Rediscovering My Bike Friday Pocket Rocket: a Packable Performance Folder

Bike Friday Pocket Rocket

For those unfamiliar with Bike Friday and their bikes, the Pocket Rocket is a high performance folding bike. It is not a fast folder, like a Brompton or a Bike Friday Tikit, but rather a packable folder. Ours are built with 20-inch wheels and they are designed to break down easily into a standard-size suitcase.

I purchased my pre-owned Pocket Rocket directly from Bike Friday in 2005. It was a year or two old when I became its owner.

I had just gotten into cycling, including riding RAGBRAI the summer before I bought it, and was enamored by the idea of a packable road bike that I could use on supported tours or when I went on travel for work.

The Bike Friday was my first tricked-out bicycle purchase and I saved and saved for it. Among other shiny bits, it came with the following:

  • Dura Ace crank;
  • Ultegra front derailleur;
  • Ultegra STI shifters;
  • XTR rear derailleur;
  • Ultegra caliper brakes;
  • Ultegra rear hub;
  • American Classic front hub;
  • Thomson seat post; and
  • Chris King head set.

Over time, I made various tweaks to my setup. I switched out the Dura Ace crank for an Ultegra triple with larger rings. I ditched the STI for bar end shifters because the STI shifters took a beating from the airlines.

The Dining Room Bike Shop had an extra Carradice Nelson long flap saddle bag that I hooked onto my Brooks Flyer so that I would have enough carrying capacity for a winter brevet. Ideally, I would like to put a Carradice Pendle on it instead, as Felkerino has done. The Nelson is too much bag for this bike.

I have added an unfashionable but functional small Novara handlebar bag on the front so I could easily carry and access my camera and other small items. I switch that out from time to time with a Rickshaw Pipsqueak.

The Bike Friday’s ride is sturdy, but not abrasive. The narrow tires as well as the smaller wheel size contribute to the bike’s stiffer ride. I like the ride, though, and have tempered its rigid feel with a sprung saddle.

The Friday is also zippy. My perception of this might be biased because, with the exception of my Romulus, I never ride 28s and my other bikes are heavier than this one. The small wheels also make the bike super responsive.

The bike has been good to me. I rode it on RAGBRAI in 2006 with no issues or discomfort. In 2009, I completed a 234-mile Fleche ride with my trusty Pocket Rocket, and since then I’ve ridden it on several rides of at least a century.

Bike Friday Pocket Rocket and me

In the hours between the departure and arrival of 400K riders, Felkerino and I took our Bike Fridays on a 59-mile meander through the countryside outside of Warrenton, Virginia. Our ride was not particularly long, but it was a solid leg-stretcher and the terrain was rolling and offered a good challenge.

After returning from that ride, I made a mental note to ride my Bike Friday Pocket Rocket more often and used it Monday for commuting. It was a fun change from the Surly Long Haul Trucker, a much heavier touring bike, and I felt like I was flying around town.

The Bike Friday Pocket Rocket is curious in appearance compared to many other bikes on the road, and makes for an excellent stoplight conversation starter with other commuters. People want to know what type of bike it is, what it’s designed to do, and what it’s like to ride.

The Bike Friday Pocket Rocket reflects how my style of riding has changed over time. When I first began riding, I was more interested in solo century rides, participating in supported tours, and having an easily packable sporty travel bike.

Nowadays, I travel much less, ride tandem more, and do light self-supported touring. I rarely ride 28s- the widest tire the Friday can accomodate- preferring a slightly wider tire for more varied road surfaces.

Bike Friday Pocket Rocket

Nevertheless, my Bike Friday Pocket Rocket holds a unique place in my stable. It was the first bike I really researched before purchasing. It’s the first bike I owned that was made by a small U.S. company and built up with what I considered fancy parts. I bought it used, but Friday made me a stem to customize the bike’s fit to my measurements.

The Friday is also the only bike I own that packs up quickly into a suitcase. Until I find another bike that travels as easily as the Bike Friday Pocket Rocket and has a comparable parts spec, I will hang on to it. It fits well, the ride is fun, and it’s a great conversation starter. And, most dear to me, this bike is full of good memories.

18 thoughts on “Rediscovering My Bike Friday Pocket Rocket: a Packable Performance Folder”

  1. Awesome post MG!

    I also have a Bike Friday, but I have a Tikit, the super-fast folding commuter bike. It is my regular ride during the week.I love it!

    Mine is the Season Tikit,which I purchased new in 2009. It has a Shimano Nexus Red-Stripe internal gear hub. It has had some updgrades over the years. It has had some unfortunate bad luck and needed some warranty repair, but Bike Friday stands by their lifetime guarantee and really took care of the problem with courtesy and speed. You can really tell they care about their bikes.

    And even though it is not designed for long-distance work, I did use it on some fairly long rides for me before I got into randonneuring, including few 75K rides on it, with a lot of climbing! My hands got a little stiff due to the mountain bar, and lack of hand positions, but other than that I found it a comfy ride.

    In fact, it was due to my Tikit that I got into randonneuring in the first place as I was searching for more “Bike Friday Tikit” info one day and I found VIk Banerjee’s The Lazy Randonneur blog, and later your blog, and the rest was history!

