Introduction, Frame & Equipment
It is normally quite difficult to form a cosmetically pleasing aluminium weld and those that you see on the Birdy are top notch ones, in my opinion.
The Birdy is the brainchild of Heiko Müller and Markus Riese who came up with an innovative idea for a foldable full suspension foldable bicycle back in the early 90’s. Since then they have stayed true to their original vision to provide the world with a ‘proper’ foldable bicycle.
The frame is a thing of engineering excellence. Drawing from my engineering background, I can really appreciate the precision welded aluminium half-shells and its solid, well formed lines and curve. It just oozes quality, inspecting it from angles. One of the ugly qualities of an aluminum frame is easily seen from its welds and joints. It is normally quite difficult to form a cosmetically pleasing aluminium weld and those that you see on the Birdy are top notch ones, in my opinion.
Not being a light rider, I found the frame to be very sturdy with ample stiffness for a relatively fast ride. All the joints, levers and hinges are lock together firmly with not play whatsoever, exhibiting a fair amount of precision engineering being infused during the design and manufacturing phase of this frame.
The Birdy Singapore SE comes with Alex Rims DA22 wheels, Schwalbe Kojak tires and Shimano Capreo 9-speed shifting kit. The Birdy crank that comes in this package feature a really cool bike stand that is part of the non-drive side crank arm. I was actually looking for a conventional kickstand before I saw this strange almost hidden folding contraption on the crank arm. Talk about being innovative! While it does not look as ‘strong’ as your run-of-the-mill kickstands it does the job just as good and add points to looks.
Transformation & Ride
I have a Dahon Curve with me for a couple of years now and regard the folding to be pretty simple albeit ‘not so elegant’ nor ‘compact’. The folding of the Birdy is probably 2 steps more and could be done in a less than half a minute once you get the hang of it. I really appreciate the out-swinging front and rear wheel that forms the suspension when clicked into place on the main frame.
Getting the bike back into its compact form is just as easy and it basically re-tracing the steps you took to unfold it. The folded bike is really compact and stands stable on the ground on its own. I could easily put 3 of these into the back of a reasonably sized MPV (Toyota Wish or Honda Stream) in its folded form.
I took it out on a short 10km ride around East Coast Park within the park vicinity (not on the service road). I found the ride to be nimble, responsive and smooth. I noticed the stiffness and power transfer to be surprisingly good (based on my road riding experience) and of course thanks to the road thin-profile wheels and tires, it also felt fast. The effect of the suspension felt minor but did help a lot in smoothening out the road feel quite a fair bit, on those thin-profiled tires.
The experience did put a smile on my face as the ride felt very assured and stable. The only gripe I have is the rather short-ish handlebar but that’s probably a sizing issue for me as I am used to a 44cm road handlebar configuration. A minor issue than can be easily fixed with a longer bar that fits my preference.
I am impressed by of this bike; from its thoughtfully designed and built mainframe, it’s sturdy construction to its truely compact fold. The ride quality is also very good plus I appreciate the fact that I don’t look like a giant on a child’s bike (whereas I do, to a certain extent, on most foldables) and gather stares whenever I head out on a foldable bicycle.
All Birdy bikes share the same vision and design philosophy and essentially the main folding frames are the same for all its models. So, don’t fret if you can’t get one of these Singapore Limited Edition models, the rest of the lineup will offer you something that will keep you happy.
Incidentally, E-Walker has told me that this foldable is even suitable to take on non-technical trails (eg. Pulau Ubin) and they have used the Birdy on countless occasions for such rides.
The Test Rider
…is a 78kg guy with some commuting experience on a 3-speed Dahon Curve with Schwalbe Big Apple tires. Much of the comparison is drawn from the experience in road-bike riding and commuting on a foldie.