Author Archives: mattc

Cycling across Death Valley on a folding bike

I’ll Take the Low Road! Crossing the California Desert and High Sierra

By Peter J. Marsh

A few days into 2015 we saw the pictures of the first ascent of the 3,000-foot Dawn Wall in Yosemite Valley, accomplished by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson. They “free climbed” it — without any artificial aid — which is a stunning achievement in addition to the way the media reacted. This marathon effort succeeded in putting their practically anonymous sport on the top of mainstream news, a breakthrough that cycling made 25 years ago. (For you youngsters, that was when Greg LeMond won the closest ever Tour de France by a mere eight seconds.) Coincidentally, the climbers’ tour de force also took place over 18 days, just like cycling’s grand tours. The two leaders also relied on a dedicated team of helpers.

For me, this brought back 20-year-old memories of my first encounter with Yosemite Valley — the first on foot, the second by bike. My one and only big rock climb happened in Yosemite in 1995 on one of the easiest walls in the valley, the Royal Arches. My modest skill level left me at the bottom of the rope following the two leaders for the entire 1,600 feet. However, I didn’t get an easy ride, as I was appointed the porter, or domestique, for the day, carrying a backpack filled with the spare rope plus water, food, spare clothes and hiking shoes for all three of us!

The next day I took a break to unwind from the high-stress outing. Luckily, there was room in our vehicle to bring my mountain bike along so I could relax in the midst of this incredible geologic wonder while practicing my favorite sport. I rode beside the scenic Merced River, which is fed by the falls and streams that rush down the valley sides, until I reached the noisy highway, then retraced my route to El Capitan, where I stopped to watch the hardcore climbers high above. This was the leading edge of the sport: a wall so big you climbed, ate, and slept up there for many days. Many would-be heroes have had to bail out after a day or two, overwhelmed by the unrelenting nature of the challenge.

 

Cyclist Peter Marsh rock climbs in Death ValleyThis naturally led to me wonder how I ever let anyone talk me into the addictive sport of rock climbing. I loved climbing mountains, not cliffs, and cycling was really where my heart was. If you had told me then that I would one day return to Yosemite by bike after a harrowing 10-day ride across Death Valley, with a quick detour to climb Mount Whitney, I would have laughed out loud. But it only took a couple of years before the seed for that journey was planted.

It was 1997 and my 50th birthday was fast approaching. After a lot of hesitation, I gave myself permission to try combining biking and hiking into a “sea-to-summit” climb. At the end of June, I dipped my wheels in the Willamette River in Portland, Ore., cycled east on the familiar Springwater Trail, then joined the traffic on busy Hwy 26 on the climb to Government Camp. I camped near Timberline Lodge at 6,000 feet then hiked to the top of Mount Hood in the morning. The Oregonian found out about this and columnist Jonathon Nicholas wrote a story about it. That gave me a boost for the rest of the summer.

It was the middle of winter before I wondered if I had the energy for another sea-to-summit climb. I made it easier by choosing a volcano in Hawaii, with no hiking needed. I completed the 13,760-foot ride up to the Mauna Kea observatories in nine hours; that left me two weeks to tour around the Big Island and play on the beach.

I picked up the pace in 1998 and in the next three years I ticked off all the major peaks of the Northwest Pacific from sea level. The plan was to climb the three 14,000 footers sometime around the millennium. It began with Mount Rainier — accomplished in 48 hours in 1999 after joining a climbing group I found online. Next was Mount Shasta from Red Bluff, solo in four days in the year 2000. That left Mount Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48 states (14,460 feet) with the added attraction of starting in Death Valley (-282 feet), the lowest and hottest point in North America.

Research suggested that the ideal time to start was after August, the hottest month, but before the typical first snowfall in late September. I was checking the new web-based travel sites for inexpensive tickets to Las Vegas when 9–11 happened. A week passed and it was still difficult to think about my trip, all my friends were trying to dissuade me from flying. The other issue was the airlines, which didn’t offer any discounts; they immediately raised their prices, ensuring their planes would be half empty.

When I finally reached the luggage carousel in Las Vegas, I was the only passenger in sight! I emerged into the afternoon sun to find it was so hot that I could barely concentrate on assembling my folding Bike Friday on the sidewalk. Eventually I rode slowly into the city center and passed the exotic sights of the Strip, then headed out into the desert at sunset. Late at night, I slept well in the scrubland opposite a brightly-lit compound. At first light, I was up and identified this as a penitentiary, then rode off at a good pace until noon.

cycling in Badwater, 280 feet below sea level

Who would want to start a climb at 280 feet below sea level?

As the temperature kept rising, I reached my limit when I rolled into Death Valley Junction, where a stagecoach stop turned into a rustic resort with a famous small theater. I was able to find some salt at the counter in the restaurant because I realized I needed to spike my sports drink mix. I drank copious amounts and sat around for several hours. I finally left after the temperature had dropped to a mere 90 degrees; I still had to climb up to the top of the canyon wall before I began the epic descent into Death Valley.

I will never forget the bizarre sensation I felt: the lower I went, the hotter the headwind became. At the bottom, it felt like I was standing in front of a blast furnace! I finally reached the aptly-named Furnace Creek, 174 miles from Las Vegas, around 8 p.m. Luckily, the store was still open, so I lurked inside in the air conditioning until 9 p.m., when it closed. On the porch, the thermometer read exactly 100 degrees. I took a photo of it, then found my way to the golf course and laid down under a tree, still sweating. It stayed that hot until well after midnight. Looking back, I should have continued riding to Badwater by moonlight, but I needed to rest.

At first light I looked around and found a place to stash my panniers. I set off at a good pace down to Badwater, 18 miles and 70 feet lower. I didn’t note the time I arrived at the official low point, but couldn’t stay long on the white salt flat because I could already feel the heat building. I had a tough time on the return trip after I finished my third bottle of water.

Elevation chart Las Vegas to Yosemite Valley via Death Valley

At 11 a.m., the buffet at the resort’s restaurant opened. I drank a couple of quarts of juice then attacked the salad bar with a vengeance. The next step was obvious: buy a day pass and lay in the shade or by the pool — with my hat on! The temperature peaked at 118 and I didn’t get dressed until it dropped toward 100 when I reluctantly loaded the bike and took off into the sunset. The low and high points are only 85 miles apart on the map; by road it is 135 miles with two 5,000-foot passes to overcome. For the next four days I rode from sunrise to noon on a dull diet of snacks from the resorts and gas stations, washed down with lukewarm water, salt and lemonade powder. In the afternoon, I retreated into any available shade until evening. The one day I remember clearly was when I encountered a movie crew filming a car commercial on the Panamint Flat. They adopted me for the afternoon and kept me cool and well hydrated.

When I reached Lone Pine (3,727 feet) in the Owens Valley, I was really dehydrated and resorted to a giant milk shake at the drive-in, which did the trick, and checked in with the forestry office to get a permit to climb Mount Whitney. The first step was the ride up to Whitney Portal, another 5,000 feet. (I was aware that some endurance athletes with nothing better to do, jog this entire 135-mile route in the Badwater Race — one of the dumber ironman events — and a few carry on up the mountain to prove their superiority.) Trust me, it was no easy ride as a cycle tourist!

Cycling through Death Valley

At the portal I paid my fee, picked up my bear-proof food container and hiked three miles to the camp in a meadow at 10,000 feet. It took over an hour, wearing my lightweight daypack with both hands full of stuff bags holding my camping gear. The next day I summoned my remaining energy and began hiking up the trail. When I slumped down at the top of the arduous switchback section, a cheerful young group of hikers arrived. I told them what I was doing and they encouraged me as we followed the winding route to the flat, wide summit.

