Giant ExpressWay 2 Folding Bike
Updated 28 June 2021
Désirée = 2852 km on the folding bike and 13312 km in total since mid March 2013
John = 3545 km on the folding bike and 16272 km in total since early January 2013
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The Giant ExpressWay 2, 2013 folding bike was intended for commuting, especially where a larger bike was not permitted on peak hour public transport. Giant now offer only the 8 speed ExpressWay 1 which includes mudguards and a carrier for $799 in New Zealand. The bike is also ideal for new riders as a means to explore new places, and to get fit. You could drive from a hill suburb to somewhere flat with the bike folded up in the back of the car. There are many suitable cycle trails and tracks here in New Zealand. The bike is also a capable light tourer. For an account of our many rides, including the Otago Rail Trail see Dizzy's folding bike blog.
I purchased this bicycle as an easy re-introduction to cycling and to improve my strength, fitness and balance. At the time the only folding bike that I could find locally was the Giant Expressway 2, so that was my choice. I got it at Burkes Cycles for $560 which was a routine discount from the retail price of $599. It was good value, reasonable quality and it rode well.
I had not cycled for 13 years as I had to deal with after-effects of two brain tumours, an operation, radiotherapy and some unrelated cardiac blockages. My balance and confidence were affected. The folding bike was perfect as I could drive to somewhere flat to ride. I soon was able to deal with my balance issues and I gradually started riding some of the steep hills near home in Wellington, New Zealand. I also made more use of my old late 1980s Tarini mountain bike. My fitness has improved. I have lost some weight and the stiffness, which sometimes comes with ageing, has largely receded. My balance has improved as well. I no longer feel light-headed when I stand up.
Once my fitness improved, I started using the folding bike for longer rides such as the Hutt River Trail. A 20 to 60 k ride could be undertaken without any on-road riding. The surface is variable and much of the upper part of the ride was on gravel paths. I had no problems with the folding bike on these surfaces.
I bought Désirée a bike so she could join me on the rides. So far we have ridden most of the Hutt river trail as well as some coastal rides in Wellington. Both bikes can easily fit inside our small Nissan Micra car with room to spare for luggage. We rode much of the Hawke's Bay cycle trails and the Otago Central Rail Trail. See Dizzy's folding bike blog and additional information below.
Folding bike dealers in Wellington
There are many fine brands of folding bike, but in Wellington until recently, the retail choice has been somewhat limited. Last time I looked there were a few more models available, principally the Tern Link C7 and D8 and both Giant ExpressWay models at Burkes Cycles, Giant Expressway folding bikes at Cycle Science in Lower Hutt and the Brompton M6L at Bicycle Junction.
The components are basic, but sufficient for most applications. So far I have had no serious problems. The ExpressWay wheels are quite strong with 36 stainless steel spokes, alloy rims, alloy hubs, and solid axles. Other good points are a Cr-Mo fork, a hydroformed 6061 aluminium alloy frame and a substantial carrying bag. Specifications are available from any Giant web site or dealer.
The bike has a wide range of quick release adjustments for seat height, handlebar height and tilt. Other settings for gears and brakes are finger adjustable. Horizontal seat position, and some other brake adjustments, require a 5 mm allen-key. Wheel removal requires, preferably, a 15 mm ring spanner. Quick releases are not required as the bike fits in a car without removing any wheels. If you have a good local bike shop then none of this will be a worry.
The bike has 7 speeds ranging from 70 to 35 Gear-Inches, 5.6 to 2.8 Metres-Development or a 5.24 to 2.62 Gain-Ratio. These terms are defined here. In other words, the lowest gear requires half the effort of the highest gear. Here in Wellington, New Zealand, I can climb most hills with these gear ratios. I can always walk if things get too difficult.
The more expensive Giant ExpressWay 1 folding bike at $799 offers 8 speed gearing, mudguards and a carrier. The cassette based gearing avoids any bending of the rear axle because the bearings are set further apart. The Kenda 20 x 1.5 inch tyres on this bike, and the new ExpressWay 2, will be more suitable for rougher road conditions than my original Kenda 20 x 1.25 inch tyres. The Kenda 20 x 1.25 inch tyres may be fitted in New Zealand, however. The 11-30T gear range provides 89 to 33 Gear-Inches or 7.13 to 2.6 Metres-Development. For hill riding a Mega-Range cassette with a 11-34T gear range could be fitted for about $35 dollars. This bike may be a good choice for commuting, hills or for light touring.
