Folding Bikes - Dahon Vitesse
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01-10-08, 10:18 AM
I recently purchased a Dahon Vitesse, got it for a great price and I like it a lot,-this is the blue model, 7 speeds. I was just wondering if there is any significant difference between this model and the Speed 7, aside from the higher price.
Thanks in advance for any replies
01-10-08, 10:47 AM
Primary diference is frame material -- aluminum for the Vitesse and Chromoly (steel) for the Speed. Dahon provides a bit of information about the diferences between materials here: http://www.dahon.com/technology/framematerial.htm
I test rode both when I bought my Speed D7. Pretty much the same bike. I didn't notice any significant differences in how the steel frame and the aluminum frame felt while riding. I like the colour of the D7 and it was $50 cheaper so I bought it.
I rode them repeatedly back to back last November while on a business trip to the San Jose area. No dealers in my area, so I was forced to go this route. The dealer was great (The Off Ramp in Mountain View), answering questions when I had them, but otherwise leaving me alone with two bikes for over an hour while I fussed. I felt bad leaving without a purchase, but they do not ship. In the end, I ordered the Speed from Performance for home delivery.
I looked over every inch of the bikes, lifted them, folded them, etc. In almost all respects other than the frame material, they are identical. The choice comes down to a few simple factors.
The Speed D7 uses 4130 chromoly steel, vs the Vitesse's 7005 aluminum alloy. The stronger steel allows for slightly smaller tubing, and a little less buttressing, especially around the bottom bracket to folding clamp area. I liked the slightly more meaty clamp area of the alloy bike better, but suspect they will wear about the same over time as long as you do not abuse the hinge and vice clamp. Otherwise, they are built from the same set of blueprints. There is reportedly a weight savings of around 1.7 lbs (24.9 vs. 26.6), but at around 7% or so, it was barely noticeable in casual schlepping. Now that I am leaning into the back of my Subaru wagon to place & retreive, the weight might become more of an issue. Maybe....
On the road, I again really felt little, if any difference. I know that in theory steel could/should flex a little and absorb bumps better, but a few pounds difference in tire pressure could swamp out any perceived delta. Being new to small wheel bikes, I was noticing far more the fast turn-in of 20" vs. my 'normal' bike. And both felt choppy compared to what I am used to, again given the small wheels on imperfect pavement, and the lack of any suspension save the seat padding.
Only tiny delta was in the dérailleur area. Both are identical out of the box - the forward mounted Neos compact custom dérailleur. With the Speed, that's basically your only choice. In the product bag of the Vitesse was an accessory hanger that would bolt into a slot behind the axle, allowing you to more easily convert the system to a conventional unit, should you ever choose to do so. But would you?
One great aspect of the Neos is that I can lie the bike flat on the transmission side in the back of my wagon without fear of dérailleur damage. That side is preferred, as the other side risks damage to the spring tension screw of the front V-brake.
I am concerned about rust on the steel bike, but even aluminum can corrode in a salty road environment if the paint is broken and not cared for. And I liked the blue aluminum much more than the green steel (2007 models). I see for 2008 that they both are blue for the USA market, so that issue is now over.
But in the end, it came down to price. I was spending money I really didn't have, and a bit unsure if I would use it enough to justify having another bike. The best price on the Vitessa last November was $369, while the Speed could be purchased for $315. Economy won out. Today was the 3rd day of lunchtime biking, and I gotta tell you, I'm loving it! If I could do it again, and knew that I would like it this much, I might have gone for the Vitesse. You really cannot go wrong either way.
01-11-08, 06:40 AM
I am considering the Speed D7, Vitesse, and the Speed P8.
I really liked the Vitesse but after reading the boards it seems that BF members recommend the D7 over it although it's the cheaper bike. As for the P8, that seems to easily be the winner when choosing between these 3 but as a female I really hate the color fire red. It really sucks that there can't be more colors in the U.S.
I am currently leaning towards purchasing the D7 since it ranks comparably with the Vitesse and it has a nice color. Fire Red P8 :blech:
01-11-08, 11:12 AM
Thanks for the great responses, especially Fibber. I bought the Vitesse after reading about folders for a while on this forum, then seeing one on Craigslist- I paid $275, and the bike was in new, mint condition. I use it primarily to run errands around the neighborhood and the only drawbacks I can see are the rather unforgiving bumpyness of the ride, along with the flexy feeling I get when I lean forward hard on the bars. Otherwise the bike is surprisingly fast and nimble and it feels fairly solid. I have gotten quite a few admiring comments from pedestrians, so I guess it looks cool, too. I also find that folding and assembling the bike is a snap, although I don't have to do it very often.
You are most welcome! Did I tell you I was just 'fibbin? Sorry.. professional joke actually.
If you telescope the tiller too high, it does have more flex. Remember to stay well down below the "Min" line, and adjust the clamp for a reasonably tight fit. If you feel movement down at the base, you may need some professional help, unless you really study how that gizmo works and know how to adjust it.
I got a lot of looks too, plus a number of questions riding it around our high tech site. Most people outside of urban pockets have never seen a folding bike before. It looks cool to some, a maybe a little clown-like to others. Remember that you are doing this for YOU!
OK, odd situation has developed, and I may have to ship my Speed D7 back to the retailer for a replacement. I'll explain why once the dust has settled. They think they are doing the right thing, I'm not sure that the situation couldn't be rectified in the field. Either way, the seller is bending over backwards to try and make me happy.
It is now the end of the season, and the price of bikes has fallen quite a bit. The Speed D7 can be had for $299, the Vitesse for $329. So now a 1.7 lb weight reduction and nicer color can be had for a mere $30.
Should I consider a change from decent quality steel to aluminum, or just take the 1:1 exchange? While I wrote last week that I couldn't detect much of a difference in ride, does anybody have an opinion on things like hinge longevity, longterm durability, etc.?
I never thought I'd be in a position to be rethinking this all over again.
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