Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rido LT Saddle Review!

Are you looking for a comfortable saddle for your bike? The Rido R2 series of saddles is well known for being extremely comfortable and is usually recommended through word of mouth. However, one of the major drawback is that the Rido R2 saddle is not blessed with great looks! Although the 2 large cushions on the saddle is very effective in keeping you comfortable, it is too heavy and wide for more hardcore cyclists who want a lighter and more sleek looking saddle.

Here is a nice review of the Rido R2 saddle written by Matt.

Rido R2 Saddle Review

Recently, the Rido LT saddle was launched! It is designed to be a performance road saddle, with some of the comfort features of the Rido R2 saddles. One thing to note is that the Rido LT is not a replacement for the Rido R2 saddle, but is another type of saddle which is meant for more serious road cyclists.

Rido LT Road Saddle

Rido R2 Saddle

I recently changed my saddle to a Rido LT saddle, and have clocked over 100km on it. Not a lot, but enough to determine if the saddle suits me or not. Let's take a closer look at the Rido R2 Saddle!

Very slim, similar to a road saddle. It is about 138mm wide at its widest point.

Much lower profile height than the Rido R2 saddle. Although the hump at the rear is still visible.

This Rido LT saddle at 230g is much lighter than the Rido R2 saddle, which weighs in at a hefty 480g. Also, the sleek profile makes it look more like a race saddle, which may appeal to some riders.

Of course, the most important question is whether the saddle is comfortable for you or not! No point having a lightweight and flashy saddle if it hurts you while cycling.

Installing the saddle is quite straight forward. One thing to note is that there is not much cushion on this saddle, so getting the angle and fore-aft adjustment correct is very important. The 2 raised lumps on the saddle is actually not cushion, but curved parts that flex slightly to offer a degree of suspension.

Black/black version of the Rido LT saddle

The angle of the saddle needs to be adjusted properly, a difference of just a few degrees makes a big difference.

Close up look at the saddle. It comes in white/black and yellow/black colours too!

Rubber patches under your sit bones help to grip your pants and keep you in the correct position on the saddle.

Comparing the Rido LT saddle to my previous Biologic Aria saddle, you can see that the Rido LT saddle is much smaller and flatter. I had to raise my seatpost by about 2cm in account for the difference in height.

Biologic Aria Saddle. Very comfortable! Weighs 380g.

Side to side comparison. See how much wider and more cushion the Biologic Aria saddle has.

So how does the Rido LT saddle feel? When I tried it at MyBikeShop, I was wearing jeans. It felt very comfortable, which is why I bought it. However, when I tried the saddle at home with just a normal pair of shorts, not padded cycling shorts, it felt hard! This is because there is very little cushion on the saddle itself.

With cycling shorts on, this Rido LT saddle feels really comfortable. Once you get the saddle adjustments spot on, you will know it straight away. No slipping forward on the saddle, no shifting about to find a good position, no numbness or any discomfort. That is how good it is!

Once the saddle adjustment was correct, I tried again with non-padded shorts. Of course, it is still not as comfortable as the well-padded Biologic Aria saddle, but it was much better than the first time. Once again, this shows how important the saddle adjustment is for this particular saddle.

Another factor to take note is your riding style. Referring to the previous post, you can see the different riding styles and positions.

If you ride sitting upright and pedal leisurely, most of your weight will be on the saddle. For this type of riding style, it is best to get a wide comfortable saddle. On the other hand, if you ride in a more aerodynamic position, and pedal reasonably hard, a slimmer and harder saddle is sufficient as there is less weight on the saddle.

This saddle is not for everyone. If you do most of your cycling with padded shorts, with only occasional short trips with non-padded shorts, this saddle would be great. The Rido LT is lightweight, comfortable and sleek looking.

However, if you cycle mostly with non-padded cycling shorts, you would be better off with a more well-cushioned saddle.

The best way to find out of the Rido LT saddle is for you is to try it out! Make an effort to try out the saddle in your usual cycling gear, and don't be afraid to make adjustments to the saddle. This will ensure that your feeling of the saddle is as accurate as possible.

