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Commuting on a Flying Pigeon

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Commuting on a Flying Pigeon

Old 02-07-13, 06:09 PM
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tdsherman325
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Commuting on a Flying Pigeon

I've been looking for an interesting single speed cruiser for a while, and the Chinese Flying Pigeon caught my attention. I've always been a fan of living fossils, and while I could spend the cash on a decent used specimen from a respectable brand that just wouldn't stand out from the crowd, you know? I started scouring the net for reviews and noticed that they mostly consist of people waxing poetic about the bike's symbolism in Chinese culture without a lot of practical advice, or reviews based on a test drive. Not a lot of long term experience out there on the English speaking web. That should set off some warning bells but instead just piqued my curiosity. What's it like to actually ride one on a daily basis? I'm a firm believer that any bike can be a "good bike", it's just a matter of how much time and money it's going to take vs. how much you're willing to put into it.

I figured there's no way to find out like doing it, so I went ahead and bought one. Here it is on my ride up to work Monday:


First impressions: This is a big, heavy bike. I'm 5' 9" and it just barely fits me. Build quality is... meh. Not bad, not good. Certainly not comparable to the crap they sell at Wal-Mart but still built rather cheaply. The LBS didn't have any trouble getting the wheels true and everything went together fine and worked properly.

The ride is very Cadillac-ish: slow and smooth. You can barely feel the bumps in the road. The weight doesn't bother me. It takes longer to get up to speed but the extra momentum makes it easier to maintain that speed. Wind isn't quite as annoying thanks to that momentum. Brakes work great once they're properly adjusted, which wasn't really any harder than adjusting calipers. The leather seat fits my behind well and is reasonably comfortable.

That's the good stuff. Now for the bad: First off, the pedals. They're horrible. After less than a week commuting on the thing (and I have a short, 7 mi round trip commute), at about 20 miles this happened:


The other side's not much better. The plate on the outside of the pedal isn't retained by anything, so it eventually bends to the point that the whole thing just comes apart. Not only that but the left side pedal axle actually bent - and smashed the threads in the crank arm in the process. I got a hold of Flying Pigeon LA (who I bought it from) and they said they could send me some better replacement pedals and a replacement crank arm. I'd like to keep the cottered cranks if possible but if they give me further trouble I'll look into converting it to cotterless. Here's hoping they'll hold up with better pedals.

I'll keep a running tally of exactly how much time and money I've wasted on this bike and report back here. We'll see how well it holds up over the course of the year.

So far I've spent $328 on the bike and components, $43 on maintenance and spent about 20 hours or so in labor, including initial assembly. Out of 6 commuting days it's been rideable 4, or 67% of the time, with 1 breakdown. Current mileage is 25.
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Old 02-07-13, 06:34 PM
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Congratulations on your Flying Pigeon. It looks great. Please keep up updated.

Once some of the lesser quality components are replaced, it should be a nice cruiser.

I grew up with one of these Flying Pigeons and family also had a "Forever" brand bike plus a few others over the years. The Pigeon was my main transportation for high school and college some 30 - 35 years ago. It was never routinely serviced or maintained unless there was a problem then it would be repaired. It did the job to get me from point A to point B for all these years. Many times, three of us would be on the same bike: the rider, one on the rear rack, and another one sitting on the top tube. I never remembered even a single flat tire during these many years of my bike life with them.

The "Forever" was a 1967 model 13 (CrMo frame) at the time. The lat time I saw it in 1986, it was still there in ridable condition but with severely rusted brake surfaces on the wheels. It was a lighter and better bike than the Pigeon.

Every time I saw one of these roadsters, I wanted one, even though I have many other probably "better" bikes now. I might still get a Pigeon since this is the Chinese New Year!

On the Internet, there is a series of videos showing how to assemble and repair such bike (it was for a different model but the same rod brakes, etc). The video is in Chinese but the pictures are self-explanatory. If you are interested, I can try to find it and then point you to the link. I actually have a disk of the video that I still use for bike repairs.

