Bike shopping for my wife, part 2: Short-listing the options three years later

The last time I broached this topic on my blog, it was November 2018 and we were just beginning to look around for what kind of bike my wife really wanted.

Obviously, a lot has happened since then. COVID19 became a thing, driving demand for bikes up to record levels, and it put a large strain on the global supply chain, resulting in a potentially frustrating experience if you’re in the hunt for a quality bicycle on a tight budget.

To get around that and to still get her very irregular riding fix, my wife’s been riding my folding bike Bino. As mentioned before, the advantage with many folding bikes is that their telescoping nature makes them automatically inclusive of various shapes and heights of rider, so they’re a neat gateway into the sport. That said, after logging saddle time on him, there are aspects she doesn’t like. After swapping in a Specialized Power saddle, comfort had improved, but the small 20″/406 mm wheel size had her feeling she was not gaining any significant speed, no matter how hard she pedaled. On days when she’d rather train indoors, Bino’s 20″/406 mm wheel size also meant unsatisfactory pressure and a jumpy, uneven resistance on the trainer.

At least now she had a better idea of what she wanted. As my main bike Hyro is a Giant TCX, she wanted a Giant or Liv to match – the latter being Giant’s female-focused sub-brand of bikes and components. She definitely wanted a larger wheel size. To reduce cost and complication, flat handlebars were the way to go instead of having her learn how to ride with drop bars, and I wanted to make sure her bike had disc brakes.

Finally, she had set a budget limit of PhP30,000 – give or take PhP5,000. At this price point, current demand is so high that bikes are frequently out of stock and/or subject to months-long delays.

A 2018 Liv Tempt 2 hardtail mountain bike – the same bike she fancied all those years ago.

We went back to her 2018 pick, the Liv Tempt, now since modernized for 2022. From a cursory glance, there hasn’t been a huge change – both bikes run the 650b wheel size, and even have front derailleurs and two chainrings. And here I thought it was a single-chainring world for mountain bikes these days!

The 2022 Liv Tempt 2. Color aside, not a whole lot of difference!

The similarity extends even to the price. Back then, we found the 2018 “2” model selling for PhP30,000; the equivalent 2022 “2” model isn’t much different and still fits within the budget. Helping its cause are the SR Suntour XCT suspension fork and pretty fat 650b x 2.1″ Maxxis Recon rubber.

LifeCycle’s flagship branch in Greenhills. They are the country’s main distributor of Giant and Liv bikes.

We decided to use the Tempt in the XS size as a basis for her fit, so we visited LifeCycle’s main branch in Greenhills. Even then, there were no Tempts in stock for her to try – not even a display model. The closest they had on hand was the Liv Tempt E+ electric-assist hardtail mountain bike, which is laughably out of budget at four times the price, but is a decent stand-in to test frame sizing and fit.

She fit the XS-sized Tempt E+ well enough, which meant that she’d fit the non-electrified Tempt just fine. Giant/Liv also provide pretty detailed sizing and geometry charts nowadays, and make translating one bike’s fit to another in the same size quite straightforward.

The Tempt was not our only pick. A friend of ours had recently gotten herself a Liv Alight; I thought – why not?

The 2022 Liv Alight 2 DD Disc in eucalyptus.

If the Tempt is Liv’s version of the Giant Talon hardtail, the Alight is sister to the Giant Escape hybrid – a road bike with flat handlebars.

In “2 DD Disc” spec, it shares a few similarities with Hyro. Both bikes run the 700C wheel size, have hardpoints for disc brakes (the Alight uses Flat Mount), and can comfortably swallow 40 mm rubber. The Alight’s taller head tube and front end give a more relaxed riding position, so there it’s more akin to Giant’s Anyroad or Defy. Despite the rigid aluminum fork, the D-Fuse seatpost and voluminous stock 38 mm tires should make the ride quite pleasant. While very nice, the suspension fork on the Tempt will require its own maintenance.

More importantly, the Alight in the XS size isn’t far off from the Tempt’s dimensions, so I am pretty sure the bike will fit my wife’s physique, despite the fundamental geometry differences between a hybrid bike and a hardtail MTB.

For 2022, the Alight 2 DD Disc comes in this shade of green called “eucalyptus.” From ten paces, to me it looks close enough to seafoam green or celeste, a color which Italian bike maker Bianchi swathes most of its bikes in – and incidentally my wife really likes. That might be a bigger deal to her than anything mechanical on a prospective bike, to be honest.

