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  1. #1
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    dahon eco 3 vs speed d7 vs downtube nova vs downtube 8h

    hi everyone,

    i don't know anything about bikes so don't get mad about my question.

    i want to buy a bike; would be my first since i was a little girl and had training wheels. it's mostly for riding around my neighborhood where there are some hills. i take the bus and might also use it to ride to the office.

    yesterday i looked at/rode a dahon eco 3 and a dahon speed d7. i preferred the d7 to the eco - just felt better. the handlebars seemed wider/more comfortable. the seat was more comfy too and it just seemed to fit better - i'm 5.1. i've been considering a downtube nova or 8h too and the dahon espresso.

    does anyone know how the dahons compare to the novas? i don't want to spend more than $500 for a bike. i was thinking about getting a citizen gotham 2 but have sort of changed my mind.

    also, i've tried looking at the specs but i can't say i understand what i'm reading or what a quality or older config/part is.

    thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    I vote for the Nova.

    The Nova, I believe, is the lightest of the three, can be rolled while folded and cheaper, but the stock gearing is pretty lame (at least for me). Not a big deal to change out. This will depend on how you ride too.

    The Espresso will be too big of a fold compared to the 20"er's and would be heavy.

    DT 8H? I gave away my 8H...nuff said.
    Last edited by DVC45; 05-02-10 at 04:49 PM.
    "Cycling is for pleasure not penance"

  3. #3
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    Welcome to the fold. This is a good buy for the money and Thor is a regular here.
    http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/2008/vitessed7.htm
    Speed Uno
    Dawes Kingpin 2speed

  4. #4
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dynocoaster View Post
    Welcome to the fold
    Oh, yeah, that too!
    "Cycling is for pleasure not penance"

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by merry2 View Post
    hi everyone,

    i don't know anything about bikes so don't get mad about my question.

    i want to buy a bike; would be my first since i was a little girl and had training wheels. it's mostly for riding around my neighborhood where there are some hills. i take the bus and might also use it to ride to the office.


    thanks for your help.
    If you really don't know anything about bikes, find a store near you that carries what you think you might like or want (like a Performance Bike or similar reputable local bike shop) and buy from them.. it will be professionally setup, tuned, and be ready to ride out of the store .. inevitably you will have questions, adjustments, service issues that will probably be taken care of for free for a reasonable length of time after time of purchase.. after sale service is worth some dough too..

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    thanks

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceMetras View Post
    If you really don't know anything about bikes, find a store near you that carries what you think you might like or want (like a Performance Bike or similar reputable local bike shop) and buy from them.. it will be professionally setup, tuned, and be ready to ride out of the store .. inevitably you will have questions, adjustments, service issues that will probably be taken care of for free for a reasonable length of time after time of purchase.. after sale service is worth some dough too..

    i actually went to a store. they only have dahon foldables and the only ones in my budget were the eco, d7, and the boardwalk. didn't get a chance to try to boardwalk cuz it wasn't on the showroom floor - i saw it folded though.

    i'm also interested in different colors than what's there.

    i've called other stores looking for other bikes but it seems like the stores with the foldables are the dahon preferred dealers. i was actually trying to avoid a dahon - i sorta believe in spreading the wealth. but if i like, then i'll purchase - i guess.

    i also figured that i could get any bike serviced anywhere. i guess i should call them to see if that's the case.

    i'm in l.a. btw. thanks...
    Last edited by merry2; 05-02-10 at 09:13 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DVC45 View Post
    I vote for the Nova.

    The Nova, I believe, is the lightest of the three, can be rolled while folded and cheaper, but the stock gearing is pretty lame (at least for me). Not a big deal to change out. This will depend on how you ride too.

    The Espresso will be too big of a fold compared to the 20"er's and would be heavy.

    DT 8H? I gave away my 8H...nuff said.
    i'm not sure i'll know the difference between the gearing since this will be my first. i'm not an aficionada as you can see.

    i like the rolled while folded concept. the dahon can be rolled but only if you tilt it on the correct wheel i believe.

    i didn't know the 8h's weren't that great. thanks...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dynocoaster View Post
    Welcome to the fold. This is a good buy for the money and Thor is a regular here.
    http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/2008/vitessed7.htm
    thanks

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by snafu21 View Post
    I have owned a D7 (steel frame ) and now have a vitesse D7 alloy frame. The difference is marginal. Both bikes are built nicely, and a pleasure to ride. They come (in the USA) with racks and fenders, should fit you, and there's plenty of support for them. Seven gears is more flexible than three, in town you'll be mainly in 1,2,3,4, if you get past 16 mph you'll be in 5,6 & 7.

