By Geoff Dabbs
I wanted a bike which was road orientated, adjustable for more than one rider and faster than either my Scott Hybrid or my Phillips (Dahon) Boardwalk 6. Storage is a problem, so a folder was most likely to be the solution, but room for a traditional frame bike could have been found, at a pinch.
Touring over several days is not my scene, being too busy and fond of my comforts. My ideal bike would see me further away from home during a day ride and get me to work in daylight quicker than the Scott. When I ride in the dark I expect to use the Scott because it can stand the Ďpothole from hellí, which the council always install somewhere along my route while Iím off work!
The cheapest Birdy I could find was £140 more than the Speed-Pro and only had 8 speeds. The Brompton, while cheaper, I dismissed for lack of ratios too. The comparable (for gearing) Moulton was £195 more, the comparable Bike Friday was $1645, which I make about £500 more!! A non-folding road bike in my local shop was the same price as the Speed-Pro and needed re-gearing, as it had a very narrow range in its 18 speeds.
I love the Boardwalk and have changed its gearing for climbing, as per my last submission. This in itself now comfortably beating the Brompton in gear range! However, it was going to be expensive and difficult to set it up for faster runs. So I was led to the Speed-Pro. Right price, a make I felt I knew and could trust and the right bike for the job I wanted.
I contacted Cyclemotion, the UK importers, by email then telephone and was lucky enough to speak to Mark Bickerton. He advised me that the 2003 models were not yet in country but they did have the last 2002 model, which had been used by them as a Demonstrator. He was friendly and interested that; first and foremost, I made the right choice for me. After a few minutes chat I ordered the Demonstrator. Mark had advised me that they needed to hang on to it for a few weeks but we arranged to talk again when they were ready to release it.
The time passed by and I was talking to Mark again. He was very honest giving me an exhaustive list of scuffs on and chips of paint missing, also a scuff on the saddle. All sounded minor to me and on the strength of this money changed hands. We ended our conversation along the lines that if I was not pleased Ďsomething could be sorted outí. The bike arrived beautifully and safely packed on 27th March, as arranged. In the package, along with the bike, were some inner tubes Iíd ordered, relevant documents and a copy of the Ďfaults listí Mark had read to me earlier. The list was spot on. All that was missing was the Velcro strap used to keep the bike folded.
On unpacking and checking the bike over all seemed well, so of I went on a quick round the block ride. First impression on the road is that it is a tight, well set up and stable bike.
On the final stretch of an early, short run I gave it some stick and the chain slipped in 8th gear! A quick look and two things came to light. First, the largest cog on the cassette is a 30 not 32 tooth job. (Mark now informs me this was specified as 30 tooth by Dahon). SRAM donít even mention a 30-tooth variety in their online handbook. Second, the rear mech was a long way below the recommended distance from the cassette. A quick adjustment and no more slipping!
I had ordered Drop-Stop deflectors, (from Ligfiets shop Templeman, De Morinel 53, 8251 HT Dronten, Netherlands. For the device see Velovision 7 page 42.) Fitting these should be easy. Remove the LHS wheel nut, fit Drop-Stop, and replace the nut. However on completion the front wheel failed to rotate freely! This has nothing to do with the Drop-Stop as it acts as a washer outside the fork, and has puzzled the people at Cyclemotion who report it has happened to one other bike, but so long ago they canít remember how they cured it. We are now awaiting advice from Dahon. Meanwhile a thinnish washer inserted outboard of each cassette bearing and inboard of the spacing device has restored perfect rotation at the expense of a gap which will let in a lot of water! I canít comment on the effectiveness of the Drop-Stop because I have so far avoided rain due to this gap.
The only other item of note was the rear spokes. Noticing a chiming when starting a ride I first checked and then ended up tightening all the spokes, this stopped the noise and the wheel is still true. I am informed by Mark Bickerton that my bike is one of a batch fitted with UK built wheels, a couple of which have had similar problems. All I can say that my wheels are now ok and all it took was a little work with a spoke key. I am by no means a wheel builder, but it was easy to tighten the spokes.
A couple of longer runs were spent adjusting the seat, bars and bar ends. It was becoming obvious that I had bought exactly what I wanted. Itís fast enough to let me speak to the local club members as they pass me on their training runs. (At 51 and heavier than I should be I donít expect to keep up without electric or, more likely, rocket assist.)
I used the by now traditional method of fitting a bottle cage, which is to clamp, using cable ties, the cage to the steering in such a way it doesnít interfere with folding. As this is the 3rd Dahon we have and the 3rd Iíve done this to! Perhaps Dahon may consider an official accessory?
I replaced the saddle with a Specialized Body Geometry Gel. (I use an identical one on the Boardwalk and the one without Gel on the Scott.) The original saddle was just a little too firm for me, though a lighter rider should find it OK.
I also fitted strapless toe clips by drilling one hole through and one hole into but not through the rather neat folding pedals, for a bolt and a self-tapping screw respectively, folding is not affected.
A seat wedge completes my additions.
The Cane Creek bar ends are great and the bike has enough adjustment range to allow a relaxed upright position or a more streamlined riding position.
Be warned you will need to carry an Allen key to fold the bike if you use the forward position. I have used rubber bands to fix one to the steering clamp. Other than that folding is as easy as the Boardwalk and offers a remarkably compact package when completed.
The SRAM hub/derailleur system is a dream. 24 usable gears mean thereís always the right one for the job somewhere in there. The change is as expected using any decent derailleur, however the hub change is fantastic. Having been brought up with S-A hub gears where a good pause was needed to change, the SRAM hardly needs an easing of effort and changes smoothly every times. The gears range from 21Ē in the lowest range to 108Ē at the top, allowing for the actual sprockets fitted and the tyre diameter.
I get to work a few minutes earlier than the on the Scott. It climbs well and descents are fast and stable. It can be ridden hands off at any sensible speed and feels responsive and sure in itís handling. One point I would make is that tyre pressures are much more important to a final set up than Iíve met before. 90 psi rear and 80 front seem right for me. I put a 1980s Raleigh tourer back on the road last year and compared to that the Speed-Proís ride is more comfortable and surer on poor road surfaces.
Would I recommend the Speed-Pro? Yes, the problems Iíve had are the sort you can expect on any new bike and if you buy from a local Dealer (s)he can be expected to have solved them all, mostly before sale.
Joshua Hon of Dahon adds:
Thanks for putting the new reader report online. Feedback is always good. I'd like to add that Geoff's front hub should run fine with the additional spacer. The factory tolerances were very tight so any fiddling with the front hub could cause rubbing. The 2003 Speed Pro comes equipped with a different front hub - actually a different front wheel - the Rolf Accel. The hub is much improved.
The 2003 Speed Pro now comes with an 11-32T cassette for even better hill climbing.
All 2003 Dahon bikes now have water bottle bosses on the frame.
The 2003 models have many more small improvements and changes.
For more information on Dahons, see http://www.dahon.co.uk or http://www.dahon.com.
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Copyright (C)2003 Geoff Dabbs & Ferrets Anonymous
Last updated: 26 April 2003