Has anyone ridden the Bike Friday SILK? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 05-16-2014, 01:36 AM   #1
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Has anyone ridden the Bike Friday SILK?

Has anyone ridden Bike Friday's SILK folding bike with the nylon v-belt drive and 11 gears in the rear hub? With no derailleur, chain, chain lubricant, or bike rack needed, it seems like a good choice for trailer camping.

We've ridden our friends' derailleur BFs, and like them a lot. They're not cheap, but seem nicely-made, and hold their value well.

Here's BF's pitch for the SILK:

"SilkTour Afine 11 (406)
Bike Friday's Silk Tour combines the elegance of Gates Carbon Belt Drive CenterTrack system with an 11-speed Shimano Alfine internal hub. It has mountain bike style flat bars with trigger shifters. With gear ranges from 25" to 88", it gives you a wide enough range for most riding. It's great for commuting, too. The drivetrain is weatherized and low maintenance, and when combined with Avid disc brakes it will handle all weather. Carbon Belt Drive is smooth, quiet and clean, with no grease applied. It weighs 25 lbs / 11 kg without saddle or pedals. It is custom built to fit your body, anywhere from 48 cm to 60 cm top tube equivalent.

About The Frame - Hinge forward Silk frame technology makes belt drive 20 inch Bike Fridays a reality. Crank and cogs retain constant distance when folded on the new Silk."

Bike Friday - Configure your SilkTour Afine 11 (406)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg SILK.jpg (42.1 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg SILK2.jpg (248.1 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg SILK3.jpg (15.1 KB, 200 views)
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Old 05-16-2014, 03:30 AM   #2
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You might wish to visit this site.
http://forum.bikefriday.com/forumdisplay.php?fid=2
Have a great weekend!
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Old 05-16-2014, 09:14 AM   #3
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I have not ridden the SILK, but if I was in the market for another folding bike it would be a serious contender. My friends who have Gates Belt Drives swear by them (except in the snow). My Tern Eclipse s11i has an Alfine 11 speed hub, and while it is heavy, it is also smooth shifting and I haven't had any problems with them. I think internal geared hubs make a lot of sense for folding bikes because there isn't a derailleur to get bent or twisted.

I know that disk brakes are very popular right now, but I am not sure why. The tern has hydraulic disk brakes which are a pain to work on, and really, rim brakes work just fine on bicycles, and seem much simpler to me. But maybe that is because I have been using them for 40 years.
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Old 05-16-2014, 10:39 AM   #4
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I really like the ideas of the toothed belt (which is not a V-belt, by the way) and geared hub, both especially for a folding bike (for several reasons including the one Leon listed). I was not aware that Shimano was up to 11 speeds, so I appreciate the update, and the real-world experience report.

Has anyone tried a NuVinci continuously variable bike transmission?

Maybe it's time for a folding bike...
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Old 05-16-2014, 11:14 AM   #5
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Just curious, what is the main purpose for going with a folding bike? They would have to be stored in the tow vehicle somewhere, as there is no storage in the trailer big enough. The exterior storage box if you have one, maybe?

Using the receiver on the rear of the trailer keeps the bikes right out of the way, and then you can bring along full sized bikes. They can then be locked and stowed out of the way when not in use too.

I only rode on a couple. One was real heavy, 50% heavier than my 29" MTB (with full 5" suspension), the other just slightly heavier. Both were fine for toodling around on, but not meant for any serious road or trail riding.
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Old 05-16-2014, 11:27 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
Just curious, what is the main purpose for going with a folding bike? They would have to be stored in the tow vehicle somewhere, as there is no storage in the trailer big enough. The exterior storage box if you have one, maybe?
Folding a bike can make it small enough to reasonably get into the trailer - not into a storage compartment, just into the main floor area, from which it needs to be removed at each campsite.

With our van, a folding bike or two in the van is possible, and would mean the bikes would go where ever we take the van, without moving the bike rack between the trailer and van.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
Using the receiver on the rear of the trailer keeps the bikes right out of the way, and then you can bring along full sized bikes. They can then be locked and stowed out of the way when not in use too.
A rack on the rear also gets the bikes really dirty, unless a cover is used. A cover is more hassle, and tends make the problem of blocking the trailer's tail lights worse. For balance and stability, adding mass to a rear rack is undesirable; bikes in the middle of the trailer interior are ideally placed for balance and stability.

