Sunday, February 18, 2018

Curious about the Little Dahon 6-speed Boardwalk

The Dahon Boardwalk, circa 2003, folded as small as possible.
In the process of transferring bicycles from our garage to a porch for winter storage, I brought the Dahon into the kitchen, and decided to investigate how this new-to-me folder really operates (previous to riding the Minuteman Bikeway in January).  

There were many concerns: to learn how the bicycle folds, how to store the bike in the provided bag, to wipe down and lubricate key parts, and in general to assess any potential problems I should address before a springtime getaway, and relying on the Dahon as primary transportation. Over the years I've found that by close inspection, running a rag over each part, twisting handlebars, spinning wheels, wiggling fenders and racks, squeezing brake levers, etc. is a task worth doing. If I feel confident the bike operates well, I can concentrate on other aspects of the journey.

I learned that the Dahon's right pedal folds neatly, but the left pedal does not fold at all, part of the original set up. And while the metal fenders might benefit, weight-wise, from plastic construction, I like the structural integrity of a stiffer fender. Like the fender, the rear rack seems well built and sturdy, ready to accommodate a load bungeed to it's framework. There is a lot to like about this older Dahon: it seems well-built, wheels are true with plenty of spokes, and has zippy 1.5" tires.

Concerns: The right brake lever is sticky - I will replace cable and housing. Current grips are inadequate and hurt my hands on longer rides - I have ergo grips on hand, ready to swap out which should create pain-free support. I'm unsure whether current tires will hold up much longer. There are minute cracks in the rubber, but they might be fine for another year. I'll decide what to do, closer to my spring adventure. I've already started to address the lack of braze-ons for a water bottle rack, plus I've picked up a short duffel bag that should strap on the rear rack without hitting my heels or flop dangerously on each side, a definite concern with folding bikes. I also have a handlebar bag that already has proven to function beautifully on the Dahon and has versatility to be a shoulder bag.

Inside the black soft-sided case I found the above documentation. It's funny to note that my model partially resembles the one on the cover.

Here's mine.

And, considering the funky descriptions, I didn't really know whether all the features applied to my model. However, I was able to fold up the large case into a barrel shape that could attach to either seat, handlebars, or wear as a fanny pack. This feature can be handy should I travel with bike folded and stowed in the bag then unpacked and ridden to a destination with the ability to carry the bag as a tiny package.

With the bicycle folded and stored inside the bag, I noted two important things: the bike weighs approximately 31 lbs. and is very awkward to lug in the folded position, bag or not! Also, there are backpack straps attached to the bag, but I couldn't imagine carrying this ungainly, rib-poking bicycle very far...Indeed, probably the best solution is to unfold the bike and wheel it around as much as possible.

Understanding the Dahon's abilities and limitations has allowed me to readjust my expectations regarding travel with a folding bicycle. As with any bicycle set-up, there are pros and cons. Knowing the specifics ahead of time should lend a positive spin on any adventure.

1 comment:

  1. I often take mine on trips round France, wish it had come with a bag to be tidy in the van for days on end.

    Once it was used for a week as only transport on an island and it performed perfectly. The small wheels did not ride so well on the rougher tracks as my friends larger ones did but without folding I would not have got a bike there at all...


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