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Refurbishing a Birdy BD-1, cracked seatpost - any master list of damage-prone bits?

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Refurbishing a Birdy BD-1, cracked seatpost - any master list of damage-prone bits?

Old 10-19-19, 07:32 AM
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Refurbishing a Birdy BD-1, cracked seatpost - any master list of damage-prone bits?

About a year ago, I picked up a relatively unloved (read: thrashed) BD-1 that had been traded in to the LBS:



I've been working on it off and on - generally giving priority to a gazillion other bike projects - but a few things have me a bit concerned. I've perused some of the BF threads through Google and found the various warnings about the BD-1's earlier handlebar design cracking (this one has the newer two-piece unit), the rear triangle arms splitting, and references to a seatpost collar issue - which I'd really like to see a photo of, because this thing has the ears integrated. I've also seen a pic of a crack forming at the edge of one of the welds near the squared off tube at the BB/rear pivot.

So far, I haven't found any of those issues on this particular BD-1, which makes me feel a bit better. I did discover that the rear triangle pivot pin had backed out to the left enough to scare anyone - now fixed.

But then I discovered that the factory seatpost was cracked:




Perhaps the cracked seatpost shouldn't have been a surprise. Give the saddle a close look in the first picture - those rails were bent from something slamming the top of the saddle pretty pretty hard. Binned the saddle (not that it was worth much anyway). Also ordered a Litepro seatpost from Evilbay to replace it.

So, seatpost cracked. Big deal, right? Well, keep in mind that this thing also came to me with the cassette body freewheeling in both directions, a section of the chain was twisted laterally, and the RD's pulley cage spring wasn't doing its job (see pic #1 ).

This is what it looks like today:



Even though it doesn't really show, I've put a shyte-ton of effort into it already.

At any rate, given what I know of this BD-1, I'm still a bit concerned, and I haven't been able to find a truly comprehensive list of things to check, given the sporadic information I've unearthed via Google (or from the massive Birdy thread). Sometimes, it's not clear if the info is for the later Birdy generations, or the BD-1 (and it seems as if this generation of BD-1 differs slightly from those with the integrated handlebar clamp/stem).

Before I go any further, I'd like to pick the forum's collective knowledge to see if there are any other areas I should scrutinize before throwing more money at the ol' pit.

Thanks!

-Kurt
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Old 10-19-19, 11:42 AM
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Unfortunately, I don't have any bit of information to add to your questions. I saw this thread come up today and gave it a read. I just wanted to comment on the condition of the bike in that it is amazing it could be in that rough of shape. Like the seat post cracks - even if someone let that bike loose bouncing around the back of a pickup truck with loose truck parts hitting each other I don't think you could generate that kind of force to the seat post. So just a lack of care, to me, doesn't explain it. Maybe if a bigger person was riding the bike while standing, hit a bump, and their feet came off of both pedals causing them to drop their whole weight down on the seat post maybe that could do it? Not real sure. Maybe someone rode the snot out of the bike (like daily riding for a couple years) and what you found is just the level of wear that develops after a long time? That doesn't explain the twisted chain, though. The cassette freewheeling - possibly. Maybe R&M used that one as an endurance test unit then it mysteriously showed up on the market.
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Old 10-19-19, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
Unfortunately, I don't have any bit of information to add to your questions. I saw this thread come up today and gave it a read. I just wanted to comment on the condition of the bike in that it is amazing it could be in that rough of shape. Like the seat post cracks - even if someone let that bike loose bouncing around the back of a pickup truck with loose truck parts hitting each other I don't think you could generate that kind of force to the seat post. So just a lack of care, to me, doesn't explain it. Maybe if a bigger person was riding the bike while standing, hit a bump, and their feet came off of both pedals causing them to drop their whole weight down on the seat post maybe that could do it? Not real sure. Maybe someone rode the snot out of the bike (like daily riding for a couple years) and what you found is just the level of wear that develops after a long time? That doesn't explain the twisted chain, though. The cassette freewheeling - possibly. Maybe R&M used that one as an endurance test unit then it mysteriously showed up on the market.
Given that there aren't any stress cracks around the seatlug ears, my guess is that someone might have been riding the bike with the saddle abnormally low when they butt-punched it. The bike had a lot of house dust stuck to it when I got it, so perhaps it was stored indoors with the seatpost touching the ground, and something really heavy fell on it? It's a possibility.

