Forgive me if this is an old topic on this forum, but:
I've got my eye on a 16" Dahon Classic III. I'm pretty sure that, as is, it'd be way too slow for what I want to do with it, but theoretically it could be geared up with a 54T ring / 13T cog for a top gear of 91.9 inches, according to Sheldon. Theoretically, again, that'd do it.
Has anyone actually tried this plan? Is it worth it? Is the bike at all fun to ride? What I really want is a Downtube Mini, but this'd be way cheaper; wondering if this would be an acceptable substitute.
Brompton H6L, DT Mini, DT 9FS, Dahon Ciao P8, Dahon Classic 3(x2), Dahon TR, R20, Raleigh Chopper III, Auto Mini Jr., Mercier Nano, Giant Anyroad2
I have 2 Classic IIIs and a Mini. Both IIIs are stock with 45T and ride reasonably well so there is a fun factor in riding them. Hill climbing could be an issue if you have steep inclines to traverse. High gear allows you to reach decent speed. Folding is simple but the first problem I encountered was the plastic pull knob, which allows the handlebar to fold, broke. The lack of spare parts availability influenced me to purchase a second III to use as parts if necessary. I fixed the pull knob problem by using a key ring and it works fine. When folded the bike is nice and compact but it is a bit heavy at 29 lbs. If you decide to buy a III several owners on this forum suggest using $50-$100 as a guide.
The Mini is a blast to ride, folds nice and compact ,and is light at 24 lbs. Some owners, however, have experienced a problem with the handlepost and there is a current thread on the forum about this issue. Look for "I crashed my Mini ". I have had no problems but I've only had my bike 6 months (2008 model bought used). It's hard to find a used one and new ones are not available. The 2010 DT lineup will hopefully be available in June.
for gearing, I would just look at, and copy what dahon does on their 16" folders.
just use a 3 speed internal gear hub. take a 46t crank and a 13t cog.
(for me, since I live in a hilly area, I modified the dahon formula a bit.
I use a 48t crank, and a 16t cog.
yes, this is lower. but this fits me just fine)
and if you have the budget, and don't dislike the derailer and cassette set up, you might want
a capreo freehub and cassette. combine that with a 52t chainwheel...
Thanks. The landscape is very, very flat where I live, so low gears really don't matter -- but keeping up with car traffic does! I'd definitely stick with the 3-speed hub -- my primary use for this bike would be to retrieve my full-sized bike (when I've left it at my office due to rain, or when it's been in the shop, or when I've decided it would be smarter to walk home from the bar... ), so I want to be able to strap the folded bike to the rear rack without a derailer sticking out to bend/break.
I just bought, tried, and sold a 20" Dahon Getaway -- it just seemed a little too big for the purpose, and the single-speed gearing felt a little too low for comfort in traffic. I'm looking for flat-out speed in a tiny folded package, but I can't afford a Brompton. I'm thinking that the Classic III, upgraded with high gears, alloy rims, and high-pressure tires, might do the trick. Any other suggestions?
For what it's worth, I find gears matter more on a folding bike than on bikes with big wheels and big stiff frames. A folding bike has a lot of places to flex; long seat post, long stem, hinges, etc, and when you hammer you'll feel that flex a lot. So with my Downtube Mini (undamaged in its recent crash; still riding it every day) the wide range of closely spaced gears allows me to spin the pedals at any speed, minimizing frame flex. For going as fast as possible (that's just how I ride), I find the 8 speed hub essential.
That said, I don't know how flexy that Dahon Classic III is; I suppose it may be stiffer than my Mini. I just kinda doubt it, though. If I had one, I'd upgrade the hub to an 8 speed for sure.