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  1. #1
    Senior Member atombikes's Avatar
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    Vilano Apex 16" folding bike

    Anyone have any experience with subject bike?

    I have been searching for a cheap folder for my occasional airline travel. At first I thought I wanted a 20" wheeled bike (like a Downtube or similar), but then I read an interesting article by a guy that said he thought 16" wheels were the way to go for air travel. Of course, the smaller wheels should make it very easy to fit into a 62" suitcase. Here's the link to article:
    http://www.peterspiro.com/foldingbike.htm

    Anyway, after searching a long time I landed on this flat black Vilano Apex 16". Bought it from Amazon for $148 US including shipping. It's a steel frame and I assume the seatpost and handlebar riser are also steel. Weighs 32lbs.



    APEX 16" Folding Bike Shimano 6 Speed - Rack & Fenders - Folding

    Any thoughts or things I should watch?
    Last edited by atombikes; 05-20-14 at 04:55 AM.
    atombikes

  2. #2
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    this looks like a citizen tokyo but the citizen might be better built, The only thing I would watch out for is the steering and the headset area which looks very narrow and thin. I would be very careful if you are the stand up and pedal kind of person because this doesn't look like it'll handle that long term. even the citizen tokyo version looks a little more beefy where the headset meets the steering tube.

    Citizen Bike folding bike shop | Portable & Folding Bikes | TOKYO Citizen Bike 16" 6-speed Folding Bike with Ultra-Portable Frame

    Else besides that everything looks similar and just ride it around for now and don't go crazy with upgrades since this might be your starter bike. You'll find it better to sell it after you had enough with it and then buy a higher end 16" wheeled model. You can upgrade all the parts and such but in the end you cannot upgrade the frame itself. Just to give you a comparison your bike is 32lbs while the dahon eezz is 20.7lbs...... but at also 7.5 TIMES the cost!

    I won't be talking about higher end models since you should enjoy this one for now and summer has just started, if you are happy with this stick with it and ride till your hearts content but if you think you are ready for something better then everyone here would be happy to drown you with suggestions .
    Last edited by Azreal911; 05-20-14 at 08:18 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member atombikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azreal911 View Post
    this looks like a citizen tokyo but the citizen might be better built, The only thing I would watch out for is the steering and the headset area which looks very narrow and thin. I would be very careful if you are the stand up and pedal kind of person because this doesn't look like it'll handle that long term. even the citizen tokyo version looks a little more beefy where the headset meets the steering tube.
    I noticed the same thing in the pics regarding the fragile nature of the steering around the headset. I *think* they use some sort of quill onto which the folding stem is bolted onto. My thought is to lower the quill all the way down so that the folding hinge is touching the top of the headset (to eliminate that fragile looking bit of quill between the headset and folding hinge).

    But Amazon has not yet shipped the bike so I really cannot comment on whether the steering is as fragile as it looks in the pics. Appears Amazon is going to take the full two weeks to ship it to me (free shipping with Amazon used to be relatively speedy- now they really seem to take their time).

    Anyway, thanks for your comment. I will upload pics and a first impression when it arrives.

    I'm fairly certain this is the same bike (I like the wheelie the guy pulls at 51 sec):

    Last edited by atombikes; 05-21-14 at 08:17 AM.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member atombikes's Avatar
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    OK, I have received the bike from Amazon. It took about 10 business days for it to arrive. As mentioned above, I paid $148 including shipping but I have noticed the price has gone up about $30 since I purchased mine?

    First impressions: Although the bike came fully assembled (except pedals), this is not a pull it out of the box and ride it type purchase!

    I am going to have to totally disassemble the bike and build back up from scratch; EVERY joint on this bike is too tight. The headset is so tight the steering is notchy, both front and rear wheels do not freely spin, etc. Of course everything will get good grease/lube while I am rebuilding. The main frame hinge is super tight, I suspect oil and use will free it up some.

    The overall finish is slightly better than a Walmart bike; I say this only because there are adequate braze-ons on the frame for rack/fender attachment and cable routing. The quality of the main parts is dept store quality overall.

