May 15, 2010
The New World Tourist is Bike Friday's loaded touring specific bike, which can handle racks and panniers or a trailer, depending on your preference. The small folding frame geometry lends itself well to touring in the sense that it provides a super low step over height, and can be adjusted to fit a wide variety of rider types.
The folding feature of this bike is its most obvious benefit. The bike folds up through a quick release bolt near the seat post, which folds the rear stays and seat mast over, and another quick release that removes the stem. No specialty tools are required. With a bit of practice, you can have the bike folded down in around 10 minutes. This process can become a little more time consuming if you have racks and fenders attached to the bike, as they will need to be removed (along with the bottle cages) before packing up.
With 20 inch wheels and a short wheelbase, the bike has a fairly unique ride. I would recommend getting a few test rides in before taking it out on tour. Even when loaded, the bike will turn quicker than a standard bike, and your turning radius is reduced. Once you get the handling down, the bike can be very enjoyable to ride. One big benefit that the small wheels provide, is that the shorter spokes make for a very strong wheel under loaded conditions.
When purchasing a Bike Friday, there are some custom options available, ranging from $1095 up to $1899 for a complete bike. For ease of packing, I have found flat bars a little easier to pack than drop bars, but perhaps you will find a better system than mine. If you purchase a new bike, definitely plan well in advance, as it takes anywhere from 5-9 weeks to receive your bike. For those who would like to get their hands on a bike more quickly, and for less money, Bike Friday has an excellent classified section of their website. For specialty parts, such as racks, fenders, and tires, you can find plenty of items through their parts store.
Photos by Josh Tack.
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.