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Flexifoil Sport Buggy (Flexifoil)

Specifications
Name:
Model:
Dimensions assembled:
Dimensions dismantled:
Weight:
Options:
Flexifoil
Sport Buggy
115 x 150 x 40 cm
105 x 70 x 10 cm
13 kg
Special speed-wheels & narrow wheels


This buggy has been out for over a year now, but I had yet to see one in person.  All I had seen until this past weekend was the catalog photo of it on the Cobra Kites web page. The photo left much to be seen; what did that rear axle look like up close?  How was it configured? How important was that back seat strap to the integrity of the buggy?

Even without seeing or sitting in one, I went ahead and placed an order with my local retailer (Kites Etc. of Newport and Sunset Beach, Ca). I figured the price was good (quite a bit lower than the regular flexi buggy), and that Peter couldn't make a bad buggy. He hasn't.


The buggy is very light weight, or at least it's lighter than my current old flexi buggy (the model with all the welds and bends in the back axle). The  wheels are set back a tad further than the original, and the distance from center of tire to tire across the buggy is about 101cm. Mine came with the  wheels displaying no toeing outward or inward (the main reason I got a new buggy as the wheels on my old buggy are toed and tilted, maybe from to much 2 wheeling). The frame consists of the front forks and down tube (bearing headset, which I don't care for), 2 side tubes, and a back tube. The back tube, along with the seat, holds the side tubes together in the back. Unlike all other buggies I've seen, the rear wheel mounts are on the side tubes. The side tubes have quite a few bends and 3 welds along the length.

The back tube is quite small and is simply a long U. It fits into short tubes on the side tubes with no buttons. All the welds are very clean, and the whole thing is polished.

Assembly is easy except for where the side tubes connect to the down tube. One of my side tubes is *extremely* tight on the down tube, to the point where one needs to insert the bolt and tighten the joint to get the down tube fully in-between the 'rails' of the side tube. Quite a pain the bum. Only 2 straps of the seat have to go on part of the frame (the back tube) before the frame is assembled. The rest is done with plastic connectors. The seat has two adjustments. One of these is wrapped around the side tubes once.

At first I mistakenly wrapped it twice; it made for a narrower seat. The other adjustment raises and lowers the seat. I feel it needs a longer strap; I think I'd rather have my bum a little lower in the buggy. 

For all you folks who didn't like the original flexi buggy because of the seat (which they have redesigned according to their catalog), this one shouldn't give you much trouble. I wouldn't recommend it for the very large, but it will be comfortable for most. The seat is made of strapping and fabric, with the fabric on the very bottom. Unlike the Comp buggy from PL, this buggy allows very easy movement forward and back. There isn't any strapping to grab your bum.

The really nice feature of this buggy is the back tube. Although the pad they supplied for the tube isn't very wide, that tube almost substitutes for a spring back. A wider pad would enhance this even more. It's not perfect, as a spring back gives you support from top to bottom and this tube is just a line across your back. But for the buggier that wants to keep his center of gravity forward most of the time, this tube can give his/hers stomach muscles an occasional break. 

When I was pulling it out of the box one of the first things I noticed was the down tube. The adjustment holes weren't matched up perfectly across the width of the square tube. They were off by about 3/16 of an inch (almost 0.5cm). So I thought that, once assembled, the front end would lean to one side because the side tubes would not be matched. So I test rode this buggy with my old front end off my flexi buggy. Discussion with Ray at Cobra Kites revealed that because the holes are bigger than the bolt, everything would line up.  All the down tubes have irregular drilled holes.

After one day at El Mirage I can say I like the buggy.  The only concern I have with it is when doing hard left turns, hard enough to slid the back wheels.  There was a creak/rattle sound coming from the left side.  I checked the wheel for a loose bolt.  Nope.  The only thing I can think is that the joint where the back tube connects to the side tube is creaking. I'll look for a thin shim that I can wrap around the tube before inserting it (maybe paper?).

Complaints. 

The bolt that joins the side tubes across the down tube was welded on. Not a major problem, just Dremel it off.  But for the buggier that needs/likes to have everything ready to go (which I'm not), this can be a real pain in the bum.  With it welded, in order to adjust the length, one needs to undo the seat and most of the frame. With the bolt removable, one simply removes the bolt and slides the down tube (if the down tube slides easily in-between the 'rails' of the side tube, which mine didn't). Also, Ray indicated that some of the buggies have two bolts there, and some down tubes have 6 holes (instead of the regular 5). So some buggies have 3 adjustments, some have 5.  Hmm..

The connectors on the seat need something to keep the strapping from sliding through. On the strap that goes across the back of the seat, I had to tie the tail to keep it tight.  But there isn't that much tail available, so a simple overhand knot had to suffice.

Ball bearing head set.  I still just don't see the need. I've never heard of anyone haven't problems with turning the front wheel. Jeez, you got your feet over 20 inches apart, seems that would be plenty of leverage. I just don't get it, another place to get salt water in and freeze up over time. It must be cheaper to make them this way. The only advantage I see is that your buggy is less likely to roll a great distance on the lake bed when your not in it. Whoopee.

The bearing hole in the wheel seems a tad big. One of the wheels had a bearing rolling around in the box when I got it.  The bearing dropped into the wheel like butter, no pressure needed. Now I worry (since I take my wheels off all the time) if I'm going to lose a bearing.

Changes that I'll make to mine:

Stronger bolts. The bolts that are included aren't very hard, and the bumps at Berkeley can loosen and bend bolts. 

Cut off and replace the down tube/side tube bolt and nut. A locknut will keep it from loosening.

Shim on the back tube where it goes into the side tubes. Get a longer pad for the back tube.

Sew Velcro on the tails so that the seat straps don't loosen. Elongate one of the front ones.

I'll be using my old front end on the new buggy, as it's down tube fits the 'rails' of the side tubes nicely. And the new front end fits my old side tubes nicely. And the old front end doesn't have a BB headset.

Replace the buttons on the foot pegs with hard plastic end caps for 0.098 carbon rods. These are then held in place from the outside with a small O ring. The buttons that come with the buggy tend to stick and break over time (not to mention that these seemed a little on the shallow side). Major bummer if you don't have replacements (Dean found out that duct tape doesn't work to well).

Put large diameter bungee from foot peg to foot peg, to help keep feet on. I drill a small hole in the end of the food peg and connect a small screw gate carabiner from a hardware store (they are about 1.25" long). Then tie the bungee to the biner and run it across the down tube.  A 40" bungee cord from a hardware store fits, with room for knots.

Gosh, with all these changes seems that I wouldn't like the buggy. But I like to fiddle. I haven't decided as to weather I'll replace the seat with one that puts me further forward (like I did on my old one).

Disclaimer: This review is for entertainment purposes only. No connection to the manufacturer or it's distributors should be inferred (there isn't). I'm 5'8" tall, 152 lbs. Your price and mileage may vary.

Buggy Review by Steve Bateman

 

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