The Geometry of the bike has similarities to the classic, and well regarded, Raleigh 20 folding bike. The ExpressWay wheel base is 1013 mm, while the Raleigh 20 wheel base is 1020 mm. The shortest distance from the seat-post axis to the head-tube axis is 520 mm for the ExpressWay and 510 mm for the Raleigh 20. The seat-post and head-tube angles are similar at about 71 degrees. The ExpressWay chain-stay length is 404 mm while the Raleigh 20 chain-stay length is 400 mm. Both bikes have a larger rear triangle than most folding bikes sold today. This strengthens the support for the seat post and the more heavily laden rear of the bike. The long seat post supporting tube is attached to the frame in 4 distinct places. This creates a very strong structure by distributing any stresses along the tube.
This more than passing resemblance to the Raleigh 20 folding bike results in very nice handling and performance, much like a larger bike. I now have three bikes which feel the same to ride. The others are my old Tarini Mountain bike and now, a new Jamis Allegro Sport, which is a hybrid-style road bike. I got the Jamis bike as a reward to myself for riding my first 1000 km. This bike was the best value I could find that met my needs.
In the meantime I have upgraded the Tarini mountain bike, including rebuilding the wheels with stainless steel spokes, new wheel bearings, adding V brakes, a new chain, a new cartridge bottom bracket, and modification to 5 speed gearing with the middle chain wheel increased from 36 teeth to 40 teeth. The largest 46 tooth chain wheel was machined down to become a chain guard. I left the smallest 26 tooth sprocket on the front but I removed the front derailleur assembly. On the extremely rare occasions that I need a very low gear range I just kick the chain over with my foot. By simplifying the bike I removed some distractions which interfered with my balance.
My Giant ExpressWay 2 folding bike weighs 11.7 kg, as new.
With various additions the weight of the bike is now about 14 kg. This includes an unloaded carrier (625 g), two larger 20x1.75 inch tyres (146 g extra), a longer seat (100 g extra), two bottle holders (103 g), lighting (93 g), a bell (25 g) a bike computer (40 g), a pump (76 g) and a handlebar bag (1011 g) containing tools, a lock, a tyre repair kit, a spare tube, a rain parka, an emergency blanket and some chocolate. Stripping the bike gives me a weight of 12.1 kg, with the two wider tyres, the longer seat, and remaining accessories adding 411 g to the original weight.
Meanwhile I have lost several kilograms through riding my bikes frequently and not eating too much.
There has been some concern expressed that this bike does not fold small enough for commuting purposes at peak times.
The bike sits in a stable position when folded with the bike-stand deployed in it's alternative folded-in position.
The dimensions of my bike, relative to the ground, are:
With the bike-stand folded back and the chain wheel cover touching the ground, the dimensions are:
The Tranz Metro maximum requirements are:
The height is only a problem when the bike-stand is deployed. This 60 mm discrepancy is in the least important dimension from a commuting point of view. Clearly there is a magic angle where all dimensions will easily fit.
In other words, this bike would easily fit inside a box of the required dimensions.
For air travel Air New Zealand has a dimension W + L + H which can't exceed 1580 mm. With the seat and wheels removed this sum for the Expressway 2 is 660L + 520H + 380W = 1560 mm. Diagonal packing in the bag should reduce this figure slightly. Including wheels and saddle the Expressway 2 size is 830L + 650H + 380W = 1860 mm.
The wheels and seat would need to be stowed separately, maybe in another bag. Blocks or an adapted quick-release, inserted in place of each wheel, would strengthen the frame. Clothing and other items in plastic bags can fill the remaining space.
For comparison a Brompton, including wheels and seat, is 585L + 565H + 270W = 1420 mm. A Bike Friday soft travel bag is 830L + 708H + 219W = 1757 mm, to contain a disassembled custom sized bike. A Tern BYB P8, including wheels and saddle, is 810L + 520H + 350W = 1680 mm. A Tern Link D8 is 790L +720H + 380W = 1890 mm.
I was told that I could not fit a standard carrier on this bike. In fact it was easy to fit, so both bikes now have carriers. They are set back far enough to take my old pannier bags, if needed. I added some studs to a second-hand plastic tool box so it can be held on top of the carrier with a bungee cord. It contains maintenance items for longer trips. I have mounted a small pump under the carrier.
