frequent with high theft potential at each of the many stops.
  • in Victoria every ride into town is a minimum 8km round trip and theft potential is lower.
  • so now I ride into town less often, but I tend to save up errands and hit a bunch at once.
  • I can load up my NWT with a ton of stuff with its burly racks.
  • My NWT has drop bars which I am into at the moment and prefer for longer rides.
  • My NWT has a dynohub and light so I’m always ready for rides that extend into the PM.
  • I don’t have any lighting for my Tikit now that I am not using my Dinotte lights if I can help it.

Loaded and ready for more!

The only thing I want to do to my NWT to perfect it is install some full coverage fenders. I have them in my garage – in fact I’ve had them for 2 years! But I am finally getting motivated with the wet winters here to install them. The Bike Friday fenders do a decent job and are much easier to travel with if you pack your bike into a suitcase. I’m more a fold and trow in the truck kind of guy so I don’t need that sort of packability and I do need optimized fenders.

Well actually there is another thing I need to do to my NWT – it’s time to replace the grubby white bar tape. Using the NWT a ton means that the gleaming whiteness of her beauty is somewhat less gleaming!




Heinz Stucke’s Bike Friday Pocket Llama…

25 03 2011

Heinz Stucke's PL...

I saw this Pocket Llama at Bike Friday HQ recently that Heinz Stucke rode for many miles on his far flung tours.

The man and the machine...

8spd Shimano Nexus IGH like my NWT...

I love all the place names he's written on the frame...

Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires...

Well earned dirt and rust...

If this bike could talk...

Heinz at Bike Friday HQ in Eugene OR...

I need to get my NWT dirty again...=-)

Frame tube detail...

Heinz made it to Hawaii - smart man....=-)

Faded pannier...

Photo: ridecc.wordpress.com





Bike Friday New World Tourist Select

27 02 2011

A sweet looking Bike Friday NWT...

Bike Friday will be offering a line up of their core bikes in a special specification which, if my memory serves me, is going to be called Select – as in Bike Friday NWT Select.  These bikes will feature a number of colour and contrasting cable/rack choices to make them look sweet.  This bike doesn’t have the exact build being offered….I’ll post it when I have it, but it does give you a feel for where they are headed.  These bikes will be available from Bike Friday dealers for sure and I’m assuming direct from Bike Friday.

One thing for sure is that the contrasting rack/cable colour is very eye catching….I love it…=-)

I'm starting to get a jones for H-bars...

Contrasting racks and cables look hot...

and contrasting decals...

Wide range gearing for touring or grocery hauling...

Dual water bottles on main frame + one on seat mast = 3...

and even red panniers...=-)

One final glamour shot...





First Ride…

22 02 2011

My Bike Friday NWT ready to roll...

Coming back to Canada from Mexico I was stoked to have so many choices of bikes to ride.  Sharon and I had a number of errands to do in town so naturally we decided to ride our bikes.  I rode my Bike Friday New World Tourist.  With a fleet of awesome bikes why ride the NWT?

  • the small size was easiest to wrangle out of the packed garage
  • the NWT is a nimble bike ideal for city riding
  • the Nexus 8 IGH meant that I knew shifting would work without any fuss
  • the NWT fits me great and is very comfortable
  • it has dual racks so carrying stuff is a no brainer
  • the flat BMX pedals are street shoe friendly
  • fenders provide protection from road spray should it rain
  • dyno headlight provides 24/7 lighting without fussing with batteries
  • battery taillight doesn’t need attention often
  • rear view mirror makes mixing it up with downtown traffic easier
  • supple 40mm tires make the ride fast and comfortable
  • v-brakes with salmon Koolstop pads provide reliable all weather braking
  • small bell is nice for politely getting people’s attention on the MUP

Some of these things are specific to a high quality folding bike like the NWT, but a lot of them are additions/upgrades you can make to any bike to make it more practical.





Sooke Potholes Tour

22 11 2010

Aaron pumping up a slow leak...

I was getting a little twitchy that I hadn’t done a bike tour this year.  Not that I can complain…I’ve done lots of bike riding and lots of camping this year…just no bike camping! Aaron is a local LHR rider that I’ve met up with a few times for coffee and to chat bikes.  We discussed a quick overnight tour out to the Sooke Potholes campground. The weather forecast was a bit gnarly, but we decided to go for it…a decision I was later to regret somewhat.

