When you talk about the performance bicycle segment in India, there is one brand that is synonymous with this direction, and that is Firefox. It has maintained its position as one of the most aspirational bicycles for kids, and a great offering for adults who want more from their bicycles. We had reviewed one of their most popular hybrids, the Firefox Rapide 21S in March 2014, and now we have the 2016/17 edition to see how much has changed in 3 years.
The frame on the Firefox Rapide 21S is a hybrid alloy frame. This rigid frame is well built and sturdy, but is a little on the heavier side. The ergonomics on the Rapide is aggressive for a hybrid. You will find yourself forward bent to an extent, which ensures that you are in an ideal position for spirited riding. The frame has a combination of circular, tapered and flat tube profiles across the frame sections. This results in optimizing strength at the key joints, while minimizing weight where larger tubing is not required. The frame comes with the added advantage of a pannier rack mount option.
The Firefox Rapide is one good-looking hybrid. The frame design, unique and eye catchy tube profiles, along with one of the best paint jobs in the market, translates to the Rapide being a head turner on the roads. The grey, blue and white colour combination works well for the Rapide. The electric Blue pattern used on the decals added a character to the bike that we have never seen before. The overall paint job was consistent and top notch. Like we highlighted in our 2014 review, we would have loved for the crankset and wheel spokes to be in black, to compliment the rest of the colour pattern. The Firefox Rapide has certainly set a new benchmark for design amongst entry performance bicycles in India.
The 21-speed drivetrain on the Rapide is a combination of the 3-speed Shimano Tourney in the front derailleur, and the 7-speed Shimano Acera at the rear derailleur. Shifting was good across gears, barring a little bit of lag while shifting on occasions. I must make a mention that at this price point to spec the bicycle with a Tourney-Acera combination speaks volumes of the brands sourcing capabilities. The drive train is controlled by SHIMANO EF500 shifters, which were positioned well, and easy to use.
The Rapide comes with Alloy ’V’ Brakes with Shimano EF500 levers. Since the Rapide is built for fast, spirited riding, it is essential that good braking power is available at all speeds. The stopping power on offer was more than adequate for city and medium distance riding.
The handling department is another area where the Firefox Rapide scored well. The handling is good and reactive, while being surefooted all through. We only found the initial acceleration a bit sluggish, which is a result of the slightly heavy frame and wheelset. On corners, the Rapide darted in like a pro. As far as hybrids go, it was eager, well balanced and aggressive when we charged and leaned into corners. One feature that stood out for us was the Zoom adjustable stem. This option allowed riders to adjust the position of their handlebar, across 7 options/degrees of tilt. This meant that riders of various heights and proportions could adjust the handlebar to their liking, to improve handling and steering of the bicycle.
The ride quality on the Firefox Rapide 21S was good. It rides aggressive and that means that at times you will feel the feedback from potholes more than a comfort bicycle. The product managers who developed the Rapide have thought through every aspect of this bicycle, and the saddle is no different. The comfort hybrid saddle on this cycle was easily the most comfortable saddle unit we have ever tested. The cushioning on offer was just the right amount, without compromising on the ergonomics and structural integrity of the unit. To aid the ride quality, the Rapide comes with a semi-recessed handlebar that has comfort ergo grips which take the shape of your palm to provide maximum control and comfort.
The Wheleset on offer are hybrid 700 * 35c tires that are fixed on to double walled alloy rims. The treading and size of the tire were ideal for city and medium to long rides in Indian. We had one negative point to highlight with the wheelset, and that was that the weight which was on the higher side. A heavier wheelset provides more strength and durability to the ride, but can make the acceleration sluggish.
The name Rapide certainly justifies itself as the Firefox Rapide 21S is one fast bicycle. We were impressed from the word go, and the experience just kept getting better. The design and build quality was top notch, and this was aided with some good handling and components. If you are someone who is getting back to cycling, or upgrading from your basic performance hybrid, the Firefox Rapide 21S is a worthy suitor. It is a good all rounder with a great value proposition that goes beyond its price tag. So go ahead and ride the Rapide.