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  1. #1
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    Downtube Nova vs. Used Dahon Presto

    Hello!

    I'm a biker in the San Francisco Bay Area, looking to buy a folding bike that will be taken on BART (the subway around these parts) or Caltrain (local train) 3-4 times a week. I'm about 5'10'', 160 lbs and will be riding about 5 miles every day -- including on some hills. My wife, who is about 5'4'' will also ride the bike occasionally.

    I'm trying to choose between

    (a) A new Downtube Nova (20", $300):
    http://www.downtube.com/product541.html

    (b) A rarely used Dahon Presto (16"?, $300):
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/bik/2183863297.html


    Any thoughts or advice? I know the Presto is out of production. Was it an awesome bike, with a build quality or components good enough that I should pick it over even a new downtube? I'm unsure about the ride quality vs portability trade-off of 16" vs 20" folding bikes, so any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. I rode a different 16" folder today, and found it a bit twitchy and hard to get much speed on. Would a 20" be much better? And would that be worth the added pain on Bart and Caltrain of a larger bike? I've only ever owned road bikes before this, so don't know much about folding bikes.

    Thanks very much!

  2. #2
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Get the Nova:

    15-20 miles/week are more fun on 20" wheels than on 16";

    Downtube will give you room for improvement through upgrades to make the bike faster, lighter and more "yours" as time goes by. More selection of tires, lighter components and even wheels.

    Good luck on your final decision.

  3. #3
    Senior Member JosephLMonti's Avatar
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    I think that both makes & models are well respected in this forum, so the real question is whether to go with 16in or 20in wheels. As a general rule of thumb (with many exceptions), 16in wheeled folders are typically better for multimodal commuting (tighter fold) and shorter rides, while their 20in wheeled counterparts are more suited to longer rides/touring.

  4. #4
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    he will take best off for the presto ..... take the fenders andf stuff off the presto and you have a VERY LIGHT folder ... no doubt. A couple pounds difference doesnt seem to be much , but when the wife is carrying up stairs and such it will make all the difference.
    Having said that the older Dahons are more flexible than the current ones... The Curve is much stiffer....
    does that matter ? It depends ..if you sit down and spin ( higher cadence) than it will make very little difference whatsoever, if you however stand up and mesh the pedals you will feel safer on the 20 inch bike ....

    I personally would make an offer for 200 dlrr on the presto and take that
    thor

  5. #5
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    BART and CalTrain are very different experiences for bike riders and affect the choice. CalTrain has the bike cars, so folded size is not as big a consideration. BART, during rush hours, can be pretty crowded and folded size is important. Do you know how often you'll be riding either one?

    My opinion is that 16" wheels are just fine for a 5 mile commute. I have a Downtube Mini with 16" wheels, and I've done up to 40 miles on it. Not a problem at all. You do get used to the twitchness of the wheels after 15 minutes of riding. I don't know how many gears the Presto has, but you should make sure there's enough gears for whatever hills you have to climb en route.

    If you're taking CalTrain, you're probably on the Peninsula. I live in Half Moon Bay and have several 16" and 20" folders. You are welcome to come over and try them out if it helps you with a decision.

    BTW, there is a used Nova on SF Craigslist now for $240.

  6. #6
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Thor addressed something important that I failed to take in consideration: the weight when the wife is carrying the bike. Please do not neglect to consider that before your final decision.

    Good luck!

  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the great advice, folks! I checked out the Dahon Presto today, and was very impressed with the ride. SO much better than the $700 Raleigh they tried to sell me at the bike store near campus. I snapped it up for $225. I did find the 3 gears insufficient for climbing up the hills in Berkeley, so perhaps I will let the wife use this one since she'll be riding in flatter terrain in the South Bay. I might still buy that Nova for my commute.

    Overall, though, I'm very happy. Already looking forward to my next ride tomorrow morning!

