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Old 10-05-05, 07:11 AM   #1
josr
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Riese und Muller has launced new BIRDY bikes

Hi,

The manufacturer of BIRDY folding bikes (Riese und Muller) has announced new bikes, with new Frame Design. This bikes will be available on november 1st in Germany, and later in other countries (I hope I can buy a frame kit).

I have a Birdy Grey (Black Edition) with Rohloff internal hub (14 speeds) for a total of EUR 3000 (USD3000-USD3500), and this bike drives really well (actually I drove 600 km to Paris with it this summer). You can get also a Low Rider and Expedition Rear Rack. I could everyone recommend to evaluate this bike if you consider buying a serious folding bike.

Here are my opinions:

Advantages:

* In my opinion the Birdy looks much more robust than any Dahon bike (if you see both bikes in real life, on internet they both look nice). E.g. The extremely oversized main frame (Birdy current model) looks more impressive than the Dahon frames. Dahon looks more fragile too me (but this result in nice specs (weight etc)). Also the top line of Birdy comes with Deore XT where Dahon ends up with relatively cheap SRAM stuff (e.g. Dahon Jetstream XP).
* Drives extremely well;
* Rohloff internal hub works extremely well (a bit noisy the first 1000 km);
* Extremely stiff frame (new frame is even stiffer according to R-M), because no folding point in main frame;
* Nice options available (low rider, expedition rack).

Disadvantage:

* Rohloff chaintensioner adds some resistance (i am not sure this is more than a derailleur as chain 'tensioner').
* More bulky than Bromptom;
* More expensive than lets say Dahon;
* Maybe unusual 18 inch tires.

For a nice 'interactive' view of the bike see here:

Flash demo at Riese und Muller website






Jos
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Old 10-05-05, 09:48 AM   #2
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Hmm, imo (and this is just hearsay.observation i must admit) the Birdy is not such a great deal.. nice bike, but way too expensive i think.
3000 Euro's?! For that kind of loot you can get a whole lot of custom Bike Friday with great components AND nice add ons like racks..

I don't know any cases of higher end Dahon Frames failing so for me the extra bulk and stifness is somewhat moot. Also for that kind of cash i'd say the GoBike or maybe even certain Bike Fridays make cheaper and possibly also better bikes.... Or am i missing something?

I think maybe Chop owned both a Birdy and a GoBike and i think he prefers the GoBike by far.. but i could be wrong....?
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Old 10-06-05, 03:47 AM   #3
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Can anyone tell me why a Rohloff has a chain tensioner? As a planetary internal hub I really can't see why it would need one...

I'm not sure I like the new frameset. The birdy looks comfortable in itself with the old-style straight frame. The new more sculpted look is inconcruous with the forks and ends up looking a bit frankenstein. Or maybe it's just the blue paint?

Compared to the sexy curved frames on the new '06 Dahon MU's it's a no-contest in terms of aesthetics. (my 2¢)

Last edited by LittlePixel; 10-06-05 at 03:54 AM.
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Old 10-06-05, 04:54 AM   #4
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I suspect that has to do with the dropouts of the Birdy, they look like they don't give you the option to adjust chain tension. Silly design if you ask me. Those guys should have a look at the Swifts' drop outs....
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Old 10-06-05, 08:46 AM   #5
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2 things anput Riese and Mueller

1.price....you get 2 or three comparable Dahons for the same price ...

2. The company made a big speel out of NOT doing business in the USA anymore, based on their opinion about the doings of our President. I am the first to heavily dissagree on many things which happen here at home. I also bet that 80 % of USA bike riders ( especially folder folks ) are NOT agreeing on a lot of decisions.
BUT ..... for a German Company to make such a statement and trying to gain "browny points" over there is ridicoulous. Its a slap in the face for at least 50 % of all voters and especially us bike enthusiasts here in the USA......
So I wish them all the luck.... but will not touch one of their products,...... ever.

