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Old 04-03-08, 07:32 PM   #1
Abneycat
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Speed D7 as an acceptable "touring" bike?

Hi there. I'm still contemplating buying my folding bike, and it seems like now could be a good time to do so - my Otesha Great Lakes Tour is coming up, which will be 2 months long. It starts in Ottawa, ON, and skirts the 3 close great lakes, ending up at Niagara falls. This is done with casual, non-cyclists, and is not a brutal tour, the daily ride length is fairly short. It is unsupported however.

Greyhound wants $150 to ship my Xtracycle there and back, which is half of what the Speed D7 I was looking at getting is going to cost in the first place! The folder would be free to ship and wouldn't need to be disassembled. So as a result, i'm really starting to think about seeing if it would work as an acceptable bike.

What do you think? On the one hand, the kilometers are lower and there don't seem to be many slopes. The bike would be outfitted with a Brooks B17, so the saddle wouldn't be an issue. I'm 145lbs, not worried about overloading the bike if cargo was added..

Is the D7 "acceptable" for touring?
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Old 04-03-08, 07:44 PM   #2
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It seems to me that you are an experienced cyclist, though one that is similar to me in leasurely riding style. I have 2 Dahons, one a Boardwalk (a predessesor to the Speed D7) and a 2006 Piccolo. I would take my Boardwalk to a tour that is not too demanding as far as distance per day goes. I would change the tires some something more new and more of a touring type, and change my saddle to a Nirve or Electra cruiser type, but that's it. It comes with a rear rack and fenders. So I am way ahead in the game.

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Old 04-03-08, 07:59 PM   #3
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See my sig, check out my Tasmania tour, which my wife did on a Yeah (basically a rebranded Dahon Helios).

If you can set up the bike comfortably so you can pedal all day, and set up the luggage so it doesn't make the bike feel unstable, then most definitely.

I would recommend you do a shakedown ride or three, such as commuting to work like you would go on tour, and riding the folder every day for a few weeks in advance just to make sure you are used to it and are comfortably set up. Then you'll be more than fine.
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Old 04-03-08, 08:27 PM   #4
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The wife and I found about 25-30 miles per day to be the limit on our D7's.

The only other problem was hills. Since you said your route is pretty flat, that should not be a major consideration.

Just how many miles per day will you be riding?
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Old 04-03-08, 08:32 PM   #5
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80km (approx. 50) miles is about the maximum that Otesha rides in a day from what I understand.

The saddle will be replaced with a B17, the grips with Ergon GR2 grips.

What was the big limiting factor to your comfort on the ride, was it something which would be modifiable on the bike or was it the geometry/design of the bike itself?
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Old 04-03-08, 09:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abneycat View Post
80km (approx. 50) miles is about the maximum that Otesha rides in a day from what I understand.

The saddle will be replaced with a B17, the grips with Ergon GR2 grips.

What was the big limiting factor to your comfort on the ride, was it something which would be modifiable on the bike or was it the geometry/design of the bike itself?
Wife is 5'8" and but I am 6'3" with long arms and a 36" inseam - basically, general comfort, but lack of close ratio gearing on the flats was also an annoyance. Must say though we were in our early to mid-60's at that point, and casual riders, too.

This isn't to say you can't do it - just our experience. We have since switch to custom built Bike Fridays which are way more comfortable, and with 27-speed Direct Drives we can always find a good gear and have close enough ratios.

We also have ThudBuster seat posts on the new bikes, which add to their comfort. These are also available for the Dahons by the way (I have one on my Dahon S1 "market bike".)
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Old 04-03-08, 09:42 PM   #7
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I toured on a Dahon Mariner (basically a D7 with a blue paint job). However, that was for 1 week in Belgium, i.e. as flat as it gets.

D7 wouldn't be my first choice for a 2-month tour, it's a pretty low-end machine. If the daily mileage is short it will probably be OK though.

First, gearing: stock is too high. Cut down to a 42 up front, it'll suck on the descents but c'est la guerre.

Second, rack. I found the standard rack to be far too low, and even small panniers scraped on the ground frequently. You should be able to wrench a standard one on there.

Third issue is a general Dahon one, namely that the bike is rather flexy -- particularly the handlepost. Don't pull back on the handlebars, as that may eventually lead to the handlepost cracking. Similarly, check the hinges on a regular basis and keep them at the correct tension.

Fourth, compared to the Xtracycle, any 20" bike is going to feel super-twitchy, especially at first. Some weight on the front wheel will help, but touring on any 20" bike is going to be the polar opposite of touring on the Xtracycle.