I also considered the possibility that it might have been someone's boat bike - which would explain why the drivetrain rusted out (why something as obscure as a Birdy showed up in a city purposely crafted to kill bicycle riders) - but boat bikes are usually breeding grounds for aluminum corrosion, which is strangely absent from this example (except for the brake levers, which could be better).

I also wonder how on earth the rear triangle pin ever got loose in the first place. That doesn't happen unless you purposefully loosen it in the first place.

Mind, this LBS is a magnet for really obscure stuff, often in really obscure condition. I picked up a worn, but obviously low-mile 1970 Raleigh Twenty from them (as if having two already isn't enough), and a surprisingly nice Gazelle Whale city bicycle (an NL-specific model) over the last year. They're also storing/selling a neighbor's Trek 500 Touring there...with Bilenky-installed S&S couplers on it (and yes, I really want this one). My favorite of the finds there is my 1961 Schwinn Paramount P12, which makes the Birdy look decent: Mismatched rims (both shot), seized FD, stuck seatpost, every cable frayed or cracked. But that's par for the course given the age of the bike and how many owners it'd probably been through.

As for the Birdy, notice that by the time I got it, the RD was missing the strange chain keeper that Birdy designed for them. Also, the chainwheel keeper is not only missing, the rivnut in the frame is loose - that's another thing to fix.

Another interesting observation: Though the elastomer was missing entirely, its mounting bolt have not gouged the frame. It has few light scratches - that's it - so it is fair enough to assume that no one tried riding this thing without the elastomer.

-Kurt
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Old 10-30-19, 05:55 PM
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Incidentally, the seatpost came in today, which allowed me to take it for a brief test ride around the neighborhood. My first time on a BD-1.

It is very sprightly - power transfer is astonishingly direct and stiff - but the handlebar stem (neck?) is surprisingly flexy. I took it up to a fair speed, but I must admit that between the stem flex and floaty feeling of the elastomers (also my first time on these), the ride was fairly eerie and I had a hard time feeling confident about it. Then again, I was on it for a very brief period of time.

Pictures sometime this weekend. I wish this thing folded up enough that it could fit in a carry-on.

-Kurt
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Old 11-05-19, 04:55 AM
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Not a fan of the mk 1 Birdy, here in the UK that chain would get drenched in watery mud its almost dragging along the ground. Still a very interesting bike more of a curiosity to me than a good design of bike that I'd actually want to use. The mk3 looks nice with a rohloff though. I'd be tempted to pull it apart and give it a nice coat of paint and carefully rebuild it the current paintwork is doing it no favours but I'd check for cracks first before making that effort once you've fully stripped it of existing paint and taken it apart. T
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Old 11-05-19, 06:09 AM
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Haven't had a chance to use it much (or take a photograph) recently, but was able to ride it home from our local Metrorail for a promo thing at work encouraging a car-free Halloween. The post had arrived the previous night, so I didn't have a chance to do anything but throw the first spare saddle I had on it and leave the rest alone. It was a complete ass-hatchet. My butt wants the Brooks B.17 it's used to...waiting for one to pop up in Classic & Vintage.



The half-grip wasn't as chafing as I thought it would be, and you can just feel that those pedals want to be directional. Wouldn't mind putting some FD7s on it, but I've got some generic, aluminum platforms that'll do until then.

I miss not having an IGH in this thing (which I usually prefer for commuter anything), but the 7-speed Shimano cluster works fairly well. It could do with slightly narrower gearing - at one brief point, I found myself at a cadence that didn't agree with the suspension, the gearing, or my body, so I had to dial it down.

Oh, and this thing creaks like no tomorrow. Still haven't nailed down why, and a cursory glance of the stress-prone areas appear fine.

-Kurt
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Old 11-05-19, 11:27 PM
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Creaks on aluminum bikes always make me suspect a crack, but the suspension components are probably equally likely to be the source on this bike. I love how odd it looks!
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Old 11-06-19, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris_in_Miami View Post
Creaks on aluminum bikes always make me suspect a crack, but the suspension components are probably equally likely to be the source on this bike. I love how odd it looks!
Agreed, but I haven't found any...yet. I'm no lightweight either, so if it was cracked in any structural area, it should have snapped during that ride from work (which involved a fairly sprightly bounce a couple of times).

Incidentally, the rear triangle release tab won't stay put. Every time I pick up the bike, the rear swingarm drops a quarter of an inch and catches on the tab. Then, when I put it down, the elastomer bumps up against the frame again. Not a problem for operation, but a PITA. Tightening the bolt for it hasn't really worked either. Need to investigate.

