Thursday, June 17, 2010

Origami, Part 3: It's The Little Differences

I was going to apologize for the hiatus... until I realized that nobody's paying for this stuff. (Cue Krusty the Clown "That guy's giving it away for free" quote... and no, I will not drop my pants for food.)

There's been much ado here at The Cycle World Headquarters: a trip to NYC, a distracting newfangled electronic phone-web gadget-thingie, wacky weather, you name it. But before I digress, let's jabber on a bit more regarding the latest test subject in the fleet, my (not quite so new now) Xootr Swift folder.

Part of the holdup was a quest for decent pictures. I'm giving up and admitting to myself that a) I am the world's worst photographer, and b) I spent way too many years of my life learning to make words just to replace a thousand of 'em per snapshot. So, in boring prose prattle, here are some of the Swift's greatest hits, as promised so many moons ago.

Some very cool things I noticed during assembly:
  • The combination of horizontal track ends and a rear derailleur hanger. Sure, they make rear wheel removal a pain, but I like the versatility. I could take this thing to singlespeed or fixed with very little hassle.
  • Those track ends are (to borrow a bottom bracket adjective) BEEFY. Like 3/8" thick (that's almost 10mm, if you're of the metric persuasion). Whether that makes a functional difference, I couldn't say. But I like the BMX-ey toughness. In fact, the whole bike has an "overbuilt for the urban grind" look that I really appreciate... fat tubes, lots of spokes, box section rims with eyelets, and tough tires. Even the pedals are all metal when they could have saved a couple bucks and gone plastic. Nice.
  • Stack o'dimes welds. I don't know who the Xootr folks outsource these frames to (the sticker says Made in Taiwan) but they can wield a TIG-torch like nobody's business. Clean, even, no pinholes or gaps. Impressive.
  • The funk factor. You're gonna love the look of this frame or hate it. I love it. The weird mini-triangle around the hinge makes me think of the GT Zaskar I coveted circa 1994, if somebody threw that Zaskar in a dryer and shrunk it down.
  • Style to go with the funk. My wife talked me into the silver frame (I was leaning toward blue), and I'm glad I listened. With the matching finish on the fork and stem riser, the silver seatpost, a nice looking silver crank, silver brakes, silver pedals, and even a mostly-silver drivetrain, it really looks put together. The only miss? A black stem rather than the silver one shown on the Xootr site. But other than that, somebody obviously sweated the aesthetics.
  • Did I mention it has a stem? Unlike Dahon, the Swift uses a regular old inch-and-an-eighth threadless stem, so you can easily play around with your reach to the bars. Nice touch.
Next up, I promise the rubber will actually hit the road.

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