Bike Friday Review after 2,000 miles

We just finished writing about our tour of the Danube and we have some additional information about the Bike Friday Family Tandem we would like to talk about. We rode the basic model of the Family Tandem with a 24 speed dual drive and put on our own handlebars, saddles and pedals, everything else was stock.

After 2,000 plus miles of riding I can say that the bike itself is still great. I would definitely buy it again and recommend it. The bike was reliable with no major mechanical issues or any major to complaints.

Many people wonder what it is like to tour on 20-inch wheels and besides the attention this brings you from gawkers on the street there is no real noticeable difference. We didn’t have any problems keeping up with our friends on single bikes with 700c wheels.

The only mechanical issue we had was when we first arrived in Budapest. We had ridden it only for a few weeks of touring in France and Belgium. The bike probably had less than 1,000 miles on it at the time.

When we arrived at the Budapest airport and set to assembling the bike there was something wrong with the derailleur. I assembled the bike but no matter what adjustments I made to the rear derailleur it would not shift properly. I thought it might have gotten bent or something in transit but I couldn’t see any deformities when I checked it out.

We caved and took it to a bike shop to get it fixed. Communicating bike problems in a different language proved to be a little challenging but we took them for a test ride and they soon figured it out.

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In our experience when taking a tandem into a shop they are adamant about getting work done and getting the bike out. With little space in the shop for such a large bike this is usually to your advantage especially if you are on tour and want to continue on the road.

They replaced the cassette, the chain, and the brake pads. Given the low mileage we were pretty surprised that it needed a new cassette, but with 1,000 miles ahead of us, we wanted the bike to work. We’re not sure if it was a result of intense wear because of the heavy trailer or a bike shop trying to sell more services to us. In the end it cost us about $70 for everything so it wasn’t too expensive.

With the bike in working order we were ready to hit the road. We put another 1,000 plus miles and didn’t have to make any other changes to the bike.

The only other minor issue we had was with the kickstand. It would hold the bike up empty but once we loaded it down it was not strong enough to stay up. This doesn’t affect the functionality of the bike but is something to consider if you really like using a kickstand.

Overall the bike worked well and we were happy with the ride. We had no other issues with the bike for the entire Danube tour. Not even a flat tire. I would certainly recommend and ride a Bike Friday on tour again, but not with the trailer system. We’ll get into that more next week.

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