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Read what our customers SAY about Bike Friday

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The opinions expressed here are from Bike Friday owners who have chosen to share their views. Many are clearly thrilled with their bikes. Some offer us insight on possible improvements.

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General Reviews - 89
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Overall Experience Rating:
Date: July 28, 2000
Posted by: Doug Plummer
Email: dplummer@compuserve.com
Love and hate

My Sat R Day experience up to now has been love and hate. There's lots to recommend about this bike. There's also lots to criticize and get upset over. I have not felt this ambivalent in a relationship since when I was dating.

The good stuff first. A recumbent has rekindled my love of bicycling. As a middle-aged guy with a bad back, this bike is a dream to ride, when it all works smoothly. In my youth I was a long-distance tourist. I'd think nothing of a 1,500 mile ride. But now, on a conventional bike (a "wedgie" as the bent community refers to them), I can't do more than 20 miles without my neck and shoulders being in constant pain, often for days afterwards.

Now, I can ride all day, and nothing hurts. I ride and I can see the sky. I feel like I'm riding through the landscape, instead of craning up to see it once in a while. I thought riding was in my past. With this bike, it's in my present again.

That said, recumbents demand a learning curve. Despite all my experience, I felt like I was learning how to ride all over again. I'd fall over trying to start up a hill. I couldn't for the life of me ride in a straight line. I felt totally exposed, just me any my legs out there against the wind. It always felt like I'd forgotten to buckle my seat belt.

Speaking of hills, all those rumors about them being harder on a bent--they're true. At least until you've developed your quadriceps. You have to build whole new muscle groups. But on the flat they're as swift or swifter. And being low down means there's a bigger area behind a wedgie to draft off of.

After a month I started feeling confident to be in traffic. But I still feel that they're less safe on a busy road. Sitting up, you can't glance around and behind you. Your sense of the traffic around you is less than on a wedgie. You gotta have mirrors, right and left, and be comfortable using them.

Also, there's less maneuverability on a bent. Since you're not on top of the road, it's harder to respond to immediate hazards. With Seattle's deteriorating streets this is an issue. And the turning radius (even with the short wheelbase of the Sat R Day) is still lots bigger than with a regular bike. You can't get out of the way as quick. I don't know what it'd be like to bail from a bent. I haven't had the opportunity. On a bike that you're standing on, you can just jump off if you have to.

Now, about this particular bike. First recommendation: don't get yellow. Every grease spot shows up. It always looks dirty, unless you're much more fastidious than I could ever be. And every time you fold it up to put it in the back of the car, you'll get it greasy everywhere. The jack chain loses its tension, and flops all over the bike (I've taken to just removing it every time and putting it in a plastic bag.)

Speaking of that short turning radius... you gotta plan a steep turn just right, or the wheel will clip your heel. If you're walking the bike and trying to turn it, it's easy to turn the wheel completely backwards. For some reason this often knocks the jack chain off of the jackshaft.

It's a fussy bike, mechanically. I'm always adjusting the derailleur cable tension, and the internal hub tension always needs a tooth or two let out or put in to tweak it just right (oh, don't get me started about that hub). If you keep the brakes nice and tight they're nearly impossible to get out of their collar, which you have to do to get the wheels off.

The seat takes lots of readjustment any time it comes off to get it back on the level (otherwise you always feel like you're tipping off the bike one way or the other). The memory cushion that allegedly is supposed to conform to your butt, but just makes it sore instead. It's hard. I replaced it with 1-1/2" foam and I'm much happier.

The underseat steering always feels a bit loose, and if you have to put a lot of force on one arm or the other, the looseness can be quite hazardous--the arms will suddenly shift and you have to fight to keep control. Never even try to lift up the bike by the steering. You'll feel like it's breaking. This part of the bike just feels fragile. (I just put a layer of old inner tube between the frame and the steering collar to see if that'll tighten it up). When reassembling the bike it's a difficult maneuver to the arms at the right angle. And the-quick release lever has only one direction it can close, so it can be hard to get just the right tension.

Speaking of disassembly... I've yet to succeed at packing it in the case. The new video is out on how to do it (even more badly lit and shot then the previous one, if that can be believed), and there's some significant changes in the protocol. I haven't tried the new way yet. Jennifer Coy (jennifer@gardnerassociates.com) has some great notes on how to pack one of these bikes.

I think the disassembly-re-assembly thing is a big reason why it's such a fussy bike. Don't think this is a foldable bike. It's not. It's a bike that is designed to disassemble. Any time I have taken it apart and put it back together, everything needs a little readjustment. This is not a 45-minute procedure. It's a half-day and lots of riding to getting everything working just right again.

I've been riding with the trailer to see how that feels. The one good thing is that, with a full load on a trailer, the handling of the bike doesn't change. You've just got more drag, but you don't feel tipsy like on a fully loaded for touring bike. The bad thing is that it's noisy. I did a trip recently on rural roads that were old oil-and-gravel, rather than smooth asphalt, and that trailer just rattled. I couldn't hear where I was. It's worse when it's empty. Also, you have to watch the cotter pins with an eagle eye. I lost one without knowing it, until someone pointed out that my wheel was about to fall off. I think I'll need to wire the ends together or something before a long trip. I've also added extra rubber o-rings to gather up some of the loose space between the washer and the pin.

Also, if you're suitcase isn't pre-dilled for the trailer, don't believe the dimples. My hitch wouldn't fit unless the trailer hole was another 1/4 inch further on. On the bike side, the hitch attachment that fits over the rear wheel dropout is a big hassle in getting wheel off and on.

There's no good place to put a water bottle where it's within reach (the holes for one are on the back of the seat, but you couldn't reach it while riding). I've gotten a Camelback and rigged it on the back of the seat. You also lose the ability to have a pack within reach on a bent. And you also can't keep anything in your pockets... your rear cheek gets sore if you leave your wallet there, and change will fall out of your front pockets. I've gotten fond of the zippered pockets on the Ex Officio gear.

So in all, I think I'm glad I bought this bike. I don't know if I would have made it my first recumbent if I had it to do it over again. I still have this dream of riding it all over Ireland. But not until I learn how to pack the darn thing.

Doug Plummer

Overall Experience Rating:
Date: July 27, 2000
Posted by: Glenn Turner
Email: glennbon@pacbell.net
Very Pleased

I've had my Friday for about four years now and have ridden it more than 3,000 miles, including two trips to Europe. I've had very few problems and am convinced it is the only way to do significant travel with a bike. My Friday has the SRAM 3-speed rear hub which I also think is the best solution for a wide range of gears.

One change I have made is to replace the long-cage rear derailleur as supplied (with the 3-speed rear hub and single chain ring, there is no reason for the long cage) with a short-cage derailleur. This improved the shifting and also increased the ground clearance under the derailleur.

Overall Experience Rating:
Date: July 26, 2000
Posted by: A Customer
It does its job well..

I purchased a large Pocket Nomad with rear rack and have been quite surprised. I liked the idea of being able to fold and take it with me. It rides well considering it's a small-tired bike.

The reason I can't give it a 10 score is the seat was torn in transit, so it's a 9. That way you guys at Bike Friday have something to shoot for.

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