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Old 06-12-08, 07:33 AM   #1
neilfein
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Dahon Curve D3 - first impressions

I picked the new bike up on Tuesday. I've ridden about 4 miles on it, including a bike-train commute this morning. Overall, I'm quite happy with the bike so far.

The ride: The first thing I noticed when I was test-riding folding bikes is that I found it hard to ride one-handed. (That includes Bromptons, Dahons, and Downtubes.) Now that I've ridden the Curve a few miles, I'm more comfortable taking a hand off the bars to signal, scratch my nose, etc.

The Curve rides very well, and it rides as well as it did when I tried it out in a Philadelphia store. The Curve feels lighter than the MU and steadier than the Downtubes I tried.

(I feel that the Dahon MU is much a better bike in terms of handling and gearing, but full mountain bike gearing on a folder is overkill for my purposes - a mostly flat multi-mode commute.)

The handlebars have a little too much flex in them, particularly when hill climbing. Might this be something that can be adjusted after the break-in period? Lowering the bars a touch makes them feel more solid.

Comfort: The stock saddle isn't very good, particularly since I'll be riding the folder in street clothes.

Gearing: The three speeds seem a little bit too close together. 5 or 7 might be better, but I didn't want to wait around for the 2008 Curve SLs to show up, if they ever do. (Dahon is waiting on the Shimano hubs.)

That said, the internally geared SRAM hub shifts very smoothly. I like the simplicity of the bike. It's a nice contrast with my 27-speed touring road bike.

The front chainring lip seems to do a decent enough job at not chewing up my pants. Time will tell, of course; I'm wearing black pants for a while until I have more confidence in this.

The fold: Unfolding it takes a bit of time, most of which I spend getting the handlebars straight. That's a flaw in design. How else would you want the bars to be but straight? Is there some way to fix this so they stay straight?

Getting the seatpost height correct for me is relatively painless. I like that my wife can quickly adjust the bike for herself as well. Maybe this'll get her to ride more?

The bar tilt seemed at first to me to be kind of a pain, yet one more thing to have to do when folding the bike. However, it's pretty easy to adjust this later on, at a red light or what have you.

The rear rack is pretty good, but it's a little harder to fold the bike when I have a trunk rack on it. Maybe with more practice?
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Old 06-12-08, 07:37 AM   #2
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sounds good, man. Thanks for sharing that as hands on short/long-term reviews are always helpful for future purchases.
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Old 06-12-08, 07:40 AM   #3
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Congratulations! Sounds like a good start.

Why would the handlebars rotate when folded?
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Old 06-12-08, 08:00 AM   #4
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Congratulations! Sounds like a good start.

Why would the handlebars rotate when folded?
I think since the Curve's handlebars fold between the wheels the brake levers need to be rotated into a vertical orientation to fit.
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Old 06-12-08, 08:27 AM   #5
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The fold: Unfolding it takes a bit of time, most of which I spend getting the handlebars straight. That's a flaw in design. How else would you want the bars to be but straight? Is there some way to fix this so they stay straight?

Getting the seatpost height correct for me is relatively painless. I like that my wife can quickly adjust the bike for herself as well. Maybe this'll get her to ride more?

The bar tilt seemed at first to me to be kind of a pain, yet one more thing to have to do when folding the bike. However, it's pretty easy to adjust this later on, at a red light or what have you.
Having to adjust the handle bars for height, getting them pointed straight and rotating the controls level, adjusting the seat post height and rotation - is what drives me crazy about the fold of my Dahon Speed D7 and also what sold me on getting a Tikit. They could use keys on the seat post and stem to keep them aligned and that would remove two fiddly steps in unfolding the bike.

I have to say that once you get the bike unfolded it rides quite well if you fit the non-adjustable size of the frame.
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Old 06-12-08, 08:30 AM   #6
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I think since the Curve's handlebars fold between the wheels the brake levers need to be rotated into a vertical orientation to fit.
Ahhhh ... that would be annoying. Thanks.
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Old 06-12-08, 08:53 AM   #7
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I suppose you could say that all (or most) bikes have their compromises, but after having a Curve for a few months, for me the bike is perfect. It's smaller than many (most?) 20" folders, the curved frame is nice and strong, it gives a solid ride, and the controls work well. I added the Klickfix extension bracket and a Klickfix wire basket (from ThorUSA) to the front fitting and this makes it an extremely nice package for general use. If I found one at an exceptionally nice price, I'd buy another one in a heartbeat.
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Old 06-12-08, 09:55 AM   #8
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I don't have to readjust the handlebars or raise/lower the stem anymore every time I fold and unfold. Even with the Ergon GC2 grips. Its all about getting them in just the right spot so it folds all the way without moving the bar or the top half of the stem. Keep fiddling with it, I wouldn't be surprised if you can get it with a few tries. Oh, and when you do, mark it with a sharpie! It really helps in case you need to undo the top latches to install new grips or shifters or something.

