23 January 2009

my new (temporary) bike

It hurts my heart a little bit to call this bike "temporary" since I bought it new, had it customized in the shop, already started tuning it, and still think about more tuning. I bought it with the intention to sell it before I leave Taiwan, with the time that has already past and some slack for my visit to China, that's less than three months of having this bike. But in spite of all this, I already love the bike.

As I mentioned on my Taipei blog, it's a Dahon Eco 3, the cheapest Dahon model sold in Taiwan, so cheap in fact, that they don't sell it in Western countries. Except Australia it seems, where I found this page with specs which you might want to check out. (The Taiwanese model is different from the Australian one is explained below.)

What I think of the bike:
  • it's a Dahon frame which I think is the same as the one used for more expensive Dahon bikes. The same goes for the folding mechanism. No other bike I saw here has the same easy folding levers! Also, the bike with fully extend seatpost is just high enough for my size, I can stretch my legs fully (which I can't on other bikes) and the handlebars can also be adjusted to be quite high. The general design of the frame (including wheelbase and position of the bottom bracket; i.e. the pedals) is already worth some money!
  • Despite being a great ride, it is not too heavy either (which again not every other bike can claim).
  • It has V-brakes with metal levers which really look like good quality.
  • The routing of the wires is simple, clean and looks well thought-out.
  • The gear shift is from a Shimano, but looks like the cheapest ones they make. I have to ride it more to see how good it is, but I don't expect any troubles from it.
  • The Taiwanese model did not have fenders, so I ordered extra ones and the only thing which the shop could offer me were stick-on fenders which are not just an invitation for thieves, but also a little short for my taste. I hope that I won't get dirty in the rain!
  • I also ordered an extra rack which is a little small, but looks cute and came with a rubber band to hold things and is still big enough to hold my Ortlieb bag. Which, by the way, I own and enjoy since almost ten years now! The bag only fits on one side, since it would hit the derailleur on the other. When I put the bag as far back as possible I still sometimes scratch it with the heel of my shoe, but that's not much different from Speedy and its high quality made-in-Switzerland rack.
  • Aside: The seat post seems to be the only part which is just the same as for Speedy.
  • The handlebars are a really light construction, directly welded onto the part of the handlepost which can be adjust in height, sliding inside the bottom part of the handlepost. The quick-release cleat which holds the two together gave me a bit of trouble. It has a rubber part on the inside between the two parts of the handle post. The upper part pivoted sideways on this rubber and so the handlebars had a little horizontal play. (No play in the steering though, that was ok.) So I tightened the cleat a bit. Later, while riding the upper part would slide down slowly. When I brought it up again, I tightened the cleat more. And later even more. Now, it doesn't slide down any more, but it's still pivoting a little bit.
  • The headset seems to be a little to tight. I have to investigate this. Update: I think it is too tight and should be loosened a little. The Eco seems to have this infamous scheme where the headset is held by the same bolt which also holds the handle post in place. I didn't want to play too much with this, so I will try to have it done by the shop tomorrow. (Already looking forward to explain this in Chinese. I hope the dealer will not claim that it has to be this way, because then it's really gonna be hard to explain!)
  • The lever for the handle post hinge was not properly adjusted. It was too loose and the entire handle post did pivot a little on the hinge. Also it made some small noise when riding over uneven ground. This was easy to fix, but it shouldn't be necessary in the first place. Ironically the bike has a sticker which says "Before riding, have it adjusted by a professional dealer." Now I have to learn how to express discontentment in Chinese, while still being very polite, cheerful, and optimistic.
  • I haven't actually folded the bike yet and will not do so soon, since it already got quite dirty during today's ride and I'd like to clean it a bit before folding. Update: at least I tried out both folding hinges and I also folded the pedals for parking in our stair case.
  • The spokes seem tight enough, but the wheels are uneven by a margin of one millimetre. I know that with one hour of work per wheel, I could get this straight up to less than half a millimetre (as I have on my other bikes). A better bike mechanic could do it faster, of course, but this level of quality is just not included in such a low price. Probably it's not included with any factory-made bike. I am just playing with the thought of fine-tuning those wheels. Such an intimate involvement would make it really hard to give the bike away when I am done here...
  • Update: I downloaded some manuals from Dahon's website and those manuals are also a sign of overall quality. Safety issues and basic maintenance is well explained. There is also a very detailed manual from Shimano for their derailleur and shifter. At least some technical information which I have been missing before. Dahon also has online support and forums both of which low-end brands do not have.
The bike still needs a name, it will probably be an English one, because Chinese names never seem to mean what I thought they would.

Keep you posted on further tunings and our great adventures on Formosa island!


Tong Wang said...

you know what's missing in ur blogs?

Robert Jack Wild said...

Tony, you are expressing what many people feel. However, think of it, would you have your honeymoon disturbed by the paparazzi?
Pictures are coming as soon as Bunny and me are ready!

EM said...

I hope you're liking your Eco 3. I personally ride a Dahon Mu SL and find it a great commuting bike!

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