The Folding Society

The Dahon Boardwalk (Phillips 6) - a progress report (February 2003)

By Colin Knox

The fitted saddle was a bit too small and soft for my weight so I replaced it with a bigger and thicker Madison gel one, bearing in mind the need to lower the seat post by half an inch or so. It also goes back on the rails a bit to increase arm room. There are thicker saddles than this on the market, some with big elastomer springs, which could provide a quick answer to the seat height problem for taller riders.

I have a solution for the moment on the question of up-rating the Boardwalk’s low top gear – I hunted down one of the few remaining Sachs Aris 12-28, 7 speed blocks. It gives a top of 86in running on the Voxom Rubbers 20x1.95 rear tyre (The Kenda Kwest 20x1.50 tyre gives an actual wheel diameter of 19in, resulting in a top gear of 71in on the Boardwalk 6). A Shimano Revoshift 7sp operates it well enough, and I believe an eight-speed shifter would also do the job. To prolong the life of the expensive Sachs block (a list price of £47!, slightly reduced), it will have to be fed on a regular diet of new chains – about a month each - which can however be cleaned, stored, and re-used. The Voxom 110 psi BMX tyre on the back wheel is proving an effective upgrade, for the heavier rider. Its grip and resistance to road hazards exceed anything thrown at it so far, in fact it’s almost like adding suspension to the rear wheel. With the beefier saddle, tyre, and top gear, the Phillips ( now 7) was well up to a comfortable fifty mile run recently along the little roads in the Loch Lomond area. It was good fun skelping it along quickly with the rear wheel emitting just a faint ATB whine. I find myself surprisingly (maybe it’s my age), still on a learning curve with the Boardwalk’s handling, after three months. Years of riding mainly drop-handlebar lightweights have to become subtly "re-wired", and the Boardwalk becomes more "chuckable" with experience.

To be objective, I feel that my current winter hack, an old Dawes Galaxy, is probably in reality around 20 to 30% more efficient than my Boardwalk, even in its current configuration, as an all-day road travelling machine, and this has to be a benchmark in considering the practicalities of the folding bike re public transport. I haven’t yet judged any higher-quality folders on this criterion. The local trains in our area have an area for full-size bikes, they travel free, and I’ve never found it full on the few occasions I’ve used it. The longer distance trains are different, but still have a small number of bike positions; these are more likely to be booked up and involve queuing for a slot, perhaps on a later train. This is where a folding bike can score, but it’s only one of a number of possible travel solutions. On the other side of the equation, coaches are generally cheaper than trains, many transport operators offer an all-day local bus ticket at bargain prices, and this has to be balanced against taking a bike at all.

A brief note on the Magnetix frame clamp device - it works well enough, but the loose magnet is bound to go astray at some point, and be difficult to replace. I tried gluing it in place, but nothing seems to stick two pieces of steel together for long. Another little problem appeared when the chain ran off the chain wheel a couple of times, and wedged firmly between it and the guard ring. I tried increasing or decreasing the spacing there, but this isn’t feasible because the threading for the guard ring bolts doesn’t go all the way through the chain ring; so it remains off for now.

My search for a cheap, disposable bag for the bike, for carriage and storage, has been successful, in finding an item currently stocked in Poundstretcher stores under the title of 'Jumbo-Box LAUNDRY' - this is a big rectangular plastic box-bag with a transparent top, a three-quarter zip; 90.5x50x45cm size. This is big enough to hold a Phillips/Dahon comfortably, the cost is 99p each; the plastic is fairly strong and it folds to pocket size. The brand is Poundstretcher's own 'House and Home', item no. PLU 137452. It would be suitable for most folding bikes and readers can try one for themselves. A tip I found on another website re packaging for rough journeys – plastic bottles e.g. old bleach bottles etc can be taped in place as cushions in vulnerable places.

Concerning luggage – I find that a conventional bike saddlebag can be attached to the rear of the carrier by its saddle loops – the base facing forwards – this is a secure way of holding it in place, and it only has to be prevented from bouncing with rubber cords and/or a leather belt. A small "front" pannier I bought about 12 years ago fits the carrier too in this area, leaving enough clearance from both the feet and the ground. The combination gives quite a bit of capacity for touring if needed.

I would be interested to hear readers’ experiences with the other Dahon models, in particular the Helios, and would for example like to hear opinions of the re-bar frame design in practice, contrasted with the alternative triangulated design (Maybe Joshua Hon would like to hear this too).

Our thanks to Colin for providing this update to his earlier report.

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Copyright (C)2003 Ferrets Anonymous
Last updated: 2 February 2003