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Old 07-08-08, 08:29 AM   #1
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Commuter Xootr computer tutor

I'm answering a question from another thread, but I was asked in PM to start a new thread about this. So here it is. Hopefully it's useful to anybody interested in doing something similar.

I recently bought a Xootr Swift with the intention of using it as a commuter, towing my children to preschool, leaving the trailer there, and then continuing to my job. Total round trip: 28 miles. I made this trip on my Dahon Matrix for a few weeks before its frame broke for the second time. While it was in the shop getting its third frame, I bought a Xootr Swift to replace it.

I was already thinking of getting a small-wheeled folder to take with me when I travel, so I thought I'd see if I could combine my vacation-trip desires with my daily-workhorse needs. The Swift is my first stab at making that happen.

I test-rode the Bike Friday Tikit and the Swift, and was prepared to drop the extra dough on the Tikit. However, I didn't like how much its steering tube flexed (the handlebars were moving upwards of an inch on every pedal stroke). After just a few strokes on the Swift, I could tell it was the one for me. I'm 6'1", 215.

I took it with me on a trip to San Antonio the day after I bought it. Having it there with me was really cool; I did around 30 miles over two days.

On returning to NYC, I dropped it off at B-Fold, where I bought it, for the installation of a hub gear. There's this one hill on my commute that's steep when you're not towing 130 combined pounds of child and trailer. When you are, it's borderline-impossible. The stock gearing on the Swift wouldn't be enough for me to tackle it on a daily whether-you-feel-like-it-or-not commuting basis. With the hub gear installed, the total range will be in the neighborhood of 20–120 gear-inches. The Matrix goes down to 23, and I know I can just get up the hill using that, so 20 should be just about right.

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Get it from NYCE Wheels? What are your impressions so far?
No, from B-Fold, down on 13th.

Impression so far, after only 40 miles or so, is that it's a fun ride, and will probably suit my needs: Commuting, towing, and taking with me for fun when I travel.

I'm not sure about this, but it does seem to require more pedaling than my 700c road bike and previous 26" folder (a Dahon Matrix). I wouldn't call that my final word on the subject--it's entirely subjective, based on nothing more than thinking "Hmm, I think I'm pedaling more." And even if that impression turns out to be accurate, I'm not prepared to blame it on the wheel size.

Packing and unpacking for travel was a PITA, but I can tell a lot of that has to do with unfamiliarity. With practice, I think it'll take about 20 minutes at each end. And it has been scratched in transit. I need to figure out a good way to protect it in the suitcase.

I'm a little worried about towing my children up a steep hill with a smaller total contact patch area, but that concern will probably go away after I try it the first time, which hopefully will be Thursday, after it's back from getting its hub gear installed.

I was going to think about some new handlebars, but then I remembered I have some Ergon grips that didn't fit my previous bars. (I chopped them for commuting, and didn't leave enough straight bar to bolt them to.)

And I think I'm going to skip the B17. I love the one I've got on my road bike, but I'm more likely to be caught in the rain on my commuter, and don't want to worry about the leather. So I dunno... maybe I'll try out a Fizik or something.
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Old 07-08-08, 08:39 AM   #2
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Thanks for writing this up, I was interested to see what the hub looks like on the Swift and what type you used. I would use old towels or t hirts in the suitcase to keep the bike from getting scratched. I have purchased saddles from Ebay and CL that people have taken off of their new bikes to upgrade and the saddles they took off were brand names. The Specialized saddle I purchased has been great for my BF and only cost me $15 with shipping. On the B-17 I would just put a plastic grocery sack over it when it is raining. I have found that skinnier tires , less resistance, have been nicer also.
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Old 07-08-08, 08:46 AM   #3
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I have found that skinnier tires , less resistance, have been nicer also.
Yes, I currently have 110-psi skinny tires on it. (I forget which brand.) But I'm not going to commute with them; that small and hard a contact patch would make me very nervous hauling 400 pounds up a two-digit grade, especially in foul weather when the pavement is slick. I'll be getting something fatter and softer, probably the Schwalbe Marathon Plus, and only using the skinny tires when I'm just out riding for fun.
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Old 07-08-08, 08:49 AM   #4
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The Big Apple seems to be a favorite also.
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Old 07-08-08, 08:50 AM   #5
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I had Big Apples on my Matrix and kept getting flats (on my commute in the Big Apple). My favorite commuting tire is the Bontrager Hardcase, but if they make them for 20" wheels, I haven't found them.
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Old 07-08-08, 09:10 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noteon View Post

