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Thread: The M.K'denza

  1. #1
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    The M.K'denza

    Here are some pix, narrative to follow. I'm now travelling with the M.K'denza in Japan and will add pix. Bonus points to those who spot the most challenging aspects of converting a 2006 Dahon Cadenza into M.K'denza, a 27 speed megarange, ISO 622 wheelset bike that sneaks into an El Bolso.
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    Senior Member Fear&Trembling's Avatar
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    Very nice, not so keen on the paintwork up close, but I am sure it is a good protector.

    Mmm, is it related to the front mech and rear brake set-up? The cabling looks a bit torturous...!

    The Cadenza folds smaller than I had imagined - I guess they ride well too.

    The stem configuration looks very nice - lots of adjustment.

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    Seņor Mambo
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    Changing the fork?
    Switching to the smallest chainring?
    Creating enough cable pull to stop or change gears?

    Beautiful mods, but it looks like a big package to carry around. What's it weigh now?

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    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Going from a top pull front derailleur to a bottom pull derailleur?

    Why that change?

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    All ur bike r belong Enki james_swift's Avatar
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    How about the challenge just sitting on a saddle that tilted down?

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    Quickly, in between meetings...
    sb11 hit the biggest challenge... getting a flat bar FD shifter to work with a road crankset and FD. The stock Cadenza uses a jockey wheel on the seattube to change uppull to downpull... but when loaded with the force necessary to upshift to the large chain ring, the jockey wheel essentially freezes .. too much force doing a 180. This is primarily due to the weird stock cable routing that puts a tight curve into the FD cable to pass between the seat stays into a cable stop on the seat tube. I would say the FD placement and starting tension is the most delicate I've ever seen. Placement must be within 0.5 mm... and is not the Shimano recommended location.

    The fork also took experimentation... the headset on the stock bike is not a true integrated headset, just recessed, but the Cane Creek S2 (not the IS-2 or IS-6) does fit.

    Using a CF fork TOTALLY transforms the ride of the Cadenza. I still cannot believe how a better fork took the bike from skateboard ride to something close to my Ti road bikes.

    Yes... it's clear that spambait11 had done more mods than the average bear.

    For any with stock Cadenzas, the bolt on the FD cable jockey wheel WILL LOOSEN, so when you have your bike serviced, tell the tech to pull the bolt and put blue locktite on it.
    Last edited by maunakea; 11-08-06 at 02:29 AM.

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    The design goals were for a fast, multi-mode bike for Japanese cities that could also double as a touring bike for 3-4 day minshuku/onsen weekends. Onsen (Japanese hot spring) means mountains, or at least some significant hills. 70% of Japan is mountainous, i.e., the mountains start where the Sprawl ends (except on Hokkaido). I wanted a triple 11/34, ISO 622 wheels, and light weight (most subway and train stations in Japan do not have elevators). The packing regimen would be a QR rack with trunk and ATB panniers. Climbing stairs would mean bike over one shoulder, rack system with a shoulder strap over the other shoulder. Stairs to a pedestrian overpass is the most common rail station layout in rural Japan. Only in the boonies ("inaka") does one simply walk across the tracks to an opposite platform.

    To meet the design goals, I have rebuilt a Dahon Cadenza (see pix), keeping only the frame, RD hanger, and seatpost. My comments are organized as follows: (1) the stock bike, and (2) the materials and methods used to rebuild the M.K'denza.

