In a previous post I asked whether i should go for a downtube or Swift. I decided I want to get the swift direct from Xootr but today I have seen a new yellow Birdy on ebay for $899 with previous bidders winning 'best offer' of $700.
If your train can handle a bike as big as a Swift, you don't like suspension, and you won't be putting it in a suitcase, the Swift is probably a better buy. If you like a smoother ride and need a smaller fold, the Birdy would be best.
The Birdy is more fussy to fold than the Swift, but is much smaller when folded. Once you get the hang of it, they both fold in under 10-15 seconds. Both frames are durable, though I've never owned a Swift. If you like to ride fast, either bike will need new tires, but both are otherwise more or less good to go with stock components.
The birdie does indeed look like it will fold smaller and still be in one piece after the fold, which makes handling easier.
Keep in mind to fold the Swift as small as a run of the mill Dahon or this Birdie you need to take off the front wheel and seat post. So you're left with three separate pieces. Consider the inconvenience here.
Mind you the Swift does indeed fit in a suitcase, but that's a different story, and requires more than 15 seconds. It probably takes half an hour. The Swift will fold small, but it takes effort. I'm almost tempted to say it's a take apart bike because folding it in one piece is not enough. It's like the Bike Fridays: an excellent bike but not for multi modal commuting. (I have two Swifts)
For the use case you describe the Birdy will suit you better. And if not the Birdy, than another 16" folder (not 20"). Either the Downtube Mini as discussed in the other thread, or the Dahon Curve SL. If you fail to get your hands on the Birdy, I believe the DT mini is cheaper and the Curve SL cheapest of all.
Not sure this applies to you, but it doesn't look like the birdie will take any sort of rack outside of a seat post mounted one.
Didn't mean to imply that it would fit into a suitcase in 15 seconds unless it were a really big suitcase. It has front and rear racks that fold. They aren't as elegant as the Dahon/Brompton racks. I wouldn't put it in the same category with the other two bikes you mention. It's much more stable and fast than the Dahon. (I've never ridden the Mini.) But for light commuting, both of those bikes will fold smaller and serve the purpose.
Birdy Red 8 speed, Birdy Blue 21 Speed, Monocoque 24 Speed, KHS Westwood Folder
Originally Posted by jakub.ner
pm124 is the Birdy as 16" wheeled bike? This is what I assumed. Looked at three Web sites and the specs didn't say the wheel size.
Its best to go by rim sizes when comparing wheels. The wheel OD will depend on the tire size you mount on it.
The Birdy has a 355mm (approx 14") rim. (eg with a 1.5" tire it will be 17").
Most nominal 20" bikes have 405 mm (approx 16") rims so with with 1.5" tires they are 19" OD.
The Birdy and the Swift are both nice to ride but the Birdy is more comfortable on rough roads and folds quickly to a much more compact size.
So now for my second assumption. I assumed when you fold the Birdie it's one piece (a la Dahon). Is that the case? The photo on eBay could be deceiving me .
I've had three 20" Dahons, Helios and Boardwalk, and a Birdy. The Birdy folds in one piece more compactly and is easier to carry than the Dahons once folded.
The Expedition rack for the Birdy is frame mounted and folds with the rear wheel. The Japanese have also added skate wheels to the rack so the bike can be rolled partially folded. Seems it would be easy to do this mod on the rack available in the US. http://www.cycleshibuya.com/opt/opt_bd1img/bdrcc3.html. They also have a small front rack as well and people have used Birdys for extended tours.
I always thought the Birdy has 18" and the Swift 20". I'm in the Boston suburbs and the second part of my ride will be through Boston, anyone who has been to Boston will know the roads are full of holes. I'm not keen on buying a bike from Ebay but the savings just seem to good...
Hi--Sorry for taking so long to respond. It has not frame hinge, which is true of all of the high end folders save Dahon. All of the high quality bikes are more difficult to fold b/c the only way to make it work without a frame hinge is to fold the rear stays under the bike. A frame hinge reduces stiffness and is liable to fail, which is probably why the big ones don't use them.
Gilzean, you are correct, but inches don't mean anything. The 18" Birdy rim is smaller than the 17" Moulton rim, but bigger than a 16" rim. As Energyandair points out, you have to use metric sizing for it to mean anything. The Birdy can take a 16", 17", or 18" wheel, but you have to make sure the brakes will go high enough for 17" and low enough for 16".
I've found it handles very well on off road touring. We've gone 200 miles off road without problems. But sand is more your enemy, as are ruts, than on a mountain bike. Also, the derailleur is very close to the ground. (Though I've never heard of anyone having a problem. Most derailleurs get bashed on the side by a tree stump or a rock. The lower cage smashes into rubber rather than spokes, so it's often better!)