Sunday, April 26, 2020

Miscellany: Bike Friday New World Tourist review

The lockdown's got everyone running and biking more, as they're some of the only physical activities you can do when gyms, parks, and beaches are closed. Almost tailor-made for this occasion is my New World Tourist bicycle, built by small Oregon folding-bike manufacturer Bike Friday.

The NWT is Bike Friday's entry-level touring bike, although "entry-level" for a handmade, "Cream Soda Blue" custom-built-in-the-USA bike is about $1,350. After ordering online and getting some unexpectedly personal service (a sales rep called and refreshingly talked me out of buying a more expensive model, given my likely use for the bike), you get the bike in the mail semi-assembled. It didn't take long for me to get on the road:

The main trick that the NWT has over a normal bike is a hinge on the seatpost which allows it to be folded down and the rear wheel to fold forward. If you also fold down or detach the front handlebars, you have a compact (though somewhat unwieldy) package that easily fits inside a car trunk, without having to fold down the seats. The folding process takes about a minute for me, and I usually have to get my hands dirty adjusting the chain - a belt drive is cleaner.

The ride itself is only a bit more skittish than a normal bike, and just a little slower thanks to the smaller wheels (about 80% to 90% as fast as a normal mountain bike). That being said, this is the only folding bike I'd feel comfortable with taking on a long voyage - as the company's slogan says, they wanted to make a great bike that happens to fold, not just a folding bike.


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