I’m the owner of a Bike Friday New World Tourist and have overall been really pleased with it but there was a nagging problem when it came down to the fold: the steerer mast would get stuck. This only happens when the quick release is cranked down to proper tightness so I initially kept it intentionally loose but this had the undesirable side effect of adding play (like that of a loose headset).
I took the bike into Velo-Sport in Berkeley since they’re a Bike Friday dealer but they were utterly useless in offering any help. They charged me $15 for looking at the bike and offered the advice to just deal with it.
Unsatisfied, I got on the horn with Bike Friday in Eugene and explained the problem. The tech I spoke to seemed to be all too familiar with the issue and made it seem like they’ve been dealing with it for as long as they’ve existed. His advice, and ultimately the solution, was to file away the threading on the fork’s steer tube. This is done by Bike Friday before the bike leaves but apparently mine was not filed enough. Filing the front and back third circumference of the threading is sufficient but filing away all of it is fine also.
I’m looking forward to foregoing the embarrassment of wrestling the mast loose to fold the bike up. People would ask me, “Is it always this difficult?”. Doh! Well, won’t be difficult anymore.
Well here it is, the review.
I was fairly happy with my last touring bike, a 2008 Specialized Tricross with short stem. My only complaint, one which the bike could not help, was that it proved too large for getting into cars and onto buses, airplanes and trains. I love riding but there are always times I’d like to take some other form of transport: this is where the Bike Friday comes into play.
The New World Tourist (NWT) is a collapsible touring bike that should solve my above problem. It isn’t exactly a full fledged “folding bike” but it is certainly a “travel bike”. The advantage is the mobility when not riding, the disadvantage is the smaller wheels which make strange gearing a necessity and make the ride less comfortable. To compensate for the added road feel/harshness, I opted for wide tires (which have done just the trick) and for the gearing..well, that is still a bit of an unresolved issue that I’m simply living with (more on that later).
There she is minus bags with my Brooks (plus hanging knick knacks) and platform pedals with straps. The bike is specced as follows: Tiagra 9spd STIs, Deore RD, Tiagra triple 53/39/30, 11-34 cassette, Schwalbe Marathon 1.75”, Shimano v-brakes with TravelAgents.
Above is the bike “quick fold”ed. To get it folded like this only takes a few seconds and although not very compact its much smaller than it was and would be acceptable for most buses. I also like locking the bike up looking like this, I figure it might confuse would be thieves. The top mounted bottle cage is plastic so the collapsed seat mast can push it aside but it still prevents maximum fold by a few inches. I’m very happy though that the front mini rack I installed (sold by Nashbar) fits just fine and doesn’t interfere with the fold.
Fully tour loaded! It takes all my gear just like any regular sized bike. I choose not to run front panniers but it has the mounting points for a lowrider rack if I desired. There is also a third bottle cage mount below the main tube which I’m now utilizing as well.
- Very well built, a quality frame and nice powdercoat job
- The velcro strap attached to the seat mast to lash everything together in quickfold is clever
- Front derailleur inline barrel adjuster is appreciated; other manufacturers might leave this out
- Also appreciated are the stainless steel fasteners, an extra cost for quality
- Powdercoat is inside all threaded holes, just plain sloppy. The holes should be plugged while spraying or chased after the spray to clean them out. The coated threads make installing bolts for the first time difficult and make it likely for crossthreading to occur if you’re not careful
- The stem mast, no matter how tight the quick release is, has play to it. It feels as if the headset is loose and can be annoying. I tightened the QR too much trying to fix this and got it stuck in place!
- Supplied rear rack is cheap. It flexes wildly and makes downhills a bit scary. I ran a wonderful Tubus rack prior to this and figured it wouldn’t work with the small wheels. Apparently I was wrong, 350mm long stays for the Tubus can be purchased to work for this application and that is exactly what I will do next. The mounting rails on this rack are also bending which is scary especially since the bags are only 15lb each
- Folding the bike sometimes messes with the cables; ie cables are pulled. This causes problems with the rear derailleur and rear brakes but can usually be alleviated by manually pulling the cable back to where its supposed to be through the loop braze ons (although annoying)
- My Sigma wireless computer works on the bike but not well since because of the small wheels, the distance from the sensor to the base is farther than what is recommended
- Gearing: 53 is not a high enough high and 39 is not a high enough middle. I think I would be happy with a 55/44/30 but I’m living with the current config for now at least.
- I requested and paid for double butted spokes from Bike Friday but they installed straight gauge. Not a huge deal to be honest but it bugs me that when I mentioned this they didn’t believe me.
Conclusion: Thumbs up
Its a very fine bicycle, I like it, a lot actually. The ride and feel is perfect and the fit is just right (I sent in my measurements to BF). I’ve yet to test its travel ability when not being ridden but I’m sure it will work great.
As the miles roll on I’ll update on anything that comes up