On returning to NYC, I dropped it off at B-Fold, where I bought it, for the installation of a hub gear. There's this one hill on my commute that's steep when you're not towing 130 combined pounds of child and trailer. When you are, it's borderline-impossible. The stock gearing on the Swift wouldn't be enough for me to tackle it on a daily whether-you-feel-like-it-or-not commuting basis. With the hub gear installed, the total range will be in the neighborhood of 20–120 gear-inches. The Matrix goes down to 23, and I know I can just get up the hill using that, so 20 should be just about right.
Are you having a Sram Dual Drive installed with an 11/34 cassette?
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Old 07-08-08, 01:32 PM   #7
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My commuter has a B17 that sees year round action in rain, snow, hail (ouch!), and the East River that one time in April. I don't baby it, I just wipe off the water with my hand or sleeve and ride home.
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Old 07-08-08, 05:31 PM   #8
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Are you having a Sram Dual Drive installed with an 11/34 cassette?
You know, I'm not sure. It's whatever hub he usually installs, and I can't remember whether we settled on the 11/34 or the 11/32 for some reason. I'll let you know when I get the info. All I cared about was the range of gear-inches.

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My commuter has a B17 that sees year round action in rain, snow, hail (ouch!), and the East River that one time in April. I don't baby it, I just wipe off the water with my hand or sleeve and ride home.
Then maybe I'll do that after all...
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Old 07-09-08, 06:42 AM   #9
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I'll be buying a Crossrack when I pick up the bike from B-Fold. The rack will carry an Arkel Bug with suspended laptop pouch, both of which I ordered this morning (along with a rain cover).

That's the theory, anyway. I haven't actually measured anything.

Stay tuned!
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Old 07-09-08, 08:25 AM   #10
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And it has been scratched in transit. I need to figure out a good way to protect it in the suitcase.
Hardware stores have foam that wrap around hot water pipes for insulation (look like a flexible tube with a cut in one side) - cheap and quick to install/take off.
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Old 07-09-08, 08:28 AM   #11
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Hardware stores have foam that wrap around hot water pipes for insulation (look like a flexible tube with a cut in one side) - cheap and quick to install/take off.
Oooo.... and I have the day off work today. Thanks.
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Old 07-09-08, 08:44 AM   #12
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Hardware stores have foam that wrap around hot water pipes for insulation (look like a flexible tube with a cut in one side) - cheap and quick to install/take off.
That is a great idea.
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Old 07-09-08, 09:08 AM   #13
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I'll be buying a Crossrack when I pick up the bike from B-Fold. The rack will carry an Arkel Bug with suspended laptop pouch, both of which I ordered this morning (along with a rain cover).

That's the theory, anyway. I haven't actually measured anything.

Stay tuned!
That crossrack thing is the whip! Just what I was looking for! Is it new for Xootr? I don't remember seeing it on their site this spring. It looks like it would work perfectly with some of my Ortlieb stuff.

Thanks for posting that link!
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Old 07-09-08, 09:13 AM   #14
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Yeah, it's new.

Finally I get into something when the right gear already exists, for a change...
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Old 07-09-08, 09:59 AM   #15
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Can we see pictures of your rig? I'm also wondering how you manage climbing the hill at the GWB with trailer and kids in tow. The hill got much easier for me when I switched to my Downtube Mini (lighter bike, although maybe it's just an effect of me being in ) but I can't imagine doing it with 130 extra lbs attached. Kudos to you! I'm seriously, seriously impressed.
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Old 07-09-08, 03:05 PM   #16
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Well, don't be THAT impressed. When the beloved of your heart are going to roll backwards down a hill and snap their necks if you don't get up the hill, you get up the hill.

I generally stop at that last landing before the really bad part and pretend to have a conversation about something within eyeshot. Hey, a tree! Who sees a tree!? Wow, isn't that a cool tree?

Then while I wait for my heart rate to subside, I drink all the orange juice out of their sippy cups. (This prompted Hey! You dwink aw my owange juice! last time, so I probably need to bring my own from now on.)

