I have been lurking on this forum for the better part of a year, and just registered in order to post so I can garner your opinions. After 30 years or so, I've decided to get back into casual cycling for exercise and to help me shed a few pounds. My riding is confined to bike paths along the boardwalk where I live, mostly 7-10 miles at a clip. I decided I wanted a folder for storage and transportation reasons, and my LBS only sold Giant. As a result, I ended up with two Giant Expressway 2 bikes ($375 each) for my girlfriend and I. As luck would have it, Hurricane Sandy hit shortly after I bought the bikes which severely curtailed my ability to ride, but now the bike paths have largely been restored so I am getting down to business.
I have been very impressed with the Expressway 2, though admittedly it is the only folder I have ever used. I am a very casual cyclist, and apart from a more comfortable seat, don't plan on any upgrades. I really love the idea of folding bikes and have been trolling Craigslist in my area looking for good deals with the notion that I might pick up an additional folder or two for my kids when they come around in the event they want to ride with me, or for guests. I found this:
I never saw a new Halfway in my LBS, but from reading about it on the forums, I am drawn to the mono fork design and thinner fold. It is a very attractive bike and it appears to be in like new condition. I am led to believe that the Halfways feature better components than the later Expressway 2's, but honestly I don't think I am advanced enough to be able to appreciate the difference. This bike allegedly was purchased new by an elderly person who barely used it. His grand daughter inherited it and is selling it. It is a 2002 model. I've already sealed the deal and committed to a purchase price of $200 subject to inspection assuming the bike is in like new condition. I'm going to pick it up tomorrow morning. I've already read every post on the forum about Giant folding bikes, but was interested in whether or not you all have any thoughts about the early model Halfway's specifically, or anything special I need to look for during the inspection.
I've ridden a friend of mines Giant folding bike (I'm not sure which model but I do believe it was higher end based on components) and was quite impressed. It felt a lot less like a folding bike and more like a regular folding bike than my Greenzone folding bike (the only one I had at the time). For $200, you probably did pretty well.
For folding bikes in general, the frame is what matters (other components can be swapped out). The folding stem is in principle easily replaceable, but finding one may not be easy. Make sure the frame folds easily and when unfolds is solid (both frame and folding stem).
It's very likely it won't shift well if it's been ridden enough and never adjusted (or has been bumped when being moved), but make sure that it does shift (don't be worried about it not being in the right gear and hesitating, but you do want to make sure it does shift up and down).
Make sure wheels spin well and are (mostly) true (watch wheel against open brake). And the brakes should, well, work.
I'm sure others will chime in with more useful info.
I had a Halfway and have mixed feelings. Good: Quick fold, interesting design. Bad: Heavy, some proprietary parts, weight centered too much over the rear wheel.
Giant is notorious (at least around here) for poor parts availability for their bikes. My LBS tells me that for certain bikes (e.g., the Revive recumbent), if a proprietary part goes, the customer is SOL. YMMV.
Take a look at the hinge very closely. My Halfway's hinge eventually wore out... and when that happened the bike wasn't safe to ride anymore. It's possible that I (overweight) put a lot more stress on it than most would.
I have had a Halfway of roughly the same vintage since new (sure wish I had only paid $250 it). Mine has always made more noises and creaks than my other folders, so I just make it a point to ride it with an MP3 player, turned up. The front riser is a little bit flimsy, not quite as bad a Popsicle stick in a bowl of Jello, but if you're trying to horse a folder around by the handlebars you're doing things the wrong way anyhow.
I've experienced the dreaded "can't get replacement parts from Giant" syndrome. The proprietary front caliper brake center pivot bolt broke and Giant couldn't/wouldn't provide a replacement bolt or even a complete caliper assembly, and it's totally unlike anything any of the 10+ LBSes I visited had or had seen. The bike was out of action for a couple of years until I got around to machining a new one. You might think the monostays make changing flats/wheels easy, but guess again, the flaky brakes get in the way of everything.
I've done very few mods to it, but the brakes were so anemic I considered dual compound Kool Stop brake pads a necessity (maybe that's what caused the bolt to break, once the brakes started really working), and 50 x 406 Schwalbe Big Apples fit under the fenders (with a few tweaks) and definitely softened the ride (along with a fat-ass seat, the only one I have on any of my bikes).
So, don't construe any of the preceding to imply I don't like the bike, I love it. I'm still as fascinated by the dual monostay Mike Burrows design as when I bought it. The hydroformed Halfway name on the main tube of the vintage ones is sooo much nicer than painted graphics on the newer versions, and whats not to like about a radial spoked front wheel. I only ride mine a few times a year, but find myself really looking forward to doing so as it has a definite personality, which is so lacking in plain vanilla bikes. It attracts attention from gear heads and other interesting people, not so much from jerks. I wouldn't recommend it as a reliable everyday commuter, but it might serve well for your occasional use plan. You could do a heck of a lot worse.
I picked up the bike this morning. It was a bit grimier and had a few more scratches than appeared in the photo, but the hingers are tight. The chain is a bit sticky but I think some WD40 will take care of that. The bike shifts well, though it is a bit tight, but I attribute that to lack of lubrication. One of the fenders is cracked, but I will likely remove them anyway. I was able to negotiate down to $170. All in all a good deal I think.