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Old 10-06-05, 09:11 AM   #6
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That IS rather strange. Gotta respect their politics and willingness to incur loses for the sake of their ideals. However i think it sorely misguided. What americans (other than a new government) need is anything more ecologically sound/not involving oil, folders would be a good start. I think i would have respected and understood it much better if they had decided to give 20% or more of all american proceeds to groups dedicated to getting rid of bush and the current political system.
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Old 10-06-05, 10:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittlePixel
Can anyone tell me why a Rohloff has a chain tensioner? As a planetary internal hub I really can't see why it would need one...
I bet the chain tensioner is there to facilitate folding. Brompton has the same issue and problem.
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Old 10-08-05, 03:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brakemeister
2 things anput Riese and Mueller

1.price....you get 2 or three comparable Dahons for the same price ...

2. The company made a big speel out of NOT doing business in the USA anymore, based on their opinion about the doings of our President. I am the first to heavily dissagree on many things which happen here at home. I also bet that 80 % of USA bike riders ( especially folder folks ) are NOT agreeing on a lot of decisions.
BUT ..... for a German Company to make such a statement and trying to gain "browny points" over there is ridicoulous. Its a slap in the face for at least 50 % of all voters and especially us bike enthusiasts here in the USA......
So I wish them all the luck.... but will not touch one of their products,...... ever.

Thor
Actually what happened is that when Bush started the Iraq war Riese and Muller went out and very publicly stated that they would stop doing business with US companies in protest. Unfortunately, it seems that it was less a philosophical stance than a way to get some media coverage. They've continued to use American components, including Avid brakes across the entire line of new bikes.
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Old 10-09-05, 06:33 AM   #9
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Their "politics" are far more likely to be nothing more than Euro-PC window-dressing, a smokescreen for the fact that they have a long and failing track record at marketing in the USA. They have made poor choices in the past of importers and distributors. If they could sell their goods, do you think they would be pulling product and spouting politics? Doubtful.

At their low end, their stock bikes are under-priced and over spec'ed by Dahon. At their higher end, their stock bikes are pitted against custom builders at Bike Friday and PBW. And at both ends, they are low-volume, so many bike shops figure correctly that they will move too slowly. Having 18 in tires hasn't helped, either.
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Old 10-09-05, 09:36 AM   #10
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Ha ha that's a harsh view Henry but i gotta agree with you. Still i hope they do allright. Any innovative folder brand deserves to be around though i do hope they shape up. Seems to me at times that they are only still in bizz because their bikes look very 'spiffy'/designer and there happen to be quite some buyers into that... But i prefer merit as a sustaining force for a bizz rather than buzz and hype.
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Old 10-09-05, 06:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittlePixel
Can anyone tell me why a Rohloff has a chain tensioner? As a planetary internal hub I really can't see why it would need one...
From the pictures, it is pretty evident that the bottom bracket is part of the front half of the frame. Although it sort of looks like it does, I doubt the rear trangle doesn't rotate about the axis of the bottom bracket. Therefore the "chainstay" length changes as it folds, and a chain tensioner will be necessary. In a swift folder, the bottom bracket is part of the rear triangle, and the whole trangle rotates, so the chain tension or alignment is unaffected by folding. In Dahons, Raleigh 20's, etc... that fold vertically, the bottom bracket is also part of the rear half of the bike, so the chain is unaffected by quick folding. This is an advantage to their design, but admittely not a huge one.

Last edited by awagner; 10-09-05 at 06:53 PM. Reason: misworded something technical
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Old 10-10-05, 03:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by josr

I have a Birdy Grey (Black Edition) with Rohloff internal hub (14 speeds) for a total of EUR 3000 (USD3000-USD3500)
You spent $3,500.00 dollars on a folding bicycle!! WOW!

That's a lot of money and it looks like the good folks at Riese and Mueller have not been able to keep the price down. I remember not that long ago looking at buying a Birdy Red for $900.00 USD but they are now way overpriced. I could never spend that much money on any folding bicycle even if Dahon, Bike Friday, Trek or Giant made one.