I picked it up from B-fold this afternoon with its new hub gearing and just beat the thunderstorm home. First impression: Better hill gearing than the Matrix, sufficient footprint to get up that hill. However, the front wheel bounces off the pavement more than my 700c and 26" bikes while I'm mashing on the granny gear at the steepest part, which is a little worrisome. I'm concerned about what will happen when there's a trailer pulling down on the back.

Pics in a minute...
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Old 07-09-08, 03:28 PM   #17
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It's a cell phone camera. Sorry. I detailed up the pictures as best I could.







And that is the Sram Dual Drive, by the way, and the cassette is an 11/32. David at B-fold said he spoke with Peter, and Peter said there's insufficient clearance for an 11/34.

I think I got that right, but this is two degrees removed from the guy who actually said it, so don't take it as gospel.

The 11/32 is fine with me. I think the gearing is low enough to accomplish what I need. It'll get tested tomorrow, weather and the winds of parenthood and matrimony permitting.

I also think I figured out what feels like I'm pedaling more. It's not that I'm pedaling more; it's that I'm pedaling smaller. I think my legs want longer crank arms.
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Old 07-09-08, 04:03 PM   #18
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Well, you could walk it up the hill, so I remain impressed despite your best efforts to dissuade me. :-) Also, how do you manage to steer that trailer around the post at the top of the hill? That must be tricky maneuvering.

Is the commute with kids in both directions? Are you dropping them off/picking them up from school/daycare?

Not to be greedy, but I was hoping to see pictures of your Swift with the trailer attached. Will you indulge me?
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Old 07-09-08, 04:08 PM   #19
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Put an electric motor on it for that last little bit.
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Old 07-09-08, 04:17 PM   #20
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Also, how do you manage to steer that trailer around the post at the top of the hill? That must be tricky maneuvering.
Actually, the opening on either side of the post is just wide enough for the trailer. So all I really have to do is make sure I'm centered on the approach and glance back at a strategic moment.

Quote:
Is the commute with kids in both directions? Are you dropping them off/picking them up from school/daycare?
Yes. I haven't found a good way to let my wife do one of the directions, because with the stroller attachment, it's just too big for rush-hour subway travel. (My wife's not a cyclist.)

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Not to be greedy, but I was hoping to see pictures of your Swift with the trailer attached. Will you indulge me?
Happy to, but I haven't hooked it up yet. The trailer currently has a proprietary skewer hitch that replaces the rear skewer. Since the Sram Dual Drive uses the space a skewer goes in, I have to convert it back to the basic Burley hitch, which grabs onto the frame between the stays, and then see whether it even fits the Swift. A lot of this is seat-of-the-pants logistics. If I waited until I knew what I was doing, I'd never get anything done.

The best I can do for the moment is show you the trailer with the Matrix, which the Swift is replacing. This is with the skewer hitch:

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Old 07-09-08, 04:18 PM   #21
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Put an electric motor on it for that last little bit.
Death before dishonor...
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Old 07-09-08, 06:38 PM   #22
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Actually, by taking your kids to daycare and back on your bike, you are scoring serious points and your wife must brag to all her friends that she's married the most wonderful man on the planet who is literally willing to climb mountains for her.
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Old 07-09-08, 06:42 PM   #23
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Actually, by taking your kids to daycare and back on your bike, you are scoring serious points and your wife must brag to all her friends that she's married the most wonderful man on the planet who is literally willing to climb mountains for her.
Unfortunately, I'm a gigantic pain in the ass in enough other ways that it more than evens out.

But she does like the calf muscles when I manage to get the miles in...
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Old 07-09-08, 07:47 PM   #24
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Email to Burley this evening. I'll post their response:
Hi there,

I have a Xootr Swift bicycle and a 2006 d'Lite trailer.

It is not possible to use the skewer hitch on the Swift because it has an aftermarket internal hub gear installed (Sram Dual Drive).

The angle between the seatstay and the chainstay is on the acute side, and the standard 2006 Burley hitch doesn't wedge all the way back into it.

My question is this: Does the attached picture show an acceptable installation of the standard hitch?

Thanks very much!
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Old 07-09-08, 09:00 PM   #25
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I, too, use a Burley d'lite so I am interested in the response. I am in the market for a folder. I bought some Board D7s to use for camping but my kids like them so much, I may let them have them and get me and the wife some other bikes. I really like the swift - today is the first day I actually paid attention to it. Have you compared its ride/stability to the Downtube? If so, how do they compare? Why one over the other?
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