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Thread: swift folders

  1. #401
    All ur bike r belong Enki james_swift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand
    I sent an e-mail to Peter Reich about the rear-wheel alignment problem discussed earlier in this thread. Here is his reply

    After inspecting a new bike yesterday, I found that while the current batch of frames have a little wider rear dropout spacing than the first run, the rear wheel on the bike I checked was still fitted with a 130mm rear axle, but no spacers. When the rear QR is closed, the dropouts are compressed together a bit, causing the axle to shift if you're not carefull. A 2mm spacer on either side seems to make everything happy again- I passed my finding on to Karl and the factory in Scranton.

    -G
    My Xootr Swift (almost a year old now) came with 1mm axle spacers on each side (look like ordinary flat washers you could probably find at your local hardware store). I assumed this was because the dropout is spaced at 132.5mm (to accomodate both 130mm road hubs and 135mm mtb hubs).

  2. #402
    Senior Member sanford_w/o_son's Avatar
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    i'm curious, too, about ppls' opinions on steel vs. aluminum. on a bike with this geometry, would steel give a smoother ride? would it take a heavier load on rear panniers?

  3. #403
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    I have aluminum and no complaints with the ride. I have had my fairly heavily loaded with absolutely no issues. I am not a small guy either. I wouldn't buy the steel as I wanted the lighter bike. Easier to travel with and faster.

  4. #404
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    If you don't mind me asking, aproximately what is your weight?

  5. #405
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    if you want a dissertation on the aluminum versus steel debate

    Here is a detailed argument from a proponent of steel frames. You will have to scroll down a bit to see the details.

    http://bicycleshortlist.com/

    Here is the first section of the discussion ...

    Why Steel Frames are Preferable to Aluminum Frames

    The aluminum versus steel debate is one of the most enduring arguments on Usenet. Proponents of aluminum play fast and loose with the facts, and come up with all sorts of creative analogies (the most popular being the airplane analogy, debunked below). They never give up, despite losing the debate on aluminum versus steel every time!

    The best dissertation on the relative trade-offs of frame materials, can be found at: http://www.anvilbikes.com/story.php?news_ID=16&catID=3.

    Here's the bottom line: bicycle manufacturers moved to aluminum alloys from Chro-Moly steel because of cost. It is much more cost effective to build a lightweight aluminum bicycle than a lightweight steel bicycle. However aluminum has some undesirable characteristics. It is weaker, and more brittle than steel, so to compensate, aluminum tubes need to be of a larger diameter and have thicker walls. As a result of the larger diameter tubes, aluminum bicycles are stiffer than steel bicycles. Aluminum fatigues after less stress cycles than does steel; this is not an issue for the casual rider, but it is an issue for the enthusiast that expects to keep the same bicycle for a decade or more (i.e. I still use a touring bicycle from 1984!).

  6. #406
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    There are numerous grades of aluminum too. You want to compare high grade steel against “normal” aluminum. For a given thickness in general steel is stronger than aluminum. As mentioned making tubes of bigger diameter makes the structure stronger regardless of if its aluminum or steel. Yes aluminum does have a shorter finite life span than steel. How many of you will actually reach it?

    Bottom line for me is I am not buying ANY bicycle to last 30 years. Technology and design advances quickly enough that I want to upgrade. I’ll take that savings now by going with aluminum and put it towards a future new bike. There are still aluminum aircraft flying from several decades ago. If we want to pursue this logic why bother with metals at all? Lets go carbon fiber!

    Just for the record, my steel Dahon SpeedPro felt “flexier” than my aluminum Swift. Design is just as (if not more so) than the materials used. I also don't have to worry about rust as much either. I had an aluminum framed motorcycle that saw a lot of miles racing and under severe conditions with no issues as well. If I planned on keeping a bike for 20 years I might look more at steel but only if it a very high quality steel like cro-moly. Fatigue cracks can happen in all materials. IF a designer carefully designs his frame and takes into account the stresses and planned usage aluminum can last an incredibly long lifetime. Look at all the B52s still flying. Of course they go through inspection but the point is they far excedded their original design lifespan.

  7. #407
    Seņor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wavshrdr
    Bottom line for me is I am not buying ANY bicycle to last 30 years.
    Shame on you, Wav.

  8. #408
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spambait11
    Shame on you, Wav.
    If I thought I'd live another 30 years I'd consider it but unlikely.

    Also what I wanted to ride 30 years ago is not the kind of bike I want now. It will either be a folder or a recumbent. Thirty years ago I wanted neither. So my logic is why pay a premium for something I will never likely get the benefit from.