I was on my own coming down, which is always hard on the legs. Back at the camp, I ate a little then fell asleep, only to be awakened in the early morning by strong winds and snow flurries. I packed hurriedly and hustled back to my bike, still U-locked to a solid fence. After a fast but chilly downhill, I was soon back in the valley and warming up. I was hoping to find a bus to Los Angeles, but that service had ended long ago, so I continued north following Hwy 395 through the Owens Valley with dramatic views of the Sierra scarp to the west.

The next day I struggled over 8,000-foot Deadman Pass, where I was caught by an Austrian couple touring the U.S. They made a witty comment about me “looking like a dead man,” then paced me over the summit and down into a campground at scenic June Lake, where they cooked and shared with me a real dinner. On my tenth day we rode on to Lee Vining (6,780 feet) above Mono Lake. I was hoping this time there might still be bus service into Yosemite National Park, but it too had ended for the winter.

For the second time I was running on empty and desperately tried to hitch a ride over 9,950-foot Tioga Pass. That was a total waste of time and made me feel pathetic, so I reluctantly mounted up and started climbing the busy cross-Sierra route. Now I was off the edge of my tourist map and riding into the unknown on yet another never-ending ascent. Two hours later, to add insult to injury, I had to pay a $10 entry fee when I reached the park gate at 9,950 feet. The ranger handed me a park map, but I didn’t pay it much attention — I just pictured the route as downhill all the way to the Sacramento Valley.

The road went around lovely Tenaya Lake, past outcrops of granite that were covered in climbing routes. But there were no climbers, as it was fall at this altitude, and I needed to lose some elevation to warm up by nightfall. The sun was setting when I was surprised to encounter the sign pointing to Yosemite Valley. This gave a moment’s relief, but I wasn’t about to take a detour. I pushed on westward into the night and to another roadside camp.

After 11 days of non-stop effort and more than 600 miles and seven passes totaling in excess of 25,000 feet (plus the day on Mount Whitney), the journey ended in the Sacramento Valley at the Greyhound bus station in Modesto. All I had to do was find a cardboard box big enough to hold the Bike Friday, which I found at the back of a furniture store a couple of blocks away. I stayed awake on the long ride back to Portland, Ore., where I had a comfortable view of the awful stretch of I-5 I had ridden the previous summer from Red Bluff to Dunsmuir on my previous Mount Shasta sea-to-summit epic.

Sometime later, I reviewed the journey and added Mount Whitney to the list on my website. It was only then I realized I could include another sea-to-summit: Royal Arches from Death Valley, 282 feet below sea level. Yes, it’s a bit contrived, but rock climbing is full of esoteric classifications of difficulty, so I’m making this my minor contribution to the Yosemite record book.

Side bar: Technically, Death Valley is not a “valley,” which is formed by the action of a river, but a “graben,” formed by the action of block faulting in the earth’s crust.


Peter Marsh explores on his folding bicycle

Peter J. Marsh is an outdoor and nautical writer. He was the editor of Oregon Cycling from 1988-1991. He wrote Rubber to the Road — a guidebook to bike rides around Portland (rubbertotheroad.com). He lives in Astoria, Ore., when not traveling the world on his bike. More of his writing can be found at sea-to-summit.net

Follow the link to learn more about Peter’s trusty touring bike, the New World Tourist

The World’s First Folding Tandem Bicycle

Tandemonium!

Why did Bike Friday make a tandem that folds?

The Original Tandem Two’sDay in 1994 came with drop bars as it was designed for fast rides!
The Tandem Two’sday: the world’s first folding Travel Tandem!
When folded, the Tandem Two’sDay fits in a small car trunk, hall closet, back of your minivan, or disassembles to pack in 2 airline suitcases. 

Bike Friday Genealogy Part 4

(see Genealogy Part 1-3 at bottom of this story)

World’s first folding tandem was the Bike Friday Two’sDay

It started with fast bike rides and two brothers who wanted to travel. In 1994, the Tandem Two’sDay was born, care of Hanz Scholz design skills.

Alan and Hanz knew the joys of riding together for racing and touring. They had been tandem riding since 1970 in Fargo ND and built the first tandems for Burley Design in the 1980’s.

“It was a natural step, once we made the first Bike Friday fit into a suitcase and ‘rides as good as your best bike’ to see if we could make a tandem do that too.”
-Hanz Scholz

Ambitious dreams, energetic youth, passion for cycling, lots of persistence and late nights, plus financial help from good friend Irv Housinger (a tandem owner from the Burley Tandem days) made it happen.

World’s first folding tandem and also fits into 2 suitcases

Everyone keeping up is the best!

https://www.bikefriday.com/folding-bikes/product/bike-friday-tandem-twosday-folding-travel-bike
Hanz (left) and Alan (right) racing a custom tandem they built

 

Next came the Family Tandem to bring the kids along in 1996

It was a necessity and an uncompromising passion for cycling that gave birth to the Burley Trailer. With no other alternatives available, Bike Friday co-founder (and Burley co-founder), Alan Scholz developed the trailer to carry his two young daughters by bicycle.

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Hanna (now Bike Friday President) & Fraeda (now in the Bike Friday Production Team) as test dummies.

After his successful trailer design, Alan envisioned the next step as a bicycle that he could ride with his daughters as stokers, not just precious cargo. Independent spirits that they were, both girls quickly took to their own bikes and Alan shelved that dream for a while. Then 15 years later came Sarah, Alan’s third daughter.

Alan’s vision when for his first prototype adult/child bicycle for himself and Sarah was a family bike that could grow with his daughter. A bike that could adjust to fit the whole family, allowing a child or adult of short stature to pilot or co-pilot. The design of Hanz’s incredible performance tandem, the Tandem Two’sDay, greatly informed the design of the Family Tandem. “The low step-over height of our bikes was critical, there’s no way a child could reach the pedals without it,” says Alan.

After a few design tweaks, the bike was ready for little Sarah; she couldn’t have been more excited to discover it under the Christmas tree. She knew it was for her and climbed into the saddle. When it came time to pack the tandem into the TravelCases though, it didn’t fit!

Next came the hacksaw – a bike designer’s friend

Alan went into the garage and cut the first Family Tandem into pieces to fit into a suitcase. Then came the tooling to build the Family Tandem Traveler – that packs into 2 suitcases, or your car trunk…
Alan and his youngest daughter Sarah on the first Family Tandem
Alan and daughter Hanna (now Bike Friday President)
Hanz and his first daughter Gretta out for a ride on the Family Tandem

Two bicycles, for FIVE people in ONE trunk?!?

The Scholz family of five packs up for vacation with their Family Tandem and Triple, but will it all fit? Surely, this is madness!
The lawn made for the perfect workstation. With the pieces all apart, they could be carefully puzzled into the trunk. But there were no guarantees of success. 
Mission accomplished! Two bikes for five people in one trunk, and with enough room to spare for the rest of the gear.
The Family Tandem, as it became known, was a huge hit with Alan’s friends and neighbors. The first families to test it out couldn’t wait to get their hands on one, and Alan knew he had hit the mark. Finally, a bike that could be easily shared amongst all family members, great and small. In fact, the rapid success of the Family Tandem inspired Alan to extend the frame further to include a third rider.
Alan’s daughter Fraeda, Bike Friday expert Walter Lapchynski, and Hanna crew the Family Triple Traveler.