    The overall bike is heavy, but we knew this already.

    The steel frame is painted a satin black, it looks nice but I suspect it's not the most durable. This is one of the reasons I bought this in black; it will be easy to repaint when the time comes. The most important feature, the main hinge, is tight as already mentioned but seems durable enough and is gusseted on the bottom for strength.

    The 1" threaded headset is standard dept. store, but not adjusted properly.

    Both front and rear wheels are 305 size with 16 x 1.75" "NLK" brand tires. They have a nice enough street tread on them. Will probably get replaced as time goes on.

    The folding stem: this is the typical cheap folding bike steel adjustable stem. On this one, the upper "tee" welded handlebar has a groove down it's length to ensure the handlebar tee stem is lined up with the lower part. Problem is, something is off, so the handlebars are currently skewed. I think the lower part has to be rotated in the fork steerer; this *should* bring everything back into alignment. Again, things need to be disassembled and reassembled.

    I've read others have had problems with the seat post abruptly coming loose, causing the seat to dive in the frame. I think I see the cause on mine. There is a plastic shim between the seatpost and the frame tube; and the seatpost is secured with a quick release. On my bike, when I tighten the QR enough to keep the seat post from slipping, the QR sllooowwwly works itself loose. You can watch it happening. Not sure the best solution for this, but I think it could be fixed.

    The fenders and rack all appear to be steel, they're nice add-ons that probably add a little value. I plan on using mine when I'm traveling, so I suspect having fenders and the rack will be a good thing.

    I haven't even aired up the tires or added the plastic platform pedals yet, since I am going to tear it down anyway.

    Foreseeable upgrades: new crank from the parts bin, either a new upper stem/quill with bullhorn bars; or maybe just some barends? Anything I add to the bike will just be parts leftover from other project bikes.

    Some pics:





    Attached Images Attached Images
    atombikes

  5. #5
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atombikes View Post
    I'm fairly certain this is the same bike (I like the wheelie the guy pulls at 51 sec):

    best music i've heard in a cycling video in a very long time.
    Last edited by smallwheeler; 05-28-14 at 08:09 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member atombikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smallwheeler View Post
    best music i've heard in a cycling in a very long time.
    Warning: Do not listen to this video all the way thru. Doing so will result in this song being burned into your cerebral cortex.
    atombikes

  7. #7
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    bike looks like it was well packaged and no scratches at all. Unlike some of the problems we've been hearing from an ebay bought one.

    as for tires when the time comes you have two choices:

    these babies!
    Marathon Racer, 40-305, Reflex,Wire | Schwalbe North America

    or the big apples schwalbe sells. you might need to check frame clearance for big apples though.

    being able to go to 85 psi the bike will feel VERY different in ride quality!

  8. #8
    Senior Member atombikes's Avatar
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    Yes, you're right, the packaging was actually decent. There were no scratches on the bike.

    The bike's current tires are 45-65psi, so I'm sure a good set of higher pressure tires would do wonders. I noticed that these tires look out of round. Is that even possible? We'll see.

    Have not had it for a ride yet. This evening I took the wheels off and packed the bearings with good grease and made sure the cones were adjusted properly. Then moved on to the headset, this thing was so tight the steering felt "notchy". I packed the headset bearings and properly adjusted the headset, problem solved.

    The v-brake pads look like they are possibly heat damaged (or possibly just crap). The pad material looks like it is supposed to be black, but they're light grey. So I will replace those tomorrow, properly adjust the brakes, air the tires up, and take it for a spin.
    atombikes

  9. #9
    Senior Member atombikes's Avatar
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    Found a website that has a decent review of this bike (sold in Europe under the name bicycles4u.com, apparently).

    Bicycles4u.com remarkably inexpensive folding bikes review

    Here's the bicycles4u.com website. The bike is called the Dublin Explorer 16

    http://www.bicycles4u.com/product/du...olding_bike_16

    It also appears to be branded "Pyramid" and "Fellia" in Europe.
    Last edited by atombikes; 05-30-14 at 08:42 PM.
    atombikes

  10. #10
    Senior Member atombikes's Avatar
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    First ride report.
    It's not horrible.
    I was going to leave it at that, but figure since I'm sort of documenting this brand on this forum I should probably write a little more.

