Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Still More Dahon D3 Musings

First off, if I was really smart, I'd figure out some way to get a kickback from Dahon. I'm not that smart.

My friends have figured out that I really like my Dahon D3. I think the fact that I ride so many places on this bike tips them off. Now you have to understand, I have bikey friends and they are used to seeing me show up at places on a bike, but somehow they are still surprised when I show up on the Dahon instead of one of my bigger bikes. Especially when the places I show up at are miles from my home. "You rode here? On that?" they say. It's like they think I'm making some kind of sacrifice. Surely my bigger bikes are better?

I think my ongoing interest in the sufficient, as opposed to the optimal, is part of what explains my preference for the Dahon, but the simpler answer is that the bike is fun. The little wheels are zippy; they spin up to speed quickly but by the same token, they don't tend to hold speed as well. The bike feels quick, it is quick, but it doesn't seem fast like a racing bike. It just seems fun.

It is impossible to have Lance Armstrong fantasies on a Dahon D3. You are sitting more upright and you look too big for the bike. On some forum I read that riders on folding bikes look like they "rode out of a Dr. Seuss book." That writer has a point, but it's a point I gladly embrace. Dr. Seuss would understand.
I ride my red bike here and there,
I ride my red bike everywhere.

I take my red bike on a bus,
On the street folks question us.

"How fast does that red bike go?"
"As fast as I pedal, don't you know."

"Does it have the gears you need?"
"I've found three give needed speed.

"One for up and one for down,
One for riding in the town."

"Can you ride it in the night?"
"Yes, I have a little light."

"Do you ride it near and far?"
"Yes, every place you'd take a car."

"Can you take things on your bike?"
"A rack and sack hold all I like."

"My bike goes with me on the train,
I ride in sun, I ride in rain."

"I ride to the store and to the bank,
I never put gas in a tank."

"I fuel at the grocery store,
I ride and eat then ride some more."

"I have a red bike that I like,
I'm glad I have this folding bike."


Anonymous said...

"Viva Little Red Bike!" he says, as he gazes longingly at the Little Black Brompton under his desk: a little bike that holds the promise of joy and freedom, an escape vehicle from the fluorescent gray cube farm that is his workplace.

Unknown said...

Man .... that's just flat out awesome. Awesome red bike, awesome Seussesque prose.

I hope to run into you on your Dahon someday, so I can say "hi".

Unknown said...

All hail the little bike that could!

I ride a white D3 too, and it is always a blast. I totally understand your enjoyment of it.

I also get many similar remarks from friends when I show up in it. "You got here in THIS?" is the most common one, hahaha!

Anonymous said...

One day someone said my wife and I looked like circus bears on our Bike Fridays. Now we use the joke to entertain new friends.

Emily said...

Your little red bike tempted me to visit my local Dahon dealer. Then it rained.

So I go back today to get some test rides in...

Shanybu said...

Folding bikes rock! I have a vintage Raleigh Twenty that I am in the process of "modernizing" (ie lighter wheels and seat) so that it can be even more useful as part of my new car-free lifestyle. I love the fact that I can take it on the train or the bus, and I don't have to worry if the bike racks are full because folding bikes can ride inside! Or I can bike to a party in the evening and, if I need to, catch a ride home with a friend because the bike fits in anyones' trunk.

Vik said...

I'm riding my Tikit lots - as you note it may not be the fastest, but it is fun and I can take it in with me when I get to my destination.

Unknown said...

Has anyone tried to sing the circus song as you ride? Deet deet dee dee dee dee deet deet deet deet...

Anonymous said...

GET A REAL BIKE MAN!!! Who rides these tinee little things anyway.

I guess as long as you're having fun.


gpickle said...

What a wonderful post Kent! I am not so cool or brave as to roll a Fixed Friday like some do, maybe the lil' three speed that can is for me and my car free life.

Loved the rhyming, you been listening to Leslie Hall?

Anonymous said...

Folding bikes indeed rock. I own and ride several. That said... I have heard not-such-great things in the past about Dahon longevity. But I have also heard that they have improved this quite a bit in recent years. I'll be curious to hear how ye wee red D3 holds up after a year or three of regular use. Keep us posted!

Anonymous said...

I end up riding my Dahon almost everywhere, mostly because I have to cross 520, and the busses are almost always full.

