Concentrated Awesome in 20″ Wheels

9 11 2010

People dump bikes outside the gates of the local bicycle co-op all the time, so often that it’s a regular chore to haul them in every time we open the gates. Last week, I was greeted by an old folding bike in really rough shape, wheels tossed into the garbage bin. The slightly faded coral red frame caught my attention, and since it turned into a slow day at the shop, I decided to try to make it rideable.

Meet the Eaton Road King Porta Bike, made in Hungary.

The initial inspection revealed the frame’s fatal flaw – a home welding job is all that’s holding the front crossbar to the folding plate and the resulting angle of the tube is slightly, but noticeably off.

Porta-Bike's scarred heart.

The weld seemed to be holding, so I decided to take a chance on investing the work to fix it up. The first step was to rebuild the bottom bracket that had been left in a disgraceful state. The adjustable cup was missing, the threads of the shell were stripped out, and the spindle was attached to crank arms of 2 different sizes. Luckily, EBC is fully equipped with tools and old parts, and I’m equipped with the know-how to use them.

Yep, it's cottered, but it's too pretty to replace.

I straightened out and reattached the fenders, overhauled the coaster hub, added pedals, grips, tires, changed the seat, removed the remains of a built in generator system and, since I’ve taken these pictures, overhauled the headset and embarked on a campaign of rust removal and shine-up. I still need to find a suitable replacement for the quick release levers on the seat, stem, and fold, which are made of a plastic that is so degraded that it comes off in massive amounts of white powder every time they’re touched.

But why put so much work into a bike with a broken heart, who’s frame could fracture again tomorrow?

The answer is simple: this bike is an absolute joy to ride.

Wheeee!!

It’s peppy, responsive, and maneuverable, and the riding position is comfortably upright. It’s a bike that gets in and out of tight places with ease.

Twenty inch wheels don't feel small.

I now understand why Keith and some of the other EBC mechanics are so crazy for their twenty’s: while riding one of those bikes it’s impossible to not be happy. Sure it’s a little demanding of the mechanic who wants to race over the High Level Bridge on it, cranking 120rpm, but my other bikes have been easy on me lately and I need a change and a challenge, and perhaps some adventures on a bicycle with a tragic past.

What's more fun than a jeep with two steering wheels that only travels around in imaginationland? Porta-Bike, that's what!

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13 responses

10 11 2010
Val

You seem well on your way to becoming a full fledged necromechanic – welcome to the guild; you won’t regret it. Nice hat, by the way!

15 11 2010
Deborah

Dude! Portabike. looks. like. so. much. fun!!!

24 11 2010
Liam

I am supremely jealous of this bike. Also, I’m pretty sure I saw you riding it past red bike yesterday afternoon! Hopefully that doesn’t sound to creepy – haha

25 11 2010
evillerider

I’m sure the bike was more recognizable than I was under 6 layers of clothing. 🙂

12 06 2011
Lizard

Dear Ms evillerider,
We do not know each other, but we share a common love for our little folding bikes.
When I was a child, one of the first bikes that I had use of was a folding bike; long since I have lost track of that original little white folding bike, but the happy memories remain. By chance, in the last few day while looking for a new bike, I came across a “restored” (translate: repainted; burgundy with white fenders) Eaton Road King folding bike.
You are one of the only people online that I have found with lots of pictures that I can compare to; you seem to have lots or knowledge of, and passion for bikes, I was hoping that you might allow me to pick your brain a bit.
I also have 2 of my 3 original quick release bolts intact, the third has a broken/missing arm. From going through your posts, it looks like you have found a replacement for the quick release bolt yours was originally missing. Where did you find it/ what are you using? Your post “A Little Orange Sign and a Little Orange Bike” has a photo which shows that you have your original quick releases on your handle bars and seat, but I cannot make out what you are using at your folding hinge (coincidentally, this is the broken one on mine, I’ve pulled it apart and it’s just the arm that need replacement).
Also thank you for the heads up regarding that hole above the bottom bracket. I have never ridden a bike in the winter before, but I’d rather realize it’s there instead of not knowing about it.
Finally completely unrelated to the specifics of the Eaton folding racer, do you have any idea what that phallical looking stem is for behind your bottom bracket?
Thanks,
-Lizard

17 06 2011
evillerider

Hi Lizard! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog.

The QR on the hinge had been replaced with what looks like a made in the garage solution consisting of a bent nail threaded through a bolt, and several nuts. It’s ugly and sketchy, and can only be safely secured by using 2 wrenches. This means that my Porta-Bike isn’t really a functional folding bike, and I’ve only folded it twice in the shop for academic purposes. You could probably do something similar on your bike with some appropriately sized nuts & bolt, and at least have a functioning mini-bike.

As for the bottom bracket hole, I think the pics on this post were taken before I took out the generating system wires, and I really wished I had saved them, if only for the rubber plugs that went through those holes.

And I have no idea what that little thing behind the bottom bracket is for. Maybe it had something to do with the long gone chain guard or kickstand, or perhaps there was something that acted as a clip when the bike was folded up. I’m going to have to write a post on the mysteries of the Porta-Bike.

16 10 2011
Steve Robson

I posted something about my folder but in the wrong section . It is in the restored bike that is two blogs down from this one. Hee is a link to my one off custom racer. http://www.pedalroom.com/bike/3-speed-beater-693.

11 03 2012
Tim D

I Just came into possession of the exact same bike from my uncle who has had it for what i would consider centuries. Not sure what todo with it but I will post pics.

11 03 2012
Tim Dobson

Ive got pics now but unable to attach them. if you request any drop me a line..

15 05 2012
Esther

I have a bike like this too, I love it!!

12 06 2012
Seanzor

I just found one of these bikes the other day in someones garbage and i’m fixing it up right now as I write this, I’m in the middle of spray painting the 5 star rims on it white. They were dirty and ugly gray-ish but I’m thinking of “pimping it out” with gold chrome on the frame lol I could use some ideas

22 11 2015
Joe

Does anyone have an owners manual (online, or a scanned copy) that you can send me for a folding Eaton road king porta bike?..Also a website to buy parts. I have one that is in need of repair and possibly some parts. I’m also having trouble removing the fork from the frame.
It would be great if anyone can help out.
Thanks.

18 11 2016
Tristan Louis

Does anyone have a parts manual for this bike. I just got it but it’s missing its fenders and back rack. Would love to restore it to original condition.

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