Review of Bike Friday Standard Pocket Companion, medium frame (56cm. top-tube), Black color, USD1173 bought from OneBikes shop, authorised dealer, in Jakarta.
Upgrades & accessories: USD586
2) STI Sora 9 speed shifters
3) Cassete 9 speed
4) Chain 9-speed
5) Travel agent (adjuster to use STI Sora brake levers with V-brakes)
6) Bar tape
7) Front rack
8) Removable pedals
Bars Flat Bars - Kalloy MTB, polished aluminum 22" 5 degree (dealer did not accept trade-in, so I have them too). Upgraded to drop-bar.
Stem Bike Friday Ahead style on adjustable riser
Cranks Vuelta Alloy Triple, square taper 170mm
Bottom bracket 113mm BF Sealed Cartridge Bearing
Tires 20 x 1.75 Kenda Kontact 20 (406) 40-65psi blk. hybrid
Brake levers Tektro V-brake levers, upgraded to STI Sora brake levers
Brakes Tektro "V" Brake
Shifters SRAM MRX grip shift, 8x3 speed, upgraded to Shimano STI Sora 9x3-speed shifters
Rear derailleur Shimano Deore SGS
Front derailleur Shimano Ultegra
Chainrings: 30-42-52 (Shimano Ultegra Triple crankset 6503 comes with three matched rings; 52 - 42 - 30 teeth)
Cogs: SRAM 9 speed 11,12,13,14,16,18,21,24,28
Front hub External sealed - BF Select 32o 100mm
Rear hub External sealed - BF Select 32o 130mm
Rims Alex X-DM18 (406) 32o 20x1.5" silver and black
Headset 1 1/4: OS Alloy
Chain 8 speed, upgraded to 9 speed
Seatpost Alloy micro adjust
Saddle Velo Plush gel padded
Pedals Removable pedals
Weight: less than 12kg. complete bike with upgraded parts
Foldability: The claimed folded size - 34 x 33 x 12 in. After changing to drop-bars my rough measurement was 37 x 27.5 x 14 in.
The seat-post and stem riser with the drop-bar had to be removed by turning the levers to release and then pulled out before they could be put into a soft travelling bag. A more expensive customisation would be fitted with the seat-post and stem that could be folded without removing from the bike. (See picture: BF folded with detached seat-post and stem riser)
Packing: With seat-post, stem riser & wheels removed the bike with all its parts could be packed into a regular-size luggage measuring 31 x 22 x 11 in. without additional charge for oversize luggage imposed by airlines. (See picture: Luggage Bag with BF 1 & 2)
What I like about my Pocket Companion:
Excellent construction (all BFs are hand-made) of its chromoly carbon steel frame (warranty for life) which is stronger, lighter and more rust-resistant than ordinary steel. I also like its simple design with most components (handle-bar, front & rear derailleurs, shifters, brake, seat-post, stem) that can be upgraded with third-party brands like Shimano & Sram) The monocoque frame is very sturdy and there is no perceptible flexing when ridden. The ride is comparable to that of a regular MTB or road bike (without suspensions). I chose not to have additional joints that allowed the stem riser and seat-post to be folded because each joint added more weight and was more susceptible to vibration giving a "wobbly" ride and the bike tended to shimmy when descending fast down-hill.
I have so far ridden the bike for about 120km. and tested it on the Genting-Sempah road in Kuala Lumpur (a long gradual uphill ascend of 25km). I had ridden this road before on my Raleigh Elite MTB and could say that the BF performed just as well without much difference in effort thanks to the 27-speed (the same as that in my MTB). However, the max. speed of descend, without applying brakes, was definitely slower (48km. vs 68km) due to the smaller wheels. The 20in. wheels could climb hills as well as 26in. but again, slower, when pedalling at the same cadence and using both bikes on the lowest gears.
What I dislike about it:
1. The Shimano STI Sora shifters was below my expectation. There was a peculiar shifting from the big to the middle chainring when I had to click twice. All the other gear shifting required only one click. The rear derailleur shifting was smooth and easy but not the front derailleur which required me to press harder on the shifter. Perhaps the STI Sora shifter was not completely compatible with the front Shimano Ultegra derailleur.
2. When folding one had to be careful to shift the chain to the smallest chainring and the smallest cog otherwise the tension cable would pull too taut. However, when the chain was in this position (smallest chainring & smallest cog) the chain tended to drop off when the bike was folded. I saw a video which demonstrated how to avoid this but I was not able to keep the chain on which required me to manually reattach the chain after unfolding the bike.
3. Accessories from Bike Friday are very expensive. Furthermore, the authorised oversea dealers do not keep stock. I had to pay a 50% deposit to order a rear folding rack (USD139) and a soft travelling bag (USD79) from the Singapore dealer and was told that delivery would take 2-3 weeks.
So far I have enjoyed riding the bike, in spite of its smaller wheels. I shall be using my BF for touring and commuting. The stiff shifting of the front derailleur is something that I can get used to until the Sora shifters wear out and I can upgrade to a better shifter. The foldability is not as easy nor as quick as that of other folding bikes but this wasn't my priority when I decided to buy a folding bike as long as I can pack it into a regular-size luggage bag for overseas travel. Performance, sturdiness, less vibration and less shimmy was what I preferred. In these respects the Pocket Companion passed the test.
Pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cheewengyeoh/sets/72157626948415881/
August 23, 2009
I picked up my Pocket Companion at Coventry bike shop in Portland after discussing my needs with Sandy at BF. Four days later I was riding down the Oregon coast with two friends on their Surly LHT's. Had I known it would rain for the first three days of our tour I would have gotten the fenders, but I had no problems whatsoever with the bike. I had panniers front and rear and it handled the load well. I had to walk up some of the steeper climbs as I'm not a strong rider, but the bike felt stable and was fun on the fast descents.
I spent some time in Eugene and went to the BF factory where I was able to try out a few of the other bikes on the bike path behind the factory. At the end of the trip the mechanic at Coventry helped me pack the bike into my new TravelCase. There were no extra charges or unpleasant surprises when we checked in at NWA and the bike arrived back home in perfect shape. This experience has me thinking about where I want to go next with my bike. I feel like a whole new world has opened up for me.