A CatEye bar-end mirror was fitted to each bike. This addition is probably the most important as it contributes to safety. You can see the line that traffic is taking behind you, whether any indicators are flashing, and the approach of other cyclists. I have used a bar-end mirror on my mountain bike since the late 1980s. When riding on busy roads it helped me assess the space that wide vehicles, such as trucks, would leave me. I filed some plastic off the inside of the end-cap so the mirror tilted out further. This prevented it being knocked by my hand, during rides.
Rear Bottle Holder
On each bike I was able to fit a 600 ml drink bottle holder behind the seat attached to the carrier and its support-stay. The bottle holder tabs were bent slightly to fit and a single 5 mm hole was drilled in the carrier. The triangle thus formed made the carrier-stay more rigid as well. I did not like supporting the bottle horizontally on the frame, in front of the rider as it interferes with stepping over the frame to ride or to dismount.
I purchased two Cateye Velo 5 bike computers so we can each keep track of the distance travelled. This basic model has trip distance, odometer, maximum speed and a clock. The Velo 8 offers more options, including average speed.
I had some old Lowepro camera bags which were easily mounted on the front handlebars. They can contain items such as locks, sun-glasses, cameras and tyre repair kits. These bags have pull-out rain covers.
I replaced the saddles with ones which had longer mounting rails and improved comfort. This allowed us to set the saddles back further so that the set-up was similar to my mountain bike. We also purchased a gel seat cover, in case one of us has comfort problems on a long ride.
I have a basic LED lighting set-up for emergencies. I don't anticipate cycling at night.
An Interesting Upgrade
Haditta, a cyclist from Tehran has upgraded an ExpressWay 2 folding bike to help with his cycling on hills. The current model of the ExpressWay 2 has a 7 speed MFTZ21 14-28T free-wheel hub. The free-wheel mechanism is built into the 7 speed cassette. In order to accommodate cassettes with 8 to 10 speeds, the rear hub (or wheel) needs to be changed to a free-hub version. The free-wheel mechanism is now in the hub.
All the wider range cassettes require an Altus derailleur to be fitted because there is more chain slack to deal with. The Altus derailleur has two relatively large diameter jockey wheels where much of the additional chain slack is taken up. This allows the length of the derailleur arm to be shorter, which fits with a 20 inch wheel. The 7 speed Shimano Mega-Range 14-34T free-wheel cassette does not require a new hub, but a Shimano Altus derailleur is advised to take up the additional chain slack. For a gearing range greater than 7 speeds a new shifter will also be needed.
Haditta fitted a 9 speed Shimano Deore HG50 cassette, a Shimano 9 speed rear hub, and a Shimano Altus derailleur. He changed the shifter to a Shimano Deore 9 speed version and a narrower Shimano Deore 9 speed chain was used. A fixed Shimano front derailleur was also fitted to help control the chain. Haditta upgraded the front hub to a Shimano Deore version, this being part of his upgrade kit. Both wheels now have quick release mechanisms fitted. Apart from some initial issues with chain skipping on the smallest sprocket, the conversion was a success.
The saddle was upgraded to a DDK K-30 model. The plastic folding pedals were removed and metal Polifly pedals substituted. These do not fold, as the original pedals were rarely folded anyway. Haditta added Velo grips with included bar-ends. These provide alternative hand positions when he rides longer distances. Holders were added for a cable lock, a pump and a water bottle. Front and rear lights, manufactured by Giant, were fitted.
Hadittta has now modified the handlebar setup by adding a zoom stem and a riser style handlebar. He removed the top clamp from the steerer tube which was then capped. The bar-end grips were refitted. The slightly extended reach improved the handling of the bike without interfering with the folding. Note that on an unmodified bike the steerer tube is angled forward and functions like a short stem.
Haditta kindly provided the following photo, which shows most of the modifications.
Haditta's upgraded Giant ExpressWay 2
For reference, the Kenda Kwest 20x1.25 inch tyre, fitted on the Giant ExpressWay 2, is actually 480 mm or 18.9 inches in diameter. The circumference is therefore 1508 mm or 151 cm. The last value should be entered when the bike computers are set up. The measured tyre width is actually 1.39 inches or 35 mm, when inflated. In the front, the tyre clearance is an average of 13.5 mm on each side. In the rear, it is about 6.3 mm on each side.
