What good is a folding bike if it can't go really fast? I mean isn't that the point of any bicycle, to go fast?
If you consider those two questions rhetorical keep reading, a performance folding bike is right up your alley. If you were about to argue that in fact ultimate practicality and portability is the highest priority, well, I guess you can keep reading too if you want. Even though this bike is a performance folding bike it is still quite compact and portable, it's just not the most compact folding bike.
This sleek aluminum folding bike by Riese and Muller is know among the folding bike community for its stiff frame and fast yet compact 18 inch wheels. It folds much like a Brompton folding bike, with the rear wheel swinging under. The main difference is that the front wheel also swings under, giving a nicely contained package that can either carried by the seat or rolled on wheels integrated into the frame. The fold is a bit larger overall than that of a Brompton yet still a bit smaller than the typical Dahon folding bike. The similarity between these two folding bikes can make comparing Brompton and Birdy folding bikes a bit tricky. That's another article unto itself, for now lets focus on what makes the Birdy a performance folding bike.
The primary feature of the Birdy is its fully suspended frame. The Birdy folding bike uses elastomer suspension blocks similar to those first used in Moulton folding bikes. What's an elastomer? It's a hard rubber block that compresses to relive shock from the road. On the Birdy performance folding bike there are two elastomers: one where the unique looking double fork attaches to the steering column and another where the rear wheel clips into the frame. Because of the orientation of these suspension blocks and the design of the frame this folding bike actually manages to absorb shock while minimizing flex and power loss. Sweet, right?
The fully suspended Birdy folding bike subsequently has a lower rolling resistance than an un-suspended folding bike but experiences a bit more bounciness when pedaling hard. While this can be addressed by using harder suspension blocks most riders find that the standard Birdy suspension does them just fine. This feature is so important I even wrote a blog on folding bikes and suspension.
The next feature of this performance folding bike is its stiff aluminum frame. Take note here of the lack of a hinge between the steering tube and the seat post. This makes the Birdy folding bike a bit more rigid and responsive. Without a hinge in the main frame a Birdy can stand up to much more flex. Why is that important? When does this flexing happen most? Well the greatest forces are exerted when riders stand up to get more power up hills. This usually involves resisting the force on each pedal not with the seat between your legs but by twisting the handlebars in the opposite direction. When this happens the whole bike becomes a giant lever with the center of the main frame as a fulcrum. No wonder hinge design is so important.
The Birdy's main frame is much stronger due to its lack of hinges and moving parts. The ability of this frame to withstand such torsion forces without minimal flex makes this folding bike great for people who want to really crank on the pedals. Another great feature of a performance folding bike, no? A similar design is used in the Xootr Swift folding bike.
Lastly we must consider the folding action of the Birdy folding bike. After all, we want a folding bike that is high performance not a high performance bike that has to be meticulously disassembled and reassembled. The Birdy easily fits the bill, folding in a mere 12 to 15 seconds. Just flip the rear wheel under, unhook the front wheel and swing that under, drop the seat and the handlebars, and your done! You can carry the Birdy folding bike from its seat or roll it along behind you. It doesn't get any easier than that.
Visit our Birdy folding bike FAQ page to learn more about this high performance folding bike.