A guide on birdy

For discussion of Birdy bicycles.

A guide on birdy

Postby Amuro Lee on Wed May 21, 2008 8:12 pm




Brief Description
The Birdy is a performance folding bike that tours well and folds small enough for multi-mode commuting. It is the only performance bike that fits into the small/multi-mode category. It is famous for its ride, which is smooth yet stiff. The combination of its ride, fold, and quirky looks have created a fetish for the Birdy in Japan. It also has a large following in the UK, Europe, the US, and Australia. The Birdy's folded size is larger than a Brompton, but smaller than a Bike Friday (including the Tikit).

The bike is designed in Germany and manufactured in Taiwan by Pacific Cycle. It is distributed as the "Birdy" in most countries by independent distributors. In Japan, it is also distributed by Bianchi as the "Fretta." The frame is offered in two styles, one with oversized aluminum tubing and one that is monocoque (formed metal welded down the middle for reduced weight and increased stiffness). It was once widely distributed in the US, but is less available now as there is only one small independent distributor on the West Coast. An additional distributor is being sought for the US and Canadian market. The wheels are billed as 18" (355mm), but are smaller than 17" (369mm) Moulton wheels.

The primary advantage of this bike over other performance folders is that it folds quickly into a small package. Thus, it can be taken into stores, onto trains, and into the office, yet can also be used for cross-country touring or fast group rides. It is much easier to fit in a suitcase than comparable Bike Friday or Airnimal models, but less easy to pack than a Brompton. There is no other performance bicycle that is small enough to serve as a multi-mode commuter or that fits into an airline legal suitcase with minimal dissassembly.

One other major advantage is the suspension, allowing for a smooth ride on small wheels. The suspension is anti-dive and does not affect pedaling efficiency due to its positioning and stiffness, and can be adjusted using different elastomers (small pieces of rubber that serve as suspension).

Like most other high-end performance bikes, it has no frame hinge that can fail. Unlike those bikes, both the front and the back points of contact serve as latches and shock absorbers. Thus, the downward force of the rider holds the bike together in such as way that the latches cannot fail while providing shock absorption. (Note: Dahon makes a number of performance folders with frame hinges.)

The Birdy is fussy to fold. It can take weeks of daily folding to get the determined user under 10 seconds to fold the bike. Rapid folding requires holding the bike off the ground, which (depending on the model) requires the rider to lift and hold 10 - 11.7 kg (22 - 26 pounds) in the air. It can be folded in as little as 5 seconds, but many people require up to 30 seconds to fold it.

Another disadvantage is that it is expensive, costing as much as custom made bikes. In some countries (such as the US), the component selection is sometimes illogical, with lower level Capreo components on the top-of-the-line monocoque frame, and higher quality SRAM X7 components on the less expensive model. Earlier problems with tire selection have been overcome as more of these bikes are produced; however, folding tires are unavailable.

While the wheels are amongst the strongest available, they are very difficult to replace in remote areas or in developing nations. (In a pinch, Brompton, Moulton, or BMX wheels can be fit to the bike, however.)

Outside of Japan, the frame is only available in aluminum; in Japan, titanium models also exist.

Recommended usage
This is one of the most versatile bikes on the market, offering high performance for fast group rides (when fit with proper tires), comfort for century rides, and sturdiness and luggage capacity for long-distance touring.

Average price
The Birdy monocoque frameset costs approximately $1,000 US without parts, so even low-end models are pricey. Equipment set up differs greatly from country to country. In the US, entry-level bikes (non-monocoque) cost approximately $1,000 and are equipped with low-mid range Shimano Alivio components.

In the UK, entry-level bikes equipped with Deore/Alivio components can cost approximately £800. High-end titanium models (rare outside of Japan and Australia) can cost over US$3,000. Japan is the biggest market for these bikes and offers a wide array of cost-effective choices. In Japan, the bike is distributed as the Bianchi Fretta (OEM) and BD-1.

Bike weight
Some riders have reduced the Birdy's weight to 8 kg using racing components. However, stock bikes range from 10.3 kg to 11.7 kg, depending on the setup. The heavier bikes tend to have 3x7 gearing systems, involving a rear hub.

