Today I had a chance to ride the rebuilt Dahon around Broadmeadow and Hamilton, via the back streets (except for Beaumont Street). As you would expect, the extended steering column and seat posts mean that this type of bike doesn’t have the structural integrity of a full sized bike. It feels wobbly-flexy at first but that feeling is accommodated as the bike is ridden further.
It is, however, nimble and a lot of fun, with quick steering and a tight turning circle and can whizz along at a reasonable pace thanks to the good leg extension possible with this design. You feel the bumps and road level changes more, which might have something to do with the stiffness of the short spokes, the small diameter and the lack of gyroscopic effect of a 16″ wheel, as the tyres are quite generous at 1.75″ wide. It’s not as rough in this respect as I thought it would be, and I am glad it’s a steel and not an alloy frame from a ride comfort point of view at least. Also, it is not a bike for stunt riding or stressful manoeuvres, at least not for people who have some mechanical sympathy anyway.
For the level ground around Newcastle three speeds are easily enough. I had contemplated fitting a larger rear sprocket so that third was the normal gear but I think the 13 tooth is OK. I only have a spare 16T at home and I think this would make it too low – 14 or 15 would be better, though I don’t even plan on trying this until I get more used to the bike.
Although I have a van that will take a full sized bike and there is no need to fold it up, I found that folding down the steering column makes the Dahon a bit less likely to move around while transporting it. The folder is a lot less bulky and hassle-free to carry, even when still unfolded. This could be the start of new multi-modal bicycle adventures on occasions when I have to use the car.
The toy-like Dahon is a bike that seems to attract a bit of attention from onlookers – and I am also now wondering where I could get hold of an old model Brompton for comparison ?