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  1. #1
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    Birdy Rohloff...now? Or wait for the new Rohloff speedhub (2009!)

    Hi, I am bikeless at the moment, and need to get a replacement. I loved the ride on the Birdy Rohloff and it seems ideal for an all round leisure, commuting and fun bike. Plus I wanted a bike I could enjoy a fully upright position on.

    However, I've been reading about this new Rohloff hub which is going to have a range of up to 580% (not so important since I'm not planning on going up any mountains!) and is 20% lighter and smaller (important for commuting in London and fitting it into the tube during rush hour).

    Any advice on whether I should wait till the new hub is out or go ahead with this one if my next test ride (this time with the comfort to stem and hopefully the Rohloff)? I am going to be adding the rack and marathon plus tyres which is going to make it heavy enough as it is (not to mention 10kg backpack with water, food etc).

    Thanks for any advice. I will probably be spending the next 10 months paying for this bike, but it's my graduation present to myself

    Last I read, this so called 2008 Rohloff hub is only due to begin testing in 2009 so who knows when it will be out for general purchase. Also, at least the current rohloff hub is tried and tested for its quality, durability etc.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    The Metropolis, UK
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    Last I read, this so called 2008 Rohloff hub is only due to begin testing in 2009 so who knows when it will be out for general purchase. Also, at least the current rohloff hub is tried and tested for its quality, durability etc.

    Thanks
    Answered your own question there! Taking on a brand new product could mean you risk teething problems. Also given that you aren't exactly going for weight saving on the other components, the 20% saving isn't such an issue for you. The current gearing range of the Rohloff should prove more than sufficient for your needs. Marathon pluses are very good tyres and almost bomb-proof if fitted properly. Best to get Schwalbe tubes too.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the quick reply. I just wanted to be sure since I'm not really an expert on biking technology. Nwo, the only issue I have is since this is my first folder, and from reading posts such as that on the "why are folding bikes so slow" thread where mrbrown wrote:

    In addition, there is the safety issue where a foldie can decide to fold up on you while you are going 30mph downhill. I read somewhere it happened to some dude and not only did the folding bike fold up while he was riding, the sparks from the friction ignited the flammable liquid used to lubricate such bikes and the whole thing exploded into a ball of fire and sulphur.
    Should I be worried thinking I am spending 2000+ on something which is probably going to let me down one day and cause me injury?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by the watcher View Post
    Thanks for the quick reply. I just wanted to be sure since I'm not really an expert on biking technology. Nwo, the only issue I have is since this is my first folder, and from reading posts such as that on the "why are folding bikes so slow" thread where mrbrown wrote:



    Should I be worried thinking I am spending 2000+ on something which is probably going to let me down one day and cause me injury?
    Nothing to worry about. If that is even true, it's a freak accident. Plenty of full sized bikes have serious accidents where frames crack etc. That extract is really a load of codswallop to be honest

  5. #5
    eight spokes somnatash's Avatar
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    Haha you are kidding
    No serious, if you havent been aware - this post you read, about security was just joking around.

    But to your question:
    Since you are without bike/Folder: Buy a Folder now!
    don't buy a Birdy!
    Buy a different folder now, one that is not made for going with the Rohloff so well like the Birdy.

    Why?
    You don't have to make that difficult decision about the hub now.
    You can wait for your Birdy with new Rohloff hub until others have matured it.
    You start with a simpler chick and see how folding is and what you really need.
    You have a spare later
    You will end up with a bunch of different folders anyway.
    You will finally have a folder and regret whole "without folder life" - better stop that ill status soon.

    The Birdy is an excellent Folder which makes very good sense with a Rohloff. So in principle that's a good idea to go for. And to the new Rohloff being not only lighter (which is good not only because of the overall weight savings but having so much weight at the rear which can be a hassle while folding/folded and going uphill) but also smaller in diameter and in width makes a lot more sense for a folder as it will help stabilize wheels/the short spokesline and also with (other folders like Brompton) with narrow rears than the actual Rohloff.
    Last edited by somnatash; 08-11-08 at 03:35 PM.

  6. #6
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by somnatash View Post
    Haha you are kidding
    No serious, if you havent been aware - this post you read, was just joking around.

    But to your question:
    Since you are without bike/Folder: Buy a Folder now!
    don't buy a Birdy!
    Buy a different folder now, one that is not made for going with the Rohloff so well like the Birdy.

    Why?
    You don't have to make that difficult decision about the hub now.
    You can wait for your Birdy with new Rohloff hub until others have matured it.
    You start with a simpler chick and see how folding is and what you really need.
    You have a spare later
    You will end up with a bunch of different folders anyway.
    You will finally have a folder and regret whole "without folder life" - better stop that ill status soon.