    After tearing everything apart and lubricating/adjusting properly, it's not a bad little bike. Has all the quirks of riding very small wheels on a short wheelbase, but that's with all bikes this size, so not really a discriminator for this bike. Things I've noticed during my first ride: shifting will need to be adjusted again; I've read some other reviews that indicate this must be done after every fold- not sure that sounds right. There was a creaking coming from the folding steerer that I found to be the hinge pin, squirted some WD40 on it that appears to have solved that problem (for now). The gearing is definitely not meant for speed with 48 teeth on the chainring and a 14-28 freewheel, so when I swap the cranks to get rid of those horribly heavy steel cranks I am going to try for a larger chainring. Oh, the chain will require the use of a splitter when the time comes to replace it as there is no removable link. The v-brakes are stamped steel, so those are going to get replaced with other aluminum brake arms from the parts bin.

    So as I thought, this bike has a low initial investment but requires some sweat equity and parts replacement to turn it into something servicable.

    My first ride was only a couple miles, will get more today and see how it does on the local rail trail.

    Yesterday I bought a used 26" Samsonite hard sided suitcase that measures 26" x 21" x 9", so WAY under the airlines 62" requirement. Looks like I can fold the frame and do some minor disassembly and get it to fit. Will take pictures when I do a test-pack.
    Last edited by atombikes; 05-31-14 at 07:02 AM.
    atombikes

  11. #11
    Senior Member Still Pedaling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smallwheeler View Post
    best music i've heard in a cycling video in a very long time.
    You're kidding right?
    "It's best to remain silent and be thought the fool, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt" -- Mark Twain

  12. #12
    Senior Member Still Pedaling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atombikes View Post
    First ride report.
    It's not horrible.
    I was going to leave it at that, but figure since I'm sort of documenting this brand on this forum I should probably write a little more.

    After tearing everything apart and lubricating/adjusting properly, it's not a bad little bike. Has all the quirks of riding very small wheels on a short wheelbase, but that's with all bikes this size, so not really a discriminator for this bike. Things I've noticed during my first ride: shifting will need to be adjusted again; I've read some other reviews that indicate this must be done after every fold- not sure that sounds right. There was a creaking coming from the folding steerer that I found to be the hinge pin, squirted some WD40 on it that appears to have solved that problem (for now). The gearing is definitely not meant for speed with 48 teeth on the chainring and a 14-28 freewheel, so when I swap the cranks to get rid of those horribly heavy steel cranks I am going to try for a larger chainring. Oh, the chain will require the use of a splitter when the time comes to replace it as there is no removable link. The v-brakes are stamped steel, so those are going to get replaced with other aluminum brake arms from the parts bin.

    So as I thought, this bike has a low initial investment but requires some sweat equity and parts replacement to turn it into something servicable.

    My first ride was only a couple miles, will get more today and see how it does on the local rail trail.

    Yesterday I bought a used 26" Samsonite hard sided suitcase that measures 26" x 21" x 9", so WAY under the airlines 62" requirement. Looks like I can fold the frame and do some minor disassembly and get it to fit. Will take pictures when I do a test-pack.
    First let me say that the bike's shifting should never have to need adjusting every time you fold and unfold it.

    This reminds me of the two inexpensive folders I purchased at first. They ended up being problematic so after a few weeks I returned them. I ended up buying a Brompton. Yes, I got into debt for it, but I didn't want to go through issues of low grade quality again. Let me say this. Before I opted to take the bikes back I had thought about upgrading parts, but when I look back I'm glad I didn't. Doing this is a personal thing, but why spend that money putting good quality parts on an inexpensive frame. I would go along with what Azreal911 said. Enjoy the bike for the summer and when you do decide to sell it, you wouldn't loose much on the sale. If you find that riding around on a folding bike is your thing, then upgrade the bike, not the parts.