    The trick, as with a car, is is to arrive in the gear you want to start off in, which means thinking ahead with the D7's derailléurs. It becomes automatic after ten minutes. With hub gears (more expensive) , you can shift when the bike is stationary. Where's the fun in that? :-)

    The D7's have the step-thru frame, if you wear skirts anytime, and they roll when folded, once you've figured out how ( push it with the nose of the saddle and the seat post up) . Mostly though, if you can roll it, you roll it unfolded. The rear rack will take a bag, or shopping, and there are bottle rack bosses on the frame for a pump or water bottle. The handlepost is telescopic on the 2008 -2010 D7's, so you have a great range of adjustment.

    About the only upgrades people do are saddles, grips, and tires. All are a personal choice. Maintenance is simple, but all bikes should be dealer checked within about ten hours , to make sure all is well if you're not mechanically minded. Wheel spokes need a check every so often, the rest is easy. Gears and brakes stay in adjustment, once cables have stretched in the first couple of weeks of use. The bike will need weekly checks by you, for loose bits, and tyre pressures. Tools? You'll need a pump, a set of plastic tyre levers, a 'dog-bone' bike spanner, and a spare 20" tube.

    The bikes are easy to fold, and fit in car trunks and on public transport (usually with a mandatory bag) . I haven't ridden the new Downtube Nova, but I did have a Downtube and it was a pleasure to own. The spec of either is ahead of that found on the cheaper supermarket folders, and if you look after them, either bike will keep its value well, you'll get a good price if ever you want to upgrade, which isn't always the case with the very cheap import bikes. Keep 'em clean.

    In the Uk (some of) the 2009 and 2010 Dahon D7's are not arriving with racks, they're expensive and hard to find, so if you buy a Dahon, check you get the rear rack.

    All of the bikes use standard parts apart from the folding bits, and there's a stack of support on this forum if you need it, including specialist dealer Thor in the USA. About the only tip is if you want to save a little, look for a new 2009/2008 bike as close-out discounts are worth having. The specs are not much changed on the Dahons from the 2009 models, but they get better components after 2006/2007.

    Pics of both of mine here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/fujiflip/

  11. #11
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    The Vitesse from Thors has the 7 speed hub. The gears are in a internal hub. There is a site http://forums.bicycletutor.com/ that I have found very useful in doing my own repairs and explaining the parts of a bicycle.
    Speed Uno
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  12. #12
    E-Folder Geekybiker's Avatar
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    Having experienced a speed d7 for awhile, I'd go with the downtube a second time around.

    Why?

    1) It has an IGH. less fuss and muss with chain lube, and worrying about a derailer getting beating around every time you put it in your trunk. I wouldn't buy a derailer based folder again for my usage. If you never have to lay it on its side, it might not matter for you.

    2) Dahon uses alot of non-standard parts. As I've wanted to upgrade various bit this becomes an impediment. It also means that parts for repairs can become unavailable a few years down the line. Downtube uses more standard parts.

  13. #13
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    " I'd go with the downtube a second time around."

    It has an IGH.

    What does? The Downtube Nova has a long cage Shimano rear derailléur. The 8H has the fat bloaty hub-thing-creature. The Nova, as others point out, is desirably light-weight. If Madame is lugging the bike about, this might be a factor.

    "less fuss and muss with chain lube"

    Didn't you get a chain with your IGH bike? What are you driving the back wheel with?

    "worrying about a derailer getting beating around every time you put it in your trunk. "

    The Downtube Nova has a derailléur. Oh, wait, I've answered that one. Actually the very short Dahon Neos derailléur is designed to sit underneath the chainstay when you put the bike in 1st, to stow it in the back of your economy sedan. But, agreed, the cack-handed can destroy anything. The others put the bike in the car with the derailléur side upwards.

    "Dahon uses a lot of non-standard parts."

    Indeed, the handlepost, and folding latches are all 'non-standard'. 74mm hubs are a bit freaky too.

    But you can get them from Thor. He's in the USA too. But, waddya know? The Downtube Nova handlepost, and folding latches are also non-standard. On the Downtube Nova, they're licensed from Dahon!

    Yikes!

