12.9.2005 | 1:14 am

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.

Until now.


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?


Fantasy Time

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.


  1. Comment by Unknown | 12.9.2005 | 2:12 am

    Ah geez, Elden,… Lipoma? It is funny (in context), and short, but really, not in good taste, especially if someone loved dearly has/had cancer….

  2. Comment by Nina | 12.9.2005 | 2:24 am

    I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go to New Zealand. I’d do the hiking, mountain biking and kayaking trip through the country. Now I just have to convince my husband that he wants to do the same thing…yeah, that’s never gonna happen.Very cool bag though!

  3. Comment by Donald | 12.9.2005 | 2:29 am

    Reminds me of a 20" bike i had. The back triangle unbolted and i just took off the crank arms and stem/forks/wheels to fit in a oversized duffle. never did pay air charges for it. Too bad it was pre-Ahead set days and i had to do the bearing pack on the forks. The FLO looks like a winner though, wish i would of had it for my japan trips.

  4. Comment by Unknown | 12.9.2005 | 2:35 am

    Dude, you’d go on vacation to Italy, and pack your domestic bike? Hey, that thing looks like a sweet ride, and I’m definitely Mr. Giant/Shimano/Performance/Bang-for-the-Buck-Cyclist… but carting a bike to Italy to ride is like hauling coal to Newcastle… I’d have to disagree with you on that point and just bring an extra $2.5k to buy a nice one there, with some shiny Campy components…

  5. Comment by Unknown | 12.9.2005 | 3:29 am

    cowboy, you’re spot on. a lipoma is funny in context (which, turns out, in this case, it is in exactly), it’s short, and it’s really not in good taste. kudos to botched.

  6. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 12.9.2005 | 3:47 am

    cowboy in alpine – thanks for taking the time to scold me.ninacan – i too want to go to new zealand, for when i see frodo, i will give him my mountain bike. i think it will make his trip much faster and easier, and i think he’ll be able to ditch gollum once and for all. plus, with the endorphin rush he’ll get from mountain biking, i don’t think that ring will really be able to get much of a hold on him.don – it does look like a good bike; i’m excited to find out how it rides. i daresay i will write about this bike again.al – you make an excellent point. dug – hi.

  7. Comment by Glen | 12.9.2005 | 4:00 am

    Having taken the bike to the US (from oz) twice, The UK once and NZ I don’t actually find it that bad – you’ve just got to pack it right – Although I rember vividly waiting on the tarmac in Munich for the bus to take us to the terminal and I see my bike bag (with my Litespeed MTB inside) coming out of the plane and watching in horror as the baggage handler threw, shoved, crammed, and jumped on the bag to squash it into a tolley. Outraged and emotional (that’s my baby!!) I ran over the burly individual in question and explained to him in no uncertain terms that this was not on ! to which he shrugged, pretended he didn’t know english and continued abusing the wanker tourist’s big blue bag….. :>( I hate to think what he did to it when he was out of sight !Tru to the Ti though my darling bike came through the ordeal unscathed…I however woke up with the sweats for weeks just thinking about it !G.p.s. your rail trail is awsome….

  8. Comment by Tim | 12.9.2005 | 4:08 am

    nina / fatty et el: You’re most welcome to come visit me down in New Zealand – esp if you like mountain biking… In return I’d like a list of top places to mounatin bike in Utah and Colorado when I visit in June ‘06…

  9. Comment by mhywan | 12.9.2005 | 4:11 am

    Luckily my job doesn’t require to go on the road. I might go on business trips once or twice a year.I don’t like taking a bike with me either and I do have the cycling bug.Last April when I was in San Diego, I walked into a bike shop and ask for a test on a road bike. It wasn’t planned so I wasn’t well prepared, but next time I can get my gear ready and I can go for a short ride without carrying the bike around. :-) Honestly I did explain to the owner that I was from out of town and he was happy to serve me anyways.

  10. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 12.9.2005 | 4:56 am

    Why would you fly 20 hours to New Zealand and not take the extra 3 hours to visit me in OZ? Is it because we don’t have much snow or is it because I live here? Nice work on the Lance article. I think the version we saw here first had more zing to it.Botched – congratulations. I’m obviously yet to find the perfect balance of nastiness, wit and brevity.