Our tour started ~430pm when Aaron rode from his job at the Rus Hays Bike Shop. He was riding his 700c LHT and I was on my 20″ wheeled Bike Friday New World Tourist…Aaron dubbed it the Laurel and Hardy Tour because our bikes looked quite mismatched.

Our awesome rain shelter...

First off I should advise you that the pics in this post are not going to match the text very well as most of the ride was at night or in the pouring rain so I didn’t take many photos.  Especially since I’m sure this ride will happen many times as it is so conveniently located to my house and I’ll photograph it when I’m less wet!

We rolled out of my driveway and jumped on the Galloping Goose MUP which is very near my house.  I usually ride this MUP into town so going the other way was new to me.  My first surprise was the fact the pavement ended within a few kms from my house.  Most of the 110km round trip was dirt, rock or gravel.  I had selected my NWT because it had a dynohub and light which are useful when your first day is actually a night ride.  This bike runs 40mm Greenspeed Scorcher slicks which I’ve used on some short dry dirt sections, but never on a dirt tour and never on a dirt tour in what was to be pouring rain.

Sooke River...

The night ride was a lot of fun.  We stopped early at about KM 10 in the town of Langford for some asian noodles and beer to fortify us for the more remote sections of the trip.  From Victoria to Langford the MUP rides through some fairly developed areas and crosses roads frequently.  However, once you are done with this necessary hassle the Galloping Goose is a very quite forest track the rest of the way to Sooke.  There had been a big wind storm the night before our ride so there were lots of leaves and branches on the ground as well as 4 or 5 large blow downs closer to Sooke that we had to lift our bikes over.

Aaron used two high power battery lights and I had my dyno light as well as one of my Dinotte 200L-AA battery lights blazing.  As we rode side by side chatting we illuminated a nice swath through the forest.  After Langford we had the MUP to ourselves which made for a very quiet peaceful ride.  Being able to roll along at a comfortable pace without traffic or other cyclists and pedestrians to contend with was very relaxing and I was really pleased this trail was right at my door step.

Clean fresh water is not scarce on Vancouver Island...

Aaron had a slow leak to contend with on the ride out.  We decided to just pump it up and keep rolling.  He was able to ride several kms before more pumping was required and that was fine since we took the chance to snack.  The ground was damp from the previous night’s storm with many puddles.  I was pleasantly surprised how well my Scorchers handled the less than ideal traction situation…especially on steep downhills or steep climbs.  I didn’t lose traction once or have to worry.

When we got to Sooke we had a tough choice to make…ride an extra 3kms uphill [and then back] to a pub for a few pints and nachos or keep going and finish off the last 10-15kms to the campground?  Aaron repaired his flat while we pondered these options.  Eventually we decided to skip the pub and keep riding.

I'm not functional in the AM until the 3rd cup of tea...

The last section from town of Sooke to the campground was the roughest and most remote part of the trail.  I really enjoyed it and was impressed how well my smalled wheeled Bike Friday was handling things.  I pretty much forgot I was riding a folding bike and enjoyed a very beautiful night ride to the campground.  When we got there the whole place was empty and may in fact have been closed.  We found a huge shelter to set our tent underneath and tried to start a campfire.  The damp wood was not cooperating and I was sleepy so we settled for a hot cup of tea before crashing soundly in our sleeping bags.

Aaron loading up his trucker...

I woke up several times during the night to heavy rain and fell back asleep hoping it would abate by the AM.  When I woke it wasn’t raining which made me happy!  We had a quick breakfast and many cups of tea before loading up our rigs.  Sadly just as we were ready to get rolling the rain started coming down in earnest again…=-(  Not much we could do so we pt on our rain gear and headed back down the trail.

I don’t love riding in the rain.  Riding on a rough gravel and dirt trail in the rain is less fun…especially with poor drainage that results in huge deep puddles across the whole trail.  I was trying some new rain gear out which worked okay except for my feet.  My NWT has these funky travel fenders that work okay for light rain on a paved road, but were overwhelmed by the sheer amount of water I was riding through and they dumped a bunch of it into my poorly chosen footwear.

The silly thing was I had a pair of waterproof Keen light hikers that would have been ideal for this mission, but somehow I had overlooked my feet and the likelihood for rain.  I won’t make that mistake again!

