Monday, August 30, 2021

Dahon Boardwalk 6-speed vs. Eco 3 7-speed

I have ridden my Dahon Boardwalk and Eco 3 almost exclusively for the past two months. Swapping between the two periodically has allowed me to compare their differences and similarities, their unique qualities (rack, fenders, handle bars, folding mechanisms) plus, the most important factor: road handling.

From a riding perspective, the Boardwalk has always been a comfortable bicycle, I suspect, primarily because of it's steel frame. However, the Eco 3 has been surprisingly smooth and zippy. I haven't burdened the red beauty with as much baggage, so initially I suspected it's spritely ride feel came from a lighter aluminum frame with added steel fork to dampen stiffness. Or was it a combination of all three features with seemingly decent, if old, tires?

After getting to know the Eco 3, it impressively felt like a larger bike. How could that be? The wheels seemed larger, the top tube larger, and of course, without the front bag I was used to on the Boardwalk, I could visually watch the front wheel zip around corners - what I especially love about folders, their nimbleness.

While both bikes are low end 20" wheel Dahon folders for their respective eras, it means the newer Eco 3 (model offered in 2010-11) has updated characteristics that are especially appealing. I like the cockpit comfort, which feels more upright and has a more ergonomic, slightly curved handlebar with telescoping handle post for maximum adjustment. The pedals are grippier; the rear rack is aluminum; the fenders are either aluminum or a stiff, molded plastic that neither rattles nor shifts even when folded. I presume the Eco 3 weighs at least 3 lbs less. While the components are lower end compared with the Boardwalk, the easy shifting, better braking (could be newer brake pads), and similar if not the same low gearing, and secure hinges, means this shiny, barely ridden folder holds a lot of appeal.

Interesting that the center of crank distance to ground and the crank arm length are the same - considering frame geometries and style are quite different.

Riding impressions aside, it was the actual dimensions that shed more light. The Boardwalk's wheel base, seat post to handlebar length, and lower top tube show how it's a longer touring machine compared to the Eco 3. In the photo, the Boardwalk's seat and head tubes are obviously at slacker angles. 

While I generally enjoy the classic Boardwalk style, the red Eco 3 captured my eye, and upon further observation, it's clean lines, chrome accessories, and a curved fork, which I, in hindsight, obviously, couldn't resist - it oozes vintage Dahon. And who could resist a bike that was in pristine condition?

My first love.

There's room in my heart for this one too!

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Allowing a Little Light In

The ups and downs of this year have been overwhelming. I'm trying to find glimmers of hope, and sometimes that's in unexpected places. Like this beach scene above. In sweltering heat, I've donned a swimsuit and bike shorts and hightailed it after work to swim at different beaches, several days in a row. The rainbows and sunsets have been incredible - I even tried to view a sunset and full moonrise in the same evening, but unfortunately clouds obscured the eastern sky.

I've primarily been riding both folding bikes. It's been a fun comparison because each have their strengths and I'm fixing to measure key details so I can assess why they perform so differently. One of these days I'll fix the flat tire on my commuter bike...

Riding with the Queen City Bike Club has provided a social outlet - my only social network, other than monthly get togethers with two dear friends. 

As we all navigate this new normal, it's important to have goals  - close to home if it feels right or further afield, whatever is within our comfort zone. It's okay to ride a roller coaster, so-to-speak, but oh so important to remain positive. Go ride a bike!

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Vacation Ambivalence and Fatigue

What is a vacation? For me it's a time to recharge, travel, and do something meaningful.

In that vein, I'm planning two weeks off in September for a bicycle adventure, preferably out of state. But the logistics in the light of rising Covid cases, and personal comfort level, has made me have second thoughts.

And I'm tired. Tired of the unknown, Tired of thwarted plans. Tired (and jealous) of all the visitors entering Vermont this summer because of our relatively safe environment, when in fact, despite our wonderful leadership, we're not immune to rising virus cases. Tired of doing my best in a difficult situation as if living on unstable soil. I imagine we're all exhausted. I'm due for a good cry.

We put one foot in front of the other - some days literally - and march onward, stoic, because it's the best we can do. I'll pedal somewhere in September - whether it will be meaningful and restorative remains to be seen. I'm hopeful that remaining flexible means I'll point my wheels somewhere and return home in a better headspace.