Recently I started a job which requires me to commute to work via BART. BART has its own rules regarding bicycles on the trains, which meant that I needed to get a folding bike in order to commute through downtown during the rush hours.
I quickly zeroed in on the Dahon Speed D7 as an affordable and popular model. I ordered mine online (from Safety Cycle, about 430 $US). It arrived in good condition, but (no surprise) needed some initial adjustments to the rear derailleur and brake before it was fully usable.
- Bike is entirely adequate for riding short distances. Not for steep hills nor downhill racing, but perfectly fine for short commutes.
- Space saver. The folded size is similar to a carry-on suitcase. Much easier to have on the train than a full size bike.
- Quick folding. True to the advertising, the bike can be folded and unfolded in about 15 seconds (with practice). In reality, the unfolding phase takes a little longer, as I’ll often make minor adjustments to the handlebars and seat stem until they’re in proper position. I’ve made a few marks on the metal with a Sharpie to make these adjustments faster.
- Rear rack is useful enough – it passes the litmus test of being able to hold a donut box
- Bike is somewhat hefty at ~28 pounds. It’s “luggable” but not much fun to carry for long distances when folded. Most often I just wheel it up in front of the train and fold it before boarding.
- The 20” wheels aren’t as stable as 26” wheels – not as much rotational inertia. Initially the bike felt a little wobbly to me, especially at speed … I’ve since gotten used to it.
- Rust – two adjustment screws for the brakes are rusting slightly, though to be fair I’ve ridden the bike a fair amount in the rain. The Dahon Mariner is a similar configuration that promises more rust resistant components.
The bike attracts a fair amount of curiosity on the train. I’m certain that – were I able to carry a spare bike along – I could have sold a few during my commutes. Quite a few people ask for details on price, manufacturer, and where to buy.
Overall it has met my expectations and has facilitated my commute-by-subway.
(Thanks for reading – Steve Klinkner)
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