Monday, May 6, 2013

Swift And Single: A Long-Term Check

Reader feedback (I have readers? And they provide feedback?) has reminded me that it's been a while since I checked in with a report on my Swift folder, its current configuration, and how it's holding up. Here's what it looks like today, almost three years since it first crossed the threshold of the garage:

The Swift serves as my daily driver/commuter and errand-runner, 2 miles round trip on a short day, 10 on a long day. It has done time in any sort of weather the Midwest can drum up, from snow to scorching summer. Modifications from stock include:
  • SINGLESPEED DRIVETRAIN: When I put the studded tires on this winter (yes, there are 20" studded tires out there), I decided that a simpler drivetrain would be nicer for the slop. Swift apparently now offers this as a stock option, too. It's also fun to tell other singlespeeders that I ride a 52x16 and watch their jaws drop when they assume 700c wheels.
  • DROP BARS: The conversion to drops flummoxed me for a while, thanks to the v-brakes and SRAM 1:1 ratio rear derailleur (requiring SRAM MTB shifters). The Tektro brake levers for drops have worked out nicely once I added an inline cable adjuster, and the singlespeed alleviates the shifter issues (though I did bodge around that briefly). Probably makes the bike harder to pack, but man, do I like drop bars.
  • HARD-WIRING THE FOLDING MECHS: I just don't fold this thing very often, so to thwart thieves, I replaced the quick releases on the stem riser and seatpost with regular binder bolts. This may not be a Swift-approved modification (so do it at your own risk), but I haven't had any issues. I can't imagine the bolts are any weaker than the fairly cheap quick-releases that the bike comes with stock.
  • WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD: The stock Kenda tires wore out (thank goodness) and were replaced by fairly cheap 20x1.95" BMX freestyle tires. These things are cushy and quick beyond what their humble price would suggest, and probably deserve a Hail to the Cheap shout-out. The Planet Bike fenders (another aftermarket add-on) still (barely) clear them, too.
  • LOAD BEARING: I added a mini front rack and a modified Jandd rack duffel to carry my commuting load. I know next to nothing about the appropriate geometry for a front-loaded bike, so it was by sheer luck that the Swift appears to be unaffected by the weight over the front wheel.

I've been pleasantly surprised to see that the stock bottom bracket, wheels, and headset are still holding up. The hubs are slightly rougher than new, the rim sidewalls are getting thin, and the headset has a tiny bit of notchiness, but this is par for the course considering the abuse (from both weather and neglect) that my "work" bikes suffer. The bottom bracket's still spinning like new. Not bad after two years of minimal maintenance and rough use.

I'll keep banging on this little bugger and continue to check in on it from time to time. It's definitely earned a place in the fleet and proven itself as a capable performer.

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