Small, but powerful...=-)

I also made another dumb mistake in under estimating my need for food and forgetting a bag of apples on my kitchen counter when I packed.  Being cold and splashing through water and soft ground on the way back I plowed through all the food on my bike very quickly.  Aaron was better prepared so I started in on his snacks!  One thing that made me very happy was that even in these sopping wet conditions the slick 20″ tires on my NWT were giving me lots of grip.  On the 55km ride how there were two or three muddy spots were I slide a bit, but the rest of the time I was rolling along like it was dry.

MMMMM...food!

Not shockingly as we neared Langford we started homing in on a warm dry restaurant that would serve us copious amounts of food.  We ate, we laughed and we dried off a bit.

Aaron enjoy the last few kms and our first sunshine of the day...

The sun finally made an appearance on our last few kms so we broke out the camera for a few pics.

The might Bike Friday nearing home...

Notice we are smiling like fools?  Food and sunshine will do that to a bike tourist.

This is my turn off...

Aaron offered me a fine post ride beer at my turn off on the Galloping Goose before he headed further into town.

The Horror! The Horror! The Horror!

All in all I had a lot of fun riding bikes and hanging out with Aaron.  I re-learned some valuable lessons.  Had I been wearing waterproof boots and had twice as many snacks I would have had a lot more fun.  I’m also now highly motivated to install the full coverage Planet Bike fenders I bought for my NWT over a year ago! We’ll be doing more tours this winter, but we’ll be sticking to paved roads when there is rain in the forecast…=-)





The beauty of being prepared…

21 11 2010

Ready to roll...

I would love to tell you I never drive when I could bike, but that’s not true.  I do bike a lot, but there are times like last night when I’m tired, it’s dark and cold out, rain is likely and I need to run out to get something from the grocery store.  Do I jump into my truck or do I ride?

It was a close call.  I ended up riding my Bike Friday NWT because:

  • it’s a bike I am stoked about
  • it fits me well
  • I can wear any shoes with it
  • it has fenders and racks
  • it has a dynohub and light that never needs charging
  • it has two tailights on it that rarely need batteries so one will always be working
  • it gets ridden enough that I know it’s tuned well and the tires have enough air
  • I keep grocery panniers by the door
  • I keep bike locks by the door
  • I keep all my bike/outdoor clothing organized so that grabbing the right gear takes little though and is fast
  • I have spares so that when two pairs of fleece gloves are in the laundry from a wet bike tour I can pull out a ratty 6yr old pair and keep rolling
  • I have bike friendly routes planned to all my usual destinations
  • I have safe spots to lock my bikes at all my usual destinations
  • I remind myself that biking is good for me and I’ll be glad I rode

When you look at that list it starts to become obvious that you don’t end up riding a bike by accident.  If I had to look for some charged batteries and swap a light over from another bike then look for my SPD bike shoes and search for a pair of gloves to wear and then I couldn’t remember where the grocery panniers got put away I might just say screw it and drive.  However, because at every turn when I have to make something happen it’s easy then I don’t get deflected from my goal to ride.

If you want to ride your bike next week you need to start putting the pieces together today.





Be prepared…

14 11 2010

Getting a little carried away...

One of the first things I do with most of my bikes is to fit front and rear racks.  When you have a couple dedicated cargo bikes it may seem excessive to have dual racks on so many bikes.  The thing is I tend to get carried away when I run my errands and with racks on your bikes as well as a few straps you can turn any bike into a hauler on short notice.

Small wheel - big load...

I also take a perverse pleasure collecting things along my ride and having people exclaim “…you can’t carry that on your little bike…” just to have me prove them wrong…=-)





Bike Locking Case #2

12 11 2010

Locked up while I get my java on...

With my gearing newly sorted out I’ve been stoked to ride my Bike Friday NWT lately.  Wednesday I rode with Sharon to her office at the hospital and then killed an hour before my morning meeting getting caffeinated at Discovery Coffee in Oak Bay.  I’m an espresso snob and I’m happy to report their offering is above average.  I locked my bike with a chain around a post.  Since I could see my bike from my table I didn’t bother with an additional cable I had nor did I remove any lights.

Kryptonite chain lock...

I like this lock because it’s light and seems robust enough to survive a fast attack.  I don’t expect it to be enough for a determined thief, but I don’t leave my bikes unattended all day nor do they get locked in the same spot day after day.

Keeping an eye on the old girl...

The best security accessory is a good vantage point.

Time for a pint...