Fifth, Dahons have several proprietary parts. The only one that even remotely concerns me for your uses is the derailleur. It should hold up fine for a few thousand miles; but it'll be a downright pain to replace it in mid-tour. Just be very careful not to whack it around.

Last but not least, replace the tires and have the wheels thoroughly checked.

Aside from folding, the frame is reasonably comfortable and handled OK with a light load.
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Old 04-03-08, 10:21 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
I toured on a Dahon Mariner (basically a D7 with a blue paint job). However, that was for 1 week in Belgium, i.e. as flat as it gets.

D7 wouldn't be my first choice for a 2-month tour, it's a pretty low-end machine. If the daily mileage is short it will probably be OK though.

First, gearing: stock is too high. Cut down to a 42 up front, it'll suck on the descents but c'est la guerre.

Second, rack. I found the standard rack to be far too low, and even small panniers scraped on the ground frequently. You should be able to wrench a standard one on there.

Third issue is a general Dahon one, namely that the bike is rather flexy -- particularly the handlepost. Don't pull back on the handlebars, as that may eventually lead to the handlepost cracking. Similarly, check the hinges on a regular basis and keep them at the correct tension.

Fourth, compared to the Xtracycle, any 20" bike is going to feel super-twitchy, especially at first. Some weight on the front wheel will help, but touring on any 20" bike is going to be the polar opposite of touring on the Xtracycle.

Fifth, Dahons have several proprietary parts. The only one that even remotely concerns me for your uses is the derailleur. It should hold up fine for a few thousand miles; but it'll be a downright pain to replace it in mid-tour. Just be very careful not to whack it around.

Last but not least, replace the tires and have the wheels thoroughly checked.

Aside from folding, the frame is reasonably comfortable and handled OK with a light load.
I must admit, I always forget that some people ride the bikes they buy unmodified, so your comments are spot-on. I extensively modded the Yeah before touring with it - gearing, seat, rack, tyres, grips and so on.
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Old 04-04-08, 02:49 AM   #9
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I would be happy to tour on a Downtube with some cheap mods, (fenders, rack, Brooks, Big Apples), but they're not as flexy as Dahon's. Unless you're really tall, it should be very possible to put together a touring folder that'll work just fine.
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Old 04-04-08, 03:14 AM   #10
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I have a Raleigh Avenir (basically a 6 speed Dahon Helios IIRC). Mine is the higher end one with an alloy frame and it is a pretty good bike. That being said I think I'd have serious reservations with riding it 80k a day. My main problem is that I am 6'3" so the bike is a bit on the small side for me. At it's maximum adjustment it is quite rideable but the handlebar position is not ideal for a long tour (again, that's for me). I also have issues with the small range of gearing for a long tour. I think your best bet would be to go to a store and take one for a test ride before buying. If you feel it's a fit and that the gearing is acceptable for you then I say go for it.

Much like 'Foldable Two' I opted for a custom built Bike Friday (Pocket Llama) and would have no problems touring on that for days on end.
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Old 04-04-08, 04:46 AM   #11
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Abneycat,if you look around a bit on this site ,you can find the post mentioning a clamp on front derailluer available from Taiwan.This with a double or triple front crank will yeild 14 -21 speeds .Or you can fit a double crank and switch the chain over manually if need be( I.E a big Hill).People have toured on 3 speeds and singles so it should be do'able.If you want great luggage capacity you can pick up a seatbag from Rivendell Bicycle works(The bags are huge).I would recommend some Bar ends so you can vary your hand positions.You might want to tape your bar with some cloth tape too.This will allow you to move your hands around without contacting cold steel.Ideally i would try to fit north road handlebars ( my preference ,you may like drops)or moustache bars and tape them fully with cloth tape. Also look at the Gaerlan bicycle site they set up Dahons for touring and you should be able to get some good ideas /pick up some useful equipment(tires water bottle cages etc) from them.Please go to these sites i have told you about and read and learn .

Last edited by James H Haury; 04-04-08 at 05:17 AM. Reason: for correction of spelling and to add more information.
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Old 04-04-08, 10:31 AM   #12
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Well, i'm a student, and this tour is a volunteer event that requires raising $1900 in fundraising to cover the costs of the tour. Since I was accepted late, the amount of time to collect that $1900 is realistically too short to collect it all, and the fundraising doesn't include personal travel costs or equipment:

Basic translation?

