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  1. #1
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    Not happy with my Dahon Vitesse - Which bike would fit?

    Hi, happy new year!

    I'd like to seek your advice on purchasing a new folding bike. I had a look on a lot of websites, about a great variety of folder, but still feel I need some help.

    Background: I had a full suspension mountain bike for 10 years or so. Living in Paris, fitting it on my balcony was a pain, it took too much place - and it's the only place to park a bike around there! (Acetylene Blowtorch... that's what they use...). Not to mention parking it elsewhere.

    So I used public bikes. They weight 49 pounds, have a 3 speed only hub, are badly maintained (angled direction, brakes either loose or stuck, diving seatposts...). And it's always full when you need to park the bike / empty when you need to take one. But that said, they truly do the trick. When you pick a good one, they really flow.

    To solve these problems I bought a folder. I tried Brompton, Dahon and Birdy. I felt quite comfortable on the Dahon and bought a used one from a bike sightseeing company. A Vitesse D7 with Dutch Perfect tires (these are incredible!). It was cheap and I thought it would be a good start - I could always evolve, but will know what I like and what I don't like.

    I don't need multimodal, just to store it at home and at work. It should be foldable so that I can leave it in the corner of a store I'd get in, locked, too. But it's not the main use. I need a commuter to eat road. A little occasional touring would be nice too.

    I should also mention that I have a Nuvinvi N360 hub waiting for a host (bought it used, too). So the new bike should accept it (I might accept a chain tensioner).

    Now, the rant.
    The less important: Folding is a pain. The stem is between the wheels when folded on the Vitesse. Putting it in the good position so it doesn't interfere with folding takes too long. When done, cables will get caught. And then, it's the folding peddles that get caught in this mess. Oh and the derailer gets beaten, the brake levers too, the bell is no more... And I have to reattach the rear fender nearly every time I unfold. Luckily, Dahon makes others with the stem folding outside! I also hate having to reset the stem lengths, handlebar position plus seatpost height. On the less important side, these creaks drive me mad. Tightening+grease yeah... temporary. But I could do with them if it was the only flaw. Also, quick releases don't mean quick attach. It needs retightening each time... Stem lock is a joke in that you have to think to reopen it before positioning the stem, otherwise it won't lock. Would go faster with knobs ala brompton (for unfolding, not for folding, of course). The folded package is awkward to carry.

    Now more annoying is the bike geometry. If I want enough clearance from saddle to handlebars, I have to raise the handlebars a lot and the seatpost a lot too - I have to rise them a bit too much to my liking, putting feet on the ground and starting gets then a bit sporty. I then have a very upright position, which is cool, but if I bend to counter the wind, the position reveals awkward. Lowering the handlebars causes a major problem I'll talk about, while letting me in a "pump" position. My pectorals and shoulders hurt for 2 days... Also, you can't "emergency brake" without loosing momentum and being launched in front of your bike. Best bet: slow it the most, hope you won't impact, pray that if you do you'll have slowed down enough. On the momentum thing too, yeah the small wheels allow tigher curves. But you can't use your momentum to lean left/right on your bike to handle moderate turns at fast speed. Well, you can, but really not enough.

    The most important: I can do with the stem having some flex. It serves as a handy suspension, it's fine. But the play it has reaaally annoys me. I have to periodically retighten it but it can get some play while riding longer after a folding/unfolding at work... The front wheel then oscillates left/right... Frightening!

    The major problem I think is due to lack of balance. If I put the handlebars a bit low for a more agressive position, there probably is no more enough weight on the rear wheel and it's not made for by inertia due to the small wheel. As such, the rear wheel just slides left/right on road irregularities. Having a more upright position mostly solves the problem, unless I stand or ride on old, shiny but irregular cobblestone (and we have quite a lot...). And no matter the position and keeping seated: if it rains, the rear train really gets his own will. No, the tire is not dead, it's ok. I just don't know how I'm supposed to handle left/right movement with my arse without interfering with direction.

    Sum up all these will give you what happened two days ago: powerful rain and wind, leaning to try to cut through the wind, on wet cobblestone, with the direction getting some play. Bad visibility due to the rain, emergency braking (on flat road this time), the bike is slim and manoeuvrable that's cool: I couldn't brake fast enough but could get between two cars, so I didn't crashed!