    The Birdy is an excellent Folder which makes very good sense with a Rohloff. So in principle that's a good idea to go for. And to the new Rohloff being not only lighter (which is good not only because of the overall weight savings but having so much weight at the rear which can be a hassle while folding/folded and going uphill) but also smaller in diameter in width makes a lot more sense for a folder as it will help stabilize wheels/the short spokesline and also with (other folders like Brompton) with narrow rears than the actual Rohloff.
    Beat me to it.

    I would get a cheap folder for the time being. Even when you eventually get your $3K (US) Birdy in the future, there will be times when a cheap one will come in handy.

  7. #7
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the watcher View Post
    Thanks for the quick reply. I just wanted to be sure since I'm not really an expert on biking technology. Nwo, the only issue I have is since this is my first folder, and from reading posts such as that on the "why are folding bikes so slow" thread where mrbrown wrote:



    Should I be worried thinking I am spending 2000+ on something which is probably going to let me down one day and cause me injury?

    The Birdy doesn't have a folding frame. That's part of its beauty; the more weight you put on it, the tighter the joints.

  8. #8
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Why not get one with a Nexus 7 if you are not climbing any mountains?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by pm124 View Post
    Why not get one with a Nexus 7 if you are not climbing any mountains?
    Because the Rohloff seems to be the best one in terms of long term reliability and maintenance free attributes. Is there any performance loss in using the Rohloff to NOT climb mountains?

    My lifestyle at present is pretty fixed so I don't see the need to have 2 bikes. I need a bike to get around within a 3-5mile radius for leisure/socializing/shops/work etc.

    I need to be able to cycle up to 7 miles to the tube station, pack it in during rush hour, and cycle a few more miles at the other end. Reverse journey, I wanted a fast, easy bike since I don't have much stamina and generally feel wasted at the end of the day (I was ill a couple of years ago, it's left me pretty underweight and I can't seem to build myself back up. I've only just stabalised my weight.) That in mind, I suppose I wanted a "fun" bike to enthuse me into cycling back alertly, and also with the option of packing on the tube on days when I feel exhausted or need to attend an evening course (a random course I find fascinating which will never help my employment prospects!) at a university in central london since I finish that at like 8.30pm.
    Incidentally I am still looking for a job in central london! I still work within a 5mile radius as I did before graduating.

    Also, I wanted a bike which allowed me to sit perfectly upright (back/neck issues from car accident a few years ago) and to offset the fact that this means that all the bumps etc are transmitted directly into the spine, I suppose I needed suspension.

    Birdy seems to fit the bill on all accounts. I suppose I could go with the touring model. I've mentioned my (amateur) reasons for so far preferring the Rohloff hub though.

    Still somnatash does make a compelling and humorous post. lol. I was told by my LBS that is might actually cost more to fit the Rohloff later on though (once labour is taken into account).

  10. #10
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    Hi thewatcher.



    Did you take a look at the Birdy City with the very nice Shimano Nexus hub? It's literally half the price and fulfils all your needs including the excellent Birdy frame and suspension. This gives you 8 well spaced gears, more than enough in my opinion. The Rohloff hub is very nice indeed but designed for longer journeys and a wider variety of terrain that you are using currently. It might prove to be an expensive luxury you never use fully.

    If you have the time I highly recommend a little trip down to Bath to Avon Valley Cyclery (www.foldingbikes.co.uk). They are right behind bath station and exceptionally helpful staff. They also carry a lot of Birdys in stock as well. Bike Friday and Birdy are close contenders for your needs They also stock the 24 speed Bike Friday Tikit which has nice suspension and an ideal fold for your commute-and go needs. I'd have recommended the Brompton which I use but not in terms of suspension and front vibrations on rougher London roads. I'd also have recommended the excellent Dahon Jetstream P8 but it doesn't have the hub gears you prefer. I'm a big fan of hubs myself, especially for commuting purposes.

    Her advise is good on the fact that the new Birdy hub will be perhaps worth waiting for but not to be a Guinea pig yourself for the initial launch.
    Last edited by mulleady; 08-12-08 at 06:35 PM.

  11. #11
    eight spokes somnatash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the watcher View Post
    Because the Rohloff seems to be the best one in terms of long term reliability and maintenance free attributes. Is there any performance loss in using the Rohloff to NOT climb mountains?
    Hi again,
    I can see you are somehow booked on the Rohloff Birdy and if thats where your heart is, its probably the way to go...but I am still not convinced that this is the best solution. The Rohloff is perfect for long distance touring and mountains. And yes, Rohloff has a good long term reliability (120.000 km - how much time will you need to cycle that?) and is mostly maintenance free. I feel it might be a bit overkill for your intended city use and as a newbie to cycling. If you don't need to go many mountains there are lighter hub solutions, so that can be regarded as a performance loss in using the heavier Rohloff.

