folder gets the drops – the (for me) perfect commuter

(scroll down to see the pic – the ads block it)

I’ve written here before about the awesome Xootr Swift folding bike. It has become my everyday commuter for a variety of reasons, but it always bugged me that I couldn’t lean down to avoid high winds. I tried bar ends, which let you lean forward, but it feels scary because your fingers aren’t on the brakes or shifters.

Of course, if you add drop bars, then you can’t keep the v-brakes. and road brakes don’t fit nicely around the stock 1.5″ wheels. that brings on the skinnier tires and so why not get bigger (451 vs. 406) tires and a Capreo hub designed specifically for bikes with smaller wheels. New tires mean oppty for a new cassette, so why not take the chance to go for a 9-speed cassette built for a small wheel (higher top gear).

It took me about three days to make al the changes…could’ve gone a lot faster if I had any clue what I was doing, but I sure learned a lot in the process. here’s the list of upgrades:

* drop bars
* road brakes
* 451 wheels and 28mm tires
* Tiagra shifters
* Capreo rear hub (seems to yield a higher top gear)
* 105 rear deraileur
* 9-speed cassette

And it still has campus pedals, CrossRack, toolbag mounted on front end, water bottle dangling from riser, and fenders. for me, it is now pretty much the perfect commuter. Foldable for the train on those days I just don’t want to ride 13 miles back home. Studded tires for the icy winter. Carries plenty on the CrossRack (not shown) And should be pretty fast for the temperate days.

( I can see I need to add more text to push the pic below the ads … here goes )

I am hoping that this can become my “everything bike.” I currently have four bikes: a Trek Soho for maintenance-free commuting, and Specialized Roubaix for distance riding in comfort, and backup Giant Cypress. I am intrigued as to whether the Swift will prove a worthy distance machine. With drop bars I could see it being possible.

Among the dumb things I did was buy replacement cables at Wal-Mart. What a mistake. Seemed like a deal at $5 for brake and shifter cables (and housings), but they were sticky and all the housings were for brake cables, not compressionless shifter housings. Well I guess I won’t make that mistake again. With bike parts you really do get what you pay for.

3 Comments so far

  1. W on January 3rd, 2012

    Nice! I’m looking at a Xootr Swift but would like at least drop bars and higher gearing (so, a Capreo wheel). I know Bike Friday has some more “roadie” bikes that come with drop bars but they cost a lot more than the Swift.

    How much did all those upgrades cost? Might it be more worth it for me to just get a Bike Friday?

  2. matt on March 29th, 2012

    I just had a custom set of wheels made for this bike, so I would happily sell you the set pictured here. The wheels are the expensive part; otherwise you just need some sidepull brakes, drop bars, oh and shifters (those could be pricey depending on your taste).

    I bought this from a guy who packaged the upgrades for $200, which is way less than market value of course!

  3. Rob on March 12th, 2013

    Whow, 451 wheels on a shift!!!! How much clearance is there leeft?

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