BBC vs TFS vs LBS
Long story short: I just found this website today Googling around for a commuter bike. I wasn't looking for a folder, truthfully I never thought much about them. I have read all the posts by the Oboeguy and all the responses and I almost feel like a friend of his. I have owned a Specialized Allez and Rockhopper back in the 80's then I did not bike at all in the 90's. In 2001 I lived in Royal Oak, MI and owned a Bianchi Citybike. Now back in NYC I want a commuter that I can take up in a non-freight elevator without hassle. Someone here mentioned the Dahon line could be obtained from The Fitness Store and it certainly can. The Speed 8 is my choice. I obviously don't do as well on the Horn as the Oboeguy does on the Oboe. Well someone else mentioned that the Dahon line could be obtained from the Better Bicycle Company and right again, they certainly can. BBC and TFS both offer free shipping and no sales tax for NYC. BBC also offers a 'free tuneup' worth $50. Interesting because their price ($499) is $50 more than TFS ($449). I asked exactly what a tuneup meant and I was told that it doesn't mean the same as a full bikestore tuneup, hubs are not greased, chains are not oiled, etc. Basically the bike is uncrated and checked for damage and minor adjustments are performed if needed but then the bike is re-packed and potentially at risk yet again for 'stuff' to happen. SO do you see where I am going with this? I am sold on a Speed 8. I have the $530 quid (getting the luggage rack) sitting right here. Who would you give it to? Where do I stand the best chance of getting an undamaged, properly fitted and warrantied bicycle? Thanks.
Dahon offers a 3 year warranty for their frames, but extends that to a lifetime warranty if the bike is set up by an authorized Dahon dealer. You must keep the dealer's receipt and present it if/when warranty service is ever required. It seems to me that you are paying $50 to BBC in order to get that receipt and ensure a lifetime frame warranty. Whether or not that is worthwile depends on your intentions.
If you believe that the BBC's so-called pre-sale service is inadequate and intend to take the bike to your friendly LBS anyway for a thorough once-over, then you'd be throwing that $50 away, because the LBS will ultimately give you the receipt you're paying the BBC for. And the LBS will give the bike any level of attention you specify.
If, on the other hand, you are handy and suitably educated, and plan to go through the bike yourself with a fine tooth comb, $50 might be a small price to pay for a lifetime frame warranty.
So, if you're going to take the bike to an LBS anyway, get it from TFS and save that $50 for the LBS.If you're going to take it out of the box, tweek it yourself, and ride it, pay the extra $50 to BBC.
Before ordering from either, talk to someone on the phone at both establishments about their return policy as it applies to Dahons specifically. Find out about refunds due to shipping damage, restocking fees, etc. Talk to a person. Write down their name. You are buying a bike from Dahon through a third party, and having it shipped via a fourth party. If it arrives damaged, make sure your not the one left without a chair in the ensuing musical chairs blame dodge.
All this, of course, IMHO.
I'm totally new to folding bikes, and I haven't even gotten one yet. But so far my shopping experience has been good. It's involved phone calls and e-mails, and I feel comfortable about the whole thing so far.
I have a Speed Pro on order from Thorston from here:
He posts on these boards, I think. If you're interested in the warranty service, check here:
Like I said, my transaction isn't complete yet, but I have gotten a good vibe. Personally, I was looking for something that felt like it was a LBS somewhere, even if it wasn't local to me.
The bad news is that he's on vacation for a week or so, so you wouldn't be able to talk to him immediately.
And have you considered these folks?
Like I said, I can't give any advice based on completed bizness; these are just places that I considered after many google searches and poking around forums.
I ordered a Jetstream XP from Ahoy Captain on July 25th, in the afternoon. It arrived today via UPS. As with, I believe, all Dahon distributors, Ahoy Captain has an inventory set aside for them at the Dahon California facility. When a distributor tells you that they have a particular bike "in stock" it doesn't mean that they have it on their premesis. It means that it is reserved for them at Dahon's warehouse. I received my bike very quickly because of my proximity to that warehouse. Someone ordering on the east coast might expect to wait a week or even a little more.
