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Lost and Found: A Bike Friday Story

Rod Oram's lost Pocket Rocket for sale in Alabama.

Rod Oram’s lost Pocket Rocket for sale in Alabama.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bike Friday owner Rod Oram wrote this summary of the interesting story of his lost and found Pocket Rocket.

By Rod Oram

My wonderful Bike Friday, source of some great cycling adventures around the world over the past seven years, was lost/stolen from the United baggage system at Los Angeles airport last December when Lynn and I were en route from Auckland to Little Rock, Arkansas.

United was utterly hopeless and highly infuriating through my two weeks of persistent calls to them. They never found the bike; and applying for compensation was incredibly tedious. They demanded, for example, the original receipts for the bike. Handily, I got a copy from Bike Friday, the Oregon company that custom-­built the bike for me in 2008.

My claim was for $4,500 for the bike plus $1,000 for all my cold weather riding gear, lights and tools in the suitcase with it. Eventually in late March United paid $2,200 and my travel insurer paid the rest.

One Tuesday morning I was at my desk and the phone rang.

“Hi, Rod! This is Peter from Bike Friday. Do you still have your Pocket Rocket?”

“Very sadly, no,” I said.

“Well, Rod, it’s in Scottsboro, Alabama now,” Peter said.

“…and it’s on sale at the Unclaimed Baggage Centre for $499. A guy named Mark was visiting from his home in Washington, D.C. and he and his family went shopping at the center. He saw this real nice Pocket Rocket and he said to himself, ‘What’s a nice bike like that doing in a place like this?”

“Mark bought a Pocket Llama from Bike Friday in 2002 so he’s real keen on our bikes. So he noted the serial number and sent it and a photo to us…so that’s how we know it’s your bike and where it is.”

I was still slightly stunned when a few minutes later, Peter forwarded to me Mark’s email with the photo of my bike. It looked in pretty good condition except the long handle bar stem, which separates from the fork when the bike is partially disassembled and folded into its travel suitcase, was missing. Also, the plate on the downtube reading “This Bike Friday was custom­-built for Rod Oram” had been pried off.

I called the Baggage Center in Alabama and a woman sounded fairly helpful but not utterly convinced by my story. So I sent her Mark’s email and photo.

I didn’t hear back from her for a day. So I emailed her again, this time with the entire paperwork on my United claim, including the receipt for the bike. She replied saying she was working on it.

Jeez, I thought, how hard it is to pull the bike from the display and at least tell me that much. Or were they worried they would lose revenue if they had to give it back to me?

After a while, I was worried the bike might be sold if it was still on the floor. I needed external help.

I looked up the local paper of this distinguished little town, population 15,000…it was The Daily Sentinel A reporter named Wes answered my call. I explained I was a journalist from New Zealand and I had a bit of a story for him about a lost-­and-­found-bike from halfway around the world.

I said, please could you go and buy it for me I’ll send you my credit card details, or send you the money on PayPal, with a photo of the bike…then we can discuss afterward how to get it home.

He didn’t sound particularly interested but I persevered. I sent him the string of emails from Peter and Mark plus the photo. I added a few gushy word about how much the bike meant to me. I’ve ridden in here in New Zealand in Australia, the UK, Italy and China…in the US I’ve ridden it to the top of the highest paved road in North America, Mount Evans in Colorado (which, by the way, is 600m meters higher than Mount Cook), and I rode it around the circumference of Singapore in a day, etc., etc.

Rod Oram and his Rocket atop Mount Evans in Colorado.

Rod Oram and his Rocket atop Mount Evans in Colorado.


Two hours later, I got an email from Caleb L. Manning, vice president of Scott Group International, which turns out to own the Baggage Center. It’s a nicely integrated business. It writes software for airport baggage handling systems. The worse its software is, the more stuff they have to sell at the Center!

He was all gushy Southern charm, saying he couldn’t do enough for me to get the bike back to me … to which he added:

“Lastly, we fielded a call from Wes Mayberry at The Daily Sentinel here in Scottsboro, where our store is located. I hope that you would agree to reach back out to Mr. Mayberry and confirm with him that the wheels are spinning for a happy ending to this story, and that you did not even have to buy it back. We would appreciate that greatly!”

He said it was going to be awfully complicated to get the bike back to me in New Zealand. He’d work on it with United. Jeez, I thought, how hard is it t put a bike on a plane?

In reply, I suggested they ship the bike tBike Friday in Oregon for a replacement stem plus a new Samsonite suitcase for it to travel in. Then Bike Friday can ship it to a friend of mine in Chicago because I’ll be there for work in late September.

A senior person at United was now in on the email traffic, apologising profusely and expressing effusively how thrilled she and all her colleagues were that they are about to reunite me with my bike.

United agreed to pay for the shipping to Oregon and then to Chicago, and did not ask for a refund.

I haven’t had so much fun in a long time!

It’s almost as much fun as riding my Bike Friday in a wonderful part of the world!

Add comment August 19, 2015

Chicago Tribune talkin’ Cargo Bikes

Bike Friday's Peter Berra and his daughter riding through the water hazard. Not even that could dampen their enthusiasm.