There is no perfect solution to transporting bikes, but there are a few viable options.
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Old 05-16-2014, 12:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
There is no perfect solution to transporting bikes, but there are a few viable options.
You make some good points, Jim. We currently own very heavy "beater" bikes, though, and want to upgrade anyway. For us, the advantages of the folding bikes make the extra cost worthwhile.

Also, there are two destinations to which we fly each year, and we would like the option of taking the bikes in their Samsonite suitcases.

We'll be towing with an SUV which will have room for the folded bikes in their cases while we are travelling. When we're off hiking or sightseeing or shopping, the unfolded bikes can rest on their stands in the trailer (unless, of course, we've ridden them to our local destination).

Trailering seems to offer infinite opportunities for shopping, but these bikes look like unusually good stuff.
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Old 05-16-2014, 02:11 PM   #8
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We have a couple folding bikes-they travel in the back of our Escape truck and when we are camped we often leave them locked up to the front frame of the trailer... They weigh close to 25 pounds each. Nice Dahon bikes--bought used from a bike rental place in Vancouver a number of years ago...

At home they fold up nicely and put in our outside storage shed.

We have done nice rides with them up to 12 miles...In fact after the rally we are doing the "Myra Canyon" trail and I believe the part we'll do is about 12-15 miles return...
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Old 05-16-2014, 02:23 PM   #9
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I would definitely not want them inside the trailer. Having them handy in the tow would be nice, if you had a good spot to keep them in.

I have thought of using a cover, but really have never had much trouble with the bikes getting dirty on the rear of the trailer, but imagine if it were on a wet gravel road the dirt would build up fast.

I have even considered a roof rack, but a bit afraid I would forget the extra height, and they add a lot of drag, plus I want the flexibility of toting a canoe there.

Yep, like everything, no one perfect solution, as usual most things are always something of a compromise.
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Old 05-16-2014, 02:32 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Catchlight View Post
For us, the advantages of the folding bikes make the extra cost worthwhile.
I must have been looking at cheaper folding bikes then, as most of the ones I have seen have been quite cheap, well under $500. Could be I haven't looked far enough.
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Originally Posted by amirie View Post
They weigh close to 25 pounds each. Nice Dahon bikes--
That is even lighter than my full suspension MTB, which is 28 lbs. More evidence I should look further. I will check yours out at the rally.

Maybe someday, but why I still am able to pound the single tracks, I just can't see not having a full sized bike. Even a short ride on my road bike is at least 25 miles. A regular route we do in the evening is 35 miles, about a 90 minute road ride.
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Old 05-16-2014, 08:05 PM   #11
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I got my first folding bike when I was still working and occasionally had to travel for work. Having a bike in a suitcase meant I could get a ride in before work or after work. I got the tern because I wanted a bike to ride on trails with my wife and to take to the store etc gor errands. The tern folds to fit nicely into a spot in our current tow vehicle, and I can get studded 24x2'' tires for the winter time. You pay a premium for a good folder, but being able to go for a ride after a day spent in meetings makes it worth while
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Old 05-17-2014, 07:58 AM   #12
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Boy, I am going to be embarrassed now to ride my little CW bike around the rally, you guys are talking some serious bike jargon and $$. Here is mine $99
Adventurer 12-Speed Folding Bike - Four Corners 70091 - Folding Bikes - Camping World
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Old 05-17-2014, 12:20 PM   #13
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That one is bigger and heavier than ours--ours is 20 inch tires and 6 speeds..
Sure does us for the amount we ride--a 25km ride--I probably wouldn't do much more in a day...
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Old 05-17-2014, 07:30 PM   #14
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I used to spend a lot of money on bikes because cycling is one of my passions. It the important thing is to ride your bike. I also volunteer at 'free bikes 4 kidz' which takes cast-off bikes, fixes them up and gives them away at Christmas time. A lot of nice bikes come through that have barely been ridden at all. If you are riding your bike, even just around the block, there is no need to be embarrassed by it....
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Old 05-17-2014, 09:02 PM   #15
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Took a trip to a local bicycle shop this afternoon with two of my boys. It is a huge store with a lot of nice bikes. It truly amazes me how many bikes they stock in the $3500 to $7000 range, and higher. It actually makes a new Escape trailer seem like a really economical purchase.
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Old 05-20-2014, 03:41 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
Just curious, what is the main purpose for going with a folding bike? They would have to be stored in the tow vehicle somewhere, as there is no storage in the trailer big enough. The exterior storage box if you have one, maybe?
Thinking outside the box, a folding bike is good for times not related to camping but commuting. They easily fit inside most transit system's bus and subways, office elevators, car trunks etc. They can, when not in fold up mode, fit on a bike rack too.
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Old 05-20-2014, 04:50 PM   #17
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Why folding bikes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
Just curious, what is the main purpose for going with a folding bike? They would have to be stored in the tow vehicle somewhere, as there is no storage in the trailer big enough. . . .
Folding bikes won't suit everyone's cycling style, and the high-quality, well-equipped, quick-folding, lightweight ones are expensive.

