Alright, so we got our new Bike Friday Silks in Eugene last week and we LOVE them. (Mine is the white one, Kevin's is the black one.) I love it more than any other bike I've ever had, and I seem to have done the same thing with this bike that I did with my Fuji x100s travel camera: I've accessorized the hell out of it to make it PERFECT…and BONUS! I got to accessorize Kevin's bike too!
Each bike was hand built to fit its rider by the fabulous team at Bike Friday in Eugene, Oregon. They'll help you customize your bike with just about any components or accessories you can imagine. For our purposes, one of the most important things is that they fold. They do a quick-fold which takes about 10 seconds and puts the bike into a little clump that we can easily put in the back seat of the truck for traveling with the Airstream so we don't have to have bike racks. They also have a more elaborate way of folding them that puts them into a nice, airline-checkable Samsonite suitcase so you could easily take them as regular checked baggage (somewhere, perhaps, like ITALY!!!)
Usually you give up a lot in ride quality with a folding bike, but Bike Fridays ride as well (or better!) than any full-size bike we've ever ridden. (This isn't just us, either…pretty much anyone who has ever ridden one of these says it feels like a full-size bike.)
We had our bikes fitted with front and rear racks painted to match the bikes, and chose Nitto Dove moustache handlebars, for a bit of a retro city bike look. The handlebars have Brooks Slender Leather Grips (the right one was already shorter to accommodate the twist shifter, but it still didn't quite fit the curve of the Dove, so the geniuses at Bike Friday expertly cut it down and fitted it perfectly to the handlebar. What bandsaw?
We both have Crane Sakura spring bells in copper.
My bike has a Brooks B67 saddle in Antique Brown, and Kevin's got the Brooks B17 Special on his in Honey. Both bikes have the Brooks Large Toolbag to match the saddles (of course). The seats sit atop Thompson Elite seatposts. Apparently, these are the shit. How do I know? Because rather than change seatposts when my first $100+ Brooks B72 leather saddle didn't fit because it was a two-rail style, it was recommended that I buy a different (one-rail) Brooks seat to go with this seatpost. That's how I know.
Here's my Brooks B67 saddle:
Here's Kevin's Brooks B17 Special saddle, with hand-hammered copper rivets (and you can't see 'em, but there are copper rails under that leather). So pretty!
For our bikes, we chose the Rohloff Speedhubs. (Mine is silver annodized, Kevin's is black annodized.) These are 14-speed internally geared hubs, so you don't see any gears like you would on a conventional bike. All the shifting happens magically inside the sealed, oil-filled hub. No mess, no adjusting, supposedly lasts forever. The shifing is controlled through a single twist knob on the handlebars, and with the internally geared hub you can shift even when the bike is stopped. The 14 gears of the Rohloff give you the same (or more) gear range as a 27-speed derailleur, and it's much more convenient because there's only one control and you don't have all the overlapping gears with different chain rings.
We paired the Rohloff Speedhub with a Gates Carbon Belt Drive (instead of a chain). Again, these require no maintenance, no lubrication, pretty much last forever, and are way smoother and quieter (and cleaner!) than a chain. The "cleaner" part of this equation is really nice because when you're folding and unfolding a folder and putting it in the car or wherever, it's easy to get grease all over stuff (and yourself). The whole drive system makes the Silks look more like single-speed bikes, because the belt just loops around the two cogs. There's no tensioner, no visible gears, etc.
Connecting the drive to the pedals are Sugino cranks. They are light, stiff, durable, and look cool. (Everything you want in a crank, really.) The pedals are Shimano A 530 hybrid pedals (in black). One side is flat for regular shoes, and the other equipped with SPD for clipping in. So you can ride the bikes in flip flops, or you can ride the bikes in bike shoes. I love these pedals.
And you may (or may not) have noticed in the photos that we've got Chris King NoThreadset headsets. I didn't even really know what a headset WAS until now, but apparently this is the last headset we will ever need, ever.
The wheels are built with Sun CR18 rims (Kevin's are black annodized, and mine are silver), fitted with almost flat-proof Schwalbe Marathon tires.
The front hub is a Schmidt SONdelux Dyno Hub. Mine is shiny silver and Kevin's is stealth black.
This generates power as you pedal down the road, operating the headlight, tail light, and "The Plug," which puts a USB charging plug at the top of the handlebar stem. Since we use our iPhones as bike computers and maps (and so we can text while cycling through traffic…oh, wait, not that)…The Plug will keep them nicely charged during long rides (which is awesome, because the iPhone bike apps drain the battery like crazy!)
Our headlights are Schmidt Edelux II headlights (mine is silver, Kevin's is black), which are the best, brightest headlights we've ever seen on a bike. You cannot believe how good these headlights are. The tail lights are Busch & Muller Toplight Line Brake Plus. These are nice, bright tail lights with a wide viewing angle and a cool feature that makes them get brighter when you brake (like a car brake light!)
Both bikes have custom wooden fenders hand made by Cody Davis of Woody's Fenders (in Bend, Oregon). Cody custom made them for us with our choice of wood and design, and fitted them to our particular Bike Friday Silk fender hardware. Both of our designs are made with mahogany, wenge, and maple. We've got Sykes wooden water bottle holders in mahogany, made by Paul Sykes (from Portland, Oregon), and Kleen Kanteen Reflect stainless steel water bottles (shiny!!)
Check out Kevin's fenders:
I found us a couple of Vintage Swiss Army saddlebags (we can use them as handlebar bags or front or rear panniers) at the Reclamation Department here on Etsy. I keep my bag on my handlebars with my wallet, keys, and my Fuji x100s in it. The bags have shoulder straps so when you stop for lunch somewhere, just unbuckle them and they double as shoulder bags.
Today we drove down to Tomales Bay, had some lunch and then rode a few miles up the road to pick up some fresh oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. Here we are with a bag of 50 Hog Island Kumamotos, a dozen Hog Island Sweetwaters (extra small), and a bag of ice…bungeed to Kevin's rear rack:
Back at camp…eating oysters and watching the sunset:
Sunset with bikes:
Told 'ya it was going to be nerdy!