I’ve been doing my cycling on a old steel frame road bike – putting it in the boot of the car, driving the kids to school, cycling home, then cycling back in the afternoon and driving the kids home. This saved money on the car and meant I got exercise built into the day. It was also lots of fun.
However, now we’ve got a Tesla Model 3 and the road bike doesn’t fit into the boot any more. We’ve got some big hills round here so I needed a folding bike that would cope – both up the hills and down. I bought the first decent local folder that appeared on eBay, and it turned out to be a Giant Halfway.
I then found out that the Halfway was designed by Mike Burrows, a hero of mine. So I’ve got an actual Mike Burrows bike which is very cool 🙂
Mike Burrows likes cantilever mounted wheels – i.e. the wheels are only supported on one side. So that is where the ‘half’ in the bike’s name comes from. It does look cool. Not sure it really adds to the bike though:
- Yay – you can get the tyres and tubes off without taking the wheel off.
- However, you probably need to remove the brake caliper and a brake block to get access, so dismantling is still necessary.
- The hubs are custom so impossible to find replacements. However the bearings are cartridge bearings so the hubs should last indefinitely.
- Mudguard fitting is tricky without two sides to attach things to.
Overall the riding experience is very good. The bike is stable even at high speeds – much more stable than my road bike. Brakes were initially terrible – they are a sliding cam type – but with a bit of fettling and lots of grease they are now ok. The seat post is bendy for a smooth ride, although I worry about bending it permanently. The chain line and handlebars are very rigid so standing on the pedals works well.
I did change the freewheel (7 speed) to a Shimano Megarange with a 34 tooth bottom sprocket. No adjustment was required to chain length or derailleur and it shifts fine. I can now comfortably get up all the hills round here. The chainline isn’t great – with the big bottom gear and small rear wheel the angle is dramatic causing rubbing on the chainring guard. I might take the inner chainring guard off.
The gear ratios are fine. The range is limited but work in practice. The top gear is fine for fast level roads – as soon as you are going down a hill you will be freewheeling. Very rapid pedaling isn’t great because the saddle tends to bounce up and down on the long seatpost with lots of creaking. Personally this suits me fine – it is much better to optimise going up a hill because that’s where you spend most of the time on a circuit.
I changed the saddle to an old Brooks leather saddle, mainly because the Brooks has saddlebag loops and the saddlebag is a really nice way to carry things on a bike.
I bought mudguards specific to the Halfway from Ash Cycles. They arrived quickly and looked fine. The front mudguard fitted ok but the back mudguard didn’t come with any stays, nor were there any mudguard loops on the rear wheel arm. Hmm. Possibly the mudguards assume you’ve got the rack fitted? Eventually I figured out that:
- I could use one of the three screws fitted to the side of the rear wheel mount as they don’t appear to be structural.
- I could use a spare mudguard stay from my box of bits, plus a mudguard stay pinch bolt, to make my own stay.
It all seems to work ok and looks reasonably elegant, although fitting was fiddly as it is necessary to remove the wheel to get access to tighten the screws properly. Fitting mudguards is always fiddly.
Overall I like the bike. It works well enough and the compromises are good.
I’m very slightly slower going back into school (up the big hill) and quite a lot slower coming home down the big hill – presumably due to the gearing. Coming down the hill at speed the bike is very stable and handles bumps well. I can stand up on the pedals easily and get up most hills.
Brakes are adequate – I probably need new blocks and cables. The sliding system doesn’t work very well but with plenty of grease and a bit of adjustment they are good enough.
It isn’t amazingly small when folded but it goes into the boot of the Tesla ok.
The bike isn’t quiet particularly in bottom gear – the chain grinds due to the crazy chain angle (short stays, small wheels, big bottom sprocket). There are a few creaks – the old Brooks saddle, the seat tube clamp and the main frame hinge. I can probably improve these in time.
I am looking forward to having mudguards. This bike showed the result of not having mudguards – rusty yuck in the headset bearings, corrosion around the brakes etc. Plus without mudguards whatever you ride over you end up wearing – not good when your ride takes you through a farmyard. With this bike I’ll be able to ride in the rain – I couldn’t get my road bike in the boot with mudguards on.
Update: rear mudguard stay fail!
The bolt holding the stay to the rear mudguard has decided to seek pastures new and has fallen off. I’ll have to see if I can come up with something a bit more reliable…
Futher update: well this was one of those jobs you have to do a number of times to get it right. I think it took 4 attempts.
I ended up with an 8mm high-tensile steel hex-head bolt with a hole drilled through it and a nylock nut on the end. I thinned down the head on the lathe so it wouldn’t catch on the tyre. Not elegant or light but should be ok.
The yellow stuff in the picture is water pump grease. Since this is a steel bolt it will rust where I’ve machined it so I covered the relevant bits in this grease. If you haven’t got any I strongly recommend getting some – it really stops stuff rusting. I grew up using it on suspension bolts on old cars – it made it easy to undo the bolts after 4+ years exposure to salt water. Water pump grease doesn’t lubricate well so isn’t much good for bearings, but for keeping water out I haven’t found anything nearly as good.
Update: getting up the hills
This is the only non-eBike I’ve managed to cycle up our local pig of a hill – 15% and around 40m vertical height gain. This is partly because I’m now (just) fit enough to do it, but also because of the super-short chainstays and very rigid rear triangle.