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.