But what about the fold?

The Family Tandem was a slight departure from the traditional Bike Fridays, in that it disassembled as opposed to folding. Of course, the Family Tandem still packed into the standard TravelCases. A brand new innovation, the stacker, was designed to allow the two cases to stack together as a trailer! The stacker carried on the tradition of the incredible, fully self-contained, travel system that Bike Friday had come to be known for. In fact, by this time in Bike Friday’s history our bikes had traveled to more than 50 countries! 
Here is the full tandem travel system ready for adventure
The Bike Friday Tandemonium band playing at the Eugene Celebration
(We won the best picture of the parade)

Stay tuned for our next installment all about

our family cargo bike, the Haul-a-Day

Transportation Options Coordinator for the City of Eugene, Lindsay Selser, with her two kiddos on the Haul-a-Day

Did you miss the first installments of the Bike Friday Genealogy?

Bike Friday Genealogy Part 1: How the First Bike Friday was Born
Bike Friday Genealogy Part 2: Bike Friday Riders Continue to Blow us Away
Bike Friday Genealogy Part 3: Inventing the Pocket Rocket

Folding History: The Bike Friday Pocket Rocket

Invention of the Pocket Rocket

In 1993, Bike Friday Leapt into the Pro Circuit with the Pocket Rocket

Phil Liggett, the famous voice of the Tour de France, with his Pocket Rocket Pro

Hanz & Alan combined their love of road riding and travel to create the Pocket Rocket Line

Bike Friday Co-founders Hanz and Alan loved racing bikes with their friends on the plains of North Dakota as youngsters. As the two got older, they became increasingly serious about training and competing in all the races they could find around North Dakota, Manitoba and Minnesota. In 1971, Alan won 2nd place in the USA Road Nationals, and by the age of 20 ,Hanz had won over 25 state championships.

Their combined love of sport riding led the Scholz brothers to design and build some of the world’s first racing tandems under the name ATP (Advanced Training Products). True to form, the two also spent lots of time riding and racing the tandems they built, racing in the Duet Classic Tandem Stage race 7 times.

In 1990, Alan on the front and Hanz on the back, racing in the Duet Classic on one of the racing tandems they built. They got 2nd place this time.
After launching Bike Friday, it was only a matter of time before Hanz and Alan set their sights on creating the world’s premier performance travel bike, the Pocket Rocket. The first one was built around 1993.

“For Hanz and I, whether we were touring or racing, we used a road bike. That is why when you look closely at the Bike Friday logo you will see that the bike is a drop bar Pocket Rocket.” -Alan Scholz

The first Pocket Rocket had the original diamond frame design.

The main frame design was changed to a mono-tube after a little competition in the production shop inspired one of the builders to make a simpler and lighter frame for his personal Pocket Rocket.  This is one of the first production models.
The Pocket Rocket took off like, well, a rocket. Roadies everywhere did double-takes at the sight of a serious performance bike with 20″ wheels, especially when it smoked them!

They said, “how can those little wheels go so @#%!fast??”.

“Hanz and I realized the look of the little wheels was the best decoy trick to start the race with (see the quiet grin here). On a bike that’s built right, its about the legs and the lungs, not the wheel size…” – Alan Scholz

In the first two years Pocket Rocket sales soared to 30% of our business. The success of the Pocket Rocket was initially fueled by early adopters like Ed Pavelka, an editor for Bicycling Magazine.

An article by Ed in Bicycling Magazine is what put the Pocket Rocket on the map. He wrote “A Bike Friday rides as good as your best bike.”.

Prominent cycling figures, like Tour de France’s Phil Liggett and Bicycling Magazine’s Jim Langley, recognized the value of a performance road bike that could travel with you anywhere:

“I’ve always told people that Bike Fridays ride just as good as your favorite bicycle, and that you can do all the same things on it, too. If you’re looking for the ultimate portable flyer, this is it.” – Jim Langley.

Jim has ridden every day for 23 years with help of his Pocket Rocket –read more on his website

Alan racing his Pocket Rocket years later in one of the local events.

Oh, the Places You’ll Train…

The ability to easily travel anywhere with a high-performance, custom-built road bike opened up a world of possibility for elite riders everywhere. From the Swiss Alps to Kona, we continue to be amazed by the places that people have ridden their Pocket Rockets.

“Having ridden my bicycle since I got the cycling bug at age 11, I have learned over and over that best bike is the one I can have with me every time I want to ride. Bike Friday has brought a dream into reality for me and many others.” – Alan Scholz

Meanwhile, back in Eugene…

While serious sport riders were enjoying their newly discovered freedom, the Scholz brothers were hard at work designing their next big thing: travel tandems. Stay tuned for our next installment of Bike Friday history all about the Family Tandem and the Tandem Two’sDay!

Find out what Alan did with a hacksaw and his first Family Tandem!

Alan Scholz and his daughter, Sarah, on a weekend ride together.

Inspired by the desire to ride with his third daughter Sarah, Alan invented the Family Tandem. The most size adjustable tandem in the world. It can really fit the whole family!

 

Finding Hidden Gems by Bike in the Middle East

 

We just received this great update from Mary D. & Bob S. who recently returned from a trip to Israel and Palestine:

We are a retired American couple who live in France. When we travel by airplane, we cycle on our Bike Fridays.

Arriving at the airport with bikes packed into suitcases

This trip we went to Israel and Palestine/West Bank. The weather in April (2017) was fantastic. There were two hot days of which one that was too hot and too windy in our faces. Otherwise, no rain and comfortable temperatures.

Tel Aviv in April, perfect cycling weather

We left Tel Aviv and went along the coast where we occasionally ran into sand.

Sandy Israeli coastline

There is some beautiful coastal cycling and some of which is on major roads.

Coastal road in Israel

We continued to the Lebanon border where there is a wonderful sea cave, Rosh ha Nirika.

The cycling is often on very busy roads. Israel does not have an extensive network of small roads so to travel from place to place, you end up on main roads. Often the shoulder is wide enough and cycling is okay just noisy. But, usually on the steep up hills, the shoulder is narrow with reflectors and broken glass so the cycling is a challenge.

However, just as you get discouraged you find a scenic road like the one to Mizpe Hila.

From Mizpe Hila to Nazareth we travelled through several Arab villages. Much of our tourism was to see historic sites and many of those are religious. It was fun to see all the things we learned about when we were children and forced to attend religious instruction classes.

The Sea of Galilee was a wonderful cycle although in Israel one has to be careful. The conflicts between Israel and Palestinian and neighbouring countries does continue.

The area is very, very dry. We took a day ride along the Israel-Jordan border and there wasn’t any natural green to be seen.


Yes, that is barbed wire all along the border. There is lots of barbed wire and walls all over Israel.

Some of the ancient sites are magnificent. Bet She’an is well-preserved after the earthquake in 749. This site is off the main tourist route and there were 15 – 20 visitors during the time that we were there.


We climbed out of Sea Level before entering Palestine. 

In Palestine there is almost no independent cycle touring. Many locals will discourage you. One Palestinian man said to us, I thank you for wanting to go to Palestine but you really shouldn’t because the drivers are crazy. They weren’t besides when you have cycled in Israel, it is hard to find crazier drivers.

Israeli security has no way to allow bicycles to pass. You can drive in or you can walk in but neither allows bicycles. When security guards with big guns say you can’t go, you don’t go. So, we had to hire a taxi to go a few meters over the border. In a taxi, security asked us no questions and never looked at our passports or visas.