After experiencing a few punctures I upgraded to Kenda 912 20x1.75 inch tyres. They are designed to give a very comfortable ride. They ride better on rough surfaces and they also have a good tread pattern for the road. The new tyres are 3.3% larger in diameter so a tyre circumference of 156 cm needs to be used with the bike computer. The chain-stay clearance is now about 2.5 mm. Long term, this has not been a problem.
Note that the Giant tyre specification was wrong in New Zealand. Here, Kenda 20x1.25 inch tyres were supplied instead of the specified 20x1.5 inch or 20x1.75 inch tyres. The Giant web site had 1.5 inch tyres specified while the pdf had 1.75 inch tyres specified. The bike illustration showed 1.25 inch tyres fitted. This was somewhat confusing for purchasers. I think wider tyres will ride better on New Zealand stone chip sealed and unsealed roads. My tentative suggestion for this bike is the Schwalbe Citizen 20x1.60 inch tyre, which should offer a little more clearance in the rear. A slightly larger tyre could be fitted in the front while still allowing the same tube size to be used.
There appears to be little relationship between the specified and the actual tyre dimensions on many bikes. Tyres do not have a reliable standard width when inflated. There may be significant width variations within any set of matching tyres. The particular internal width of the rim can also affect the measured tyre width and place further limits on the maximum tyre width that can be safely fitted.
After the first inflation the tyres may relax and widen a bit over a few days. This means that tyre upgrading is essentially an experiment.
The correct tyre pressure depends on the load it carries. Tyre drop is how far the wheel moves towards the road when it is loaded. It is expressed as a percentage of the tyre width. A common figure for an ideal tyre drop is 15%. This may require lower pressures than normal, but the bike will be no slower, or difficult to handle. Useful information on tyre pressures is at Sheldon Brown's website and at Off The Beaten Path
In order to allow some time between checking tyres I have adopted a 10% figure. For my 45 mm wide tyres this corresponds to a tyre drop of about 4.5 mm when loaded by sitting on the bike. For me the approximate corresponding pressures ranges are:
These pressures should allow riders with a range of different weights to have a comfortable ride. To get these values I had to sit on the stationary bike while using a vernier calliper to measure the wheel rim drop. This was easier than it sounds.
The frame clearance from the tyre wall should not be too much less than 3 mm. This maximum measured width of a substitute tyre should therefore be not much more than 56 mm in the front and 42 mm in the rear. I used vernier callipers to measure the width at the recommended pressure after I fitted them to my wheels. After a few days, when the measurements were stable, I selected the two narrowest of my four tyres and swapped them on to the rear wheels. This improved the clearance from 2.5 mm to about 3 mm.
We have had two failures in the casing fabric of our Kenda 912 rear tyres, which caused a twisted bump to appear on each tyre. An example is shown at right. The rear tyres were inflated at a pressure of 45 - 55 psi which was well within the specified range of 40 - 65 psi. Our local bike shop has exchanged them for new ones. Hopefully this is a single batch defect. The front tyres have reduced loading so we probably won't see the same problem with them. Longer term, we may try other options such as the Schwalbe Citizen 20x1.60 inch tyre. The rear tyre clearance should be improved slightly when compared with a 20x1.75 inch tyre. This tyre also has a kevlar band for puncture protection.
At Seagull Hill near Wedderburn
The maintenance required on this bike is similar to any other. If you are not mechanically inclined your local bike shop can help.
The life of a chain is maximised if it is lightly oiled with a low viscosity oil, similar to sewing machine oil. First the chain should be wiped clean with a rag or paper towel. Use a few drops of oil on the rag to help remove any black wear deposits. Try to clean the cassette, derailleur idlers and the chain wheel as well. An old dish brush is good for this. Oil the chain by rotating the chainwheel backwards and letting the oil drop onto the lower inside part of the chain. Oil the derailleur idler bearings as well. After a delay, to let the oil penetrate, wipe as much oil as possible off using a clean rag. This prevents dust accumulating, causing additional chain wear. Dispose of any oily rags to prevent future fires.
On Désirée's bike I removed one shim from the freewheel mechanism, as it was a little loose and noisy when ridden. The freewheel is a low cost item so replacement is an alternative. The shim removal stopped the noise by reducing the bearing clearance. The cover worked loose because I did not tighten it up enough when I refitted it. I used a pin punch to tighten it up more firmly. I also used blue Loctite 243 threadlocker on the thread. This is a type of Loctite which allows the thread to be released at a later date.
