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Old 09-16-07, 05:48 PM   #1
jnb-rare
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First Impressions: Dahon Mu SL

Mu SL: First Impressions

Picked it up a few days ago, but I thought I should put at least 100km on the bike before giving first impressions. You can see the bike here: http://www.dahon.com/us/musl.htm. The only modifications I ordered from the LBS were fenders (or mudguards as some prefer), Ergon GC2 comfort grips with the incorporated bar-end, and toe-clips.

Reviewer: Mid-fifties, getting back into cycling. Was an avid recreational cyclist until about 15 years ago. In the past I've owned a full-blown touring bike, a road-warrier performance bike, and a mountain-bike converted to city-bike with slicks (I still own and ride the MTB). I'm about 5'9 and 180lbs - 15 or 20 of which I don't need (OK, maybe even 25).

First, thanks to everyone here on the forum who answered my questions when I was looking to purchase. Ultimately, any purchase comes down to individual suitablity and personal preference, but I appreciated the advice.

My wife took one look at the Mu SL and immediately refered to it as "the MUSCLE bike". And, indeed, the bike has that sort of feel. Very lightweight, yet solid-feeling. And that muscley curve. I've read some complaints about the quality of Dahons, but any shortcomings in this regard are not immediately apparent to my eye. The aluminum welds aren't very pretty compared to a nice chromoly, butted frame, but picking up the bike does a lot to help one get over that.

The steering is very quick -- twitchy at first, but I'm starting to get used to it. One-hand riding is something I do with more caution than usual, and I still weave a bit too much when pulling the water-bottle and drinking while underway.

The Stelvio tires feel quick and a bit squirrely going downhill at max speed. Maybe it isn't the tires, but that's what it feels like to me. I'm pumping them to about 110psi. The rear tire developed a slow leak early so I had the LBS swap out the tube for me. Now the front tire has a slow leak, but it takes about three days to flat out. I've been reading the threads on tires with interest, but I'd like to give these a decent chance.

The front suspension hub does a surprisingly good job of smoothing out the bumps. I feel the bumps through the back-end, though. Overall, I am pleasantly surprised by the ride -- I had expected it to be more harsh based on the frame type and design, and the wheels/tires. However riding in the city I find myself seeing (and worrying about) debris, holes, ridges, grates, plates and other wheel-eating obstacles FAR more than on my MTB. I can certainly feel the front suspension hub when standing hard on the pedals (especially when pressing on climbs). There is a bit of pogoing, but it's not excessive.

The SRAM X9 system shifts very positively -- delightfully so. But then, I haven't ridden new components in about 20 years. The trigger speed shifter is positioned just right for down-gearing, but I don't like the position/size of the upshift lever (maybe I need more time to get used to it). The 32-93" gearing range seems just about right for me at present. Yes, I can top-out going down hills, but I don't yet have the feel and confidence in the handing to be going any faster. At the low end, I'm limited by my lungs and legs rather than the gear. If I 'crack' getting my fat a** up a hill, I find I can sit in the lowest gear, pedalling slowly, and still not have to get off. I'm hoping to improve my fitness enough that I won't be doing that too much.

I've read about some concerns with the handle-bar post. The Mu SL post does not telescope like many of the other models, so I suppose that adds to it's rigidity. I'm pretty light on the bars at all times -- even when out of the saddle -- so I haven't noticed any undue flexing.

Speaking of saddle: 100km of riding is not a real indicator, but I personally like the SDG BelAir. What I DON'T like is the fact that it's an I-beam seat-post and saddle -- not for any reason other than I can't seem to find a saddle-bag for the thing! I like to carry just a few tools and a spare tube in a saddle-bag when I ride. For this bike, I'm currently doing that in a small fanny pack. Any suggestions?

Folding is very easy, and the folded package is certainly compact enough for my purposes.

Overall, the more I ride this bike, the better I like it. It's fun, very quick, and more comfortable than I'd feared it might be. I was looking for a recreational/fitness bike -- the Mu SL certainly fits that bill and, because it just begs to be ridden, it might just get me out there more.

John.
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Old 09-16-07, 06:10 PM   #2
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Hi John,

Welcome back to bicycling! The great thing about having a folder is that you can take it in stores, cafes, whatever. So, it makes a great replacement for the car. Good to feel comfy with the body, but integrating it into your day-to-day life should take care of excess weight, too. I used to have one of these and this is what I did with the tool bag. If you look carefully, you'll see that the pump can be tucked in nicely behind the seat tube. That was my favorite thing about the bike.
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Old 09-16-07, 06:26 PM   #3
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Nice. Wish I could afford one.

Thanks for the review!
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Old 09-16-07, 06:37 PM   #4
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Congrats on yr MU SL. This bike is a beauty!

I use a Topeak saddle bag that fits the IDG saddle on my Speed Pro very nicely. Its a sort of clip on coupled with velcro strap attachment. Rain cover included. Neat...

http://www.topeak.com/2007/products/bags/wedgepacks.php
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Old 09-17-07, 12:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnb-rare View Post
I've read about some concerns with the handle-bar post. The Mu SL post does not telescope like many of the other models, so I suppose that adds to it's rigidity. I'm pretty light on the bars at all times -- even when out of the saddle -- so I haven't noticed any undue flexing.
The handlebar posts were not breaking at the telescoping part, but at the base hinge near the head tube. It is an area to watch out for. Yet another person has experienced this problem in the tech section of the Dahon forums.
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Old 09-17-07, 12:57 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by spambait11 View Post
The handlebar posts were not breaking at the telescoping part, but at the base hinge near the head tube. It is an area to watch out for. Yet another person has experienced this problem in the tech section of the Dahon forums.
And yet another person there is shooting his mouth off.
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Old 09-17-07, 10:47 AM   #7
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Thanks for the suggestions regarding a toolbag. PM124, I have to look at my frame tonight. I opted for fenders and no rack, but your placement of the mini pump is inspired.

