The Pedalshift Project 027: Folding bicycle touring

Getting ready for my first attempt at folding bicycle touring, I’m seeing a major need to reduce… and I mean reeeeeaaaaally reduce the amount of gear I pack along. On this episode, we take a look at the choices I’m making to go from a tent to a much lighter shelter setup and how that will make touring on a folding bicycle that much easier. All that, some gear talk and followup!

psp027Hey it’s the direct download link for episode 027

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Follow up

Nathan Clevenger wraps up his tour with an arrival in Portland, but not before taking a spill in part thanks to buffoon assholery. What’s everyone feeling about aggression on the roads? Shoot me an email with your thoughts or comment below.
I forgot to mention my flat tires at the end of the NY ride!
Mysterious James and his mysterious partner are heading on a South American adventure from September through December… we’ll be following along and hopefully getting them on the show later in the year to chat about it.

Gear Talk

Securing water bottles on your front forks

Sequoia’s unique setup – check out the post for a better look at the brazon points.

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Folding bicycle touring

dahonFolding bike and a lot of connections? Can’t rock a bunch of bags!
Hammock (no tent, no pad)
Light sleeping bag
Mylar “emergency blanket”
Rolled tarp (ground cloth if no hammock hanging, or rain shelter)
Mosquito netting
Water bottle bungeed to handlebars
One multitool. One or two tubes. Pump integrated in seat of bike (cool!).
Bars for calories, but I should have a shot to get food on the run
Everything will fit in a smallish dry bag that will bungee to the (very small) rear rack.
Interested in more on folding bicycle touring? Check out Path Less Pedaled.


The Pedalshift Project theme is America courtesy of Jason Kent off his self-titled solo album. Check out his band Sunfields‘ new release, Habitat, wherever cool music resides. And hey, a video for Ghost!


  1. David Brittain says:

    Tim. Great podcast I love your gear talk . You mentioned that you never put panniers on the front of your bike yet what I’ve heard is that panniers are more stable in the front as they tend to be lower. I’ve talked to long term bike tourists and they said that the front panniers should actually heavyier than the rear

    • Tim Mooney says:

      Hi David, thanks for listening! There are a lot of opinions on front bags and front racks out there. If you look at a lot of long term tourist setups you’ll probably see full loads, including front panniers. I think a lot of that is longer term touring requires more stuff (usually) so they take advantage of every possible spot on a bicycle. Some people, me included, don’t like the feel of a ride with a super loaded front. It may be true that the “ideal” weight distribution is 60-40 with the majority on the front… in a lot of ways, that makes sense. It balances out the weight of you as a rider and reduces wear on the rear tire (amongst other things). That said, it dramatically changes the feel of the ride. For many, it’s no big deal and the pros outweigh the different feel. For my hack job of a front rack, there’s another issue. There’s no way I can put the majority of the weight up front because it’s just not built to handle more than 10-15 lbs. Because my gear sits on a platform above the wheel, the center of gravity is higher than traditional front racks where the panniers (and therefore the weight) sit adjacent to the wheel on both sides. Bottom line, you have to go with the feel of the ride for you as a cyclist and also be mindful of the setup you have. I don’t think there’s a right and wrong answer on this, unless of course I put 50 pounds on my front platform and nothing on the back… that would be wrong 😉

  2. Logan says:

    Hi Tim,

    I enjoyed your podcast describing your folding bike planning logistics. Have you checked out Russ Roca and Laura Crawford’s folding bike touring series on The Path Less Pedaled? Laura and Russ wrote and ebook on the topic and produced two video series on the subject. One is called Kiwi Chronicles and the other is called Big Adventure Small Wheels. Although their ebook is brompton specific, they have many ideas that fit with general aspects of folding bike touring. Good luck on your adventure!


    • Tim Mooney says:

      I totally have, and I included a link in the shownotes to one of my favorite posts by them. The funny thing is I mentioned them in the static-filled first take and neglected to in the version that actually released! They have a fantastic set of YouTube videos showing their Brompton setup, which I think is particularly genius. Because this tour is unusual in “the need for speed” I’m going to be packing way, way lighter than them. Sadly, I can’t even justify a #coffeeoutside setup like Russ rocks 😉 One other limitation is my Dahon is heavier and bigger than their Bromptons… that’s something I may be changing for the future, but we’ll chat more about that next episode! As always, thanks for listening Logan!

        • Tim Mooney says:

          Yeah, me too… oddly enough in my (limited) research I haven’t found anyone reporting on it being a success or failure. I know in the bag would mean massive heat bump, but also total vapor barrier… as a “hot” sleeper, that’s not an option. I think this has a shot at being the best of all worlds… light, compact, cheap, and effective! We’ll see…

  3. ethan says:

    Regarding jackasses while on tour: most of us deal with jackasses at home, what’s the difference?

    A fork has two blades, not tines.

    Looking forward to hearing about your little stunt- sounds like fun.

    • Tim Mooney says:

      Fair point on jackasses… that said, I don’t get too many F150s rolling coal in DC, so there are some differences out there!