Learning to adjust the derailleur will help to keep the bike running smoothly. It is a simple twist adjustment on the derailleur end of the cable housing. The cable can stretch slightly with time or the cable housing may shorten. To compensate, the adjustment is turned while pedalling the bike, by hand, in a middle gear. You may need help to support the rear of the bike off the ground, or you could turn the bike upside down. Adjust for minimum chain noise. Turning the adjustment anticlockwise moves the derailleur towards the wheel, This may assist the reliable movement of the chain onto a larger sprocket (lower gear). Turning the adjustment clockwise helps with the reliable selection of a higher gear. Excessive noise means that the derailleur has positioned the chain out of alignment with a sprocket. Your local bike shop can help.
The brakes need adjusting as the brake-pads wear. In this case the adjustment is on the brake lever. There are grooves in the pads which mark a wear limit. When the grooves are worn away it is time to replace the pads For riding in the rain the existing brake pads may need to be exchanged for softer pads, such as Kool-Stop Salmon or Swissstop Green. Applying the brakes ahead of time will help to clear water off the rims. Longer term the wheel rims will wear from braking. When they are near the end of their useful life they will have a distinct concave surface. Rim replacement is then required.
I carry some spares and safety equipment on our trips. This includes a spare tube, a tyre repair kit (including patches and tyre levers), a 15 mm ring spanner, a bike multi-tool, light rainwear, a sun hat, a basic first aid kit, a torch, a lock, a small tripod and a tiny folding kite. We always take water, a sliced apple and some small chocolate bars. I usually have a locality map printed, or on my iPhone. We both carry cell phones. I keep a larger tool-kit and lubricants in the car.
Shimano Revoshift 7 Speed Gear Shifter
My bike may need a new gear shifter as one of the detents is worn or bent. I simply re-adjusted it so it goes from 0-6 rather than 1-7. The 7th detent is faulty. This arrangement has lasted for over 1000 km. I now have purchased a spare shifter for $30 which will be fitted sometime. Most drive-train and braking spares for this bike are not expensive and they are readily available from most bike shops.
I lost two 5 mm bolts which held the carrier stays onto Désirée's back wheel dropout. Riding on rough surfaces and the variable sideways loading of these screws contributed to the loss. I replaced the screws, on both bikes, with stainless steel Allen bolts and lock washers. I also applied Loctite 243 threadlocker to the threads. I now carry some 5x15 mm bolts and a few cable ties as spares.
More recently the middle carrier stay, on Désirée's bike, broke at the top mudguard mounting hole. This was an old well used steel item so the initial crack may have happened on another bike. I simply shortened the stay slightly and re-drilled it.
After riding these bikes for about 2000 km there were a few minor items of maintenance. The pedals needed adjusting as the bearings had a little play in them. The cure was simple, remembering that the outer thread on the right-hand side of the bike, as ridden, is left-handed. The direction for the threads can be worked out by considering the normal rotation of the pedals relative to the shaft. I removed the pedal bearings and washed all the parts with petrol. I then replaced the grease, inserted the bearings, and reassembled the pedals.
I checked the wheels and adjusted the cones to re-tighten the bearings. The bottom bracket and headset bearings were fine, the former being a sealed unit. All cables were good. The brake pads do not need replacing just yet. Our tyre problems are described above.
I check the bike frames periodically with a magnifying glass and a strong light. I look for any signs of cracks which are rare but can occur in any bike frame. I make sure the clamps that close the frame, the seat tube and the steerer tube are tight but not over tight. I read that some other brands of bike have failed in the area of the frame hinge welds. When checking my bike I was pleased to see that this component is reinforced underneath. This distributes the stress along a much longer weld line. In accelerated fatigue tests, cracks may occur in heat affected zones which are under tension and near welds.
Smaller Chainwheel for Hills
I have changed the chainwheel on Désirée's bike from 52-teeth to 39-teeth. This makes it easier to climb hills. The gear range is from 27.2 to 54.5 gear inches, 2.17 to 4.35 meters development or a 2.03 to 4.07 gain ratio. The lowest gear is the same as that on my Jamis Allegro road bike. The highest gear is now similar to the setup found on some single speed commuter/shopping bikes. The number of inches to remove from the chain should be approximately: (old chain wheel teeth - new chain wheel teeth)/4. Another inch may be required if smooth running is not obtained. Here, (52-39)/4 = 3.25 inches of chain to remove, which means three or four inches. I initially removed three inches.