  11. Comment by Sue | 12.9.2005 | 6:09 am

    I’m honored to have won the bag. I esepcially like the irony of fatty having a lipoma. . .Cowboy, a Lipoma is not really a cancer. It is non-metastatic, and is therefore considered "benign". But I do agree that they probably do not taste very good. Botched

  12. Comment by AO | 12.9.2005 | 6:31 am

    hooray for botched!! i was beginning to feel bad for how mean i’ve been to you, but now i don’t feel bad anymore! hooray for me!! i’m so happy for you, botched, i’m going to end every sentence like this!! yea!!

  13. Comment by phil | 12.9.2005 | 9:55 am

    Must be the night (day ?) for New Zealanders to come out of the woodwork…I dream of riding Sliprock, my parents have just come back from a holiday around the SW and brought me back magazines and brochures for riding all around Utah. It just looks great. Just need to wait for the 3 kids to leave home so I can save enough to go.

  14. Comment by James | 12.9.2005 | 11:13 am

    Costa Rica? Mountain Biking? Surely you’re doing the Ruta de los Conquistadores next year (http://www.adventurerace.com/eng/english.htm)…now *there’s* an MTB race.JLS

  15. Comment by Tom Stormcrowe | 12.9.2005 | 12:09 pm

    Well, shoot! I thought I had a good chance with mine! ::GRIN:: Ah well, congrats, there Botched!

  16. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 12.9.2005 | 12:42 pm

    WOW, that packaging looks really sturdy. I’ll bet you could just lick a few stamps and stick them on the bag near where you wrote my address. I could write a review about how great the bike is, how great it travels in that bag and how great the postal service is. We could end up with a bunch of endorsements out of this if YOU play OUR cards right.

  17. Comment by Unknown | 12.9.2005 | 2:31 pm

    Nice post and nice bike! I was suprised/concerned that the mechanic you asked couldn’t see the difference in the bike…..ummmm. Anyways, The Ritchey Break-Away design is in my opinion the most legit folding bike design on the market. In fact, I think that my next road bike is going to be a Ritchey Break-Away….

  18. Comment by Unknown | 12.9.2005 | 3:23 pm

    I would go back to Arizona & Utah. A few years ago we did a three week tandem tour from Phoenix, up to Flagstaff, then round the flagstaff area & Grand Canyon, then a week doing Brian Head, Bryce, Zion and around there. I would love to go back.

  19. Comment by Zed | 12.9.2005 | 3:33 pm

    Nice score, Botched. I heartily agree with dug, it was a classically concise comment and I immediately thought ‘winner’ when I read it. Hey, but I was still right–he got a bike!Smooth-looking hardtail, FC. Are they going to let you borrow it for Leadville this year? Is it one of those new-fangled lightweight steel bikes?

  20. Comment by Unknown | 12.9.2005 | 3:45 pm

    Rube Goldberg got his bike, and now James Bond has one too. Way cool.

  21. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 12.9.2005 | 3:55 pm

    keepYerBag – interesting post idea: match the bike to the celebrity. thanks!caloi – they didn’t loan it to me for any specific amount of time, but yeah — leadville’s definitely on my mind. if, by the way, the contest were for accuracy, you definitely would’ve won. any lurking potential advertisers out there want to give caloi something? juvenile – i haven’t ridden AZ, but that’s an excellent idea. and you’re right, UT is a pretty great state for riding.john – well, he did give it just a *quick* look. and you know, you’re allowed 2 check ins. the thought of making 1 a road bike and 1 an mtb is seriously appealing.BIG Mike – with all your new fame (congrats!), you should have no problem getting someone to come on board as a sponsor. get to work.stormcrowe – i’m sure you were a close second. the nice thing about weekly giveaways, though, is that your next chance is never very far away!james – yes, i admit to fantasizing about doing that race. have you done it? cuz i would love to hear a 1st-person account.phil – you’re absolutely right to fantasize about slickrock. it is unreal. mtb heaven.nikared – i sure hope your studying is going well!! or are you now taking tests?!botched – i generally don’t laugh out loud at things i read, but "I do agree that they probably do not taste very good" did in fact make me laugh out loud. nice line.BIG Mike – no way would i visit NZ w/o also visiting you. ‘course, since the twins have been born, we haven’t done any traveling at all. just now getting to the point where we think the fun might outway the logistics issues.mark – the thing about bike shop guys is they’re almost always happy to have someone throw a leg over a bike. T1mm0 – i’ll let rocky chime in on where to bike in CO, but for UT, definitely Moab, and I would also recommend the ridge trail network (esp. tibble fork) in utah county. dug can / should chime in here, too. he’s got much better trail knowledge than i.scotxc – i’m sure that if you travel w/ a regular bike often enough you learn the tricks and get pretty proficient at it. i’m not there yet. not even close.