After my morning meeting [where my bike was safely parked in a backyard] I met up with local Long Haul Trucker Aaron at the Penny Farthing Pub in Oak Bay.  Sadly this pub with a bike-ish name has no bike rack in front of it.  It does have this really thick post though. My little chain lock couldn’t get around the post so I used my extension cable through the wheels and the chain around just the frame.  That cable isn’t great security, but it’s something and I placed the chain with the hope it might look like it was around the post.  Not all thieves graduate at the top of their class!

I see you!

Given my less than perfect locking situation I chose a table with a view and I took the lights off my bike because my back was to the window so I couldn’t keep an eye on her as well as I would have liked.

 





New World Tourist Gearing Part 4

8 11 2010

Back to the beginning...

If you have been following all the gearing changes my Bike Friday NWT has undergone you’ll recognize that my latest configuration looks a lot like its original configuration with a 23T cog and 53T chainring. Having tried the 23T x 46T setup for over a year I’ve come to the conclusion that’s just too low for everyday riding.  A 50T up front would probably be ideal, but I had a brand new 53T ring sitting around so that’s what I’ll use.  Sadly the NWT cranks don’t look as spiffy as they did with the Sugino 46T bling on them, but I’d rather have 8 gears I can use than the 3 or 4 that are currently seeing action.

Of course part of the blame in all these changes lies in the paradigm shift that has occurred since I started riding fixed gear bikes.  When you get on fine with one gear and no coasting an 8 speed IGH seems like lots of options.





NWT Gearing Part 3

27 09 2010

My lovely chainring has to go...

Every time I ride my Bike Friday NWT [New World Tourist] I wish I had higher gearing.  This bike is setup with an 8 spd IGH which is enough gear range when adjusted correctly, but at the moment it’s so low I’m pretty much only using gear 6,7 & 8.

Why so low?

Well I used to think I needed lower gears than I actually did.  Riding a fixed gear makes that point very clear.  By comparison an 8 spd gear box that lets you coast seems positively outrageously luxurious. Even for a touring bike.

The only real problem is I really dig the [expensive!] Sugino 46T ring on the NWT and I can’t fit a smaller cog at the rear with the Surly Singlenator chain tensioner.  So I need to dig through my box of rings and grab any ugly 53T or 54T ring and slap it on.

This blog post will hopefully serve to shame me enough that I actually make it happen!





Friday Night Bike Ride

11 09 2010

My NWT night criterium rig...

The University of Victoria had a bike movie night [Veer - the movie!] which coincided with a regular [6yrs+] monthly mystery night bike ride.  Kurt and I decided to give it a shot.  The movie was really a interesting look into Portland bike culture with some Canadian content/influence that was fun.  The students that were watching the movie with us were all born about the time I left university myself!!!  Crazy..=-)

I rode my Bike Friday New World Tourist [NWT] with a bit of light bling for my wheels.  Kurt rode a Season Tikit with e-bike kit from Power in Motion – he’s turned into a total electric bike freak!

We met up with 40-50 riders after the movie and started our first monthly mystery night ride.  Sorry for the craptacular videos, but I figured they do a better job of giving you a feel for the event than some grainy photos.

It was super fun  to ride with a big boisterous group through the streets of Victoria and the pitch blackness of the Galloping Goose MUP.  We made it about halfway when we decided to bail.  We were enjoying the riding, but the group was stopping frequently to drink beer, smoke homemade cigarettes and socialize.  Which we didn’t mind except for the fact we were covering ground really slowly and figured we wouldn’t get to bed before 3-4am if we stuck with the ride.  Too late for me as I was up with Sharon at 6am that morning and had a long day.  As it was I only got to bed at 1am and Kurt had a longer ride home so he probably didn’t hit the sack until 130am.

We’ll definitely do the ride again – next time with a cargo bike carrying camp chairs + warm jackets for the stops and a generator driven thumping sound system!

Pimp!

Wheel lights are inexpensive electric glowstix stolen from my burning man bike kit. They are attached with clear packing tape.  I got non-stop positive comments from every group of peds we passed.  The downside to this setup is 8 finicky on/off switches to operate.  The upside is they are cheap totally effective and batteries last 50hrs+.

Solidlights 1203D powered by a Shimano dynohub...

On the totally dark MUP my Solidlights 1203D and Shimano dynohub were one of the best lights on the ride and it let me blast away from a couple times with other riders unable to follow since they couldn’t see where they were going at high speed.

Planet Bike Superflash x 2...

Two Planet Bike Superflash taillights set on steady so as not to stun riders behind me made sure nobody ran into me from behind.

