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 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.
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.