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Old 11-09-19, 06:34 PM
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I had a chance to drop the rear suspension to have a look at the latching mechanism. I made the mistake of not photographing this mess before I took it apart, but this is the gist of what I found.





So, basically, frame, latch, large washer, nut, frame, stainless washer, bolt. The zinc washer and nut are obviously hardware store bits.

I can't tell if some hack job enlarged the hole on the latch or if it came like this from factory. At any rate, it's not going to stay put like this...and I ought to clean up all the house dust that's embalmed onto this thing in every crevice.



New plan is to 3D print an insert with an offset 6mm hole in it to keep the rear triangle from pulling the latch forward. From the looks of it, there will still be a bit about 1/8" play in the rear triangle with the latch shoved fully forward, but I guess that's something I'll have to tolerate.



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Old 11-15-19, 09:58 AM
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The insert hasn't arrived, but - as promised - a few better pictures of the work in progress:



I wonder what material was used for the cable housing padding on the support tube that runs to the BB. I'm probably going to remove it with Goo Gone, but it feels like gaffer tape. Perhaps a bit thinner. I don't think gaffer tape would hold up as well as this though.



The original Dia-Compe V-brakes in the rear just weren't springing back anymore, regardless of adjustment. I really didn't want to change them out (the Dia-Compes have a nice pin to hold the cable end under the brake arm), but the budget Tektros from my parts bin work 10 times better:



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Old 11-24-19, 07:54 AM
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Finally received the 3D printed cam. Installed it and it does the job - keeps the lock from slipping.






There's still a bit of play in the back end when you pick the bike up, but this seems to be something I'll just have to live with.





-Kurt
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Old 11-29-19, 05:20 PM
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I was going nuts trying to track down that creaky sqeaky sound, until I traced a phantom noise (note, I said a noise, not necessarily the noise) which might be it down to the rear hub. Sure enough, my locknut adjustment when I rebuilt the rear hub didn't go so well; it had tightened up a bit. Readjusted it, and it was fine.

I checked the front hub as part of the procedure, and then realized it felt as if the bearings were made of granola. I took it apart and found some pitting in one of the two raceways. Once again, Birdy sidelined.




Part of me really doesn't care for the skip-6 radial lacing that they used to turn the Shimano 36h hubs into 24h hubs, so I ordered a 24h Shimano Deore hub off of eBay - it was new and cheap.

It arrived today, and it turns out that since it's made for radial lacing, it's a mid flange, unlike every other HB-M510 ever made. I thought it looked weird in the pictures - I knew I screwed myself relying on EDD for all the calculations. So much for reusing spokes...it's not like I haven't been building wheels constantly for all my projects...





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Old 12-15-19, 12:26 PM
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Finally got the replacement spokes and built the wheel. Pretty snazzy for some fairly basic mid-range stuff.




Took it for a ride and realized the headset had some play in it, and the rear cassette hub is also clicking every now and then.

It never ends with a high-mileage bike, does it? Either that, or I'm finding excuses to rebuild everything in sight (10 speed conversion, anyone?)

Also happened across a Fizik Antares at a yard sale for a pair of Washingtons, so I threw it on as a test. Nope...it's an ass hatchet too. Gotta find myself a nicely broken in B.17.

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Old 12-17-19, 07:11 AM
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OK my experience.
Add
1 chain catcher does not work, might also end up stuck in rear cassette in long grass and break drailler, etc.
Solution run an ihg or...
move to larger cog medium cage drailer and fit newer chain retainer , remove standard catcher .( ground clearence improved , chain fold sorted )
2 birdie tyres poor fit. But if running a tyre that old bin it anyway
3. Rear bearings are servicable.
4. Usually sticky brakes are solved on folders in my experience like this
.fit Teflon cable inners, if not enough.....expensive outers... fit a pen spring.....
5. Plastic chain guard can split if chain wedgers in it. Get a litpro intergrated guard and ring off eBay. Better frame clerence also.
6 handle bar stem.......
I don't consider buying any older birdie with a chrome one. This version has mushroom pins and a circlip. These can come out . Are difficult /impossible to source. A black Mk 2 stem fit. Good luck finding one..... Mk3 don't fit due to integrated headset.
Its possible to make some pivots bolts for them.
For this reason I dint do anything but pick up car from garage with my older birdie, if I get a Mk2 stem it might get loved again. Else its a "part bin" at the moment
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Old 12-25-19, 03:34 PM
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very interesting refurb project, I am just waiting some updates....just maybe Santa comes with parts...
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Old 01-08-20, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by jogya03 View Post
very interesting refurb project, I am just waiting some updates....just maybe Santa comes with parts...
Not much so far. I swapped a neighbor a Fizik saddle for an el-cheapo Chinese no-name Swallow ripoff. It's saggy and crappy, but still a lot more tolerable (and better looking) than anything I've had on it so far.

