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Pocket Rocket Pro - 22
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Overall Experience Rating:
Date: June 4, 2012
Posted by: Joe Everton
Posted by: DR. J
Email: gojoe99@comcast.net
INTO THE ALPS!

I have owned my Pocket Rocket Pro since 2004, and have taken it to Europe in 2004, 2005, and 2008. I plan to go again in 2013.

These trips were wonderful, and I had no worries bringing my BF with me -- never a question at airports. On each trip I carried camping gear and extra clothing for any eventuality.

First 2 trips I used rear panniers and a handlebar bag, plus a small backpack. Third trip I purchased a Carry Freedom trailer at the bike shop in Maschwanden, Switzerland, very nice people.

The trailer made it 25% easier to move the load in the mountains. It's a simple plywood platform with 16-inch wheels, and it tracks perfectly; no difficulty going down passes in the Alps.

When I arrived home, I customized the platform by drilling 30-40 large holes in the plywood -- you don't need to pull all that wood around, less is better, and I topped it off with 6 coats of varnish. I call my trailer Swiss Cheese.

A friend borrowed it for a 10-day Pacific coast tour and absolutely loved it. On the 3rd trip, I had just retired from teaching, so I toured for 11 weeks -- Over Ireland, crossing England by train, then Dunkerque, Fr., Belgium, Western Germany, then by train from Hannover to Dresden. Then to Prague, CZR (the roads were pretty bad), then train to Zelezny Rudna, then back into Germany (Bavaria) to Munich, to Lindau, and across Bodensee to Switz. Then train from Zurich over the Bernina Pass into north Italia, across the lakes district. By train from Milan to Nice, Fr., and then 1/2 way across southern France, to the super bridge at Millau.

Then I rented a car to Cherbourg, and by ferry back to Ireland. Only once did I have difficulty with the trains or busses. I had purchased tickets in Paris to Berlin; but when I arrived in Mannheim, the conductor would not let me board with my bike (no bikes on the ICE trains).

However, after seeing that I could fold the bike into "baggage" he reluctantly allowed me to sit between cars and "stay with your machine."

Pluses and Minuses: The small wheels and folding frame are absolutely strong and stable. I have only one bike, Bike Friday, and have used it in numerous

Triathlons. It has served me well. Bike Friday is more maneuverable than large-wheel bikes, because the inertia (to keep going in the same direction) of large-wheel bikes is not very noticeable on Bike Friday. Perhaps this means that you must be more alert if you are at speed on a Bike Friday, I'm not sure. But I had no trouble going down mountain passes. For example, the Col de L'Iseran goes above 9000 ft. It took me 4 hours to go up, and 18 min. to go down. That was fun! Large wheels will take bumps more smoothly than small wheels. If you might happen to be plain dumb, like I was last July, and you run off the road, small wheels are more likely to go into a hole and stop suddenly, throwing the rider over the front and possibly breaking his scapula. But a dumb rider can ride a large-wheel bike, too: You just cannot prevent "dumb" by the type of bike you ride.

I sometimes drop the chain on my 27-gear Shimano Ultegra set-up, but this is more due to lack of expertise than because of the shifting system.

I have a friend, expert cyclist, who rides his Pocket Rocket Pro with Campagnolo shifters; he never drops his chain. It is not easy to learn to stop pedaling for a micro-second while the derailleur moves the chain, but that will end chain-dropping. When I first got my Pocket Rocket Pro, I had difficulty with the big hills in middle Tennessee. It's a lot like Europe around here. Finally I switched to Deore Mt. Bike rear cluster (with more teeth), and I have not had problems with big hills since then. I prepare for long, hot rides by adding two extra bottle holders to the seat mast.

I highly recommend the Velcro-attach bottle holders made by Two Fish. They work great, and don't slip if you tighten the hook and loop firmly. OK, that's enough from me; I hope you haven't had terminal boredom. Contact me if you wish.

Overall Experience Rating:
Date: July 9, 2011
Posted by: Peggy da Silva
Posted by: Peggy S
To Honolulu and Spain

I bought my Pocket Rocket Pro in 2008 and it's now been to Honolulu three times and Spain (Granada and Barcelona) once. I am 56 years old and not very good at bicycle mechanics, so my challenges have been with assembly and dis-assembly. It's not nearly as simple as I thought it would be! And I sent Bike Friday a lot of suggestions for the manual. I've also had problems with the tires seating on the rims, and the tech guy told me that there had been other problems with that. When the bike and rack arrived in suitcase, I weighed it, and it weighed about 40 pounds. I'm able to add in shoes, handpump, kryptonite lock, pannier and a few clothes before I hit the 50 pound airplane limit. It is not easy to lug around airports and through the transit system. On my next trip (to New York) I am definitely taking a cab from airport to hotel. The ride is great. I spent all the extra money to get the lightest bike and well fit to me. I can carry it up stairs as needed, and it does well on hills. I live in San Francisco so I am used to hills. My other bikes are a Waterford and Gunnar; lots of gears and light, also. After three years I can say that I'm very glad that I bought the bike -- I love riding it. I've had much more fun on my trips, being able to do both recreational rides and buzzing around town. The bike's just harder to put together than I had hoped, but I am learning a lot and I'm sure that's good for me too!

