Monday, 6 January 2014

About the bikes

I have just done a whole lot of "fiddling" with my blog. I have added a list of Keywords along the left side of the page to facilitate finding topics of interest. I have also shifted a few entries that were in the "Other Stuff" page to the main page, even though they are not about cycling, but about some of my other interests.

On John's suggestion that some technical information might be of interest to some people, I am adding below a pared-down extract from his webpage, about the Giant Expressway 2 Folding Bike. This also allows me to add some useful technical keywords to the list.

Giant Expressway 2 Folding Bike (by John Patterson)



The Giant Expressway 2, 2013 folding bike is the latest folding bike from Giant. The bike is intended for commuting, where a larger bike might not be permitted on peak hour public transport. The bike is also ideal as a means to explore new places, and to get fit. There are many suitable cycle trails and tracks here in New Zealand.

Twin bikes. Note the higher seat on John's bike in front (photo by John)

I purchased this bicycle as an easy re-introduction to cycling. I got it at Burkes Cycles for $560 which was a standard discount from the retail price of $599. This price to that of a good quality conventional bike so a decision can be made purely on personal needs.

I had not cycled for 13 years because of health issues. The folding bike was perfect as I could put it in the car and take it to somewhere flat to ride. Now that my fitness has improved, I have started using the folding bike for longer rides. It deals well with variable surfaces – I have had no problems with riding it on gravel.

I bought Désirée a bike so she can join me on the rides. Both bikes can easily fit inside our small Nissan Micra car with room to spare for luggage when travelling further afield.

Both bikes easily fit into our Nissan Micra, with room for luggage behind the front seats (photo by John)

 Technical details

The components are basic, but sufficient for most applications. So far I have had no 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 seven 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 geometry of the bike has similarities to the classic, and well regarded, Raleigh 20 folding bike. 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 seat post is supported, in 4 distinct places, rather than in just the 2 places found on many other folding bikes. The Expressway wheel base is 1013 mm, while the Raleigh 20 wheel base is 1003 mm. The shortest distance from the seat-post axis to the handle-bar axis is the same at about 570 mm. 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 about 392 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 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 helps me to 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 tilts out further. This prevents it being knocked by my hand during rides.

A rear-view mirror is added onto the end of the handlebar (photo by John)

On each bike I was able to fit a holder for a 600 ml drink bottle 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.

A bottle holder was added behind the seat (photo by John)
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 handle bars. They can contain items such as locks, sun-glasses, cameras and tire repair kits. These bags have pull-out rain covers.

A camera bag is fitted onto the handlebar. Note also the bell, the bike computer (top right of photo), and the quick-release lever to adjust the tilt of the handlebar (photo by John)

On my bike I replaced the saddle with one with longer mounting rails and better comfort. This allowed me to set the saddle back further so that the set-up was similar to my mountain bike. On Désireé's bike I also replaced the saddle with a more comfortable one.

I have a basic LED lighting set-up for emergencies. I don't anticipate cycling at night.


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.

There appears to be little relationship between the specified and the actual tyre dimensions on many bikes. This means that any upgrading is essentially an experiment. The frame clearance from the tyre wall should not be much less than 3 mm. This maximum measured width of a substitute tyre should therefore be no more than 56 mm in the front and 42 mm in the rear. The particular internal width of the rim can affect the measured tyre width and place limits on the maximum tyre width that can be safely fitted.

After experiencing a few punctures I upgraded to Kenda 912 20x1.75 inch tyres. 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 about 2.5 mm. Note that the Giant tyre specification is wrong in New Zealand. Here, Kenda 20x1.25 inch tyres are supplied instead of the specified 20x1.75 inch tyres.


The maintenance required on this bike is similar to any other. Keeping the chain clean and lubricated is important. I first use some light oil to penetrate inside the chain. I wipe off the outside of the chain and then I apply some dry lubricant.

On Désirée's bike I removed one shim from the freewheel cassette, as it was a little loose and noisy when ridden. This is a low cost item so replacement is an alternative. The shim removal stopped the noise by reducing the bearing clearance. The cover recently worked loose because I did not tighten it up enough when I refitted it. Using a punch I have tightened it up more firmly. I also used blue loctite 243 threadlocker to assist.

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. Excessive noise means that the derailleur is trying to move the chain out of alignment. Your local bike shop can help.

The brakes may also need adjusting as the brake-pads wear. In this case the adjustment is on the brake lever.

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 on my iPod Touch. We both carry cell phones. I keep a larger tool-kit and lubricants in the car.


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. I see no need to substitute higher grade bike components for our application.

I have found that off-road loose surface riding is a good way to gain bike handling skills.

When cycling recently in New Plymouth we discovered that the bikes are good in the rain. The carrier, added at the rear, provides 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.

The folding bike has provided me with a pleasant way to improve my health. The gains have been significant. In addition, I have been able to explore many areas in my own city that are new to me.


  1. Enjoyed your blog Desiree, and all the photos of your rides -both yours and John's. Does your sister know that there are two mosaic "couches" in kapiti/ They don't have a couch in their heart though! One is between the Paraparaumu library and Council buildings which are behind Coastlands mall, parallel to SH1.
    The other is in the process of completion, despite some low lives destroying a part of it. This one is at Raumati South on a lawn at the end of Poplar Ave which is first right off SH1 after Mackays Crossing.
    Happy New Year

  2. Hi Deborah, Happy New Year to you too! Thanks for the info about the other mosaic couches. I will pass it on to Aimee.

  3. Hello Desiree. I just have a question regarding the tyres on the Expressways. Will a 20X1.5 work or fit on the rear? I ride to work with my Expressway 2 and I am thinking of replacing them with Schwalbe Marathons 20X1.5s.

  4. Hello Runstedt, since we run Kenda 912 20x1.75 tyres here your choice of a 1.5 inch tyre should be fine. For further information about the bikes you might want to check John's website . All the best

  5. Hi Dizzy,

    I just wanted to let you know what an inspiration you and John have been to me and my wife. I haven't ridden a bike in anger for many a year although I used to race at a minor competitive level in the UK. That however seems like a lifetime ago. I now live in the Philippines and my wife and I have had 19 happy years together, she is 5 years younger than me and on her birthday this year, February 22nd. I decided it was about time she experienced the joys of riding a bike. I bought her the bike and taught her how to ride and she is hooked, she now gets up as soon as it is light at the weekend and drags me out of bed to go riding, aaagggghhhh I created a monster !!!! really i am enjoying it tremendously. So at the age of 59 we have got a new lease on life and after seeing your blog we went out and bought 2 Giant Expressways. We picked them up tonight and we can't wait to ride them in the morning. We have already decided we will do a mini tour of Taiwan later in the year and we are like two teenagers planning and plotting our adventure.

    So in closing i would just like to say thank you to yourself and John for inspiring us and maybe in the near future we will be in New Zealand experiencing the roads you call home.

    Thank You

    Dale & Litz

    1. Hello Dale and Liz
      I was thrilled to get your comment. I am glad you are enjoying the blog and have bought Giant Expressways too. Will you be taking them to Taiwan? Where in the Philippines do you live? I spent two years in Manilla during my late teens in the 1960s. I would love you to email me at dpatterson at actrix dot co dot nz (replace at and dot with the appropriate symbols). I look forward to hearing from you.