Will continue to try out this saddle, hopefully it gets more and more comfortable as I get used to it!

Boardwalk TT with Rido LT Saddle

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Part 6: Cheap Bikes vs Premium Bikes: What is the Difference?

A useful feature of modern bicycles: The gear systems on the bike! With multiple gears, it allows you to make use of mechanical leverage to pedal efficiently on all sorts of terrain.

However, what use is so many gears if you cannot switch between them easily? And here is where the gear shifting system comes into play. The modern gear shifting system is engineered so that you can select your preferred gear quickly, easily and accurately. In fact, the gear shifting system is one of the most highly engineered and complicated system that can be found on a bicycle. So how many gears are enough?

The answer depends on your type of usage for the bike! For the Aleoca R2R and the Dahon MuP8, they are equipped with a single chainring up front, and multiple gears in the rear. This is the most common gearing system found on folding bikes. Front gearing systems are not so common on folding bikes, because there is less need for it, unlike mountain bikes that need many gears for very varied terrain, or road bikes that seek speed with high gear ratios. What constitutes a gear shifting system?

For a rear gear shifting system, there are 3 main components:
1) Rear Shifter
2) Rear Derailleur
3) Cassette

A rear derailleur. The one shown here is a gold version of the Ultegra 6700 RD.

A rear shifter. This is a SRAM X9 mountain bike shifter.

A cassette. This is a 7 speed cassette, stock from the Dahon Boardwalk D7.

A good gear shifting system will require all these components to be compatible with each other, in order to give a crisp and accurate shifting performance. Beginners usually get confused with all these different compatibilities, and the more questions they ask, the more confused they get! I shall try to explain the details in simpler terms, with minimum jargon for maximum understanding. After that, we will compare the gear systems between the Aleoca R2R and the Dahon MuP8, and see if the gear shifting system is worth the significant price difference. Let's start with the cassettes.

Understanding Cassettes
The cassette refers to the bunch of gear sprockets found on the rear hub of your bicycle. The more sprockets there are, the more speeds you have! However, you will realise that even though the width of the rear hub does not change, how can they fit less or more sprockets in the same amount of space?

There are 2 ways to fit a cassette onto the rear hub. The previous post on wheels and tires explains the differences between a freewheel and a freehub. 

For a 6, 7 or 8 speed cassette, the spacing between sprockets is quite similar, but not exactly the same. The thickness of the sprockets can also differ between different models or different brands, and across different speeds. Even so, the wide dimension tolerances means that they can use the same chain without big issues. One way to think of it is to imagine one sprocket + spacer as one layer. 6 speeds mean 6 layers, and 8 speeds will mean 8 layers. 8 layers will be thicker/wider, and thus the cassette width for an 8 speed cassette is more than 7 speeds, which in turn is more than that of 6 speeds.

 Side view of a cassette. There are 7 sprockets here, notice the spacers between the sprockets.

Now, if you have a 6 speed cassette, most likely it fits onto the bicycle rear hub with a thread-on freewheel system. As for 7 or 8 speeds, it can come in freewheel or freehub type, but the more common type is freehub. 

A 7 speed freehub can only fit a 7 speed cassette, an 8 speed cassette will not fit. Remember, an 8 speed cassette is wider than a 7 speed cassette, and thus will not fit on a 7 speed freehub.

Confused so far? More to come!

Now, let us look at 8, 9 and 10 speed cassettes. As the number of gear sprockets increase from 8 to 9 to 10, it is not feasible to keep adding more "layers" and making the cassette even wider. Instead, the layers are made thinner, so that you can fit more layers into the same amount of space!

Therefore, you will find that a 9 speed cassette actually has the same overall width as an 8 speed cassette. Both will fit on the 8 speed freehub with no problem. The difference here is that each spacer and sprocket on the 9 speed cassette is slightly thinner than the 8 speed version, and the total difference allows 1 additional gear sprocket to be added within the same cassette width. In some cases, the sprocket thickness may be different, and the overall stack height is compensated with different spacer thicknesses. Confusing, I know.

