Sunday, April 21, 2019

Dahon Boardwalk 6-Speed - A Smaller Chainring is a Winner

Dahon Boardwalk 6-speed with new 48T chainring.
After riding the Dahon 6-speed for nearly two years and struggling up hills near home, I wanted to lower the gearing with cost effective changes. It was rather fortuitous that Beth of bikelovejones had recently upgraded a Dahon of similar gear range, so when I was ready, I contacted Beth to find out particulars.

Dahon with original chainring.
Armed with information, I left my Dahon with Old Spokes Home, but also gave them the opportunity to come up with an alternative solution. The mechanic agreed that swapping the front one-piece crank arm/ring assembly was the best bet and would first take a look in their parts bin before ordering new parts. A couple days later a mechanic called, failed to locate suitable used parts, but could order the new parts, offering my requested 48T plus a 38T alternative. Of note: I regularly only used the lowest 4 of 6 gears, so switching from 52T to 48T made sense, whereas drastically lowering 12 teeth seemed too much of a change. I worried that had I chosen the big drop, then riding on flat terrain meant I would be coasting rather than picking up speed. What I particularly love about this bike (among its varied versatile features) is its surprisingly smooth ride - the bike rolls well and zips along, often keeping up with or passing other riders on descents.

Two weeks into riding with a 48T chainring has made a world of difference! I climb much easier and use gears 1-5 regularly, with only occasional drop into gear 6 with tailwind/and or when I need to get somewhere fast. I think the only other change I might explore in the future is whether the drive train could accommodate a larger freewheel, which might further enhance gearing for optimal range. But that's splitting hairs for a 6-speed, so-to-speak, and I'm perfectly happy with the new setup.


  1. Pleased you're happy with the up grade it looks good. That 52 tooth chainring was too large for me on the hills. My Dahon is such a lovely bike and a pleasure to ride. I've dealt with Old Spokes Home from over here and they were very helpful. They used to do good T shirts.

  2. I love it when a (relatively) small change makes a bike much more usable. I have a 36T ring on my 1X9 handsome devil, with a wide range 11x34 cassette out back and it works just great. Keep on Zipping along Annie

    1. Yeah, I'm very pleased with this minor change! I can see the Dahon as one of three bikes I might keep for the long haul. So much versatility with a little wheeled bike. Who knew?


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