    Same rides, but on public bikes, or on my older bike = "I didn't even noticed there was anything special". On this Dahon = "I don't want to ride that death trap anymore". Yep the bike would be more suited to a less agressive rider... But slowing down is out of question. I want to keep up with the traffic. And I need to do whether it's asphalt or cobblestone. Dry, or wet.

    What would be your advice? Do I need bigger wheels?
    I have an eye on Dahon IOS and Glide for 24 inch, Airnimal Joey too but it's damn expensive. Montague too, though it seems big.

    But maybe the answer lies somewhere else... What is youre take on this question?
    Thanks a lot,
    Nicolas

    P.S: Congratulations if you kept on reading!

  2. #2
    AEO
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    hmm, my vitesse does none of the "parts falling off" stuff.

    some of the parts need to be maintained for them to stay tight.
    Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
    http://sanfrancisco.ibtimes.com/arti...ger-photos.htm

  3. #3
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    The real issue seems to be 1. resetting when unfolding (stem,seatpost, etc)? 2. Lack of agressive position? 3. perceived issues with balance?
    Sounds like another folding option would be BikeFriday. Tikit resolves 1,2 no problem and people seem to think 3 is non issue on those...
    If you are stuck with Dahon idea, maybe you can put drop bar which changes whole dynamic of 2&3. 1 won't change much unless you get different Dahon.
    I've done drop bar mod on my dahon. Other than it being pig slow (okay.... average about 1-3mph) compared to my road bike... it's a joy to ride
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...=speed+tr+drop

  4. #4
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    Tern bicycles have the stem folding to the outside.

  5. #5
    AEO
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    if anything, I find that dahon bikes puts more weight on the rear than necessary. like 40F:60R when 45F:55R is more ideal.
    wet cobblestones are just really slippery. Maybe the tires are over inflated?
    Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
    http://sanfrancisco.ibtimes.com/arti...ger-photos.htm

  6. #6
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    Whoa 5 posts while I replied... Will make a real reply.

  7. #7
    Bike Nerd Mr. Jim's Avatar
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    Sounds like you might be happier with a mini velo type bike. The Dahon Smoothhound also folds.

    http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/current/smoothhound.htm
    Jim
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  8. #8
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Are you sure the bike and wheels are in good shape? The sliding thing sounds real strange, are you sure the hubs are tight and the wheels are properly atached to the bike?

    There is things you can do with the brakes, ANY bike can have good brakes if you know what to do.

    The stem. Is ist possible to fit another stem? Ask thor about this, maybe there is another stem you can fit to solve some of the problems.

    If you want to buy a new bike I am thinking BF tikit for some reason but the small wheels is not going to make it more comfortable on the cobblestone (it has suspension I think). You could try a sprung saddle to help out with that.

    I`d like to see a picture or several of how the bike looks today. Makes the whole thing a lot easyer. It sounds like you are a fairly tall rider?
    °Empty drums make a lot of noice... (Old Hungarian proverb).

  9. #9
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    Hi NeoY2k,

    My Dahon is a Curve and not a Vitesse, but I have had several of the same issues (though by far not all the issues you mention!).

    Problem: QR's on the handlebar stem, steering tube and seat post all become loose with use. Solution: Be sensitive to closing effort. If it becomes too light (easy) tighten nut slightly.

    Problem: Folding takes too long because you have to line everything up with no visual clues, esp. the need to actually raise the steering tube when getting ready to fold. Solution, use a Sharpie (or thin point permanent marker of some kind) to indicate correct seat post height by drawing a line around the seatpost at the top of the clamp when in the correct position (height).

    Along the same lines:

    Draw a similar line on the handlebar stem, where it fits into the steering tube, to indicate the precise level to which it needs to be raised for a quick and efficient fold. I put a line and an arrow above the line, pointing down to the line, just to make it easier for me to spot quickly.

    Finally, draw a line across the top of the stem and the top of the handlebar so that you can quickly line up the bar on the stem for your prefered riding position, i.e. hands on the grips location.