Luggage capacity
The Birdy can carry 10 kg of luggage on the front rack and 25 kg on the rear rack (both racks are optional).

Transit capability
A Birdy can fit into a standard airline-legal 29" suitcase, but this requires the pedals, wheels, and rear rack to be removed. Some Birdy owners have had difficulty fitting both the bike and the rear rack into a standard suitcase. When fit with thin racing tires and short pedals, the bike can fit in a suitcase with less disassembly. With a larger case, no disassembly is required. A standard slipcase must be used on some trains and buses.

The Birdy's dimensions are:
Width: 35-39cm
Height: 58-61cm
Length: 76cm to 79cm

This is small enough to take into businesses, on buses, and to easily pack for travelling. However, it is too large to fit in a locker or most overhead bins. It is the second smallest of the quality folding bikes (behind the Brompton), and the smallest performance folder.

Rolling Capability
The Birdy must be equipped with a rolling rack for it to roll when folded. Such racks are difficult to find outside of Asia, but many users have attached wheels to a standard rack.

Lights and fenders
Models are offered outside the US with hub dynamo systems. Fenders are available everywhere the bike is distributed.

Links to relevant information
- The Birdy users group can be found at: http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/birdybike/
- German designer, manufacturer and distributor: http://www.rieseundmueller.de/index.pl/birdy_e
- Instructions on packing a Birdy: http://www.gaerlan.com/bikes/birdy/birdypk.htm
- Australian distributor: http://www.birdy.com.au/
- US distributor: http://www.birdybike.com/
- Asian distributor and manufacturer: http://www.pacific-cycles.com/
- German fan site: http://www.birdy-freunde.de/
- Folding demonstration: http://www.kinetics.org.uk/assets/multi ... dfold.mpeg
- Manual (contains info on folding the bike while resting it on the ground): http://www.birdy.com.au/pdfs/Birdy%20Ow ... l%20v2.pdf
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Amuro Lee
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Location: Hong Kong

Re: A guide on birdy

Postby Karlgw on Thu Aug 14, 2008 7:01 am

In reply to the post above, the Birdy is manufactured by Pacific Cycles (not Pacific Cycle, which is a different company).

Regarding the comment on "lower level Capreo components" - I think this is not necessarily fair - the Capreo groupset is the only one specifically developed by Shimano for small wheel bikes and is thus a very suitable choice for an 18"-wheeled bike.

The new Birdys look nice, but when they did the makeover and introduced all those lovely curves - they seem to have forgotten about the ugly front suspension forks - hopefully this will be redesigned to match the rest of the bike. Perhaps they could take a look at the suspension on the 2008 Pacific Reach line-up for inspiration there.

Anyone noticed how the Mezzo i4 and D9 bikes look like the old Birdys, while the new Mezzo D10 looks like the new ones?
Dahon Vitesse
Pacific Reach
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Re: A guide on birdy

Postby Reachrider on Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:29 pm

Karlgw wrote:blah blah
Perhaps they could take a look at the suspension on the 2008 Pacific Reach line-up for inspiration there.

I found this forum and this topic by searching for new Reach dealers, as I periodically do so I can ask if they can get replacement elastomers & suspension bushings.

Karl, if you were more familiar with the Reach suspension and Pacific's customer support you'd think otherwise. The Reach suspension is elastomer-based both front and back. While the back damper could probably be replaced with a spring/airshock/etc, the front is a proprietary design concocted solely for the Reach. Inquiries about replacement elastomers to ALL U.S. Reach dealers, AND to Pacific itself, get NO response whatsoever. If I were you I'd forget about borrowing technology from Pacific's Reach line. In fact I'd advise anyone considering a bike produced by or for Pacific to fully research the dealer support before jumping on board, you could be left high and dry. JMHO from owning a Reach for the last 2 years. When one of their proprietary components eventually breaks or wears out I'll have to discard the bike or jury-rig it.

Pacific shills and evangelists may eventually pile on to refute what I've said, and since I'm just passing through, I won't be back to defend my position. Which means more posts from anyone calling themselves "Reachrider" are probably bogus.

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