Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Birdy Disc Brake Review!

e-Walker had its official opening last Sunday, and it was quite a blast! Many people turned up to try new bikes, and we had the chance to bring the bikes out for an extended spin! These demo bikes included those in the Pacific Cycles range, such as the Birdy, Frog, iF Mode, CarryMe, Reach etc. There are also many configurations of each model of bikes, with different component set ups.

I chose the Birdy Disc Brake, because I wanted to check out how disc brakes would feel on small wheeled bikes, and also because I wanted to see how good the suspension system is. It is really a good looking bike, no doubt helped by the fact that it comes in a drool-inducing polished silver!

Me and my bike-of-the-day!

Initially I thought that it would not be easy for me to get used to the bike, because the geometry and riding feel would be different from my own Boardwalk. However, I found that the steering and stability feels very much the same as what I am used to. Although it is an 18" wheel bikes, at no point in time did I feel that the wheel size is smaller than my own 20" Dahon Boardwalk, and the smaller wheels is certainly no disadvantage.

Gorgeous looking Birdy!
Note that the saddle seems to have been attached to the seatpost the wrong way round.

Before I left e-Walker with the bike, I asked Fu De of e-Walker if the bike can hop down curbs with no problem. He replied confidently that the suspension of the Birdy will take care of it. To test out the suspension, I kept going onto the pavement to make the suspension work, going across tree roots, broken pavement and other obstacles on the pavement. As a final test, I went off the curb onto the road. When it landed, I could feel that the suspension seemed to compress a lot, but I did not get a feeling that it has bottomed out. This is probably due to the Polyurethane elastomer suspension in the rear, which did its job brilliantly.

Red coloured standard stiffness elastomer. Simple but effective.

It is quite amazing how the front and rear suspension dampens out most of the road vibration. Even on broken roads or uneven ground, the suspension works perfectly, ensuring that the rider does not feel much bumpiness. It is something that you have to try the bike in order to fully appreciate it. Another kind of ground on which this little suspension bike excels in is those kind of red-tiled pavement/road or speed limiting strips. The bike essentially glides over these bumps without trouble, allowing you to maintain your speed even through these bumpy areas. On the other hand, a bike without suspension would not be able to go so fast comfortably because there would be excessive vibration.

Spring suspension with elastomer.

However, the disc brakes were quite disappointing. They are Avid BB7 cable disc brakes, supposedly quite a good set of brakes. However, the braking performance was not what was expected of disc brakes. The braking power was barely equal to a set of good V-brakes. I'm not an expert on disc brakes, so I am not sure of the reason behind this poor performance. It is probable that the rotors may not have been run in, or the adjustment was not properly done, or maybe the rotors just needed to be cleaned, or a better brake pad used. With the highlight of this model of Birdy being the disc brakes, it definitely does not justify the extra cost of the disc brake model. Unless the braking performance is greatly improved.

Front and rear disc brakes.

The wheelset that comes with the bike is excellent, very smooth rolling. The default Marathon Racers are perfectly suited for this kind of bike. If a slick tire such as a Durano or Kojak is used, it would be risky to go slightly off-road, even though there is suspension, because the slick tire would have less grip, be more likely to get stuck in a groove and be more prone to punctures.

The Shimano 105 derailleur works fine, but the Shimano R440 9 speed flatbar shifter did not work perfectly. Maybe because I'm too used to top end shifters haha. Less discerning cyclists would not find a problem with it. The FSA Gossamer crankset works well, no flex in the bottom bracket at all.

The folding was a bit awkward, probably because I was folding it for the first time. The folding package is still rather large, and it looks like the bike is broken haha. It can be hard to balance it on the ground too. But I find it ingenious that the folding joints are also used as the suspension, eliminating extra pivots, joints and ultimately weight.

Overall, I find the Birdy to be an excellent full-suspension small-wheeled bike, and it is most effective when travelling on less-than-perfect roads, such as along Pioneer road towards Tuas, and along tiled pavement or roads.

The Good:
-Full-suspension
-Lightweight
-Good geometry
-Good wheelset
-Stiff handlepost
-Excellent suspension!

The Bad:
-Poor disc brake performance
-Awkward and odd-sized fold
-Expensive

Rating: 9/10

Me and my new bike! I wish...haha

8 comments:

  1. Nice review Steve! and u look good with the birdy!

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  2. Nice! If you were buying a folding bike for the first time, will you buy this bike?

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  3. hard to say la. the highlight of this bike is the disc brakes and suspension. find a folding bike that best fit your needs, such as riding speed, folding frequency, budget and so on. the best way is to try the bikes to see which one you like!

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  4. Be careful! it is expensive and It was disappointed that Pacific cycles does not take responsibility to repair the Birdy frame that is due to the manufacture defect. Robert zheng

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  5. Hi Steve,


    In that case should I buy the disc break or v-break model?

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  6. I think the disc brakes are good if you can afford it. else the v brakes should be decent

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  7. Replies
    1. 4 years ago, this Birdy Disc bike is about SGD 2800. Not sure the price and the specifications now.

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