I don't see the fancination with the German Rohloff internal hub other than touring purposes. There is nothing wrong with derailuers and those who say the Rohloff can ride in mud, rain and snow are maybe right but are you going to treat that $3,500.00 USD bicycle like a commuter??

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Old 10-10-05, 04:04 PM   #13
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Additional Advantages:

* The Birdy is a "bling" bicycle that will get looks because it's probably one of the most beautiful folding bikes in production. Those who have folding bikes know you spent quite a bit of money and will stop to look. On second thought, everyone will stop to look so you better be ready to draw attention!

* The bikes are well desgined and have have good specs. I test rode one and compared with the Giant Halfway on the same day. No comparison. The Birdy shifted much better and the geometry felt comfortable all the way around. To be fair, the model I tested cost 3 times as much as the Halfway. There is no reason to use the Rolhoff and in fact detracts from the bicycle in my opinion. The derailuer Birdy I tested was excellant and shifted like a dream.

* Folding time was fast. Just as fast as my Dahon even though it was not that attractive. Regardless, the folding time was more than satisfactory.

Additional Disadvantage:

* Support in the US over the years is suspect and difficult. The best company that offers support for their product is Bike Friday and R&M should copy their playbook.

* The pogo effect becomes noticable once the suspension ages and quite a few riders of older Birdy Red's used to complain about a shimmy going downhill at 30mph. Did R&M fix this problem?

* The folding aspect of the bicycle is slightly better than a Bike Friday. With parts hanging down, the frame scratches itself during the folding process.

* The dual suspension loses performance one the elastometer (sp) ages. Anyone with a mountain bike understands that a dual suspension frame is going to be less efficient than a hard tail. Birdy owners will never admit to this fact even though a dual suspension by default creates efficiency losses.

* The 18 inch wheels mean there are less options than those bicycle who have 20' inch wheels.

* The Birdy frame is made of aluminum instead of steel. We all know that a small wheel folding bicycle provides less comfort than one with 27 inch wheels. This is whyfolding bicycle companies like Bike Friday and Dahon still use Chromoly 4130 because Alu tends to beat up the rider. The Birdy weights 25 pounds so there is no weight advantage in choosing Alu over steal. In fact, Bike Friday is making steel bicycles that are arriving under 20 pounds! Bottom line, when there is no weight advantage between the two alloys, you always choose steel.

To the Birdy's defense, the bicycle does provide dual suspension which would probably be unnecessary if they went to a steel frame with a low chromoly and a Brooks Champion Flyer.

Last edited by Dahon.Steve; 10-10-05 at 04:53 PM.
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Old 10-10-05, 04:20 PM   #14
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>>>>>>In my opinion the Birdy looks much more robust than any Dahon bike (if you see both bikes in real life, on internet they both look nice). <<<<<

The Birdy's frame is more robust than a Dahon. No question. However, this robustness is not worth an additional $3,000.00 USD. The high prices of the Birdy is the result of very high labor costs in Germany, taxes, transportation and low production sales. The prices is not reflective of a superior overall product.

I suspect, Bike Friday could probably make one for less than half the price and Dahon with it's massive facilities and low labor costs could bring that down even further.

>>>The extremely oversized main frame (Birdy current model) looks more impressive than the Dahon frames. Dahon looks more fragile too me <<<<<

The Dahon is slightly more fragile but they hold up well. I have ridden my $329.00 dollar Dahon Piccolo over 5,000 miles and it's proven indestructable. I was hoping it would self destruct so I could purchase a new one but I'm convinced, this may take 20 years! The Dahon frame creeks but this has solutions and has been discussed on their website extensively.

>>>>>Also the top line of Birdy comes with Deore XT where Dahon ends up with relatively cheap SRAM stuff (e.g. Dahon Jetstream XP)<<<<<

I don't consider Sram to be cheap stuff at all and the dual drive works well. In fact, the dual drive enables Dahon's TR (touring model) to go from 19-99 inches and gear range is more important than just having XT. In fact, with the exception of the Rohloff version, all Birdy's use Sram stuff.