I almost hit the BIN on a Velo-Orange Porteur bar earlier in the week, but was a bit miffed when the seller's idea (eBay) of an offer was to come back with $1 off the asking price (I asked around $3 off or so to match Abaxo's price). Ruins some of the foldability, but at least it'll be tolerable - if I wanted to be stretched out, I'd put drop bars on the darn thing. Still need to figure out what to do for grips too - my mind can't get past the usual C&V options I'm accustomed to.

I ordered the VO bars, some basic leather locking grips, and a 35 degree/60mm riser stem to be on the safe side. Going to finish this thing once and for all.

I also have a set of virtually new Nexus four-finger brake levers on hand. Should work well.

-Kurt
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Old 01-17-20, 09:47 PM
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Everything arrived since, and I've mocked it up. Here's an ugly, in-progress photo. Kindly ignore the front brake cable that is definitely in need of longer housing and avert your eyes from the additional ugly that is the saggy cheap leather saddle. It looks more like a hammock than a saddle, but at least it is an improvement over the previous butt hatchets.



The stem has brought the bars up - obviously - while the sweep of the Velo-Orange Porteur bars do give me a more tolerable riding position (and yes, I have them upside-down, so the very minute rise of the bar is presently upwards, like a North Road).

Personally, I think R&M completely failed to re-calculate the effective top tube length when they re-designed the handlebar post to accommodate a conventional stem and height adjustment. The stem adds at least 60mm of unnecessary reach that I could very well do without, but can't avoid given the design of the thing.

At any rate, the riding position has improved. It isn't entirely upright, but this is a pretty zippy folding bicycle, so perhaps the slightly zippier riding position isn't out of the question. At least it doesn't feel like a 1990's MTB, hunched over with all the rider's weight on the bars. This Birdy isn't getting pedaled over rocks, so uncomfortable MTB riding positions aren't welcome. Plus, the BD-1 has a ridiculously high bottom bracket, so anything to reduce the overall level of annoyance is ideal.

Something tells me R&M might have copied an MTB for the geometry on this thing, given the BB height. If so, they missed out on building the thing as an MTB in the first place - like this:


The conversion hasn't been entirely smooth sailing, as the straight section of the VO bars are fairly short. The trigger shifter no longer fits because of this (I should have expected this, as I've already run into it with MTB shifters on North Road bars), but I ordered a fairly pedestrian Tourney SL-TX50 upright bar shifter to replace it. The locking grips have zero chance of fitting with the Nexus 4-finger brake levers (or any brake levers, really) but the levers are definitely comfortable enough that they'd veto out the grips anyway.

Almost thought of using inverse brake levers, but I probably wouldn't have good reach to the shifter that way, and I can't find any with a linear pull ratio.




-Kurt
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Old 01-24-20, 10:26 AM
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Kurt,

I usually check in here at Folding before heading south with my Dahon for ideas and suggestions. I like what you've accomplished with the Birdy. Now all you need are fenders and racks. and an upgrade to Campagnolo Record!
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Old 01-24-20, 03:41 PM
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Are you heading down my way?
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Old 01-25-20, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by 3speedslow View Post
pastorbobnlnh

Are you heading down my way?
In my 62nd year of life and my 40th year of ministry--- I'm taking my first sabbatical!

I plan to spend about a month on the GA coast (where Mrs. PB has gone golfing for several years). While she is on the links, I'll be out pedaling my Dahon or working on a plan for the church to follow when they begin looking to find my successor.

I believe I finally have my Dahon configured the way I like the best, and in many respects it mirrors the ride of my normal sized road bikes. I'm friction shifting a 9 speed cassette with Shimano 105 barends, FD, RD, and crankset. I've moved to smaller and slick tires for less rolling resistance. While the sprung Brooks is not very pretty, it does help with the somewhat jarring quality the 406 diameter wheels. My answer to the Birdy's suspension!