  9. #409
    Member, Schmember DaFriMon's Avatar
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    On steel vs aluminum, when I was shopping for my latest bike, I wrote to Peter Reich to ask if it was still possible to get a steel framed Swift. He did refer me to that place in Oregon, but they proved hard to contact, although I probably gave up a bit too easily. I decided just to get a second Bike Friday instead. I really believe that if a steel Swift had been as easy to find as the aluminum Xootr version, I would have bought one.

    I'm not an anti-aluminum extremist, and I don't rule out an aluminum frame in the future, but good quality chromoly steel is a plus for me. The weight penalty just isn't that great, in my experience, and I do hold on to bikes for quite a while. My oldest is a Raleigh Twenty from about 1975, but I've only owned it for a year, and it probably spent much of it's lifetime sitting in garages and going on short runs to the store. Second oldest is a 16 year old chromoly hybrid, which I still ride frequently. I have no plans to get rid of it.

    Incidentally, in light of recent comments in this and other threads, I've never felt any frame flex on my Dahon Speed P8, same frame as the Speed Pro. Just a little flex in the long handlepost, but that's common to many folders. This might be a problem just for larger riders.

    If Swift starts selling steel frames again, it should definitely widen their appeal. I think that Wav makes a good point about aluminum, though. Even though the theoretical life of the frame may be less than chromoly, many riders will never reach the mileage that will wear it out. That's particularly true of those of us who alternate between several bikes.
    Last edited by DaFriMon; 06-07-06 at 03:30 PM.
    You're right, I do have more bikes than I need.

  10. #410
    kipuka explorer bkrownd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wavshrdr
    If I thought I'd live another 30 years I'd consider it but unlikely.
    15 years is plenty for any frame. After that it's time to move on.
    --
    -=- '05 Jamis Nova -=- '04 Fuji Absolute -=- '94 Trek 820 -=- '77 Schwinn Scrambler 36/36 -=-
    Friends don't let friends use brifters.

  11. #411
    Senior Member sanford_w/o_son's Avatar
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    what about those two scary words "catastrophic failure". how long do you ride aluminum before you're dancing with the devil? 20 years? 30 years?

  12. #412
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    If you let your life be ruled by unreasonable fear you will never do anything. Any part can fail catastrophically. Steel can do it. Carbon fiber can do it. One of the greatest predictors in how long anything will last is how YOU take care of it. I've seen fragile aircraft last a long time and I've seen very sturdy ones destroyed very quickly by ham-fisted pilots. Same goes for bikes. You are either hard on your equipment or you aren't. There are so many things that can go wrong that if you worry about them all you can be paralyzed by fear.

    You need to separate the likely issues from the unlikely ones. I used to race motorcycles. The last thing I wanted to pop into my head is what would happen if I had a flat at 200+ mph. WHAT IF... You can play these games all day long. For all the aircraft that have had catastrophic failures we've had more people killed by walking down the street. Do YOU do a pre-ride check of your bike every time before you ride?

  13. #413
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    I tweezer the glass out of my Comets. Is that what you mean by pre-ride check?

  14. #414
    Seņor Mambo
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    I think Primo should include tweezers with every Comet.

  15. #415
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    Me too. They should be standard equipment. I do a pre-ride check of all my bike and especially my kids bikes. Today it was important that I did so as someone (of course nobody ever knows who) unlocked the folding mechanism on my daughter's Dahon. It looked correct from a distance but when I got closer I noticed that the latch wasn't all the way down and the little clamp wasn't tight.

    I always make sure that QR handles are in the same point so I can tell at a glance if they've been moved. I always check tire pressure too. Doing the little checks means the PM (preventative maintenance) can be done before it becomes a major problem.

  16. #416
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    Aluminum airplanes and bikes

    Just thought I'd add some insight to the aluminum vs. steel question. I own and fly a 1954 Cessna 180 'bushplane' which has spent 52 years flying in almost every environment ....desert, humid gulf coast states, and Alaska. I have owned the plane since 1998 and bought a folding bike(Swift aluminum). The wings can withstand about 4G. The plane is inspected as required by FAA regs each year and there has been minimum corrosion and no stress cracks in the wings. Aluminum certainly can fatigue, but it takes a lot of bending moments over many thousands of hours before it becomes an issue. The California Air Patrol were flying Cessnas at low altitudes (bumpy turbulent conditions and lots of stress), and after 12,000 -20,000 hour of brutal buffeting these planes were then sold to private owners and were still very airworthy. I believe it would take some very abusive treatment over very many years before my Swift develops stress cracks. This is not to say that certain components could fail prematurely (such as handlebar/stem interface), but the frame sure seems well designed, rigid, with beefy looking welds.
    My Trek 1220 (1994) is mostly aluminum and with thousands of miles still seems like it will go forever.