Bike Friday’s Peter Berra and his daughter riding through the water hazard. Not even that could dampen their enthusiasm.

The Chicago Tribune is out front on the Cargo Bike trend as it relates to families with kids;

READ IT HERE

Add comment March 21, 2015

Haul-a-Day offers solution

DSCN5455

Here’s a blog post from Ride Adelaide Cyclists in South Australia about choosing the Haul-a-Day as a solution to transport children.

Add comment February 10, 2015

Haul-a-Day Kickstarter is ON!

The Haul-a-Day Kickstarter campaign has begun. Support our cause.

The Haul-a-Day Kickstarter campaign has begun. Support our cause.

If you’d like to support Bike Friday’s new Cargo Bike, the Haul-a-Day, check out our Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds.

The Haul-a-Day allows an entire household to be human powered with one size-adjustable bike. There are several great cargo bikes on the market that focus on carrying very heavy loads with one strong rider in mind. The Haul-a-Day enables riders of all sizes to enjoy an agile ride with a cargo capacity rivaling the heaviest cargo bikes.

Our early testers say that the Haul-a-Day is a world-changing bike. Your support will help us make more Haul-a-Days available faster at a better price while keeping production in our Oregon factory.

The Haul-a-Day is unique:

  • Adjustable in size, it fits riders 4’6″ to 6’4″ (135 cm to 195 cm) so friends and the whole family can ride it.*
  • Extremely light and agile starting at a breakthrough 32 pounds (most cargo bikes start at 40 to 50 pounds or beyond), its compact size makes it easy to store. It’s a great everyday bike when you aren’t hauling anything, and a fine expedition touring bike or tour leader’s bike.
  • Much more suitable for smaller, shorter, and lighter riders than any other cargo bike. The standard model is rated for riders up to 220 pounds (100 kg) and cargo loads up to 200 pounds (91 kg)  and a frame upgrade is available for up to a 260-pound rider and 300-pounds of cargo.
  • Built with 20″ wheels front and rear: the center of gravity is lower providing greater ride stability; the maintube of the frame has a low step-over height for easy mounting and dismounting even with heavy loads; the wheels accelerate more easily from a stop without compromising ride quality.
  • Stands upright on its rear end for easy compact storage.
  • Fits on many transport racks: bus, car, and train.
  • Custom built with your choice of 14 colors and equipment, gears from 8 to 72 speeds, your choice of handlebar style, and more.
  • Built by hand in Eugene, Oregon USA! Building bikes using lean manufacturing in the USA allows us to listen to our customers and incorporate improvements into every new bike we build.

* The adjustable main tube has four size options and the handlebar stem and seat mast can adjust several inches.

Add comment November 21, 2014

Haul-a-Day Quick Review

Adam Newman at Bicycle Times has a Bike Friday Haul-a-Day that he has been riding for a review in a future issue.

Here is his first take on the bike, which he says:

“Bike Friday says it wasn’t looking for outright cargo capacity when it designed the Haul-A-Day, rather it wanted something that was slightly smaller, more maneuverable, more manageable for women and smaller riders, and can fit a wide variety of users. I think they’ve checked all those boxes, as it fills the void nicely between a normal city bike and my massive Surly Big Dummy. Think of it as a two-thirds-sized long-tail. The 20-inch wheels are super strong and keep the weight down low. Being able to step through the frame is also a lot easier than swinging a leg over when it’s loaded down.”

Add comment October 15, 2014

Roadtreking on a Friday

Mike Wendland, who writes a popular blog for RVers, became a Bike Friday owner at the Family Motor Coach Association Reunion in Redmond, Oregon.

Mike wrote a bit about it on his blog in the section with live reports.

And, later, Mike filed this great video on You Tube about his first impressions.

 

 

Add comment August 18, 2014

Celebrating 80

Our friends at Adventure Cycling posted a neat story about Bike Friday owner Lou Schweickart celebrating his 80th Birthday on the Southern Tier route.

Check out his Bike Friday!

Happy Birthday, Lou!

1 comment May 14, 2014

Book review: Riding with Reindeer

Of course, we loved the book “Riding with Reindeer” beginning with the cover photo!

Here is a nice review of the book. Enjoy.

Add comment May 7, 2014

Lifestyle commercial

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We just received this neat note from Bike Friday owners Rich and Amanda Ligato:}

Hey Bike Friday Folks,
A few weeks ago an ad agency contacted us to ask if we’d be interested in allowing them to make a vignette commercial about our early retirement for Nationwide.  They wanted to include some footage of us on an adventure, so we suggested we ride our Bike Friday’s.  They filmed it here in Southern California.  The road scene is in Earthquake Canyon near Joshua Tree and the water scene is at the Salton Sea.  They used this amazing $100K drone copter camera to get the overhead and aerial shots.
We thought you might be interested.
Here it is on youtube:
Happy Cycling!
Rich & Amanda Ligato
www.vwvagabonds.com

Add comment May 5, 2014

Another Haul-a-Day post

 

hauladay.webHere is the second great post about our soon-to-be-released Haul-a-Day.

2 comments April 21, 2014

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