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Folding Tourers

Jay dubbleUJay dubbleU Posts: 3,159
edited April 2011 in Tour & expedition
I am looking for a folding tourer that I can stick in the boot of the car or which will go in a suitcase on an aircraft - my short list is

Bike Friday New World Tourist

Airnimal Explorer

Dahon Speed TR

Anyone have experience of any of the above?


  • ralexralex Posts: 85
    No personal experience of folders but have a look here for photos of a couple who toured northern Argentina on Bike Fridays. They look up to the job.
  • GyatsoLaGyatsoLa Posts: 667
    If you don't need a fast fold, you can get a regular bike into a standard (as defined by airline regulations) suitcase using S&S couplers, so no need to restrict yourself too much.

    Of your list, I've no personal experience, but I've met several people who travel on Bike Fridays and in most cases they love them. The exception is a couple I met in Ireland whose 2 week bike tour came to an abrupt halt because of the failure of a non-standard part - there were no suppliers available outside the States so they had no choice but to hire replacement bikes.
  • jc4labjc4lab Posts: 554
    Im a brom,pton user and taske mine abroad a lot.(have several different bags).but for Airminal Ive seen a case specific for that purpose.Try Bicycle Doctor in Dickinson Road Manchester website who like Airminal. and use to have covers and bags

    Seen many a folder packed into different cases on different forums throughout the years..Maybe look at AtoB forum and also the folding Society forum
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    I think my first priority wiuld be to check out the luggage-carrying capabilities. (I have a Dahon folder and while it has lots of plus points, one negative is that you can't pit a normal rear pannier on. I notice that none if the bikes you link is shown with racks or racks and panniers whicj suggests that luggage carrying capacity may nit be something to take for granted.
  • BodhbhBodhbh Posts: 117
    I had a Airnimal Explore for a while. It took a Tubus logo rack + panniers no problem, although it did increase the size of a fold a fair bit, although still easy to get in a car. But you'd need to remove the rack it to fit in their case. From memory, you couldn't mount front guards without preventing the fold altogether, and almost certainly not a front rack.

    It's something to bear in mind, that the bikes might not be so foldable once rigged up for touring, so are you still getting much benifit in terms of travelling over a regular bike, in terms of portability/getting on planes/in car boots etc.?

    I never did much touring on it beyond a long weekend around Boulongne, but no reason you couldn't tour on one. The back wheel did start popping spokes within a few months on but had this almost all non-handbuilt wheels I've had.
  • mrolimroli Posts: 3,622
    Dahon 20" folders can certainly go in a suitcase - if I remember correctly there is a good guide to it somewhere - ah here:

    I have also put the purpose made racks on them and they are fine for touring.

    If you are doing "big" tours on them though with lots of luggage, I would hesitate in rec Dahons - there are a large no of proprietory parts on them (for instance hub sizes are non-standard) and therefore if things go badly wrong in the back of nowhere, it may be difficult to keep going.

    The Bike Fridays, I have read do use more "standard" parts and have been used often I think.

    I love my Dahons and would take them away with me for leisure riding, but as a poster above said, for more serious riding, I would look at a bike with S&S Couplers or the Ritchey Breakaway system....
  • Jay dubbleUJay dubbleU Posts: 3,159
    Thanks for that - I think I'm going to go with the Airnimal Explore - there are front and rear racks available. I think if the bike is going on a plane I'm not really bothered if it takes half an hour to fold but the ride seems to be better with the slightly larger wheels.
  • priorypriory Posts: 743
    this is how i get my dahon in a suitcase whick is oversized for the job but still a standard airline size. 6gbp from the charity shop. ... =slideshow

    Raleigh Eclipse, , Dahon Jetstream XP, Raleigh Banana, Dawes super galaxy, Raleigh Clubman ... =slideshow
  • Jay dubbleUJay dubbleU Posts: 3,159
    I decided against the Dahon after checking the web and coming across instances of poor quality wheel build - most of these dated to 2008/2009 so they may have improved since. Mrs JW is going for an 18 spd Dahon but she is a lot lighter than me
  • priorypriory Posts: 743
    mine is a jetstream xp and has very light wheels that are a ridiculous price new. They have very few spokes and i worried for a while, but they have been remarkably tough, never needing attention although I have ridden them on unsurfaced spanish/portugese roads, british cycle tracks and tarmac .
    Raleigh Eclipse, , Dahon Jetstream XP, Raleigh Banana, Dawes super galaxy, Raleigh Clubman ... =slideshow
  • BirdcpBirdcp Posts: 28
    Hi, I own a Dahon Speed TR and have made a couple of Transatlantic crossings using the Dahon Airporter bike case.

    The bike is good, although in Europe I think it's overpriced. I bought a 2008 model in 2009 that was on clear-out offer by a Dahon dealer in LA. I do like the the SRAM gearing system on the bike, especially with packs when you need to shift quickly or when you're stationary. The bike handles very well loaded and unloaded, and doesn't share the creaks and rattles of the the newer versions of the Speed 8. I like the front dynamo hub too, having used it to power the lights naturally, and my iphone/SatNav. I know some have toured Thailand and places with the Speed TR, but I wouldn't feel comfortable doing it to be honest. For the sake of robustness I'd prefer doing that on a bike that has a traditional three-cog derailleur gear system, and I can imagine changing a flat would be a bit of a pain in the censored until you were used to it. Not enough heel clearance on the rear carrier with Ortliebs is another gripe. I keep meaning to swap the rear carrier for something more robust and better designed. I just never got around to it.

    A few riders reported problems with the spokes on longer tours too, recommending that you replace the stock wheels with custom built wheels, or even BMX rims for strength. I've never had a problem but then haven't really seriously toured the bike.

    The front chainring could do with being a tad smaller too if you plan to ride somewhere with fairly decent climbs. The gearing feels a little high for me..

    Still if you get a good deal on one, it's more than half the price of it's narest rival, the Bike Friday NWT, and with a few tweaks you'd have a very respectable folding tourer for the money. For me, having ridden solid tourers like the Galaxy, it just doesn't feel as solidly put together. There are too many cheap components on the stock bike for my liking, but like I said, for the money I can't really complain. It does look great. I even love the dark green colour.

    I've just bought a used Bike Friday NWT, which would have been my first choice had I been able to afford one when I was in the market in 09. So it'll be interesting to compare the difference in the two first hand, but just reading owners accounts, I think it's the better choice of the two. It's not a folder in the sense that you can quickly fold it down to jump on a bus or something, like you can with the Dahon. It actually folds in seconds and packing into the Airporter takes no more than ten or fifteen minutes, The bike Friday packs into a Samsonite sized case for transport and seems to have a better build quality, according to owner's accounts that I've read. Each time I've travelled I've been charged something for excess baggage, either weight or size. The Airporter is just over regulation limit for many U.S. airlines. Mostly they dont' check, but occasionally they spot it and that's another 50 or 60 quid when they do. The Bike Friday cases barely get a second glance from all accounts. At any rate I get home in a couple of weeks and the Bike Friday will be waiting for me, so I'll update this then with my thoughts and comparisons between the two.


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