Out of the box: 2013 Dahon Vitesse D7

May 2013.

Fifteen years since the last time I swung my leg over a bike, there I was, thinking of buying a folding bicycle to dodge the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Plan (UVVRP, or “coding” in local parlance, for reasons that escape my mind) that means my little hatchback isn’t supposed to be on Makati City’s streets for twelve hours every Tuesday.

The plan was to park somewhere in neighboring Taguig City, which has a friendlier implementation of the UVVRP, then deploy the folding bike and ride to the office in Makati’s central business district. After all, I observed cyclists negotiate the length of the tree-lined McKinley Road as it linked the two cities. How hard could it be? I thought.

So, ignorant as I was of the intricacies of the bicycle and its componentry, but smitten by its sudden practicality, I paid a visit to Glorious Ride Bike Shop and brought the little blue Dahon home.

As a child of the Transformers generation of robots, I was smitten by how compactly everything folded up: the frame, the handlepost, even the pedals. I could ferry it around in my Honda without folding any of its seats.

The Vitesse rolls on 20″ aluminum wheels. No, wait, scratch that – it rolls on 406 mm aluminum wheels. This is to differentiate from the other 20″ wheel size used by non-folding mini velos, which is actually a larger 451 mm. Schwalbe’s Impac brand provides the rubber with its Streetpac tires of a 1.75″ (47 mm) width. The wheels have brake tracks on the rims for the Promax V-brakes to bite into.

Dahon positioned this bike as a commuter model, so outfitted it accordingly. It came with a dinky rear rack, rated for 10 kg, and SKS plastic fenders front and rear. The rack came with a hooked bungee cord, so any loose objects could be bound to the top.

The model name somewhat gives away that this is a 7-speed bike. A Taya chain transmits the pedaling torque from 170 mm crank arms and a bashguard-equipped 52T chainwheel to a Shimano MF-TZ21 freewheel with a 14-28T range. A Shimano Tourney RD-FT30 rear derailleur pushes the chain around as instructed by a Shimano RevoShift SL-RS35-R grip shifter.

Because of the folding capability, Dahon sets a 105 kg weight limit for the bike and its cargo. It’s not meant for jumps or bunny hopping.

Finally, one neat thing about this bike is something called the Magnetix system. A spring-loaded magnet pod hangs off the rear dropout on the non-drive side, with a counterpart steel plate on the front dropout. The purpose of these parts is to hold the bike in its compact form when folded. Granted, it’s not the strongest magnet in the world and the two parts can be split with ease, but the concept is very good.

SPECIFICATIONS

FRAME AND FORK

  • Dahon KA-series 6061 aluminum alloy folding frame
    • 130 mm O.L.D.
    • ViseGrip main frame hinge and latch
  • Chromoly steel fork, 74 mm O.L.D.
  • Aluminum telescoping handlepost

DRIVETRAIN

  • Taya 7-speed chain
  • 52T single chainwheel, square taper bottom bracket, 170 mm crank arms
  • Shimano MF-TZ21 multiple freewheel, 7-speed, 14-28T
  • Shimano Tourney RD-FT30 rear derailleur
  • Shimano RevoShift SL-RS35-R 7-speed grip shifter

ROLLING STOCK

  • 20″ (406 mm) box-section rim wheelset, threaded rear hub, 74mm F, 130 mm R
  • Schwalbe Impac Streetpac tires, 20″ x 1.75″ (ISO 47-406)

BRAKES

  • Promax V-brakes front and rear

COCKPIT

  • 25.4 mm x 580 mm aluminum alloy flat handlebar
  • 33.9 mm x 580 mm aluminum alloy oversize seatpost
  • Biologic grips
  • Dahon Comfort saddle
  • SR Suntour plastic-body folding pedals
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