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Old 02-07-13, 06:58 PM
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MKS makes a nice rubber Block Pedal FWIW, .. $20. Add grease and adjust the cone a bit when you get it.
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Old 02-07-13, 08:10 PM
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My PA-02 is a blast to ride and even though it's heavy and a single speed it's geared well enough for spirited riding yet the frame geometry makes it feel very relaxed and plush. Since I'm fairly tall I ordered a longer seat post to get the proper leg extension. Yes, the stock pedals are horrible... I think tin was used instead of steel so they will self destruct in no time flat. That's why I ordered an aftermarket pair that have held up for more than a year now. The only other bits that will need to be replaced soon are the brake guides and some of the linkage/pivot mounts on the frame which are also made of something along the lines of tin or aluminum foil or maybe even nickel-plated cheese.

In short, despite it's quirks I really love this bike. It's a keeper.
(I also splurged a little by fitting Schwalbe creme tires which I think look oh so right.)



BTW, tdsherman325, the cotter pins really need to be pressed in using a specialty cotter pin press tool to keep them from loosening. Or you could drive them home with a hammer (https://sheldonbrown.com/cotters.html) while supporting the opposite end of the crank arm. I had to do a little filing to one of the pins so that the crank arms were as close to 180 apart as possible.
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Old 02-08-13, 01:22 PM
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heres my Pigeon.It now has a sturmey 3 speed,40 hole hub.Original rim.Mtb pedals.B+M bottle dynamo and light.Marathon tyres are available in 635mm.Any part that wears quickly,get replaced with an old raleigh one
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Old 02-08-13, 05:17 PM
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I've been considering lacing up my '57 SA AW 3-speed for the Pigeon. I'll probably continue considering it for years to come.
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Old 02-08-13, 06:26 PM
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Here are the videos for how to assemble/adjust and repair these Chinese roadster bikes. Again, it is in Chinese but the videos might be helpful. There is a 10 second ad at the beginning.

Also, they can fix anything with almost nothing.

The one that might interest people is the one containing the full chain case and rod brakes:
(starting at 5:00)
https://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XODI0ND....html?f=646289


All videos:
https://www.youku.com/playlist_show/id_646289.html
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Old 02-08-13, 06:52 PM
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i find BF lacking in many respects ...


... but the number of "flying pigeons" will never be one of them!


please keep up the good work!

\(^_^)/

\(^_^)/

\(^_^)/

Hurrah!

Hurrah!

Hurrah!
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Old 02-08-13, 07:27 PM
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That is a gorgeous bicycle.
I seriously contemplated buying one of these when I lived in the Middle East (they were ubiquitous), and to this day wish I did. I know I can get one pretty much anywhere, so no big loss there.

a big thumbs up!
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Old 02-08-13, 08:27 PM
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Thanks for those vids, loubapache.

Flying Pigeon L.A. still has them for $200. I got mine a little over a year ago from them for that price, delivered.
https://flyingpigeonla.myshopify.com/...-pa-02-classic

In case nobody here has seen the USA ad for Flying Pigeon, there's a link on Bike Snob's page... along with his hilarious assessment of the ad.
https://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2011...ng-pigeon.html
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Old 02-08-13, 08:29 PM
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Now it is $199 plus shipping, which is about $140 so the total is about $340.
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Old 02-08-13, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by BassNotBass View Post
In case nobody here has seen the USA ad for Flying Pigeon, there's a link on Bike Snob's page... along with his hilarious assessment of the ad.
https://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2011...ng-pigeon.html

LOL Bikesnob cracks me up!
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Old 02-08-13, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by loubapache View Post
Now it is $199 plus shipping, which is about $140 so the total is about $340.




Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
LOL Bikesnob cracks me up!
I love reading his stuff but the Flying Pigeon bit had me in tears. My coworkers had no idea what I was reading but burst out in laughter anyway just because of my reaction.
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Old 02-09-13, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by BassNotBass View Post
In case nobody here has seen the USA ad for Flying Pigeon, there's a link on Bike Snob's page... along with his hilarious assessment of the ad.
https://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2011...ng-pigeon.html
Flying Pigeon: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Hilpster
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_7loz-HWUM

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Old 02-09-13, 09:41 PM
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Instead of investing in a Chinese junk, consider a made in USA Worksman cycle, won't take 20 hrs to assemble and won't take $43 in parts in 25 miles.
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Old 02-09-13, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by martianone View Post
Instead of investing in a Chinese junk, consider a made in USA Worksman cycle, won't take 20 hrs to assemble and won't take $43 in parts in 25 miles.
Those are cool, too.
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Old 02-10-13, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by martianone View Post
Instead of investing in a Chinese junk, consider a made in USA Worksman cycle, won't take 20 hrs to assemble and won't take $43 in parts in 25 miles.
LOL! If I wanted another heavy single speed cruiser with a coaster brake, I'd buy another 50's or 60's era Schwinn, Huffy, Columbia, Monark, Roadmaster etc. off of CraigsList. But hey, thanks for you 2 worth.
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Old 02-13-13, 05:51 PM
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I finally heard back from Flying Pigeon LA today and they're going to ship me a new crank arm and some "better replacement pedals", whatever they turn out to be, tomorrow. I smushed the threaded bit of the cotter pin whilst removing it so I supposed I'll need a new one of those, too. Anyone who's had to replace crank arms know what size pin they take? I notice they largely come in 9.5mm and 9mm sizes.

The $43 in maintenance wasn't parts, it was paying the LBS to true up the rims.

So far I've spent $328 on the bike and components, $43 on maintenance and spent about 20 hours in labor, including initial assembly. Out of 8 commuting days it's been rideable 4, or 50% of the time, with 1 breakdown. Current mileage is 25.
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Old 02-13-13, 05:53 PM
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It is 9.5 mm. Shipping is probably more than the cost of the pin.
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Old 02-13-13, 09:35 PM
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I asked my Chinese wife if she knew what a Flying Pigeon was and to my surprise she did. I guess her mother had one years ago until she ran somebody over with it.

She said it was the nicest bicycle to in China for a long time but that she was surprised that anybody in the US would spend so much money to have one.
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Old 02-18-13, 10:03 PM
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Wikipedia describes it as "the most popular model of vehicle of any kind" and places a pic of it right at the top of its "bicycle" entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle
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Old 02-19-13, 03:51 AM
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Still a lot of these around Shanghai, but most of them are in pretty rough shape.

How are the rod actuated brakes compared to cable brakes in terms of stopping power?
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Old 02-19-13, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by The Chemist View Post
Still a lot of these around Shanghai, but most of them are in pretty rough shape.

How are the rod actuated brakes compared to cable brakes in terms of stopping power?
If the rod brake linkage were actuating pinch type brake calipers with modern shoe compounds against aluminum rims then they'd be awesome. The problem is that they instead pull old tech rubber shoes outwards against a steel rim... so it's not really a rod vs cable actuation issue per se. However the brakes do work well enough on flats and moderate hills. I certainly wouldn't bomb down a hill with reckless abandon like I could on bikes with decent modern brakes.
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Old 02-19-13, 07:33 AM
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It may not be modern but it sure looks cool and I can imagine the ride is very comfy looking at the geometry of that frame. Just go ahead and replace the critical parts with higher quality and it should make a fine commuter.
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Old 02-19-13, 08:03 AM
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These Chinese roaster bikes (Flying Pigeon, Forever, Phoenix etc) may be heavy and with low end components. They are, however, very strong and serve their purpose as transportations.

They are still being made and in China you can buy (wholesale) for about $50 - 60 each if you buy 150 - 200 units.

Someday I will get one here in the USA and change the rear hub to a coaster brake or better yet, a 3-speed coaster brake with 40h.



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