I’m putting this review in road bikes, cross-linking with two other forums.
I picked up a new Dahon Jack last week with intent on using it as a daily commute/run around bike. First, if you’re drinking coffee, be warned not to spray your keyboard.
The problem: although I drive a small car, and live only 15 km from work, I wanted to commute without a car, because like most commuters, I rarely ever had anyone in the car but me. I rode in for three years, but stopped, after three bikes were stolen from the large bike rack outside the building. I didn’t have room in my office for a bike and the elevators are to busy to carry a bike in.
One option I considered was a folding bike, however, most folding bikes have small wheels and touring geometry that would not be good for my 350 meter climb back home. The ones I tried from a few companies were also very flimsy for someone my height.
After some research, I found out about the Dahon Jack. Dahon is Chinese bike company that has been specializing in folding bikes for years. The Jack however, is a full-sized bike, with a similar design and geometry to the Trek Soho. The biggest problem is finding a bike, they are sold out and spoken for with every shipment into Canada. These bikes have hit a cult status already in Toronto, which has a very large commuter bike scene and bike courier scene.
The specs are impressive: all-aluminum frame, with replaceable rear derailleur dropouts. The frame is powder-coated matt black, with name logos placed in shiny black. The weld quality looks like anything on my Cannondale. The aluminum parts are all black anodized. Like every new bike I get, I rebuilt the bike and learned some very cool things. [take a sip of coffee]
Like most of the assembly Allen bolts are stainless steel.
Pffffttt…that’s right, finally, stainless steel bolts stock on a daily commuter.
The spokes and rims are powder coated black for corrosion resistance –also rare. Spoke count is very high, because streets have potholes.
[take a sip of coffee]
The stock tires: no name-brand knobby Tires that weigh a ton? Nope, Schwalbe big apple 70psi street tires. Pffftt…!
The next three items were brave from the point of view of a bike manufacturer, but important. No suspension, finally, at this end, a bike without a cheap, heavy, suspension fork that does nothing useful but add 5 lb to the weight. Secondly: no disc brakes, but equally effective, but much lighter and simpler V-brakes.
[take a sip of coffee]
Lastly, the drivetrain, in a world where even at the cheap end, 9 speed cassettes and heavy triples are the norm, Dahon realized, no, you don’t need 27 speeds and two derailleurs, you really only need 7 cogs properly spaced and one front chainring, no front derailleur.
Pfffffftttt…..Heresy! but it appears someone was actually looking at the habits of city commuters and began noticing the number of fixed gear bikes out there. KISNSS: keep it simple, not so stupid. The shifters and derailleur are full SRAM gripshift 7 speed –perfect for this application.
The other features are what you would expect to see on $750 and up bikes:
Ally quick release skewers
Quick release seatpost
Lightweight road racing saddle (SDG Belair, not as in pic)
Tacky, grippy bar grips
Bosses for panniers
Ally crank (Truvativ)
31.8 mm stem clamp
All parts aluminum
Then, the really cool stuff that says someone was thinking about the design of this bike and its purpose, not just gimmicks.
The folding mechanism: website says 5 seconds, but that must include a cigarette break. You flip a safety lever, swing out the main lever, the bike is folded. That’s it.
Pull up on the seatpost and WTF!? A high pressure pump built into the seatpost, complete with pressure tube and fold-out lever, just place the saddle upside down and use it as a floor pump. When on the bike, it looks like any other 27.2mm seatpost.
Under the front chainring: the bash guard made of steel (heavy, I removed it), a bash guard on the chainring (aluminum), and a lightweight black ally powdercoated kickstand.
Pfffffttt…a kick stand that doesn’t weight 4lbs and fall off. (Again, I removed it anyway).
Lastly, a stem that looks like a typical steam and clamp, except that it can adjust up or down 10cm with one bolt and be flipped.
All together, the bike weighs only 26 lbs (20", large size). The tires have little rolling resistance and the highest gear is high enough to pass the weekend Lance Armstrongs on flats.
The head has a relaxed geometry, and the I-beam construction of the frame means the bike has a springiness built into it, not exactly best for power, but comfy over streets. The handlebar has a 1” rise and 1” sweep which I didn’t like, I replaced it with a flatter bar, cut to 22” width from the standard 26” (I don’t know why they always put such wide bars on city bikes). I adjusted the position to a 2” drop (not as in pic), perfect for getting some speed.Yes, I flipped it.
I ride in to work, flip the lever, carry the bike into the elevator, and it fits neatly between my desk and the wall, folds to 14” wide, 32” high with the seatpost still on.
I would have been impressed with this bike if I had paid $700-800. But street prices range from $400-430.
Oh, and with that you also get a Dahon pant clip and a bottle of touch-up paint.