I'll take a few pics of my orientation when I get home--maybe that will help

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Old 06-12-08, 10:00 AM   #9
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I suppose you could say that all (or most) bikes have their compromises, but after having a Curve for a few months, for me the bike is perfect. It's smaller than many (most?) 20" folders, the curved frame is nice and strong, it gives a solid ride, and the controls work well. I added the Klickfix extension bracket and a Klickfix wire basket (from ThorUSA) to the front fitting and this makes it an extremely nice package for general use. If I found one at an exceptionally nice price, I'd buy another one in a heartbeat.
I think I'm going to get the klickfix too. I like the systems that have interchangeable snap-on luggage like them and topeak. Unfortunately, the seat post topeak rack is too small for the Curve's seat post, so the klickflix seems like the best answer. Plus, the Curve really benefits from front loading. I've inadvertently popped a few unwanted wheelies!
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Old 06-12-08, 08:12 PM   #10
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Neilfein, We're practically neighbors! I live in Scotch Plains. Edison is a little out of my normal riding range, but it's nice to know that there are other folding riders nearby,

Juan
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Old 06-12-08, 09:43 PM   #11
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Neilfein, We're practically neighbors! I live in Scotch Plains. Edison is a little out of my normal riding range, but it's nice to know that there are other folding riders nearby,

Juan
Scotch Plains is only a little bit out of my way to get home. Wanna meet and ride sometime?
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Old 06-12-08, 09:49 PM   #12
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Strangers keep wanting to talk to me about the bike. Some guy in Penn Station Newark asked me where I got it and how he could get one. Someone at work wants to get a folder to keep on his boat. A coworker gave it a test-ride outside my building. A kid said "cool bike!". I got into a conversation with a guy at my wife's Martial Arts studio about bikes and the local LBS that just moved to a bad location. A woman walked up next to him and looked at the bike excitedly, and I said "you want a demonstration, don't you?" She grinned ear-to-ear when i said that.

I think the best thing like this that happened is when I was riding on 4th street in Highland Park tonight. A woman and her 1-2 year old daughter were walking. The girl pointed at the bike, looking amazed and a little befudddled at this adult on a bike with tiny wheels. I waved at her.

Stopped at a light at the end of the block, I looked back and the little girl was still pointing at me and the bike. I waved back and she smiled.

Do these kind of things happen to everyone on folders?
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Old 06-12-08, 10:06 PM   #13
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It happens to me all the time. Especially when I'm rolling the bike along in it's folding rolling position. Not a day goes by that someone somewhere doesn't make a comment.

It's great... and I try to give demos whenever I'm not in a hurry.

--sam
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Old 06-12-08, 11:09 PM   #14
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I added the Klickfix extension bracket and a Klickfix wire basket (from ThorUSA) to the front fitting and this makes it an extremely nice package for general use.
I've got the same setup on my D3 too. It was a little odd at first not having the basket move with the handlebars and front wheel. I also added front and rear lights. I'm really happy with it.

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Do these kind of things happen to everyone on folders?
Yes it happens to me regularly. Additionally, the fact that I'm actually a bit too big for the Curve may make me even more approachable. Kind of like a trained circus bear on a bicycle...

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Old 06-13-08, 01:30 AM   #15
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Yeah, one of the things about riding a foldie is you get asked about it a lot. My wife is the more reserved one between us, and she is always muttering, "You and your foldie, attracting so much attention. Mutter mutter."

I mark my handlepost and handlebar with a marker too, so that I can quickly get it into position. I do that on my MU P24.

My Curve has the VRO handlepost (same as the Speed Pro's) so it folds outwards now. Makes my Curve wider but I have an easier time folding it because I don't need to fiddle with the handlepost height or handlebar orientation any more (I can't anyway, because the VRO handlepost is non-adjustable in height).

I wish I could get Klickfix here in Singapore. I'd love to add a bag to the front.

I tried the 2008 version of the D3 the other day. The SRAM hub is good but I think a little noisier than the Sturmey Archer.

As for the 2008 SL, Dahon is not taking any more orders, I hear, because they can't get enough of the parts to build the thing.



Oh, here is a shot of the Curve SL when I had it to review for my tv show. This was taken on top of a 4-storey colonial building in town, where I had to film a throw test (I threw a Creative Zen Stone Plus mp3 player off the building). I had to lug the darn bike up 4 floors because we were filming on the roof and it was not safe to leave the bike below. We were planning to shoot the SL segment later which is why I had it with me. So while I was on the roof, I thought, hey, nice view, and took some photos.

See more at my Flickr.
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Old 06-13-08, 05:54 AM   #16
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I mark my handlepost and handlebar with a marker too, so that I can quickly get it into position. I do that on my MU P24.
Don't you find it rubs off after a few folds?