Same story for the 10 speed cassette. Even thinner sprockets and spacers are used, which mean that 8, 9 and 10 speed cassettes have very similar cassette widths, and they all fit on the same freehub. Note that a 10 speed road cassette will require an additional 1mm spacer to fit on the 8/9/10 speed freehub body.

An 8/9/10 speed compatible freehub. A 7 speed freehub would be slightly shorter.

Because of these different sprocket and spacer widths, the recommended chain for 8, 9 or 10 speeds are all different. These will be explained in the later part of this article, when the drivetrains are analysed.


Aleoca R2R Cassette: 6 speed thread-on freewheel
Dahon MuP8 Cassette: Shimano Hyperglide 8 speed, 11-32T

6 speed Thread-on Freewheel cassette.

8 Speed Shimano Hyperglide cassette 11-32T. Credits:

The 6 speed cassette has 2 less gears than the 8 speed cassette found on the MuP8. This means that most likely the gear range for the Aleoca R2R is less than the MuP8. Also, with less gears to span the gear range, this will make the jumps between gears quite large, which  makes it difficult to find a comfortable gear to pedal in. You will likely find the selected gear to be too low or too high to pedal at a comfortable cadence.

A Shimano Hyperglide cassette will have specially profiled sprocket teeth and wall profiles to help the chain transit between gear sprockets smoothly and quickly. Also, the nickel plated surface will be tough and hardwearing for longer durability. A good cassette's value lies in its smooth gear changes and durability, and it is worth paying more to get a high performance cassette.

Gear Shifter
A good gear shifter is very important in ensuring quick and accurate shifts. When you twist a grip shift, it pulls a fixed amount of gear cable, which actuates the rear derailleur to move the chain. This precise amount which the cable is pulled is carefully controlled, in order to shift gears accurately. This is why we can have an indexed shifting system, where each click moves the chain accurately to the next gear.

The shifter determines how many speeds the bicycle can have. You cannot use a 9 speed shifter on an 8 speed cassette, because the cable pull ratio is different! Also, the cable pull ratio for most Shimano components is different from SRAM components, thus it is not recommended to mix and match gear shifting components from different brands.

Aleoca R2R Shifter: Saiguan 6 speed gripshift
Dahon MuP8 Shifter: SRAM Twist shifter, 8 speed

Saiguan brand 6 speed gripshift

SRAM Twist shifter. The one on the MuP8 is similar to this but is 8 speeds.

A well designed gripshift will require less effort to twist and change gear, and will also retain its accuracy over time. If you compare the shifting performance of the Aleoca R2R to the MuP8, you will find the MuP8's gear shifting to be much quicker and crispier, without the annoying sound of the chain rubbing against adjacent sprockets. A good grip shift does not cost much, but is crucial if a good shifting performance is desired.

Rear Derailleur
The rear derailleur basically derails the chain from the current sprocket, and attempts to put it accurately on the next sprocket. For folding bikes, the rear derailleur deserves special mention because of its vulnerability to damage, compared to large wheeled bikes. This occurs during transportation in the folded mode, where the rear derailleur may stick out and hit other objects. Also, the rear derailleur should not hang down too low, as it will be vulnerable to damage if it is too near the ground.

Theoretically, the number of speeds that a rear derailleur can achieve is not fixed. The movement of the rear derailleur is not indexed, it just moves according to how much cable is pulled by the shifter. Which is why we can find 8 speed rear derailleurs being used for 9 speed systems or the other way round with no issues. You can use a 10 speed rated Ultegra RD with an 8 speed cassette and shifter. The compatibility issue is usually with the width of the cage, where wider 8 speed chains may not fit nicely through a narrow 10-speed-rated cage.

Aleoca R2R Rear Derailleur: Saiguan brand rear derailleur
Dahon MuP8 Rear Derailleur: Dahon Neos 2.0 Rear Derailleur

Saiguan Rear Derailleur. Very traditional design and appearance.

Dahon Neos 2.0 rear derailleur. Quite unique because it is mounted in front of the rear axle.

See how well it tucks away under the axle, so that it does not stick out to the side.

