March 11, 2004: Sweet dreams are made of this ... Marion Guy and her Pro Petite
HOW COME Bike Friday--a small, grass-roots company that builds a strange 'niche' travel bicycle, sells largely by word of mouth and demonstrations in public parks, and does everything with local labor--has managed to cultivate such a loyal and fanatical 11,000+ member following?
Here's one story that might explain why.
Sue Johnson and Marion Guy came all the way from England for a week's holiday and to collect Marion's new Pocket Rocket Pro Petite.
"I already have an old New World Tourist for loaded touring, and I wanted something to do Audax rides," says Marion. For the uninitiated, Audax is a type of long distance, time-limited cycling that calls for total confidence in your machine.
Sue's husband, Peter Johnson, had been a Pocket Rocket owner for years. In fact, Peter was one of the first people I met on my maiden "End to End by Friday" journey through Great Britain some 7 years ago. I was coming down a hill near Shrewsbury, and saw what looked like a black BF. I stopped and chatted and next minute I am climbing a steep hill back to Peter's house to meet Sue, have dinner, watch their Pilgrim's Trail slide show and stay the night. Such is the brother/sisterhood of the BF community! I was delighted to be able to host Sue 7 years later in Eugene, Oregon, home of Bike Friday.
Sue says she was just 'coming along for the holiday' and had no intention of buying a Bike Friday.
"I've got a perfectly good bike - admittedly not a folding bike - that suits my needs," she said. She had packed Marion's New World Tourist to use while in Eugene because, well, it packed in a suitcase...
When the two women turned up at Bike Friday to take delivery of Marion's new Pro, they soon realized that there had been a mistake - the frame was a size too large. BF occasionally makes a slip up and that is what the fit guarantee is all about. In this case Marion was migrating from a flat bar bike to a drop bar bike and a measurement was overlooked. That was on Friday. The two spent a sleepless Saturday night thinking they'd be taking back an empty suitcase to the UK (and to the undoubted chiding of Marion's hubby who thinks she's a bit "balmy" for buying a travel bicycle).
On Sunday they particpated in the Monthly BF Club of Eugene ride where Alan Scholz said, "We should be able to do something..."
"Bring your bike in Tuesday," said Markus, Customer Service Manager.
Still a little worried, they consoled themselves by planning to ride one of several challenging loops around Eugene but ended up making several energetic circuits around the local Wal-Mart.
"I can't believe these shoes were $7, they'd be 45 quid in the UK!" ... etc.
On Tuesday they arrived at BF and Tim Link brought out a brand new frame welded by BF framebuilder Steve Savich sometime during the weekend, we assume. By Tuesday afternoon Customer Service manager Markus Bethel had sandblasted and painted the frame, and Tim Link finished the final assembly, putting all the parts, fork and rear end on the new, size XS mainframe.
"We're flabbergasted," said Marion. "In the UK we'd have been told, more or less, you're stuck with it or it would have taken weeks and weeks to get it rectified." They spent their final day, Wednesday, touring the Oregon coast in a rental car knowing that the bike was now right and ready to pack and take home.
Meanwhile, Sue, who had no intention of buying a Bike Friday, found herself ordering a Crusoe. What made her change her mind?
"I have to say I got caught up in the whole romanticism of it, experiencing first hand the incredible service of Bike Friday, of how it all got fixed literally in a matter of hours. And of course, the fun I had tooling around the backroads of Eugene on Marion's. I can now see why people are such fanatics." The headline for this story was suggested by Sue, recalling the sleepless Saturday night they spent literally hours before Marion's brand new, correct-fit BF was wheeled out of the workshop.
Well, that was a nice bedtime story, wasn't it? Sleep tight, knowing that whenever you buy a travel bicycle from Bike Friday, one thing is guaranteed: you will be happy with the fit.
Thanks to Steve Savich, Marcus Bethel and Tim Link from Customer Service for rising to the occasion, as they say in the UK ...
Email from Marion back in the UK, March 13, 2004:
"Thank you so much for your kindness and hospitality. It really made my holiday, it was such a good experience all round, I can't think of one thing that could have been improved on, even having the bike the wrong size just proved to me what a good service Bike Friday is, and convinced Sue to be part of the Bike Friday family. Many thanks again Very best wishes. Marion
August 8, 2004: What Marion did recently on her Friday:
This is what I did on a Friday ... I did win the Lady's prize, a yellow Jersey. It was the CTC's annual Birthday Rides in Derbyshire, there were about 600 people there (not all taking part in the downhill).
Marion Guy and Pro Petite down hill
In the overall competition, I was second veteran lady, I would have been first had I ridden the hill-climb, but I flunked out (the asthma made me too cautious). I rode two Audax events (55k and 100k) the downhill a map reading and treasure hunt, I did the off road but had to borrow a mountain bike for that one.
Had a great time, need a rest now, but am doing another Audax on Wed 100k on very hill terrain. Wish me luck. Best wishes Marion Guy
You GO girl!
Update: May 2005:
Just thought I'd send this photo of me on my Pocket Rocket Pro (Petite), My husband and I went to watch the "Tour" last year, this was taken after the start, when no-one was lookin!'.
Next week, my friend Sue Johnson (Petite Crusoe) and I plus three other members of the W.I. are doing a 90 mile ride over two days to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Nation Federation of the women's Institutes.