Monday, June 21, 2010

Origami Part 4: Rubber, Meet Road

Enough of your bike-geekery assembly stories, silly man! Tell them how it rides!

Reviews I'd read of the Swift said again and again that it rides "like a bike." Good thing, as I wasn't all that interested in something that rode like an elderly donkey or a pogo stick or a block of cheese. Thankfully, those reviewers were dead-on right. It feels more "big-bikeish" than any folder I've put a leg over to date. I refuse to say it rides like a "real" bike, though, for fear of being accused of snobbism, big-wheelism, or any other sort of -ism.

To force myself into a semi-legitimate review, I first took the bike out in its 100% stock configuration, right down to the wheel reflectors... and I was impressed right off the bat. No creakies, no flexies, and not nearly as uncomfortable as the little wheels and fat tubes would seem to imply. It's weird to the eye, but the parallel 72 degree angles make for a pretty conventional-handling bike. You can feel the lack of rotational inertia in that little front wheel, but it's certainly not unstable. The overall feel is like a mountain bike on road slicks... quick to turn at low speed (nice for in-town urban commando maneuvers), stable once you spin it up (though a bit undergeared at the top end), and fun to accelerate off the line.

Sizing the Swift is one area where I'd be cautious. There's only one frame size, sure, but different rider sizes are accommodated by several seatpost lengths, two stem riser lengths, and three different stem sizes. If you're feeling trusting, you can use the "how tall are you?" size chart on the main bike page of the Swift site. Being a nerd, however, I went immediately to Fitting for Millimeter-Measuring Princess-and-the-Pea Types (not the page's real name, but it should be). Glad I did, too -- the simple chart would have put me on a large (with stock seatpost, slightly longer stem, and the shorter riser), while measuring my favorite bike against the Nerd Page pointed me to an XXL: long post, long riser, and long upjutting stem.

The resulting fit was city-bike right: Able to reach my preferred leg extension with no problems, bars level with the saddle, and a bolt-upright reach. Of course, I don't like bolt-upright, so after just a couple rides in stock configuration, I swapped the stock stem for one that's a couple centimeters longer (aside to Xootr... at least 120mm should be standard issue for anybody big enough for an XXL. Trust me.) That was bliss, and I haven't tweaked fit since. Double-bonus, the stem I swapped in is silver, so my one aesthetic quibble from my last post is now fixed.

Next up: We ditch the reflectors, probably void a manufacturer's warranty, and get down to business with some (minor) customizations!

1 comment:

Mark O. said...

I've had a thing for the xootr swift for awhile now. Maybe someday. Thanks for your review, I'm enjoying it!