  22. Comment by tayfuryagci | 12.9.2005 | 4:21 pm

    apart from being the best option for travelling with your bike it has cool specs too. kinda dream bikesque.tayfur

  23. Comment by Tom Stormcrowe | 12.9.2005 | 4:22 pm

    I know it, Fatty! I’m just glad for Botched! By the way, if they REALLY wanted to stress test the bike, they could send one my way!::GRIN:: I probably push the upper limits of the frame stress engineering specs!::GRIN::

  24. Comment by Sue | 12.9.2005 | 4:50 pm

    That bike is awsome. I want one. Bad.The beauty of taking your bike with you, is that it matters very little where you go. Everyplace is more interesting on a bike. For example, this year my wife is forcing me to go back with her to visit my family for christmas. Normally I just make her take the kid and go, while I stay and work. I told her I would go *only* if we drove, and therefore, I could take my bike.10 days visiting family without bike = a form of torture10 days visiting family with bike = time well spentBotched

  25. Comment by tayfuryagci | 12.9.2005 | 5:57 pm

    congrats botched!

  26. Comment by Unknown | 12.9.2005 | 6:41 pm

    There’s only one place you need to go – the mother land of cycling – Italy. Where in Italy? Tuscany in my not so humble opinion (although Umbria looks wonderful as well). Your wife will get to go to places like Pisa, Sienna, and Florence. You get to ride on some of the nicest roads in the world, with some of the nicest people, and the best wine and coffee you can imagine. You can see my (still incomplete) web page of my first trip here: http://peloton.radford.edu/brett/italy/ I’ve been back 3 times since and never got any new pages up. :-) In terms of traveling with a bike, it’s not that bad. I have a full _hard_ case and all I have to do is pull the seat out, take off the pedals and wheels and off I go. Also, if you fly internationally, there is no extra charge for taking the bike. Since you’re going internationally as well, they usually don’t try to charge you for any connecting flights in the US (and if they do you can throw a fit and they won’t – it worked for me anyway). Dang – the wife and I really need to head back to Italy. We’re nearly out of olive oil (and the stuff here is not nearly as good) and wine (the wine here may be the same, if you can find the vintner you want, but it’s not nearly so cheap). Oh, and we need some art. Nice art. Cheap art. Maybe we’ll take 3 bike cases so we can use one to ferry art, wine, and olive oil back! Go to Italy – just don’t take any doping products through the border – I’d hate to see you in lockup with Rumsas!

  27. Comment by Unknown | 12.9.2005 | 7:47 pm

    Botched–nice one. dug–stumping your own comment style through Fatty’s contest is so dug-esque.Fatty–2.5 days to get to the ride question? Day one, first thing. The rest of the trip will be better because you are not distracted.Yes, the bike is beautiful. But how about that bag? Costa Rica continues to loom in my future, too. Where can I get one of those bags?Brief enough, dug?

  28. Comment by Unknown | 12.9.2005 | 7:55 pm

    rock, you’re headed in the right direction. and look at you, you’re almost chiasmic.

  29. Comment by Unknown | 12.9.2005 | 8:11 pm

    FC,By your self professed poor sense of direction would you really ride anywhere but the hotel parking lot of whatever country/city/state you’re visiting?I’ve been to quite a few places in the northwest (Wa, Or, Id) and it seems every one has some great singletrack tucked not too far away if you ask the right people. Therefore I can’t think of anyplace that wouldn’t be a good place to bring a bike like that. dj

  30. Comment by Unknown | 12.9.2005 | 8:40 pm

    Congrats to Botched and also to you! That is one exciting looking piece of equipment and I know you’ll enjoy the heck out of it. I hope it is as good to ride as it looks because that would be the sweetest of all sweetness.Hugs,MuMo

  31. Comment by Unknown | 12.9.2005 | 9:20 pm

    You should take a long bike ride off a short cliff.Does that even make sense?I’m just playin’ baby, you know I loooove you.

  32. Comment by Carlos J. | 12.31.2005 | 9:59 pm

    For more information about biking in Costa Rica check out http://www.lava-tours.com


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