Once we got passed Israeli security, the cycling in Palestine was very nice. The roads we chose had less cars and wide shoulders so it was very pleasant. We walked around the cities seeing no other tourists until we got to Jericho where tourists do visit from Jerusalem. Locals were enthused to see tourists, we had great conversations, and were given a lot of food.

Mary just finished lunch when she was given a slice of pizza.

The girls were fascinated by Mary. They really wanted to talk.

These girls plan to be dentists. They came over to save us from a mob of junior high girls that were talking with us. The high school students have excellent English. The junior high girls ask you your name, your age, and where you are from over and over. Lots of giggling too.

From Nablus, Palestine we travelled an incredibly busy route 60 to Jerusalem before turning back into Palestine and a beautiful road to Jericho.

As we descended back below sea level the area became even more dry. Jericho is over 800 feet below sea level.

The girls in the next photo are in an all-girls public science high school where all the teachers are women. They were on a field trip to the Mount of Temptation and a farm. In Palestine, girls go in high numbers to the university. More food – a pizza in each hand.

The ball cap club.

From Jericho, we went back to Jerusalem and back to Israel. In Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Mizpe Hila we stayed with Warm Showers hosts. As always, the contact with local people enriched our travel experiences and we received helpful advice.

The cycle between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv up until route 44 is sublime. It follows a canyon up and down and is just magical. The secret is to cycle on Saturday mornings when the Israelis cycles. It is Shabbat and there are more bicycles than cars on the roads.

Our Warm Showers’ host Mitch led us to Mount Hertzel in Jerusalem and let us loose down the canyon from there.

The beautiful views just continued as we climbed and descended. With few cars on the road, Mary could weave her way up the hills and Bob could cycle in the middle of the road.

They just kept coming from everywhere. There were road cyclists, tandemists, mountain bikers, and hikers in the woods.

On May 1, the bicycles were packed and we left Israel and Palestine understanding this sign that we saw at the guest house in Jenin, Palestine.

Follow all of Bob & Mary’s adventures through Israel and Palestine here: 

To learn more about the versatile, globe-trotting bikes that made this trip possible, visit the New World Tourist page.

Bike Friday Riders Continue to Blow Us Away

We Couldn’t Believe What Happened Next…

A community of early-adopting cyclists quickly formed after the creation of the very first Bike Fridays. We were (and still are) blown away by what these intrepid cyclists did with their brand new travel bikes. Here are incredible true stories of some of the earliest Bike Friday riders!

Cycling Every Day for 23 Years & 4 Months

In the nineties, former Bicycling Magazine Editor Jim Langley made an incredible commitment to cycle every day – something not possible without his Pocket Rocket!

Bike Friday Pocket Rocket

By Jim Langley

In 1990, I set a short-term goal of riding every day and a long-term goal of cycling daily for ten consecutive years. Each ride had to be a real ride, which to me means getting suited up and putting in at least an hour of fitness-pace miles. I’d heard of a runner named Ron Hill who actually ran twice a day for over twenty years, so I knew it was possible. Yet, I figured it would be tougher to bike every day because it requires a place to ride, a proper bicycle and getting prepared to ride; quite a process compared to simply slipping on your shorts and Nikes.

None of these hurdles seemed insurmountable, but my job worried me. I had to travel regularly; sometimes even to Europe; and I wasn’t sure how I could continue riding in such unpredictable circumstances. I’d already experienced the hassle of traveling by a bicycle packed in a cardboard box and in a bike case. Because of its size, the airlines charged me $75 or more per flight ($150 for a round trip), which I could not charge to my expense account. Worse, they abused the bike boxes and cases by jamming them in the plane next to other oversize luggage that would bash into the box. Even carefully packed, a lightweight bicycle can get damaged abused like that.

To prevent these problems, I tried shipping my bike via UPS. This is less expensive than the airlines’ fees, but I worried that my bike would be lost or damaged. And, I was never positive it would arrive in time. Of course, I also had to have a safe place to ship it to.

Ed to the rescue

Fortunately, there was an alternative; a new invention. Ed Pavelka, another editor at Bicycling Magazine, had recently purchased a nifty folding bicycle called a Bike Friday Pocket Rocket. He was raving about it… Continue Reading on Jim’s Website

Cycling the Arctic Circle in their 60’s!

And they had almost given up on cycling…

From Ingrid & Dick A.

In the late nineties, Dick and Ingrid were touring on a pair of Fuji road bikes, when Dick suffered a serious back injury. “I was lifting the panniers out of our tent and my back went out,” Dick said. “It was so painful it hurt to breathe.” Without any way to lift his legs up and over the bicycle, Ingrid had Dick lay on his side, put the bike between his legs, lifted him upright and gave him a push. Thankfully, two were able to coast to the nearest town for medical attention.

After that injury, Dick was convinced he’d never be able to ride again, but Ingrid wasn’t having it: “I know just the bike for you! We’re going to get a Bike Friday.” At first, Dick wasn’t so sure, “I thought it looked like a girl’s bike,” but he gave it a chance and was impressed: “It rode like a professional bike.” The low step over was particularly important; Dick could easily get on and off of the Bike Friday, making cycling a reality again! Needless to say, the pair were quick to order a couple of bikes and resume their adventures.

Dick & Ingrid have cycled extensively in the U.S. and traveled several times now across Canada with their Pocket Llamas, including to the arctic circle! “We’ve cycled more than 23,000 miles on our Bike Fridays, both training and touring,” says Ingrid. “They are the best bikes, the doors they’ve opened, the opportunities they’ve given us… we couldn’t have done this without them.”

Our Early Bike Friday Story

By Sally & Jim B.

Once upon a time, there were two teachers who lived in Alaska and they really liked summer adventures…which being teachers….were possible.  About 1973 they went on their first tours in Alaska on Gitane and Cilo 10 speed bikes with sew-up tires, rear racks with yellow panniers taking the train to Fairbanks and biking to Valdez and taking the ferry to Whittier, the train to Portage and then biking home.  That was so much fun the next summer they went to Nova Scotia and then various bike trips each summer.  In 1985 they crossed the pond and biked in Ireland where it rained for 19 of twenty-one days, but all had a great time.  They boxed the bikes in boxes from the local bike shop, paid for the bikes to fly and bought tickets to Shannon Airport.  On arrival, they assembled the bikes in the airport, loaded the panniers and wondered what to do with the boxes and how they would get boxes to get the bikes home.  This was in ancient history when airport security wasn’t quite what it is today so they wrote their names on the boxes and found a stairway with some stuff stored under it in a quiet corner of Shannon airport and added a note on the boxes that they would be back in three weeks so please don’t throw these out.  This trip had a happy ending after three weeks…the boxes were right where they left them so they paid again for the bikes to fly and all returned to Alaska in good form.

Several more years elapsed with these bikes traveling in similar form until 1998 when one summer day in Anchorage these two teachers saw two smallish bikes with suitcase trailers parked outside REI.  This was quite a revolutionary idea to the two teachers…..So they waited near the bikes for the owners to return and then quizzed them on this interesting setup. Well, these folks told us of their adventures, flying bikes for free, and trailing their gear in the bike suitcases.  They also gave us a preprinted postcard with all the Bike Friday contact info one could ever need.