    Quote Originally Posted by the watcher View Post
    My lifestyle at present is pretty fixed so I don't see the need to have 2 bikes. I need a bike to get around within a 3-5mile radius for leisure/socializing/shops/work etc.
    I take it that you are not keen on doing much maintenance yourself? Well, sooner or later there will be the need to fix something broken on the bike. That is when the spare folder comes into play. You are free to leave your folder at the lbs or fix it at the weekend and still be able to cycle.

    Quote Originally Posted by the watcher View Post
    I need to be able to cycle up to 7 miles to the tube station, pack it in during rush hour, and cycle a few more miles at the other end. Reverse journey, I wanted a fast, easy bike since I don't have much stamina and generally feel wasted at the end of the day...
    tube rush hour and daily/frequent packing - hmhm - that is a challenge for any folder! While the "7 miles" you speak of is a walkover for any folder. The birdy has a reasonable small fold but it is not so very tiny. In fact if you happen to carry it around a lot and say, you are not the strongest then the birdy might feel actually quite clumsy. You want an easy bike? There are other bikes which are more "easy" to lug around which can do the 7 miles fast enough. You are in London? Why not go for the nearest possibility and still the champ in multi-modal travel - the brompton? (mulleady is right you would probably have to upgrade it with suspension) Or a lightweight dahon? Perhaps even CarryMe? Yes rear suspension would be fine in your case. A thudbuster or big apple tires can do that for you.
    Anyway, keep us informed about the decision process :-)
    Somna

    Mulleady your brommi still lacks suspension? Shame on you lazy fellow!
    Last edited by somnatash; 08-12-08 at 04:00 AM.

  12. #12
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    The 6 speed Brompton is a wonderful bike but cannot be judged on one test ride. The Brompton is partly hub (3 speed) aided by a 2 speed non-hub gearing.

    If you like hubs it might be worth speaking to Sammyboy from Velochocolate as the 8 speed Downtube Mini 2009 is a very compact bike with front suspension and hub gearing. You just need to add mudguards in a wet place like London! See the excellent review:
    Review of Downtube Mini with internal hub
    Last edited by mulleady; 08-12-08 at 06:36 PM.

  13. #13
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    Here is my thought process thus far.

    With respect to weight, this is what one LBS (well not too far a commute for me) site writes (r&m site spec in brackets):

    Birdy Light : 11.3kg (10.9kg)
    Birdy City : 11.7kg (11.9kg = city, 11.7kg = city premium)
    Birdy Touring: 11.7kg (11.8kg)
    Birdy Speed: 10.4kg (10.3kg)
    Birdy Rohloff 11.3kg (11.6kg)

    Looking at those values, and considering:
    1) I only weight 50kg myself (male here) and am on a mission to gain weight anyway
    2) I pack my bag with glass bottles of water, metal thermos food flasks, flask with tea, glass jars of snacks (nuts/seeds) when I go to work etc anyway approx 7-10kg

    I don't see much benefit in weight, except maybe a heavier model might help to toughen me up from lugging it around. I could do with some upper body strength development anyway.

    I could go with the city or touring model but in both instances I would actually then be going with a heavier model than th Rohloff. Also, I am thinking that perhaps it is prudent to either upgrade later on to the new Rohloff or purchase a new one. Does Anyone know of any reason why the new rohloff hub would not fit on current Birdy frames? Or will it definitely fit without too much modification being needed?


    One thing putting me off Bromptons etc is that for now, this will be my main bike for everything, not just commuting, and I did enjoy the ride on my old hybrid, so I want a performance machine that folds rather than a small folding package which rides.

    However, I know realistically that a 20" model like the airnimal joey will not be suitable for commuting when I do find a job requiring it.

    I suppose ideally I would have a moulton tsr30 for local commuting (pending a test ride!) and a birdy with the new rohloff hub for commuting into and around the city. In theory those two should last for at least a decade.

