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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 09-04-07, 10:02 AM   #1
DocRay
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Think you know city bikes?.. you don't know Jack.

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
Integrated headset
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.

[sip]

Pfffffttt…a kick stand that doesn’t weight 4lbs and fall off. (Again, I removed it anyway).

[sip]

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.

Pffftt..

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.


[sip]


Oh, and with that you also get a Dahon pant clip and a bottle of touch-up paint.

Pffffft.

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Old 09-04-07, 10:11 AM   #2
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I didn’t have room in my office for a bike and the elevators are to busy to carry a bike in.
Thank goodness that my office is large enough to accomodate my bike...If I had to ride that thing, I would probably kill myself.
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Old 09-04-07, 10:11 AM   #3
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so... do you like it?
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Old 09-04-07, 10:15 AM   #4
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Neat. What's with the tiny ring up front though?

I'd far prefer thumb shifters to gripshift... but unfortunately they don't make them like they used to
Where did you get it?
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Old 09-04-07, 10:25 AM   #5
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Looks pretty cool... the picture on the left shows it folded with the handlebars removed. How are the handlebars removed? What sort of headset does it use?

A ood bike for the price.
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Old 09-04-07, 10:30 AM   #6
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The seatpost/pump is nifty, a nice feature.
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Old 09-04-07, 10:40 AM   #7
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Looks rad. The black powedrcoat looks neato. Is the front chain ring 39T?.
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Old 09-04-07, 11:03 AM   #8
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80 bucks...off CL

I can't bring in a bike into the office...I walk in through the lobby and there are clients there...

So I'll just stick with this...not as nifty...but I got it knowing that it may be stolen...
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Old 09-04-07, 11:14 AM   #9
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I met a guy who had a folding track bike. Although I don't know if it was actually track legal.
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Old 09-04-07, 11:20 AM   #10
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One minor correction:
Dahon is a US based company with bicycles built in Taiwan, China and Eastern Europe.

I do have an issue with a 7-speed derailer system if that is a freewheel instead of a cassette. Freewheel based wheels are have a weakness in the axle and are usually of lower quality than cassette based systems. I would much rather see a single speed or a hub gear.
Craig
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Old 09-04-07, 11:32 AM   #11
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This will probably get moved to the folding bikes forum, but anyway. I also love Dahon. I got the Vitesse once Performance started selling it. Holy crap, it folds up so small, it's light, perfect gearing, adjustable handlebar height, rack and fenders, $420 retail, much less if you buy it on double points weekend like I did. It's a sick little around town bike. I love too how folding bikes are infinitely adjustable. If someone comes and visits for the weekend, just put them on the folder.
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Old 09-04-07, 11:43 AM   #12
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Thanks for the review. Folders are neat!
I wish the Dahon Cadenza would have similar nice features, as I'm eyeing it for quite sometime now.
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Old 09-04-07, 11:45 AM   #13
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Pretty cool!

Glad you're able to ride it to work. Folding bikes are pretty neat.
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Old 09-04-07, 01:22 PM   #14
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Looks pretty cool... the picture on the left shows it folded with the handlebars removed. How are the handlebars removed? What sort of headset does it use?
That's just for shipping. the bars stay put.

the headset is a version of an integrated 1,1/8", but the stem does not compress the bearings.
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Old 09-04-07, 01:25 PM   #15
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One minor correction:
Dahon is a US based company with bicycles built in Taiwan, China and Eastern Europe.

I do have an issue with a 7-speed derailer system if that is a freewheel instead of a cassette. Freewheel based wheels are have a weakness in the axle and are usually of lower quality than cassette based systems. I would much rather see a single speed or a hub gear.
Craig
It's a cassette, Suntour. Single speeds are OK in flat, urban settings, but the 7 speeds are useful. You can start playing the game of "I'd like this or that", but not for $400. I pay that for some single parts on my road bike.

I really don't care where a company is based, but these components are 100% Chinese, that's a Chinese bike.

Last edited by DocRay; 09-04-07 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 09-04-07, 01:27 PM   #16
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Neat. What's with the tiny ring up front though?

I'd far prefer thumb shifters to gripshift... but unfortunately they don't make them like they used to
Where did you get it?
When you only have seven speeds, gripshift is fine. It's very quiet.

Racer Sportif on Bloor. They don't keep them in stock, but if Dahon has it, it arrives within a week.
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Old 09-04-07, 01:35 PM   #17
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Looks rad. The black powedrcoat looks neato. Is the front chain ring 39T?.
38t front. 11t-30t rear. Call it, "super-compact".

