Friday, July 17, 2009

Swift and Sure

Xootr makes arguably the best kick scooter in the world! I had a chance to scoot on one some years back and came away very impressed with its super stable performance and high quality. They have taken their engineering reputation one step further and introduced what they believe is the ultimate performance folding bike called the Swift, designed by Peter Reich. From Bike Forum, the Swift garners lots of discussions and is one of the longest post in the forum, which shows how passionate and popular it is with its owners.

It was just my day when Mike informed me that he had one Swift sitting idly in his clinic, awaiting a test ride. BC, the local distributor, was happy for me to test it and I took the Swift for a 30km, "no holds barred" ride to Changi.

First order of the day was unfolding the Swift and putting it in the car. After the likes of Brompton, Tikit and Dahons, this is probably the weakest link of the Swift as a foldy.

It folds "stick-like" ala Strida and Carry Me but its parts are not secure and were dangling all over the place. But it managed to fit into the tiny boot of my Yaris hatch. I'm not fussy here - so long as it goes in, it passes the folding test. Period. Yes, it didn't get a distinction in this area, but it passed!

However, it is relatively easy to fold and unfold and the Swift starts scoring major brownie points big time once you start riding it. Because the frame has no break (same as the tikit) unlike other folders, the rigidity of the Swift is simply amazingly sure.

This is one foldy that you can take off-road, jump kerbs and even go down stairs with full confidence.

The other feature I love about the Swift is zero handlebar flex. Absolutely zilch. That really inspires sharp handling and it truly is very BMX like in its feel. Agile, firm, solid and you feel like popping a wheelie every time you on it! The geometry is also perfect and I could ride hands free confidently after some practise.

Because of the aggresive low stem, short handlebar set up of the test bike, it felt really sporty perhaps a little too sporty for me as after 15km, my palms started to hurt. But this can easily be changed to whatever position you like as the Swift is very accomodating and can be mod to whatever specs you wish - drop bars, riser bars and I think even a butterfly touring bar if you wish.

The standard parts given are pretty basic (Tekro brakes, Sram SX4 RD, Kenda tires, unknown crank etc) but at just a whisker under S$1k, the excellent frame is where the bulk of your money goes to.

The proof of the pudding is how it rides against other folders and that morning, my ride group consisted of one Dahon Vitesse and two Roadies.

The performance of the Swift is legendary and it did not disappoint. It was shod with cheapo Kenda 1.5 tires and I pumped it to 55/65 psi as I'm not a fan of bone jarring rides. The Swift exceeded my expectations with its very full size bike feel. It eclipses the Vitesse easily and I did a friendly race with Rich on a Giant TCR as well as Keong on his Vitesse.

The Swift managed a very impressive 40km/h on the flat at spin out and that put a big grin on my face! This is truly a very fast foldy and properly set up with the right gearing and drop bars, the Swift is right up there among the Pocket Pros, Moultons, Animals and I dare say the Speed Pros at less than half the price.

But for the adventure tourer, its carrying capacity is a bit limited as the only rack available from Xootr is a single pannier crossrack fitted behind the seat post. There are also no eyelets for water-bottle cages which is a glaring omission. Also, there are other foldies that are more pliant over rough surfaces but I guess I'm nit picking as the Swift is more fighter jet than Hercules C130.
If you can live with a slightly bigger folded package, the Swift is a Sure bet for its value for money pricing and outstanding performance. Now I fully understand the reason for the long thread at Bike Forum!


mb said...

It is certainly a fine bike to ride. I tested it a lot too and it is easily one of the most rigid foldies around and a delight to ride.

I am only not too fond of the fold.

Oldyonfoldy said...

MB, we draw the same conclusion :) But it is able to still fit in my little boot so the fold is not a huge liability.

How are your foldies? Any addition to the stable?

mb said...

No new foldies for now. I do have a vintage Columbia roadster and a Phoenix China-made rustbucket Ah Pek bicycle in the stable now. In addition to the two foldies, the modified Hardrock and the Scott Sub 20. LOL

Oldyonfoldy said...

Your antiques sound most intruguing!

I've an itch to get a Flying Pigeon Ah Pek bike for the fun of it. Can you believe its only abt $150 or less? How does yours ride? Boleh jalan tak?

richard.bails said...

The unusual fold does have it's advantages for commuting. Being tall and thin you can hold it by your side on a crowded train without having to carry it, and you can carry it through ticket barriers much more easily than the typical short/fat folded package like a Brompton or Dahon. I've owned a Brompton and a Speed Pro and I find the Swift the most practical package of the 3 for train commuting, not least because it folds much faster. Then as a bike I much prefer it to my previous folders.

The frame stiffness is a key feature. I compete in a track racing league and do all my training on the Swift, including all-out sprinting, and the swift is plenty stiff enough for that. Amazing really for a folding bike.

Having more standard fittings than most folding bikes, there is more scope for upgrading. Mine has drop bars and light wheels and after 2 years of owning it I still love riding it.

Nat said...

You want Ah pek Bikes? You might also find some of these in the back alleys of Lil India.



Prices in the 100$ range in India. Not bad huh. Makes one wonder why other bikes cost thousands.

Oldyonfoldy said...

Glad you are so passionate about your Swift, Richard.

James said...

I've been commuting San Francisco for over 3 years on a fixed-gear conversion of my Xootr Swift. It's an excellent bike for tinkering and modifying:

mb said...

My 1960s Ah Pek Phoenix jalans perfectly. It is a little like a big boat, you can't go fast on it and you won't feel like going fast on it, and you won't be able to weave as well as a small-wheeled bike.

Mine is truly an old workhorse. You can even see the bit where the previous owner re-welded part of the frame.