    Problem: Loose connection on QR between the headset and the steering tube (which does make for scary steering!). Solution: use an 8mm open end wrench to slightly tighten the nut that pushes against the white nylon (cube shaped) bushing. Be careful not to tighten too much, or you won't be able to engage the steering tube onto the headset area at all.

    Regarding riding position, when unfolding the bike I drop the stem as far down into the steering tube as it will go since this gives me the lowest frontal area and the best position for using my upper body to effect a stronger pedal stroke. Your mileage may vary on this bit (but it works for me)! I have the saddle height set the same as my normal road bikes.

    Hope that helps, at least a little!

    Rick / OCRR

  10. #10
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    hmmm ..lets say some of the problems should be easily solved from a good dealer who could adjust everything correctly ( hopefully )
    putting a dab of grease on the cam portion of the quick releases makes them close much lighter with much more power...
    Lets not forget this is a used rental bike, which has seen quite an abuse I am sure....

    Whats your measuremnts..height inseam weight ... maybe here is a clue

    the tires you like so much ... might be half the culprit while you slide around....

    V brakes are V brakes.... when you dont get enough power.. try to switch to koolstop pads .. they seem to work wonders..... but really its holdnt be any problem anyhow....

    I dont know about the position you are writing about ... handlebar too high .... ? or seat too low.... the lower the handlebar the less creaking or flex ... maybe an aberhallo stem with mor forward lean would solve some of the issues ........

    But hard to say.... you maybe better off checking some bikes and go to an expeienced floding bike dealer ( some challenge I get told )

    Thor

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    So in short you want a bike which (1) has better reach and fit (2) folds faster (3) folds tighter and more elegantly (4) has less stem play (5) has larger or cushier wheels which deal with cobbles better.

    This bike does not exist.

    You will have to give up some of these goals in order to achieve others. Here are the primary options I think you have:

    • Mounting Big Apples or a similar fat tire on your Vitesse, as well as an Aber Halo stem. Satisfies #5 and maybe #1.
    • Bike Friday Tikit. Satisfies #1, #2, but in standard configuration is a bit worse for #5 (about the same when using Greenspeed Scorchers).
    • Bike Friday Pocket or NWT. Satisfies #1, #4, and in some cases #5. Worse #2 and #3.
    • 24" folder. Satisfies #1, maybe #4, sometimes, #5. Worse #2 and #3.
    • Brompton. Satisfies #3 and maybe #4, but has worse #1 and #5.


    I suggest before you buy a new bike, talk to Thor about (1) adding an Aber Halo stem (2) getting cushier tires, and (3) fixing that wobble problem, which sounds like a manufacturing defect.

    Barring that, if geometry is a big issue, then it's time to talk to Bike Friday. I am partial to the Tikit and have ridden it all over the Left Bank and Saint Germain (and a half year in Rome), but YMMV. Though I have the Hyperfold version, which is awesome, you should get the Model T "twiddly knob" version, as it has a bit less flexy stem. Even so stem flex may drive you nuts. Other Bike Fridays have stiffer stems and bigger wheels.

    I don't know if you'll be happy with a 24" folder. You may find it so bulky that you'll wonder why you shouldn't just get a mountain bike.

  12. #12
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    Thank you for all your replies, I'll take time to check everything and make consistent replies. Thor is completely right, this is an used rental bike, so despite being carefully maintained, it has for sure seen some abuse. I didn't thought about that rear hub...

    Yeah there are a lot of things I don't like about the bike and a lot can be tweaked, or I could live with even if I find it quite annoying. But the really most important is that mysterious rear train instability... I agree that I should try another tire. These tires I had never heard of are incredibly cushioned, it's a "shock" (absorber) compared to the Dahons I test rode from shops. That said, I never tried Big Apples, I only rode Marathon... And I've been pleased that with these I could handle potholes more or less the same than with full sized bikes. The point with cobbles is not comfort, which is ok. It's keeping decent control...

    Will talk to the biggest Dahon shop of Paris which is only a few kms away. He's known to be a very competent mechanics. But not today... (not on a Saturday!).
    Last edited by NeoY2k; 01-07-12 at 04:05 AM.

