New to folders but been doing a lot of research and think I have narrowed it down to two candidates: the Swift and Bike Friday Pocket Crusoe. Both would be configured as fixed gear to make as light and simple a bike as possible.
(Feel free to skip to Clifs version below for the brass tacks summary) OK some background first. I need a bike I can easily store in the trunk of my small coupe/hatchback as its permanent home, to be ready anytime I feel the need to do some pedaling. It doesn’t have to fold super small or super fast since I won’t be doing multimodal commute with it, but at the same time it needs to leave some space in my trunk for groceries and the like. I’m thinking 30+” by 20+” by 10+” would be reasonable.
Most of all I want a bike that is lightweight (<20lbs) and stiff (no stem flex when pounding uphill) and that can handle some light duty off-roading. I’m 6’2” and about 160lbs.
Initially I was dead-set on a One-way Tikit (http://community.bikefriday.com/node/11263?styleId=0) which seemed to fulfill all my requirements. But then I talked to a BF rep who said that on rough gravelly roads he was slower and had to put in more concentration and effort when riding a Tikit vs a Pocket bike (with its larger 20” wheels). He also said that the folding volumes of the Tikit vs Pocket are roughly the same, just a different shape. Then he recommended the Crusoe as a bike that would fulfill all my criteria—lightweight, stiff stem, and still rugged enough for off-road. The downside is that the Pocket bikes don’t work well for fixed gear since the hub to BB distance changes on folding; the BF rep told me there are workarounds which I think I could live with (manual derailing, chain tensioners, etc.).
So then I got to thinking that as long as I’m considering 20” wheels now, why not take a look at the Swift? It should be as lightweight as the Crusoe (more so due to the Al frame), has a great reputation for stiffness, ride quality and ruggedness—and all that at a really great price (relative to the Crusoe). Downside is that it doesn’t quickfold nearly as small; however, by taking off the front wheel, stem and seatpost, it can get down to roughly the same size and shape as the Crusoe. It’s definitely a pile of parts at that point but I’ll be bagging it up anyway.
*Clifs notes summary*
BF Pocket Crusoe:
Pros: folds more conveniently (esp. with the new hinged stem option); ride quality; highly customizable, lightweight steel frame
Cons: price (>1500USD); will need a chain tensioner or something similar for fixed gear setup or else the chain needs to be derailed during folding
Pros: half the price of the Crusoe; folds flatter ultimately by a few inches; ride quality; customizable; unified rear triangle very fixed gear friendly
Cons: huge quickfolded size (approaches Crusoe size with front wheel, stem and seatpost off, ie a less convenient fold); Al frame may not be as rugged as steel and with a less forgiving ride
I live in a pretty flat city, but would like to take it on some rougher terrain sometimes (think light cross-country or cyclocross type riding) and no plans for touring…yet! I’m really going back and forth on this one and would appreciate opinions, insight, or suggestions about other folders I should look into.