Thursday, 21 August 2014

Upgrades for a Folding Bike

Upgrades for a Folding Bike - Intro

Now . .
. . . and then.

About 2 years ago I purchased a Giant Conway Folding Bike (£110) it was OK but needed some upgrades to make it more useful, I supose my main reason for writing this post is find out the rough cost. Would it have been cheaper to buy a higher speck bike to begin with.

Upgrades for a Folding Bike - Tires (Cost £30 - Discount Bike De)

I was desperate to get some decent tires. I hate punctures, and weigh 90 kg so I needed some that would run at a high pressure, and be fairly wide. 

Schwalbe Tire are the best I have numerous variety on all my families bikes and they are great. I went for Marathon 1.75" x 16" with Green Guard, havn't had a puncture since I put them on two years ago.

Upgrades for a Folding Bike - Gears (Cost - £65 - DIY Wheel Build)

For hilly area a gear range close to 300% is nice. But with a narrow rear hub my choices were limited. I did try to "force" a solution involving spreading the rear drop outs, and trying to lace a 36 holes MTB hub in to the  28 hole rim. Disaster. No harm done but lots of time wasted.

So in the end I converted from single speed, to 3 speed with a new old stock 1988 Sturmey archer hub gear from Freemans.

This is OK, but the lowest gear was still not low enough for my taste so I swapped out the 46 tooth chain wheel for an MTB 38 chain wheel and cranks.

Swapping out the original hub meant loosing the rear drum brake, so a rear calliper brake was fitted.

Upgrades for a Folding Bike - Brakes (Cost £15 new front brake calliper and lever)

Brakes were rubbish when I first got this bike and they still are not very good.

I first upgraded the front calliper brake which originally was a pressed steel long reach calliper, with about a 90mm reach. . . which is pretty long. This results in rubbish performance regardless of the model of brake.

The replacement Tektro 984 Calliper Brake was not much better. But this is not a reflection of the build quality, it just you will never get a good mechanical advantage with a very long reach calliper brake.

The original plastic levers were swapped for some alloy ones.

My only advise here is try to get a folding bike with v brakes.

Upgrades for a Folding Bike - Lights (£65 Hub Dynamo, £30 Lights, DIY Wheel Build)

This bike has a 65mm OLD front hub, and so I was limited to buying a Brompton DH-703-SB which was very expensive, twice the price of a none Brompton equivalent. Shimano do a 24 hole hub dynamo, but you try and find a 24 hole rim to go with it . . . .

For lights I chose a Axa Pico for the front and a B&M Toplight for the Rear.

Upgrades for a Folding Bike - Conclusions

So . . . .

£110 for the bike
£30 for Tires
£65 for Gears
£15 Brakes
£95 Lights (!)

This tots up to about £300.

What can you get for £300? Well you can get some pretty good folding bikes, but they wouldn't have dynamo lighting or marathon tires. But they would have better brakes and better gears.

So as always swings and round-abouts, You get what you pay for etc.

Cracking conclusion!

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