As you can see from the link above, the Dahon Neos RD is really ideal for small-wheeled folding bikes. It helps to tuck away the RD, preventing it from damage. Not only that, I personally find that it performs excellently, with crisp and accurate gear shifting.

A good RD will have a rigid construction, so that it does not bend or become misaligned when under spring tension or cable tension. It will also need to pivot smoothly when it is actuated. This enables it to track the sprockets accurately, which helps improve and quicken gear shifting. 

After comparing the gear shifting systems for the Aleoca R2R and the Dahon MuP8, I must honestly state that although the MuP8's gear shifting system is better, the cost price is not that great a jump over the Aleoca's shifting system. The components used are mostly entry level, with no branded stuff, thus the shifting system is where I feel the increased cost is not fully justified.

Nevertheless, the performance of the shifting system on the MuP8 is definitely better than that on the Aleoca R2R, and it may be worth the investment if you like smooth gear shifts that are fast and accurate.

Read the previous parts of this article here!

Part 7: Drivetrain

Thursday, November 24, 2011

First Look at Tern Bicycles!

First day of Tern Bicycles being launched in Singapore, and where else to join in the action but at MyBikeShop? Here is a quick and close up look at the Tern Bicycles that everyone has been waiting for. If you are a fan of Dahon bikes, you will naturally take a liking to Tern Bicycles, which look and perform similarly, but with some little subtle differences...

And here are some delicious pictures for you to drool over!

Our handsome bike for today, the Tern Verge P18! Gorgeous white curvy frame...

Heat treated 7005 Aluminium, lightweight and strong!

Super tall frame hinge for added vertical stiffness

Frame latch with integrated safety latch, looks much cleaner and refined! Joints are forged for greater strength.

Head badge with the Tern logo. Remove to install your luggage truss!

White Kinetix Comp rims blend in well with the frame. However, any dirt will show up easily...

Front V brakes mounted on the rear of the fork, used to improve the routing of the brake cable housing.

Instead of having a brake noodle to guide the brake cable, a plastic sleeve is used instead to curve the brake housing itself, simple and elegant solution!

Rear magnetic catch is mounted on an external tab protruding out from the rear of the bike frame.

And now for one of the most important part of the folding bike, the folding handlepost! Tern claims that it is stiffer and stronger than its predecessors, lets see how it looks.

Handlepost joint. Looks massive...

Handlepost when folded down. Latch rests nicely against the joint without protruding out. 

Notice the significant distance between the hinge of the handlepost joint and the base hinge of the latch, much larger than the existing handleposts used on Dahon bikes. This essentially makes the joint wider and larger, improving stiffness!

Also, there is virtually no transition between the frame and the base of the handlepost, which mean that the handlepost is resting directly on the headset which is integrated into the head tube. Less parts mean less play which mean stiffer handlepost! There is practically no flex when the handlepost is put up, which is excellent.

Top latch on handlepost that allows you to rotate the handlebar.

What I noticed for the top latch is that it is very different from the kind currently used on Dahon bikes. On the Dahon bike handleposts, the top latch has a hinge which opens up, allowing you to just remove the handlebar without sliding it out from the side.

However, for this Tern design, it is basically a C-clamp, and to install the handlebar you have to slide the handlebar in from the side. Which means that you can only install straight handlebars. It is not possible to install bullhorns or drop bars! This is a pity, as the Verge P18 is a good candidate for this kind of upgrades. Of course, there is the Verge X30 if you like bullhorns...

 The Verge P18 when folded! The folding is similar to current Dahon Vector bike frames, which folds using the N-fold technology.

Overall, the Verge P18 looks like a great bike that can do it all. Too bad I didn't get the chance to try out the bikes yet, it would have been great to see whether the Tern bikes really have greatly improved stiffness!
Other things that I noticed on the Tern Link C7 and the Link P9:

 Rear dropout on Link P9. No external gear hanger!