BTW – video soundtrack provided by my iPhone 3GS playing in my jacket pocket while I rode.





It’s tough being one of my bikes…

1 07 2010

My NWT jammed into the back of a fully loaded pickup...

I always seem to have a fully loaded truck when I’m on the road.  I actually can travel with a streamlined set of gear for a specific activity…it’s just that I tend to always have gear for 4 or 5 different things and that adds up.  OTOH – I’ve got lots of fun options when plans change and new opportunities present themselves.  One thing I don’t like is to carry my bikes outside my vehicle.  They get dirty, damaged and stolen out there.  Even if they don’t I won’t take 2hrs and leave my vehicle to see a movie if my bike is hanging off the back.  That’s one of the reasons I like my Bike Friday New World Tourist a lot.  It folds up quite compactly with no tools required so I can fit it into my truck and deploy it for a ride without much fuss.  I can break down one of my full size bikes for storage inside my truck, but reassembling it takes so long I won’t bother unless I’m staying somewhere for a few days.  Of course since my truck is so loaded with gear my NWT gets a bit of abuse when it comes along for the ride.  I feel bad about that, but I’d rather have it with me and safe inside the truck than at home.  The fold of the NWT keeps all the delicate bits protected well enough and running a Nexus 8 IGH makes it hard to mess up my drivetrain.





How many bikes do I have?

7 06 2010

Surly 1x1

Santa Cruz Nomad

Surly Pugsley

Bike Friday New World Tourist

Surly Big Dummy...

Bike Friday Tikit...

Surly Long Haul Trucker...

Click on any photo to see more images of that bike…





Bike Friday NWT 1 Year Review

9 11 2009
nwt1

My Bike Friday NWT

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.

My Bike Friday New World Tourist photos.





I’m a bike commuter…

25 05 2009
My Bike Friday NWT daily commuter!

My Bike Friday NWT daily commuter!

How can a guy who works at home be a bike commuter?  Easy you just need a girlfriend who has much nicer place to live than you do so you stay there overnight a lot and have to bike back to your home office in the AM.  It may be a self-imposed commute, but it’s a commute nevertheless!  It’s only a 2km ride, but I forgot how much I enjoyed getting on my bike every morning for a ride before starting work.  Fresh air, bright sunshine and crazy motorists – smells like victory!…=-)

Kona Wah Wah BMX pedals

Kona Wah Wah BMX pedals

I needed some BMX platform pedals for my Surly Big Dummy and my LBS Bow Cycle was sold out of the NRG Slabalanche BMX pedals I have on a few other bikes so I had to settle for some bright white Kona Wah Wah pedals.  Not afraid to bling out my Bike Friday NWT I took the black NRG pedals from the NWT and swapped in the white Konas.  A bit ridiculous? – sure, but if you can’t have fun with your bikes what can you have fun with?  Just like you’d expect the Kona’s are comfy, versatile and grippy.  I tend to commute in a pair of 5.10 Impact low bike shoes so staying firmly attached to the bike is not an issue.

Ortieb panniers on my Bike Friday rear rack.

Ortieb panniers on my Bike Friday rear rack.

I haven’t toured with the NWT yet, but carrying enough wine, beer and ice for a sunny afternoon in the backyard is a decent test of the rear rack and panniers.  The NWT is rock solid with a heavy rear load.  I love how fast I can adjust these Ortlieb panniers to go from one rack to the next.  Although my feet are fairly large 11.5-12US I don’t have any heel strike issues with this rack  & pannier combo.  I even have an additional inch of adjustment if I wanted to move my panniers further back, but I prefer to keep the load as far forward on the bike as I can without hitting my feet on the panniers.

The Bike Friday rear rack provides lots of ground clearance.

The Bike Friday rear rack provides lots of ground clearance.

Without any bags on the rear rack the Bike Friday rack looks like it sits excessively high, but once you have full size rear panniers on it you can see the extra height is needed to get a reasonable amount of ground clearance with the smaller 20″ wheels.





Urban Assault NWT

28 04 2009
NWT getting down and dirty in the Big Smoke!

NWT getting down and dirty in the Big Smoke!

My NWT is a touring bike, but I only tour once in a while and have a few touring bikes to choose from so it has to serve multiple purposes.  I didn’t really have a clear vision of what the NWT would be when not on tour, but it has naturally become my choice for all urban assault missions that don’t require folding.  Of course if it has to fold my Tikit is the obvious choice.

