Saturday, May 01, 2010

My New Folding Bicycle

[Dahon TR folding touring bicycle - don't bother]

I just bicycled across southern Wisconsin on a new Dahon TR folding bicycle.

Here are some equipment notes:

1. The box the bicycle comes in has a disclaimer on the outside that the buyer is responsible for having the bicycle checked and set up by a professional bicycle mechanic before using it. Which is to say, Dahon attempts to transfer its quality assurance responsibility to the user by printing a disclaimer on the box. That is both dishonest and lowlife and probably not legally effective. If you ship a dangerous product to a consumer, a disclaimer will not absolve the seller from liability.

2. The reason they attempt to do this, is that they ship the bicycle not completed. For instance I discovered after a few miles that the spokes on the front wheel, so far from adjusted, were finger loose. The nipples spun freely. They had been no more than put in place. I could have been killed if I had discovered this in worse circumstances. Thanks a lot Dahon.

3. The spokes on the front wheel are in a radial spoking pattern. Radial spoking is used only on the hottest track bicycles because one doesn't care about lateral strength on a smooth indoor track. But the Dahon TR is designed and sold as a touring bicycle, with pannier racks front and rear. Touring bicycles need laterally strong wheels because they are to be used in a maximum variety of circumstances including bad roads. Radial spoking gives the least lateral strength of any of the standard spoking patterns. This is just plain dangerous even if the spokes had been tightened.

Having a radial wheel fail on a downhill from hitting a pebble or even a minor irregularity in the pavement could have gotten me killed where a standard three cross lacing or even a la de dah two cross lacing pattern would have been strong enough to keep the wheel from failing laterally. Once again, thanks Dahon.

4. The only reason I can think of for using a homicidally-dangerous-on-a-touring-bike radial spoke pattern is that it takes about ten minutes less time per wheel to assemble. And it would have taken perhaps as much as five minutes longer to actually tighten the spokes. Which saves Dahon maybe a buck a wheel in labor cost. Great to see that customer safety comes first at Dahon.

5. Even the design is crap. There is a dynamo generator built into the front wheel hub and a light on the fork that it powers. The light is low to the ground so it is of little use when it is on. It is of no use at all when there are front panniers mounted because the panniers block almost all the light from it. But here is the class design move by Dahon: there is no way to disengage the dynamo. So one has to do the work of driving the dynamo at all times. The resistance is noticeable. Up hill and down, at the beginning of a long day, in the middle of the day, and especially when one is tired, there it is, sucking one's energy. Whatever number of miles you feel comfortable doing, figure on being able to do 5 to 8% fewer miles per day on the Dahon TR. The Dahon TR is a bicycle with a built-in headwind.

6. There is a large rear light on the rear rack. It is a steady light. Steady lights have long since been superseded by flashing ones and especially by powerful flashing strobe lights from Cateye. Fortunately it doesn't matter much because the Dahon light won't be visible anyway because it is too high and will be obscured by your tent bag or sleeping bag stuff sack overhanging it from the top, and concealed from the sides by your rear panniers. I was able to get a decent result by mounting a Cateye flashing strobe on the little reinforcing crossbar on the rear rack. It stuck out far enough to be visible from most directions. If I could improve the design with a standard Cateye product and a screwdriver, imagine what Dahon could have done with a whole factory full of tools and workers if they had given a damn about their products, let alone their customers.



  1. The question is did you buy your bike from Dahon or from some web site that got you a cheaper deal. On the Dahon web site they have three grades of wheel you can get. Yours came with the cheapest but clearly not the best. But again you bought a Shopsmith of bicycles, one designed first to fold and second to be a touring bike.

  2. Nick Danger12:24 AM

    Maybe I'm missing something, but how could someone with as much biking experience as you not check this all out before taking the bike to Michigan?

  3. Nick Danger12:25 AM

    Ooops! Sorry. I meant Wisconsin.

  4. Nick Danger3:52 AM

    Ooops! Sorry, I meant to say I like you and that we should go out sometime.

  5. I would love to Nick, but I am hot and heavy with Anonymous just now. And you should see Jasmin in the altogether - HooHah!

  6. Nick Danger9:37 AM


    Jack + 48
    Anonymous posing as Nick Danger - 7
    Harvey + 11

  7. Anonymous4:52 PM

    Which one of us anonymous?

  8. Lolita, I am having a hot and heavy affair with all of you Anonymice who write here.

  9. Jack Kessler3:53 AM

    Hi Jack. I'm worried about the prevalence of anonymous imposters on this site. Any chance you can clean it up?

  10. Anonymous9:37 AM

    Darn, I just thought it was me.

  11. Anonymous, you are the only one who is important to me. The others are just meaningless flings.

  12. Anonymous5:27 PM

    Heavy sigh...fickle man...Can't you get it straight?

  13. Anonymous7:35 PM

    Double sigh...

  14. Lolita5:41 PM

    Jack, is it you taking my name in vain, or someone else? Disgusting. I guess I shall have to assume another, now that someone thinks it is clever to be me. Loquacious me would never resort to one silly little word.

  15. Hi Lolita,
    No, it is some other schmuck than me.


  16. Mohammed Jihad1:25 PM

    Why do you keep trying to delete my comments Jew, afraid to argue? afraid to answer your critics? Typical rat.

  17. Mohammed Jihad, perhaps it's because you are a juvenile troll?

  18. Mohammed Assare3:12 AM

    Praise Allah

  19. Mohammed Assare, I am with you on that, and I will: Allah looks good in loafers, always has good hair days, is polite to his mother, and tips well.

    Now if he could just get over demanding female circumcision and suicide bombing.....