    The Stock Bike
    … is a disappointment, even for sub-$500 Dahon. The substandard (even for “Made in China”) factory packing was fatal to the ability to ride the bike out of the box. Instead of unbox, lock the maintube hinge, slide the stem on the steerer tube sleeve, tighten stem bolts, and ride away (the tires come inflated, the (platform) pedals are mounted), not that I would take such risk, I discovered about a 3 cm lateral variation from midline over a 15 cm arc of the rear wheel.. The bike was packed with the left crank arm wedged against the inflated rear tire … several months of pressure had deformed the rim to the point that it could not be trued. Retruing such a whacked rim, with resultant overtensioned spokes, may be the cause of several reports of spoke breakage in Cadenzas. The shipping box had one entire corner ripped open, the entire height of the box, copper staples and all, held together only by the packing tape that the seller (Sunshine) had applied. In addition to the tacoed rear wheels, both skewers had deep gouges from compression and rubbing. I called Sunshine, who got Dahon USA to ship a new rear wheel and two new skewers to me. I learned that the shipping damage to the 26” folders is so common that Dahon is supposed to start packing the big folders like they do 20” folders (wheels off) in the immediate future. Other shortcomings of the stock bike: the non-drive side bottom bracket cup is PLASTIC; the fork crown race appears to be plastic: the headset bearings are loose ball bearings in “China grease” (does Dahon really save that much using grade Z grease?); and, saving the worst for last, the “steerer tube clamp” doesn’t exist… there isn’t one…. folks, the star nut bolt (aka top cap bolt) is the ONLY thing keeping the fork in the headtube. The “adjustable height stem” feature of the Cadenza means the use of a compression sleeve the full height of the steerer tube, from the top bearings cap to the star-nut cap. Tightening the OE stem clamp compresses the sleeve which in turn grips the steerer tube. I feel more secure with a hacked stem as a steerer tube clamp, a la Swift and the Mauna Kea DTFS. The nearest description of the ride of the Cadenza, with the replacement rear wheel mounted, is “like a skateboard”. The straight steel fork transmits ever nuance of the road surface to your hands and butt.

    The M.K’denza.
    From front to back: Cane Creeek time trial brakes on a NB TT bar (oversize clamp area), NB inline brakes, and NB Jail Brake in the front and long reach in the rear. All new brake housing and cable. Shifters are Shimano R440, and therein lies a story: I managed to mount the "flat bar" R440 MTB shifters on a road bar… by chamfering the ends of the TT bars, lubing the surface of the bar with Mobile 1 synthetic, and GENTLY working the shifter clamp down the bar. I dremeled the bolt hole to ovalize the forward portion of the shifter clamp to allow the new, longer bolt (M6 1mm pitch) to engage. I also ovalized the inline brake bolt (M5 1 mm pitch) holes. The stem is a NB adjustable set for max inclination. My backup plan for shifters was barend shifters, but they tend to stab and poke other persons when doing the multimode dance.... not a good way to endear bicyclists to the general public.

    I wanted to lengthen the cockpit as much as possible, have a sightseeing bar height for poking along, and a stretched out low position for speed. The OE loose bearings and cheapo cups were replaced by a Cane Creek S2. Note that there are MANY different “integrated headset” specs (Cane Creek itself as 3 different diameters). The S2 (or S6, SS ball bearings) presses in perfectly after the OE cups come out. Oh yeah … the OE headset is not truly integrated, just recessed.

    The biggest ride quality improvement was mounting CF forks (NB). The difference in ride quality is astonishing, turning the skateboard ride into something close to my Merckx Majestic Ti road bike. This would be my most highly recommended mod to the Cadenza.

    Another lucky break is the 68x113.5 bottom bracket sizing. I dropped an Ultegra BB in and mounted an Ultegra triple (52/40/30), with Shimano 9 speed chain and a SRAM gold link, SRAM 11/34 cassette, new cable housing and Teflon coated cable.

    Now, the hairpulling part of the mod, the FD. MTB indexed RD shifters and RDs are interchangeable with road equivalents, but FDs are not. MTB indexed FD shifters and road FDs and road cranks “are not supposed to work”. Even though the Shimano RR440 is supposed to be a road shifter for flat bars, it had a shorter lateral range than a true road FD shifter. With patience, I got the FD to work on all three chain rings. The FD placement on the seattube and starting tension on the FD cable are DELICATE, and that’s an understatement. Positioning must be within 0.5 mm, and it is not the stock Shimano spec. Using the OE jockey wheel that changes FD cable uppull to downpull was not an option. The combination of the position of the OE cable stop (too high on the seattube, forcing a ridiculously sharp bend in the FD cable) and the bearing-less, bushing-less, plastic jockey wheel, meant that the FD would not shift to the 52 ring. I borrowed the cable routing and McGyver cable stop from the MK DTFS rebuild, and was able to deliver enough pull to shift to the 52 ring.