    You can get those from Yan at Downtube if Dahon go bust tomorrow. Sturmey Archer internal hub on the 8H? They only use proprietary Sturmey Archer parts. That's kind of 'non-standard'. But I know what you mean. Derailléurs, despite 110 years of development, just don't work for some people. They snap them off tossing bikes into the trunks of Hondas. But you can always get a new one fitted in about 30 minutes. In fact ( you won't beleive this) the Dahon derailléur hangers are replacable, and available with spares for 10 year old bikes here. Don't tell everyone.

    "It also means that parts for repairs can become unavailable a few years down the line."

    I didn't know that. Mind you, nothing has ever broken on my three Dahons or my one Downtube. From that small sample I can categorically state that my one Downtube has been as unreliable as my three Dahons. No, wait. That can't be right.

    "Downtube uses more standard parts."

    I have to go now, I'm a bit bored. :-)
    Last edited by snafu21; 05-03-10 at 12:12 PM.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member mrodtoo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DVC45 View Post
    DT 8H? I gave away my 8H...nuff said.
    You got me curious. Can you tell me why you gave the 8H away?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by merry2 View Post
    i want to buy a bike; would be my first since i was a little girl and had training wheels. i

    thanks for your help.
    or you can buy my dahon curve d3.......

  16. #16
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrodtoo View Post
    You got me curious. Can you tell me why you gave the 8H away?
    Its too heavy, 6th gear (my fav) slips during mashing strokes while standing (scary), stock gearing is too high. I tried all the adjustments needed. It'll behave for a awhile, but then it comes back with a big surprise.
    I gave it to my brother who doesn't ride like I do ( he only does occasional, leisurely rides).
    Believe me, I really tried liking it.

    I'm much happier with the Nova. Less costly, lighter and with potential for upgrades.
    Mine can be viewed in the DT Nova thread.
    Last edited by DVC45; 05-03-10 at 11:55 AM.
    "Cycling is for pleasure not penance"

  17. #17
    E-Folder Geekybiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snafu21 View Post
    What does? The Downtube Nova has a long cage Shimano rear derailléur. The 8H has the fat bloaty hub-thing-creature. The Nova, as others point out, is desirably light-weight. If Madame is lugging the bike about, this might be a factor.
    The 8h obviously. What the OP was asking about.

    "less fuss and muss with chain lube"

    Didn't you get a chain with your IGH bike? What are you driving the back wheel with?
    Well some have a belt. IGH have a chain, but its more protected by the chainstay and it requires less maintenance in general. I'm specifically more concerned with the more exposed chain rubbing on clothes, etc.

    The Downtube Nova has a derailléur. Oh, wait, I've answered that one. Actually the very short Dahon Neos derailléur is designed to sit underneath the chainstay when you put the bike in 1st, to stow it in the back of your economy sedan. But, agreed, the cack-handed can destroy anything. The others put the bike in the car with the derailléur side upwards.
    Except that I never said anything about the Nova. I know about the neos. I have a bike with the neos. I'm not impressed. Sure you can 'be careful' with it or any derailer. Its still not as idiot proof as a IGH. When I'm taking it out of my acura's trunk every single day on my commute, this is an issue. If you're using it as a recreation bike that is only used once in awhile this isn't as big of a deal. Mine lives in my trunk. It goes in and out daily. It slides around in there, it bumps into things. If there is an opportunity for it to get wacked out of adjustment, it will probably happen.

    "Dahon uses a lot of non-standard parts."

    Indeed, the handlepost, and folding latches are all 'non-standard'. 74mm hubs are a bit freaky too.
    And the derailer, and the shifter. Not to mention that the non-standard seat post means alot of assecories won't work. Oh and the low rack the speed d7 comes with means that panniers are almost impossible without changing the rack. Oh and the rear drop out is 130mm not the much more standard 135mm. EVERY folding bike is going to have non-standard hinges. Dahon sort of goes out of the way to use other non-standard parts in my experience.

    You can get those from Yan at Downtube if Dahon go bust tomorrow. Sturmey Archer internal hub on the 8H? They only use proprietary Sturmey Archer parts. That's kind of 'non-standard'.
    For now. I know that people are already complaining about current model spares. This isn't just my concern, its a concern that I've heard echo'd by many on the Dahon forums. The IGH parts being proprietary is a strawman. Might as well say the neos parts are proprietary. However it you'll be able to replace that IGH in 10 years. The Neos shifting arrangement is opposite standard, and it mounts in a non-standard location. Try finding that in 10 years.


