Wednesday, December 01, 2010

My Dahon Curve D3

I'm writing yet again about my Dahon Curve D3, a bike I've owned for over 3 years. My wife and friends will tell you that bikes come and go in my life, so any bike that's stuck around this long must have something going for it. And the Dahon does. It's fun, compact, useful, red, and it has got a lot of good memories of wonderful trips associated with its tough little frame.

I got my Dahon in September of 2007. At the time the list price on a Curve D3 was $395 and Eric as Folding Bikes West sold me this 2006 D3 for a bit less than that. It turned out to be a wonderful deal for me and good deal for Eric, since two of my friends went on to buy their Curves from Eric after having a chance to ride mine. My friend Dave not only bought a Curve, but later went on to buy a Brompton from Eric as well. Dave has let my wife borrow his Curve for a couple of trips we've taken (one to Roslyn WA and the other to Lopez Island) and while Dave, like virtually all Brompton owners, raves about his machine, he has so far refused to sell me his Dahon Curve. I think that says something about the quality of this little machine.

My own Dahon Curve seems to have Brompton-proofed me. While a Brompton is even more compact (the Brompton basically folds in thirds while the Dahon folds in half), my Dahon folds quickly into a package that I can wrap in an IKEA bag and pop on a bus or train or hide under a table. And while Bromptons do have a well-deserved world-class reputation for quality, my Dahon has been the most trouble-free bike I've ever owned. The only real problem I've had with the machine was a busted plastic latch on the clever pump that is built into the seatpost. I fixed mine by gluing a small metal screw in place of the latch and the folks at Dahon have since redesigned the post-pump to address the issue.

While I like my zippy little bike enough to have written a poem about it, I have naturally made a few modifications to the bike over the years

The bike came stock with comfy Schwalbe Big Apple tires but when I finally wore them out I replaced them with even tougher Schwalbe Marathons. Since I ride in all kinds of weather including the rain and the dark, I replaced the stock brake pads with salmon KoolStop brake pads and added some reflective tape to the frame.

I also splurged and replaced the stock plastic pedals with some very nice metal MKS folding pedals.

While the stock Dahon saddle is pretty comfy, all my bikes tend to wind up with WTB saddles. My Curve is no exception.
My bikes also all tend to end up with Ergon grips and my pal Jason gave me a nice Ergons that he'd custom modified (by chopping off part of the right grip) to work with the Dahon's single twist shifter.

I also added a little bell to the bike and like all my bikes, I've got a bunch of lights on it.

While I use the Curve for travel, it's such a fun little bike to ride that it's the bike I ride most often on errands and when I'm just going out to noodle around. Ironically, this little bike is the bike that winds up hauling the most cargo. I have a little folding nylon bag and if I zip out to the grocery store or pick up a book some place, I've found I can carry what I need balanced on the rear rack, in my backpack or in a bag hanging from the front handlebars.

I can't stress enough how fun and zippy a bike with little wheels feels. My other main bike is my Octocog and it has massive 29" wheels that roll over darn near everything. While I love the big wheels on the trails and the wide open road, in an urban, stop-and-go setting, the Dahon with its 16 inch wheels snaps into motion as soon as the light turns green and it is extremely nimble in traffic.

While I find a small 3 speed like the Curve to be fine (I'm 5'6" tall and have decent power in my legs) other folks might be happier on a bike with a bigger frame and/or a greater selection of gear ratios. Dahon makes a wide range of bikes for a wide range of riders.

When I got my Curve, at the time I thought it seemed like a good deal. It turns out I was wrong about that. It turned out to be a great deal. A great deal of fun in shiny red package.

BTW, I have no financial stake in Dahon, but they did publish my poem in one of their catalogs and sent me some schwag.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

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