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So I’m thinking of touring with my lovely self made diamond bike with 28” wheels that I built from used bike parts. I love to ride on something that I built but I wanted to be able to tour a lot and I had some doubts when it came to traveling with a regular bike because of in-between modes of transport such as putting the bike on plane, bus, train or car, but I’ve never actually done a prolonged tour via bike.

My question for any experienced tourer is: since in-between transport for me is a must, does a folding bike like Brompton really make a difference compared to maybe disassembling a diamond shaped bike every time you want to go on train/bus/hotel?

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    Folding bikes are always a compromise. Do the advantages outweigh the downsides, for your particular needs. – Criggie Sep 22 '20 at 10:46
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    You can bike tour on anything fitting the definition of "bike". The question is more on of what sort of touring, i.e. how much are you carrying, how far are you going. I would struggle to tour on a Brompton because to me touring means camping, which requires a certain level of bulk. If you always stay in hotels you should be able to pack light enough - unless you need to dress for dinner. Here are some pictures demonstrating that it's possible even camping (and hinting that it's not easy given the trailers his friends use, which would be impossible on a UK train) – Chris H Sep 22 '20 at 12:04
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    @Mołot: You do get Bromptons with a rear rack, rear and front (waterproof) luggage bags. But I think you'd lose some foldability. – Carel Sep 22 '20 at 12:29
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    There's a spectrum of foldability—some prioritize easy folding, some prioritize cycling dynamics. Bromptons are more at the easy-folding end, although people use them for everything. So even if you choose a folder, you need to figure out how often you'll need to fold it and how convenient that process should be. There are also take-apart full-size bikes, with S&S couplers or the Ritchey "Breakaway" design. – Adam Rice Sep 22 '20 at 20:47
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I don't think there is a simple answer. It depends on the touring you want to do and your tradeoff between transport trouble and riding trouble. My wife and I went on a guided tour in Spain where we rented bikes from the operator but one couple brought their own DF (diamond frame) bikes. They had a fair amount of trouble transporting the bikes-on the airline they were oversized cargo, they couldn't take the high speed trains, and getting taxis from arrival to the hotel was a challenge. On the other hand, they had bikes they love. The same operator does more challenging tours where the majority of clients bring their bikes. This wasn't even touring as the operator moved all the luggage once you were on the tour.

I suspect once you have decided to bring a DF bike, the rest of the gear is big and heavy but doesn't make it too much harder to manage. You need somebody to help you with luggage and once you have transport for the bike and a helper for luggage you can bring what you are willing to ride with.

If you get a bike that is easier to transport than a DF you are trading bike performance for ease of transport. Depending on the tour you are doing I suspect the ease of transport is elusive. If you carry 20kg of gear when riding, can you carry the same 20kg plus the bike when you are going through airports, taking trains, etc.? If not, you may save the oversize baggage handling but you still need someone to help you.

I don't think a more transportable bike is silly, but I think you need to consider the whole transport approach. If you get a smaller bike, the consistent thing may be to pack much lighter to get the ease of transport. Do you want to do that? How many changes of clothes does that allow? Are you camping? I suspect it is hard to justify a smaller bike if you are camping. On the other hand, with a light load you might make the transport easier.

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  • What does DF stand for in this context? – Michael Sep 23 '20 at 5:20
  • @Michael: Diamond Frame-a classically shaped bicycle with the difficulties of transport that entails. I edited that in the first time. Thanks. – Ross Millikan Sep 23 '20 at 5:21
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For the same price as a Brompton you can find several folding bikes that are much better suited to touring.
Last week I saw a couple on Dahon (I guess 24" wheel) foldable bikes that looked a lot more suited for longer rides.

Make sure you get a bike that suits your style of riding, not just one that folds.

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I think it very much depends on your style of touring. Some folding bikes ride surprisingly well (e.g. a Tern Eclipse P20 with its 26" wheels and 12kg weight), but they are still inferior to a good touring or road bike. So if your priority is on riding (and far and fast at that) there is really no way around a normal bike.

However, a folding bike does have the size/mobility advantage when folded. You can easily bring it into hotel rooms, the office, high speed trains, maybe even your tent. So if you are more the tourist-y type of cyclist it could make a lot of sense for you.

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