With the looks of an American beach cruiser and a surprisingly light frame, this is a fun urban gadabout though its lack of a front brake makes it a bit dubious in the streets.
The Swobo Folsom takes design cues from the classic American cruiser bikes. It’s a design that every kid in America would have ridden at one stage, but one that bypassed the UK, probably because of our awful weather and stiff upper lips.
Global warming, an injection of fun and a desire by some 30-somethings to look cool on the streets mean grown up kids can now buy a child’s bike for adult play.
The Folsom is all about carefree fun and Swobo makes no claims otherwise. Nipping about on bike paths or just hacking through the park to and from the pub is what this bike is all about.
The uninterrupted frame lines, minimal component spec and understated matt grey paint are all intentional.
The Folsom is a hack bike. There are more practical bikes but the idea is that you just get on this bike and go.
You don’t have to worry about looking after it and if you forget where you last locked it up then the bike’s character is rubbing off on you.
Ride & handling: relaxed but surprisingly nimble and fun
The Folsom is comfy where it counts. The fat saddle choice is for riding in jeans not Lycra, and the geometry is predictable without being slow.
The bike only comes in two sizes but you shouldn’t really worry about top-tube length and saddle height on a bike like the Folsom.
The 4in riser bar seats you in a comfy sit-up-and-beg position and provides a relaxed mix of control and comfort.
It also comes with two big, rubbery handlebar grips.
There are more practical bikes, but you just get on the Folsom and go.
The back pedal brake takes a bit of getting used to, but it does encourage you to think ahead and is easier to master than a ﬁxed wheel.
Luckily, the nature of the Folsom and its relaxed gearing means that it makes you ride slowly, sit up and take in the world. This sedate pace also means you arrive without needing to shower off sweat.
There are no mudguard eyelets though, so you will need a shower if it’s raining. Not 100 percent practical but that’s all part of the Folsom’s ‘what you see is what you get’ attitude.
Frame & fork: lighter than it looks
The Folsom’s big aluminium tubes, horizontal singlespeed dropouts and lack of mounts for brakes or mudguards keep the lines smooth and simple. Grey primer paint takes the scrapes and should help keep it safe at the rack.
It’s lighter than it actually looks too. Those big aluminium tubes are tough enough to withstand knocks, but they don’t come with a signiﬁcant weight penalty, and of course the lack of components further lightens the ride.
Equipment: bare minimum, but solid & reliable
The carefree nature extends to the level of kit. It’s a singlespeed so you get one gear that’s just about right for cruising along.
There are no cable brakes, instead you just get a back pedal (coaster) break. The Folsom will have you screeching broad slides all over the place – it’s a good job the tyres come with a healthy layer of rubber.
There is a problem with this, though, as the lack of a front brake means that stopping power is reduced and the bike isn’t UK road legal.
This might explain the sticker on the top tube that says the bike is ‘for competition use only’. Whether this actually limits where experienced cyclists decide to ride their Folsoms is another matter.
The minimal level of equipment means it’s almost service-free.
Wheels: tough & solid
The Folsom pootles along on tough, solid rollers, with fat tyres to soak up the potholes and add comfort.
Verdict: 10 out of 10 for fun but needs a front brake for road use.
If you’ve got the money to spare, you have a ﬂeet of bikes already and you just want something no nonsense and enjoyable, then the Folsom’s that bike.
Fun rather than practical, the lack of front brake means that only you will know if you’re likely to get enough legal use from it to justify the purchase.
We wouldn’t want to ride any great distance on it either, but the Folsom has found itself regularly borrowed for weekend jollies.
So what’s the point you ask? Why don’t you just spend the money on a ‘proper’ bike? Because the Swobo Folsom is unadulterated fun, and we think that can be reason enough to buy any bike.