The Link P9 has no external gear hanger which allows you to use your own rear derailleur. The stock Neos rear derailleur is pretty good, and the bike is already 9 speed, so you may not want to upgrade. However, I feel that this subtle difference may surprise some people when they try to upgrade their bikes! At least for the Dahon Vitesse D7 or the MuP8, there is an aluminium dropout piece that you can change to have a rear gear hanger. But the Link P9 frame does not have any provision for a DATT rear derailleur.
 Rear dropout on Link C7. Comes with a gear hanger for you to install your preferred rear derailleur!
At least the Link C7 frame has the gear hanger, so it is possible for you to use your own rear derailleur. Of course, if you plan to upgrade the Link C7, you will first have to change the wheelset to a 8/9/10 speed compatible one, but at least you can use your own rear derailleur. In that sense, the Link C7 frame is more upgradable than the Link P9 with respect to the choice of RD.

It has been an interesting and exciting trip to MyBikeShop. Will update with more juicy details when I finally get to try out the bikes!

Updates below!

Went to try out the Verge P18 today! The Verge P18 is a great bike that can do it all, very similar to the Dahon Vitesse P18. It has premium components, has double chainrings for steep hills and also for speed, and it is equipped with flat handlebar road bike components on it.

Took the Verge P18 out for a spin, and I was quite impressed by it. During testing, I stood up to pedal hard, I pulled and pushed hard on the handlebar, and basically tried to flex the frame. All this hard work just to test the stiffness of the bike!

The frame feels solid as always, similar to the Dahon frame stiffness. This is probably because the frame stiffness of the Dahon bikes is already pretty good, so it is quite difficult to improve much on it. Perhaps a heavier rider will feel a greater difference in the stiffness of the frame?

However, the more obvious difference here is the stiffness of the handlepost. In another blog post, I compared the handleposts of an Aleoca Ready2Ride to that of a Dahon MuP8. The handlepost of the Dahon MuP8 is found to be pretty good, much better than those found on entry-level folding bikes. That Radius V handlepost is already quite stiff, but there will still be some noticeable flex when pulling or pushing hard on the handlebar. We have always thought that flexy handleposts are a part of folding bikes, until now...

The new Physis Handlepost on the Verge P18 is beyond awesome! With the massive joints and hinges, together with multiple patented technologies, the stiffness of the new handlepost is every bit as good as they claim. Even when standing up to pedal or wrestling hard with the handlebar, there is practically no flex at all! As hard as I tried to flex it, it does not yield and the stiffness virtually feels the same as those on a full sized bike. If you are a powerful rider who likes putting on power through the handlebar, this Tern handlepost will handle the abuse you throw at it. Even for me, who is using a Dahon one-piece handlepost, this new Physis handlepost made me go wow with its excellent stiffness and strength.

Don't just take my words for it, go try a Tern bike for yourself to find out!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Part 5: Cheap Bikes vs Premium Bikes: What is the Difference?

The better your brakes, the faster you can go!

Brakes on a bicycle are often overlooked, and are unlikely to be the first components that are upgraded. Usually, the first components that are upgraded would be those that can make you go faster, such as lighter wheels, slicker tires, stiffer cranks etc. However, brakes are also very important, as a good set of brakes are necessary to allow you to cycle fast, with the confidence that you can stop when you need to!

The folding bikes that we are looking at are the Aleoca Ready2Ride (R2R) and the Dahon MuP8. Both look similar, but have a big difference in their price tags. And why is that so? Start reading from the first part to find out!

Cheap Bikes vs Premium Bikes: What is the Difference?
Part 1: Frame and Fork
Part 2: Frame and Fork (Continued)
Part 3: Contact Points and Steering System
Part 4: Wheels and Tires

Today, we shall compare the braking system used for these two folding bikes. Both the bikes use V brakes, which are very common on bicycles nowadays. And no wonder: V brakes are cheap, effective, lightweight and relatively easy to adjust. For folding bikes, V brakes are sufficient most of the time, unless you are going for a road bike setup with caliper brakes, or plan to go off-road with disc brakes.

The brake system can be generally sub-divided into 4 main parts:
1) Brake Levers
2) Brake Cable Housings
3) Brake Calipers
4) Brake Pads

Brake Levers
Whenever you brake, your fingers come into contact with the brake levers. It is the component that you will come into contact with most frequently, after the grips, pedals and saddle. A good brake lever will feel solid and flex-free, with no mushy feeling when the brakes are applied.

