Thursday, April 4, 2013

Can Pocket Rocket Tour?

Pocket Rocket tour mode.... I think he is ready.. am I? 
My entry on Pocket rocket generated some buzz on the LCSG FB and it made me wonder....
Can the Bike Friday Pocket Rocket tour? I did a quick search on the internet and apparently folks do use the BF PR to tour! Ok, kind of the faster touring... here's the legend Jim Langley review of the Pocket rocket.  and Anatoly Ivanov excellent write up 
The nagging question I asked myself several times was this. I will be going to Taiwan in 2 weeks which I am so woefully under prepared, would the Pocket rocket cut it?
Terrain is on the first leg will be up 2200 metres in 23 km . This is Tai Pin Shan at Yilan which looks fabulous and looks hilly. In comparison is about 105 metres.... so naturally I am worried. My engine is a Perodua Kenari(super small cc car)...

Having brought the Alex Moulton TSR (triple crank with 11-25 rear cassette) up Taiwan Wuling (3225M)... I have now a new found respect on mountains, mountaineers, gearing technology. On hindsight, a 11-30 or 28 cassette would be better...  and stop carry so much stuff... :) For the record, I am pretty sure Moulton with the correct gearing would be perfect on this conditions. And this it the way I pack the Moulton, in case some folks looking for it
Moulton TSR up Mt Wulin 
This time, I want to make the coming mountain ride more enjoyable and certainly not to struggle up the mountain. Learning from the combined experiences of Chris Wee and George. Their advice was get the bike as light as possibe, have granny gear (appropriate gearing), smaller crank(compact). The TSR would work but I thought for this coming April Taiwan trip, I would try the pocket rocket... just to see how it would feel. Why not?
What would make the Pocket Rocket more suited for touring/mountain elevation?
I guess it would the following....
1) Lower gearing to make it up the mountains route (bigger rear cassette or compact crank)
2) Fenders (no yucky road spray to deal with)
3)Rear rack with some pannier bag to carry my camera and stuff.
4) Fatter-ish tyres better handle the rougher roads section
5) Don't forget the 451 tubes!!

As I was writing about my pocket rocket, Kian Lim of Mybikeshop, a good personal friend offered to lend me his Compact crank to help me manage the hilly/mountainous section. Chatting about it, he recommended this approach than the rear cassette(11-34). 
Reason being a compact would give a closer "ratio" shifting as compared to a 11-34 cassette (need to change to a mid case). Also suggested I try out cyclocross(Kenda Small block 8) tyres as the road might be abit rough and broken. So I did. Dropped my bike yesterday at the shop so that the good folks from MBS can help swap out the crank and fit my 11-28 cassette. 
Test rode abit yesterday, initial feel of the Kenda Small block 8 was that it slowed down the quick steering of pocket rocket and felt more draggy compared to the Durano slick tyre previously installed. But in the wetter conditions, it felt abit more planted... with that familar humming noise of a MTB tyre.  I think it will do better for the rougher road conditions at the expense of top end speed(hey we are not going fast anyway). I will try this on the coming Sunday Q ride to have a better feel of the tyre. 
The Compact meant I would in some cases over "rev" on the flats but on a fun tour, I think it will be just fine. The good thing is I have an ultra low gearing that should get me easily up any slopes.. I think. :)

Thank you Kian Lim and Jai of Mybikeshop for helping me in such a short notice.
Now for the photos.

This was my Pocket Rocket "speedy mode" 
Speedy but no where to carry stuff
Pocket Rocket in Tour mode, Rack, mudguard and mini knobbies
Ultergra Compact 50/34 
Jai (MBS Mechanic) also dropped the Front hanger lower due to the Compact Crank
Kenda Small Block 8 tyre. Pocket Rocket uses a 451 rim and brake clearance meant can use to 28mm tyre.
Pocket Rocket comes with eyelets for rack and it would be good to have somewhere to strap my gear/pannier
Rear Rack and BF Fenders- they are ugly as hell and waggle like a dog. But at least no road spray 
Front Fender secured with an Allen bolt 
Tools of the trade
First time doing Pocket Rocket with Cyclo-Cross tyres. .We are making history!
Jai tweaking the Front D 
Kian Lim tuning the Rear D alignment
Kian Lim checking chain length 
Fits Tern cardboard box easily 
First attempt with Rack on... cannot fit in
Pocket Rocket Folded to fit into the box.. to reach home. 
This is the official BF video to show the fold down process

Compact Crank Kindly on loan from super nice guy Kian Lim. Thank you man!
Kenda Mini 8 Kindly on loan (I will do a review on them and how they work on PR)
Fenders are given by Chris Wee. Thank you Chris!
Pocket Rocket and Rack are my personal item


  1. Im sure with this BF, you will be rocketing up the mountains! Let me know if you need to borrow the Samsonite case. All the very best. I think you will have a blast, up or downhill with the Rocket. God speed!

    1. wow that was quick Sir Al. Thank you for ur encouragement haha... This time I use the cardboard box.. see how it goes. Thank you for your kind gesture... btw, thats ur BF fenders... pass to me by Chris!! :)

  2. Im so glad a "part" of me goes on this trip then!

  3. looks like you are very well prepared this time round! the choice of compact crankset is a good one. you get low gear ratios and also closer gear range on the cassette. Only downside is top end gear ratio, but you are not planning to chiong anywhere anyway.

    looking forward to all the photos from Taiwan this time round. too bad I can't join this time!

    1. Bike ready, Rider not ready. Been sick, flu-ish for the past 2 weeks. Will be taking it slow.
      Yah, we miss you and Bernice too... I am sure there will be other chances.. See u again on rides!