  17. #417
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    Aluminum or steel, titamium or carbon fiber...there will always be arguments for one over the other. Buy what is right for you and leave everyone else to their own decisions,

    juan

  18. #418
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    Quote Originally Posted by juan162
    Aluminum or steel, titamium or carbon fiber...there will always be arguments for one over the other. Buy what is right for you and leave everyone else to their own decisions,

    juan
    Juan, I think that is the purpose of these forums, to exchange ideas and opinions...nobody is forcing anyone to do anything. flyhi46c

  19. #419
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    I agree that worrying about every possibility is a losing cause. But it would be nice to know what the probability of catastrophic failure is given normal riding conditions. Note that I have not spent a lot of time on the topic--my brief read on the issue is that the probabilities are miniscule--but it would be much more informative than the statement that aluminum has a greater risk of catastrophic failure. I have not seen any research on how this changes over time.

    Suppose the probability of catasrophic failure on a steel bike is the same as getting struck by lightning and that aluminum is twice that. As Wavshrdr wrote earlier, at this low levels of probability, who cares? Is it worth worrying about given the magnitude of other risks?

    At the moment, I possess both an aluminum and a steel bike. I like the ride of the steel bike considerably more; but there are differences between the bikes than frame material. From test rides of similar style/quality bikes, I would say that there is a qualitative difference of "ride sensation" across frame material. But this suggests that you simply test ride the bikes until some preference is noticed.

    -G
    Last edited by invisiblehand; 06-08-06 at 11:56 AM.

  20. #420
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    From http://www2.sjsu.edu/orgs/asmtms/artcle/articl.htm :

    "Ferrous alloys (a.k.a. steel) and titanium have a threshold below which a repeating load may be applied an infinite number of times without causing failure. This is called the fatigue limit, or endurance limit. Aluminum and magnesium don't exhibit an endurance limit, meaning that even with a miniscule load, they will eventually fail after enough load cycles."

    This is one of the main difficulties in comparing steel vs. aluminum. From what little I've read on the subject, steel is a material whose deformation can be planned for.... if you build your object beefy enough that the stresses on it will stay below the endurance limit, it can potentially last indefinitely. Aluminum's endurance limit is essentially zero.... it's so low that it doesn't come into the equation. So Aluminum will eventually fail due to fatigue, if it's stressed repeatedly, often enough.

    All this tells us though is what to expect if a steel and aluminum frame were built identically, which of course they aren't. Aluminum frame builders use different shapes, diameters and thicknesses for the bars in aluminum bikes. Presumably they design the bikes to withstand a very, very high number of repeated stresses(as opposed to "essentially infinite" for steel bikes)..... essentially pushing back the failure point beyond the point where the owner would have discarded the frame.

    All of this also assumes a well-maintained bicycle, or an essentially sterile evironment. Do you maintain your bike properly? Ride it in the rain? Take it near the seashore? Ride it on the salty roads of the East Coast? Get hit by a car? A steel frame is subject to so many other dangers that it might easily succumb to rust or accidents long before it would have to compare itself against an aluminum brother who finally did have a catastrophic deformation.

    Steel has also been in use for so long, that it's mostly a known quantity. Aluminum bicycle frames date back to when? The 1980's at the earliest?

    I think the biggest worries in the steel-vs-aluminum debate probably boil down to:

    1. Are you a competitive racer? If yes, then weight is probably more important than long-term durability.

    2. Are you trying to plan for your bike frame to be useable in 20, 30 years or more? If yes, then steel is probably your better bet. If not, then it's all up to personal preference.

    I think that the biggest practical outcome of the steel-vs-aluminum debate will be in the secondary markets for these frames. In 30-50 years, if people are in the market to buy a 2005 bike on ebay or in a garage sale, I think that they'll generally be more trusting of the steel frames that have survived to that age rather than the aluminum frames. How far along is that old dusty Xootr frame towards its eventual catastrophic deformation? Did it get used every day as a commuting bike? Did it get ridden on tours, in century rides? Or just on Sundays by a little old granny?

    Personally, since I'm not an athlete, I give a bit of preference towards the steel frame. The extra couple of pounds doesn't really scare me, and I like the idea that if the frame is taken care of, if it doesn't get squashed under a truck, if any of 100 other things don't happen to it, it has the potential to be a vintage bike somewhere down the line. I think that the steel Swifts of today will be the equivalent (in 30 years' time) to what the Raleigh Twentys are today. They're strong, they're versatile, they might not be completely compliant with the future drivetrain innovations, but can probably be retro-fitted and shined up for the enthusiasts of tomorrow. The only difference is that there were probably many more Raleigh Twentys pushed out of the factory in their heyday than there are Swifts today.
    Last edited by bookishboy; 06-08-06 at 01:42 PM.

  21. #421
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I took a look at a silver Xootr Swift. The silver paint job and general design looks much better in person than on screen. No test ride yet, though (too wet out).