Very little budget to work with in order to make this work. A huge amount of money is going out of my pocket in order to run with these guys.. The bike might just remain mostly as a stock setup, although I can at the very least use components borrowed from my other bike which would be compatible.

You mention the Neos derailleur, i've looked it up online and seem confused as to whether you can actually change it - some people say you can, some say you can't. The only derailleur setup which I have available to transplant would be a Shimano Deore /w 11-32 9spd cassette, it doesn't seem likely that the D7 is suited to accept such a setup unless the hub *is* 9spd shimmed for less and the derailleur will mount?
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Old 04-04-08, 06:04 PM   #13
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Tour on Dahon D7's? Please spend a bit more money and get a quality touring bike. Seriously - i've built about 200 of these bikes, and the quality of the components, let's just say if your bikeshop isn't doing 1hr+ assemble on these bikes, they are not ready to go out the door. And even then -
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Old 04-05-08, 06:38 AM   #14
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I've been told the Neos is not upgradeable. You could just get a wider 7-speed cassette and/or change the chainring to get lower gearing. The D7 also uses a (afaik custom) 7-speed grip shift, so if you try to upgrade to 9 speeds you'd need a different shifter as well.

If you're looking for more speeds for the sake of having more speeds, you're better off buying a different model right off the bat.

Seriously, if your budget is so tight that you can't afford to buy a cassette or chainring, stick with the Xtracycle (assuming it's comfortable and has low gearing). The Xtracycle is far more suited to a 2-month tour than the D7, especially since you're carrying your own gear. Buy the folder another day.
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Old 04-05-08, 08:20 AM   #15
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You mention the Neos derailleur, i've looked it up online and seem confused as to whether you can actually change it - some people say you can, some say you can't. The only derailleur setup which I have available to transplant would be a Shimano Deore /w 11-32 9spd cassette, it doesn't seem likely that the D7 is suited to accept such a setup unless the hub *is* 9spd shimmed for less and the derailleur will mount?
You need an adapter - which Dahon apparently ships with each D7, but you won't unnecessarily get when you buy the bike from your dealer so ask for it specifically. That will let you mount any standard dérailleur on your D7. Of course with the 20" wheel you'll need to see what kind of ground clearance you have. You'll also need to have a compatible cassette and shifter.

I have a Dahon D7....for the money it is a nice bike. I wouldn't tour on it stock as it is a bit cramped for me and I wouldn't trust the stock parts a long way from home with a touring load.

Personally I would ship and ride your Xtracycle. Contact Greyhound and see if they will waive the extra fee for your bike as you are riding for charity. Even if they don't $150 buys you the peace of mind that you'll have a reliable comfortable bike to ride. Heck with the Xtracycle you can even rescue another tour rider when their bike breaks down.
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Old 04-05-08, 08:24 AM   #16
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Many tour on the Speed 8, priced a tad higher than the D7 but worth every cent...




Shown here touring w a Trek full size tourer on a coconut drink stop, Thai/Lao border.

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Old 04-05-08, 08:44 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abneycat View Post
Well, i'm a student, and this tour is a volunteer event that requires raising $1900 in fundraising to cover the costs of the tour. Since I was accepted late, the amount of time to collect that $1900 is realistically too short to collect it all, and the fundraising doesn't include personal travel costs or equipment:

Basic translation?

Very little budget to work with in order to make this work. A huge amount of money is going out of my pocket in order to run with these guys.. The bike might just remain mostly as a stock setup, although I can at the very least use components borrowed from my other bike which would be compatible.

You mention the Neos derailleur, i've looked it up online and seem confused as to whether you can actually change it - some people say you can, some say you can't. The only derailleur setup which I have available to transplant would be a Shimano Deore /w 11-32 9spd cassette, it doesn't seem likely that the D7 is suited to accept such a setup unless the hub *is* 9spd shimmed for less and the derailleur will mount?
You know what? You can probably ship your bike at a lower cost through FedEx (I shipped a hybrid one way from DC to San Fran for $40-50). Unless you have a real desire or need for a folding bike, I would ship the bike.

Hmmmm, your Xtracycle is pretty long. So your estimate might be the best one could do. Regardless, I think that shipping the bike is the best bet rather than use an "OK" bike for the trip. That is, with some tinkering, I think that you can do the tour with the Dahon. I would put a double on the front and swap the gears manually. I would then get some add-ons to make the ride more comfortable. However, it probably will not match the ride of your regular bike.
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Old 04-05-08, 10:30 AM   #18
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Alright, i'll just save the folder for another day

Thanks guys.
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