In a very short time, the teachers became the proud owners of two New World Tourists  In the next few summers tours were made to Denmark and then Austria, the Erie Canal, Austria again, Italy, Switzerland and then another bicycle invention was born…the mountain bike.  Well, much as we loved the Bike Friday New World Tourists we looked at the full-size mountain bikes as a ticket to travel in the mountains, on dirt roads and the “wilderness” without carrying a backpack on the back and also saving an achy knee joint.  So now we were back to the dilemma of paying to fly our bikes to places these new mountain bikes would take us.  We still loved the New World Tourist Bike Fridays for the paved roads and bike trails beginning to sprout around the city of Anchorage.  We did, however, beat the airlines at their own game….we built boxes which met the length, width total allowance for size to fly the bike for free, but they had to be disassembled into many parts (see picture) and not advertised as bicycles in those boxes labeled Mountain Research Equipment – they did fly free.

To continue the Bike Friday story….after making several summer mountain bike tours  and another 3 month trip to New Zealand on a sabbatical year with mountain bikes, Bike Friday invented the Pocket Gnu folding mountain bike….so the problem was solved and we exchanged a little cash and the New World Tourists for Pocket Gnus which now travel free as bikes although they are still doing mountain research.  Meanwhile, we had helped several  (14 at least) friends into the Bike Friday family with New World Tourists and one couple with a Tandem Tuesday.  Somewhere along the way, we retired from teaching and also bought two more New World Tourists from friends who were no longer able to bike… so to make a very long story a little shorter we now own two New World Tourists, two Pocket Gnus, a three-wheel tricycle, two full-size mountain bikes which don’t get a lot of use and one fat bike and I almost forgot that Gitane hanging from the ceiling in the shed. But the only ones that fly with us are Fridays.

Onion Creek, Moab, Utah

Posing with a tall bike in Austria

If you missed part one of this Bike Friday Genealogy story you can read it here: How Bike Friday Was Born

Italian Cycle Touring Stories from Carl Hemmings

 

My Solo Giro de Italia

-1999-

Out takes from the diary of Carl Hemmings

Giro de Italia

Well I’m well on my way to another adventure with my Bike Friday New World Tourist. I am living in the Czech Republic at the moment, I caught the train from Plzen (beer capital) to the capital Praha, to get the bus down to Verona Italy.

standing atop a lake in Italy

The past 15 days I have spent cycling around the Italian Lake area. Now in the Romeo and Juliet town of Verona Italy. I wanted to see a bit of the Giro de Italia bike race. I camped in the gardens of the Youth hostel, the cheapest so far L8000 ($7 Australia) including breakfast and a cellar toilet/shower room which when the sun shone through the stained glass window gave an appearance of a holy shrine. I met an American cyclist who had ridden from Napoli; Joseph was his name we ended up hanging out together. We planned to make a early start to ride to the top of Lago di Garda (80 km) to watch the Giro de Italia come past, but it was such a glorious day, when we saw a vacant table in the piazza, we called it ours, and sat back and watched the world pass by. We did see some of the Giro, from a cafe TV!

Cafe at Italian piazza

I enjoyed Verona, the city has a good feel to it, and I cruised around the narrow streets on my small-wheeled Bike Friday getting many curious looks from the well-dressed Italians. Most Italians cheer when they see me, they call out “bella bicelletta” (beautiful bicycle). As I rode the city of Verona, I’m mixing it with 14 year-olds on motto scooter’s who have mobiles plastered to their ear as they ride, old ladies on old bikes, as well as the rich in their Ferraris. Back home I would mind, but here I just except it as the norm & blend in with the rest. You would think there were no rules, everybody going there own direction down the narrow streets.

I made my way North to Lago di Garda the next day, as I was passing a small village cafe, the owner called out “where you from?” As soon as I told him I was from Australia, he came out with a free pineapple juice. Later in the day an Italian couple on a Harley Davidson motto bike, came over and were so impressed with the bike they took a photo of it.

Italian Lake

Mountains in Italy

Cycling round Lake Garda, was a like a little bit like riding around Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay with Mountains as extra scenery. There was a lot of people out just as to be looked at, and lots of traffic. At one stage a group of 100 Vesper motto scooters came past me, there horns beeping me for encouragement?

Vespas along a lake in Italy

I continued to Lago di Tenno, then the Madonna di Campiglio 1600m, it’s the mountain finish of a Giro stage won by Pantanni, as I climbed I had awesome views of the Brenta Gruppo Dolomites Mountains which peak at 3200m. Words or pictures cannot convey the view before me, the best I can do is, “awesome.”

The Dolomite Mountains

It was getting late when I got to the top of the climb, nearly 9pm and no campsite could be found, so made a super 10km dash down the mountain to the village of Carisolo to sleep for the night.

In the last 3 days or so I cycled Lago di Iseo, Lago di Garlate, and now Lago di Como. I rode up to the Madonna di Ghisallo; the chapel dedicated to the sufferings of cyclists. I needed a bit of a breather before I went in the chapel, I felt a little light headed from trying to keep up with an Italian racer out on a training run, my legs felt like jelly as well. I entered the holy shrine, mounted on the chapel walls, were bicycles from the 1920 Giro di Italia, bicycles from the Italian champions Coppi and Bartalli, Francesco Mosers hour record bike, the Belgian “cannibal” Eddy Merckx orange machine, and the tragic reminder how dangerous professional bike racing is with the young 22 year old Fabio Castelli twisted bicycle, sustained in a decent of the Pyrenees mountains in the 1995 Giro race, he passed away on the mountain top. Also on display were jerseys from cycling legends, Migel Indurain, Greg Lemond, Merkx, Gimondi, Bartalli, and Coppi, to name a few. It was all overwhelming. There have been plenty of little hard hills, the humid weather making them extra hard. I have been a little disappointed with the amount of industry around the lake area. But I have met plenty of friendly/helpful people along my way, and must decide in what direction to ride next.

Meeting an Italian racer

Meeting an Italian family

From Lake Como I decided to head South towards Genova, I didn’t leave the city till 3pm! I paid for my indecision on which direction to take, I had to combat large truck traffic, gust of wind that nearly made me come to a stand-still, so I got of the main road into the small villages. I got lost in the spaghetti like roads which followed the steepest hill they could find. I made it to camp at 9:30pm totally exhausted.

camping at lake Como

Cycling on an Italian mountain pass

On the way to PAVIA (35km Sth. of Milano), I took a side trip to village called Morimondo for a shot of espresso to pep me up. It was a nice surprise to be greeted by a monastery & open trattoria. That’s where David & Cristina from Milano invited me over for drinks. I had a wonderful afternoon eating gelato, sipping vino, espresso & enjoying “la Dolce vita” -the sweet life! I bid farewell, hopped back onto my bike feeling “happy”, for the 20km ride to PAVIA. I couldn’t feel my legs, there wasn’t the usual discomfort in the groin area, I find when I have a little alcohol in my system it makes me ride harder. So when a old man buzzed past me on his moped, I accelerated & jumped onto his wheel (followed him). I was on “the big ring, & on the rivet”, to try to catch him! Once I was in his slip stream, we cruised along at 35 -> 40km/hr, it was great to do some motor-pacing. Josep said, “You have made it into the outskirts of PAVIA in half an hour.

PAVIA has a university, so it’s a lively city with a great old town centre. I explored Pavia city on foot, I have sore right knee the result from pushing it yesterday, sitting behind that moped. The Province of PAVIA is a beautiful area made up of small sandstone mountains (1500m) & many wine types to choose from.