Aleoca R2R Brake Levers: Generic brake levers with plastic bracket
Dahon MuP8 Brake Levers: Avid FR-5 Brake Levers

Avid FR-5 Brake Levers used on Dahon MuP8
Brake lever used on Aleoca R2R

This is where a great deal of cost savings were made, when the brake levers for the Aleoca R2R was selected. The plastic used for the brake lever bracket feels cheap and is flexy when braking hard. Also, a plastic bracket will be more likely to get damaged than an aluminium bracket.

The Avid FR-5 used on the MuP8 is a much better brake lever. In fact, Avid makes one of the better brake levers out there, with their Avid V-brakes being a very popular choice for upgrades due to its affordable price and surprisingly good quality. The Avid FR-5 brake levers feel really solid and reassuring, with smooth pivots and very little flex. There is seriously no need to upgrade your brake levers if you already have Avid brake levers on your bike.

Brake Cable Housings
This is the most underrated component on the bicycle! It does not contribute to speed, you cannot shave weight by upgrading it, and you hardly notice it unless it is gone. Which is why many bicycle OEMs save costs by using cheap housings. After all, the customer cannot tell the difference just by looking at the housing!

However, the housing actually plays an important role in ensuring friction-free braking. A good housing will have a well lubricated plastic liner inside the coiled housing, that minimizes friction between the brake cable and the brake housing. If you have ever pulled on a brake lever, and it feels smooth and predictable, that is largely because a good brake housing was used.

Aleoca R2R Brake Cable Housings: Generic brake cable housing
Dahon MuP8 Brake Cable Housings: Jagwire housing with Dupont L3 Lubricant

Jagwire L3 Brake Housing

Jagwire is the biggest cable housing manufacturer in the world, and you can find Jagwire housings on many good quality bikes. Many aftermarket brake cable housings are Jagwire housings too, with Alligator, Nokon, Goodridge and Clarks being some of the other well known brands.

If your brakes still does not feel smooth after you have upgraded your brake levers and calipers, changing your brake housings may just do the job! You will be surprised how much difference a good brake cable housing can make to your braking feel and performance.

Brake Calipers
I have come across many V brake calipers, and they mostly look the same. However, the difference between them lies in the parts that you cannot really see. Examples are the springs that are used, the bushings in the pivots, the bolts that are used, the brake noodle linking the brake housing to the brake caliper etc.

Aleoca R2R Brake Calipers: Generic steel brake calipers
Dahon MuP8 Brake Calipers: Kinetix Speedstop V-Brakes (Stainless steel hardware)

Generic V Brakes

Kinetix Speedstop V Brakes

I did not know they still made brake calipers in steel until I was doing research for this article. Not sure why steel is still used, because aluminium brake calipers are so much lighter and can do the job just as well. Maybe it is because steel calipers are cheaper to manufacture than aluminium ones.

Anyway, besides the weight penalty of using steel brake calipers, a good pair of brake calipers is usually only obvious after a period of use. The first thing you notice is that a good set of brake calipers will not rust. The bolts and the brake noodle will be made of stainless steel, which is more expensive than plain steel but has the important advantage of being rust-free.

Another thing you will notice is that a good set of brake calipers will improve the smoothness of your braking, as the better bushings in the pivots will reduce friction. It will also be easier to adjust the spring tension on either side of the brake calipers without repeated back and fro adjustments.

There are also other small details that you can use to differentiate between a high quality and entry level brake caliper, but it is too lengthy and difficult to show these clearly in a blog post. Perhaps it will be easier to point them out on the actual brake caliper itself!

Brake Pads
This is one component where there isn't much to compare. Neither of the bikes use good quality brake pads, which is surprising for a premium bike such as the Dahon MuP8. I would have expected the brake pads on the MuP8 to be at least a cartridge brake pad, so that the brake pads can be swapped out easily. However, it comes as an entire block, which means that if you want to change the brake pads, you have to change the entire brake pad assembly.

Block Brake Pads

Cartridge Brake Pads. Brake pads can be swapped out by sliding the pads out of the aluminium pad holders.