    Ty

    Like

    1. That’s awesome. I also have a Tikit. I just received my replacement. I have not ridden it much because it had shifting problems that I was too lazy to fix (they’ve now been addressed), but am hoping to do so more this summer. I actually replaced those flat bars in hopes of having a better ride. I will have to share some pics soon.

      Like

      1. I was thinking about other bars too to make the longer rides more comfy. I was wondering how that would affect the fold… Do post pics!

        Like

  2. This has motivated me to try and use my Dahon folder more often. Other than the tandem, I think it’s the heaviest bike I own. How long does your take to pack?

    Like

    1. I’ve never packed mine up for a trip, but I think it takes about the same time as the other Bike Friday models to get into a suitcase, approximately 10 minutes.

      As far as foldng goes, I can unfold or fold it easily in under five seconds. I don’t have to readjust anything.That’s why I use it to commute. I get on and off the train easily. I can also get through the front door of my office builiding without being stopped as long as I have it folded. I can then go straight up to my floor and stash it under my desk.

      With my other two regular bikes, I have to go through the loading dock and then lock it in a special bike room. Or I can sneak it up to my floor in the freight elevator. Either way, its a hassle and it takes longer regardless.

      That’s why my Tikit is my go-to commuter bike! It’s also my quick shopping, pop to the restaurant, etc. bike too as it is always right by the door at home, ready to go at a moment’s notice. For quick and easy jaunts, its the way to go.

      Ty

      Like

    2. Hey Barry. The Pocket Rocket, unlike Ty’s Tikit, is not a fast folder. I find that the folding and dismantling of the stem and bars does not take a lot of time, maybe 15 minutes. I’m like Joan, putting in lots of padding as I go and trying to make sure there’s no metal on metal so that takes additional time, not sure how much exactly.

      Like

  3. I have a Bike Friday Pocket Crusoe – a light touring folder. I spec’d the 1-3/4 tires on it because I wanted it to be versatile for dirt/gravel roads on tour. And it has been. Some of the most scenic roads on my self-supported motel tour in Cape Breton were the dirt roads along the ocean.
    I too get comments when I ride the bike, most people hint around that they think it’s a clown bike. So I tell them that if I don’t look down, I don’t know if I’m riding the Bike Friday or my regular road bike.

    It has a ‘quick fold’ mode for making it smaller to get into a car or to take on a train. But as far as packing it in the suitcase, it takes a while, possibly because I put protective felt on parts of it. And I pack other things into its suitcase (rack, trunk bag, tools, repair stuff, etc) so that takes time. But I love the bike! It’s a wonderful ride and I love that it’s easy to take with me.
    Joan

    Like

    1. Joan, that was such a good idea to have the bike fit larger tires! If I only knew then what I know now, ha! I did not realize that the Pocket Crusoe had a quick fold option. That’s very cool. Also, isn’t the Crusoe for smaller more petite riders? For some reason, I thought that.

      Like

      1. You’re right that I have the “petite” version of the Pocket Crusoe, but the bike itself is a standard Bike Friday model – meant for lighter touring than the New World Tourist. You can’t tell if a model is petite or not, BF just uses lighter tubing if a rider is under a certain weight.

        Like

      2. Thanks for explaining that, Joan. If only the me of the past had known what future me’s bicycling preferences would have been. My Pocket Rocket is truly a fine bike, but yours is that much more versatile! That said, I’m not sure they were making the Pocket Crusoe in 2006… hmmm.

        Like

  4. Nice bike. We love our Bike Fridays … I have a NWT while the boss has a Pocket Crusoe. We went that route for the fatter tires as well as something for touring. But I ended up using the NWT for club rides for years.

    BTW, the typical Pocket Rocket can fit wider tires: Bike Friday sells Primo Comet 20 x 1 3/8″ tires for the model which are narrow for the specification but roughly 33-34 mm by a few caliper measurements. But I see you have fenders and perhaps short reach brakes. Is that what limits your tire width or is it the fork/frame? It does look tight in your pictures.

    Like

  5. I had a similar BF Pocket Rocket in Yellow or Enno Orange… I sold it many years ago to get the BF Tikits and Brompton to fit my multi-modal lifestyle. But recently, purchased another pre-loved red Pocket Rocket for my wifeand then a NWT for myself for light touring.

    Like

  6. great to read all your comments – I am in love ever since 1995 with these small wheeled wonders – I have an amateur ( UCI licensed ) background so fast riding was / is my thing – used to travel a lot cause of my job inside an airline company – never left home without my Bike Friday – even started promoting / selling these wonderful machines / tools in the Netherlands / Western Europe – almost 2 decades further on the line and many many happy & safe miles covered in many different landscapes and countries on the globe I am still very much in love with the BF travelconcept – even competed / participated in non-UCI-sanctioned races and several Gran Fondo’s – all great experiences – ofcourse conversation pieces – Green Gear Cycling / Bike Friday honoured me giving my name to the Orange paint option : Enno Orange ( dutch royal family Oranje / house of Orange + the national sports jerseys / outfits are in orange too – how thoughtful ) – regards & many safe and happy cycling miles for all of you BF Aficionados
    Enno Roosink – Amsterdam

    Like

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s