    Cheers
    Wayne
    "It's best to remain silent and be thought the fool, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt" -- Mark Twain

  13. #13
    Senior Member atombikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Still Pedaling View Post
    First let me say that the bike's shifting should never have to need adjusting every time you fold and unfold it.

    This reminds me of the two inexpensive folders I purchased at first. They ended up being problematic so after a few weeks I returned them. I ended up buying a Brompton. Yes, I got into debt for it, but I didn't want to go through issues of low grade quality again. Let me say this. Before I opted to take the bikes back I had thought about upgrading parts, but when I look back I'm glad I didn't. Doing this is a personal thing, but why spend that money putting good quality parts on an inexpensive frame. I would go along with what Azreal911 said. Enjoy the bike for the summer and when you do decide to sell it, you wouldn't loose much on the sale. If you find that riding around on a folding bike is your thing, then upgrade the bike, not the parts.

    Cheers
    Wayne
    Yup, I hear what you guys are saying. I don't plan on riding this bike that much, just mainly for when I'm traveling for business or pleasure. So, I'm trying to keep my investment as low as possible. I initially wanted a Raleigh Twenty, but those are going for around $300 on craigslist in my area. And, they would also require some maintenance/parts swapping. Plus the sheer size of the bike requires the suitcase to be right at 62", and those suitcases are typically harder to find and more expensive (I paid $20 for the Samsonite hardshell on (where else) craigslist).

    All the parts I will add or swap will come from my own parts stash, so no real investment there. Most of the parts I have are either leftovers from other projects or recycled parts from discarded bikes.

    Don't get me wrong- I think Brompton is the pinnacle of folding bikes and would love to have one, but I can't justify the cash outlay. If I were to use this bike more regularly, I think I would definitely be looking at something like a Downtube.

    So for me, I'll replace the seat and grips, add some barends, and eventually change the cranks and see how it goes.

    I do thank you guys for your input.
    atombikes

  14. #14
    Senior Member atombikes's Avatar
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    This is what I ride most of the time, so riding this little 16" wheeled bike is a huge departure:

    atombikes

  15. #15
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atombikes View Post
    This is what I ride most of the time, so riding this little 16" wheeled bike is a huge departure:

    You could buy a Cruzbike conversion kit and throw it on.
    http://Charles.Plager.net
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Still Pedaling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atombikes View Post
    Yup, I hear what you guys are saying. I don't plan on riding this bike that much, just mainly for when I'm traveling for business or pleasure. So, I'm trying to keep my investment as low as possible. I initially wanted a Raleigh Twenty, but those are going for around $300 on craigslist in my area. And, they would also require some maintenance/parts swapping. Plus the sheer size of the bike requires the suitcase to be right at 62", and those suitcases are typically harder to find and more expensive (I paid $20 for the Samsonite hardshell on (where else) craigslist).

    All the parts I will add or swap will come from my own parts stash, so no real investment there. Most of the parts I have are either leftovers from other projects or recycled parts from discarded bikes.

    Don't get me wrong- I think Brompton is the pinnacle of folding bikes and would love to have one, but I can't justify the cash outlay. If I were to use this bike more regularly, I think I would definitely be looking at something like a Downtube.

    So for me, I'll replace the seat and grips, add some barends, and eventually change the cranks and see how it goes.

    I do thank you guys for your input.
    Well, if one has the parts on hand, then that would be the route to go. It sounds like you will only be riding occasionally, so in that case it would most likely do you well. I looked at your other post where you show a picture of your main ride. yes, that is a huge departure from the folder.

    Enjoy! I hope that the bike works well for you.

