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  1. #1
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    Does anyone in Boston have a Downtube?

    Specifically a Downtube 8FH.

    I'm really interested in that bike based on what a lot of people have said about it in other threads. I currently have a Dahon Broadway and I really like it, but it just seems like such a short distance bike.

    Anyway, If anyone has an 8FH and wouldn't mind me riding it down their street and back, I'd be ever so Grateful. I'd even be happy trying out any Downtube with multiple gears.

    Also, I'm wondering if the 8FH would be a good bike for this city's terrain. I often ride on the Minuteman and the Greenway (and I've been fine on my Boardwalk and a cheap Shogun road bike), but I'd also like something that can take to the city streets and get me over some hills and bridges. Does anyone have any experiences that may help in my decision.

    I'm 5'8" about 170lbs - not a hardcore cyclist, but I can hold my own for the most part. I'd most likely use the bike for a one way commute of about 9 miles a couple times a week.

    I hope this is not an inappropriate request.

    thanks
    Ramon

  2. #2
    Recently Re-tired.
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    In my happy place.
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    Lightfoot Ranger, Maxarya (both recumbents), Strida, Dahon Jetsream E-bike, Dahon Curve SL
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    Hi Ramon. I don't live in Boston (or even in the U.S.A.), and I don't own a Downtube 8FH. However, I do own a Downtube Mini, which I have owned for less than a month, and 2 Dahons (Curve SL and Jetstream P8), which I have had for more than a year. In my experience, the Dahons are way above the Downtube in quality, fit and finish. I'm afraid that if you already own a Dahon, you might be disappointed with a Downtube. I know I am.

    The seatpost on my Downtube bent on my first ride (35 km ride, and I am 5'9''and weigh 170lbs). I had problems getting the Sturmey Archer 8spd hub to shift properly right from the beginning. After about a week, it died altogether. An internal spring broke, and it's stuck in first gear. I called Yan about the seatpost, and he mailed me another one, which arrived yesterday. It's exactly the same as the one that bent, so I'm sure it will too. Tomorrow I'm going to a metal shop to buy a piece of aluminum rod 7/8" in diameter by 17.5" long to install inside the seat tube to keep it from bending.

    I called Yan a second time about the defective hub, and he said he'd send me a replacement, which I am still waiting for. I e-mailed him and asked if he was sending an entire rear wheel and hub, or just the hub. He said he's just sending me the hub and shifter, so I'll have to pay my LBS to swap out the hub on my rear wheel. Needless to say, I'm not impressed.

    The Dahon Curve SL has a Nexus 8spd hub, which has performed flawlessly from day one. It also came with fenders and Ergon grips. The Downtube came with crappy rubber grips which I immediately cut off, and replaced with Ergons. I also installed a set of fenders and upgraded the seat and pedals. The brakes and brake levers on the Downtube are no-name, and look it. I'll probably replace them this winter. I'm even contemplating replacing the Sturmey Archer hub with an Sram or Nexus, since they can be shifted while pedaling, wheras with the S/A, you have to stop pedalling to shift, which is very annoying.

    I bought the Downtube because I love the way it looks, and I love 16" wheeled bikes. I still like it, but I'm very disappointed with the quality. That's something you just cant get a feel for by looking at pictures on the internet. I realize that the Downtube was 1/2 the price of the Dahon, but I'd have gladly paid more for a better quality bike. I'm not trashing Downtube, but you get what you pay for.

    So by all means, try to look at one in the flesh before buying. I remember the signature line from a fellow motorcycle rider on a BMW forum: "Buy the best, cry once." Sometimes buying the less expensive item can cost you a lot more in the long run, both in money and grief.

  3. #3
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    Only the IGH Downtube models are the ones I can't recommend, the rest are okay (I'm very fond of my 8 speed FS non-IGH). The S.A. 8 speed hubs stinks!
    I think DT folders are solidly built (' never heard of a recall yet) compared to some Dahon models.
    If one is set on getting an IGH equipped folder, I agree, look somewhere else.
    I'm not in Boston either. Good luck finding a DT there.
    Last edited by DVC45; 07-09-09 at 11:08 PM.

  4. #4
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    Well this sheds some new light - thanks for the responses.

    @DVC45 What's the reason the SA hub is bad? I mean is it hard to use or unreliable or something else?
    I guess my question then is whether or not the fold is messy with derailleurs. I test rode a Dahon Helios a few years ago and tried folding and unfolding it a few times. Each time the chain slipped off completely and I left the store quite greasy. Perhaps I'm too violent with the fold.

    @Autoworker My budget can't handle the Jetstream at the moment, and I am terrified of dropping to a smaller wheel size for a 5+mile trip (I'm willing to be convinced otherwise) - that and I'd definitely like more than 3 speeds. For under $500 is there another bike you'd recommend?


    I suppose another option I have is to try to convert my Boardwalk from a single speed to a multispeed, but I'm no mechanic and I wouldn't know the first thing about that. Is that something anyone has tinkered with? Still expensive, no? I'd definitely go to the LBS for that work.

    BTW, still searching for a Boston area Downtube rider. I've seen them on the road. Hopefully one of those riders sees this and feels generous.

  5. #5
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theramon View Post
    Well this sheds some new light - thanks for the responses.

    @DVC45 What's the reason the SA hub is bad? I mean is it hard to use or unreliable or something else?
    I guess my question then is whether or not the fold is messy with derailleurs. I test rode a Dahon Helios a few years ago and tried folding and unfolding it a few times. Each time the chain slipped off completely and I left the store quite greasy. Perhaps I'm too violent with the fold.
    Its hard to get dialed in. Mine still slips and/or fails to engage from time to time (3rd and 6th gear). Its heavy and geared too high. That's my complaint, but do a keyword search here and see what others had said about it too.
    I'm still sold on the advantages of IGH, but in my experience, 8 speed S.A. failed to deliver.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    I've had my adjustment issues with the S.A. but in all cases my LBS has fixed the problem, fast and free (!!!) it's been a matter of twiddling the adjustment screw or the barrel on the shifter. Overall I'm happy with it.

    My main knock on Downtube is that spare parts (custom parts, I mean) are nearly impossible to get. Yan does not seem to stock spares.

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