I went through three folding bikes in twelve years as a full-time cruiser. Considerations are;
Riding conditions: If you are cruising the Bahamas
, a single
speed will do nicely. Rarely will you encounter a hill that will require you to get off and push the bike. In the Eastern Caribbean
, you will need at least ten speeds (preferably more) to get around the islands. Not only are the trade
winds a killer, but the islands are mountains rising out of the sea.
You always be around saltwater; so titanium, carbon fiber or aluminum
should be your only frame choices. Steel
will rust, stainless steel
is shiny, but grabbing that top tube after it sits in the sun for an hour or so, and is usually a bit heavier. In the Caribbean
, the residents are poor and a bicycle can be a tempting target. Best option is aluminum, cheap
, very light and if you crack the frame there is usually someone in thermostats who can fix the frame.
Chain: unless the chain is stainless steel
, have the bike shop order and install a stainless steel
chain. Save your self a lot of grief and greasy mess. I would stay away from drive belts. Local shops in the undeveloped world don't stock them and don't know how to fix them.
Spokes: If at all possible try to limit the spokes to a maximum of two spoke lengths. The non-drive side of your rear wheel
should be the same spoken length as your front wheel
. Buy at least four spares for each spoke length and learn how to install and true a wheel. Roads in the undeveloped world are bad. Spoke replacement was my number one issue.
Brakes: Disc brakes are great, but try finding replacement parts
or someone to service
them in the undeveloped world. Best are Vee Brakes. They may not stop as well in the rain and mud, but they are easy to service
are usually available.
Pedals: Flat pedals are best, as cleated shoes are very slippery on the tiled and concrete surfaces. Flat pedals should have some type of grip, either short pins or grated surfaces. It's a pain when your shoes are slipping off the pedals because accumulated mud or a rainstorm.
Carry devices: I started with baskets on the rear, but quickly got rid of them. They constantly made it difficult to get the bike in and out of the dinghy
and were just wide enough to cause storage
issues (and made bailing off the bike exciting). I found a large backpack to be best. Gives you a cushion if you fall off or bail out. Get one with a drinking bladder pocket, you know the quality of water
on your boat
...do you really trust the antiquated island drinking water
supplies? Bottled water
bottles, like quart oil
bottles are a scourge on the beaches.
Helmets and gloves: I found that island drivers are normally courteous. It's the tourists in rental cars than are the problem. From driving on the opposite side of the road from their home countries, an unfamiliar vehicle to driving on the island's narrow pothole roads. A fall without gloves can give you a serious and painful road rash, but can also keep you hands clean if you have a mechanical problem. Always wear a helmet! Do you really want to check I to a third world hospital with a head