    Cheers
    Wayne
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  17. #17
    Senior Member atombikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cplager View Post
    You could buy a Cruzbike conversion kit and throw it on.
    Haha...yeah, well I guess those are few and far between now. But like I said on the other forum, I've always thought those kits were a little overpriced, especially when you factor shipping. You got a spare kit lying around? :-)

    If I were going that route, I'd probably just DIY. Besides, the whole point to this is to get something I can *easily* pack into an airline legal suitcase, so I only have to spend $25 to have a bike wherever I go. No oversize luggage charges here.
    atombikes

  18. #18
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atombikes View Post
    Haha...yeah, well I guess those are few and far between now. But like I said on the other forum, I've always thought those kits were a little overpriced, especially when you factor shipping. You got a spare kit lying around? :-)

    If I were going that route, I'd probably just DIY. Besides, the whole point to this is to get something I can *easily* pack into an airline legal suitcase, so I only have to spend $25 to have a bike wherever I go. No oversize luggage charges here.
    I think they still have some (I just ordered one). Given your fabrication skills, I think you could make a nice one that you still could pack in a suitcase. (451 quest packs in a single suitcase).
    http://Charles.Plager.net
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  19. #19
    Senior Member atombikes's Avatar
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    Well, this experiment is done. I have decided to ship this bike back to Amazon. Yeah, I know you guys were warning me about the parts upgrade path and you were right. I'm OK with the thought of swapping out the v-brakes (which are stamped steel on this bike) for some aluminum parts, and the brake pads (which are utterly terrible on this bike), and I was OK with the thought of swapping out the cranks and chainring for something nicer and larger.

    But I was not OK with the steering stem. The lower half of the riser has a plastic shim in it's ID at the top; and the upper half of the riser sleeves into this shim. The upper stem has a groove along its length top to bottom, and the plastic shim has a matching bit that aligns upper/lower halves. The problem is; the bit that aligns with the groove is plastic so any amount to torque applied to the handlebars will quickly wear this groove/notch and cause the handlebars to turn when they should not. Shoddy execution.

    Also, the freewheel was making a sound that altogether wasn't right and I couldn't expect it to heal itself.

    After summing up everything I was going to have to do to bring this bike up to my expectation, and adding the fact (as was pointed out by others earlier in this thread) that in the end it is a relatively heavy steel frame, I decided to throw in the towel before I made any mods to the bike and return it.

    I know that I could have made this bike into something better by fixing the steering riser design flaw, but I had the sense to question "why"? I like a challenge, but I should have started with something a little better quality.

    Lesson learned (I think)....

    I have already purchased another cheap bike, but I did learn a little from this first one. The replacement bike is still not a name brand, but it is aluminum frame, 20" aluminum rims/hubs, all aluminum brake arms and levers, Jagwire cables, etc. So even though most of the bike is still not the highest grade parts, it appears to be a lot more bike than the Vilano for $50 more. I'll start a thread once I get the bike (next week).

    2nd times a charm?
    atombikes

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    I just bought this bike off of Amazon for $150. As the OP pointed out, it's a lot of bike for the money, but there are some problems.

    I am wanting a bike to use in Europe this summer that I can put in a suitcase. This bike claims to be 12" x 21" x 29", but it fit nicely in a polycarbonite suitcase that is 28" x 21" x 11". I did have to take the seat and one of the pedals off, but they also fit in the suitcase. And there is room and weight for about 8-10 pounds of clothes and stuff to help pad the bike. I'm just providing this information because it is really hard to find info about an affordable folding bike that will fit in a suitcase.

    Of course, I'm now wondering if I could get a Citizen Tokyo into a slightly larger suitcase.

  21. #21
    Senior Member atombikes's Avatar
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    New bike

    Quote Originally Posted by EarlVanDorn View Post
    I just bought this bike off of Amazon for $150. As the OP pointed out, it's a lot of bike for the money, but there are some problems.

    I am wanting a bike to use in Europe this summer that I can put in a suitcase. This bike claims to be 12" x 21" x 29", but it fit nicely in a polycarbonite suitcase that is 28" x 21" x 11". I did have to take the seat and one of the pedals off, but they also fit in the suitcase. And there is room and weight for about 8-10 pounds of clothes and stuff to help pad the bike. I'm just providing this information because it is really hard to find info about an affordable folding bike that will fit in a suitcase.

    Of course, I'm now wondering if I could get a Citizen Tokyo into a slightly larger suitcase.
    I just realized when you brought this thread to the top that I never posted the thread link to the bike I replaced the Vilano with.