So, which bike won out?

Photo taken from the Cycle Express Facebook page.

We went with the Alight 2 DD Disc.

My wife doesn’t ride trails, so the money for a suspension fork is better spent elsewhere. The 46/30T crank and 8-speed 11-34T cassette make for a more versatile drivetrain than the Tempt’s much shorter gearing, having both high-speed cruising potential and low-geared climbing grunt. The 700C wheel size also lends itself well to riding indoors, which my wife does every now and then. Finally, the Alight frame is versatile enough to accept full-length fenders, front and rear racks, and even a kickstand. Should my wife want to, it can also accommodate a drop-handlebar conversion.

For PhP30,000, what’s on offer is pretty hard to ignore. Even if LifeCycle doesn’t actually carry the Alight for the Philippine market for some reason or other, my experience with Hyro shows that Giant/Liv make great bikes that don’t need a lot of post-purchase attention. What little is needed, I can provide.

Hoping to better my odds of getting her bike sooner, I put in the order and downpayment with Cycle Express, a third-party bicycle importer also based in San Juan. They told me they were expecting a shipment with an Alight 2 DD Disc in her size and color in two weeks, which sounded promising. Now the waiting game begins.

Evolution: A first look at the Dahon Launch D8

A recent question on the Dahon Philippines Facebook group piqued my curiosity…which doesn’t happen very often. I felt Dahon’s product lineup had gotten a little stagnant in the past few years. New bikes such as the 16″-wheeled Jifo and later EEZZ, their 20″-wheeled big brother the Qix, and the Brompton-aping Curl showed up in the news, but none of them really spoke to me.

Perhaps it’s because I was waiting for a successor to the long-lived K-/KA-frame family that included the Speed, Mariner, Vitesse, and the unicorn that is the Formula S18. These bikes were among the most customizable in the range, enjoying good aftermarket support and readily accepting of various drivetrain combinations. For the longest time, too, the Formula S18 was the one and only Dahon bicycle with 20″ wheels that was built for disc brakes.

That black-on-burnt-orange colorway is quite nice. The huge D8 logo isn’t my style though.
Photo credit: Dahon North America.

So when someone asked about a model called the Dahon Launch D8, I did a quick search on Google…and was pleasantly surprised. This was what I was looking for.


That rear end looks pretty clean.
Photo credit: Dahon North America.

With the arrival of the Launch, the Formula is no longer alone. Poring over the spec sheet, the Launch D8 comes equipped with Tektro Aries post-mount mechanical disc brake calipers chomping down on 160 mm rotors, which I think is generous for such a small-wheeled bike.

Gone are the mounting posts for V-brakes…and also gone is Dahon’s proprietary 74 mm front hub spacing. The Launch’s fork is now built for 100 mm hubs, which is the defacto standard and greatly increases the number of hub options you can use with your wheels.


Outwardly, the Launch resembles a Vitesse or a Formula frame. It isn’t until you fold the bike in two that you realize Dahon have injected what I think is the most significant change in the frame’s evolution: the new “Jaws-Clamp” main frame hinge.

The Launch’s main frame hinge is quite the departure from older frames. Besides the jigsaw puzzle design, the locking clamp appears to have moved to the underside.
Photo credit: Dahon North America.
Main frame hinge on Bino, my 2013 Vitesse. The locking clamp is mounted on the side.

Previous K-/KA-frame Dahon bikes have main frame hinges made up of two flat surfaces essentially being pressed against each other while the clamp is locked. On the Launch, Dahon replaces this pair of flat surfaces with keyed interlocking faces, similar to how jigsaw puzzle pieces are keyed to fit together. This makes for a stronger, stiffer frame when ridden, and should address the Vitesse main frame hinge’s point of failure.

An older version of this design was dubbed “Lockjaw” and featured on Dahon’s folding mini velos, such as the Dash/Hammerhead. The Lockjaw hinge had finer “teeth” needed to work with smaller tubes, and required tightening and loosening a pair of locking hex-head bolts.

The Launch D8 in folded form.
Photo credit: Dahon North America.

The newer, stronger Jaws-Clamp design also brings with it a bump in the maximum rider weight rating. My Vitesse is rated for 105 kg (230 lb); the Launch will carry up to 130 kg (287 lb).


An eight-speed drivetrain makes the Launch D8 a good platform for future upgrading. While it lacks the braze-on front derailleur mounting tab, as the bike is essentially an evolved K-/KA-frame, LitePro’s front derailleur adapters for the Speed and Vitesse should work on the Launch should you desire a double-chainring setup.

