A Racer’s Perspective
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recently a customer asked for a racer’s point of view on Bike Fridays, so we looked no farther than our head designer, Rob English. He put Bike Friday into perspective.]
By Rob English
I am a Cat. 1 road racer, current Oregon Time Trial champion and long time bike geek….
I’ve also been a Bike Friday owner for 11 years — I bought a Pocket Rocket several years before I came to work here.
I have used my Bike Fridays for touring and riding all over the world, including hitting the local hammerfest rides in various countries. And I have done a few races on them, too.
First, the USAC rules question of whether or not Bike Fridays are legal — it is going to depend on the level of the race and how strictly the rules are applied.
Generally USAC follows UCI rules and a Bike Friday is not UCI legal as the wheels are too small (too much of an advantage?!!?), and it doesn’t have a double diamond frame. In most of our customers’ experience, for local races, organizers don’t have a problem with Bike Fridays racing. But at National level they will!
I have always greatly enjoyed showing up at the local fast rides wherever I might be, getting the usual derision of the bike as not being a ‘proper’ bike, then making people change their minds after I drop them on the hills! Very entertaining to educate people about performance small wheeled bikes! I have never felt at a disadvantage in being on the BF on any group ride.
When racing the Bike Friday, I have found that it is very competitive on hillclimbs (I won an open hillclimb in Japan on my Pocket Rocket), and does well in road races, except at the very highest level — doing Elite races in New Zealand I found I had to work a little harder at the very high speeds (32 mph+). To be fair this was on my Pocket Rocket mainly set up for touring — with the Rolf wheels and faster tires on the Super Pro this small difference may be mitigated.
I have traveled with full size bikes in soft and hard cases, a full size folding bike in a hard case, and the Bike Friday in the suitcase. For ease of use the Bike Friday system is unbeatable. I can pack and unpack the bike in under 5 minutes, compared to a minimum of 30 minutes for any other system. And the packed bike is so secure that I never have to worry about the bike getting damaged in transit. Add in the ability to ride to the airport towing the suitcase/trailer and there is no question of the best travel bike in my mind.
Gearing: 53x9x20″ is 118″, 53x12x27″ is 119″ and 53x11x27″ is 130″.Â So the Capreo gearing gives you the equivalent of a 12T; if you think you will need bigger then going up to a 55 or 56T big ring will take care of it. I have generally run non Capreo, using either 58x11x20″ = 105″ or 62x11x20 = 113″ and have never had a problem with running out of gears. The Capreo option does avoid the dinner plate size rings though! The Capreo cassette is available from other places, but most bike shops haven’t heard of it, so it can often be easiest to get spares from us. Everything else on the bike is standard though.
A couple of other points: The Pocket Rocket Pro has an incredibly stiff drivetrain — the very small rear triangle in steel gives very direct power transfer. But with the long titanium seatmast, there is a nice amount of passive suspension built in so that it is very comfortable too — that much quoted combination of laterally stiff and vertically compliant…..
In a paceline situation the small wheels enable you to get a little closer to the rider in front, and thus get more draft and less effort. This is great when in a paceline of several Bike Fridays (i.e., our lunchtime ride), as everyone is much closer!
I hope this helps give you some information. I don’t know if you have heard the story of how the Super Pro came to be — we have a customer who had a Pocket Rocket Pro and loved the ride, but wanted something lighter to compare to his custom Seven. He inspired us to create the Super Pro and got the first one, which he then took on the PacTour TransAm — 3000 miles in (I think) two weeks! Bob is in his 60s and takes great pleasure in crushing younger riders — doing it on small wheels adds to the satisfaction!
Let me know if you have other questions I can help with,