    In fact ( you won't beleive this) the Dahon derailléur hangers are replacable, and available with spares for 10 year old bikes here. Don't tell everyone.
    Only on some of their bikes. Aluminum ones specifically. Steel frames get stuck with fixed, non-standard ones. The speed d7 is one of those ones.

  18. #18
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    Former Downtube Mini and present Dahon Speed D7 owner here. I agree with everything snafu21 said.

    You can't go wrong with any Dahon (and those should be readily available for you to test ride/fold/lift). You'll probably also be happy with the Downtube Nova.

    Dahon Speed D7s are frequently available on Craigslist at bargain prices. The bike is popular among casual cyclists who buy it, ride around the block a few times, and then stash it in a closet. That's no knock on the bike. If you can find a recent model in good condition for $225 or so, have it checked and adjusted at the local bike shop, you'll be money ahead.

  19. #19
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    FWIW, I have a Downtube 8H that I use for an 8.5 mile r/t daily multimodal commute with Amtrak. So far I'm happy with it but can't discount the concerns in the thread.

    - I changed out the front chainring from 46T to 42T so that I can climb a 300 ft vertical hill that goes up to 17% grade. I could barely barely manage it with the stock 46T

    - The Stock SA hub did a lot of slipping and needed adjustment, and was finicky in the gear 6 as often mentioned. The I crashed, the hub broke, I got a warranty replacement (Sturmey-Archer XRF8-[W]), and the new one has been perfectly fine since.

    - I put on a set of Planet Bike fenders for the rain.

    As for the weight, I don't care as I barely have to carry it up a flight of stairs.

    I'm up to 425 miles on the 8H. I rode my previous Downtube (IXNS) for over 3600 miles before the frame had seatpost-area issues.

  20. #20
    Hooligan Abneycat's Avatar
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    I have some comments on certain concerns voiced here:

    Seatpost diameter non-standard:

    Yes, the seatpost is non-standard and oversized. However, this *definitely* is not a downside. The highly extended lengths to which folding bicycle seatposts are left to are much better suited to a large diameter post than normal posts are. Posts of this size are considerably stiffer and much less likely to wobble and / or fail at long extensions.

    Neos shifter:

    The shifter on a Dahon Neos (rapid rise, shimano pull ratio) derailleur is not proprietary. You can use any shimano compatible shifter you wish. The only difference on the shifter included with the Speed D7 is that it is correctly marked for rapid-rise use.

    Dahon arc rack:

    Panniers are certainly far from "impossible" to fit. Most small-mid sized panniers will fit on the dahon arc rack. The low profile helps keep the folded size down. Anyone wanting something bigger is free to change out the rack, as the Dahon rack mounts are not proprietary.

    Dahon frames and derailer hangers:

    Fixed derailer hangers are easily repairable. I regularly perform this task at my shop. Steel ones can be repeatedly repaired. Information posted here is also incorrect in regards to the speed series of bikes as an example: The D7 does not feature a derailer hanger at all, it has a threaded section directly in the chainstay itself, which is indeed non-standard (in this instance, you are correct). The P8 has a standard fixed derailer hanger as well as a Neos mounting. The Speed TR features a standard fixed derailer hanger. Saying that the drivetrain specifications on a Dahon are non-standard in general is misleading, as only a few select models are. The Speed D7 is one such example.

    130mm hubs:

    130mm hub spacing is not non-proprietary, nor uncommon. It is standard spacing for a road bicycle, and thus very common

    74mm hubs:

    74mm hubs are not overly common, but should not be taken as a reason to avoid a bicycle. Dahon, Bike Friday (tikit) and Brompton are all currently using compact hubs. Dahon front wheels are relatively easy to obtain from dedicated dealers. Even manufacturers such as Phil Wood have 74mm hubs available, should you ever want to have one that'll last forever. The 74mm hub should not be an issue unless you're doing a world tour, or the apocalypse happens. Should the latter occur, I wouldn't be too concerned about replacement parts either.

    And, my opinion on the IGH bikes mentioned:

    Personally, I would recommend the Dahon Vitesse D7 as my personal pick. Here is my reasoning:

    1. Lifetime warranty from Dahon regarding frame, fork, handlepost. ThorUSA is a reputable dealer with a great deal of knowledge and replacement parts. 1 year warranty with Downtube.

    2. I believe that the Downtube 8H was equipped with the older SA-8 at the last time I checked, a hub not well regarded for its reliability. The Nexus 7 on the Vitesse D7 is an excellent hub.