A palace in Italy

Local vino of Pavia/Oltrepo:

*Bonarda* (sparkling red, nice), *Buttafuoco*(dry sparkling red, OK),*Sangue di Giuda* (sweet sparking red, taste like fizzy cordial), Croatina, Pinot Nero, Pinot Grigio, Riesling Italico, Barbera, Cortese, Moscato, & Malvasia.

I’m now 60km East of Geneva at LEVENTO . It’s the last camping place before “Cinque Terre” – 5 separate coastal villages perched on rocky ledges overlooking the sea.

cinque terre overlooking the sea

To get here, I had to go through 4 x 3km “Black as Black” one lane tunnels, my dynamo-light hardly making an imprint in the ink like soup.

As the trains were on strike today, I rode my bike the hilly 5km out of Levento to the next village of Monterossa al Mare, the road twisted & turned back on its self many times & for ever going up! I imagined myself as Pantani, out of the saddle going for a stage win, it felt easy climbing with no luggage, but I think there was some assistance from a tailwind.

I reached the top of the climb, then it was a steep 7km downhill to Monterossa al Mare. I didn’t think much of Monterossa al Mare, it was nothing special, the other villages of Cinque Terre were much nicer. I didn’t stay too long, I had a bit of a light head from the climbing to the village, so sat on a seat watching the sunbathers & ate some peaches.

Rain clouds started to roll in, & light rain fell, it was refreshing. Dim light now, I saw a set of yellow lenses glasses for sale at a stall, which looked cool, they fit well for bicycle riding, so I bought them for L27 000. They made a huge difference in the low light, most cars had there headlights on in the low light, with these yellow wonders on it seemed like it was normal daylight.

biking by Italian rice paddies

This time I took it easy up the 7km uphill out of Monterossa al Mare, I needed to go to the toilet at the top, I saw a little old hut next to the side of road. I was just about to go, when a cattle dog came running out from a underneath a parked boat barking at me. I thought he was going to go for “it”, I nearly wetted my pants!!

Thats all for now, stay tuned for my ride around Island of French Corsica.

Carl Hemmings


To learn more about the bike that Carl used to tour Italy, visit the New World Tourist page!

The very first Bike Friday

How the First Bike Friday was Born

How the First Bike Friday was Born

By Co-founder Alan Scholz

The very first Bike Friday

In 1992 the first Bike Friday was delivered. We named it the “Sport 14”. It’s now known as the New World Tourist and is still the most popular Bike Friday ever!

An old original New World Tourist

Long before the first Bike Friday was born there was the discovery of personal liberation: The Bicycle.

Alan Scholz as a young cyclist

Here I am age 18 or so. Very excited that my new bike was light enough to hold with one finger!

My brother and I grew up in a bike shop. Hanz is 10 years younger. I started the shop at age 17 in my parent’s basement. We toured and raced bikes on the plains of North Dakota. We loved everything bicycle. We learned that a bike that fit, rode well, and had the gears needed for the 30 mph headwinds of Fargo gave us a freedom to roam the land. It was emancipation for us. Hanz started building racing frames by the age of 15. I think he is a mechanical genius.

Freedom to roam under our own power = emancipation for 2 young men

Then we wanted to ride other places that had hills and less wind!

On a dream bike trip to Europe, Hanz struggled with his bike. It is tough to travel with a bicycle. It either doesn’t fit in the car, taxi, train luggage shelf, airplane suitcase or you have to pack it and ship separately hoping it arrives in one piece at the other end. And it costs a lot extra to take it with you. In the U.S. even the trains had quit making it easy to take a bike!

During the 1970s and 80s, we both looked for a bike that was easy to travel with. A bike that still fit right and rode well and had the gears we needed. We had high hopes for a long time that someone would produce one for folks, like us, with dreams of bike travel. We didn’t find anything that fit the bill for nearly 20 years. But this backstory prepared us for our future.

I started Burley Design Co-operative (which later became famous for their child trailers) back in Fargo in the late 60’s.

The very first Burley trailer

My daughters Hanna (now Bike Friday President) and Fraeda (one of Bike Friday’s builders). My personal inspirations for designing the Burley Trailer.

Later on, once I had turned Burley into a Co-operative and left, Hanz and I started building tandems for Burley.  The tandems were a joint venture of a business called ATP (Advanced Training Products – a play on words) that Hanz and I started in another story leading to Bike Friday. While we were still building tandems Hanz set a goal of fitting a bike in a suitcase and made the first suitcase travel bike prototype for himself around 1986-7.

Hanz packing the very first Bike Friday into a suitcase

This is probably Hanz packing his first Bike Friday Sport 14 into a regular Samsonite suitcase. Notice the trailer wheel and frame is already part of the system. He did it!

The Dentist Said he Wanted One Too!

Hanz and I had a great dentist. We liked to talk to him about bikes. Who doesn’t talk bikes with their dentist? Dr. Richard Gabrial was an early Burley tandem owner.  When he came to an open house at our tandem production shop and saw the folding bike prototype Hanz had made he wanted one.  He strongly encouraged us to make them available. Yes, Dr. Gabrial was the trigger for making High-Quality Travel folding bikes for you. We owe so much to people like Dr. Gabrial who encouraged us along the way. Thank you, Richard. You are the best dentist ever!

The Burley tandem bike builders

Burley Tandem building team in the late 1980’s. First Bike Friday Prototype on the far right side along with some kids bikes we were making on the side for our kids.

 

The bike for Dr. Gabrial was the push Hanz needed to make the second bike. And then we thought…”there are a lot of dentists in the world”, I bet other people want a bike like this too…

With the help of another early instigator, Paul Moore, planning began. Paul is another immigrant to Eugene and a fantastic guy with a terrific history. We credit Paul with the names Bike Friday from Robinson Crusoe and Green Gear Cycling which shows our green roots. Paul also wrote the famous, less than 30 words, and that boosted us into business. The ad read “NO JOKE! and ABOUT TIME!” and was placed in the back of Bicycling Magazine. Some of you remember this 1992 ad. Some of you even bought your first Bike Friday from Paul by snail mail!

So the “Sport 14” was born in a tandem shop. Two following Bicycling Magazine reviews put Bike Friday on the map. It was April Fools Day, 1992 and it was no joke! One of the reviews later in Bicycling mag said: “It rides like your best bike!” Wow! The bar was set high.

The phone started ringing. We had no idea the tiger we had the tail of.  But the bike dealers said we were nuts.”No one will pay $800 for a folding bike!”. Most folding bikes were $300 or less and not thought of as good bikes to actually ‘ride’. They were poor renditions and were nothing like well-designed travel bikes. The non-dealer people calling were excited. “It is about time” they agreed! Since folding bikes had a bad rap, we called our travel bike and the “Worlds First Suitcase Bike”.

Lots of folks, for years, did not realize Bike Friday also had the convenience of a fast folding bike. This confusion lost us lots of European sales, as they had great train service, and didn’t feel the need for an airline suitcase bike.

The Big Decision

So Hanz and I saw we had to make a big decision. Do we design, build, market and sell it all ourselves? How would we get this bike out to all the cycling dentists and other people in the world who really needed a bike that fits, rides well, they can take with them? We could see that not only did we need to design and manufacture the bike, we would also need to market and sell it direct. Even the folks at the Burley co-op did not understand that many folks wanted a real bike with them no matter where they went. We realized we had to invent a build-to-order sales and delivery team that could sell and make a custom bike in time for someone’s (often) dream trip!