Yet again, Dahon stokes my inner engineering nerd. This time though, it’s by elegantly updating an established design.
Photo credit: Dahon North America.

Dahon is checking most of the boxes I am looking for from a folding bike, and doing so for US$900 (PhP45,500). I’ve since heard that the Launch D8 will make its way to Philippine shores soon. If the Launch came in a frameset-only option, it would make for a tempting project.

Indoor training, part 4: Bino on the turbo trainer

So far, everything I’ve written about indoor training has involved Hyro, my cyclocross bike with the 700C wheel size. However, one of the features that my Minoura LiveRide LR340 turbo trainer listed was its use with small wheeled bikes.

That got me curious: how would Bino, my 20″-wheeled folding bike, fare when mounted on it?

To mount Bino on the LR340, I needed to go back into the box and pull out the Z-shaped small wheel adapter, or “Z-adapter” for short. Along with it were a couple of hex-headed bolts with spring washers through them.

I would then have to remove the resistance unit from the round-headed bolts and rubber shim of the LR340’s frame. The Z-adapter will then be installed between the resistance unit and the rubber shim. The hex-head bolts go into the resistance unit, while the round-head bolts attach to the foot of the Z-adapter and the rubber shim.

Once the Z-adapter is in place, Bino has to switch to Minoura’s chrome steel QR skewer.

The rear wheel gets clamped into the LR340 frame, then the resistance unit has to be raised to the point where its roller sinks about 5 mm into the tire.

This…is where things got a bit problematic.

Bino’s rear tire is a 20″ x 1.75″ (47-406) Impac Streetpac. Even with this relatively generous width and inflated to a maximum 65 psi, the roller wasn’t compressing itself against the tire enough. I could barely feel any resistance. (This also means that mounting any 20″/406 mm tire narrower than 1.75″/47 mm will not work for indoor training purposes.)

The adjustment knob for the resistance unit was already at its limit.

My solution here was to disassemble the adjustment knob, remove the cone-shaped spring, then reassemble. That yielded just a little more travel for the knob to push into the tire better. Alternatively, you could thread the spring onto the other side of the adjustment knob so you don’t lose it.

The end result turned out pretty good. The Streetpac is treaded, but has a continuous center line of rubber, so it didn’t get as noisy as I thought, although more audible compared to Hyro on slicks. Unfortunately, if I wanted to use the LR340 with Hyro again, I’d have to take out the Z-adapter.

I clipped the remote resistance knob onto the handlepost, just under the handlebars. I could crank up the resistance to maximum with barely any slippage and tire hop on the resistance unit, as long as the rear tire is inflated to exactly its 65 psi limit.

The front riser block needed more height to level out, so I put an old book under it. Swap in the T780 pedals, clip in, and Bino is now an indoor trainer bike.

The resulting mess after every indoor training session using Bino.

You could say that the effort of cleaning this up after each turbo trainer session makes for some added light exercise!

The one disadvantage with using Bino on the LR340 was that it generated a lot more of the fine rubber dust particles that are a normal byproduct of a tire making contact with the ground. This is because Bino’s tire is mounted much higher up on the trainer compared to Hyro’s, and the smaller diameter 20″ x 1.75″ tire wears through its tread quicker, since there’s less of it going round per revolution compared to a 700C x 28 mm tire. All this equates to a slightly bigger mess after an indoor training session, but it’s not too hard to sweep clean.

Finally, to help track my progress and mileage on Bino even while riding indoors, I moved the Cat Eye Velo Wireless+ cyclocomputer and sensor setup from the handlebars and now-stationary front wheel to the rear wheel and the non-drive side chainstay.

Ideally, I’d have a more sophisticated cyclocomputer that would measure both wheel speed and pedaling cadence from one sensor mounted on the same chainstay. However, I think it’s an expense that would be better put into other components or apparel, and I have yet to see one that offers backlighting functionality. So far, this jerry-rigged setup makes efficient use of my existing hardware, and mounting all of it close to the rear dropout means no heel strike on training sessions. I do have to clean off the fine dusting of rubber particles it gets, though.

Despite the challenges, Bino makes sense as an indoor training bike, leaving Hyro to all-weather riding duty. To give Bino a bit more commitment to this role, I’m thinking of eventually getting a second-hand set of SPD pedals to eliminate the pedal-swapping I currently need.