You may recall a few months ago I had a problem when my Downtube Mini's rear rim wore out and I was unable to find a 16 x 1.5 aluminum rim drilled for 28 spokes. No one, including Downtube, sells a rim of that dimensions. I later discovered that one can get a whole wheel from Niagara Cyclery, but first I looked at the cheap folding bikes on ebay and found this one, which I picked up for $0.99 plus $80 shipping. I can't find them on ebay right now, but I'm sure they'll reappear, at which point I'll put in a link. Anyway, my $80.99 got me two rims of the desired specifications and a pair of fenders that I assumed would soon find their way onto my Mini. There was also a wide assortment of other cheap Chinese bike parts, most of which I would not dream of using. But soon I found myself considering using the frame....
I call it YFB, "yellow folding bike," because it has no name on it anywhere. It is truly a generic bike.
I happened to have a number of parts lying around, so when I decided to upgrade and ride the YFB I already had suitable wheels, brake levers, and crank for it. Here's what it looks like now:
Note the integral rack which, on account of the long wheel base, does not actually cause heel strike issues when loaded.
The rims are Alex aluminum rims, wrapped completely in yellow reflective tape; not a perfect job, but good enough. The hubs are Shimano Nexus; a dynamo on the front, an Inter-4 (4-speed) on the rear; both have rollerbrakes. The original rear wheel had a bandbrake, so installing the rear rollerbrake using the same braze-ons was pretty straightforward:.
The rear reflector has been converted to an LED light with a wire running under the fender, held in place by a C-shaped piece of steel spring (the wire bead from an old tire). The front headlight is an old steam regulator from a domestic radiator, now containing a bright LED and reflector, all held together with duck tape (I know, I know, I'm working on a better solution).
YFB came with a steel 31.8 mm seat post which I cut off at the bottom and inserted a 29.8 post I found in a dumpster a couple years ago. It telescopes, technically, but I don't have quick releases on the clamps (recycled from Razor scooters). The lower clamp serves to help me put the seat at the correct level. So when I fold the bike, I pull the seat out all the way:
I have the gears set up for 30.1, 37.4, 45.2, and 55.4 gear inches respectively, which is similar to, but a little higher than, gears 1-5 on my Downtube Mini. Quite frankly, I don't like the Nexus Inter-4 hub as well as the Sturmey Archer; the steps between the gears are just a little too big for my taste. But it works reliably.
The rear suspension is surprisingly easy to adjust, and I have it tightened down to the point that it doesn't bother me at all. The long wheelbase is surprisingly comfortable. Just don't ask what it weighs!
I have been commuting on this bike for over 2 weeks now, putting about 200 miles on it so far. I'm still getting to know it; but initial impression: not bad! Once I have my Mini back on the road, I'll compare them more closely.