2. First blood
3. Second thoughts
4. Exit Neobike, Enter Vitesse
From my surfing the Internet I
had learnt that Dahon was a low-to-middle price brand, and according to
reviews, reasonable value for money. I had also taken a fancy to the
Dahon Curve, partly on account of a well-written review on foldsoc,
partly on account of a number of YouTube videos. So when I saw an ad
offering a secondhand Dahon folding bike, I impulsively responded. The
bike in question turned out to be a Vitesse, not a Curve. Hmm... But
after looking it over and taking it for a short test ride, I mentally
waved goodbye to the Neobike and bought the Vitesse. And yes, the
seller was a boat owner (motor) and I eventually sold the Neobike to a
sailing yacht owner.
The Vitesse was also in mint condition (apparently boat owners mostly "boat" and don't ride bikes very much). It came with an aluminium frame, 20" wheels, a V-front brake, and an Sram 3-speed gear hub with a back-pedal brake. It also had a luggage rack and mud guards. And although the bathroom scale said it only weighted between two and three kilos less than the Neobike, I found it was much easier to carry when folded. A combination of less weight and a useful handgrip with good balance, I think.
I have fitted another luggage rack, an ancient Karrimor I once used on a touring bike. The only extras needed to mount it was a pair of long support struts at the front end, and after asking around a bit I found them at a local bike shop at about £2 for the pair.
My current travel pattern is that I make a train trip with one change, and spend one or two hotel nights at my work location, Stockholm. So, for several months now a typical work trip has gone as follows. I use the Vitesse to the railway station early Monday morning, fold it, put on the shower cap, and stow it on the "Redeye". At the change I carry it about 100 meters and stow it on the next train. At my work location, I carry it up two flights of stairs, unfold it and ride 2 miles into the office. In the evening I ride to the hotel, 4 miles, and later ride about sightseeing for an hour or two. When it is time to return home, Tuesday or Wednesday, the procedure reverses.
So far, I am very happy with
the Vitesse. It is solidly made. It folds easily and quickly. When
folded, it is compact enough that I can stow it aboard Swedish trains
(not above the seats).
The 20" wheels handle potholes, etc, significantly better than 16". The riding position is good enough, much better than on the Neobike (although not as good as on a fullsized bike). The longest trip so far was 42 km on a wide variety of surfaces, from riding path to dirt road to streets, and it was enjoyable all the way.
I am used to having a lot more gears, but the ratios on the Vitesse work well for me. In low gear I get up all the inclines I normally am confronted with, even with some luggage, and in 3:rd gear I roll pleasantly along. In traffic I find that I usually keep about the same pace as any 3- or 5-geared bike.
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