Friday, January 9, 2009

Mini Bike for a Mini Tour/ The Here to Beer Tour

I've dubbed the mini tour this weekend the Here to Beer Tour, since we'll be riding from here (our apt.) to beer (the Pizza Port in San Clemente). For this mini tour, I'm taking out a mini bike. It's a 2008 Dahon Speed TR. This will be it's inaugural tour (I've used it for some commuting duty but haven't really loaded it up yet).

My first impressions of the Speed TR is that it is a very capable bike. For perspective, I owned a Bike Friday NWT and have ridden (for a few days) a Brompton touring bike. The Speed TR compares very favorably to the NWT and the Brommie. Of the three, the Dahon is the most affordable, coming in under 1k. My Bike Friday was a hair under 3k and the borrowed Brommie was somewhere between 2k and 3k. So for the price, you're getting a very capable folding touring bike.

The brakes are strong on this bike. You won't have a problem stopping. The action of the Avid levers are positive and crisp when compared to what I thought was a mushy brake on the Brompton. Another surprise was the shifting. I'm a friction shifting kind of guy so I was ready to poopoo the SRAM trigger shifters, however I was pleasantly surprised at how responsive the shifting was. In fact, for me, index shifting is still a bit of a novelty so I tend to shift too much with this bike :)

Of course, there is seldom an off the shelf bike that is perfect. I immediately replaced the stock seat with a sprung Brooks (nothing wrong with the stock one, but I prefer Brooks saddles). Also, the pedals had to go. They are the MKS quick release pedals that allow you to remove the pedal without any tools. It works well. In fact, too well. On more than one occasion, the pedals just dropped off and that was after making sure it was fully locked in place. I wanted so much to like them as they are some nice pedals, but they seem to pop off during inopportune times.

Another thing that I monkeyed around with was the dashboard. The bike comes with some bar-end grips, but for me, the bars were just too wide. I slid them off and put in a different set that I could position mid-bar. I also moved the controls a little closer to the center so they lined up with my shoulders.

With all these changes, I was able to make a pretty good fitting bike. I'll let you all know how it turns out after the Here to Beer tour :)


Anonymous said...

I just found you from a post you made on the Velo Orange blog. Your beer themed tours are a great idea. Are you aware of It's a google maps mashup that you might find interesting. The LA map is at


Anonymous said...

Hi Russ- There are little plastic "circlip" type rings that snap on those MKS pedals to prevent them from disengaging while riding. Should have come with the bike. They add a few seconds to the removal and install process, and you have to careful not to lose when they are off the bike, but they do the job.
Happy trails...
Steve Cuomo