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.


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26 responses

9 11 2009
mike

yay! a bike post!
i’m wondering when the lazy sup boarder blog is going to start…
;)

but i’m enjoying all the posts.

9 11 2009
thelazyrando

Hahaha…for the record I went back and looked at my last 10 posts:

- 6 were directly bike related
- 2 were general [tent and camera] and could be bike touring related
- 2 were SUP or kiteboarding related

20% isn’t too bad!…=-)

9 11 2009
Brian Ogilvie

Nice review! It’s very helpful to me. I was hesitating last spring between a Tikit and a NWT. I got the Tikit but I found it a little too flexy for my taste, and by the time I ended up disassembling it for packing I don’t think it was any faster than the NWT would have been. I think I’ll try a NWT next spring and then keep the one I like better. (I already have 4 bikes and I think my wife would balk at a 5th….)

BTW I think there’s a missing “not” in the 4th “not to like” bullet point: “the folded bike does stay together very well” [sic].

9 11 2009
thelazyrando

I agree that for travel the Tikit will take as long to pack into a suitcase as a NWT. The Tikit is much better for fast folding during errand runs or commutes though. The NWT is more like a full sized touring bike that packs into a suitcase. I should also point out that the NWT’s fold is great for putting in the trunk of a small car or storing in a closet.

9 11 2009
Brian Ogilvie

Thanks again, this time for confirming my hunch about packing time. I had my Tikit in Paris last summer and I found that I only needed to fold it when storing it out of the way. (I tended to fold it while carrying it up and down the 5 flights of stairs to my apartment, but that was only because I could.) There were a couple times when I folded it for train rides, but that wasn’t necessary either. Next summer I’ll be in Oxford and I won’t need to fold much, if at all.

11 11 2009
Gareth

Interesting review. Your comment on the hub gear confirms my feelings about the Alfine hub – looks like Shimano are onto something here

13 11 2009
Mark

Beautiful bike Vic… a quick question for you-

My commute involves unfolding my bike at home, folding it when I get to work, unfolding for going home and then finally folding when I get home at night. I don’t have to carry the bike anywhere.
Would I get frustrated with this amount of folding with a NWT? It’s not exactly multiple folding.
At the moment I’m commuting on a Dahon Vitesse with the 7 speed Nexus… nice bike but I’m looking for something portable I can do multiple miles on at the weekend too. The Airnimals look nice but so does the NWT!

Any thoughts?
Cheers, Mark

13 11 2009
thelazyrando

Hey Mark,

I have a Dahon D7…the NWT actually folds as easily [maybe even easier than my Dahon] and the unfolding is great because there is nothing to adjust the bike just goes back exactly into the same configuration as before. The downside is the Dahon is an easier package to move around because it stays together better. If you are just folding to put under a desk or in a closet at the start/end of each day’s commute the NWT will be fine. I don’t think you’ll get annoyed.

13 11 2009
DerrickP

The one thing that no one commented on… even you, Vik, was the freakin awesome black and white scheme the NWT is rocking. It’s a quality bike… but the great look of yours specifically is worth mentioning!

14 11 2009
Mark

Derrick… you’re not wrong.. it’s a really beautiful lookin’ bike!
I’ve also seen the BF midnight blue colour on a NWT and it was stunning too.

16 02 2010
Rob K

Your blog is a staple Vic, and much appreciated. Thank you.
It is also very infectious as I am now contemplating a second bike to cover downtime on my current ride. I have corresponded with Bike Friday to see if they are still fitting the Rohloff to their bikes and if they would recommend their machines for a strong, 295 lb rider. They said yes to both questions.

But I am also considering the Thorn Nomad series. The specific question I am hoping you will humour is the viability of the BF in touring form for long distance backcountry work such as your Dempster ride? (The bike would also be used heavily as a commuting machine in urban Lower Mainland of BC including a lot of dyke rides)

Thanks again.

16 02 2010
thelazyrando

Thanks for the kind words Rob…

Bike Friday’s are awesome…great company…cool bikes…easy to store/transport…fun bikes…but….I can’t recommend small wheels for dirt/gravel road travel. It’s not impossible, but definitely not the right tool for the job. It would be ideal for commuting and for paved road touring though.

The Thorn Nomad is a super tough adventure bike that will gobble up a ride like the Dempster Highway….but…I find it way too much bike for unloaded/lightly loaded riding like commuting….the bike is heavy and stiff….sort of sucks up your energy and feels sluggish. OTOH – add a weeks worth of camping gear/food and such and bomb down a fireroad then you’d appreciate all those characteristics that make it not as much fun riding unloaded. Keep in mind I’m 165lbs and not uber strong so you may find the Nomad just right.

If you find yourself in Calgary and want to check out my BF and my Thorn just let me know!

16 02 2010
thelazyrando

Rob does size/folding matter to you? I’d suggest you look at a Rohloff Surly Big Dummy. It can handle 400lbs rider + cargo. Rides very smooth, very stable can handle adventuring touring, commuting and can do lots of utility missions.

I find the Big Dummy rides a lot lighter and faster than it should given its weight.

You can also add S&S couplers to this rig to make it easier to ship.

Anyways just a thought…

17 02 2010
Rob K

I am grateful for your timely and helpful response Vic. Thank you loads.

Your answers are proving to me that I need to clarify my needs as I feel myself chasing after the elusive dream of the perfect do it all machine. Life is so imperfect, is it not??

But you have been a great assist in that regard and I would be pleased to accept your kind offer should I find myself in Calgary again.