SPEEDS 7
FRAME SIZES S (16"), M (18"), L (20")
GEAR INCHES 37" - 101"
FOLDED SIZE 38 x 69 x 91 cm (14" x 27" x 36")
WEIGHT 12.4 kg (27.3 lbs.)
FOLDING TIME 5 seconds
SUGGESTED RIDER HEIGHT S Frame (157 cm - 167 cm/5'2" - 5'6"); M Frame (167 cm - 183 cm/5'6" - 6'); L Frame (183 cm - 193 cm/6' - 6'4")
MAX RIDER WEIGHT 105 kg. (230 lbs.)
FRAME DA Series, Joe Murray design, 7005 aluminum, custom-drawn Sonus tubing, forged Lattice hinge, replaceable derailleur hanger, integrated head tube, patented ReBar technology
FORK Oversized, straight, integrated design
HANDLEBAR 6061-T6 aluminum, riser, 31.8mm oversize
STEM NVO, patented InfiniteAdjust technology, 3D forged 6061-T6 aluminum
HEADSET Dahon Fusion, Zero stack, cartridge, sealed, conical spacer
GRIPS Dual Density Kraton
SADDLE SDG BelAir RL
SEAT POST BioLogic™ PostPump, 27.2mm
BRAKES ProMax V, aluminum, linear spring
BRAKE LEVER ProMax V, aluminum bracket/aluminum lever
CABLES AND HOUSING SIS, Pearl silver housing, slick cables
FRONT HUB Formula, QR, aluminum
REAR HUB Formula cassette, aluminum, sealed
SPOKES 14G stainless steel, brass nipples, black ano
RIMS Aluminum, anodized black
TIRES Schwalbe Big Apple, 26” x 2.0”, RaceGuard puncture protection, 75 psi
SHIFTERS SRAM 3.0 Comp, 7 speed
REAR DERAILLEUR SRAM SX4
CASSETTE Suntour, 7 speed, 11-30T
CRANKSET Truvativ IsoFlo, 38T
CHAIN KMC Z50, Narrow, Noiseless function
BOTTOM BRACKET CH, chromoly axle
PEDAL VP 990-A
KICKSTAND Aluminum, Dacromet bolt
SUPPORT BRACKET Aluminum
ACCESSORY Reflective pants clip
WHEEL REFLECTORS Cateye
FRONT AND REAR REFLECTORS Cateye

Last edited by DocRay; 09-04-07 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 09-04-07, 02:09 PM   #18
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I've been commuting on a Dahon SpeedPro for a couple of years. Still love it and get to work pretty fast compared to the days I take the roadie. The SpeedPro also makes a great travel bike. I've ridden some serious climbs in Scotland, Spain and Maui (yes, Haleakala) on it. Glad you like the Jack!
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Old 09-04-07, 02:54 PM   #19
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That's pretty cool. I'm lucky to be able to take my bikes in with me. Sometimes I'll have three of them in my cube with me.

It really looks like Dahon made some thoughtful choices while keeping an eye on the costometer.
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Old 09-04-07, 03:35 PM   #20
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it also weighs almost 30 pounds. as far as bikes getting stolen, best thing is to get at least 2 heavy duty locks and leave them locked to the rack by your work so you dont have to carry them around. when you show up, just have the keys and youre ready to go....
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Old 09-04-07, 03:38 PM   #21
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it also weighs almost 30 pounds. as far as bikes getting stolen, best thing is to get at least 2 heavy duty locks and leave them locked to the rack by your work so you dont have to carry them around. when you show up, just have the keys and youre ready to go....
some of those locks cost more than my bike...
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Old 09-04-07, 04:31 PM   #22
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Its such an awesome bike, and really is a breeze to sell them at the shop I work at. It looks cool, it's comfortable and functional! Best of all It comes in at such a great price point. It undercuts a close competitor the Cannondale Bad Boy by a good $300. Actually it is almost too good! People start asking why am I paying so little for something so well equipped. Is there a catch, a draw-back? There really isn't any though. The ride is a bit harsh when one would throw on some narrow section tires to gain a little efficiency, and has a solid fell, albeit a weighty feel to it. However The frame folds, so you can't have your cake and eat it too. The frame appears to be quality and haven't had a single customer bring in one with a defect. Nothing more than a tune up on all Jack's I've seen/sold.

I've seriously considered buying one myself, as a get around the neighborhood bike, however I already have a mountain bike frame, and a ton of spare parts to throw a bike together based on the Jack. Glad you bought, and I'm ultimately glad you love it!
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Old 09-04-07, 04:52 PM   #23
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I see that bike at my LBS all the time and wonder how good it is. I really don't need a folder yet but if the time ever came up I would seriously give that a look.

Thanks for the review.

Cheers,

Brian
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Old 09-05-07, 08:28 AM   #24
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it also weighs almost 30 pounds. as far as bikes getting stolen, best thing is to get at least 2 heavy duty locks and leave them locked to the rack by your work so you dont have to carry them around. when you show up, just have the keys and youre ready to go....
Locks don't work. I'm on a university campus, surrounded by people all day and my three bikes got ripped off using expensive Kryptonite locks.
People use everything from car jacks to liquid nitrogen. The latest is a cordless angle grinder and a diamond wheel- it will cut anything off in seconds.
BTW: the Kryponite lock guarantee is a total ripoff. They just don't honor it at all, knowing that legal fees cost more than the bike.

The seatpost pump actually works well, they should make a lightweight version of this for road bikes.
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Old 09-06-07, 08:40 AM   #25
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I looked at these once,but 38/11 would spin out too easily here in DC,and I gotta have discs. I have been tossing around the idea of getting a Matrix,with discs and a front triple,then ditching the suspension fork for a rigid.

How much does it actually weigh? Website says 27.3lbs.
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