My old chain tool was not very good as it was hard to get the chain-pin and chain-plate set right when joining it up. This caused the chain to come off later, when running in the highest gear. A new Park multi-tool fixed that. In the lowest gear the top derailleur wheel also conflicted with the largest cog, which made a rumbling noise. As the chain is shortened this top wheel moves in an arc upwards and then downwards. Adding an inch to the chain length made it too loose in the highest gear. The final solution was to remove four inches of chain. Longer term a 46-tooth sprocket would be ideal. This adds one more low gear and removes the original highest gear. In this case only one or two inches of chain would need to be removed from the original length.
I obtained a 42 tooth recycled chainwheel in good condition so I replaced the 39 tooth chainwheel. The gear range is now 29.3 to 59.7 gear inches, 2.34 to 4.68 metres development or a 2.19 to 4.38 gain ratio. Désirée's bike now has a 20% lower gearing than mine.
I also added a recycled BMX chain guard as shown at lower right. These chain guards don't have the "right look" for BMX cyclists so they are often removed from new bikes before sale. Enough room was left to allow a larger chainwheel to be fitted. A revised aluminium stay was added to support the rear of the chain guard.
Chain and Freewheel replacement
I replaced the chain and the 14-28 tooth free wheel on both bikes. The 14 tooth sprocket was worn and prone to slipping under load. I finally fitted the replacement gear shifter on my bike. I also fitted new cable outers. The brake pads are worn so they will need replacing. I replaced the bearings, cups and cones in the front wheel hub of Désirée's bike as it was becoming noisy.
We purchased two SmartMotion e20 electric folding bikes from Wellington Electric Bikes on the 14th of November 2014. The ExpressWays are now used for mostly flat rides so the reduced gearing is no longer needed.
Hawke's Bay Cycle Trails - 9th to 14th April 2013
We spent a delightful week cycling about 110 km along some of the
Hawke's Bay cycle trails.
A trail map can be downloaded
On our first day we cycled a return trip from Clive through Haumoana to the Clifton Cafe. The complete ride was about 35 km. On other days we rode distances from 20 to 35 km.
The following morning we cycled the Puketapu loop along stop banks on both sides of the Tutaekuri River. At Puketapu, our halfway point, we had a well-deserved lunch at the award-winning Puketapu Pub.
The next day, our ride through Ahuriri to Westshore was troubled by moderate head winds. Some of the riding surface was smooth concrete which helped, considering we had some soreness from the previous days' cycling. We rode along the Westshore waterfront to the Snapper Cafe. Here we had a nice coffee and some food before our return trip with the wind behind us.
On our last day we rode from Clive past the wetlands and then towards Havelock, along the Tukituki River. Inland there were vineyards and orchards with a nice refreshment spot along the way at the Bivvy Vineyard Cafe. Near Havelock we stopped at the Tuki Kitchen, now rebranded as the Tandem Cafe, for an exceptional meal. We then returned to Clive along the same route. The Kennett Brothers book "Hawke's Bay Best Bike Rides" is recommended.
We had a very enjoyable stay at the River Bank Cottage in Clive.
See Dizzy's folding bike blog for more details, and information about our other rides, including another Hawkes Bay stay.
Otago Rail Trail 2nd to 5th April 2014
We cycled the Otago Rail trail on these bikes. The ride took 4 days. We had fine weather, except for the last day when it rained steadily. A description of the ride and photos are on Dizzy's folding bike blog.
Near Tunnel No. 2, Poolburn Gorge
We experienced no problems with the bikes. There were no flat tyres. Adjustments to Désirée's bike after the ride were the re-tightening of the bottom bracket lock nut and a minor cone adjustment on the rear wheel. Tyre pressures were 35 to 40 psi in the front and about 55 psi in the rear. The reduced pressure in the front improved riding on loose surfaces. The ideal pressure was found on our Lake Ohau ride after I skidded into a Matagouri bush - ouch!
The bikes were easy to ride on the loose surface although some of the long steady climbs were tiring. We took basic first aid items, clothing for wet and cold weather, thermal underwear, emergency blankets and parkas. We used layers of relatively thin, mainly woollen, clothing. We carried a small repair and maintenance kit, Spare cables for gears and brakes, locks, cameras, a small tripod, some food, phones, torches, and a tiny radio for forecasts. We each carried an additional water bottle. Everything fitted in single bags mounted on top of each carrier. We used several Snaplock bags to keep various items dry.