The stock brake pads are not really good, and most of them tend to squeal terribly, especially after a ride in the rain. What is worse is that during braking, metal bits from the rim will embed themselves in the brake pad, and wear away your rims. This can be seen by grooves cut into the rim by the brake pads, and if it gets really bad, you can hear scraping sounds when you brake.

As a solution, I recommend the Kool Stop brake pads. They are rather pricey, but what you get is good braking performance and squeal-free operation. Most importantly, they will save you from having you change your worn-out expensive rims!

Kool Stop brake pads.

After comparing the brake systems, it should be clear that the different quality of brake components used is one of the reasons why the Dahon MuP8 costs more than the Aleoca R2R. With a better brake system, the braking performance is smoother and lighter, more reassuring and reliable, and the components will not rust over time. If you are a rider who cycles often, you will definitely appreciate the difference.

In the next part, we will examine an utterly confusing but hugely interesting part of the modern bicycle: The Gear Shifting System.

Part 6: Gear Shifting System

d'être poursuivi!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Part 4: Cheap Bikes vs Premium Bikes: What is the Difference?

As stated in the Bicycle Maintenance book: "Wheels and tires, without which there would be no bicycle."

That is so true, as the word bi-cycle essentially means on two wheels. During normal usage of a bicycle, the only part of the bicycle that touches the ground would be the tires. Also, the wheels and tires are some of the many parts of the bicycle that rotates, and they are the components that have the biggest impact on rolling resistance.

Before we move on to the wheel and tire comparisons, you may want to start with previous parts of this article.

Cheap Bikes vs Premium Bikes: What is the Difference?
Part 1: Frame and Fork
Part 2: Frame and Fork (continued)
Part 3: Contact Points and Steering System

Let us move on to the comparisons, between an Aleoca Ready2Ride and a Dahon MuP8!

The wheels can be considered the core of the bicycle. It is the component that has the biggest impact on the ride quality and speed. With a good pair of wheels, you will be able to go fast and cruise longer with less effort. However, it is also one of the priciest single component on a bicycle. For a decent pair of 20" wheels, it can easily cost a few hundred dollars.

For me, the wheels can be split into 2 major parts, the hubs and the rims. We shall assume that both the bikes use similar stainless steel spokes.

Aleoca R2R Front Hub: Cup & Cone Bearings
Dahon MuP8 Front Hub: Kinetix Neutron Cartridge Bearings

Cartridge bearings in Dahon MuP8 hubs

Cup & cone bearings found in Aleoca R2R hubs

Cup & cone bearings are simple to service and maintain, but their sealing is usually poorer than cartridge style bearings. Cup & cone bearings can also be very smooth-running, but the bearings used must be of high quality (very smooth and round) and the cones must be well machined to very tight tolerances. Shimano is one of the few bicycle wheel manufacturers that still use traditional cup & cone bearings for strength, and are able to maintain the smooth running of the wheel hubs.

A bad cup & cone bearing hub is easy to detect. When spinning, there is noticeable drag and it will feel lumpy or notchy when you spin the wheels. Sometimes it is only because the hub is not adjusted properly, but many times, especially on lower end wheels, this is due to the poor quality of bearings and cones used.

On the other hand, cartridge bearings are difficult to service, as they require special tools to remove and install the cartridge bearings. The good news is that they are usually better sealed and require very little maintenance. If it wears out, it is possible to just swap in a new set of cartridge bearings. One disadvantage of cartridge bearings is that they are not built to withstand side loads, unlike cup & cone bearings.

In this case, the Kinetix Neutron hub of the MuP8 is far far better than the hub used on the Aleoca R2R. The Kinetix Comp wheelset used on the MuP8 is one of the most value-for-money 20" wheelsets available, especially with the extremely smooth running front hub.

Aleoca R2R Rear Hub: Cup & Cone Bearings and thread-on freewheel
Dahon MuP8 Rear Hub: Cup & Cone Bearings with 8/9/10 speed compatible cassette freehub


Both the rear hubs use cup & cone bearings. However, the similarity ends here. As seen above, the method and construction that is used to attach sprockets to the rear hub is vastly different. The Aleoca R2R is a 6 speed bike which uses a thread-on freewheel on its rear hub. Freewheel hubs are much cheaper than freehubs and the number of sprockets possible are very limited. Most freewheels available on the market are 6 or 7 speeds, with very rare 8 speed freewheels.

