A Folding road bike. Need I say more?
ALVAN SIO | 16th Sep 2015 | PRODUCT REVIEWS
If you’ve never heard of Pacific Cycles, it’s high time you start checking them out. After all, Taiwan is one of the biggest – if not THE biggest – bicycle manufacturer in the world, and they’re established there.
They’re not only a bike manufacturer; they see themselves as an international designer workshop for the creation of new bicycle concepts. So with that motto in mind, they’ve gone and created a folding road bike. Yes your eyes aren’t deceiving you. I said folding road bike.
So I’ve got a road bike, but that generally means I can’t go into buses or MRTs or even some cabs, if I get cramps from riding round-island with a bunch of loonies (we’ve all been there, you know exactly what I mean). Of course, I’m being slightly fatuous. But with the Reach R20, Pacific Cycles has given you the option to be more mobile.
The mobility of a bicycle? That’s basically adding to the obvious. Or is it?
Think about the times you need to transport your precious road bike around and I think you’ll begin to see what I mean. Most of us have to take off the wheels from our bikes, deal with the grimy drive train and gingerly slot the bike into the trunk of the car. It’s a precarious process, taking care never to hit anything or cause the chain to fall on to the chainstay. Then there’s the issue with the wheels. Where do you put those if you’ve got to ferry your kids somewhere at the same time?
Now the R20 suddenly becomes a lot more sensible. While it’s a folding bike; or as someone at the office put it, a bike that folds (because it’s not really a foldie in the extensive world of Bromptons and Dahons) it still feels like a full sized road bike.
Folding wasn’t immediately apparent to me, but I quickly worked out how it was to be folded. It’s fairly simple really, all you’ve got to do is remove the front wheel via the quick release axle, and then fold the bike literally in half. It separates at the rear suspension (more on that in a bit), without any fuss. No catches or levers, simple pop it apart and the bike folds in half. Next, attach the front wheel to the wheel holder under the top tube. Then remove the handlebars just like a normal foldie and slam the seat post down. Easy enough.
It’s not as compact as some folding bikes out there, but then again, it’s not a folding bike per se. I brought it into a lift without any problems and even through narrow corridors it was easy enough to manoeuvre the bike around. It is a tad heavy I must say, coming in at 10.2kgs. Heavy to carry around for extended periods of time that is. But light enough to ride. After all, even entry level road bikes don’t really get much lighter than this anyway.
The frame isn’t quite as big as a regular road bike, but the way it’s been built allows it to have the same geometry as one. The seating position is still high, drop bars are provided and even a respectable Shimano Tiagra entry level groupset is given to you. Oh before I forget, there are also disc brakes. So the UCI can shove it.
You’ve got the full road bike wheel base, riding position and general frame structure as a road bike, while also having nifty features like front and rear suspension. Pacific Cycles calls it a suspension system, but it’s really just a set of elastomers placed in the fork and between the rear triangle. Sort of like a simpler but just as effective version of Specialized’s Zertz.
How does it feel to ride then? Well just like a real road bike of course! The position is pretty much bang on, the San Marco Aspide saddle was right on the money and the groupset performed pretty well. Shifting is typical Shimano, clicking into gear without missing a beat. The 53-39 crank also felt right at home with the 20″ wheels, powering them quickly up to speed due to their reduced size as compared to normal road wheels.
The bike is zippy, quite stable and corners just fine. It doesn’t quite handle like a flagship carbon race machine, but it’s not meant to be a Tour de France race bike. What it is however, is a whole lot more comfy than the best spindly seat stays can deliver. The elastomer shock absorbers remove most of the road buzz and minor bumps, giving you a slightly mushy feel at the back while you pedal seated. That doesn’t mean it flexes a lot mind you; get out of the saddle and you’ll find that climbing slopes isn’t exactly pedalling on tofu. It’s a fairly novel feeling for the pure road biker, who doesn’t know what suspension and plush ride really are, but still being stiff enough to compete in its class of entry level bikes.
Brakes work well too; they stop the bike faster than cheap calliper brakes you usually get from entry level bikes. Schwalbe Durano tyres round the package, making for good everyday training tyres that are reliable and grippy.
A great entry level bike for the starter road cyclist, that comes with the functionality of a folding bike but doesn’t compromise on performance. I would recommend it to anyone considering starting road cycling, and you’d be able to sell it to upgrade in the future to a variety of people too, as the bike can fit riders 145-185 cm tall, and up to 110kgs. That’s more than I can say for some road bike wheels.
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