I’ve tried traveling with a bike a couple times. I’ve never liked it. When you ship the bike in a box or hard case via UPS (or USPS or whatever), you’ve got to break it down, pack it, take it to where you’re going to ship it, pick it up, unpack it, and then build it up again (assuming you brought all the right tools). And then, of course, you’ve got to do the whole dance again when it’s time to send the bike back home.
Taking the bike with you on the plane isn’t a lot better. You’ve still got to break it down and pack it, somehow get it from the parking garage to where you check luggage, then pay a huge fee for checking the bike. And at the other end of the plane it’s often an even worse nuisance, if you didn’t happen to rent the oversize jumbo sedan, SUV, or minivan.
Renting a bike is an option, but it seems to me that it always takes forever to get the bike dialed in for me, if I ever get comfortable on it at all. Plus I get the feeling that most people are no kinder to rental bikes than they are to rental cars.
So, when I travel, the bike usually stays at home, and I get cranky for not getting any riding in. If I’m not going to be at my destination for at least a week, having the bike there is just not worth the money or effort.
What Came in the Mail on Tuesday
A little while ago, Chris, the marketing guy at Dahon asked me if I’d be interested in reviewing the Flo, their Joe Murray-designed steel hardtail mountain bike, for Cyclingnews. Of course I said yes; like any mountain biker, I love trying out new bikes. So last Tuesday one came in the UPS. It’s a nice-looking steel bike, with a Rock Shox Reba fork, Avid disc brakes, a carbon-fiber riser handlebar, American Classic Ultralight hubs, and XT-level components throughout. Check it out (click for larger image):
It also came with its own suitcase. Right here:
As I’m sure you’ve figured out, the bike fits in that suitcase, like this:
Yep, what makes the Flo really unusual is that the rear triangle comes off, using Tom Ritchey’s BAB technology. With no instructions at all and using nothing but the tri-hex wrench I usually carry in my jersey, I built the bike up so it was ready to ride in about twenty minutes. Which is about five minutes longer than they say it ought to take: more proof (like any is necessary) that I am the world’s worst mechanic.
A Beautiful Idea
To tell the truth, I don’t know whether I’m going to like the Flo, because I haven’t ridden it yet. Regardless, though, I love the idea of this bike: a traditional-looking (I asked a mechanic at a bike shop if he could tell at a quick glance tell what was unusual about this bike; he couldn’t) steel hardtail with a no-compromise spec…that you can check as regular luggage and put together with the tools you carry on every ride anyway.
Which makes me think: Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to take your bike everywhere you go?
This changes the entire landscape of where I’d be willing to vacation. For example, my family has vacationed in North Carolina most every year since I was a kid, but I’ve never been mountain biking there. That’s ridiculous. This year the family’s talking about Costa Rica, which until now I’ve been lukewarm on: beaches don’t do much for me. A day mountain biking in Costa Rica though — that does, in fact, have massive appeal.
Or how about my wife’s dream vacation: traveling to Italy to see all the stuff she studied about when she was in college (Classical Civilizations major). That sounds great to me, but I know for sure that at some point — day 2.5 is a good guess — I will have had enough. At that moment, I could say, "Hon, why don’t you spend the rest of the day at the market or looking at this crumbly old building or whatever; I’m going for a ride." At least in my fantasy, my wife would have no problem with that.
Or how about Hawaii? Or Alaska? Or New Zealand? Or Norway?
Basically, for the first time ever, I’m beginning to see how going on a long trip might be pretty cool. And the "where" part doesn’t even matter that much; I can’t imagine many places that wouldn’t be cool to see from a bike cockpit.
The Question that Would Have Won You a Bag, Had I Only Asked it Yesterday
So, leaving aside whether the Flo turns out to be a good bike, if you had a bike that you could just check as your luggage, where would you take it? Cuz, you know, suddenly I feel like traveling.
And the Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Giveaway Winner Is…
First off, I want to announce that I have made a change in how the Banjo Brothers Weekly Bike Bag Giveaway winner is chosen. It’s been bothering me to be the one to choose who wins, because it’s difficult for me to be unbiased. I can’t help it: I find myself liking comments that are flattering. Then I think, "Hey, I’m being swayed by flattery!" and swing away toward the stuff that’s all mean and nasty. Then I think, "Hey, why should I award something to someone who’s being mean to me?"
So, starting now, Dug is the judge of the contest. I picked Dug because he’s tough, but fair. Or something like that. Who won? Here’s what Dug says:
BotchedExperiment is the winner. His comment is the soul of wit (which of course, is brevity).
And here’s BotchedExperiment’s entry:
Is it a Lipoma?
Congratulations, Botched. email me with your address. And Dug, remember: you can be replaced.
PS: Cyclingnews has published my story, "Suggestions for the Lance Armstrong Movie." Click here to read it now.