Even the max extension mark on the seatpost of my Carryme is starting to rub off and that's notched in! Permanent marker on the seatpost doesn't seem to last more than a day or two for me (3-4 folds).
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Old 06-13-08, 05:59 AM   #17
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I mark my handlepost and handlebar with a marker too, so that I can quickly get it into position. I do that on my MU P24.
Don't you find it rubs off after a few folds?

Even the max extension mark on the seatpost of my Carryme is starting to rub off and that's notched in! Permanent marker on the seatpost doesn't seem to last more than a day or two for me (3-4 folds).
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Old 06-13-08, 10:14 AM   #18
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Do these kind of things happen to everyone on folders?
The smaller the wheels the greater the number of comments. Almost always positive.
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Old 06-13-08, 10:46 AM   #19
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Don't you find it rubs off after a few folds?

Even the max extension mark on the seatpost of my Carryme is starting to rub off and that's notched in! Permanent marker on the seatpost doesn't seem to last more than a day or two for me (3-4 folds).
I tried permanent marker on mine, and it didn't last more than a day or two... but that was last year! And Makeinu, you've had the Carryme for three years or so, haven't you? So I can imagine your seatpost has quite a texture by now. Mine has, and it's only a little over a year old.

The Downtube Mini has the seat tube open at the bottom, as is pretty common on folders. Normal dirt that gets in there tends to fall out, but wet dirt sticks and ends up scratching the post. At first I used to push a paper towel through there before I'd put the seatpost all the way down, but I gave up on that after the bike was no longer "new." By now, the bottom 6" of my seatpost is really rough. Some time ago I took a permanent marker and completely covered the part I normally insert into the frame, and it's lasted pretty well now. It wears off in some places, but in the scratches --which is most of the area-- it stays black for quite a while.
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Old 06-13-08, 10:53 AM   #20
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On my handlepost, I mark it on the bit where there is a groove. Can't remember if the Curve's handlepost had a groove but my MU P24's does. So since it has no contact with the bottom half of the handlepost, the mark I made (just a dot, really) stays.

On the handlebar, there are grooves in the centre. I mark inside the valley of the grooves but that part still rubs off, albeit slowly. I can still see the faint dark line now, after a few months of use.
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Old 06-13-08, 11:05 AM   #21
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Ditto mrbrown, I remark mine every month or so and it seems to work fine.

I can easily fold my Curve SL in 15 sec and Mu P8 in 15-20.

I fold unfold 1-2 times/day.

I've heard of people using fingernail polish, they say it lasts longer. Haven't tried it yet.
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Old 06-13-08, 05:55 PM   #22
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....The handlebars have a little too much flex in them, particularly when hill climbing. Might this be something that can be adjusted after the break-in period? Lowering the bars a touch makes them feel more solid.

Comfort: The stock saddle isn't very good, particularly since I'll be riding the folder in street clothes.

Gearing: The three speeds seem a little bit too close together. 5 or 7 might be better, but I didn't want to wait around for the 2008 Curve SLs to show up, if they ever do. (Dahon is waiting on the Shimano hubs.)

That said, the internally geared SRAM hub shifts very smoothly. I like the simplicity of the bike. It's a nice contrast with my 27-speed touring road bike.

The front chainring lip seems to do a decent enough job at not chewing up my pants. Time will tell, of course; I'm wearing black pants for a while until I have more confidence in this.

The fold: Unfolding it takes a bit of time, most of which I spend getting the handlebars straight. That's a flaw in design. How else would you want the bars to be but straight? Is there some way to fix this so they stay straight?

Getting the seatpost height correct for me is relatively painless. I like that my wife can quickly adjust the bike for herself as well. Maybe this'll get her to ride more?


......The rear rack is pretty good, but it's a little harder to fold the bike when I have a trunk rack on it. Maybe with more practice?
Let me address some of your concerns for you.....

The long stem is a known weakness for these type of bikes, but necessary to have so a regular sized adult can ride a small wheeled bike with comfort. I had to learn not to pull up on the handlebars when I climbed up any hill. A light touch is the best when using these bikes. That means stay in your saddle when you climb.

I usually change my saddle at purchase or soon after for another one. The ones I use are the cruiser type ones usually for the "beach bikes." These have springs in the back for suspension, and a bit wider for support. See photos Below:

While the 8 speed hubs are nice, I am perfectly fine with the Sturmey-Archer AW three speed hubs that all my bikes have now. Except for very long steep hills, I never miss my old derailleur road bikes!

While all my bikes have a chainring guard on them, I prefer to use a pants clip to hold my clothes well away from the chainring.

I am not sure what you mean by the bars being straight. All my own Dahon folders have a rotating or revolving handlebars to keep the brake levers pointing straight down when folded. Some Dahons don't. I should think that if the Curve's handlebars do not rotate, then the brake levers should be angled at a good position to prevent any folding problems.

The seatpost is the most critical adjustment point for any bike rider. Your wife will like this feature very much.

As for the rear rack, I do recommend that you at least to remove the trunk when you fold it up. I do take the items off my own rear rack because most of the time it interferes with folding up.
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