May 28, 2008

The Dahon

It is with mixed emotions that I write about my 2003 Dahon Helios XL folding bike. I've had this bike for 4 1/2 years and it has served me well, but I've decided to replace it. Tomorrow I should be receiving a brand new Bike Friday Pocket Rocket.

The Dahon was never my primary bike. I got it to ride around town and to take with me on trips (both auto and plane). The wide, low pressure tires do better on bumpy city streets and sidewalks than the thin, high pressure tires on my road bike. It has fenders and an internally geared planetary rear hub to deal better with the nasty weather I sometimes encounter riding to & from work. The rack allows me to haul my computer or other miscellaneous items. It folds up in about 15 seconds. It fits into a nylon bag that can be carried around. In about 15 minutes it can be disassembled further to fit into a standard sized Samsonite Oyster suitcase for airline travel.

2003 Dahon Helios XL

2003 Dahon Helios XL folded

Dahon Helios XL frame inside suitcase

Dahon Helios XL inside suitcase

Dahon Helios XL inside suitcase

The bike has been great and it has served its purpose well, but it's far from perfect. It works well to get around town, but it's not great for long rides... or fast rides... or uphill rides... or downhill rides. It's a bit on the heavy side. The internally geared hub is low maintenance, but it has a lot of friction, it's a pain to install and remove from the bike, and it's difficult to adjust properly. My new Pocket Rocket should shine where the Dahon has fallen short.

I have flown to San Francisco with the Dahon 3-4 times and taken it on numerous car trips. It is my usual transportation for marathon watching (Madison, Green Bay, Des Moines, Chicago Lakeshore). Aside from that I ride it to work on a rotating basis with a couple of my other bikes.

I'll leave you with some photos of the Dahon in action:

Rob on the Dahon during Chicago Lakeshore Marathon, 2004

Melissa next to the Dahon after Chicago Lakeshore Marathon, 2004

Rob after crossing Golden Gate Bridge on the Dahon, 2004

The Dahon on Lombard Street in San Francisco, 2004

Melissa running Green Bay Marathon with the Dahon's rear wheel in background, 2005

Rob with the Dahon at Marin headlands with San Francisco in background, 2005

The Dahon folded up under Rob's desk, 2008


Melissa said...

internally geared planetary rear hub... with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time.

Can't wait for the arrival of the Scooty Puff Jr. (ie, Bike Friday).

Anonymous said...

WOW!!!!!! so what happens to the "DAHON"????? will it be 'retired' to a small place in the garage??? where do OLD BIKES go for 'their final resting place'??? So, is this new SCOOTY PUFF JR( is that the name for mr NEW BIKE?) going to travel to SAN FRANCISCO this time?????? I can't even begin to IMAGINE 'RIDING" across the GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE???????? WOW!!!!!! Hope it's BIKE FRIENDLY!!!! You make a M I L most fretful!!!! Hugs, luv ya , nan

Anonymous said...

What a Great READ!!!

That bike has been more places than I have!
Can't wait to see the new one!


simon said...

I'm from Switzerland planing a 3-month trip to the USA. I want to travel by Greyhound or train and was thinking about buying a folding bike to get around in towns. Now all of my friends who have been in the States jet (I haven't) tells me, that i would be by far the only one on a Bike in the US.
Can you give me an advise? Is it a good idea to take a folding bike to a journey like that or is it more like a hardship?

Ragfield said...

Simon, bicycling for transportation isn't as popular in the U.S. as it is in Europe, but it's not that uncommon. I make >90% of my trips by bicycle. If I were planning a trip likes yours I'd love to have a bike with me :)

Attitudes may vary wildly depending on where you travel. Some cities (e.g. Portland, San Francisco) are much more bike friendly than others (e.g. Atlanta, Dallas).

It is legal to ride on nearly all roads in the U.S. which are not restricted access (i.e. expressways), as well as many sidewalks. Having said that, it's not always wise to ride on many roads. Drivers can be downright hostile if they feel a bicycle is slowing them down for a considerable amount of time for no good reason.

Use good judgement. If traffic is light and cars can easily pass there should be no problem. If traffic is very heavy and the road only has one lane each direction, it might be best to take a different, less busy, route. And, most importantly, behave predictably.

Yockey said...

So I am planning to take my wonderful hand-me down Dahon Helios with me for a month long trip, and wanted to buy some spare tubes.
When I googled Dahon Helios this was link #6. Do you know what size wheels the Dahon has? The Dahon website talks about 16" or 20" on its current bikes, but I measure 18.75".