OldiesOnFoldies, I assume you mean SDG rather than IDG? I looked at that bag on the Topeak site before, but it just wasn't clear from the picture whether it would fit. The description doesn't say I-Beam anywhere, and the F11 Quick-Click bracket is shown with standard-rail saddles. So I assumed it was a no-go.

RE the handlebar post: It's easy enough to put this on the list of things to look at when I do an occasional once-over of the bike anyway. I don't ignore warnings, but I don't get much stressed about them either.
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Old 09-18-07, 02:05 PM   #8
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JOHN enjoy the MU SL. Always wanted one!

Biked with one two months ago, the owner was very pleased with it. Honk if you see an orange DT.
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Old 09-18-07, 02:22 PM   #9
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JOHN enjoy the MU SL. Always wanted one!

Biked with one two months ago, the owner was very pleased with it. Honk if you see an orange DT.
I think I'll have to 'ting' with my bell rather than honk.
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Old 09-22-07, 03:45 AM   #10
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i got a used mu sl ..
it's a great bike..
the only complaint
is that.. the fold..a little bit wider..
not as compact as my boardwalk or speed8..
but it's really light..which is why it's great..
you can guess i'm a dahon fan..
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Old 09-22-07, 04:25 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnb-rare View Post
Mu SL: First Impressions

<- SNIPPED ->

The steering is very quick -- twitchy at first, but I'm starting to get used to it. One-hand riding is something I do with more caution than usual, and I still weave a bit too much when pulling the water-bottle and drinking while underway.

The Stelvio tires feel quick and a bit squirrely going downhill at max speed. Maybe it isn't the tires, but that's what it feels like to me. I'm pumping them to about 110psi. The rear tire developed a slow leak early so I had the LBS swap out the tube for me. Now the front tire has a slow leak, but it takes about three days to flat out. I've been reading the threads on tires with interest, but I'd like to give these a decent chance.

John.
Quite apart from whatever sensitive steering may be contributed by the bikes geometry and smaller wheels, stelvios are quick and frisky tyres and yes they are VERY puncture prone.

I just swapped them out on my TSR30 for marathons and the steering and handling changed instantly. I don't get punctures now either (yet...).

Hope you continue to enjoy the new bike.... Great isn't it. I reckon never to regret spending money on bikes - sheer joy. Electronic gadgets and cars and such are not the same. I find I can easily regret buying them.

Last edited by EvilV; 09-23-07 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 09-23-07, 07:28 AM   #12
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I've been putting some more K's on the bike and enjoying it a lot. Swapping out the tubes seems to have solved the "slow leak" problem. I've installed the 95 gm '6' instead of the 65 gm '6A' tube. Considering that the difference in weight is about 2 ounces for both wheels, one wonders why Dahon (or anyone) uses the 6A tube. It really seemed flimsy in comparison.

I haven't had any punctures with the Stelvios yet (fortunately). I'll need to ride them some more to see if I get used to the way they feel, or if I want to try Marathon Racers or something else. Many years ago I had a racing bike with tubulars for a while. I had been coming from a full touring bike with a relaxed frame geometry and wide tires. So I know that it takes time to make the adjustment to a quicker setup. This time I'm going from a mountain bike to the Mu SL, so the change seems even more dramatic.
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Old 09-23-07, 11:28 AM   #13
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I've been putting some more K's on the bike and enjoying it a lot. Swapping out the tubes seems to have solved the "slow leak" problem. I've installed the 95 gm '6' instead of the 65 gm '6A' tube. Considering that the difference in weight is about 2 ounces for both wheels, one wonders why Dahon (or anyone) uses the 6A tube. It really seemed flimsy in comparison.

I haven't had any punctures with the Stelvios yet (fortunately). I'll need to ride them some more to see if I get used to the way they feel, or if I want to try Marathon Racers or something else. Many years ago I had a racing bike with tubulars for a while. I had been coming from a full touring bike with a relaxed frame geometry and wide tires. So I know that it takes time to make the adjustment to a quicker setup. This time I'm going from a mountain bike to the Mu SL, so the change seems even more dramatic.
Next time you have the tires off, check the rim tape. I have had two Dahons that needed to have the thin rubber tape replaced with quality cloth tape. There have been quite a few folks complaining of tube damage from spoke hole sucking.

With a combination of cloth rim tape, thorn proof tubes, and Marathon tires, I've been flat free for over two years.
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Old 09-23-07, 03:26 PM   #14
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Thanks for the tips, CB. There was good quality cloth tape in these rims. The LBS swapped out the first tube at my request (shortly after purchase), but I did the next one myself. I checked the "leaky" tube very carefully and noticed a lengthwise nick in one area of the tube. Obviously it wasn't right through or it would have been flat rather than "slow Leak". The cut looked like the kind of thing that might happen when pinched with a tire iron. For now, I'll put it down to sloppy installation of flimsy tubes.
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Old 09-23-07, 07:39 PM   #15
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Glad to hear that.

Of course this has the Dahon Rolf style wheels. The Rolf wheels on the Helios XX had cloth rim tape. Wonder if they have improved things in the rest of the line.
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