What makes a good urban assualt bike?

  • quick & nimble
  • reliable = IGH
  • tough
  • all weather = fenders
  • comfortable
  • can carry stuff easily
  • lights
  • fun to ride
  • easy to store transport if needed

My NWT meets all of the criteria above without breaking a sweat.  The 20″ wheels make darting around obstacles easy & fun while at the same time being strong so crashing through potholes isn’t an issue.  Since the NWT is built for touring it’s tough and reliable.  With a Shimano Nexus 8 IGH it’s also low maintenance.  With a dyno headlight, 2 LED tail lights and fenders it’s ready to ride day or night – rain or shine.  Front and rear racks mean I can carry a week’s worth of groceries or a month’s worth of recycling easily.  Bike Friday dialed the fit for me so well I find I’m grabbing the NWT a lot just because it feels so good to ride.  I love the drop bars, Brooks saddle, BMX pedals and Greenspeed Scorcher tires.  They all work together to make hopping on the NWT a pleasure.  As a bonus if I need to throw the NWT in a car trunk or hop on transit I can fold it in a minute or two.

I’ve been feeling extremely lazy when it comes to bike related projects lately so the full coverage fenders are still sitting in the corner waiting for some time to put them on.  The Bike Friday travel fenders work well enough it’s not a huge issue – although I am looking forward to the functionality and aesthetics of the SKS 20″ fenders I have ready to install.  I also think I’ll add an AirZound horn to help get my road rage on when motorists don’t drive like normal human beings!…=-)





NWT Update

22 04 2009
My NWT resting by Nose Creek in Calgary.

My NWT resting by Nose Creek in Calgary.

With the weather finally solidly dry and warm-ish I got the NWT out for a 15km bike ride to drop off a car in the NW part of Calgary and then ride back downtown.  The NWT folds up easily and makes throwing in the trunk a breeze.  This was my first longer ride with the new gearing, Greenspeed Scorcher tires and JTEK Nexus 8 bar end shifter.  I must say they all worked fabulously.  In fact it feels like a whole new bike – faster and easier to ride than previously. I could have used one more gear at the top end, but it wasn’t much of an issue and I want to keep this bike setup for loaded touring.

My final upgrade/modification will be to install some Planet Bike full coverage fenders this week.

What lock?

What lock?





NWT MK3

31 03 2009
My NWT as it rolls at the moment...

My NWT as it rolls at the moment...

I’ve made a few more changes to my NWT getting it ready for spring and the start of touring season.  It’s a sharp looking bike…=-)

How long will the tape stay white?

How long will the tape stay white?

I removed the Shimano Nexus 8 twistshifter and replaced it with a JTEK bar-end shifter designed for the Nexus8/Alfine IGHs.  It seems like a very well made product and the shifting is precise and positive.  I’ll report more about this shifter in another post.  I messed up the bar tape when I installed the JTEK shifter so I threw caution to the wind and went bling with some white bar tape.  It may not stay white that long, but it looks sweet for the moment!

Greenspeed Scorchers 40mm-406

Greenspeed Scorchers 40mm-406

I love the Greenspeed Scorcher tires on my Tikit so I got a set for the NWT.  I’m hopeful they provide the same fast and comfortable ride in this size.  I picked up the TR version which is supposed to resist flats well.  I haven’t had a single flat on my Tikit which is running TRs so it seems to be working.

Sugino 46T ring

Sugino 46T ring

I’ve been adjusting the gear range on my NWT trying to get it just right so I can tour with only a single ring up front.  A Sugino 46T ring gives me a warranty legal 2:1 ratio with my 23T cog at the back and *fingers crossed* gives me a nice blend of low end and top speed.  Only time will tell and it’s really sloppy out at the moment as spring tries to arrive so the NWT is grounded until roads are dry.

In-line barrel adjuster.

In-line barrel adjuster.

The JTEK shifter has no cable tension adjustment so I added an in-line barrel adjuster near the hub.





Bike Friday New World Tourist – Part 4

28 01 2009
Bike Friday did a great job on the white paint...

Bike Friday did a great job on the white paint...

Sorry for the delay in posting a NWT ride report.  I wanted to get some more miles on this bike before I commented.  Although the weather has not been ideal I have been out and about.  Sadly the minty freshness of this bike is somewhat tarnished by road grime, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay to keep the blog posts flowing…hahaha!