  14. #14
    jur
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    If you can easily afford a Birdy Rohloff then by all means go for it. These hubs are already so good it's not super necessary to wait for an upgrade which may be some years away before it reaches the Birdy line. You will have a bike that can tackle anything at all. Just be warned: If you leave it outside it will get stolen before you can say 'lock'. Cuff it to your arm.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

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    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    If you can easily afford a Birdy Rohloff then by all means go for it. These hubs are already so good it's not super necessary to wait for an upgrade which may be some years away before it reaches the Birdy line. You will have a bike that can tackle anything at all. Just be warned: If you leave it outside it will get stolen before you can say 'lock'. Cuff it to your arm.
    If I were taking it somewhere where I need to lock it, I would use my thatcham approved on guard beast chain. If it's approved for motorcycles by the insurance companies, I am sure it will be suitable for a bicycle.
    Also, what about this info from earlier?:

    Quote Originally Posted by somnatash;
    And to the new Rohloff being not only lighter (which is good not only because of the overall weight savings but having so much weight at the rear which can be a hassle while folding/folded and going uphill) but also smaller in diameter in width makes a lot more sense for a folder as it will help stabilize wheels/the short spokesline and also with (other folders like Brompton) with narrow rears than the actual Rohloff.
    I wonder what the resale value is like for the current Rohloff hubs if they only do a few hundred miles a yr? I suppose I could always sell the hub in 3-4years and upgrade then?

    I wouldn't say I can easily afford it. However, I did want something huge after being stuck for 6 years studying for my degree. I'm pretty frugal in terms of some luxuries in that I don't:
    own a car, eat out, party, smoke, drink, get high, go to movies (or watch tv) etc. I got a pretty simple diet whereby spending 4 on mung beans and rice will feed me for 2 weeks.
    I am going to be charging this bike to a credit card which I have 10months interest free on.
    You say that the new Rohloff hub won't make it to the Birdy range for a while (perhaps). However, what about me just fitting it later on to a current model?
    Last edited by the watcher; 08-12-08 at 05:06 AM.

  16. #16
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    Don't forget Dahons. Unless you have a dislike of derailleur gears, there are several models that could suit you well, and save you an arm and a leg. You could import an '08 Jetstream XP (a good match if not better than the Birdy in many respects, not available in UK sadly), have a Mu SL as a (very) high speed runabout, and still have change compared to the Birdy Rohloff. And the Airnimal Joey has 24" wheels, not 20".
    I'd rather spend time exercise by riding on the bike rather than carrying it, personally (only 59 kg myself).
    Don't confuse wheel size with folded size- the two do not necessarily match up, and ease of folding is important too.
    Rohloff is most definitely an aftermarket-fit option as well.
    Dahon Jetstream XP '04 with DualDrive- folding not boring. And an '07 Dahon Cadenza- rather splendid too.

  17. #17
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    thewatcher

    If you do buy a Birdy Rohloff and budget is not an issue go for it seriously, Jur is right. Don't choose it over the city though as the weight difference is negligible being 0.5kg at the most. I agree the Brompton would not be as good a multi-purpose bike as good as it is.

    One word of advice though and I don't mean to be pessimistic. If you lock such a bike outside in London and many urban areas of the UK, it will get stolen eventually. Some professional thieves would even steal to order. Did you see the documentary 'Gone in 60 seconds'? Of course I'm sure you would insure such a beauty but it's the hassle even if you were compensated and the high probability of it being such a thief magnet if locked outside on a regular basis.

    Had you a Birdy dealer in mind yet?
    Last edited by mulleady; 08-12-08 at 06:37 PM.

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    Hi Mulleady. I have been using the dealers page on the R&M site and have pretty much decided on bixfix. For me to get there in case of any problems it's the quickest (I live in zone 6). Not exactly local, but the quickest and cheapest (in terms of travel cost) one for me to get to out of all the dealers listed on the manufacturers site. I also had my test ride at their shop and staff seemed knowledgeable and helpful.

    I've spoken to my Dad about getting it added to the house insurance. It's cheaper than getting a specific policy just for the bike. Only downside is the excess I would have to pay for a claim (hopefully on 50 though). I don't plan on letting it out of my sight though...most the time. The only time I would leave it locked is round my town as opposed to central London.

    Do professional bike thieves really operate like the car thieves in gone in 60 secs? Complete with scoping out bikes beforehand etc. Pretty scary!

    Just in case I do go the cheaper option, any benefits in the touring over the city model? (considering the extra 100)

    Edit: By the way, thanks to everyone for taking to time to read my overly verbose posts and reply back with some really sound advice. I have pretty much set my mind on a Birdy due to the fit and comfort as well as the overall build quality /performance etc.

    Now I just need to work out a pros and cons for the city vs the touring vs the Rohloff models.
    I already know the 1000 extra con for the rohloff! Weight is pretty small between the 3 (0.4kg = less than 5% difference in weight).

    With respect to derailleur gears, I am just somewhat apprehensive about it about it being damaged due to how low the bike is and if it hits a curb or something.
    Last edited by the watcher; 08-12-08 at 09:58 AM.

