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Small pack size, but bad on the road? Not so with the folding bike Birdy from Riese and Müller. It offers amazingly high level of driving comfort for a vehicle that is within 15 seconds to suitcase size. It is the ideal companion for rail commuters.


Holger Dambeck

By Holger Dambeck

Christian O. Bruch/ laif

Holger Dambeck

Born in ’69, since 2004, SPIEGEL ONLINE science and network world. Study of physics, and romance languages in Leipzig and Metz, assistant Manager, advertising copywriter, and most recently a volunteer and editor of the computer magazine c’t/heise online. Since August 2014, the Deputy head in the Department of science, for may 2015 head of Department science/health. Since December of 2017, Deputy head of Department.

More articles by Holger Dambeck

Wednesday, 22.06.2011
At 15:08

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I think I am slowly maturing for a folding bike. This realization dawned on me, as I stayed just two days in Schweinfurt. The Franconian city is too small of a bike rental system would be worthwhile, but for the pedestrians, the trails are often too long. I went, therefore, time train, time, Taxi, and in the evening, a nice colleague in his car took me to the Hotel.

There are worse things – but when you back in everyday life, most of the trails on the bike, you feel deprived without the wheel of his personal freedom. My own Bike I had unfortunately, I had arrived with the ICE, where there is no compartments. With a folding bike I would have had no problems. It may even be free with the ICE it counts as a normal piece of Luggage. The goal of folding it apart and explored the place.

A few days later, I’m already back from Schweinfurt, I’m finally on such a bike. A fire red
Birdy of the Darmstadt-based company Riese and Müller.


Riese and Müller GmbH

My first impression: The bike looks kind of weird, as all the other folding bikes. The small 18-inch wheels, the long seatpost and the unusual frame that consists practically only of a profile. The straight-line running is not the best, what would you expect from such small wheels? But apart from that, the Birdy almost like a normal wheel. The eight-speed derailleur is well-graded. Steep is no Problem, the mountains – and on the otherwise mostly flat streets of Berlin, it is also with the Birdy really fast.

Full suspension out of principle

The rotary handle circuit on the Handlebars works quickly and accurately – when Approaching the intersection, I am also without my trekking bike is usually the first. I had not expected.

The next Surprise comes on the cobblestones. I think actually a little bit of suspension forks or a full-cushioned wheels. A solid steel frame and slightly wider tires are usually the better and more solid solution for the city. Suspension forks like to go broken at times, especially the cheap ones. A good steel frame has a long life.

The Birdy is a full suspension – this is part of the company’s philosophy of Riese and Müller. In the case of the small wheel with the rigid frame and the 18-inch tyres, which can hardly wegschlucken something from the cobblestone, is also useful. Thanks to the damping rolling with almost no problems on bumpy roads.

Then I stand in front of my front door and think. How to fold the Birdy? Chain to the smallest sprocket, I remember. Right Pedal? Or down? I don’t know it and just try it out. Securing clip on the rear wheel, loosen the wheel lifting and the rear wheel falls in a hinge to the bottom. The beginning looks good.

At the front I am unsure. Only the Handlebar, screw, Clip, dissolve, and finally the wheel collapse? Or fold in, and then screw in? After several attempts with is clear: I would have to write that one down better. Something I’m doing at the Flaps wrong. Time, the folded looks put Birdy so, as in the photos, I know, let’s hold the Handlebars in place.

Click, Folding, Folding

No matter – now I grab the wheel with one Hand on the frame and high p. is’Four flights of stairs are not a cardboard handle, but the Birdy is wearing surprisingly well. Eleven kilograms weighs the test Bike, a few stairs are no Problem at all. No question, the Birdy is apartment-compatible.

The most fun is the Unfolding. First, the well-worn seatpost to pull out – and then a stronger jolt is sufficient to make the rear wheel around fast and locks into place. In the front I have to help out with the Hand, Faltprofis give it to him with the foot, elegant with a slight Kick. After about 15 seconds the wheel is ready to drive. It is clear, what do I do first, as soon as I fold from U-Bahn, Bus or ICE-‘m out: the Birdy apart.

The only real weakness of the Faltrads from Darmstadt, the relatively large pack size. Because only the wheels are folded away, but not the frame, the folded Birdy is relatively long and comparatively wide. Who likes it more compact, you should see the English classic Brompton or a model of Dahon. Thanks to a kink in the frame, the Bikes have to be folded together almost the dimension of your hand Luggage on the plane. A full suspension like the Birdy, however, offer neither
Brompton yet

The only thing that makes me hesitate is the price: 1560 Euro a Birdy in the equipment of the red Testrads costs. To me it is a bit too much money for a Drittrad, which should be around most of the time unused. But for rail commuters such a comfortable folding bike with is sure to be an interesting addition.

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