At a glance: Swobo Baxter

It starts with a grand un-boxing. With all the bikes I’ve fixed, taken apart and re-assembled in my day, I’ve never had to build a bike that came in a box before. Swobo actually takes their bikes out of the box, assembles them, tunes them up, makes sure everything is happy slappy, and then boxes them back up before shipping them out to customers. That means that assembly of the Swobo baxter was just about the simplest thing I’ve ever done with hand tools. Note those awesome reflective sidewalls!

After spending a few minutes unwrapping plastic bags, I ended up with a pile of hardware and such.

Then it was time to snip a few zip-ties, take the front wheel off and remove a bunch of padding.

The handlebar grips, end-caps, brakes and shifter were already assembled and perfectly adjusted. All I had to do was remove the headcap from the stem, put the handlebar in place and tighten things down.

Then, I just had to put the (anti-theft) skewer through the front wheel, attach it, drop the seat post into the seat tube and attach the pedals.  Done. The whole assembly took me about 30 minutes while taking photos. If I’d had a work stand and wasn’t concerned about taking pictures, the build could have been done in 15-20 minutes.

The Swobo Baxter features 32mm-wide Vittoria Randonneur tires, again, with the reflective sidewalls.

And a tread shot.

An 8-speed Alfine internally-geared hub does all the shifting.

A bonus commuter feature: Chain guard. I love this.

Stopping duty is handled by a pair of shimano cable-pulled disc brakes.

The seat-post has an integrated tail light with 5 modes including steady. It’s powered by a pair of AAA batteries (not included).

The whole bike, after build-up and fitment.

I took it to work this morning, and there was a lot that I wanted to say about Baxter’s various parts and features after one ride. I’m going to put this rig to the test over the next few weeks, though, and let you know how it goes when I’m all done.

We’re not keeping this bike, nor are we receiving any monetary compensation to review it. We just like to play with new gear, and we were happy that Swobo was able to let us borrow one of Sky Yeager’s newest creations.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

21 Comments

  1. RL December 10, 2009 9:44 am 

    Nice…that’s a sharp bike. I can’t wait to hear about your thoughts on that rear hub. I dig the integrated light in the seat post.

  2. Ghost Rider December 10, 2009 10:07 am 

    Alfine rocks, and Sky rocks, too! So excited to read the full review.

  3. db December 10, 2009 10:42 am 

    I’ve been admiring the look of that bike for some time. Interested in hearing how it performs.

    BTW, I have those exact Vittorias on my road bikes, and I love them. Sturdy and grippy, featuring reflective sidewalls and low rolling resistance, and I’ve had almost no flats with them. Great tires.

  4. Jay December 10, 2009 10:51 am 

    What db and Ghost Rider said. I’ve been coveting one of these for a while now and am anxious to read the full review.

  5. Jen December 10, 2009 11:11 am 

    I’ve been riding the Baxter since July, and I love it. It’s a blast to ride and easy to maintain. The chain guard is great, although I do still have a wide leg pants that get chain grease on them. I’ll be interested to see your review.

  6. jdmitch December 10, 2009 12:11 pm 

    Gah, so jealous. I wondered, when you posted the sneak peak of the beat up Swobo box, if it wasn’t a Baxter. Nice.

  7. Brendan December 10, 2009 12:30 pm 

    I likey.

  8. zendude December 10, 2009 12:45 pm 

    Bike looks great! I would love to see a belt drive and a generator hub. I look forward to your review.

  9. Elizabeth December 10, 2009 5:07 pm 

    How’d it do in the wintry weather?

  10. Tinker December 10, 2009 5:21 pm 

    I LIKE that handlebar! I assume it’s aluminum, but do you know the name of the bend and the maker?

    I want to buy one for my bike…

  11. Powerful Pete December 10, 2009 6:02 pm 

    Looks like a very well thought out commuting bike. Cannot wait for the full review.

  12. BGri December 10, 2009 7:36 pm 

    Looks great except for the barf green paint. Or is that a theft deterrent feature?

  13. Noah December 10, 2009 7:54 pm 

    I happen to like the color. Reminds me of the surly LHT and rivendell atlantis paint schemes. It’s the only color the Baxter comes in, though, and it’s definitely a love it or hate it color.

    Elizabeth: It handled snow better than I expected. I have some pre-review thoughts from Day One posted on my personal site.

    Tink: It’s supposedly Swobo’s own design, called “Hoopty Bar” which Swobo doesn’t seem to have available in their online store yet. You may be able to call them and ask for it. You may also want to look at the Nitto North Road or Nitto Albatross handlebars. They’re similar but subtly different from one another. See a comparison here

  14. Steve December 10, 2009 10:34 pm 

    What, a chain guard but no fenders?
    Otherwise looks like a nice ride.

  15. Elizabeth December 11, 2009 12:54 am 

    Noah – great insights on your day one. I think the lack of fenders/rack alone would keep me from riding it any distance. But maybe that upright position would alleviate my upper back pain (take the pressure off). Have fun putting it through the paces of winter riding. :-)

  16. rick December 13, 2009 6:30 am 

    I switched to a more upright bike over the summer. It is a little bit slower, but just as enjoyable. This bike also has the Alfine hub. It’s another great item. I was afraid the gearing would be right. So far, I haven’t had any issues except for the 4-5-6 gear range. It’s a bit widely spaced for me.

  17. Mike Myers December 13, 2009 6:54 pm 

    I like the bars and the color. However, I see some shortcomings.

    1) The disc caliper should be mounted on the left chainstay to allow the use of any rack, instead of disc-specific racks(which are rare). I know using a regular rack CAN be done, but making things easier is always better.

    2) The integrated light is a neat gimmick but will be obscured by a rack trunk or even a large seat wedge.

    I don’t quite understand the market for this bike. The inclusion of the Alfine hub and chainguard make me think urban all weather commuter, but the lack of fenders and rack tell me no. Painted fenders would make this look much nicer and make it much more useful, too.

  18. Noah December 13, 2009 7:41 pm 

    Mike, you’re hitting on some of the very points that I am going to hit in my final review. The other thing the light does is forces you to have more than 4″ of seatpost showing. With this bike running at the top end of my usable size, that sucks. It’s one of those things that you should keep in mind. Get something on the smaller end of your range if you buy a bike with this seatpost, or prepare to provide your own post.

    I have many more thoughts about this bike, and most of them are great. For what it’s worth, the SunLite rear rack I normally use on my touring-geometry road bike fits perfectly on this bike with only two small washers on the disc-brake side to give it clearance. That part doesn’t seem to be a big deal.

  19. Review: Swobo Baxter urban bike | Bike Commuters January 19, 2010 11:16 pm 

    […] Back in December, we took delivery of one of Swobo’s newest creations: The Baxter. The striking form and stellar fit-and-finish should come as no surprise. It was planned and laid out by Sky Yeager, a renowned bike designer. Now it’s time for me to talk about my adventures. My very first impression? The bike itself feels a bit like a fast cruiser bike. I like it. A LOT. […]

  20. Dimmodd October 15, 2011 3:25 pm 

    Do you know weight of Baxter?

  21. Ed November 8, 2011 2:46 am 

    Can somebody explain the difference between Baxter Swobo and Kona Dr. Good? Similar price range, very similar bikes (so it seems) Can’t decide between the two.

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