  19. #19
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StuAff View Post
    Don't forget Dahons. Unless you have a dislike of derailleur gears, there are several models that could suit you well, and save you an arm and a leg. You could import an '08 Jetstream XP (a good match if not better than the Birdy in many respects, not available in UK sadly), have a Mu SL as a (very) high speed runabout, and still have change compared to the Birdy Rohloff. And the Airnimal Joey has 24" wheels, not 20".
    I'd rather spend time exercise by riding on the bike rather than carrying it, personally (only 59 kg myself).
    Don't confuse wheel size with folded size- the two do not necessarily match up, and ease of folding is important too.
    Rohloff is most definitely an aftermarket-fit option as well.
    I don't think he wants the bike to fall apart under him. ;-) There is value in quality as well!

    I have waaay over 10,000 miles on my Birdy (odometer has been broken for a while) and it hasn't complained a bit. My friend's Dahon Jetstream XP is on it's 7th (no joke) hinge, has had 10 or so spokes replaced (not cheap in those imitation Rolf wheels), and creaks like hell. Moreover, he only weighs about 130 pounds or so and is in his 60s.

    I am over 180 pounds and do a fair amount of off road touring on my Birdy. I would never do that on a Dahon, not even one with suspension.

    My old Mu Sl was lighter, but my Birdy is nonetheless faster, thanks to the quality of NYC streets.

    There is a lot to be said for German engineering, I suppose. I would just go for the current model.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pm124;

    There is a lot to be said for German engineering, I suppose. I would just go for the current model.
    You mean I should pick the current Birdy Rohloff rather than going with the touring/city model and upgrading/retrofitting when the new Rohloff is available?

  21. #21
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    There is a lot to be said for German engineering, I suppose. I would just go for the current model.
    Is it wise to trust the Germans? I have just received a strange looking 16" wheel in the post from the Ruhr district in Germany! (Joke!)

    No +1 tom pm124's comments above to some extent. I've test ridden a Birdy and it appears to have longevity built into it, a bit like the Brompton really. Not as good a fold of couse but a much better all-purpose bike. I'd never use a Brompton off-road or on canal towpaths for instance. Also thewatcher you make a good point that this the Birdy an excellent compromise if you are going to own one folder. I believe the Birdy Touring is simply the Birdy with a 24 speed derailleur system on it. The Birdy City sports the Shimano Nexus 8 speed hub and it's a pretty good one. Would more than suffice for your needs. The Rohloff is a great gearing system but I suspect you really don't need it. You would ahve the change left to buy a Brompton as well for commute and go needs!

    Yes thieves do steal to order as well as having surprising knowledge of what makes a quick and big killing on Gumtree or down Brick Lane. Wise not to let it out of your sight. My Brompton never leaves my side.

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    Is there some difference in the highest gear of the rohloff vs nexus vs 24 speed derailleur? I read somewhere that the rohloff goes over 100" (range: 20.4" to 110.5 ") for the gearing inches which would make it really fast? In terms of being able to maximise the use of my muscles for straights.

    The only cyclist in my family is still adamant that folding bikes are primarily used by people for driving up to the congestion charge zone, pulling it out the trunk/boot and the cycling around london rather than taking them on the tube during rush hour. He is still pushing me to purchase a decent hybrid and bike it all the way into London (12-18miles depending on location). I am still fixated on folders, and especially a performance one so I have the option of a mix of public transport and cycling to save money and the option of experimenting with the commute the entire distance from time to time.
    I don't see it happening too often as I do feel dead after work and don't fancy 90mins of cycling...would probably lead to a dip in awareness which could be dangerous whilst cycling. By the way, foldingbikes.com is 250 cheaper than the dealer I mentioned earlier plus their accessories are all 10 or so cheaper (mudguards, expedition rack, slip on cover....). In all I stand to save nearly 300 if I purchase it from them

    I suppose the reason I favour either the 24 speed derailleur (I gather it's a mix of the two systems, hub and derailleur) or the rohloff over the 8 speed hub is because I have always ridden mountain and then hybrid bikes so am used to at least 18 gears.

  23. #23
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    To Rohloffs and Theft: don't be surprised to find your little birdy be an involuntary heart donor

  24. #24
    The Metropolis, UK
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    Quote Originally Posted by somnatash View Post
    To Rohloffs and Theft: don't be surprised to find your little birdy be an involuntary heart donor
    and heartbreaker!

  25. #25
    The Metropolis, UK
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    I live 19 miles outside London. I'm pretty fit and cycling mad and I wouldn't fancy doing this every day! I advise commute and go. Having said that the Birdy is well capable of this mileage.

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