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  1. #1
    crazy bike girl msincredible's Avatar
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    First long ride on the Birdy

    I've been itching to take my new Birdy for a bit of a longer ride, so I decided to take it on my commute.

    I don't get to do my commute by bicycle too often, unfortunately. By car or motorcycle it is 32 miles round-trip, but by bicycle it is 50 miles round-trip as I have to go south to an alternate bridge (Dumbarton) which has a bicycle lane on it. It's fun but 2 hours each way takes too long, especially with meetings and having to get home and walk and feed my dogs.

    Between craziness at work and business travel I hadn't gotten to do my bike commute in a couple of months, so I was looking forward to it. I also had a special guest (Bow from the Women's Forum) visiting so I was inspired to take lots of photos and make a proper ride report.

    Ready to ride:


    and together with my other "commuter" per Bruce's suggestion


    BTW my boyfriend (and several co-workers) thought I was absolutely crazy to ride 50 miles on a full-suspension, small-wheeled bike (carrying a big backpack that was even heavier than the bike).

    The first part of my commute was through urban areas, I was busy battling traffic and didn't take too many pictures.

    At one point I got to a pedestrian / bike bridge over the freeway. This bridge has fairly steep spiral ramps on both sides, with barriers at the end to keep you from zooming through. I had always wanted to ride around the barriers but wasn't able to on my hybrid. The Birdy proved to be much maneuverable and I rode through and up the ramp with no problem.

    Here we are over the freeway (101):


    Finally we made it to the approach to the Dumbarton Bridge.

  2. #2
    crazy bike girl msincredible's Avatar
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    The Dumbarton Bridge has a separated bike/pedestrian lane, but you are still riding next to traffic going 80-90 mph, and it is quite windy, so it can be a bit of an adventure.

    Here's the lane (no worries about me breaking the speed limit):


    Took a brief photo break at the top.


    Here's an old defunct rail bridge that runs parallel to this bridge.


    In the distance you can see the San Mateo bridge which is my direct route to work. This may give you a sense of how far out of my way I had to go.


    This is the flat section of the bridge, bikes go off the dedicated lane onto a separate road. The pavement here is really rough, but it was pretty comfortable on the Birdy (much more so than on my hybrid or road bike).


    I took a self-portrait here. Interesting proportions!

  3. #3
    crazy bike girl msincredible's Avatar
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    On the east side of the bridge there's some marshy areas so I took a couple of pictures here (while riding).




    Of course I had to say hi to this family of geese as I rolled by:


    Action shot:


    Made it to Union City, I'm close now:


    And finally made it to my office.


    Convenient bike parking


    I took the same route home that night.
    Unfortunately, it was overcast, rainy, and there were strong headwinds, so I didn't bother to stop for any more pictures. It was still a good ride though.

    Bike parking at home.


    Overall, the ride was really comfortable. My only issue was that the saddle is a little wide for me (I'm small) so I may end up replacing it at some point. It took me slightly longer than on my hybrid or road bike, but not significantly so (there are a lot of traffic lights). I was very happy with how the bike did.

    I just got a suitcase to try packing it up for trips, so that will be my next adventure.

  4. #4
    jur
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    Absolutely ace!! And such a distance! I have joined your admirers club. You're not crazy - just very advanced.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  5. #5
    SWS: Small Wheel Syndrome kb5ql's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    Absolutely ace!! And such a distance! I have joined your admirers club. You're not crazy - just very advanced.
    I think Jur's jealous. I have the privilege of riding with her some weekends. She had to show off on her Orbea this weekend, though...



    Last edited by kb5ql; 04-01-08 at 12:07 AM.

  6. #6
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    Absolutely ace!! And such a distance! I have joined your admirers club. You're not crazy - just very advanced.
    Jur:

    If you only knew... She truly lives up to her avatar and BF name.

  7. #7
    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    Very nice - thanks for posting.

    Personally I'd upgrade with a rohloff hub, carbon drive belt (no greasy chain) and bar ends as soon as I could afford to.

    Then I'd see about getting rid of the rim brakes, preferably with a disc replacement similar to Chop's old birdy setup.
    shameless POWERCRANK plug
    Recommended reading for all cyclists - Cyclecraft - Effective Cycling
    Condor Cycles - quite possibly the best bike shop in London
    Don't run red lights, wear a helmet, use hand signals, get some cycle lights(front and rear) and, FFS, don't run red lights!

  8. #8
    SWS: Small Wheel Syndrome kb5ql's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markhr View Post
    Very nice - thanks for posting.

    Personally I'd upgrade with a rohloff hub, carbon drive belt (no greasy chain) and bar ends as soon as I could afford to.

    Then I'd see about getting rid of the rim brakes, preferably with a disc replacement similar to Chop's old birdy setup.
    Whoa, she could get another nice road bike after those upgrades...