Early Bike Friday employees

The whole team that built the first mono-tube style Bike Friday. Sales, Marketing, Accounting, Purchasing, Frame Building, Shipping…..every step in a little shop the size of a 3 car garage.

The original Bike Friday Travel System

This decision was a key moment in the history of. Most manufacturers want to focus just on building stuff, and leave the selling to retailers. We decided we had to do both, as we found no selling partners who ‘got it’ as early as the customers did. It was crazy! We had very little money but decided to go for it and partner directly with our customers.  We suspected that many customers would be like Dr.Gabrial and be great new friends! It turned out to be true. Wow, what an understatement!

    – Alan Scholz– founder Dakota Nomad, Softek Architectural Products,  Co-founder Burley Bike Bags, Burley Design Cooperative, designer of the Burley Trailer and Co-founder of Green Gear Cycling inc/ dba BikeFriday the bikes that fly. – April  2017 the 25th anniversary of Bike Friday.

We were blindsided at what happened next:

Intrepid people with adventurous spirits took these bikes on rides we had never even dreamed of, all around the world. They started a community.

— Read more in the next installment coming soon!–

Please Share Your Bike Friday Stories!

Do you have some early Bike Friday stories and pictures to share? Please send them to us, we would love to reminisce together. Read some customer stories on the Bike Friday Blog
There are so many incredible trips people have taken on their Bike Fridays. We love hearing back about where they have explored and how the bikes are working out. Below are just a few pictures that help inspire us to keep going and makes the struggle worth it in the rough times when the tubing order doesn’t show up or Shimano is out of those 11speed hub gears that everyone wants on their bike right now!…
Camping with a Bike Friday
I am awestruck every time I see this picture of Carl living a dream.
Touring on a New World Tourist Lite
The New World Tourist in England
Bike Friday in the desert!
The New World Tourist travels the world
Bike Fridays fit into the trunk of a Porsche

What has made the New World Tourist the most popular Bike Friday:

  • Built to fit You – Always essential for long serious riding.
  • Gearing and accessories you need for your plans and situation – Your choice of gears from 8 to 27 and all the accessories you need to travel fully loaded on your adventure.
  • You can take it with you around the world – on Airplanes,trains, buses and little cars.
  • Rides like a great everyday bike – One bike to ride daily around town and take on a tour across a continent.
  • Easy to get on and off. The low center of gravity and step over height makes it easy to handle when fully loaded for a tour.
  • Durable – built to be used
  • Largest range of tire choices with the most common 20 inch wheel size – same size as many BMX bikes and kids bikes.

Want to learn more about Bike Friday’s most popular model? Follow the link to learn more about the New World Tourist.

Or Contact us!

1-800-777-0258 U.S. | 541-687-0487 Int’l ( a real cyclist will answer!)

 

The Enigma of Electric Assist #2

The Enigma of Electric Assist

 By Alan Scholz, Co-founder/Designer of Bike Friday & Burley Design

 The main mystery of Electric Assist for bicycles. Why is it not more popular in the US?

It is wildly popular other places. What do they know that we don’t? It seems like it should have so much going for it. It is a tremendous and super economical solution for a lot of folks. And did I mention fun? More than 32 million of them were sold in the Asian Pacific countries alone last year. More than 23 million just in China. (200 million in use in China!) The Europeans put another 1 & a half million into use last year.

In North America? A rounding error amount of around 150 thousand! That is less than 1 in about 6000 people!! Compare that to the over 7 million cars sold in the US in 2016. (That’s 2 out of every 100 people bought a car.)

My experience these last 3 years has motivated me to find out why such a fun, healthy, inexpensive, uplifting and effective transportation is not catching on in a big way here.

Before my epiphany. ( I didn’t get it)

I have watched bicycle assist systems be innovated since the 1970s. Back then they were little wheel drive gasoline motors. Noisy, dirty and to me, as a cyclist, not at all attractive. They did not do well and it is easy for us cyclists to see why. A couple of years ago customers started talking to me about their interest in an electric assist. I have been watching the development of dc motors & battery systems for bicycles for about 20 years now. The ones I had seen or tried were still lacking, to my sense of matching a bicycle’s quiet elegance and filling needs that I understood. (I think I might have been a strong cyclist snob too!)

But then 5 years ago I started designing a cargo bike system optimized for women and families to complement and improve on my many years of kid trailer design work. (I invented the Burley Bike Trailers for my own kids. I should have understood the need for the assist!) Near the same time, several customers finally were able to make me understand that there were all these other potential values in having an electric boost.

One ride changed everything. (The light goes on)

And then I rode one that was quiet and smooth and made my heavy cargo ride like I was super fit! On the lowest setting, it stilled seemed like it was all me on a good day and on a lighter bike. In the second setting, I felt like I was having one of those great days. On the next setting, my ride to anywhere was quite predictable as my higher capable speed made it clear that I could reach wherever I was going without over-working. The high setting was enough to ride even if I was not feeling motivated because it did more than enough to cover my reticence. I found I do not ride less or at a lower effort. If anything, I ride more and exercise harder because I feel better! I still go on bike rides with the club and tours without the assist. But on a daily basis, I use the assist to have predictable transportation. Sometimes with quite a load. If I was riding with others that were faster I would definitely want the assist to add the extra bit to keep up with them. That is not cheating. (Mechanical doping, yes!)

Why aren’t others in North America taking to this in millions?

The challenge I have found is that the field of electric assist is darn confusing! In 2013 I started my education. What I learned was the electric assist was quite a viable addition to lots of our individual needs and also could give a great experience. I found this as a really pleasant surprise to me. Many folks in North America are in a similar place to me about electric assist. Interested, to very interested, but not sure of the best way to proceed for a positive result in both the cost and the experience. And with those low, low sales numbers it means most of us have not even had a test ride. And even with test rides, I know they are not all alike or all good. So here is my venture to become capable of understanding this wide, exhilarating confusion of electric assist innovation going on. I hope it will help you understand how it could make you feel more powerful and be part of the climate change solution while making the concept of home economy significantly better.

Don’t call it Doping!

You may have heard about European professional cyclists in the last year or so showing up in the news “mechanical doping” in pro races. Maybe even for years since 1998! That my friends mean the electric assist has come of age when it can be stealth into the echelon. Wow! We need to get some of this for ourselves. I know I want some. Small, quiet, light. This is not drugs or cheating for us. For the pros yes. For us, it is an enhancement that will give you better exercise, a smaller footprint, and a new perspective. I would like to show you why.

Serializing how my education & expertise developed with battery boosting:
Study at night and ride by day

Human Assist or Electric Assist? Who is helping who?
Viral Ephemeralization – things have changed, better motivation gives better exercise
Cost Rationalization – It feels good to fool yourself
Dope like a Pro- Keeping up is great, its the right thing to do, climb with the best
Getting Older & Faster is Real – Better motivation gives better exercise
Improving your Outgoing Reputation and Positive Outlook! 
Climate Change Fighters – Climate change heroes are healthy and good looking!
Your Grand Kids Will Love You & your kids still need a good example set
Solarizing your Ride – the sun is not just for vitamin D

And some world firsts and specials for the Bike Friday community:

Now You Can Take it With You – flying with an electric assist bicycle battery that can fly legally
Electrify your Bike Friday – I can show you how
Better than an Electric Car – a 150% solution at a 95% discount, Dare you not to Grin!

For you, we study at night & ride by day.

What is the intended scope for our research into the enigma of electric assist?