    (this prior information may or may not still be accurate, perhaps a recent Downtube buyer can comment on whether or not the 8H is shipping with the W model now. Regardless, I personally have to stand by the Nexus 7.)

    3. Full fenders (Vitesse D7) vs. tiny rear mudguard (Downtube 8H)

    4. Real chainguard (Vitesse D7 vs. simple chainring guard (Downtube 8H)

    5. The seatpost has a pump in it. Its pretty sweet.

    The only thing I don't like about the Vitesse D7 is their decision to go with an anodized braking surface as opposed to a machined one.

    Now, the downtube has its benefits. It has bar ends, a crankset with a replaceable chainring, and more adjustment thanks to an adjustable stem.

    Lastly, the suspension fork is a toss up. Some people might like having it, some people might be happier without.

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    A plug for ThorUSA ! My first Folder a year ago was a used single speed Dahon Boardwalk. I had no problem with going up some of our Steep Ascents on our long Drawbridges. Now I have a Dahon Mu Uno(single speed) and I hit the same steep ascents, many times with a stiff breeze and still no problem. The Mu Uno is nice for using on mass transit since it is superlight making for easy lifts onto our escalators, up onto Bus Racks and it folds in a flash, something I may do 3-4 times a day when I'm out. I'm looking for a reason to change to a multi-speed but so far it hasn't been needed. Thor has that great price of $150 SHIPPED for a Boardwalk model, cannot beat that price anywhere~!

  22. #22
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    thanks everyone. didn't expect such an outpouring. of course i don't understand some of what you're talking about, but it's appreciated anyway.

    you've got me looking at the vitesse.

    really, sometimes i wish for communist russia. there are only one or two choices at most. just so much to consider.

    but i really think i want a green bike, as shallow as that sounds. i saw a guy with a green bike and i swooned. i'm a sucker. shoot.

    i'm gonna go to performance bikes this weekend i think. i'd never heard of it until now.
    Last edited by merry2; 05-03-10 at 10:19 PM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by merry2 View Post
    thanks everyone. didn't expect such an outpouring. of course i don't understand some of what you're talking about, but it's appreciated anyway.

    you've got me looking at the vitesse.

    really, sometimes i wish for communist russia. there are only one or two choices at most. just so much to consider.

    but i really think i want a green bike, as shallow as that sounds. i saw a guy with a green bike and i swooned. i'm a sucker. shoot.

    i'm gonna go to performance bikes this weekend i think. i'd never heard of it until now.
    we did warn you, right ? once you join this forum there's no way out. that vitesse you're talking about will grow into a bike friday someday and then brompton and then moulton and sometimes even when you're sleeping you'll dream about fokders and yet when you can't sleep you will start counting not sheeps but 1 folder, 2 folder, 3 folder, 4 folder.......but on a happy note - it's all fun and this forum had the most helpful, knowledgeable, sincere and warm hearted members. that i can tell you with authority. have fun and let us know what bike you got. enjoy the ride.....
    Last edited by vmaniqui; 05-03-10 at 11:17 PM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    Good luck on whichever you end up buying!
    Have fun!
    "Cycling is for pleasure not penance"

  25. #25
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    Apr 2010
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    i can speed for a downtube nova. i ride it a little bit every day. its super light and quick. folding and unfolding takes me about 30 seconds, you have to be careful to not scratch the frame, very easy to do
    the gearing is not to my liking. i'm swapping out the freewheel for an 11-28t gear seat. the stock is a 14-28t. also, i'm planning on replacing the crank with a 53t crank, i was thinking about doing a front deraiuller...however, that would mean that i would have a 53/38 chainring, the stock chain ring has 46 teeth. i think i will just get the 53/38 crank and remove the 38t chainring, this will save me some cash so i don't have to pick up a derailler, cable, and shifter. i doubt i would ever use the 38t ring anyways

    the first 2 days i had the bike, you couldn't hear the freewheel at all. it was nearly silent. since then, it has gotten louder. this is good, because i like the ratcheting noise, especially when you coast and pedal backwards.

    people say the brakes are weak...i think they are sufficient

    the seat is horrible, throw it out. also, the hex screw was so tight that i broke off a cheap hex tool in it...now i can't remove the stock seat. so i ordered a new seatpost. probably should have picked up a thudbuster

    for my first folding bike, i'm very happy. i was trying to get a downtube 2009.5 FS, but yan was dragging his feet on shipping one out...

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