  9. #9
    jur
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    Quote Originally Posted by kb5ql View Post
    I think Jur's jealous.

    You, sir, are very astute, or I am very transparent.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  10. #10
    Direct Hit Not Required BlastRadius's Avatar
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    I think my co-workers Birdy was just like yours. You didn't buy it from a guy in Berkeley did you?
    Makes me want a folding/traveling bike, but I never travel

  11. #11
    Still moving forward.
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    My hat(helmet) is off to you!! The few times I've ridden across Dumbarton I swore I would never do it again - traffic, noise and the wind. Haven't attempted it on my Downtube IX yet. Maybe I'll watch the WX reports for a calm, warm day. Congratulations on a long, but scenic, commute.

  12. #12
    Seņor Mambo
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    Crossing Dumbarton is awesome and very fun! But I've never seen or known anyone to stop mid-span (or thereabouts) to take a picture.
    Last edited by spambait11; 04-11-08 at 02:30 AM.

  13. #13
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    Great pics!! you make the south bay seem like a tourist stop...ahha... what a fine commute, a half century... nice!! can't wait for your Mt. Diablo to Tilden pictorial ... glad you like the Birdy.. terrific bike ..

    Bruce

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    You & your shadow

    Great ride-to work story -I too am impressed by the distance. But mostly I loved the picture of you & your shadow!

  15. #15
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceMetras View Post
    Great pics!! you make the south bay seem like a tourist stop...ahha... what a fine commute, a half century... nice!! can't wait for your Mt. Diablo to Tilden pictorial ... glad you like the Birdy.. terrific bike ..

    Bruce
    Ahh, but the Birdy is a great climber once you can figure out how to stop bobbing. It should also get up to the speed of your road bike once you get rid of those damn Maxxis tires and throw on some Stelvios. However, your ride quality will deteriorate, you'll get stuck in some of No. Cal's notorius road ruts (including some on the way to Tilden and down that caught me), and you'll get flats.

    I've never had a flat on the Birdy Maxxis tire, but it's much slower than the Stelvio.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by pm124 View Post
    Ahh, but the Birdy is a great climber once you can figure out how to stop bobbing. It should also get up to the speed of your road bike once you get rid of those damn Maxxis tires and throw on some Stelvios. However, your ride quality will deteriorate, you'll get stuck in some of No. Cal's notorius road ruts (including some on the way to Tilden and down that caught me), and you'll get flats.

    I've never had a flat on the Birdy Maxxis tire, but it's much slower than the Stelvio.
    I changed the old Birdy tires to Marathon Racers when I bought my NOS Birdy and the improvement was amazing. Have you tried them? I suspect that they give most of the speed of the Stelvio with puncture protection and comfort at least as good the Maxxis tires.

    David

  17. #17
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by energyandair View Post
    I changed the old Birdy tires to Marathon Racers when I bought my NOS Birdy and the improvement was amazing. Have you tried them? I suspect that they give most of the speed of the Stelvio with puncture protection and comfort at least as good the Maxxis tires.

    David
    I have. They came on my partner's monocoque. I found that they give the best all around ride, but have had tons of flats (both in NY and Thailand). We threw a tire liner in them, and that worked, but kind of defeats the purpose (makes it heavier and more sluggish). I think they'd be good for an area without much glass and no thorns. Part of the problem is that they are wider, so they have a bigger contact area to pick up glass.

    The original tires even held up in thorn country, but we had a flat on the Marathon Racers or the suitcase trailer almost every day. The original tires also did well off road since they are so fat and flat. Likewise, no flats on the regular Marathon tire, either. (The Kevlar lined version of the Racer.) But that tire is just as sluggish as the original Birdy Maxxis.

    In CA, we experimented with a Stelvio and a tire liner, and that seemed OK. But we mostly just rode up to Tilden and back, on a route which isn't too glass laden.

    The original rims are light and strong and the Stelvio is very light, so the bike accelerates like crazy with its small wheels, but I still haven't found the perfect tire for both fast rides and daily commuting. In Japan, the tire selection was better, but I didn't pick any up; I didn't know what I was doing and there was still some rubber left on the existing tires.

  18. #18
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    is that a stock birdy

    love the pics, i'm thinking about getting a birdy (hard to come by in ny). was wondering if that is a stock birdy or did you add or change stuff.

    also, how hard is it to maintain or take care of? I'm hessistant cause if i can't get parts from the lbs than i'm in trouble cause nobody carries their stuff in the US.

    thanks in advance, rob

  19. #19
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    In CA, we experimented with a Stelvio and a tire liner...

    ___________


    What was your verdict on tire liners? I'm experimenting with them now.