We like the Bike Fridays' responsiveness on both roads and trails, where to us they feel safer, more comfortable, and more easily controlled than full-sized bikes, which makes them more fun to ride, which means we will ride them more. We also like the absence of a chain, derailleur, and lubricants on the SILK model with its belt drive and enclosed gears.

When towing, we'd prefer to keep the weight of two full-sized bikes and a hitch off the back of the trailer, and stow the two 25-pound bikes compactly folded in their bags in our SUV.

Although smaller, Bike Fridays are highly capable transportation. Adventurers around the world have ridden suitably equipped BFs and other high-end folders on long road trips and impressive off-road expeditions. Others, like us, will just use them for fitness, convenience, day-trip explorations, and fun. But, as Donna D. would say, YMMV.

Here's Bike Friday's explanation of the advantages of small-wheeled, high-performance bikes:

Bike Friday - Custom folding and travel bicycles hand-crafted in Oregon
Attached Images
File Type: jpg BF in bag.jpg (147.1 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg BF in case.jpg (271.8 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg BF panniers.jpg (129.5 KB, 3 views)
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:16 PM   #18
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I know this reply is somewhat obsolete since 6 months has passed, but still, let me try and reply to some of your questions from 6 months ago.

Brent and Cheryl (Catchlight) wrote:
> Has anyone ridden Bike Friday's SILK folding bike with
> the nylon v-belt drive and 11 gears in the rear hub?


Brent and Cheryl,
I got my Bike Friday Silk in January 2014. It rides like a full-size bike. This is what that attract me to this bike. I have test ride the one you mentioned above with the Alfine 11 gear. The gear is smooth but I wanted something with a wider gear range and decided to go with a CVT. I was simply amazed by the continuous and instantaneous gear positioning (no shifting involved). See my Google+ link below.

(Brian BP) wrote:
> Has anyone tried a NuVinci continuously variable bike transmission?


Brian,
Besides what I have explained above. One person who put it this way, here is his quote:
"As you ride, you'll find yourself reaching your ideal cadence and then fine tuning your gear ratio. This is almost exactly opposite of a standard gearing setup, where you shift first and then adjust your cadence range to the gear. Twisting the shifter is addictive, and I find myself almost constantly adjusting the gear ratio. It is such a different riding sensation that it is hard to explain. It is kind of like having your own personal controllable torque converter. There are no clicks as you slide from one ratio to another. There are no slight jerks in the drivetrain as the chain jumps in the derailleur. It is just smooth, so smooth."

Another person said this as he pedals up the mountain in Oregon's McKenzie Pass:
"The smoothness of each pedal stroke enhances the ride quality to the point that I ascend above the typical riding experience. It’s something that I can’t explain; I can only experience. With a smile on my face."

(Jim Bennett) wrote:
> Just curious, what is the main purpose for going with a folding bike?


Jim,
I explained this in detail on my Google+ public post. Let me share this link to you. It also has really nice photos that I took when I unbox the Bike Friday Silk for the first time. In there somewhere is a link to a video animation I create to show how the bike fold and unfold. Here is the link:
https://plus.google.com/105844089988...ts/2J2gKvaZJuo

I hope my answers will be useful to someone who bump into this thread later.
Enjoy.
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