    I have mixed feelings about the Swift. It sounds like the performance will be a step up from my Dahon, and more or less equivalent to the flatbar road bikes I'm considering (specifically, "less" on the hills and equal elsewhere). But I'm really not impressed with the resulting fold -- it doesn't get very small. The Dahon may not fold as well as a Brompton, but its definitely a more manageable package than the folded-up Swift.

    The two times I typically fold the bike is for car trips and public transport (trains, not buses). It'll fit fine in a car trunk, so that leaves trains. Anyone taking a Swift onto public transport where there are limitations on normal bikes and "collapsible bikes" are allowed? Has anyone been prevented from taking a Swift on a train?

    Is there a consensus on the quality of the components? And any comments on hill-climbing performance with the stock Xootr Swift gearing?

    Thanks....
    - B

  22. #422
    kipuka explorer bkrownd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bookishboy
    I think that the biggest practical outcome of the steel-vs-aluminum debate will be in the secondary markets for these frames. In 30-50 years, if people are in the market to buy a 2005 bike on ebay or in a garage sale, I think that they'll generally be more trusting of the steel frames that have survived to that age rather than the aluminum frames.
    "Practical outcome?!" Wha?? Why would a Wookiee, an eight-foot tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of two-foot tall Ewoks? Why do people keep coming up with these ridiculous arguements? What moron would buy a 30-50 year old frame as anything other than an antique? Face it, frames aren't worth that much. Your frame is 30 years old? Replace the dang thing already!!! New frames are dime-a-dozen. Yeesh!
    --
    -=- '05 Jamis Nova -=- '04 Fuji Absolute -=- '94 Trek 820 -=- '77 Schwinn Scrambler 36/36 -=-
    Friends don't let friends use brifters.

  23. #423
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkrownd
    15 years is plenty for any frame. After that it's time to move on.
    I bought my PX10 in the mid 70's. Just since 2002, I have ridden over 21k. If I took better care of it, it probably could last another lifetime.

  24. #424
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    I took a look at a silver Xootr Swift. The silver paint job and general design looks much better in person than on screen. No test ride yet, though (too wet out).

    I have mixed feelings about the Swift. It sounds like the performance will be a step up from my Dahon, and more or less equivalent to the flatbar road bikes I'm considering (specifically, "less" on the hills and equal elsewhere). But I'm really not impressed with the resulting fold -- it doesn't get very small. The Dahon may not fold as well as a Brompton, but its definitely a more manageable package than the folded-up Swift.

    The two times I typically fold the bike is for car trips and public transport (trains, not buses). It'll fit fine in a car trunk, so that leaves trains. Anyone taking a Swift onto public transport where there are limitations on normal bikes and "collapsible bikes" are allowed? Has anyone been prevented from taking a Swift on a train?

    Is there a consensus on the quality of the components? And any comments on hill-climbing performance with the stock Xootr Swift gearing?

    Thanks....
    - B
    I have not needed to take the stock Xootr on a train, but purchased it for taking in my small plane. Ironically I ended up using it more than my rode bike because I can keep it in the trunk of my car and it is always available for riding. The fold is OK but not as good as some others. I live in a hilly area and found the 11-28 was a bit wanting. I changed it to a SRAM 11-32 and it is now much better. I like the high end gears as they are (52/11 is reasonably fast).

  25. #425
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkrownd
    "Practical outcome?!" Wha?? Why would a Wookiee, an eight-foot tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of two-foot tall Ewoks? Why do people keep coming up with these ridiculous arguements? What moron would buy a 30-50 year old frame as anything other than an antique? Face it, frames aren't worth that much. Your frame is 30 years old? Replace the dang thing already!!! New frames are dime-a-dozen. Yeesh!
    "Practical Outcome". Yes. As in, "it's all just armchair debate....other than personal preferences, the only major difference is the frame's long-term chances for survival." And yes, that's a situation that probably will only be tested with the 2nd, 3rd or even later owners of the bike.

    "Replace the damn thing already".

    Yes, exactly.... which is why many of the steel and aluminum frames of today will wind up getting sold....secondhand. It's at this point where the question of stresses and lifetime will come up with aluminum frames, rather than during the original owner's use of the bike.

    Ridiculous argument? What part was ridiculous? I wasn't arguing either for aluminum or steel. The only prediction I made was that Swift frames from today will still be in demand in 20, 30 years time. Much like the Raleigh Twentys, they'll be old, therefore cheap(er), durable, versatile, and will (I think) have a dedicated following among cyclists a generation from now.

    Partial list of "morons" who see a 30 year old frame as something other than an antique right here.
    Am I missing something?
    Last edited by bookishboy; 06-08-06 at 11:25 PM.

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