Today was my first day of riding the Dahon Vitesse D7HG, reputed to be one of the best folding bikes out there. I picked it up from my friend P on Friday and had all weekend to practice folding it. Luckily, it wasn’t that difficult! I was impressed by how well the parts fit together and most of all, that it fit in the trunk of my Mustang convertible.
They claim it folds/unfolds in 15 seconds; on a cold day, with two pairs of gloves on, I can tell you it takes more like 30. But once it’s open, it looks like this:
OK, you’re thinking, but how was the ride when compared to the splendor of this, your usual commuting vehicle?
First adjective: vigorous. With the tires being only 20 inches instead of 24, I had to pedal furiously and stayed in the 5-7 gear range. I am woefully ignorant when it comes to bicycle mechanics, but having one more gear on this one (or adjusting the gears up? is that the right terminology?) would make it work better for me in Nashville.
That said, the bike was much lighter than my Schwinn — 26 lbs to an estimated 36. So despite the furious pedaling, I didn’t exert myself any more than usual.
The other thing that stood out was the handling. Perhaps it’s because the handlebar stem is so long, but this is not a hands-free bike. Signaling turns made me wobble, and the slightest weight fluctuation from hand to hand did the same. Still, that’s something you would probably adjust to in time — I’ll update this at the end of the week.
On the shallower end of the spectrum, the fashion value of this bike is high (it’s a bike AND a gadget!), which is something not to be discounted. The design is basic without being boring. The brakes worked well and the gears (on an internal hub, very nice) shifted smoothly. With the weather what it was this morning and tonight, I didn’t meet many people on the road, but I hope to get some good reactions to the bike over the course of the week. So far I’ve not seen one like it in Nashville…