Overall Experience Rating:
Date: December 24, 2009
Posted by: Stephen Martel
Email: martels001@hawaii.rr.com
I just love this bike. It performs great, is beautifully made, and travels well too.

After having ridden my Pocket Rocket Pro (27-speed with Ultegra components) for 3 months and more than 1500 miles around Boulder, Colorado, I would purchase the bicycle again with no reservations whatsoever. The bicycle has been just great and an absolute pleasure to ride. It also travels very well.

I am 52 and bought the Pocket Rocket Pro for exercise and century rides on extended business trips. It feels very similar to my regular high-end road bike. It might (?) be a whisker slower, but if it is, it’s not slower by much. It is comfortable, handles well and is very stable at speeds up to 40+ mph, brakes well, and is fast. It has a nice lively ride. The welding looks very good, and the paint job is superb. I have no qualms about using it as an alternative to my regular road bike now that I am home either, something I did not expect.

My Pocket Rocket Pro performed superbly on rides that covered a mix of terrains (mountains and flatland) and a healthy range of distances. My first significant ride was a century ride that involved 4300’ of climbing about two weeks after I received the bike. The bicycle did fine, in spite of some difficulty with my saddle (see below). My cycling thereafter typically consisted of daily 10-20 mile rides, with weekend rides of ~40-miles with as much as 4,000’ of climbing. I pushed the bike and myself pretty hard on these rides and loved the way it responded. The Pocket Rocket Pro is definitely a beautiful high-end road.

In addition to the quality of the ride, the speed and ease of assembly and disassembly (packing) is very important to me. If either of these steps were to take too long, I wouldn’t have time left to ride a bike on a typical business trip. The assembly and disassembly procedures are both straightforward, and the directions in the manual bike are very good too - this is critical. The felt packing bags and split plastic tubes that came with the bicycle for protecting it in the travel case are really nice, do their job well, and materially aid in quickly and securely packing the bike; they also reflect attention to key details on the part of Bike Friday. The second time I re-packed the bike it took about an hour, and the next time it will take 30 minutes or less (a few annotations I made in the manual the first time I packed up the bike really helped). The assembly time after three assemblies is comparable to the disassembly time: ~20 minutes for assembly and another 10 minutes to double check, pump tires, etc. In contrast, the travelling bike a sibling bought from another company did not come with a manual or DVD; it took us several hours to repack his bike even though we had photographs of his bike from when we unpacked it. The Pocket Rocket Pro is a clear winner in terms of the speed and ease of assembly and disassembly.

The travel case has worked well too. First, it has protected the bike well, even when opened up by TSA. Second, it is roomy and can take a regular floor pump if the base plate can be removed. The bike and case alone only weigh about 30 pounds by themselves. The bike, the case, the tools for the bike, a rear rack, water bottles and their cages, two frame pumps, and the floor pump together weighed in at 50.0 pounds. The floor pump and the rear rack are the main reasons it has taken me more than 30 minutes to disassemble and pack the bike so far – without them I would be under 30 minutes.

My service experience with Bike Friday has been very good-to-excellent. I ask a lot of questions, and Sandy in customer service fielded my questions patiently and knowledgeably. The fit of the bike is spot on. I ordered the bike about a month before leaving on my trip to Boulder, and it arrived on schedule to fit a narrow time window before the century ride; I greatly appreciated that. I had ordered a straight stem riser and a standard stem to have the option of adjusting the stem, but my Pocket Rocket Pro came with the custom ultralight stem. This could have been a significant problem, but wasn’t: the custom stem was sized just right, I like it, and I’m glad I have it.

I’ve also been pleased with other matters associated with my Pocket Rocket Pro. The online service guide is excellent. The bike’s tool kit is nice. The DVD that came with the bike is good too, even though I find the manual to be quite adequate.

The bicycle does have some idiosyncrasies. It seems to be a bit more sensitive than my regular road bike to having the right saddle in the correct position even though the specs on my Pocket Rocket Pro were taken from my regular bike; my two-year old saddle on my regular road bike just didn’t feel comfortable on the Pocket Rocket Pro – I still don’t know why. The nut on the bottom bracket hinge needed to be slightly loosened to fold it up the first time I packed the bike, and this took me a while to figure out. I bought a crescent wrench for this, but the spanners in the tool kit that comes with the bike can loosen this nut. The quick release on the stem needs to be tighter than I expected to prevent the handlebars from creaking and to prevent a shudder while braking on steep descents. The seat mast clamp also has to be tight to stop the seat from sliding down, and the first time I tightened the clamp I broke the clamp bolt. I’ll get a replacement bolt and clamp to be covered in case this happens again. The front brake cables clack against each other while riding, but I’ve addressed this with a few strategically positioned twisty-ties. I also want to find a way to keep the chain from dirtying the protective felt bags when the bike is in the travel case. With a bit more experience I am confident I’ll resolve all these matters.

In summary, I love the ride of my Pocket Rocket Pro and how well it travels. The service from Bike Friday has been consistent with its fine reputation. The Pocket Rocket Pro was the right bike for me and I am extremely glad I purchased it.

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