I’m a member of the Bike Friday Yak List and I’ve read lots of NWT owner comments that the New World Tourist rides just like full sized touring bike.  I figured that must be a bit of an exaggeration since a 20″ wheeled folding bike has to be different than a 26″/700c wheeled bike.  Well I must say I see where they are coming from.  Other than having slightly faster handling and feeling bumps a little bit more the NWT fits and rides a lot like my Surly Long Haul Trucker.  I find that pretty amazing.

Speaking of amazing I must give Bike Friday credit for dialing in the fit on this bike for me so well.  All they had to go on were some measurements from my Tikit as well as some general riding preferences.  I just wanted to make sure we were in the ballpark and I figured I’d do the rest once I got the bike.  To my surprise the bike fit me like a glove right down to having a long TT and a short stem.  I haven’t had to adjust a thing – sweet!

One of the reasons I think the NWT and the Tikit ride so well when compared to other folding bikes is that Bike Friday allows you to customize your frame to fit you.  This is more than just pushing your seat back and adding a longer stem to make a small bike fit a large person.  Anyone who has ridden a bike like that will agree the feeling of having your weight too far over the front wheel is not pleasant nor confidence inspiring.  The effective TT on my  NWT is around 59cm which allows me to keep my weight well back of the bars and allows the bike to handle very pleasantly.

Between the handling and the fit I’m really looking forward to doing some touring on this bike.

The NWT feels a lot like my Surly LHT...
The NWT feels a lot like my Surly LHT…

The NWT is a lot stiffer than I expected.  I knew it would be a stronger frame than my Tikit, but I’m very happy how solid this bike feels. Even when I’m out of the saddle hammering to beat a light or crank my way up a steep hill the frame just takes the punishment and drives the bike forward.  The stem/bars in particular are rigid which gives you lots of confidence bombing down hill at high speed.  Keep in mind I have not tried it fully loaded so l my impressions are of an unloaded bike.

In terms of handling the NWT’s high speed manners are excellent.  A little faster than my Surly LHT, but not a great deal.  I was bombing down a steep bridge with a heavily gusting crosswind and the NWT was easy to keep on line.  I suspect that a fully loaded NWT will descend mountain passes very confidently with some front panniers slowing down the steering quite a lot.  The bike is a real pleasure to ride at slow speeds since it’s quite maneuverable and slowing to a crawl & track stands are easy.

The bike accelerates well both in the saddle and standing on the pedals.  Since my foot was feeling good and the bike responded well to hard sprints I found myself racing between lights.  I eventually had to remind myself this is a touring bike made for cruising not criterium racing!  The NWT climbed competently [although it reminds you it's not a featherweight road bike] when the road turned uphill.  I enjoy climbing on tour so I just settle into my comfy cockpit and churn away at the pedals while the scenery rolls by.

The Nexus 8 twist shifter mounted at the right bar end position is a new configuration for me.  I found it intuitive to use and easy to grab without looking.  I do prefer a true bar end shifter so I’ll be replacing it with a JTEK Nexus 8 bar end shifter, however I have to say it if you are thinking of mounting a twist shifter on a drop bar bike this is not a bad way to go.  I’ve been using bar end shifters for years so perhaps if I stuck with the twist shifter longer I might grow to like it more.  The Nexus 8 is as much a pleasure to use as the other two Shimano IGH I’ve got running.

My earlier post about the NWT gearing closed noting you can do all the online gear calculation you want, but ultimately the real test is on the road.  After putting the NWT through its paces I’ve come to the conclusion the 39T x 16T is great for an unloaded bike, but too high for touring.  I didn’t even bother using the 53T chain ring as I wasn’t spinning out one of the longer steeper hills in town – although it must be said I’m not a kamikaze descender.  The easy way to lower the gearing is to swap in a bigger Nexus 8 cog as they run $8 each at full retail.  I’ll play with this and post something when I’ve got it dialed in.

...slow speed handling is excellent.
…slow speed handling is excellent.