My experience with Ahoy Captain was great. First I emailed to verify some return policy issues, in case I wasn't satisfied with the bike. My inquiry was answered promptly. I ordered via phone, mainly because I wanted to get a feel for how on top of things the folks there are. Seems like they run a tight ship, not to stretch the metaphor too far. Anyway, I got emails from them confirming the order, letting me know the order had been processed with Dahon, and finally that the order had shipped. That amount and quality of feedback is unusual, and I appreciated being kept up to date every step of the way.
Today I unpacked the bike, did a bit of assembly, aired up the tires and the shock, and took the bike over to the LBS for it's inaugural adjustment/warranty validation. I get it back on Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning I'll give it its first workout.
Thank you both for your comments. I saw the Captain's first comments yesterday, I had already made calls to both TFS and BBC which was how I was able to differentiate the differing levels of service offered. I had already made the observation that there are more Dahon's sold through outfits like Ahoy Captain and TFS or BBC and foldingbikes.net than through LBS's. Gaerlan is a very interesting site I came across it early in my research, at the time their prices seemed high, I need to take another look. I may look into aftermarket support from them in any case. Back in the day I used to build complete road bikes from scratch. Setting up a new bike doesn't frighten me per se but I would like to have an idea of what is actually needed. For example, do the hubs as they come from the factory have sufficient lubrication to be used without further service? I am impressed that so many of you go upmarket when considering these bicycles. Thanks again and safe riding.
There is an exponential improvement in the quality of the ride as you move up the product line. Call it the difference between a trade-off and a compromise. The Jetstream is a really fun ride, and while I have made trade-offs for the convenience of a folding bike, I don't feel that I've compromised.
Originally Posted by Leisesturm
Best of luck with your purchase. Let us know what you end up with and how you like it.
Well it so happens that I work just a few blocks from Gotham City Cycles so just to thicken the stew I gave them a call just after my earlier post. They told me they had a Speed 8 in the warehouse but they had other models on the floor and I could test ride one of those and put a deposit on the Speed 8 if I was pleased. When I got over to the store after work I rode a Helios and a Vitesse. I also saw another bike by Giant called the Halfway. Nowhere in my research did this bike show itself. For the same retail as the Speed 8 came the fenders, rack and storage bag. Where were the trade-offs. I wanted to get back to the office and thrash the Halfway as much as I had the others but the store was closing in 30 minutes. I walked around the block and when I came around I went in and bought the Halfway. With very little instruction I was able to fold it and come upstairs at the office to run a search and get a few reviews of the bike I have already purchased. I am about to ride it home so I can let you know later how it does. I didn't read anything terrible about it. Gearing is very low and it has 7 speeds not 8. It is a way cool looking bike though and very light. I had planned to do the odd 30 miler on the Speed 8 but I think the Halfway will be strictly for commute. Thats just my first impression. Maybe with a 52T chainring it will have better road range. Keep the rubber side down guys.
Does your 'Halfway' have monoforks front and back, or only at the front with suspension at the back. If the latter, I think you will find that it's fine for rides of 30 miles and more. You're right though, the gearing is too low. I swapped mine out for a 52T front and it's a lot better, although I'm still planning to change the rear cassette too, to give me an even bigger gear. You may also find that the saddle becomes uncomfortable on longer rides. I did, and finally decided to replace it with my old leather touring saddle (Brooks). That made a big difference. The addition of mini bar ends also helps to take the strain off your arms on longer rides. All in all, I'm pretty satisfied with the bike and, as you mention, it does look cool. The folding mechanism is one of the neatest I've seen. As a matter of interest, how much did it cost you 'over there'? I bought mine here in Taiwan, the home of Giant, so you would expect it to be cheaper. However, market pricing sometimes seems to follow its own unknown logic!
Originally Posted by Leisesturm
What a very strange coincidence. I own a Giant Halfway right now (currently for sale on eBay.) It was my first folder and it has served me well, never giving even a hint of trouble.