For the cassette freehub used on the Dahon MuP8, it has splines that enable the use of a cassette. The freehub spacing used for 8, 9 or 10 speed cassettes are similar, thus the potential for upgrade is there! Also, because of the construction, the bearings in the freehub system can be spaced further apart on the axle, improving the rigidity of the rear wheel.

Because of its better performance and upgradeability, the freehub found on the rear wheel of the MuP8 is a much better system than the R2R's freewheel system. Just to reiterate, the wheels are the core of the bicycle, and it is worth paying more to get a better wheelset that rolls well and lasts long.

The rims are a critical part of the wheel. For a wheel to roll properly, the rims have to be trued, such that they are as round as possible and are not twisted in anyway. By adjusting the spoke tension, different parts of the rim will be pulled to a different extent towards the hub, and the ultimate aim is to make the rim stiff and round. If V brakes are used, it is very important to have nicely trued wheels in order to have brakes that perform predictably and consistently.

Aleoca R2R Rims: Single walled rims
Dahon MuP8: Kinetix Comp Double walled rims

Single Walled Rim

Double Walled Rim

Rims can be classified into two main types, single-walled and double-walled. A single walled rim is easy to manufacture, but the downside is that it is not as strong as a double walled rim. A double walled rim will be stronger and more durable, and less likely to be damaged. Also, the double walled rim will be able to withstand higher tire pressures. That is also a reason why cheaper bicycles come with single walled rims, fatter tires, and lower tire pressures, whereas better bicycles meant for greater speed come with stronger double walled rims that can take high pressure slim tires.

Kinetix Comp rims are decent mid-range rims that are relatively lightweight and strong. It is worth paying more for a decent set of wheels in the first place, as these wheels are going to be used a lot, and can be very pricey if you decide to change out your wheels later on.

The bicycle tires will greatly influence the comfort and speed of the ride, much more so than the frame or other components. A good fast tire will be lightweight supple and absorb little energy when it rolls, preventing efficiency losses due to tire deformation. On the other hand, a tire meant for durability will be heavier, tougher, and probably thicker due to multiple layers of puncture resistant material.

For an immediate improvement in speed, the easiest and most effective way would be to change out the tires, and get slim road tires that roll fast. Changing the tires from a stock Kenda 1.75" tires to the fast Schwalbe Durano 1.1" tires will give you a significant speed improvement that can be easily felt.

Aleoca R2R Tires: Kenda 1.5" or 1.75" tires
Dahon MuP8 Tires: Schwalbe Marathon Racer/Marathon Plus tires

Kenda Kwest Tire, 20x1.75"

Schwalbe Marathon Racer, 20x1.5"

Schwalbe is well known as an aftermarket tire brand, that produces excellent tires that are lightweight, with low rolling resistance and good puncture protection. Most Schwalbe tires come with layers of Kevlar underneath the tread of the tire that helps to prevent sharp objects from poking through the tire. It is very effective at stopping small sharp objects such as gravel or thorns from puncturing your inner tube.

These Marathon Racers also come with a reflective sidewall that can increase your side visibility, plus it looks cool too! However, Schwalbe tires do not come cheap, as a single Marathon Racer tire can cost $40.

Based on the price of Schwalbe tires, it is no wonder why a Dahon MuP8 costs much more than an Aleoca R2R. The tires already take up a significant portion of the price difference.

After comparing the wheels and tires, it is obvious that the Dahon MuP8 uses much better wheelset components than the Aleoca R2R, which is why it costs significantly more. It can be troublesome and expensive to upgrade wheels and tires later on, which is why it is advisable to get a decent wheelset in the first place. If you don't plan to upgrade, the cheaper wheelsets may be good enough for leisurely rides, but if you forsee yourself upgrading the bike, it is much better to get a 8/9/10 speed compatible wheelset.

Part 5: Brake System

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