Cheers….

22 03 2010
Elizabeth Leboe

Hello there Vik,
I’ve been cruising around the Internet as I consider a replacement for my do-it-all Brodie Quantum that was STOLEN just three weeks ago… I’m still in the sad/mad stage, but I can feel the excitement of choosing a new bike starting to emerge, and am planning to take full advantage of having to start from scratch.
I was directed to your blog by Walter at Bike Friday, as I’m entertaining the idea of replacing my commuter/touring steed with a folding version that would serve the same purposes. Since you seem to be a very Avid Bike Guy, I would love to ask you this: has having the folding NWT provided you with any opportunities you have taken advantage of since you’ve had it, that you couldn’t have done with a conventional (full-size, non-folding) bike?
I live in North Vancouver and mostly commute to work on my bike, but also try to get out on one bike tour per year, even if it’s just a long weekend. Other than storage in my small house, the only advantages I’ve thought up so far are these: taking my bike in a friend’s vehicle if they don’t have a bike rack; and taking my bike on a one-way trip returning by Greyhound or other bus (which you can’t take a full-size, unboxed bike on).
I would appreciate your feedback, since it looks like you’ve tried everything!
Best regards,
Liz from North Van

22 03 2010
thelazyrando

Hi Liz,

You’ve essentially nailed the two advantages to a NWT over a full size bike….1) travel 2) storage. If you have to fly with your bike or take a bus being able to fold down into a small package is very handy and can save you a lot of $$$ in baggage fees. Storing a folded bike is very easy and over comes a lot of typical objections people have [hotels, work, friend's] to bringing in or storing a full size bike. An office that doesn’t allow bikes inside will usually not mind a folded bike – especially in a bag. I’ve throw my folders into the trunks of friend’s cars and can easily take a bike along on a trip even if I’m not sure I’ll do a lot of cycling…something I won’t bother with a full size bike.

I’m not sure how your bike was stolen, but maybe a folder would have allowed you to put your bike somewhere more securely than a full size bike?

My GF drives a Mini so there is no way to carry a full size bike, but I can throw a folded BF in the trunk without any issues.

One thing I would suggest is getting the suitcase for it. I have a had a few opportunities to fly with my NWT and I didn’t take it because I was too lazy to box it and was worried about damage. Instead of having a bike to ride at my destination I had nothing….=-( Needless to say a suitcase is on my shopping list!

Besides the convenience of the fold the NWT is a great bike to ride and puts a smile on my face every time I climb aboard.

12 04 2010
Elizabeth Leboe

Thanks for your info. I’m going for it – diving deep into the piggy bank, but all reports I’ve read sounds very very positive. Plus I’ve done some test riding and comparisons and it’s the only bike that feels like a ‘regular’ bike – no flex/bendy bits in important places, like the handlebar post.

One more question for you: do you wish you had a handlebar post that folded instead of ‘pops out’? Or do you like what you’ve got? I am wondering specifically about how greasy you or your car trunk gets when you remove the handlebar from the frame to fold this NWT up and put it away, and also how you carry the bike around with the handlebars not really being attached by anything but the cables.

Thanks!
Liz from North Van
Liz

12 04 2010
Vik

@ Elizabeth:

- I don’t use my NWT as a “folding bike” on a day to day basis so I don’t desire the folding stem. If you will fold your bike daily or even a few times a week you would probably appreciate that feature.

- The part of the stem in the frame is not greasy and BF provides a velcro strap so you can wrap the bike together to make carrying simple.

13 10 2010
Mahesh

Hi ViK,
Can you please post a pic of your folded NWT ?
if you dont mind sharing the complete specs and the cost to my mailing address (I live in india and ride a surly LHT currently) but I do wish to possess
a NWT and EXACT SAME configuration and color combination like yours :-)
Regards,
Mahesh

13 10 2010
thelazyrando

@Mahesh – I’m not at home so I’ll get you a pic next week. I got my NWT a couple years ago so the prices will have changed. I’ll get my friend Walter at Bike Friday to get you a quote for the same bike. What part of India do you live in?

13 10 2010
Mahesh

Hi Vik,
Thanks for the quick response.
I currently live in bangalore and no points for guessing my profession. :)
Your bike looks awesome.
Regards,
Mahesh

23 11 2011
jim bulin

Hi Vik,

Is this thread still alive. If so, I’d appreciate some advice.

Jim

23 11 2011
thelazyrando

Feel free to ask any questions you may have.

14 12 2011
Veeraragavan N

Hi Vik,
My requirement is the same as mahesh. But 16 in wheels are really bad & very uncomfortable too for india’s roads. Even my 20in folder is not so great but manageable. 24 in would be ideal for bad indian roads. But when you want a folder then 24 in is ruled out. I’d like a tikit like quick fold in a NWT like package. Even if its slightly bigger than the tikit its ok. But unfortunately the NWT is not made in that form factor.

14 12 2011
Veeraragavan N

Hi mahesh,
I’d love to be in touch especially about this & biking in general as well!

14 12 2011
thelazyrando

@VN – I know of no 20″+ wheeled bike that meets your needs. You can get the NWT/Pocket Llama with quick fold stem which allows a very fast fold. Not Tikit fast, but pretty close. The Pocket Llama will take 2.0″ wide tires which will smooth out rough roads nicely.

https://thelazyrando.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/bike-friday-folding-stem-videos/

If you explain your needs to BF they’ll give you the options that best suit them.

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