A. Main reason for this project is for making a rather complex thing simpler, to make the experience more predictable, and to make it cheaper for all by sharing so as to not require the individual to try by hit or miss. A big piece for me is sharing a huge potential I found that I did not expect or value. As I was dispelling the enigma for myself, I got schooled! I used to say it was useful for the right person and the right situation. Kind of smug of me as it turned out. I believe now it could be useful for most people in different situations most people have in their lives. Somebody should do something to make it less mysterious! Here we go! (Green Gear R&D)

1. We are testing the components that make electric assist systems, We are doing that by having many people here at the shop use them so that we can have their candid comments on their use.

2. The testing will be interspersed with my comments based on the subjects I listed above. Some are quite surprising, some are really hidden gems that for the right folks will make their life a bunch better, and some are great gossip topics that I think we will all enjoy. That Little wheels Fly will not be your only secret!

3. I am eliciting stories from Bike Friday Community members with electric assist experience. Please share with us all and help us forward in this research. Please do send in your experiences electrifying your bikes as we would all love to hear them. Some that were shared with me finally convinced me to look into this enigma. And I am so glad they did. There is a huge amount of value to it. My first ride on a good one was eye-opening. My first 2 or 3 electric bike tests, not so good, the next was wow!

4. My goal will be to make an easy way to choose what is right for your situation & to have a great experience with your first assist set up. ( I didn’t get one to work for me until the third try! Time, money, and frustration.) I want to make also predictable useful kits available for the community that will work well for the different Bike Friday models.

B. What will we test? Here is the main list. The technical side yes but much more will be our human experience of it.

1. Motors – We will be testing a total of about 15 motor systems. We have already done 6 that are in use or rejected. It is very clear not one best system or the best way. We will be doing at least 6 front hub motors, 3 mid motors, and 5 rear hub motors.

2. Batteries – We are testing 24-volt, 36-volts, 48-volts, and 52-volt systems. Small and large capacity ones. Yes, confusing. These include the newest most advanced Lithium batteries. (most contain the same cells that drive Tesla cars.) We will include a world first, a travel legal battery by air for electric bikes! Just came out. We have videos now showing travel with it on our new super light compact “The pakiT.” Plus all the best practices for charging, expectations for longevity, and real-time experience caring for a high capacity lightweight battery.

3. We will be testing systems with different power assist levels. With our emphasis on legal limits and speeds. 250, 350, 500 watt systems, & the legal limit in the US 750 watts. ( a full horsepower! Who is helping who?) We will talk about human power and flying the English channel with a 300 watt human. This subject is a huge part of the confusion about electric assist. There seems to be a fair number of hot rodders in the US that are not cyclists as we view it. Do you really need a 3000-watt system? (4 horsepower! You could fly with that) I make the case that they are not electric assisted. Also, we will cover an overview of laws covering ebikes. Links to good resources we find too.

4. We will be comparing hill climbing ability, speed, and range. Here you will see the huge difference between a pedal assist and an electric assist. Yes, weight really does still mater and a light bike that fits go further and faster. Just like it does with our 100 to 300 watts of personal bike power. Will also have a discussion on regenerative braking. A pleasant and surprising win for tandems especially.

5. We will compare system weights and how ‘bike like’ the systems is and how easy to ride when the assist is not being used.

6. We will try the different control methods. There are at least 5 or 6 different power control methods and I already think this is one you must know about before you get your assist. It was the most confusing for me and it has the most difference in making the assist recede into the background while you and your cycling skills lead. Also large cost differences and system complication.

7. We will use several different instrumentations from very simple to ones that require some skill to integrate into your cycling skills.

8. We will always be looking at the systems for optimization of use for different needs and uses. Plus we will look for optimization for simplicity of use, maintenance, and cost.

9. What systems do we think is best for each of the Bike Friday models. Produce a buying guide with the project results.

Eight Bike Friday riders trek the Great Allegheny Passage

The Bike Friday Community

Connect and ride with Bike Friday cyclists around the world!

There are a number of great ways to get involved in the Bike Friday Community, whether it’s just down the street or it’s Down Under.

Facebook Groups

The number one way to connect with Bike Friday owners across the globe is through the various Bike Friday Facebook groups:

Bike Friday Community – general Bike Friday group

Haul-a-Day Users Group – Haul-a-Day specific group

The pakiT pack! – pakiT specific group

Australian Bike Friday Club – the official page for the Australian Bike Friday Club

 

The Yak

 

The Yak is a listserv (an email based forum) exclusively for the Bike Friday Community. Don’t want to be bothered with Facebook, want a simple text-only platform for discussing all things Bike Friday? Then the Yak is for you- go to this page to subscribe.

 

Meetup
 

Meetup.com is a great way to connect and do activities with people with similar interests, including other Bike Friday riders! In fact, the very first Bike Friday Meetup group, The Bike Friday Society, was just started in NYC!

Want to start a Bike Friday Meetup group in your area? Join Meetup.com and invite others to join you for rides! Once you’ve set up your group, tell us about it and we’ll add it here for people to find.

 

Testimonials, Stories, & Photos

 

Want to see what others are doing and saying about their Bike Fridays but without having to join a group? Then the best way to see photos and read first-hand experiences from Bike Friday riders is to check out one of the following resources:

 

Bike Friday Web Gallery – user submitted photos from around the world!

Bike Friday’s Instagram – a treasure trove of gorgeous photos on everyone’s favorite photo sharing app.

Bike Friday’s Blog – stories from around the world, updated weekly!

Testimonials – each bike page has its own review section at the very bottom of the page. Scroll down to read first hand experiences of Bike Friday owners:

 

New World Tourist

Pocket Llama

Haul-a-Day

pakiT

Bantam

Pocket Rocket

Pocket Rocket Pro

Super Pro

Family Tandem

Tandem Two’sDay

 

Have a photo or story you’d like to share? Email us at:

marketing@bikefriday.com

 

 

 

Eight Bike Friday riders trek the Great Allegheny Passage

 

Interested in learning more about our bicycles? Fill out this contact form to get in touch with one of our design experts:

 

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Cherished Memories on the Family Tandem

Father & Son ride on a Bike Friday Family Tandem

Mike and Tyler W., Williamsburg, VA 1998

We purchased our Family Tandem when our children were 5 and 2 years old. We already owned a Burley tandem, and the eventual goal was for Dianna and I to captain the tandems and put the kids behind us. The Family Tandem gave us the flexibility to adjust everything according to who was on that particular bike. Until Tyler grew a little he would have to be relegated to the trailer. A year later we were living in Williamsburg, Virginia, and I decided that it was time for Tyler to become a stoker. My biggest fear was that he would fall asleep while pedaling and fall off somewhere around Colonial Williamsburg.

Fun on a Bike Friday Tandem
After we returned to California, family tandem rides became one of our favorite weekly activities. We also participated in weekend club rides, and the Great Western Bicycle Rally in Paso Robles, CA, was our favorite annual event.
Mother & Son on Bike Friday Tandem
Dianna and Tyler with our Family Tandem decorated for the Spooktacular
A few months ago Dianna and I purchased our custom-made Tandem Twosday (aka “The Mullet”) and we are thoroughly enjoying reacquainting ourselves with our old family routes. Best Wishes to the Bike Friday family—you have contributed to some of our most cherished memories.
Mike, Dianna, Victoria, and Tyler W.
Bakersfield, California.

To learn more about the bike that provided Mike & Dianna with so many wonderful memories, check out the Family Tandem. To learn more about the sporty folding tandem that they’re riding now, check out the Tandem Two’sDay.