Review: Xootr Swift

By Adam Newman

Compared to the Brompton and Dahon, the Xootr Swift serves a slightly different purpose. Instead of putting compactness and fold-ability first, Xootr touts the Swift as riding like a full-size bike, while still being packable. Equipped with many standard bicycle components, the Swift is easy to set up, upgrade or repair with “normal” bike parts.

The wheels are 20-inches and can use commonly acquired BMX tubes and tires. The stock tires are Kenda with a mild, all-purpose tread. The rear dropouts are horizontal to allow for singlespeed or fixed gear conversions, and the spacing is 132.5mm to accommodate road or mountain bike hubs. The low-slung aluminum frame allows plenty of room for cargo under the seat with the optional seatpost-mounted rack designed for Xootr’s own bags, or any seatpost-mounted rack. (A standard rear rack will not fit.)

The folding mechanism is simple and straightforward: essentially the bike folds in half when you pull up the seatpost to unlock a hinge. The stock pedals don’t fold, and the handlebars, while detachable via quick-release, simply hang by the cables if you remove them. Its light weight makes the Swift easy to carry, but it is not freestanding when folded, and its relatively large size doesn’t help if you’re squeezing onto a crowded train day-in and day-out.

The Swift doesn’t fold nearly as compactly as a Brompton or Dahon, but it’s not designed to compete on packability. In rideability, it excels. With a wheelbase nearly as long as that of a normal hybrid bike (40.5”), it handles remarkably easily and requires no adjustments to steering speed.

Throughout most of my time with it, I kept it unfolded in my apartment and used it for zipping around the neighborhood. I didn’t use it for any train or plane trips, but it fit in the back of my car easily. With its low step-through height and easy manners, it would make a great choice for someone who just wants something simple to ride around the block. The Xootr website demonstrates how it will fit in a “regular”-sized suitcase, though it does require removing both wheels and the pedals, it’s nice to know it’s possible.

One way in which the Swift does compete is weight. At 25.1lbs., with pedals, it was lighter than the Brompton or Dahon. After all, with a small aluminum frame and small wheels, there’s not much to it. It comes equipped with a basic setup: 8-speed twist shift drivetrain with a 52-tooth chainring and 11×28-toothw cassette. If the 52 sounds unusually large, remember it is an equivalent to approximately a 37-tooth chainring on a 700c-wheeled bike.

Some accessories are available, such as a kickstand, Planet Bike fenders, headlight, racks or even a Thudbuster suspension seatpost. Though offered in five “sizes,” the frame is identical throughout, and the changes are made with shorter or longer stems and seatposts. I’m 6’2”, so mine was set up with the longer 100mm stem choice and the stock seatpost, which was rideable, though the longer seatpost would have allowed full leg extension. The sizes are fairly forgiving, since this is hardly a high-performance race bike.

There’s one other major difference between the Xootr and the others: the price. At $750, the Swift is very competitive compared to some higher priced folders. Want one? You can order it, and the accessories, directly from Xootr’s website with free shipping within the continental U.S. There is also a list of dealerships, including a few that keep models in stock. Since it is a folder, it comes well-packed and there is only a small amount of assembly required, but it’s a good idea to let your local bike shop give it a once-over if you’re not a mechanic.

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