  20. #20
    crazy bike girl msincredible's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the nice comments!

    Quote Originally Posted by bestfoldingbike View Post
    love the pics, i'm thinking about getting a birdy (hard to come by in ny). was wondering if that is a stock birdy or did you add or change stuff.
    This is stock, I bought it like this basically new from another board member (Bruce M).

    Quote Originally Posted by bestfoldingbike View Post
    also, how hard is it to maintain or take care of? I'm hessistant cause if i can't get parts from the lbs than i'm in trouble cause nobody carries their stuff in the US.
    I'll let others comment but it seems pretty simple, although you will probably have to order tubes/tires online.

  21. #21
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bestfoldingbike View Post
    love the pics, i'm thinking about getting a birdy (hard to come by in ny). was wondering if that is a stock birdy or did you add or change stuff.

    also, how hard is it to maintain or take care of? I'm hessistant cause if i can't get parts from the lbs than i'm in trouble cause nobody carries their stuff in the US.

    thanks in advance, rob
    NYCEwheels carries them. But you are much better off getting one from Black Dog Bicycles in WA. NYCEwheels is among the worst dealers I've interacted with and Black Dog is by far the best. You are welcome to try one of ours when we get back in May. Just PM me in a month. We have a monocoque and a yellow. Only the stem, seatpost, and wheels are non-standard, but, save the stem which is totally unique, other wheel sizes and seatposts can be fit without difficulty.

  22. #22
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by werewolf View Post
    What was your verdict on tire liners? I'm experimenting with them now.
    So far, so good. Jur convinced me to try the Slime liner, and it seems to be a good trade off between weight and protection. Some say that they themselves can wear out a tube, causing a flat. But little wheels with high pressure tires hardly deform at all, so I doubt this will be a problem.

    It sure would be fun to test the efficiency losses with a power meter. I hate getting dropped on fast group rides. (Of course, nothing will drop you faster than a flat.)

    This is my 2 second summary after way over 10,000 miles:

    Upside:
    Spoke for spoke and pound for pound, I still think that the Birdy is very fast so long as you learn not to bob, stand, or pull. It is more aerodynamic than other bikes, and, for the well adapted rider, is probably a second only to the Moulton in terms of rolling efficiency. (On the other hand, road bikes are lighter and have fewer spokes, so the argument is moot; Moultons now routinely get beat, and only hold the speed record because they were run on a flat course). It's best use outside of urban multimode commuting, is in touring, where it can fit easily into a suitcase, can hold 35+Kg and still be folded to take inside guest houses. In the urban setting, it is by far the lightest bike, since you do not have to carry around a NY Kryptonite Chain.

    Downside:
    It is not as stable as full sized bikes at high speeds, and you can't take your hands off the bars (due to shimmy). You also have to buy tires (but not tubes) online if you don't have a dealer near you. If you are a stander or puller, forget it. It may be too responsive for some. There are more parts than on a normal bike, and those parts are over engineered. I've found that the steel used in some of the bolts rusts when exposed to sea water, so they need to be replaced with better steel or titanium...kind of a drag on such an expensive bike. Finally, on the older bikes, like this yellow, the seat should be pushed all the way forward. I had a seat post break on me. This isn't a problem with the newer posts. Finally, it doesn't roll on it's own when folded unless you get a fancy rear rack for it.
    Last edited by pm124; 04-03-08 at 07:00 PM. Reason: misstatment

  23. #23
    jur
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    Quote Originally Posted by pm124 View Post
    So far, so good. Jur convinced me to try the Slime liner, and it seems to be a good trade off between weight and protection. Some say that they themselves can wear out a tube, causing a flat. But little wheels with high pressure tires hardly deform at all, so I doubt this will be a problem.
    I got a flat with my Mini from the liner where I cut it shorter. The end's edge was sharp, and I have now used tape over the sharp edge to protect the tube.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    I got a flat with my Mini from the liner where I cut it shorter. The end's edge was sharp, and I have now used tape over the sharp edge to protect the tube.
    I've had similar problems when I have cut the liners with sharp square corners. Cutting rounded corners helps, and I have tried sanding the edge to smooth it.

    I think tape plus rounded corners would be easier. I always seem to have short spare pieces of cloth rim tape about. Now I know what I can do with it!

  25. #25
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    I have kevlar belted Schwabe Marathon tires plus the liners on my new Swift. I was so overconfident that I didn't take a patch kit along, and I got a flat, a blowout, and this with only about ten total miles on the bike! Long walk home. When I got home I couldn't even find a reason for the flat. It just looked like there was a bit of a groove in the tube. I think the liner may have somehow done that. Anyway, the liner is still in there, and so far no more flats, but then I'm carrying the patch kit and pump now. If I leave that home one day, then I'll probably get another flat.

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