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


Tarik Saleh said...

Awesome Kent,

Based on your initial like of this bike, I bought one of these for my ma for her 70th birthday. I spent a very chilly hour riding around the jersey shore with her over thanksgiving. She loves it. Pics and blogpost soon, but thought you would like to know.


Bob said...

Nice post! If I lived in or near a city I would give this bike a try. The idea of a bike that can be ridden to a mass transit point, unobtrusively carried on said mass transit, and then quickly converted back to a bike at the end of the line would be awesome.


gzaborac said...

But would you ride one on LEL? :)

Greg Z

Bob said...

Little Electric Lizards?

Kent Peterson said...

LEL = London-Edinburgh-London, a 1400 kilometer jaunt I rode back in 2001 on my Bike Friday New World Tourist. Matteo Luzzana rode it on his Brompton so I'd have no qualms doing it on a Dahon.

Story and pics are at:

DW said...

Anything out there in the folding world for us 6'4" amazons? Besides a custom Bike Friday or Brompton...

Dan O said...

Looks like a cool little bike to have around. Nice.

√Ągel√§ said...

Say, nice bike you've got over there! I've got my Dahon from my friend. I made Internet site for him and he gave me a Dahon! Good deals are sometimes availaible...
My longest day trip on my Dahon has been 165km. I was supposed overnight after the first 80km but there were no camping sites anymore so I had to ride all the way in one day. My Dahon is Roo D3.

David said...

Thank you for your help on!
I've had all kinds of issues with improper setup from the dealer I bought it from. With help on the forum I'm finally starting to figure out my dealer is full of it.
I have written reviews about my Curve D3 at:
Curve is my newest addition to my Dahon purchases. I own a 2004 Speed Pro V. A used steel frame Dahon was sold last year after fixing it up. Now I have the Curve D3!
I love it! Small folding size, easy to fold, light and fast, climbs hills like a God etc. And its bright red! My wife said it had to be red if I was going to buy one.
Customers shouldn't have to wade through the ignorance of their dealership's store to find out what is true. Thanks for your help in finding out how to solve the problems myself.

David said...

Getting ready for my first club ride with the Curve! Wish me luck!

Spent 3-4 hrs yesterday at the bike shop. Warranty replacement of the front wheel to fix thumping when braking which loosened steering bearings.

Not sure if Dahon is going to replace rear wheel, too. Both wheels were lemon thumpers. Store replaced rear brake pads (too much rubber stuck to rim).

Then store tried to replace rear wheel with one which had a Dahon hub. Didn't work. In the process they screwed the Sturmey Archer hub by pulling too hard on the shifter chain and it jammed.

They finally got that fixed (although the chain looks twisted inside the axle). Then I couldn't fold it because handlebar was preventing the magnetic catches from touching. Finally fixed that but received more paint damage on my new bike because of careless handler in shop. He gave me plastic strips to prevent further paint damage. (Leave the quick release open on the steering tube or it will damage paint!)

Spent several hours truing the new front wheel and now have some stuck spokes that won't turn because my spoke wrench keeps slipping and rounding off the nipples. Going to buy a better spoke wrench and see I can loosen two spokes to remove the last out of true spot on the front wheel and see if tight spokes can be remedied.

Store said Dahon has changed the specs for the Curve... I sure hope so! Waiting to see if Dahon will allow me to replace this bike with one that has a Dahon hub and/or whether they will replace the rear wheel if they won't swap bikes. (Mine is only 2 weeks old).

Throughout all this, I was told Sturmey Archer hubs have no shift cable indicators to adjust the shift cable. Not true! I really don't ever want to take my bike back to that store unless the cows come flying home or hell freezes over (we are entering a new ice age as I speak).

Its a great little bike but quality control is severely lacking (wheels) as was the initial adjustments that were supposed to have been done. Staff had non-existent knowledge of folding bikes they sell, and lack of initial setup by the store created lots of extra work for me.

Still considering returning it and perhaps ordering a different one from a more reputable dealer (if there is one here).

I've never had this much trouble with other Dahons. Perhaps mostly store related??? I think so!