My "Bike Friday"  and the Evolution of my "Rig"

Bike Fridays are folding bikes built by Green Gear Cycling in Eugene, Oregon.  I stopped at the factory about a week into my ride, where the bike got an overhaul.  (See the Eugene page.)

My Bike Friday is a "Midnight Blue" Pocket Rocket model.  These bikes fold and pack into a standard full-size suitcase.  Once my ride began, the suitcase became a cargo trailer.

I didn't buy the bike with a trip like this in mind.  I bought it to have a performance bike with which I could travel.  But the bike has performed beautifully, surpassing all my expectations.



My original "Rig" on the Oregon Coast

In Eugene, I sent home enough stuff that I was able to shift my tent and some other gear from on top of the rear rack to inside the suitcase/trailer.  I purchased a low-rider style rack for the front fork, and moved my small panniers (saddle bags) to the front to better balance the weight on the bicycle.   This is visible in the photo to the left.  Also notice the front panniers and rear rack pack being used as a clothes drying rack.  This works great, as long as it doesn't rain!

The flag, seen at left attached to a front pannier, and attached to the rear rack pack in the earlier photo above, is from Justin Linden's funeral, and I plan to carry it all the way across the country.

During the ride to Eugene, I decided to try to switch from pulling a trailer to using larger rear panniers.  When I got to Bike Friday and told Ian Scholz (the designer and builder of the trailer) my thoughts, he talked me out of it, with plenty of good reasons.


Modified Rig (Eugene to Missoula)

New Rig in Missoula (Note the handlebar bag hanging on the gear cables, resulting in sluggish shifting, which I didn't notice until I changed bags.)
Newer Rig (Note the new handlebar bag, and how it sits above the cables.)


On the climbs between Eugene and Missoula (especially White Bird Hill), I again decided to try to eliminate the trailer.  The trailer (like most things in life) has pros and cons.

Some pros (compared to panniers):

Security-  It is lockable, preventing removal of contents by less-than-well-meaning people or critters.  In a campsite, I can throw food and valuables in it, snap it shut, and go to bed without worrying about them disappearing or getting soaked.   I can lock it if I am away from the bike for any period of time.

It is reasonably watertight if I don't overstuff it, and I'm careful with the seal.

Because it is shallow, items are packed more-or-less in a single layer, and are easy to find.

Less weight is carried on the bicycle, making the bike less trouble-prone.

Some cons:

Weight- The container and its chassis weigh 20 pounds empty.

Drag- The small wheels, especially since they lack proper hub bearings, create additional noise and drag.

Since the wheels are a different size from the bike wheels, I need to carry additional spare tubes.

More weight and drag on hills.

The wheels, hitch, and suitcase create the potential for more problems- more flats, leaks, and breakdowns.

More weight, more drag, more noise, etc.

I stopped in the Public Library in the small town of New Meadows, ID, used their free internet service, and ordered front and rear waterproof Ortlieb panniers from REI, and had them shipped to their Missoula store.  When I got to Missoula, I went to the store, picked up my package, and tried them out right in the store.  The sales people there (especially Brad) were very interested and helpful.  I had two concerns-  that the bike's short wheelbase wouldn't allow me to mount the large panniers on the rear and still get the pedals around without my feet hitting the bags; and that I wouldn't be able to fit all of my gear from the trailer in the panniers.  Neither concern turned out to be an issue.

The Ortlieb panniers, highly recommended by many touring cyclists (including Simon Plummer, whom I met outside of Baker City), are excellent.  They mount on the bike quickly and securely, and are completely waterproof. 

In short, I gave up some security and convenience for less weight (over 25 pounds less!) and drag.  As usual, Woody's prediction that the trailer may not work out was right on the money.

The new rig seems to result in a 20 25% increase in speed, and a lot less noise!   The bike is still quite stable on speedy descents.  The cons:  The extra weight on the bike may result in maintenance issues, and it takes me 5-10 minutes longer to pack the bags then it did the trailer. So far (in Pueblo), I am thrilled with the switch!

My "Dashboard"
Dashboard "Lite"


Note:  The GPS has been disappointing.  I have been unable to download route information to it, since its newer software is not backwards compatible with Adventure Cycling's GPS information, built on older software from the same manufacturer (Garmin)!.  It doesn't work under tree cover, and it's a battery hog. 

I put it in my bag, saving it for emergencies since it doesn't weigh much by itself, and sent home my battery charger, switching to a set of alkalines to use for the camera, headlight (rarely used), and little radio, none of which use batteries as quickly.

When I installed the new handlebar bag, I lowered the mount for the headlight onto the stem, so the light could shine forward under the bag.  This results in my "lite" dashboard, as seen in the right hand photo.  All I have to look at is the map and the bike computer-  less distractions, and less weight on the bar.

    Brooks B-17 Saddle  

In Missoula, I bought a Selle Italia Prolink saddle with a gel insert, similar to the Turbomatic saddle I've used happily for years, and sent the Brooks home.  It simply didn't work for me.  A Brooks fan at a shop in Missoula looked at it, and said that it wasn't broken in yet.  If it's not broken in with 1,500 miles on it, when will it be?  When I get back to Philadelphia, maybe?  (Sorry, Woody.  But thanks, anyway!)

Some saddle sores have persisted after switching saddles.  I am currently (8/11 in Pueblo) beginning a course of Keflex (an antibiotic) in an attempt to defeat them.  Otherwise, the new saddle is comfortable.