      And as far as forks… this is a true education for me. I’m seeing shooting stars and “one to grow on” theme music is playing in the background 😉

      The stunt tour (as it now must be called) is firming up… more to come.

  4. Johnnie says:

    I see on your gear list that you are taking a hammock and sleeping bag but not a pad. If you plan on sleeping in the hammock in temps below say 70ish you will need the pad for warmth. Or some form of bottom insulation. Laying in the bag in the hammock compresses the bottom material of the sleeping bag and you lose any warmth retention. Air passing under said hammock then wisks away body heat even on warm nights leaving you with C.B.S. Cold Butt Syndrome. If you are interested in hammock camping I recommend picking up the book The Ultimate Hang by Derek Hansen. Popping over to hammockforums.net for loads of great info. And checking out Shugemery on YouTube he has an excellent informative entertaining series Hammock hanging for newbes.

  5. JohnnyK says:

    My goodness all these comments on here. This is awesome I just love this podcast and I have enjoyed watching it grow. Anyway I did listen to the episode that you mentioned about your front rack but I didn’t remember seeing anything about how you mounted your water bottles so thinks for letting me know you used pipe clamps I assume they are p-clamps. Just so others know I have the same make and model of bike Tim rides so I know about the front braze-ons but there is just the 1 on each tine of the front fork so I was trying to figure out how he was keeping the bottle cages from spinning and dumping his bottles out. Anyway I remembered these attachments from tubus racks that may help to stabilize your rear rack on the front forks http://www.thetouringstore.com/TUBUS/Fit%20Solutions/FIT%20SOLUTIONS%20PAGE.htm
    Again Tim thanks for the info you sir are a genius among geniuses. This has been another awesome and may I say enlightening show.

    • Tim Mooney says:

      Every show release breaks the previous record in downloads… we must be doing something right! Thanks for the Tubus link… I have to say I like the setup I have so much I doubt I’ll change it anytime soon. Someday I might need more carrying capacity, and for that I’d probably upgrade to the “standard” front rack config with front panniers. Until then, I’m a “rear rack as front rack hack” kinda guy!

  6. PBJ Matt says:

    Hey Tim – Other than the gearing for hills and the weight, what is your overall opinion of the Dahon? I’m in the market for a folder, but don’t think I want to spend $1k+ on a Brompton or Bike Friday. Great show, as always!

    • Tim Mooney says:

      I’m a fan of the Dahon, particularly the DH7 that I have. It’s best use is as a commuter because it can handle carrying a small bag with ease. I love the internal hub and its low maintenance, and I think it rides pretty comfortably, even on rides longer than your average commute. The downside to the Dahon is pretty much what you’ve mentioned… it’s a little heavy (trade off for the hub) and is geared for moderate hills at best. One other piece I haven’t mentioned is the handlebar gets a little wiggly at the folding point. The best analogy I can give you is it’s equivalent to the point when you’d wnat to tighten a loose headset on a traditional bike. Because it rides upright, it doesn’t feel unsafe, but it’s the one thing you find yourself needing to tighten every few rides. This bike is like the folding equivalent of the Novara Safari in that it comes standard with a ton of things you’d usually need to add… rack, fenders, etc. so there’s a bonus.

      If I recall this bike is well below $1000 and you can even get it on Amazon. I wanted to buy it at a LBS but they discontinued carrying Dahons because they were selling for so much cheaper online. That may be the story for them in other places too. My preferred LBS has been able to handle maintenance on it without a problem though.

      Second to last thing… Dahons are not easier/cheaper to fly with than a traditional bike. I tried all sorts of things to make it fit in a non-oversized checked bag and it just doesn’t fit. If avoiding flying fees is one of the purchasing notions, the Dahon’s not the right choice. I’m sure there are people who’ve done it but the margins are really tight and you have to take apart things in a way that are tricky to re-assemble (for me anyways). I got the bike thinking it would be a snap to take it on a plane for $25 as a standard checked bag, but the reality was it’s just a touch too big.

      One last thing… I got the Dahon a year ago, passing on Bromptons and Bike Fridays because I wasn’t 100% sure I’d like or use a folder. One year later, I’m all in and getting a Brompton because I can travel with it more easily and it’s a better touring option. I don’t regret getting the Dahon, but if I were to do it over again (knowing what I know now) I’d get the Brompton first. More in October when I pick up the new bike!

      • PBJ Matt says:

        Thanks for the extensive feedback! I’m in the same boat as you were initially. I’m not sure how I will like it and/or how much I will use it. I don’t have plans to fly with it, but that could present an issue in the future, as you said. My primary purpose is taking it on the train on my morning commutes when the weather is just a little too bad to do the full commute by bike (incidentally, you recently passed within a 1/4 mile of my home while traveling on the NE Regional NJ Transit line from Trenton to NY – I live just outside of Trenton). I’m looking primarily on the secondary market, so hopefully I can find something that has sucked up most of the depreciation, and then if I do decide to upgrade to a Brompton or Bike Friday, I can sell the Dahon at that point without too much of a hit.

What do you think?