Last edited by Dahon.Steve; 10-10-05 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 10-10-05, 05:38 PM   #15
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The more i read the more i think the Birdy is one of the worst choices one can make when buying a folder... So many things about it that wouldn't do it for me. But hey to each their own.
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Old 10-19-05, 03:12 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittlePixel
Can anyone tell me why a Rohloff has a chain tensioner? As a planetary internal hub I really can't see why it would need one...

I'm not sure I like the new frameset. The birdy looks comfortable in itself with the old-style straight frame. The new more sculpted look is inconcruous with the forks and ends up looking a bit frankenstein. Or maybe it's just the blue paint?

Compared to the sexy curved frames on the new '06 Dahon MU's it's a no-contest in terms of aesthetics. (my 2¢)
The reason a Birdy needs a tensioner & why my GoBike will need one has nothing to do with the function of the Rohloff it is to take up the tension in the chain when the bike is folded. The derailleur models have a thick wire loop which extends in front of the derailleur.
on my Stolen Birdy I used a Brompton tensioner (this needed the webbing filled with plastic weld or similar or it had a tendancy to crack under heavy load.)

http://www.long-john.com/bdchain.JPG (sorry not a great pic! Maybe the lowlife who stole it could take some better pics & send them in! Please include your address! ;0))
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Old 10-19-05, 05:29 AM   #17
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Ah thanks for the enlightenment Chop. I guess that's the trade off (derrallieur) with most (all?) folders that can get an extremely small fold. But i was wondering, if one didn't have a derrallieur on the Birdy could you still tension the chain? Do the drop outs allow for this?
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Old 10-19-05, 06:32 AM   #18
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My wife drives a Birdy Green (7 speed Sachs hub gear) since 5 years every day from our home to the train station and from train station to her workplace. There was one small repair in these five years.
Price was around 3000.- Marks, means 1500.- Euros.

There are allways nice events, when my wife enters an Intercity train. In Germany it is forbidden to take a bike into Intercity trains. Sometimes she is late and has no time to fold and cover the Birdy, which causes a lot of shouting and whistleling from the stewards. When they come up to my wife, she has folded and covered the Birdy, and everything is fine... :-)

(I think it is rubbish to stop selling bikes from Germany to USA because of G.W. Bush. Bush will not miss Birdys, but many intelligent people in USA will miss them.)

Regards from Germany
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Old 10-19-05, 08:32 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by v1nce
Ah thanks for the enlightenment Chop. I guess that's the trade off (derrallieur) with most (all?) folders that can get an extremely small fold. But i was wondering, if one didn't have a derrallieur on the Birdy could you still tension the chain? Do the drop outs allow for this?
No
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Old 10-19-05, 08:38 AM   #20
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But the benefits are , you no longer have a low-slung derailleur, which will catch every curb you jump and will ground out on tight bends, also you won't have to keep replacing cassettes etc. and because you now have hydraulic disk brakes, your rims don't wear away and you don't end up black from aluminium dust. Weight-wise maybe you'll lose or gain a bit, but, reliability & cleanliness wise....... no competition!
Even a fixed hub would require some form of tension, to take up the slack on the chain when the bike was folded.
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Old 10-19-05, 11:39 AM   #21
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Aha, interesting as well as i am reliability sort of guy. Cool about the derralieur not being prone to hitting curbs. That is one thing that always struck me as undesirable on quite some other modern folders with ders. I love jumping curbs and taking sharp corners so the rather delicate ders. sitting so close to ground seemed a bit unfortunate.

As for Disk brakes, hmm maybe i should give these a try one day. The thing is my brakes (canti, side pull, coaster styles) have never ever failed me and i do love their cost and simplicity. The thing is that when these breaks do wear out or need adjusment it is so easy and cheap to replace or improve them. Disk brakes i have no experience with but they always !Seemed! complex/high tech and expensive.
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Old 10-25-05, 08:20 AM   #22
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I have only just come across this forum and am impressed.