  13. #13
    jur
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    You might like a Xootr Swift. Very simple fold, it folds into a narrow upright package which is ideal for storing on a balcony. It can be customised to your heart's desire, it can be made quite light, it is fast and rigid. The frame size like most folders is medium but you can use a stem size to suit you, or put on drop bars or bullhorn bars.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

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    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    You might like a Xootr Swift.
    A stiff, 406-wheel aluminum bike might not be the best idea on the cobblestones of Paris.

  15. #15
    AEO
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    Quote Originally Posted by feijai View Post
    A stiff, 406-wheel aluminum bike might not be the best idea on the cobblestones of Paris.
    there really is not a lot of difference between the ride characteristics of steel and aluminum. Mostly all of it is in how fat the tires are.
    Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
    http://sanfrancisco.ibtimes.com/arti...ger-photos.htm

  16. #16
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    How about a Birdy, it has dual suspension ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AEO View Post
    there really is not a lot of difference between the ride characteristics of steel and aluminum.
    He's looking for a more cushy bike than the Vitesse.

    Are you seriously going to claim that a Swift isn't any harsher than a Vitesse? With a straight face?

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    Waw. Thank you, but please don't fight! There are so many answers I really don't know where to start. Congrats, you probably are the most reactive board I ever posted to O_o.

    I had'nt replied before because I first thoroughly cleaned my bike. And by thoroughly I really mean it. A lot industrial degreaser... oils, grease, and a full afternoon. I pretty much dismantled and reassembled the bike.

    I knew a used rental bike would have suffered some abuse. Cleaning it really confirmed that! Scratched seatpost and steering post, polished handlebars where the clamp is, rims seriously eaten by the brakes, heavily used folding peddles (I noticed they flexed a lot...). New cables wouldn't hurt too.

    On the other hand the frame is perfect, no dent, not bent AFAICT. Cleaned, greased and adjusted, it doesn't squeaks anymore and I think it flexes less, or at least more harmoniously. Also seems things have less tendency to loosen up while riding - it's less suffering from road vibrations (and old cobblestones really do shake). All that had to be expected and, well, that's why I spent an afternoon cleaning it.

    Thor, thank you a lot for that "greasing the quick release". It changed my life. I never thought about doing it despite riding bikes since I'm... huh, born.

    Now on to the rear drivetrain problem... Yeah badmother and thor you probably are right again, that rear wheel has something strange. It doesn't have obvious play, it is slightly out of true, but there seems to be something more i can't really point.

    I'm seriously considering buying a couple of wheels (40€ the pair...). But as I have my Nuvinci hub waiting, I might better just mount it on a new rim. But I'd better avoid having it mounted on a rim (which is a bit expensive) if I am to buy another bike with different wheel size (maybe). As the wheel won't change the geometry anyway. So still thinking. Will just unmount the hub and grease it. And retrue the wheel, of course.

    I played with varied positions and I think most of my grips come from the lack of reach. I'm not tall at all (1m75), but I really have short legs. Which means that arms+upper body is rather large for my size. I found I have to put the saddle very high to be really comfortable (too high for commuting), so I have to put it like I'd put in on any other bicycle and then it doesn't feels that good, but is ok.

    With the stem deployed it gives me a fairly upright and decently comfortable posture, which is nice when there's not too much wind. But then some serious flex comes into play. And my point with emergency braking is not lack of power, but rather lack of modulation. But that's not all, I should be able to do with it. In fact, I think it mostly is due to the weight repartition in said configuration. Despite being upright, with every pole very deployed, it just is a massive lever. Especially as the front stem is angled forward and displaces the front load, well, to the front. Hence hard braking => just wants to tip over the front wheel.

    Now if I get the stem all low, I really hate the riding position which puts a lot of strain on my shoulders. Putting it slightly higher gives a rideable position that still is unconfortable for more than a few kms. I guess an Aber Halo stem in this position would make it perfectly comfortable. But then, won't I have the same "willing to tip over the front wheel" behavior as I displace the weight toward the front? Still with less of a lever, to be honest. And how would I be supposed to fold it with the stem going inside? I'd have to change the stem to an outside folding one. Which would solve 90% of my grips with folding in the process, that said (the remaining 10% would just be having to set good lenghts when unfolding... But as suggested, a Sharpie and no worries anymore).