The design is very sexy, with the box frame section, the oval frame clamp, and the single sided fork/stays. The handlebar stem clamp is ingenious and elegant, and very stiff compared to the competition. Because of the single sided stays, the ways in which it can be re-geared or otherwise modified are limited. I found that for short rides it was fabulous, but for long rides I felt a little cramped and wanted a little more reach. I suppose I could have achieved that with bar ends to vary the riding position a little. The frame is solid as a rock and after many miles of supporting my 200 lb. bulk is still tight and creak-free. The mounting arrangement for the rack is brilliant, but the rack itself could stand much improvement. I wish it had a solid frame rather than the hinged affair. I ended up zip-tying a milk crate to it to make it usable. It's heavy, even for a folder, in spite of the aluminum frame.
I will be sad to see it go, but its sale will help to offset the cost of the Jetstream XP which Mr. UPS delivered on Friday.
Congratulations and best of luck with your purchase. I know you will be pleased with it.
Recently I ran across this photo of a Halfway with suspension. I haven't seen it on their U.S. site. Maybe it's a custom job.
Here's another pic of the 'with suspension' model. Strangely, the original non-suspension model has disappeared from the showrooms here. This is the only one I can find. Apologies for the poor quality of the photo - actually it's from a webcam.
Last nights (Friday) ride home was fairly uneventful. It was pretty much dark by the time I got into Brooklyn and I was taken by surprise by a couple of potholes. The handling is very much on the quick side. I have not ridden in a couple of years but I was able to stay ahead of things nevertheless... barely. It is not a suspended model. There is a mono-fork in front and a mono-stay in the rear. I am not yet over wondering how it can be done that way. It does make for a compact fold but looking at the folded dimensions for the 1/2way and the Speed 8 I don't see much difference. Maybe I need another look. I just (Saturday evening) took a lap of Prospect Park so I could sort out the ride without the hassle of road traffic. Certainly part of it is the fact that I am a bit out of shape but I did not find the gearing too low today nor last night! I never reached top gear on my commute home but I did spin it out on PP's long downgrade and I made use of the next to lowest gear on the long climb up from the zoo to the entrance. I weigh 180 and I could definitely hear some creaks even though I tend to spin in low gears rather than mash big ones. Perhaps its just new components settling in. I kind of like the handgrips so any bar-ends will have to be grip friendly. The rack is a pain. The lack of a flat bed will take getting used to. For the record Gotham has the 1/2way listed at $499. I paid $449 plus NYC sales tax (8.25%). There was a 10% 'sale' on their two in stock units. A 2005 Speed 8 would also have been $499 if they had had one. It would not have come with fenders ($20.00), rack (30.00) or carry bag $50.00. Some reviews have mentioned that the Dahon seat can be uncomfortable (as with the 1/2way) but the Dahon's seat rails are non-standard I have read. To be fair, changing the rack on the 1/2way will be nigh impossible. Furthermore there is some doubt as to exactly what model year of 1/2way I own. There haven't been any material or design changes since the 1/2way's inception so to me the point is moot but it does affect price I am certain. Thanks for the feedback and we should make some more noise about our 1/2way's so other newbies to the folding bicycle scene may be aware that there are alternatives to explore. That said, I did have a crisis of confidence in the early morning where I searched in vain for literature that would tell me definitively whether I made a good choice going with Giant over Dahon. Your comments today have helped. Thanks!
Originally Posted by Leisesturm
I was told by a local lbs (none in st. louis that I could find had any folder of any brand in stock) not to get a dahon because the ones he had worked on did not have the same quality as giant halfway and that the only folder he would recommend was the giant halfway.
What piffle. First off, odds are the LBS has only seen Boardwalks and Piccolos. Dahon has a huge range of bikes. Giant has one (two somewhere, but I've never seen that suspension version advertised for sale in the U.S.) If you match the Halfway up with a Dahon of similar price/features, they will be comparable. Maybe the fit and finish of the Giant's frame will be better. May be the components of the Dahon will be slightly more upgraded, but either way, you get what you pay for. Dahon has half a dozen high end bikes that are very impressive, for which Giant has no competition. My point is that I disagree with the opinion of your LBS as it applies to Dahon's entire range.
