Once you get past the fact that you feel like you are a circus clown riding one of those tiny little trick bicycles, our new folding Bike Friday bikes are surprisingly agile, speedy and just plain fun to ride.
Plus, they indeed do fold right up and easily fit in our StowAway2 cargo box.
Here's a video that shows the bike in action on a couple of different rides over different terrain, as well as how they fold up and fit in the cargo box. I shot it with a GoPro camera and a helmet mount.
The bikes have steel frames and can handle 330 pounds so despite their diminutive size, they are solid and rugged performers.
We've done lots of riding this weekend after buying his and her BFs at the Family Motorhome Association Reunion and rally in Redmond, OR. The company hand makes each bike in nearby Eugene and this was their first effort at exhibiting during a community of Kennewick, WA.
The 20-inch wheels on the Bike Fridays are amazingly efficient. You'd think you'd have to pedlal more because they are so small. Or pedal harder to get up hills. The truth is, you don't. It's all in the gearing, explains the company. A single turn of the pedals on a Bike Friday will cover the same ground as that of a regular wheeled bicycle. The small wheel just turns a little more.
How is this possible?
According to John Rezell, the company's Special Projects Manager and the guy I bought our Bike Fridays from:
- The gears on a Bike Friday are configured to match the ratios of a regular bike
- Small wheels climb better due to a smaller diameter that needs to be rotated.
- Small wheels accelerate faster.
- Small wheels are more responsive — they turn and steer more easily.
- Small wheels, having a lower surface area, have lower wind resistance in headwinds.
- When riding in a group, small wheels enable you to get closer together and draft better.
- We've seen tests that shown up to 16 mph, the small wheel is more efficient that a big wheel. Between 16 and 33 mph there is little difference.
- Small wheels are lighter [they simply have less
- Small wheels are stronger [less spokes are needed for the same durability].
So that's the company line. To put the claims to the test, I hit the road. Check the video to see.
I did about 20 miles Saturday morning, going up and down hills, trying it on a sand trail through the sagebrush and down a gravel road. It was great on the road and gravel, not so good in the sand. But hey, I tried.
That afternoon, Jennifer got on hers and we traveled the Sacagawea Heritage Trail, named after the Indian woman who helped Lewis and Clark fin the Pacific, a route that led them right past the spot we were riding along the Columbia River. Again, the bike is smaller than a regular bike. You are closer to the ground. You also sit more upright. But once she got used to the way it feels, she was soon cruising like a veteran.
You can see how well they fit in our cargo box on the video. Even with the bikes in them, there's room for our ground cover, the leveling blocks, my toolbox, the electric cable and my hose, plus assorted odds and ends. We put Tai's dog bed on top of it all and close the lid.
So, bottom line for us: We now can travel with bicycles, something we have really missed since adding the cargo box (which takes up the hitch receiver and precludes us using a bike rack for regular sized bikes.)
The only adjustment we had to make was where to put the gravity chairs we like to use to relax at campsites. Turns out, folded up, they fit between the raised back of the rear sofa and the closed rear doors of our Roadtrek.
We're off the Glacier National Park. I plan to use my Bike Friday there. Can't wait.