    Once again, the “paint job” is truck bedliner, for two reasons: the bike takes hits in multimode, and I like the beater look as a theft deterrent.

    The second most challenging part (after the FD setup) was the rear brake. Getting wheels was one of the easy steps… 29er cyclecross wheels, caught in a NB promo. The cyclecross wheels gave me the 135 mm OLN width. You can’t cold-set aluminum, it breaks. The rear brake mounting requiring dremeling out the mounting hole only on the forward side… which made access difficult, but with patience and a good burr, produced the hole needed.

    The rebuild eliminates the cheap plastic parts (e.g., non-drive side BB cup, fork crown race), gets rid of a weak-rimmed wheelset, lengthens the cockpit to 27 inches from seatpost to bar (c/c), and improves the ride, as said above, astonishingly. The bike rides better than the Dahon Allegro, and folds much more quickly.

    The quick "train fold" is to unlock the maintube hinge, release the adjustable stem with a 5 mm hex key, let the bar drop, and put the bike in an El Bolso. An even more compact fold is available by loosening the stem so that it rotates around the steerer tube, but I haven't needed that yet. The CF compression spacers are on the bike for looks, since the hacked stem clamp keeps the headset tight with real stem loosened.
    Last edited by maunakea; 11-08-06 at 02:28 AM.

  8. #8
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    It's a nice bike. Kudos for turning an unloved 26" wheeled folder into a full road bike. It's got me thinking....

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    Thanks, LP. Something like this would make long, morning commutes to the closest rail station, and then a second longer leg in the City (maybe instead of the tube), short work, including any serious hills. You wouldn't be able to take it to your seat on board the train, I fear. You would certainly be less concerned with potholes and broken tarmac.
    Last edited by maunakea; 05-16-07 at 04:59 PM.

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    Here are some pix of my recent tour in Yamanashi, Nagano, and Saitama prefectures in Japan, riding from the Southern Alps (minami arupusu) to a pass in the Chichibu mountains. The M.K'denza is set up for city riding, but doubles as a pack mule to get camping gear (Hennessy Hammock with Undercover, etc.) from Tokyo to my Japan Alps bike, a 12 year old, cromo, REI touring bike that is probably a Fuji, since it was made in Japan, but branded as REI Novarra Randonee. So, city bike to train station, fold and bag, three changes of trains and three hours later, and I'm in the Japanese Alps, unbag and unfold, and pedal the gear to a friend's besso (second home) where I keep the REI. I didn't bother to drop the bars when folding, since I would be traveling on lightly loaded trains. Load up the REI, and spend most of the time in 30/34, except for bone-chilling descents that are beyond 52/11. In a tribute to pork-barrel legislation, most forest service roads in Japan are paved.... but are narrow, winding, one-laned wonders that make European Alps roads look like autobahnen. One night, which had temps below freezing, was spent in a minshuku. I had alot of explaining to do at the minshuku (bed, dinner, and breakfast) ... they had never seen bicycle panniers before. Disclaimer: I know the NB panniers aren't Arkels or Ortliebs, but these panniers only get used once or twice a year, and stay in Japan.

    At one pass, I met a Dahon rider. He was not thrilled with his bike, but did have a neat aftermarket sus seatpost (brand forgotten) and a nice Ostrich saddle/seatpost bag. (see pix) He was the only other cyclist I met doing climbs.
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    Last edited by maunakea; 11-08-06 at 01:46 AM.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    So much for the 60/40 rear/front pannier rule, I see....

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    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Nice report.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    So much for the 60/40 rear/front pannier rule, I see....
    Point well taken, but the M.K'denza's CF front fork and front panniers don't mix, and the bars are too busy even for a handlebar bag. For mule duty, it is OK. Where the M.K'denza really shines is around Tokyo. I do in 23 minutes what otherwise is a 40 minute train ride from the suburbs to Shinjuku (one connection). Another fav ride is to take one of the "mountain Shinkansens" (Nagano, Yamagata), spend all day in the mountains, and train back to Tokyo at dark.

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