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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 06-02-10, 04:58 PM   #1
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Swift Folder - Steel or Aluminum???

I am planning on having a Swift Folder built up after the frame on my Downtube Mini cracked just below the seatpost clamp this weekend. I have the choice of steel (http://hpm.catoregon.org/) or aluminum (http://swiftfolders.com). I plan on specifying an IGH hub, and disc brakes.

After the bad experience of having the Downtube frame crack after only 1200 km, I'm a little leery of another aluminum frame, but I like the idea of the lighter weight and corrosion resistance. So, if you were me (and thank God you're not!), which would you choose, and why? I'm open to all ideas, comments and suggestions.

Secondly, since this will be a custom build, which IGH hub would you recommend, and why? It's my money you'll be spending, not yours, so have fun! Just give me convincing reasons for your choices.

Last edited by Autoworker; 06-02-10 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 06-02-10, 05:21 PM   #2
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If you plan on keeping it forever, get the steel frame. They are simply more robust and easier to modify in the future, in my experience. It isn't clear to me how much lighter the aluminum frame is anyway since they altered it in reaction to some frame breaks. I think Jur was the first person to report this; but I have been here a long time and my memories get blurred.

As for the IGH, it really depends on what you plan on using it for, the needed gear range, and your budget. Generally, I think the Shimano Alfine/Nexus Red Band has the right mix of weight, performance, and price. But if you can get away with a three speed or need a really wide range, then you either have to consider pairing it up with a front derailer or the Rohloff. The SRAM 9-speed has slightly more range, but is supposedly much heavier. Shimano is expected to release an 11-speed hub with a 400% gear range. If you can wait, I would go that route ... a 25-100 gear inch drivetrain is pretty good for most riding, IMO.
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Old 06-02-10, 06:56 PM   #3
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I don't see how it makes any real difference.

Aluminum frames routinely last for tens of thousands of kilometers. If your old frame cracked after 1200km, that's not the fault of aluminum, that's most likely a bad weld or just bad luck.

Weight will be nearly identical, both can take IGH's and custom parts. I think you'll be fine either way.
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Old 06-02-10, 09:36 PM   #4
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I agree with invisible hand. Who knows what dropout spacing or what brazeons will be standard 10 or 20 years from now? Or what component you might need to modify the frame to accept as your tastes change? A frame you like is worth keeping and modifying especially if it's not exactly standard to start with.

Also I'm not sure if I agree with Bacciagalup's conclusion of aluminum frames. Folders have more flex than regular bikes whether you see/feel it or not and flex is not something aluminum is good at even if it is good enough for triangulated frames.

As for the internal hub I'd go with either the Shimano 8 for its smoothness and efficiency or the Sturmey 8 for its even steps and the fact that it's designed for small wheels. I think the ability to use larger cogs for lower maintenance and better drivetrain efficiency with the Sturmey is an underappreciated advantage. Rohloff costs too much for anyone with enough sense to select an IGH.

Does anyone know what the actual difference is in frame weight, btw?

Last edited by chucky; 06-02-10 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 06-03-10, 07:16 AM   #5
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Money no option/spending your money IGH: Rohloff
If it were my money and I had your requirements (disk brake IGH): Alfine or SRAM 9

Bike material: Steel. Because steel is real, yo.

I thought availability of steel frames was an issue?
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Old 06-03-10, 07:37 AM   #6
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alloy frame with Alfine and disc brakes

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Old 06-03-10, 08:18 AM   #7
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alloy frame with disraillier and diskies


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Old 06-05-10, 03:09 PM   #8
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As one of probably not a lot of people who've owned both (I bought an old steel Swift (made by Peter R, not the HPM version) to replace an aluminum Swift that got stolen), I'd say there isn't a lot of difference in the ride or feel; maybe the steel is better, but I'm willing to be convinced this is a placebo effect induced by exposure to the "steel is real" chanting that fills the forums.
The steel model is more likely to be ridden by your descendants, but if you're just looking at your own lifetime, aluminum will most likely do OK.
Either version is my favorite bike I've ever owned.

Last edited by ignant666; 06-05-10 at 03:15 PM. Reason: overuse of "probably"
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Old 06-05-10, 06:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ignant666 View Post
(I bought an old steel Swift (made by Peter R, not the HPM version) to replace an aluminum Swift that got stolen)
is there a difference?
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Old 06-05-10, 08:50 PM   #10
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The alloy frame for the Swift looks cheap!

Years ago, I remember seeing Peter at a bike show in New York City with a sky blue Swift. He told me that was his wife's and it was going to cost 90.00 dollars more to paint it that color. Let me tell you, I was so close to dropping the money for a steel Swift in the same color as his wife's! What a beautiful color and it's a shame the Swift is no longer available in this color. It reminded me of my Brompton in sky blue powder coat before they changed it.
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