    Genesis Folding Bike

    A couple thoughts. I hope you enjoy your new bike! You say you are going to ride this in Europe; I'm fairly certain this specific model of folder is a popular low-end bike in Europe, so perhaps you could have just purchased one there? Not sure about exchange rates, etc. So maybe you got it cheaper.

    My other thought is about the bike I replaced this Vilano with (after I sent the Vilano back to Amazon). Walmart has reduced the price of this Genesis bike to $179, so really within striking distance of the Vilano. I must say, there's more value for your money with the Genesis. I lost $34 shipping the Vilano back to Amazon and I'm still happy with my decision.

    That said, the Vilano is a cool little bike! I'm sure with a little TLC you will transform it into your own. Make sure to post pics here should you modify it. Did you get the white color, or the black? I thought they sold out of black after I purchased mine.
    atombikes

  22. #22
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    Atom,

    I could have bought a bike in Europe, but the problem was uncertainty! My guess is it would be much more expensive; everything else is, save wine. It was going to cost $270 to rent a bike from a Swiss rail station for 14 days and return it to another station. I figured I could rent in Heidelberg and then return it there, but I was afraid there would be a problem getting a train ticket for the bike (I already have tickets, but you can't buy a bike ticket over the Internet). If I were to buy a folder in Europe, there is a good chance it wouldn't fit in a suitcase. So I would either have to sell or give it away or pay massive amounts of money to the airline to fly it home. In any event, just having the bike, knowing it's mine, and knowing I can get it there and back in a suitcase lifts a burden.

    I will say one problem I have with it is that I really can't get the seat as high as I want. My dad was an avid cyclist, and he said when the pedal was all the way down the leg should be fully extended. I'm only 5'10", but my leg really doesn't get all the way extended. I can live with it. I'm also struggling to figure out how we are going to transport our luggage on the tiny rack. I have a Motherlode Weekender pack and I'm pretty sure I can get it firmly strapped on. But I will have to get used to traveling really, really light. I suppose we can do laundry.

    There is a bit of flimsiness to the bike, particularly the steering column, as you mentioned in your earlier posts. But I think it will be sturdy enough for my purposes. I am fat and out of shape, so we're sticking almost entirely to riversides, Starting in Chur, down the Rhine to Lake Constance and Rheinfall, and then a quick train trip to Basel and we follow the Rhine up to Strasbourg and probably return to Heidelberg to reclaim our suitcases. All told we will probably put about 200-225 miles on our bikes over 13 days, far less than the typical person touring on bike.

    As for the color of the bike, it is silver. It's a pretty nice silver color, not too shiny. One of the air stems was defective and so I am going to have to put a new tube in one of the tires. Big pain. I've ordered two new tubes with Slime in them. Am I making a mistake?

    I don't plan on making any modifications other than finding a way to attach a mid-sized bag to the rack and maybe a pretty small bag to the front handlebars. I'm probably headed to Ohio next week. I could bring them by and let you critique them.

  23. #23
    Senior Member atombikes's Avatar
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    Interesting....the schraeder valve is defective? That seems almost impossible. But here's a thought- maybe there is some dirt or something down in the valve preventing it from seating all the way closed? I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with slime in your tubes (but I do remember reading not too long ago that one mfg would not honor a warranty if they found sealant in a failed tube.

    Anyway, I fly home tomorrow for the holidays, so will not be in Ohio for the next two weeks. There are plenty of trails around though, so if you are in the area, make an effort to ride the bike trails here. They're very nice.

    Sounds like you have quite a Germanic adventure planned, and I hope you have a great time.
    atombikes

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    For $150 more, you could have bought a Raleigh Twenty.

    A perfectly serviceable bike that can be "hopped" up to approach the ride quality of a Bike Friday at a lower price point.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
    For $150 more, you could have bought a Raleigh Twenty.

    A perfectly serviceable bike that can be "hopped" up to approach the ride quality of a Bike Friday at a lower price point.
    Will the Raleigh Twenty fit inside a standard suitcase? If not, I would be looking at about $900 in airline charges to take it to Europe, as my trip over is on separate tickets and I have two flights taking me to and from Lisbon to France.

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