January 26, 2012
[EDITOR'S NOE: We recently received this travel log from Bike Friday owner Rowan Moore Gerety.]
A few words on having the Bike Friday in Mozambique:
I should start by saying I have never seen a bicycle turn heads as my Bike Friday did in Mozambique.
“Avião!” was the kids’ most common refrain — airplane — to describe how sleek it looked and how fast it moved.
I also heard, “original” (as in not pirated) and “máquina” (machine — as in damn reliable).
Seeing it fold was something else. More than once, I had the pleasure of taking my bags off a bus and staying silent as I gathered my things together while the motorcycle taxis hounded me for business. It always drew a great laugh from onlookers when, after telling taxistas repeatedly that I didn’t need a ride, I unfolded my BF, hung the paniers on, and wheeled off.
Bikes are pretty common throughout the countryside there, so as different as mine looked and felt from the average Indian-made Hero brand bike there, it was something that everyone could relate to.
Most people had a standard by which to judge bikes in a way they wouldn’t have computers or cars, so it was fun to see how everyone reacted. I made a lot of friends because of the bike, and made more than a few teenagers’ days by letting them take it for a spin.
I was impressed by the bike’s performance, too. With the exception of a broken grip shift which I replaced with a little Made-in-China substitute, I had no mechanical troubles in 10 months of daily riding on rough gravel and dirt paths, and overall abuse. It rode fast and upright, much as a full-sized bike does, and handled well on rough terrain.
Before leaving, I could not have imagined how practical it would be to have a bike with me in Mozambique.
On short distances, public transit, where it exists, would have doubled or tripled my travel time, and often, I found myself in towns with nothing but motorcycle taxis, and those sometimes few and far between.
Nor would I have guessed how much more practical a folding bike would be than a normal bike.
In the capital, Maputo, late at night, I put it in the trunk of taxis if I was worried about riding home, and on long trips, it got shoved into impossible crevices in the bowels of buses and vans without much of a problem.
Many vehicles carry cargo on the outside, too, but the police often solicit additional bribes for this, and they pass the charges onto you! Once, my bike traveled 1000 miles strapped to the underside of a bus chassis just inside the rear wheel well and emerged, miraculously, unscathed.
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