    Hm, that makes me think that Dahon states the same folding width for their bikes both with outer and inner folding stem. That's really strange as outer obsiouly is gonna take some more space... isn't it?

    Oh and don't fight about comfort re wheel size. I find my Vitesse perfectly comfortable on that point. The big tires just do well, and so does the flex. My problem with cobblestones has to do with my rear train and handling in bad weather, not so much being shaken. So no, I'm not especially looking for something more cushier (well, if it is, I'll take it of course). But I'd better avoid too much harsher.

    Thank you again for all your replies. I leave, I have hubs to check and a wheel to true.
    Last edited by NeoY2k; 01-09-12 at 01:03 PM.

  19. #19
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    With an aberhallo type stem (there are other brands available on ebay) angled forward you should be able to tilt the stem + bars upwards when you fold and it ought to all fit on the inside of the fold. In fact you have a range of options in terms of how you angle the aberhallo stem as you can increase or decrease the length (height) of the dahon stem ('handlepost' in their terminology) so that the aberhallo stem is as much in line with the brake levers as possible and therefore will be as flat as possible when folded upwards (downwards when the handlepost is folded down).

    I agree that small wheeled bikes don't deal with bumps too well and so I tend to think that a less aggressive position is best with a sprung saddle or thudbuster seat post.

    With Dahon bikes you've got to make sure the handlepost (stem) clamp is adjusted perfectly so that when closed there's no play in the hinge at all. The hinge clamp mechanism has changed over the years, post a pic if you want an explanation of how to adjust it yourself. The smallest amount of play in the hinge clamp will be felt as flex when you're riding but in fact a well adjusted / maintained Dahon ought to feel quite stiff, so long as you don't have your handlebars unusually high.

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    I don't think it's been mentioned yet that the headset might also be loose, so that should be checked for play. I forget which size allen key is needed for the steerer bolt, it's an unusually large size. Essentially the method is the same as any ahead system though you have to been careful about alignment.

  21. #21
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    At NeoY2k: Do not worry. We fight, that is what we do . Discussing bikes is like discussing football or similar, and with the winter the cabinfewer sets in. Worst time of the year this is.

    Are you sure the feeling you have about too much weight on the front wheel is for real? It is just that for most folders you get more weight on the rear wheel than on a "normal" bike. Could it be that you are not yet used to the geometry of the bike? You feel that there is no frontwheel at all (since it is small) so you get this gutfeeling that you are going over the bars? I liad my folders in the front firs and if I need more I use a trailer to not put weight in the back.

    Did you look into "bullhorn bars"? Look it up. Could be a cheap and easy solution for your reach problems.
    °Empty drums make a lot of noice... (Old Hungarian proverb).

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    Thanks, but when I disassembled, cleant and reassembled, I tightened everything. As I said, it doesn't seem to come loose with vibrations anymore, or at least, it hasn't suffered from it yet. It feels safer. But with the stem near fully extended, well, it still flexes. But as I said, that's not really a problem.

    Chagzuki: thanks, I defintely will have to look more carefully at these stems!

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    Badmother: thanks, it's right I'm not yet used to the bike geometry. I might feel like i'm gonna tip over while I might not be actually tiping. That said, I'm not fond of bullhorn bars. But stem extenders could do more or less the same thing, but with handlebars I like. (in fact, I'd love slightly wider handlebars.)

  24. #24
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    at NeoY2k: Been thinking and reading again about your problem with thw bars You write:

    "I played with varied positions and I think most of my grips come from the lack of reach. I'm not tall at all (1m75), but I really have short legs. Which means that arms+upper body is rather large for my size. I found I have to put the saddle very high to be really comfortable (too high for commuting), so I have to put it like I'd put in on any other bicycle and then it doesn't feels that good, but is ok.

    With the stem deployed it gives me a fairly upright and decently comfortable posture, which is nice when there's not too much wind. But then some serious flex comes into play."

    I am not sure that I fully understand what you are describing but I can guess.