I always enjoy riding it and gliding along with it. I find it amazing that an old bike like this is still working 30-odd years after.

Sure there's rust on the rack and such, but there's so much metal there, I'd probably die before the rust kills the frame. LOL

mb said...

My old man bike:

And to whet your appetite for vintage, here is a Singaporean who collects them:

CL said...

I think your dealer is selling old stock of Xootr Swift bikes. The newest ones comes with a raiser bar with holes to attach a water bottle bracket. Also the raiser stem has two different diameters and the aluminum frame is thicker by the seat tube.

Oldyonfoldy said...

Thks for the update CL! Its good to know that...

Scherzo said...

The newer stock of XOOTRs are here with the said mounting holes for raisers and water bottles. The test bike is an old stock version. (BC- dealer for Xootr

Arjun said...

Can you do a comparison between the Tikit and Swift as far as riding goes?
I know the fold advantage goes to the Tikit, but wonder about flat speed, touring on crummy roads, uphill climbs, steep descents etc.

Matt said...

The Swift is a much better ride than the Tikit and is less expensive. The Tikit is a much better fold and has better accessories. The Swift is more comparable to the BF Pocket Rocket.

Anyways, I recommend the Schwalbe Big Apple tires to smooth out your ride. They're not quite as fast as Marathons, but they act as decent shock absorbers.

Matthew Robertson said...

Very nice write-up, and I really like all of the photos.

I noticed something on my Swift after about a month of riding it: a place to put a water bottle. They're easy to miss (I had to go back and update my own review) and the position isn't the best, but it's certainly better than nothing. The behind-the-seat holders are another good option.

The new handlebar risers are also sold separately by Xootr on their 'parts' page.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great review. I'm close to purchasing the xootr swift but a few comments, such as the one below, have left me confused:

"The Swift, as dozens of fellow swifters here have told, is a flying dream on hard surface. But if you just happen to pass gravel or other even slightly rough terrain, it's a nightmare on the Elm Street. After couple of hundred meters your hands don't have feel any more, your back feels like being harleying a whole weekend and you just have to make a break. "

Xootr has promised to fit my xootr with big apple tires in the front and rear - but do you have any comments on the ride? Is it really rough. I live in Berkeley and am worried that it might be smoother to ride my rollerblades over the roads in berkeley over the xootr bike.

I also heard that it's very hard to fold - meaning the clamps are really hard to open and close.

Any feedback would be awesome. I think i'll hold off purchasing it for now..

Oldyonfoldy said...

Yes, I do agree with the harshness of the front handlebars over rough terrain and that numb ole feeling when I rode the Swift.

However, I echo Matt's recommendations to put on Schwalbe Big Apples. I have them on my Speed Pro and enjoy it tremendously. Its not the fastest tire by far but for comfort, its the closest to a full suspension set up.

Oldyonfoldy said...

Both the Tikit and the Swift ride very well, one of the best folders in the market IMO. I wont say the Swift is "better" but different with the advantage of a less flexi handlebar stem.

But when it comes to folding time, light touring (my tikit can has front & rear racks which can take Orbs) and communting thanks to a tight & secure package, the Tikit comes up tops.

And I wont sing the praises of Bike Friday customer back up here...

Matthew said...

In terms of the "harsh ride," I've noted that your setup really matters.

When I was riding stock, it got a bit rough on SF's nasty potholes (Thank you Mr Newsom). At first I thought it was the bike.

After adding a Thudbuster, the ride is much softer.

I've tried the Pocket Rocket, Tikit, Strida, and Birdy. I can confidently say that the Swift rides with the very, very best of them if you set it up right.

Oldyonfoldy said...

Matthew, thanks for the tip on proper set-up. That is indeed important.

While Thud-B does help (I use one on my BF Expedition), I felt harshness particularly through the handlebars of the Swift. More so than other foldies I've ridden. Wonder why?

I suspect its the very rigid aluminium frame but I may be wrong.

darian said...

Hi Oldyonfoldy and mb,

Do you happen to know where I can get Flying Pigeon/Phoenix/Forever bicycles in Singapore?


Oldyonfoldy said...

Hi Darian

Flying Pigeon bikes are sold at Gee Hin Chan at Waterloo. Saw it there once.

Also, some shops at Joo Chiat area.


darian said...

Thanks Oldyonfoldy!

Will check it out. Can't wait to lay my hands on one :)

karMeng said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jouach said...

just bought a xootr swift. Was wondering whether you mod yours? If so, how did you mod? Is there a community of xootr swift in sg?

Oldyonfoldy said...

Hi Jouach. Congrats on yr Swift. Its an excellent bike that is very under rated in Spore sadly. This bike has no mods as it was a demo piece lent to me for evaluation. Not heard of a Swift Cycling Club in Sg. Perhaps you can start one? The Swift certainly is a very worthy folding bike!

Iluvtube said...

Hiya, just happened to browse into your blog. Thanks for a good write out. Guessed, I am tad too late to ask any questions since this was 6 yrs ago. Not too sure if this bike suit me as I am looking for one since I sold my roadie. However, I still count myself as a newbie to biking as I am not into it technically nor tweaking a bike. I am simply ride to enjoy plus excuse to do exercise riding up around my area of slight hills at dairy farm quarry and bukit panjang PCN. I alao love speeding and tough, reliable bike with comfort and good handling. The only crux I guess for this bike is whether I can bring it into MRT so I can visit the new place along Downtown Line.
Lastly of course is reasonable budget and the future of putting it on sale in case I stop riding. Wonder how is compare to Birdy or Java bike? Thanks in advance. Cheers!

Robert Hively-Johnson said...

Flat out best bicycle I have owned...