Sunday, March 26, 2023

Lightweight DIY Tote Bag for the Dahon Boardwalk

Double ripstop nylon construction, strong enough for the 30+ lb. Dahon Boardwalk.

The more I ride the Dahon Boardwalk, the more I want versatile traveling arrangements. Along with minimizing load carrying to one large front bag, one rear duffel, my goal was to create a foldable and stowable, but strong tote bag - something that's easy to lift on/off Amtrak, minimizing contact with a greasy bike, and avoiding the bicycle reservation and fee. 

With bag flat, I can easily pull up the sides.
I researched DIY tote bag construction for a one-piece design, figuring less seams was better; this pattern only had side seams. I altered the pattern by running the straps (1.5" webbing, easier on the hands) all the way under the bag for extra strength. 

For style and to define the exterior, I used purple thread and felt buttons from my stash.
I created several drawings, and measured multiple times before purchasing material and webbing. Black material was a given, but I initially wanted purple straps for contrast. However, supplies in general are expensive, so black made more sense. Using 40-50% off coupons, total cost was $40.

The bike sticks out a bit, but straps are placed correctly for carrying.
Even though I measured well, I misjudged the volume of vertical material, and had 18" extra, which also made the straps ungainly to lift. Rather than cut the bottom and compromise the ripstop's strength, I decided to tuck and fold the middle, ultimately creating 4 layers. It worked out well! At the outset, I was more concerned with ease of pulling up the sides around the bike, so erred on plenty of material.

With bike inside, the bag collapses of course, so the addition of hook and loop fixtures on the handles secures the bag upright.

I also placed 3" of hook and loop tape on each top end to visually make the bag smaller. There is plenty of space to put one of my two luggage bags also inside - possibly both - but the added weight might make it ungainly.

I had planned on sewing a simple wedge-shaped compartment for the tote bag, secured to the seatpost. Magically, I had saved a mesh exterior backpacking-type pocket, which was a perfect size - all that was required was adding hook and loop attachments to the existing buckles.

I'm excited to try out this arrangement! I have an adventure planned for an April weekend with accommodating weather. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

Dahon Boardwalk 6-Speed - Major Upgrades

Keeping the classic Dahon Boardwalk 6-speed on the road.
I'm very pleased with the major upgrdes to my Dahon! The bike rides smoothly - no more creaks and grumblings - and looks much better, in my opinion, with a sleeker crankset and a splash of purple to complement its dark green paint. In the process, it went on a diet, thankfully, or at least it feels much lighter.

The above photos illustrate previous cranksets: the first photo shows the 48 tooth one piece crankset that was installed a couple years ago, which vastly improved my pedaling range. The second photo displays the original one-piece crankset, possibly original, a 52T that was difficult on my older body.

Our son and his girlfriend talked me through removing the old parts and replacing the bottom bracket, crankset, and pedals. Their younger strength properly tightened the bolts.
Our bike mechanic son swapped in some new parts: Gripshifter, new cables and purple housing, rear cassette, and chain. He knew the bottom bracket was failing, and sure enough, after a week of riding during Jan-Feb's unusually balmy weather, I limped homeward with an awful creaky noise radiating through my feet. It was fortuitous though, because in addition to replacing the bottom bracket, it was time to get rid of the ugly one-piece crankset for a better upgrade. There's a lot of Web help, fortunately, and I sourced Litepro crankset, a common upgrade among Dahon owners. Going forward the new two-pice crank will enable me to easily replace the ring going forward.

Of course, buying components was contagious! In addition, I bought new pedals (old ones were loose), lock-on grips (yay) because I was tired of the cheap ones that rotated, I put there years ago. There's also a new Schwalbe Racer rear tire. 

Beside the frame, handlebar, and derailleur, the original wheels appear to be holding up well. It is interesting that for a 2003/4 lower end model, the bones of this bike are great. For it's smooth, steel-frame ride quality an durability - as I was telling someone the other day - I equate this Boardwalk model with a 1980s mountain bike, of course, in small wheel form.

And lastly, tired of the ziptie securing the fender to the rack, I dealt with a more permanent fix for the rattling fender.The metal fender is irreplaceable - the option is a black plastic version - so I'll do anything to keep this original classic intact.

Phew! Let's hope this baby will keep going for many more years.