I carried my Pentax K5 SLR waterproof camera in a small bag attached to my handlebar. In fine weather my Canon G11 camera was mounted on the handlebar ready to take photos. The tilting screen helped with the composition of photos and the stationary bike acted as a good tripod.
A small suitcase with additional items was transferred to the next location by Trail Journeys. They also handled the accommodation bookings for each night. This arrangement meant the bikes were not too heavily loaded on the rough surfaces.
In total, including additional rides at Christchurch, Lake Tekapo, Lake Ohau, Arrowtown, Queenstown and Glenorchy, we rode over 300 km mainly on loose gravel surfaces. The trails we have ridden on are relatively smooth and probably easier on the bike than typical New Zealand stone chip roads. For serious off-road riding a different bike is needed.
Gearing upgrade - August 2017
Wellington is very hilly and the wind can get quite strong as well. My other bikes have a 34 tooth "bailout" cog on the rear sprocket for this reason. I have now had a new 14-34 tooth, 7 speed, Shimano Mega-Range freewheel fitted. This was combined with a Shimano Acera derailleur and a 7 speed trigger shifter, which has a large and clear display. New ergonomic locking handgrips were also fitted. These items are shown at right. Other suitable derailleurs are available in the Tourney and Altus ranges from Shimano. The Altus derailleur is 15 mm shorter than the Acera, which may matter if narrower tyres are fitted.More than ever, this bike rides and feels just like my other bikes. I also will be adding a Phillips handlebar bag bracket so I can carry spares and other items for longer rides.
The bikes are performing well. As I have gained fitness the urge to upgrade the gearing has dissipated. Much of the recreational cycling, in the first half of last century, including round the World trips, was done by people using 1 or 3 speed gearing. The 3 speed bikes also had less than half the gearing range I have now. In most applications there is little need to substitute higher grade bike components. However, I have recently improved the gearing, mainly to help with my steep Wellington riding.
I have found that off-road loose surface riding is a good way to gain bike handling skills. When I was at school, much of my long distance riding was on gravel roads using a standard racing bike with narrow tyres. I also took my children on some slow rides around a local BMX track, when they were learning to ride normal bikes.
With suitable bike skills a suspension is not required for recreational off road riding. Partially lifting off the saddle when negotiating bumps removes a lot of stress from the bike and the body. The bike simply rocks back and forth. This is just like a Mars Rover, which operates without any suspension. Similar skills are required for BMX bikes and comfortable horse riding.
Wellington has many cycle trails with easy access from the central City. For example, the Pencarrow Head ride can start with a ferry trip to Days Bay. The Hutt River Trail can start with a train or Ferry trip to Petone or a down-valley trip can start from Upper Hutt. A Kennett Brothers book, "Wellington's Best Bike Rides", is recommended.
When cycling in New Plymouth we discovered that the bikes are good in the rain. The carrier, added at the rear, provides some spray protection from the rear wheel. The small wheel size at the front means the feet don't get as wet as they do on a standard bike. See Dizzy's folding bike blog and the photo at right.
The folding bike has provided me with a pleasant way to improve my health. In addition, I have been able to explore many areas in my own city that are new to me. The gains have been significant. I am usually pain free, which was not the case before I started this activity.
After more than 3500 km we have had few problems with these bikes. They are entirely suitable for our current activities.
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My Giant ExpressWay 2 folding bike at Oriental Bay
Twin folding bikes in our Nissan Micra
Lowepro bag attached to handlebar
Bottle holder mounted on the carrier
600 mL Bottle in the holder
South of Pencarrow Head, Wellington
Puketapu Loop, Hawke's Bay
Lowry Bay, Wellington
Kenda 912 Rear Tyre Fault
New Plymouth Coastal Walkway
Hutt River Mouth
Hutt River Trail near Gracefield
Hutt River Trail near Silverstream
Queen Elizabeth park, Paekakariki
Pencarrow Head, Wellington
Puketapu Loop, Hawke's Bay
Bivvy Vineyard Cafe, Tukituki River Trail, Hawke's Bay
Bikes washed, dried and folded at Middlemarch
My bikes showing similar setups
39 tooth chain wheel and BMX chain guard
Shimano 14-34T freewheel and Acera derailleur
Trigger shifter and locking handgrip