Would you trade speed for comfort and convenience? On a foldable bike, doing regular commuting, errand runs and riding leisurely around your estate, I would. And that is exactly what’s good about the Flamingo HS-F2.
At First Sight
At first sight, the Flamingo HS-F2 looks like a very standard folding bike. It does have certain very unorthodox peculiarities. You’ll notice the disc brakes, first of all. Then there’s the much-respected mid-range Shimano 105 derailleurs, both front and rear. The tyres look pretty fat, but in reality, they are 1.35” in width. The saddle looks really comfortable, with a Schrader valve behind for you to put air in it, and the grips are wide-area grips for comfort.
No Pads, No Gloves, No Worries.
When I first mounted it, I found the geometric distances a bit cramped; especially the distance between your body and handlebar. It felt really uncomfortable and unnatural. Much of your weight is placed on the seat and the pedals.
But as with all bikes, you need a ‘break-in’ period to get used to its peculiarities. Give it a few rides, and you’ll find that this bike is very comfortable. You’ll first find that the saddle is very comfortable, it is large, cushy, and you can pump air in it for extra cushioning if you need. The seat was comfortable as it is, at zero psi. Pumped up (5 psi), it seemed to toughen up rather than get even more comfortable. Also, because you don’t put much pressure on your palms, you can ride it without your hands complaining. No gloves needed here, the grips are excellent. The bike also has a silicone rear suspension.
All in all, the ride is extremely comfortable for a commuter tackling less than perfect roads with a lot of uneven tar infill, bumps and other irregularities. Reliability is also this bike’s forte. I have never had problems with the derailleurs.
The biggest surprise of this bike is that it comes with disc brakes, mid-level Shimano 105 derailleurs, a 9 speed cassette and 3 ring chainring. This seems like a bike meant for a lot of speed.
Braking is handled by two DOT-4 disc brakes on this version. It does have posts for v brakes. These brakes handle braking very well, and while it does feel more powerful than V brakes, these discs aren’t significantly more powerful. So if you had the choice of V or disc brakes, you should consider the added price and your ability to maintain disc brakes. Coming from a road and commuting bicycle background, none of my bikes have disc brakes. Nonetheless, even though the rotors started to rub the brake pads after a few rides, some Youtube guidance was all I needed to fix it. I felt this bike is very well balanced in terms of weight distribution, which adds to its ability to brake very well.
On the contrary to a few riders, I didn’t find this bike to be particularly fast. Firstly, the bike has a very upright position, making it difficult when the wind picks up. I felt that the geometry didn’t allow me to squeeze out much power. To add to that, the gearing is particularly low, and it might be a problem for powerful riders. For me, an average non-racing rider, I found myself often cruising on the middle of the high range, which means that down slopes and during sprints, I have about four gears left. In other words, you can either ride at the top of the middle chainring, or in the middle of the outmost chainright. I have never needed to use the smallest chainring.
The slick tyres are really good. It is a 20x1.35” tyre, and while I didn’t find it as fast as a Kojak, it is still plenty fast, no doubt. It seems to handle light off-road riding quite well too, better than the Kojaks, for sure. I had a puncture after a few rides, though. Whether it is purely being unlucky or due to the tyre’s inadequate protection, I cannot ascertain, but I am leaning towards the former reason.
Nonetheless, while it is not the fastest, I would say that we just need to understand that horses are for courses. This bike gets a lot of points for its comfort, and when it comes to performance, it is moderately fast. Just imagine any upright folder with a geometry meant for comfort. That is pretty much the Flamingo HS-F2’s performance.