    Sesamecrunch -- thanks for the very kind offer! Looks like I'm all good, but I'll be in touch if required. And brakemeister, 14R and JosephLMonti, thanks for the advice!

  8. #8
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    WAY better than the Presto or the Nova...is the opportunity to get both. Congratulations on your new acquisition!

  9. #9
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gautamrao View Post
    Thanks for all the great advice, folks! I checked out the Dahon Presto today, and was very impressed with the ride. SO much better than the $700 Raleigh they tried to sell me at the bike store near campus. I snapped it up for $225. I did find the 3 gears insufficient for climbing up the hills in Berkeley, so perhaps I will let the wife use this one since she'll be riding in flatter terrain in the South Bay. I might still buy that Nova for my commute.

    Overall, though, I'm very happy. Already looking forward to my next ride tomorrow morning!

    Sesamecrunch -- thanks for the very kind offer! Looks like I'm all good, but I'll be in touch if required. And brakemeister, 14R and JosephLMonti, thanks for the advice!
    If the gearing isn't quite low enough, it's pretty easy to change to your liking. Are you handy with a wrench?

  10. #10
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    welcome to the fold

    you just need a simple little bigger sprocket in the rear .. a couple teeth more should make a nice difference .. they are available all over the place.... like The Freewheel on Hayes street ...tell them the Sapim spoke guy send you and that they should give you a deal :-)

    Thor

    and yes both bikes are better than one ...always :-) Although that is the first sign of folderitis

  11. #11
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    Thanks, guys! I'l get the rear sprocket changed soon -- and might try to do it myself, if you think it isn't a very delicate job. I'm not very skilled with tools, but I usually muddle through. Once I have a slightly lower gear available, my bike will be perfect! Any idea how much this should cost? I rode it all around the beautiful mission district of san francisco today, looking for a home, and it rocked.

    Just wanted to say that this is a really fantastic forum. I'm very grateful for your kind advice.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by gautamrao View Post
    Thanks, guys! I'l get the rear sprocket changed soon -- and might try to do it myself, if you think it isn't a very delicate job. I'm not very skilled with tools, but I usually muddle through. Once I have a slightly lower gear available, my bike will be perfect! Any idea how much this should cost? I rode it all around the beautiful mission district of san francisco today, looking for a home, and it rocked.

    Just wanted to say that this is a really fantastic forum. I'm very grateful for your kind advice.
    Cogs are cheap.. $10 or less.. count the teeth on the one that you have and give me a shout.. I have a few new ones rattling around here..

  13. #13
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    I had the Dahon Presto at one time and here's how I feel about the gearing. First, Dahon's three speed Presto was a low geared bike to begin with. I did a review of this bike a couple of years back and it's still available!

    Using Sheldon Brown's calculator, I came up with these numbers for the gear inches.

    Dahon Presto Gearing: (also for Presto Lite and Piccolo)

    13t cog, 48t chain-ring, 16 inch wheel.

    1st gear -------------- 36.4 Low gear
    2nd gear ------------- 49.7 Direct Drive
    3rd gear ------------- 67.6 High gear

    With second gear being 50 inches, you're pretty low to start with. I like direct drive at 54 or 50 inches but not any lower! Otherwise, you'll spin out like crazy going nowhere in 2nd gear. This will force you in using 3rd gear all the time with 2nd and 1st for the hills.

    At nearly 68' inches, third gear is very high and most people only use this when going down hill. You have to get a 16T cog to lower this gear to the mid 50' inch range in order for it to be comfortable. This would give you a 55' inch 3rd gear, you'll have no high gear at all. However, 2nd gear will be very low at 40 inches and 1st gear will be incredibly low at 29 inches.

    I think this setup would be just what you need. Maybe a 17T cog could work better but don't go any higher!

  14. #14
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    if it would be me I would try a 15 tops ...... but than there are those hills in San Fran which are just silly :-) so a 16 migt be the best choice

    thor

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