    Firs of all, most folder stems flex. This is why "the official ridingstyle for folders" are to sit down on the seat, use your legs and avoid pulling the handlebars as much as you can. This is something you get used to, at least if you try. If you ride fast and hard some adjustment in ridingstyle could be smart.

    About the reach/ hand/ sholder issue. I am left with the feeling that this could be less about reach and more about hand possition. Being on this forum for many years I read a lot about such problems. Peopel often want the hands up or down depending on what they think is wrong. Often it is the flat bar that is the problem, do`nt ask me why.

    I know I do not like them myself, and some bikes I can not ride at all w flat bars. My white folder I can easely ride w a flat bar but only becouse I use "ergon type grips". The Dahon curve did not feel good but I found the handlebars slightly to low (I like them level w the saddle) so I bought the "Aber hallo" from Thor and mounted it straight up. Then I mounted ergon type grips (w integrated tools) also from Thor and now it looks and feel great. Approx 5" of snow on the road so I can not ride a 16" folder w no studs but I am sure it is fine.

    The Brompton straightish bars (M bars) is waiting for ergon type grips. Hurts after few km but I am not worried. I want to try the Dahon grips I bought some more to see if I want them also for two B`s.

    A lot of peopel use ergon type grips with barends also to get several hand positions.

    In your situation I would try to play around with different hand positions. I have a butterfly bar I often use when I can not make up my mind about a bike. It is not great for the fold. http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/bbb-multi...ack-prod24514/ I mount it on the bike and keep an eye on "where my hands end up on theyr own". That is where they want to be. Then find out how you can keep them there on a bar with a better fold. If you have a quick release on the top of your stem it could be possible to just twist the bar when folding the bike.

    Also it sounds like you are shifting your saddle height and that also afect how your hands feel. If your saddle is not right then your weight is not resting on your sit bones (bum) as it should. Same if your saddle is not comfortable or if you are sliding forwards or backwards on it, you`ll end up "hanging on your arms". Saddle should be just right to stretch your legs out just enough to get the maximum power and comfort while riding (look it up). When the saddle is right the handlebar and hand position is the next thing to fix.

    One more thing: My bf bought a slightly used 20" folder. When trying it before buying the bike went almos "sideways". Worn out sidewalls on the tyre plus wery low tyre pressure resulted in the bike mowing almost sideways and shifting sides. A quality tyre w righ airpreassure made the trick for us and coul do so for you.

    Keep us informed .

    Got some pix?
    °Empty drums make a lot of noice... (Old Hungarian proverb).

  25. #25
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    Thank you, that hand placement question I'll investigate as it might very well be the culprit. I have Dahon's ergonomic grips, what is the difference with an ergon type grip?

    Regarding saddle height, I just changed it to try to find a more optimal position. But in the end, the saddle height remained where it should be. Overstretching just hurts the knees on longer rides and I couldn't easily hop on and off my bike which is a nono for commuting.

    The riding style comment is pretty much spot on. I like to stand up and it was my first concern about folding bikes. Mandatory for me when going a long uphill, avoiding all kind of angry drivers/******* parking on the bike or bus lane, or when you get cornered one way or another and that you have roughly 3 seconds to get out of there if you want to stay alive. Riding in Paris at 5-6 PM quite shows the dark side of human nature >_<. Drivers in other cities, even big ones, are a lot more respectful.

    Tires are almost new, and are at the correct pressure. And Dutch Perfect are very high quality tyres, up to Schwalbe's level (doesn't seems sold outside of Europe, though). The most puncture resistant tire ever made, with correct rolling resistance due to harder outer layer. OTOH, insanely heavy and the outer layer being slightly harder than marathon might give it a bit less grip. But the difference is barely noticeable, so I don't think it's the culprit.

    Hmm some pix... What do you want to see?

    NB: I think I have less sliding from the rear wheel now that I tightened the frame clamp! But it still isn't completely gone. The hunting continues. Will disassemble the hubs this evening. Front one makes a nasty sound since I cleant the bike, either grease out or crud in >_<. Better hurry before un ruin the hub.
    Last edited by NeoY2k; 01-10-12 at 08:50 AM.

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