A few personal observations and clarifications re: the R&M Birdy after one year of ownership.

...The dual suspension loses performance one the elastometer (sp) ages. Anyone with a mountain bike understands that a dual suspension frame is going to be less efficient than a hard tail. Birdy owners will never admit to this fact even though a dual suspension by default creates efficiency losses.

There is a degree of rear suspension 'bob' (and I am surprised that other Birdy owners would be in denial about something that is so patently apparent) but I opted for the stiffest rear elastomer – this has minimised the effect. The elastomers cost £5 and seem durable. In London the front and rear suspension is useful on our distressed/cratered streets - it also affords the option of pumping the tyres up to their psi threashold. I have mine at 120 psi and 115 psi respectively

...The pogo effect becomes noticable once the suspension ages and quite a few riders of older Birdy Red's used to complain about a shimmy going downhill at 30mph. Did R&M fix this problem?

Thankfully, I have not experienced a high-speed shimmy (my top speed has never exceeded 33mph) on my 2004 Red, but others have reported this worrying phenomenon (for more info check out the Birdybike forum at Yahoo), particularly those on earlier models. I believe a number of subsequent design modifications a few years ago partially addressed the problem, but it was not eradicated. Whether the new, stiffer monocoque frame will cure the problem, will have to be seen.

…The 18 inch wheels mean there are less options than those bicycle who have 20' inch wheels.

True, but the range is expanding. Schwalbe will be adding the new Marathon Racer (40-355) to complement the Marathon and Stelvio. Maxxis also produce a Kevlar tyre that was stock on my bike - unfortunately they were heavy and had a sluggish feel on the road – I replaced them with the Stlevio (28-355). There is also a knobbly tyre for off-road, supposedly similar in tread to the old Panaracer Smoke, but I have not tried this model.

Incidentally, with Stelvios on my Birdy the approx. tyre diameter is 16.5 inches…


…The folding aspect of the bicycle is slightly better than a Bike Friday. With parts hanging down, the frame scratches itself during the folding process.

True, and this is a little disappointing. To counteract the Birdy’s proclivity for self-mutilation, I have fixed carbon patches to the frame in order to minimise the damage to the paintwork.

…Price....you get 2 or three comparable Dahons for the same price ...

The Birdy is expensive compared to other folders. I opted for the entry level model and have customised it extensively to my own requirements. I now see more Dahons than Birdys in London and suspect that with the increased price of the new Birdy range, this trend will continue. By far the most popular bike (be it folding or non-folding) is, unsurprisingly, the Brompton.
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Old 10-27-05, 10:17 AM   #23
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May I make a small comment about the high cost of the Birdy range of folders that has been discussed in this thread - as, for example, in the contribution by Steve Dahon who wrote:-

>>>> The Birdy's frame is more robust than a Dahon. No question. However, this robustness is not worth an additional $3,000.00 USD. The high prices of the Birdy are the result of very high labor costs in Germany, taxes, transportation and low production sales. The prices are not reflective of a superior overall product.

I suspect that Bike Friday could probably make one for less than half the price and Dahon with it's massive facilities and low labor costs could bring that down even further. <<<<

In fact, as mentioned on the Riese & Muller Web site, the Birdy frames are all made in Taiwan by Pacific Cycles - who are located not too far from Dahon's facilities!

Furthermore, according to the Australian Birdy site -
>>> There is a small difference in how each region obtains their Birdys. For example, we get completely assembled Birdys from Taiwan into Australia. The Germans get the Birdy frames and do the final assembly of components in Germany. <<<

Apparently other countries in the Asia/Pacific region also get their Birdys fully assembled direct from Taiwan; while here in the U.K., the Birdy dealers get their's supplied from Germany.

All of which does point up the fact that quite a number of Birdys never go near Germany in terms of their manufacture and assembly. Furthermore the Birdy frames and most of the components are not manufactured in Germany. So it is simply not the case that the high labour costs that exist in Germany are the major factor behind the very high cost of the Birdy bike range world-wide.

Gordon Petrie
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