Mine's a fixed Dahon boardwalk, details on fixing mine can be found here: http://bikehugger.com/2008/01/how_to_fix_a_folder.htm

My Dahon's frankly a bit of a pain. She creaks and squeaks, and I've had to put a lot of time into tinkering things back into shape after a few hundred miles of riding.

But for a multi-modal commuter the Dahon can't be beat. Every time I pass some other commuter on the way to the bus I have to remind myself I'm getting on the bus regardless of whether they do or not. Selfish I know, but I've got kids to feed, damnit! I'd love to try out a modern frameset, but I'm not entirely sure I can part with the folder I fixed up from scratch.

Anonymous said...

But for a multi-modal commuter the Dahon can't be beat.

I must respectfully beg to differ, sir. A Brompton (full disclosure: I am a huge Brompton partisan, and prefer steel bikes in general) does everything the Dahon does, and does it just as well. It costs quite a bit more up front, but you get what you pay for, IMHO:
1) I have beaten the living tar out of mine by commuting on it in all weathers for ~5 years. The only real maintenance issues I've had have been some broken rear spokes, because I am a) over 200 lbs and b) not gentle on my bikes, especially not the commuters
2) Brompton has been very gradually evolving and refining their single design. With the notable exception of the lengthened frame that they introduced a few years ago, most every improvement they're introduced has been retro-fittable to bikes 5, 10, 15 years old. They take great pains to do this intentionally. Contrast this with Dahon, who seem to completely revamp their entire model line every few years. A folding-bike dealer I know told me that this makes getting parts for older Dahons increasingly dodgy as time goes by.

It's cool that Dahons have gotten lots of people to try folders - call it a gateway drug. :-) But based on what I've heard, seen & read, it worries me a bit that people will generalize experiences with Dahons to all folding bikes, when (in my completely subjective opinion) there are others out there that are better bikes, in terms of long-term durability & value for money.

But I freely admit that I could be wrong. Often am. :-) And I have heard that Dahon has improved their build quality quite a bit in recent years. So I'm always curious to hear people's long-term experiences with them.

Evan said...

I really want a folder for multi-modal trips but I haven't yet been able to justify or afford the cost. When I can the D3 is high on the list

PEANUT said...

I absolutely LOVE your poem. It's very inspiring. Since I have never owned a car in my life, i'm constantly asked what's so wrong about driving a two-ton vehicle two hundred meters away to pick up a two-ounce pack of cigarettes. I think it is about time that i respond with a poem.
By the way, how can i get that "calories burnd calculator" on my blog too? is there a website?

Doug said...

Nice prose Ken, enjoyed it very much! I'm still thinking there may be a folder in my future. Not a priority, but a possibility.

Kent Peterson said...

Hi Peanut (and anybody else who is wondering),

You can get instructions on how to add the cycling calories burned calculator here:



PEANUT said...

Thanks Kent!

Anonymous said...

Have you ever tried a 'Montaque' folder? Not as compact folded but easy to stash in a trunk or carry into office.

Anonymous said...

hi, I am curious to know how often you lock your bikes outside, i just got one and it is so cute that I'm afraid is going to be stolen in no time, I got a cable and I have my regular U lock... any advice? thanks.

Seth said...

Your poem rocks!!!!

I have a new Dahon Speed D7 for commuting one mile to work. It stores under my desk when the office manager complains of bikes in the office and in the back of my car when I get home since I live in a tiny condo.

I would love to buy a Brompton but the almost 1K+ price difference is quite a bit when you are only going one mile and looking for a beater commuter bike.


Anonymous said...

I've got a Dahon Impulse P24, 24 gear bike. Within the first week 5 spokes came loose and the back wheel went out of shape. Great start! However, since having it repaired I've begun to really like the bike. It's so relaxing to ride; the chain makes such a satisfying and relaxing sound as I ride, it's hypnotic. The lowest gear is great for just about any hill, and it goes as fast as I want to.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kent

Did you write the poem and if you did, may i put it on my FB with a link to your blog or course.

It's a neat little poem!


Kent Peterson said...

Yep, I'm the author of the poem. Feel free to link away to it.


Stuart said...

Thanks Kent, your poem gave me my biggest grin of the day.



Izzy said...

I came across your blog just yesterday (the 2010 D3 post), and then this post. Great poem there! I'm currently lusting after the red D3 at the LBS near the office, but sady can't afford it right now =(