So sorry about the less-than-flattering non-drive-side photo.
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Old 01-26-20, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
I usually check in here at Folding before heading south with my Dahon for ideas and suggestions. I like what you've accomplished with the Birdy. Now all you need are fenders and racks. and an upgrade to Campagnolo Record!
The Birdy has a grand total of two eyelets barely visible on the dropouts and no specific rack braze-ons...and I'm not 100% sure if a rack will lay flat like a Brompton when folded. I'd probably have to put the rolling wheel adapter kit on it first.

I'm not sure if I could adapt Brompton fenders either. I'd probably need a pair of rears just to mount one properly on the front, given the fork design.

I'd love to put an IGH in this thing, but I've already asked for enough problems with the Birdy. It's also a lot more suitable to be configured as a road bike than a commuter. I also take issue with it's extremely high bottom bracket (about 2" higher than the '82 Superior!), which doesn't make it a good start-stop commuter either.

The sprung Brooks looks fine - the original mattress saddles on the Twenties are like that - and from my brief experiences on my neighbors' Dahon Speed 7s, I probably would do the same with a Dahon given a Brooks option. Speaking of which, that's a pretty nice configuration you have there. Enjoy riding it on the GA coast!

-Kurt
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Old 01-27-20, 06:03 AM
  #22  
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cudak888

Is it running a Shimano 7 speed freewheel with index shifting? How about I build you a nice tight ratio UG or Sachs Aris 7 speed so you can kick some CF road bike a$$ by sprinting away from the stop lights? What's the tooth count on the front chain ring?

BTW, Mrs. PB is heading out of town for the week, so one project high on my list is to finish packing your long-over-due '50s Raleigh Sports and ship it away from this lousy winter wonderland. I can include the freewheel in the box. I might even have an RD to compliment it.

I see what you mean by the high BB! Just looking at a straight line from the drops to the BB spindle when comparing your Birdy with my Dahon reveals the difference.
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Old 01-27-20, 06:19 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
cudak888

Is it running a Shimano 7 speed freewheel with index shifting? How about I build you a nice tight ratio UG or Sachs Aris 7 speed so you can kick some CF road bike a$$ by sprinting away from the stop lights? What's the tooth count on the front chain ring?

BTW, Mrs. PB is heading out of town for the week, so one project high on my list is to finish packing your long-over-due '50s Raleigh Sports and ship it away from this lousy winter wonderland. I can include the freewheel in the box. I might even have an RD to compliment it.

I see what you mean by the high BB! Just looking at a straight line from the drops to the BB spindle when comparing your Birdy with my Dahon reveals the difference.
It is a 7-speed HG cassette, which I wish was a corncob with a single bailout gear. Don't remember the front tooth count, but it's probably 60 or so; I'll check tonight.

No worries on the '51 Sports. Remember the Spin bike project? It went from 80 bikes to the 440 left in the warehouse - San Diego only wanted the locks and number plates, so they made me a present of the remainder! I'm down to about 90 now, but since the warehouse is closing out at the end of the month, Spin is moving the rest to their main warehouse for me. Spent the entire weekend moving 25 home for pickup by one of the non-profits (they had to pick the last day of the month) and I have some extras kicking about as well, so I'm way past capacity at the moment! But whenever you are ready



I've got to put the Birdy side-by-side with the Superior so you can see how absurdly high the BB is. If it wasn't for the 18" wheels and the nagging feeling I get that the frameset is immensely underbuilt, this thing would be a folding mountainbike candidate.

Immensely overengineered the German way, but built out of parts bought at ACE Hardware and immensely under-tested. That's my sum review of the Birdy

-Kurt
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Old 03-07-20, 04:59 PM
  #24  
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I'm finally back to this never-ending project of doom. Some might say the front housing run is excessive, but it ensures nothing gets pinched when folded. Admittedly, this required a tandem-length shifter and rear brake cable to pull off. At least it'll fold without binding.

I'm much more pleased with the ride position this way, even though it doesn't do anything for clearing the handlebars against the front wheel when folded. The shifter is also a pain, but I'd still have this over a gripshift.



Not sure what I'm going to do about grips. The straight section of the bars is fairly short, and I can't fit locking grips to it. Grip-shift grips are usually too short, and for some reason, I have an aversion to the idea of cutting a pair of grips if the end result appears obviously cut.

In other news, the rear hub bearings were REALLY loose. Can't imagine why - it has been a while since I rode this thing in the first place.

-Kurt
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Old 03-07-20, 06:11 PM
  #25  
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Can’t you rob some grips from one of the derelict spin bikes? You are correct about the need for a B17 on these folders. My green Dahon Boardwalk rides super comfy with its saddle!
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