Peugeot Pacific (AKA Birdy) 1 year review
It's been a good year with the Peugeot Pacific. As some of you remember, this bike was a replacement for my previous Peugeot (a cheap single speed model), which had been impounded and then lost by the Tokyo bike parking nazis.
Upon getting this bike, I upgraded the seat and tires. I like Brooks seats, they are comfortable when broken in, and I can ride for long distances without having to wear cycling shorts. I replaced the original Birdy tires with Kojaks, and these have held up quite well.
The next set of upgrades consisted of changing the drive line to a 10 speed Shimano XTR kit. Installation was simple. I went with a 36 tooth rear sprocket because Japan is a mountainous country, and so far I have not found a hill so steep that I couldn't conquer it. The only problem with the gearing is that the bike is prone to doing wheelies if you aren't careful. I also added a set of XTR brake levers which I found for 50% off at the local Bic Camera store.
My experience with the bike has been very good. I was able to adjust it more or less to match the position I use on my regular road bike. The position is not cramped, and I feel comfortable even on very long rides.
The 10 speed XT group works well. It shifts quickly and smoothly, and the gear ranges is sufficient for everything short of high speed downhill descents. The only problem I have had is that the chain guard on the front sprocket is wide enough that the 10 speed chain can sometimes slip off and get stuck between it and the chain wheel. This has only happened a couple of times over the year, and the problem insignificant enough that I haven't bothered to come up with a solution for it. Another issue I had was the derailleur hitting the ground. I first used a long cage XT derailleur, as it was recommended for the gear range of the rear cluster. But I found that changing to a medium cage derailleur solved the problem. It has enough room to cover the gear range, and it gives a better ground clearance.
The ride quality of the Pacific is very nice. The dual suspension soaks up the lesser bumps and road surface irregularities nicely. The bike is prone to getting bouncy if you pedal inefficiently, but if you have a good spin (I train on rollers in bad weather), it's not an issue. Handling is about as good as you can expect with 18 inch tires, but the Pacific handles well enough. Hands-free riding is not doable on my bike, due mainly to a worn headset, which tends to be a little sticky.
After last March's earthquake, I found a folding bike to be more useful than ever. Rolling blackouts throughout the metro area made train and subway service unpredictable. Getting to work was not so much of a problem, but I often worked late, and from time to time the train was not running for my homeward trip. I was able to fold up my bike and take it to work with me, and then ride it home on those occasions when the power was down.
One of the good benefits about the Pacific/Birdy is it's light weight. Mine weighs just under 10 Kg, and it is not difficult to carry through the larger stations, or from the station to my office. I use a simple folding bike back which I found on eBay for $15. It has held up well after a lot of heavy use.
Future upgrades will included better brakes, as the original V brakes rattle a bit over bumps, and new wheels. The rims on the current wheel set have a lot of wear, and feel rough when braking.
If you are lucky enough to come across one of these bikes, I really recommend them.