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Folding Bikes Discuss the unique features and issues of folding bikes. Also a great place to learn what folding bike will work best for your needs.

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Old 06-12-08, 02:54 PM   #1
Lalato
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Giant Halfway After a Month of Commuting

Hi Gang,
I was inspired by other posts here to lend my thoughts on the Giant Halfway that I've been using on my multi-modal commute for the last month. My commute includes multiple trains and about 6 miles of biking daily.

Ride
The ride is a little on the harsh side. That's to be expected without suspension. Overall, it's not a bad ride, but it's also not the most comfortable ride I've ever had on a bike. I would rate it 5 of 10 on the comfort scale. As I learn to adjust my riding style the ride is getting smoother for me... so after a few months my rating might be higher. I'm sure I could reduce the bumps by switching to Big Apples and possibly getting a Butt Buddy... but those are upgrades for later.

The bike is not fast. I'm certainly not trying to win an speed records because I'm wearing work clothes, but I rarely shift down from 7th... and even then I'm not going all that fast.

Fold
The fold is pretty quick and painless. I haven't timed myself, but if I'm on a roll, I can fold it pretty quickly. Unfolding takes a little longer since you have to adjust the seat. That said, the folding latch, while an elegant design, isn't really great for multiple folding and unfolding every day. The screws do come loose and require regular tightening.

I generally do not fold down the handlebars unless I really have to. Why? Because with the handlebars up, I can roll the bike on both wheels using the handlebars as a handle. The bike is far too heavy for going up and down stairs... which is generally a requirement on the Chicago "L". Sure, there are elevators, but who has time for that?

Components
Overall, I would say the components are ok, but nothing to write home about.

The bike does have a rack which I have removed on mine to reduce weight. I also found the rack screws needed tightening every couple of days and it wasn't worth it since I didn't use the rack very often. The downside to removing the rack is that you also have to remove the rear fender/mudguard. A possible solution might be a fender/mudguard that attaches to the seatpost, but I think it would end up being more hassle in the long run.

The brakes are, simply put, not good. They're fine for slowing down, but they aren't good for emergency braking. One of the things I'm looking into is a way to replace the brakes with something better... but I doubt that the unique design of the bike will allow for different brakes.

The bike could use a wider range of gears. One other forum member with a Giant Halfway was lucky enough to find the elusive Shimano 11-28 freewheel hub which would boost the speed somewhat from the original 13-28 freewheel. No... it doesn't use a cassette. The 11-28 freewheel noted above is no longer in production... and incredibly hard to find.

I will say this... the seat post goes plenty high enough for my 6 feet. Unfortunately, the quick release for the seatpost requires constant adjusting and that can make the unfolding process take extra time.

Other than that, the design of the bike makes for a very nice fold... but you sacrifice a little in that you can't just grab off the shelf parts to upgrade the bike. In fact, I would not recommend doing any upgrades for fear that they would cause some unforeseen issue. While the monofork design looks great, it can be a hindrance if you want to do any mods to the bike. For example, let's say you're a fan of internal hubs... those aren't really an option on the bike, even though they would actually make a lot more sense than the derailleur setup it currently has.

Overall
I think the bike itself is a solid performer. The fold is quick and easy. The best thing about the bike is that everything "just works". The downside is that if you like to tinker or if there is anything you don't like about the bike... well you're pretty much sh*t outta luck. You can change the seat. You can change the tires... and that's really about it.

Another downside for multi-modal commuters is that the bike is heavy. With rack and fenders, it weighs in at 28+ pounds. Honestly, that's too heavy for a daily multi-modal commuter. I know you're thinking that most folders are in the 24 pound range, but when you're hefting a bike up a couple of flights of stairs to catch a train every pound counts.

In conclusion... I would recommend the Giant Halfway to people that want a folder to store in their car, camper or boat for casual riding. It works great as a shopping bike with its included rack. Unfortunately, I would not recommend it for multi-modal commuters that need to carry the bike for extended periods of time or that need to fold/unfold multiple times during the commute (due to the strain it causes to the folding latch). Despite the monofork design, the bike does not make for the smallest folded size and that can be a problem on a crowded train.

Right now I have my eyes on a Bike Friday Tikit... which should alleviate many of the multi-modal commuting issues I have with the Giant Halfway. Sure, the folded size is still not as good as a Brompton, but it fixes a lot of the other issues.

--sam

p.s. Don't forget to have fun!
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Old 06-12-08, 03:33 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalato View Post
That said, the folding latch, while an elegant design, isn't really great for multiple folding and unfolding every day. The screws do come loose and require regular tightening.
Quote:
I also found the rack screws needed tightening every couple of days . . .
Quote:
Unfortunately, the quick release for the seatpost requires constant adjusting and that can make the unfolding process take extra time.

Loctite® 222™ Threadlocker

Loctite® 222™ Threadlocker is ideal
for fastener diameters of 1/4" (6mm) and smaller.
Controlled lubricity for accurate clamp loads. Parts
can be separated using hand tools
.
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— or not . . .
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Old 06-12-08, 03:54 PM   #3
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Thanks, Captain. I'll look into getting some of this magical elixir.

--sam
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Old 06-12-08, 06:41 PM   #4
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With regards to the brake performance ...

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/brakeshoes.html
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Old 06-12-08, 10:01 PM   #5
Lalato
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Looks like some Kool Stops are in my future. Thanks for the tip.

--sam
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Old 06-14-08, 02:36 AM   #6
James H Haury
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Re, the rack

How about, using some loctite BLUE on the screws to prevent them loosening?
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Old 06-14-08, 04:53 AM   #7
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Whenever I get a folder and it doesn't have suspension, I'll look into buying either a suspension seat post or a Brooks Champion Flyer. This in my opinion, is the first upgrade to any folder because of the harsh ride on smaller wheels due to the straight up geometry.
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