Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Fixing the Dahon's Fender and Discouraged by Summer Heat

Cargo hook saves the day to temporarily fix a broken fender bracket.
With my regular Peugeot commuter needing attention, I pressed the Dahon into service, and lacking carrying capacity, on a whim I jerry-rigged my smallest panniers on the rear rack. But because there is scant heal clearance, only one of two pannier hooks fits, with the rear hook quasi-bungeed in place. The bags were pretty light so I thought nothing of my temporary solution. As I cruised to work I was smugly pleased that my panniers might actually work for the Dahon as back up transportation.

As luck would have it, I heard a loud crack and an ugly flapping noise so I pulled over to investigate. My first thought was that a pannier hook had somehow come loose and snagged the spokes - a fear that frequently haunts me whenever something goes wrong with the rear wheel - but it wasn't that bad. I'd apparently stressed an already weak fender bracket that connects to the frame near the brakes which keeps it above the wheel (my bike fell on our NYC trip and I had to bend the fender back in place) because, as it turns out, that was the only trouble - the fender was still intact (though rubbing on the tire) - so I used my trusty 4-hook cargo net to raise the fender for the remainder of my ride to work and then back home.

With much research, I also discovered these sturdy aluminum fenders are no longer available. Instead, only black plastic replacements are it - and I cannot go there with black fenders! Chrome-colored fenders are attractive on this dark green folder, and speak "commuter" to me so I will do anything to save the ones I have.

After removing the axle bolt, can you spot the extra problem?
The Dahon is an unfamiliar bike is many ways. As much as I like it's portability and comfortable ride, I knew the mechanics would be quite a bit different than my usual 1980's mountain bikes. To start with, I had to remove the rear wheel to assess the underside of the broken bracket and see if it could be unattached (only the rivets were showing).

I imagine there are other Dahon owners of this particular vintage who do their own maintenance and have stumbled on the same peculiarity: the derailleur needs to be removed along with the wheel. I took a picture of the alignment, though I knew it was still going to be a nightmare to put everything back together correctly. I tried not to think about it while I worked on the fender.  One thing at a time...

I knew I'd saved a rather unsightly, though perfectly serviceable fender bracket from a previous run in with sticks that's snapped a fender on another bike. My husband says I'm jinxed with fenders, and he's right, I've had more than my share of mishaps (or fenderamics as I like to call it)!

I was unable to pry off the broken piece - rivets on both sides - so I bent the replacement snug against the existing bracket, which seemed to work fine. See below.

 And, while I had the wheel off, I set about also replacing the rear reflector that I'd somehow smashed - how do these things happen? Again, the Dahon's reflector appears to be proprietary but I keep a stash of extra parts, including reflectors of all shapes and sizes.

While not as sturdy as the original reflector, it'll do and I'll just have to be careful when folding the bicycle.

Of course being the parts collector that I am, I also kept the smashed bracket because, well you just never know if I'll come across the right-sized reflector that I can epoxy in place!

After much adjustment and angst (more than likely my patience was lubricated by a beer), I fit the wheel and derailleur back into semi-usable position. It's not perfect. Gears are not shifting as smoothly as before, but the bike is ride-able until I figure how to adjust things or bring it in for a quick tune-up. I did some research but failed to come up with anything remotely close to this model that would be of any help. However, interestingly, I noticed that newer Dahons attach the derailleur in a separate frame hole, in front of the axle. Makes sense to me!

I have new tires for the Dahon, but, as you can imagine, I'm not keen to tackle that project until the current tires wear out.

As a side note, I'm having a terrible time this summer getting to bike projects. I have lots of ideas, sewing and otherwise, parts are in-house, I even got a new saddle, but this humidity has caused a general malaise. I'm still commuting as much as possible, but rides often end in air conditioned comfort or I jump into the lake to cool off. The last thing I want to do are bike projects!

Can a person hibernate in summer?


  1. We were riding with a group a few weeks ago and one of the couples had just moved from Maryland to Colorado. They kept saying how nice it was to be out of the humidity -- even though the rest of us were bemoaning the heat and humidity we were experiencing. I suppose it's all a matter of what one is used to. Since our humidity is frequently less than 20%, when it gets into or even close to those middle percentages, I feel like I'm going to die (which is often in summer). All of this to say that I can identify with your desire to hibernate in the summer. I don't do well in heat anyway and when humidity gets thrown in, I start missing winter. Of course, when winter returns, I'll be wishing for the warmer days again. I'm just never happy with the temperature! :)

    Looks like you found good solutions (even if just temporary) to get your Dahon up and running again. I'm unfortunately not the right person to offer places for you to look for solutions, but I hope you find what you need.

    1. I just learned that our city set a heat record for July (mean temp was 76), surpassing a 1920 record. I've never dealt with humidity very well - ours is currently hovering 60-80% (normals are 40-65) and according to the forecast, there is no immediate relief in sight. What a weird summer.

  2. Good to see you were able to make the repairs yourself with parts you had on hand. Immediately noticed the odd derailleur set up. What a hassle. Like you I just want to hibernate in this heat. Usually if I don't get out early, whether it be to ride or tinker in the garage, I do end up hibernating for the day. I wish for winter too but I know on that first somewhat cold day I'll be "wait a minute" lol.

    1. I actually enjoy winter now that it's not as bone chilling like the days of my youth. And we can have reasonable summers where periodic thunderstorms clear out the humidity every week for a pleasant few days. It's the prolonged heatwaves that are getting pretty miserable and downright scary.

  3. Every bike-oriented person I know has a collection of extra reflectors and reflector brackets “because you never know.”

    If heat and humidity is not your thing, you absolutely need to stay away from the Mississippi Delta between May and September. I handle heat pretty well, but WHEW, this is HOT by any standard. Don’t even ask about the humidity. Ugh.

  4. Nicely done Annie, excellent resourcefulness on the fender project! We just got a bit of rain and a few weeks of 85 deg + which is warm for Seattle, I recommend lots of IPA for self cooling...

  5. I read all of this mechanical stuff but was totally lost by the end of it....! It probably comes naturally to you and you don't realize how skilled you are!! But still, I'm learning....
    Here we have had many days of temperatures of 30 C or more (86 to you). The humidity yesterday when I did a 50 mile ride in this sort of temperature was 58. That is a bit higher than when I did my trip at the end of June. To be honest before this hot summer I have never taken much notice of the facts and figures of humidity, which I suppose is because we live somewhere where's it's not terribly humid generally. I must admit I do not look forward to winter - that's the time I really feel like hibernating but it's absolutely the worst thing to do!

  6. Hi Annie, I have just bought a used Dahon, P24 model, very pleased with it so far. Is your derailleur hanger original? It may change gear better if yo have a more forward facing gear hanger.

    1. Hi Dave. I love the color red, looks like a great find.


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