Just a few random component notes:

  • NRG Slabalanche BMX pedals are great on this bike
  • Brooks B-17 is comfy out of the box like all my other Brooks saddles
  • I threw on some salmon coloured Koolstop brake pads
  • the Tektro drop bar v-brake levers and Shimano v-brakes stop the bike silent and with authority using just two fingers on the levers. I’ve been finding the hood position of the Tektro levers a bit uncomfortable.  I need to see if it’s the angle they are sitting at or if it’s the unpadded gloves I’m wearing.  This seems a bit odd as I have some identical Cane Creek branded levers I’ve enjoyed on another bike.
  • the Bike Friday fenders work and are easy to install with one bolt each, but I’m a fan of full coverage fenders so I’m going to see if I can find a set I like and try them out.
  • The Schwalbe Marathons are solid rugged touring tires, but they are heavy and not so fast.  I’m going to try and get a pair of Greenspeed Scorchers in the 40mm-406 [20"] size to try out since they have treated me well on my Tikit.

That’s it for now.  I’ll be getting the NWT out every chance I have to ride dry roads, but that may not be too often until March rolls around.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get this bike out for an early weekend tour in the mountains and post my Part 5 Touring Review sooner rather than later.





Bike Friday New World Tourist – Part 2

21 01 2009
The fully assembled bike

The fully assembled bike

Specifications:

Bike Friday NWT frame [~58cm effective TT] in Premium White power coat

  • 20″ [406] Velocity Aeroheat rims 36H with 40mm Schwalbe Marathon tires
  • Rear hub – Nexus 8 Redband 16T with twist shifter on Hubbub adapter
  • Front hub – Shimano Deore
  • 170mm unbranded cranks 53T/39T
  • Pedals – unbranded BMX platforms
  • Shimano Sora front derailleur and Ultegra bar end shifter
  • Shimano Sora rear derailleur used only as a chain tensioner
  • Origin 8 drop bars
  • Tektro v-brake drop bar levers
  • Tektro v-brakes
  • 80mm unbranded stem 105 deg rise
  • square taper 118.5mm x 68mm BB
  • KMC Z-50 8 speed chain
  • Brooks B-17 saddle
  • Bike Friday front & rear racks
  • Bike Friday fenders

Planned Upgrades:

  • NRG Slabalanche low profile BMX pedals [same as on my Pugsley]
  • Salsa stem – once I’ve dialed in my riding position 100%
  • Shimano 105 53T/43T cranks & BB [have a set in my parts bin and they are black so I may try them]
  • Greenspeed Scorchers 40mm 20″ tires [because I love them on my Tikit]
  • JTEK Engineering Nexus 8 bar end shifter
Not so little from this angle!

Not so little from this angle!

Other mods:

I’m sort of keen on simplifying the drivetrain by settling on a single chainring up front then removing the front shifter and derailleur.  I’d replace the Sora rear derailleur with a Surly Singlenator pushing up to tension the chain.  The result would be a very clean bike, but the question is can I tour fully loaded with only 8 gears and the range of a Nexus 8?  I’m not 100%, but I think it may work.





Bike Friday New World Tourist – Part 1

20 01 2009
All the ingredients for a Bike Friday New World Tourist

All the ingredients for a Bike Friday New World Tourist

It probably comes as no shock to anyone that I got a Bike Friday New World Tourist [NWT].  I’ve been a big fan of their Tikit and have been interested in their line of custom travel bikes for a while now.  The NWT is a classic design that has seen touring duty all over the world.  I wanted to see what the slightly larger and stiffer NWT would be like to tour on compared to my Tikit and my full size touring bikes.

One of the hardest parts of the process was deciding which Bike Friday model to get.  I like their Air Glide and Pocket Llama models as well as the NWT.  Although the titanium beam Air Glide is a cool design I ruled it out as it costs quite a bit more than the more conventional Bike Friday designs and it doesn’t fold as easily.  The PL and NWT are fairly similar with the PL having clearance for wider tires and being a bit more rugged.  I chose the NWT as I don’t see myself doing any unpaved tours with this bike given the very capable full sized touring bikes in my stable.  I also liked the 1.5″ lower BB on the NWT plus it’s such a classic design.  Walter @ Bike Friday was very helpful in providing information and answering my questions as worked my way through the options.

frame/fork & rear wheel/bars

frame/fork & rear wheel/bars

Since it was a custom bike I decided to go with a Nexus 8 IGH drivetrain mated to a double chainring upfront.  I spec’d drop bars for long distance comfort.

The rest of the bits...

The rest of the bits...

I settled on a white powder coat since my bikes always seem to be black or dark green.  The NWT has fenders and front/rear racks so it’s ready to tour.

I love the personalized name plate!

I love the personalized name plate!

If there is any doubt that this bike was custom made for me the personalized name plate should put the matter to rest…=-)