Originally Posted by farrellcollie
Originally Posted by CaptainSpalding
I bought a dahon speed 8 because I did not think the giant would fit me as well - but the dahon has been in the shop several times for gear/chain issues (known problems to dahon which are well discussed on dahon's forums)- and the range dahon lists as to rider size I found to be optimistic rather than accurate. I am not saying I would be happier with giant halfway- just that my mid range dahon has not been without quality issues in my opinion. I am happier with our downtube and my friend is glad she bought KHS instead of dahon. My input about my experience with lbs was just to let the previous writer, who said he was wondering about his purchase, know what i had heard from lbs. - Lbs did know I was considering Dahon speed 8 and said that for the money, he would buy the giant.
In response to Leisesturm, here are a few random thoughts on my Giant Halfway, which I've now had for about 2 months.
Foldability - it's quite a neat folding design, but I wouldn't want to take it on a rush-hour bus or train. The fold is even neater if you move the brake levers below the handlebars; in other words, you pull up to apply them. Also, if like mine, your Halfway has plastic covers over the rear spindle, you can save a little space by removing them. As far as I can see, they're only decorative. If folding/unfolding speed is not an issue, removing the handlebar stem completely and laying it gently between the wheels makes for an even more compact result. Strangely, the folded bike looks much smaller left 'open' than when packed in its bag. I guess this is due to our perception of what a bike or bag should look like.
Creaking - my Halfway was remarkably silent right from the word go. Could it be your rack/mudguards? Or maybe your Knees!! Just one thought - make sure the handlebar stem lock is fully tightened.
Gearing - it's all a matter of what you have to deal with. The city I'm in is absolutely flat. The only inclines are where a road crosses the rail track or river. Outside the city, however, there are some reasonable hills on which to try out the lower gears.
Racks - is the rack not detachable on your model? I suppose you could always add one of the seat-post fixing ones (see my picture in an earlier post) and ignore the original one. It might look a bit strange, though. Toppeak (Topeak?) have two models with weight limits of 7kg and 9kg, while Giant have their own model, called Ibera, which has a limit of 10kg and comes with a bag. For me, the latter worked out more cost effective, although the Toppeak is a nicer design as it has quick release.
Bar-ends - they give me something to pull on during my forays into the mountains (hills?). The only problem is that I can't reach the brake levers when my hands are on the bar-ends. I don't quite know how to solve that problem.
Riding - so far the bike has coped with everything except one short steep incline. The section in question is about 20 meters long with a gradient of about 20% (possibly 25% at the crest). No matter how hard I try, I can't keep the front wheel on the ground. I've been up this incline four times now, only succeeding once, and then only by unicycling the final 5 meters! That received a round of applause from some onlookers who clearly thought that I was doing it on purpose! Anyway, there's obviously some problem with weight distribution on steep slopes. It's hard to stand up on the pedals on a folding bike, so I guess the only possible solution will be to attach a front rack somehow (remember there's only one front fork) and stuff it with heavy objects. It seems to defeat the object of having a lighter bike though.
Giant vs Dahon - I wish I could see some of the Dahon bikes in order to make the comparison. It's odd but I haven't seen any here in Taiwan, save for a few very old beaten up 14/16 inch wheelers. I wonder if the bikes are released under a different name here. Anyway, given the comments made about them on this and other forums, I'm sure similarly priced Dahons are at least as good as the Halfway in terms of quality. Speaking of price, Giant had 3 folders on offer when I first went to their flagship store here. They were as follows:
Rear suspension model = US$422
Mono fork and rear stay seven speed = US$266
Mono fork and rear stay single-speed = US$156
As I mentioned elsewhere, the non-suspension model seems to have disappeared from the store. Incidentally, Giant was also offering a front + rear suspension model (not Halfway) which folded into a long thin shape. The staff said it was made in Japan, but it didn't seem to have the name Giant anywhere on it. Anyway, it was significantly more expensive - about US$850.
Future Changes -
- foldable pedals that take toe straps
- drop down (racing?) handlebars
- front rack/bag
- QR wheels